Archive | October 2nd, 2010



October 2, 2010

by Gordon Duff


By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

They always march off to war, fanfare, flags, speeches, parades.  There’s always an enemy, an evildoer, torpedo boats in the Tonkin Gulf or mystery airplanes and dissolving buildings in Manhattan.  The “armchair pundits” and “Monday morning quarterbacks” all assure is the same thing, it will be over in weeks, “the boys will be back for Christmas.”  This time, Christmas 2001 is looking like “Christmas 2012″ or later, maybe never. 

Miitary Suicide

Just as there weren’t any North Vietnamese attacking the American fleet in the South China Sea, no weapons of mass destruction showed in in Iraq, no “Osama in Laden” in Afghanistan with his “hijacker training academies” the “war lies” of the past are, not just repeated, but enhanced and, if anything, more blatant than ever before.  It has taken awhile, several years into our current debacle, but mostly, what our troops have found is lies, opium fields, lots of angry people and the propaganda and manipulation flowing in from the Pentagon sounding increasingly desperate and hollow.

When a war is too long, too boring and not “telegenic” enough, troops coming home can expect a chilly welcome.  This war has been no different, as support for the war itself, as long as profit is there to be made, goes on forever.  Support for troops, the sick, the wounded, that’s something else.  The moment something happens, a “defense” issue becomes and “entitlement” issue and a warrior becomes a “welfare bum.”


Coming home, sick, injured, unemployed, divorced, alone, angry, alienated, those staying in the military, those fit enough to remain in and the thousands, hundreds of thousands who just couldn’t take it anymore are killing themselves in record numbers.

We sent an army to war, fed on phony patriotic hype and now wonder why we have to build new prisons, new mental hospitals and spend billions to keep them alive.  America isn’t ready to admit to what it did.  America isn’t that honest.  What kind of country would send its children around the world on a mindless “snipe hunt” for no other purpose than to feed the insanity of a few dozen billionaires and the crazed political and religious extremists that have had a stranglehold on America since the Reagan years.

If you want to know why we are losing so many of our children, and these are our children, there is no other way to refer to them, we can blame ourselves, our dishonor, our cowardice, our addiction to fear and vanity.  We owe them more than a lifetime of drugs, the cocktail of anti-psychotic medications that 1 in 4 of our active duty military are “surviving” on, and up to half of our veterans.  We conned them into a phony war, now we are conning them into a lifetime spent as a “zombie,” living on drugs that leave them in an impotent stupor.


An obvious answer would be to immediately end the wars, bring home our troops before more are damaged beyond repair and begin licking our national wounds.  Neither President Obama nor General Petraeus have the force of character, it seems, to accept the obvious.

We lost 4 soldiers at Ft. Hood last week alone, combat veterans lost to suicide.

We don’t count veterans, the numbers would be frightening.  There are fewer surviving Vietnam veterans than holocaust survivors.  We stopped checking.  There should have been over 2 million alive and healthy.  We took a quick look, only 700,000 were still alive.  The majority died in their youth or middle age.  Of what?  We don’t ask, we don’t want to know.  We just know it is happening again, we are watching it happen to Gulf War I vets and we are now seeing the cycle start.  What we are losing, of course, is another generation of our best.

If we wonder why we have so little leadership in America, could it be that a generation of leaders died in Vietnam?


One of the worst things we have done is to name diseases.  World War I created ‘shell shock.’  A massive hospital system spent decades caring for World War II vets, hundreds of thousands suffering from undiagnosed physical and psychiatric problems.  By the time this group had become a massive burden on our veterans health care system,  troops began coming home from Vietnam, poisoned with Agent Orange and suffering from the scars of war, physical and psychological.

We dealt with them by pushing them away, attacking their service, their sacrifice and systematically fighting them through a federal bureaucracy that only began to make an effort to examine the level of disaster a few short months ago, 4 decades after the majority of troops returned from war.

Even then, congress is working to stop that meager effort, one decades late, a rudimentary attempt to address an injustice beyond redemption.

Our current efforts, throwing the sick and wounded “to the wolves” by finding them “unfit for service” has already killed countless.  Suicide prevention program, late to begin but an honest attempt to help, are little but an admission of failure.  The drugs we are giving our troops, our veterans, are medically insane.  Anyone who can read should look at the list of drugs, the interactions, the side effects.  Poison. 

What we are dealing with is hopelessness.  We lied, we cheated, we manipulated, we destroyed lives.  The survivors, so many of them, simply don’t want to live anymore.  What we don’t want to admit is that they don’t want to live around us anymore, it is easier to be dead than to live in the America we have made for them.


This is how they see it.  Are they right?  I don’t know, maybe.  We can’t fix America, nobody seems to care anymore, not really.  Destroying things and blaming others is now a national pastime, hell, we now have a political party based entirely on this concept.  You know who you are!

What we do know is that we are going to spend billions of dollars trying to fix our broken army.  Drugs and talk, drugs and lies, aren’t going to work.  Hope will work.  Hope isn’t going to come from a parade or a Veterans Service Organization’s Friday night bingo and booze.

We have to buy some time, do some quality “reprogramming” and help our young people acquire the tools necessary to live in the country their “folks back home” allowed to be destroyed.

Be honest, this is what happened, look around you.  Try to get a job, a mortgage, tell me I am wrong.


We have a problem we can easily outline, several hundred thousand veterans and military at risk.  Triage will give us at least 40,000 who may end up homeless, addicted, incarcerated or dead in two years.


We have money.  We have facilities.  What we need to do is spend the money and use the facilities to give the 40,000 hope.  School won’t do it, many aren’t ready and don’t have adequate support to positively respond to an academic environment.  We can’t store everyone in a college somewhere, we have tried that before.  It didn’t work.

What we have to do is provide hope by altering our soldier’s and veteran’s perceptions of their future, of their country and how they can survive and endure, even enjoy a meaningful life.

Something those who have never been to war probably don’t think about is, well, what goes through someone’s mind when then are 8000 miles from home and unable to pick up, head for an airport, whenever they want.  Now imagine someone having to redeploy, yup, just like it says on the shampoo bottle, wash and repeat.  The view of America, of home, call it a “reality construct” if you will, become idyllic when away, a perception easily destroyed, even returning under the best of circustances.

Pleasant homecomings are the stuff of fiction.

The program I am suggesting would place 5,000 soldiers and veterans at a time in a 3 week recreational program integrating travel, education, life skills and enjoyment.  The initial basis for the program would be the Armed Forces Recreation Centers, military lodging and a renewed “R &R” program, organized by veteran volunteers, MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) specialists in the military and every genuinely patriotic American organization willing to help.

Individuals would be eligible every 6 months, programs would provide vacation opportunities in the US, including Hawaii and Alaska, Europe and elsewhere.  “Space A” transport and lodging would be used along with available military facilities.  Few know how extensive the military recreation capability is but, during the height of the Cold War, our capabilities were extremely impressive with ski lodges, beach resorts, golf courses, campgrounds, many in or near the world’s top tourist sites.

Instead of months in psychiatric programs, and thousand are in such programs now at incredible expense, we can offer hope, healing and real appreciation in place of drugs and bureaucracy.

Drugs and bureaucracy have killed enough of our children.

America has major military air transport hubs, very much airports, in places such as Aviano, Italy or Ramstein, Germany.  In fact, we have many such facilities, capable of logistically supporting this program as they do travel for the endless thousands of military retirees who use such facilities each month.

We have three weeks to break a cycle of despair and hopelessness.  Picture yourself, home from war, unemployed, medicated, no future, the walls closing in.  What will break that perception?  Do we send every returning veteran down to the VA to apply for disability compensation, a lifetime of government checks, psychiatric appointments and pills?

This is what we are doing now and doing a terrible job of it at that.

These programs aren’t entirely experimental.  They have been tried, they have worked.  However, as they are inexpensive, surprisingly so, they have not been supported actively.

We only make this suggestion because, frankly, we don’t see another choice.

“I am suicidal and depressed again, the damned VA is sending me to the Alps for a hiking vacation, fourteen days of mountain air and bratwurst.  I am not sure how many times I can do this and still survive.” 

Do we want to check the math?  Do a “cost/benefit analysis?”  Let’s simply do what is right.  These are our kids, they deserve it.  If we are going to rebuild America, lets start here by investing in our future.

Posted in PoliticsComments Off on AN ARMY TOO NEAR THE EDGE




Israeli forces toss gas bomb on protester near Hebron, causing ’severe burns to the entire body of Mohammed Jamal Abu Hashim, 14′

Israeli forces toss gas bomb on protester near Hebron, causing ’severe burns to the entire body of Mohammed Jamal Abu Hashim, 14′

Oct 02, 2010


* And other news from Today in Palestine:

Land and property theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Settlers burn 10 dunums of farmlands south of Nablus
NABLUS, (PIC)– Israeli settlers from the Itamar settlement in south Nablus burned on Friday at least ten dunums of land cultivated with olive trees in the Bayada region northeast of the Awarta village … Israeli occupation soldiers stopped Palestinians and emergency officials from controlling the fire.

Israelis built into a West Bank life / Jason Koutsoukis
THE West Bank is no place for principles. ”Of course I don’t like building houses for the settlers,” says Palestinian construction worker Haitham Asfour. ”But what choice do I have?” As the rumble of bulldozers in Jewish settlements across the West Bank this week signalled an end to Israel’s 10-month construction freeze – bringing the nascent Middle East peace talks to the brink of collapse – not all Palestinians could afford to be outraged. Mr Asfour, one of 25,000 Palestinians who depend on the settlers for a living, is one of them.

interesting ‘happy slaves’ take on situation
Palestinians building Jewish settlements
The end of the settlement construction freeze on Monday was felt not only by the settlers, but also their Palestinian neighbors. Hundreds of laborers flooded West Bank settlements as of the early morning hours and could be seen operating bulldozers … “They are being threatened with five years in prison if they work for us after January 1,” Shaul Goldstein, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council said. The real coexistence, after all, happens here, and the Palestinian Authority is trying to sabotage this. I am the one who wants peace and they just want war. This is the difference between us.”,7340,L-3961637,00.html

Peace talks come and go, but a settlement grows (AP)
REVAVA, West Bank – The American president was pushing hard for a Mideast peace agreement when six Jewish families arrived on this West Bank hilltop early one morning with cribs, refrigerators, Israeli flags and flatbed trucks carrying mobile homes. White House condemnation came quickly: “Settlements are an obstacle to peace and their continuation does not contribute to the development of a peace process which we have all been working toward.” It was April 16, 1991.

Security disparities in East Jerusalem make conflict inevitable
Israel’s Ministry of Construction and Housing controls the security provided to settlers in Palestinian neighbourhoods. The Ministry contracts private security firms that train and supply armed guards throughout East Jerusalem areas. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), an Israeli non-profit organization, reported that the Ministry paid a total of NIS 54,540,000 (roughly 15 million US dollars) to private security firms in 2010. In contrast, Palestinians must use the Jerusalem police who have a documented history of discriminatory practices towards Palestinians

The making of a virtual Palestinian state / Jamal Dajani
Jewish settlers account for just one percent of the population of the West Bank, according to Dutch cartographer Jan de Jong, but are claiming 60 percent of the land. “They are just one percent of the whole West Bank population, but they are claiming 60 percent of the land. The settlements are actually just built-up pockets, but the settlers include huge tracts of land around them by laying down barbed wire. So in effect it’s more like estates, containing just a few houses.”

* Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

IOF soldiers leave injuries on marchers in Beit Ummar
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) cracked down on a weekly march against settlement activity in Beit Ummar, Al-Khalil [Hebron], on Saturday leaving a minor severely burned while other marchers suffered breathing difficulties. Eyewitnesses said IOF soldiers caused severe burns to the entire body of Mohammed Jamal Abu Hashim, 14, after an Israeli soldier tossed a gas bomb directly at him and it exploded over his limbs. He was transported to the hospital.

Video: Bil’in weekly demonstration 1-10-2010 Haitham Katib

Rallies in Gaza commemorate 2nd Intifada
Islamist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad organized rallies on Friday in Gaza to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the start of the Second Intifada, using the anniversary as a symbol of the power of resistance … Demonstrations took to the streets after prayers in the An-Nusierat and Al-Bureij Mosques in the central Strip, and listened to Hamas orators.

In defense of South African academics’ boycott call / Ronnie Kasrils
…The principled position of academics in South Africa to distance themselves from institutions that support the occupation is a reflection of the advances already made in exposing that the Israeli regime is guilty of an illegal and immoral colonial project.

Israeli mayors’ visit runs aground in Spain, Netherlands / Adri Nieuwhof
The Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) canceled a 19 September visit by Israeli mayors because the delegation included leaders of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, igniting a firestorm in the Dutch parliament centered at foreign affairs minister Maxime Verhagen … According to Ynet, the head of the Council of Efrat, Oded Revivi, said that the mayors’ visit was originally planned for Spain. However, the tour was called off following the deadly raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla at end of May.

Court: Irish Nobel laureate to be deported from Israel
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, who was deported from Israel after joining a Gaza-bound aid ship, is currently in a detention facility at the airport pending an appeal to the Supreme Court

Boston Palestine Film Festival starts today
The fourth annual Boston Palestine Film Festival opens tonight [last night, Friday] at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston at 7 pm and runs through October 10 at venues across the city. The festival features films from around the world by and about Palestinians. This year’s program includes a range of compelling and thought-provoking documentaries, dramatic features, rare early works, and new films by emerging artists and youth. These films from international directors bring an honest, self-described, and independent view of Palestine and its diasporic society, culture, and political travails. A full schedule of programs, as well as tickets, can be found here.

Jewish boat to Gaza: the skipper speaks — Glyn Secker’s testimony
…There then developed a sight which will remain with me for the rest of my life – with the frigate in the background, two gunboats, two landing craft and four high powered ribs spread out in a semi-circle speeding towards us at perhaps 35 knots, with their bow waves and wakes flashing in the sunshine. It was surreal, it was like an action movie, and entranced by the sight I had to remind myself this was actually happening – this overwhelming force for a 9.7 metre 40 yr. old boat, the majority of its Jewish occupants over 60 years old, with no weapons and a publicized policy of passive resistance.

Gaza Europe convoy visits grave of youngest Turkish victim
International activists of “Gaza Europe Convoy” declares youngest Turkish-US victim as spiritual leader during a visit to his grave.

European Lifeline 5 convoy to land in Egypt within days
LONDON, (PIC)–  Spokesman for the Lifeline 5 land-sea aid convoy Zahir Beirawi said efforts are being made to convince Egyptian authorities to ease the task of the humanitarian mission en route to Gaza Strip. Beirawi denied rumors that the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) would not participate on the convoy for fear of criticism from Israel and the international community over links to Palestinian resistance groups.

* Violence / Provocations / Detention

Israeli soldiers ambush Palestinian workers in northern Gaza
GAZA, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) surrounded early Saturday morning a group of Palestinian workers in the northern Gaza Strip after opening fire at them. Local sources in Beit Hanoun said IOF special forces carried out an incursion operation at dawn near the Erez crossing in Beit Hanoun in pursuit of a number of Palestinian workers collecting special kind of sand which is used in construction.

IOF troops round up 300 Palestinians in one week
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up more than 300 Palestinians in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem over the past week, the Palestinian prisoner’s society said. It added in a press release on Saturday that most of those detained were minors, noting that the IOF was pressuring wanted Palestinians and prisoners by arresting their mothers and relatives.

Guilty Families – a report from a military court
…And then the judge suddenly said something that we could not hear, and the policeman got up, all of a sudden. “That’s it, it’s over,” he told the stunned parents. “Get out.” … And just then Nibal remembered that she had not shown Ayoub the photograph of his [new] daughter, that she had brought with her, deep in her clothes, and she tearfully pleaded with the attorney that he gives Ayoub the picture, and the attorney said that there was nothing he could do. “But what about the name?” Nibal said, still in tears. “What about the name?” … All court proceedings which occur at the same time are carried out in Hebrew. No one explains a thing to the defendant or his parents. The words are not translated.

The Mengele Squad
What is the connection between the occupation and references to the Holocaust in IDF slang? … No one in Israel really thinks the IDF and the SS are one and the same, or that Palestinian life under the occupation is identical to that of the Jews in the concentration camps, not to mention the extermination camps. But it turns out that IDF soldiers have been drawing such comparisons for years. Quietly, for themselves.

Former torturer appointed [to] a high-ranking police post in Jerusalem
The appointment of an infamous Israeli interrogator to a high-ranking police post has sent shockwaves among human rights groups. Known among inmates as Captain George, he is accused of numerous cases of torture and abuse of Arabs. Now that he is in charge of Arab affairs, many Palestinians fear for their lives … Just months into his new position, Zahavi has already been accused of badly injuring a Palestinian in Jerusalem.

Hamas members jailed with criminals in Ramallah
WEST BANK, (PIC)– Different Palestinian sources reported that the Palestinian Authority’s security militias lock up Hamas members with drug dealers and criminals in its jails in Ramallah city.

Islamist party demands PA adhere to court ruling
The Palestinian High Court verdict mandating the release of a Hizb Ut-Tahrir member remains unobserved by PA police, party leaders announced … According to supporters, [Mohammad] Khateeb remains held under the authority of the PA Security Enforcement Agency, an arm of the intelligence forces. Inquiries with the body allegedly resulted in Hizb Ut-Tahrir officials being told that the forces were not under the jurisdiction of the courts.

* Siege / Restriction of movement / Humanitarian/ Human rights

Israel bans 12 Palestinians from Al-Aqsa Mosque
An Israeli court on Friday issued a one month restraining order banning 12 [Israel-resident] Palestinians from the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, the Al-Aqsa Foundation said. The foundation said Israeli forces arrested the 12 men from a bus on Thursday as they headed to the mosque to pray. The men began chanting national slogans after they saw Israeli settlers entering the courtyard of the mosque, the group said

Palestinians to travel via Rafah without registration
Individuals traveling through the Rafah crossing between southern Gaza and Egypt will no longer have to register ahead of time, the Gaza government’s Crossings Administration said Saturday … Gaza residents, visa holders, individuals with medical referrals, foreign passport holders and coordinated travelers will be allowed transit through the crossing, the statement added. Meanwhile, 1,695 Palestinians stranded in Egypt were allowed entry into Gaza over the week, the majority of whom were patients completing treatment in Egypt. Additionally, 2,489 left Gaza during the same period while 270 were barred from travel at the crossing, the statement detailed.

UAE doctor restores hearing in Gaza
The Gaza Strip has the highest rate of deafness in the world due to explosions from Israeli military attacks and inter-familial marriage, a leading otologist said Saturday. Mazin Al-Hajiri is on his second visit to Gaza from the United Arab Emirates to perform cochlear implants, restoring the hearing of dozens of the Strip’s residents. Each surgery costs $22,500, and Al-Hajiri personally raised funds from various charities in the gulf to pay for the operations. In developed countries, A-Hajiri told Ma’an that usually one in 1000 people are deaf, but in Gaza studies suggest the figure is one in 100.

Morocco to fund new hospital in Rafah
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh reportedly allocated 50 dunums (50,000 square meters) of Gaza Strip lands west of Rafah to build the facility. Sources in the government said the location was chosen following studies, which indicated the district was in most urgent need of a medical care facilities for the 200,000 residents of the city. [and they are going to get the construction materials into Gaza how?]

* Israel’s Arab helpers

Egypt destroys four Gaza smuggling tunnels
Egypt has said it destroyed over 20 tunnels in September alone along its 11-kilometer-long border with the enclosed enclave — Egyptian security forces have destroyed four tunnels leading across the border to the Gaza Strip, one of them large enough to smuggle cars, officials said Saturday.

* ‘Peace talks’ / Political developments

Abbas spokesman: No peace negotiations while Israel builds settlements
After meeting of PLO executive committee in Ramallah, spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas says there will be no peace talks ‘in the shadow of continued settlement’.

Mitchell tours region in bid to save talks
As Palestinian leaders meet in Ramallah, US Envoy to the Middle East peace process George Mitchell began a tour of the region in an attempt to secure the backing of the Arab world for continued peace talks.  With an Arab League meeting planned for 6 October, White House officials said Mitchell left Jerusalem for Doha on Friday where he will meet with officials early on Saturday then travel to Cairo and Amman on Sunday.

Palestinians: Ball in Netanyahu’s court
PA’s chief negotiator Erekat says keys for saving peace negotiations in Israeli prime minister’s hands. ‘Peace and settlements are parallels,’ he says. Palestinian officials estimate, however, that PLO will approve return to talks if Israel builds in settlement blocs only – under supervision,7340,L-3962583,00.html

Assad: Peace talks boost Obama’s image
Syrian President Bashar Assad said Saturday that peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are aimed at bolstering Obama’s political image. “There is no goal but to gain support for Obama within America,” he told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, adding that “there has been no change in the peace process in Palestine.”,7340,L-3962697,00.html

White House denies Mideast Obama letters (UPI)
U.S. President Obama wrote to Mahmoud Abbas promising support for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders if he remains in peace talks, Maariv reported. The White House denied the existence of a such a letter to the Palestinian Authority president as well as reports of a letter sent by Obama to Israeli President Binyamin Netanyahu, the newspaper said.

UNRWA chief: Gaza must not be marginalized
The chief of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees Filippo Grandi said Friday that Gaza must not be left “in the margins.” Addressing a conference at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, the UNRWA Commissioner-General warned that, following prolonged and repeated crises in Gaza “consciously or not, many embrace the self-fulfilling rhetoric that seeks to justify its exclusion as a place beyond salvation.”

Bringing the PFLP back into PLO fold?
The Palestinian People’s Party extended its hand on Friday to leaders from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, asking that the faction take part in Saturday’s PLO discussions. As of late Friday, however, PFLP’s politburo chief Khalida Jarrar confirmed that the party intended to boycott the meeting, saying the current mechanism for Palestinian decision making was inadequate and unrepresentative, and that the party would not lend it support by participating now.

Fatah: Palestinians support Abbas’ position
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinians support President Mahmoud Abbas’ position that talks could not continue without a freeze in settlement activity, a Fatah spokesman said Friday. Usama Al-Qauasmi said the renewed settlement activity across the West Bank demonstrated that Israel was not interested in peace. This was also demonstrated by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s recent provocative statements, the spokesman said.

* Other news

PCBS: Palestinian women’s life expectancy higher than men’s
As the UN marked International Day of Older Persons on Friday, studies revealed that life expectancy in the occupied Palestinian territories was 70.8 years for men and 73.6 years for women. A study by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said Palestinians over 60 years old represented 4.4 percent of the total population of the West Bank and Gaza, and within this group, 55 percent were women.

Israeli Arab MK: Racism in Israel has reached frightening levels
Some 6,000 Israeli Arabs march in memory of 13 youths who were killed by Israel Police officers in October 2000 riots; Israeli Arabs call for suspects to be tried, declare general strike.

Shin Bet at loss after counter-espionage campaign in Gaza
GAZA, (PIC)– A Palestinian security source said that a state of confusion prevails inside Israel’s internal security Shin Bet after the Palestinian security apparatuses successfully eliminated its network of spies in the Gaza Strip and confiscated electronic gadgets used for intelligence activities.

Memorial for Druze soldier evokes piercing criticism of leadership
Madhat Yousef, left by IDF to bleed to death after being wounded in action guarding Joseph’s Tomb 10 years ago, remembered at ceremony attended by captive soldier Gilad Shalit’s mother, Aviva. His brother Mehdi reads letter for Shalit, asserting same leadership who abandoned Madhat is abandoning Gilad,7340,L-3962490,00.html

13,000 Quran memorizers to be honored in Gaza
They have learned the Quran by heart by attending the “Al-Aqsa Quranic Generation” courses held during summer … Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh as well as Ahmad Bahr head of the legislature will be attending the ceremony.

Ancient tree to help turn Jericho into tourist hub
JERICHO, West Bank (AP) — With a giant trunk and boughs towering 60 feet high, a gnarled sycamore near Jericho’s main square has long been touted as the very tree that the hated tax collector climbed to get a glimpse of Jesus. Now it’s taking center stage in a plan to transform this ancient desert backwater into a tourism hub.

Palestine pledges fund to Arab League initiative
Palestine allocated $1 million to a Kuwaiti initiative supporting small business projects in the Arab world, Palestinian Authority National Economy Minister Hasan Abu Libda announced Saturday. [is that $1 million of the funds given to Palestine by other countries?]

* Analysis / Opinion / Human interest

The impending collapse of Israel in Palestine / Francis Boyle
For the Palestinians to sign any type of comprehensive peace treaty with Israel would only shore up, consolidate, and guarantee the existence of Zionism and Zionists in Palestine forever.  Why would the Palestinians want to do that?  Without approval by the Palestinians in writing, Zionism and Israel in Palestine will collapse … All the demographic forces are in favor of the Palestinians and against the Zionists … Israel is ridden with and paralyzed by so many internal contradictions and conflicts that they are too numerous to list here. [By the author of Palestine, Palestinians and International Law]

Disguising reality of aggression / Hasan Abu Nimah
…The departure from accurate terminology and the adoption of misleading formulas has been quite systematic and deliberate – a way to change perceptions of what the conflict in Palestine is about and how it can indeed be solved. With the passing of time, the desired results were largely realised. Large sectors of people worldwide have been safely distanced from the real attributes of the conflict; and so have many Arabs, especially the youth. The adoption of imported terminology, often crafted in Israel and disseminated by influential Western media, officials and think tanks, and by some Arab quarters and media under their influence, has contributed substantially to allowing such deceptions to take root.

Mid-East talks and the Palestinian exodus / Ashraf Ezzat
The Exodus of the Palestinians from Palestine is the Israeli Idea of an Everlasting Peace — …The Palestinians are in no position to dictate any terms and they are stuck in no war – no peace zone. They cannot offer anything tempting to the Israelis. Some argue that security is a winning card for the Palestinians negotiators, but most of the Arab-Israeli conflict analysts don’t think so.

Washington Post continues distorted coverage on flotilla raid / Alex Kane
…There is a lot of evidence to throw the Israeli account into question, but four months later the Post still can’t get it right. While the paper’s September 29 report on the UN Human Rights Council endorsement of a report by three human rights experts that found the raid brutal, illegal and disproportionate opened with a decent lead … the piece quickly attempts to discredit the report by citing Israeli and U.S. objections to it. And then there’s this short account of the actual attack: “The commandos, who were attacked and beaten while rappelling onto the ship’s deck, killed nine passengers as they seized control.”

A Palestinian mayor in Safra Square / Nir Hasson
With Jerusalem split evenly between secular Jews, Haredim and Arabs, Palestinians could take both the mayoralty and city council just by going to the polls en masse … What would happen if Palestinian politicians were to decide, for the first time since 1967, to take advantage of the voting rights possessed by the city’s 250,000 Palestinians?

The second intifada, 10 years on / Seth Freedman
For Israelis and Palestinians the legacy of the 2000 uprising is a cycle of trauma and violence — making prospects for peace bleak … of the dozens of Palestinians my age who I’ve met and interviewed over the last four years, almost all speak of a mirror-image desire to fight for their country in the same way my peers and I took up arms for ours. Watching the continuing expropriation of their land, witnessing the daily humiliations suffered by their elders and betters at the hands of teenage soldiers, burying wave after wave of dead militants and civilians alike – regardless of the political decisions behind both sides’ intransigence, it would take superhuman strength not to be devastatingly affected by such brutal experiences.

Defining ‘Jewish state’: For many, term has different meanings / Glenn Kessler, WaPo
Nine years ago, then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell delivered a speech on the Middle East in which he briefly called on Palestinians to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.” Powell doesn’t recall how the phrase ended up in his speech, but David Ivry, then the Israeli ambassador to the United States, says he persuaded an aide to Powell to slip it in. From that small seed – the first time a U.S. official took sides on the issue – a significant and potentially insurmountable hurdle has emerged

Overcoming AIPAC is not enough / Dr. Lawrence Davidson
Two stories have recently appeared, each discussing a different approach to overcoming the influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobby that presently has enough clout to substitute its own parochial interests for the national interest … The truth is that the two approaches, one centered on the national capital and the other centered on main street, have to be pursued simultaneously. And, there is now movement at both levels. Yet the pace of change is agonizingly slow. And that fact raises the question of just how much of Palestine will be left when AIPAC’s influence is finally overcome?

Sanchez’s first mistake / Philip Weiss
I must point out that Rick Sanchez, who was unceremoniously fired by CNN today for talking some trash about Jon Stewart and the Jewish ownership of networks, was one of the few network anchors to give any attention to the Palestinian side of the story. He was plainly alarmed by the Israeli assault on Gaza in 08-09. He interviewed Palestinian lawyer Diana Buttu. And below, he interviewed Mustafa Barghouti, and showed that Israel broke the cease-fire ahead of the Gaza onslaught.

What unity could look like / S. C. Yuter
…While most unity agreements involve the collapse of the Hamas government in Gaza and its amalgamation into a West Bank PA framework, increasing criticism of the PLO, as unrepresentative and biased, give credence to new ideas that recognize the legitimacy of Hamas as a ruling party elected by the Palestinian people, but bring the government into an international fold by extending a 10-year hudna, or truce, to Israel, under the umbrella of which sides could develop trust and end the siege on Gaza.

Musical storytelling: Reem Kelani interviewed
…Kelani has met with predictable refusals to engage with the politics of her Palestinian identity. A commission for the music for a 1992 BBC documentary commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres included instructions not to use the words Sabra, Shatila, Palestine or Israel. But, she says, it is the world music scene which, while presenting itself as progressive and as engaging with indigenous peoples’ rights, has most insidiously undermined her progress as a Palestinian artist … “The reason is that Israel is very big on the world music scene…”

Forbidden city / Edward Platt
Shut out of Jerusalem, Arab artists have responded cleverly — A short film by the French-Moroccan artist Bouchra Khalili makes explicit the smothering restrictions on movement that preoccupy some of the contributors to “Future Movements: Jerusalem”, a group exhibition that opened on the first day of the Liverpool Biennial. Mapping Journey 3 is shot in a single take from above, with a static camera, and shows the hand of an unseen man moving across a map of Jerusalem, as he describes how he gets from his home in Ramallah to his girlfriend’s home in the suburb of Sheikh Jarrah.

AlJazeera English video: Gaza Horse Club
In Gaza, resisting Israel takes many different forms. One man has turned his anger into passion – and built a horse riding club. Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reports from Gaza.

* Iraq

Friday: 8 Iraqis killed, 13 wounded
Excerpt: at least eight Iraqis were killed and 14 more were wounded in light prayer day attacks across the country. In Baghdad, a blast at an Awakening Council (Sahwa) checkpoint killed three and wounded seven more, including worshippers from a nearby mosque. A sticky bomb wounded a civilian in Amiriya. A blast at a popular Jamiya sweets shop left an unknown amount of casualties. Gunmen killed one civilian and wounded two others yesterday in Camp Sara. Gunmen wounded a lt. colonel from the presidential guard.

Iraq sees lowest monthly toll since January (AFP)
A total of 273 Iraqis were killed as a result of violence in September, the lowest figure since January, according to government figures released on Friday. The toll, released by the health, interior and defence ministries, showed that 185 civilians, 55 police and 33 soldiers died in attacks in the first month after Washington officially declared an end to combat operations here.

Kurdish official: Lawmakers to discuss al-Maliki
SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq – Kurdish lawmakers began Saturday to plot their course as Iraq’s kingmakers with enough seats to secure a second term for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and press key demands including a greater say over the oil riches in the country’s north.

IMF releases $741 million loan to Iraq (AFP)
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The International Monetary Fund said Friday it was releasing 741 million dollars in financing to Iraq after the country made good progress in reconstructing the war-torn economy. The loan is the second installment of a 24-month loan the IMF awarded to Iraq in February.

Iraqis still reliant on power generators as US prepares to leave
IN BAGHDAD – As the U.S. military prepares to leave Iraq, Iraqis are still asking: What about the electricity? In 2003, they heard President George W. Bush’s promise: “We will help them to restore basic services, such as electricity.” Seven years later, the state’s inability to provide reliable power to homes remains one of the most striking signs of the dysfunction that persists here and a nagging source of frustration for ordinary Iraqis.

* Other Mideast

Lebanon row over Ahmadinejad visit
Lebanon’s largest parliamentary bloc has expressed concerns at a planned visit of the Iranian president to the country on October 13. In a statement issued on Friday, the March 14 alliance described Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s upcoming visit as a “provocation.”

Assad visits Iran to boost ties
Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, has arrived in Tehran on a trip aimed at reassuring Iranian leaders that the alliance between the two countries is solid despite Syria’s improved relations with the US.

Iran ‘detains Western spies’ after cyber attack on nuclear plant
…The intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi, said western “spy services” were behind the complex computer virus that recently infected more than 30,000 computers in industrial sites, including those in the Bushehr nuclear power plant, appearing to confirm the suspicion of computer security experts that a foreign state was responsible.

A politically correct band with a message
The Egyptian group Black Theama has articulated a soundtrack for defiance with socially conscious lyrics that resonate with a disaffected twentysomething generation.,0,6351305.story

BBC Video: ‘Drive-by’ tourism that hurts Jordan’s economy
The ancient city of Petra in Jordan attracts millions of tourists every year; but few local people see any real benefit from the tourist trade because visitors often stay in chain hotels and travel with big tour companies. In response the authorities have launched a plan to use the money generated to pay for local health care and education.

Muslim world atwitter over Twitter
…Facebook and Twitter are fast becoming a chronic headache to many extollers of Islam, who value control over their public. Security issues arise, clerics worry over the corruption of youth, and extreme rightists fear foreign influence.,7340,L-3962714,00.html

Amnesty Int’l: Saudi Arabian king urged to commute ‘sorcery’ death sentences
Lebanese national ‘Ali Hussain Sibat and ‘Abdul Hamid bin Hussain bin Moustafa al-Fakki, from Sudan, are both sentenced to death on this controversial charge, which has been used to punish people for exercising their right to freedom of expression … The crime of ‘sorcery’ is not defined in Saudi Arabian law. However, the authorities have arrested scores of people on ‘sorcery’ charges in recent years.

* Afghanistan / Pakistan

US still taking a hard line on peace talks with Taliban / Gareth Porter
WASHINGTON – Following serious setbacks to the U.S. military’s war plan in Afghanistan, the Barack Obama administration has taken the first tentative step toward a negotiated settlement of the conflict by actively seeking to ascertain the willingness of the Taliban to enter into negotiations, according to a source familiar with the administration’s thinking about the issue.

NATO tankers set ablaze in Pakistan
Attack on tankers carrying supplies to troops in Afghanistan follows deaths of Pakistani soldiers in Nato strikes.

Deaths in Pakistan ‘drone’ attacks
Missiles fired by suspected US drones in Pakistan’s North Waziristan province have killed 16 people, sources say. In the first raid on Saturday, nine people were reportedly killed after missiles hit a house in the Datta Khel area, close to the Afghan border.

US drone strikes kill 18 militants in Pakistan (Reuters)
* Saturday’s drone attacks part of escalation * Houses, vehicle targeted … Two U.S. drone attacks killed 18 militants in Pakistan on Saturday, intelligence officials said, after recent NATO incursions raised tensions with an ally critical to Washington’s war effort in Afghanistan.

‘Bin Laden’ urges help for Pakistan
Al-Qaeda leader calls on Muslims around the world to mobilise aid for flood victims in new audio tape.

* U.S. and other world news

No regard for human life / Leili Kashani
On September 28, Judge Ellen Huvelle affirmed the D.C. District Court’s decision to dismiss Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld, a civil lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel concerning three men who died in detention at Guantánamo in June 2006. Her decision came despite new evidence from four soldiers stationed at the base, which strongly suggests the three men were murdered at a secret site at Guantánamo and that the government worked hard to cover up the true cause and circumstances of the deaths.

Feds want case dropped against Afghan
The motion to dismiss was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in the case against Ahmadullah Sais Niazi, who had been accused by prosecutors of lying about his ties to terrorist groups on his citizenship application … Muslims who followed the case said they were pleased with the government’s move to dismiss the case and believed Niazi had been charged because he declined to become an informant for the FBI. [See The FBI: Foiling its own plots since 9/11]

Official at center of Pa. terror-alert flap quits
The director of the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security has quit, telling the governor that he made the decision after reflecting on the uproar over anti-terrorism bulletins that tracked the actions of peaceful citizens’ groups.

‘Blackwater’ gets new US contract
Private security firm now known as Xe has a slice of a new $10bn state department contract despite repeated violations.

Is the Pope Catholic? / Derrick Jackson
No wonder so many people think President Obama is a Muslim. Americans are ignorant about religions … only half of Americans know the Dalai Lama is Buddhist, only 27 percent know that most people in Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, are indeed Muslims and that only half of Christians correctly identify the Koran as the holy book of Islam.

Joseph Massad at AUC: Translating Islam
Arab authors, in spite of writing a great deal about religion, rarely used the word Islam in book titles until the 19th century, according to the professor … As use of the word Islam grows, Massad said, so does the creation of loaded antonyms like “freedom,” “modernity,” and “democracy”–less than subtle and less than informed condemnations of Islam.

The NYT is wrong again on settlement legality

Oct 02, 2010

James North

The New York Times makes another stab today at telling the truth about the legality of Jewish-only “settlements” in the West Bank, and fails again:

The settlements, which most countries consider illegal, . .

“Most countries?”  Ethan Bronner is insinuating that there is a minority group of countries that do accept the Israeli colonies.  Which are they?  Most of us thought Israel was the only one, that even the United States regards them as a violation of international law.

Is the new definition of “most” “everyone but Israel?” 

Jewish identi-kit(h)

Oct 02, 2010

Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel 

A question often raised on this blog is “What is Jewish identity?” Religious commitment, especially of the Orthodox variety, is easy to understand, but what is a Jewish atheist? Some commenters here have argued that there is really little more to it than a few comfort foods and a nominal holiday or two – and even those are essentially religious. Phil talks about distinctive culture (bookishness, humour, Yiddishisms), values (education, civil rights) and a sense of tribal affinity or kinship. He also talks about an inculcated sense of superiority, which could easily be filed under any of these headings. But how much of this is really “Jewish,” and how long can it last beyond the immigrant generations and their memories of unique (primarily religious, but also linguistic) Jewish cultures in the shtetl, ghetto, melah or juderia? The element of “kinship” might offer some answer, but without specific content, it is just a club?

Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan argued (see e.g. Questions Jews Ask [New York:1956], 3-73) that in an age in which observance of Jewish ritual is on the decline and there is nothing particularly distinctive about “Jewish” values or beliefs, the idea of Jewish peoplehood offers the only lasting basis for Jewish identity and Jewish life. In Kaplan’s view, peoplehood includes “awareness of a common history and a common destiny” and a shared set of “sancta” (“texts, heroes, objects, places and events”), while recognising significant diversity between different Jewish groups and streams. Kaplan was a Zionist, and viewed the establishment of a “Jewish national home” in Palestine as essential to Jewish survival in the post-Rabbinic era, although he was more of a cultural Zionist, along the lines of Ahad Ha’am and Judah Magnes. As a matter of fact, he and the Reconstructionist movement he founded had a complete programme for the “reconstitution of the Jewish People,” of which Zionism (without displacing the indigenous population of Palestine!) was only a part.

I see nothing wrong with the idea of peoplehood in and of itself – Shlomo Sand notwithstanding. I also identify with Phil’s feeling that his activism is related, in part, to his concern for his fellow Jews, which is why I am so pained by the fact that “my people” would appear to have put all of its identity eggs in two equally disastrous baskets (a single basket with two compartments?): Israel and anti-Semitism (or more specifically, the Holocaust). I don’t think I need to go into why these two dominant components of Jewish consciousness are so destructive. Let it suffice to say that a sense of ethnic destiny (see Sand) and a culture of victimhood are a noxious mix that can only end badly for Jews and non-Jews alike. So what are the alternatives? Is religion alone (even one in which one does not believe) really not enough? How about the construction of a just and democratic state in Israel/Palestine? Would the very presence of non-Jews “spoil” it all, or would learning to interact in a moral fashion with those we have wronged and oppressed not provide the very opportunity for growth and improvement that we are denied when we view ourselves primarily as entitled victims? The possibility certainly echoes elements of Jewish tradition and the work of modern Jewish philosophers such as Buber, Levinas and Hermann Cohen who were, in turn, influenced by that tradition.

To address a couple of the thoughts raised by Phil’s previous post, I don’t believe there is necessarily a contradiction between considering all people one’s “kin” and having a specific tribal identity – or rather a number of tribal identities. I consider Jews part of my tribe, but I also consider Palestinians part of my tribe, in a way that just doesn’t work for Finns or Indios – as much as I may feel various other sorts of kinship with them, first and foremost as human beings. Second, I think too much is made of the supposed negative effects of Jewish “historical” holidays (Passover-Purim-Hannukah) and the emphasis they place on oppression and salvation. These holidays are and can be filled with so much positive meaning, that the core narrative of the holiday need not have any nasty side-effects that kids (and adults) can’t handle. That is unless of course they are manipulated to serve a specific ideological and political end, which is indeed what has happened in Zionist education in Israel and abroad.  As with peoplehood, it’s all about content.

Palestinian children betrayed by aid agencies

Oct 02, 2010

Eleanor Kilroy

Children develop a keen sense of injustice at an early age. This is experienced by exasperated carers all over the world as protestations, ad nauseam, of unfairness: “but she has a bigger piece; why can’t I go too?” Strategies employed, with limited success, include distracting the little people with alternate entertainment or treats, and fooling them into believing that they have actually got the better deal. Children grow wary of their carers’ motives not without reason. In the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), children have the right to feel profoundly aggrieved for the betrayal is of a far more serious nature. A September 2010 report has found that Palestinian children’s rights to life and liberty are being sacrificed, as major donor agencies fail to challenge the Israeli state’s violations of international laws for fear of offending influential political lobbies.  

Beyond the fundamental right to life, “access of children to basic services, to social and leisure opportunities and to the care and nurturance of relatives beyond the immediate household has become subject to the whim of the Israeli administration and military forces”, as stated in the recent Oxford University Refugee Studies Centre’s Policy Briefing, “Protecting Palestinian children from political violence: the role of the international community” by Dr Jason Hart and Claudia Lo Forte. Interviews for the Briefing were conducted in the UK with former and current senior agency staff from various child focused organisations. Around 120 interviews and focus groups were conducted with individuals and groups that ranged from donor agency staff, PA officials, UN, INGO and NGO staff, teachers, parents and children in a range of locations across the West Bank and East Jerusalem. While the Briefing begins with the devastating loss of young life during Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in 2008/9, due to “issues of access and time” the authors were unable to visit the besieged strip as part of their research.  

Child protection is the responsibility of the state, but Hart and Lo Forte’s findings strongly indicate that in the context of a prolonged Israeli military occupation, the absence of a sovereign Palestinian state, and as long as the so-called ‘Middle East Peace Process’ grinds on, the task of protecting children and ensuring their wellbeing disproportionately falls to INGOs and UN agencies. These bodies are failing to make meaningful interventions in cases of persistent violations of children’s rights because of the dominant tendency to focus on response to threats rather than prevention, and the avoidance of political engagement with the Israeli state and its sponsors:

The close and dependent relationship of most child protection organisations to major western governments, means that their work is constrained accordingly. For example, the alleged reluctance of UNICEF to take a public stand in challenging Israel’s violations as a signatory to the UNCRC and other international legal instruments was attributed by several interviewees primarily to fear of alienating funders as well as those with political influence in the US, where the pro-Israel lobby is immensely powerful.

As one interviewee remarked, “We had more pressure on what we could say about violations of children’s rights from New York than even from the Israeli government.”

Rather than tirelessly advocating for the removal of the menace of Israeli state violence and settler violence from the streets and from children’s schools and homes, the organisations focus the greater part of their energies and funds in identifying ever-dwindling ‘safe spaces’ for Palestinian children in which the latter can benefit from psychosocial activities and insultingly limited educational and cultural opportunities. As one Palestinian NGO worker commented to the authors of the Briefing:

… this morning I was really really upset because my daughters were going on a school trip and I know that just ten years ago a school trip meant that they were going up to Haifa, and going up to Tel Aviv / Jaffa, and one time they actually went to Jordan, stuff like that. And so this school trip one of my daughters was going to Jericho, which we go to every week, and one of them was going to Jenin and Qalqilya. And that’s a school trip… I think that this is a larger political issue – it’s trying to restructure and contain how people perceive their living spaces and how society is being formed.

Thus, foreign donors might congratulate themselves on helping to somewhat alleviate the suffering and daily traumas of occupation, whilst, in the case of USAID and Save the Children US, they can eschew all reference to this occupation by using the term, ‘West Bank and Gaza’. Following the Oslo Accords, Palestinian NGOs became increasingly professionalised: “The involvement of western bilateral and multi-lateral donors grew and with that came the imposition of standardised bureaucratic practices upon local NGOs and a focus upon technical expertise and bureaucratic competence. One result of this gradual shift away from activism and solidarity has been to distance Palestinians working for local NGOs from the grassroots in terms of agenda-setting and prioritisation. A Palestinian working at a local child-focused NGO commented upon this shift in the following terms: “I shouldn’t say this, but I think international organisations are trying to shut us up. In the past locals were out on the streets, now we’re in the offices.”

The failure to protect the rights of children under International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law severely impacts upon their carers – in particular women – and the wider community. Each year, approximately 700 Palestinian children are arrested, interrogated, prosecuted and detained in the Israeli military court system. Children are interrogated in the absence of a lawyer and family member, and the interrogations are not audio-visually recorded as an independent oversight against abuse. Reports of ill-treatment, and in some cases torture, are common, and the overwhelming majority of children confess during interrogation. Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC) and Defence for Children International (DCI), Palestine, have jointly published details of the July 2010 arrest and 22 day detention without charge of two Palestinian 16 year olds by Israeli forces. The boys were held in solitary confinement for six days inside Israel, where they were interrogated by the notorious Shin Bet security agency. In ‘Voices from the Occupation’ (PDF), WCLAC fieldworkers listened to the testimony of one of the mothers. The lawyer told the children’s mother that the court had secret evidence against one of her sons: “He told us there is nothing a lawyer can do when the court relies on secret evidence. I couldn’t sleep for two days when I heard this. It felt like a dark black cloud had descended on me.’”  

The transfer of the two boys out of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and into Israel contravened Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. However, as Hart and Lo Forte found, “there is little evidence that major donors such as the EU, the governments of the UK and US, are prepared to take the kind of action at the political level that is required” to counter the systematic legal violations that so devastate the lives of children and their families. The Policy Briefing, “Protecting Palestinian children from political violence: the role of the international community” recommends, therefore, that the human rights crisis in the oPt requires a focus by the donors on root causes rather than effects, while the work of child protection organisations, however admirable, should be evaluated in terms of their impact preventing harm to Palestinian children arising from political violence, and “conversely, the unwillingness to go beyond ameliorative measures – such as psychosocial interventions – should become the focus of critical discussion.” There can be little doubt that Palestinian children are not fooled by international attempts to distract them from what is truly just and kind. 


Yonatan Shapira, a moral giant

Oct 02, 2010

James North

Anyone who has had the good fortune to meet Yonatan Shapira will be particularly sickened at the reports that he was tasered in the heart and left screaming after he and the others on the Jewish boat to Gaza were stopped illegally.  In person, Yonatan is friendly, likeable, and genuinely considerate of the opinions of others who do not agree with him.

Yonatan Shapira is also a moral giant.  He is the Israeli pilot who condemned his own air force for violating human rights and who refused to fly any more missions.  In 2003, he bravely confronted the air force commander, Lt. General Dan Halutz, about what are euphemistically called “targeted assassinations” — Israeli warplanes fired missiles at Hamas leaders in Gaza, also killing innocent bystanders, some of them children.

Yonatan asked General Halutz, What if a Hamas leader were located in Tel Aviv?  Would you order our pilots to fire there, risking Israeli bystanders?  Halutz said no.  So you value Israelis over Palestinians, Yonatan responded.  Get someone else to fly your aircraft. 

Yonatan, who is now 38, vigorously supports BDS, pointing out that it is a nonviolent program of change that Palestinians themselves came up with.  His outspokenness has attracted attention from the Israeli security agency, the Shin Bet.  

Shmuel has reminded us of the teaching of the rabbis: “Where there are no men, try to be a man.”  Some day, Yonatan Shapira will be in the history books.  By name.

Notes on my racism, part 3: ‘My people’

Oct 02, 2010

Philip Weiss 

The other day in a post on atavistic Jewish feeling, I offended some readers by using the words “my people” to describe Jews. I did so because it’s a genuine statement of a persistent tribal allegiance that I feel, even in my mid-50s, in a largely gentile world.

But let me try and explain just where the feeling comes from, how many other Jews share it, and to what extent I regard it as defensible, which to some extent I do.

As I’ve written before, I grew up in a bookish household with a very strong sense of how Jews were different and superior. Let’s leave the superior out of it; that’s not really the point of this post. We had different values and we were keenly aware of who was Jewish and who was not. We were more comfortable with Jews. The inner circle were NY Ashkenazi Jews but it spread out to include all European Jews and then all Jews anywhere, we thought of them as kinspeople. My parents’ closest friends were other New York Jews with whom they could share points of reference, Yiddish, and general cultural understanding and values. My mother’s favorite story just about was of a Jewish friend, her closest friend, who later moved to Israel, telling her that before she got married to her scientist husband, the fiance’s mother took her aside and said, “Do you really love J? You really do? Well then if you really loved him you would not marry him and let him find someone rich.” My grandparents generation were often immigrants, usually poor, and knew that learning – in that story, J was a gifted student—was socially highly-valued. Thus the Jewish doctor of a generation back (replaced today by the Jewish investment banker of Chelsea Clinton’s adoration).

I remember being instilled to feel a kinship to black people in Baltimore. I had black friends, my mther made connections to the black community. We regarded them as similarly outside and powerless, and also beneficiaries of civil rights legislation.

Pogroms and Holocaust shaped our view of our people. They had almost wiped “us” out in Europe with the connivance of the American State Department. My mother had six children, she often said, because she wanted to repopulate the world with Jews. We were in danger of extinction. We never realy went to synagogue, my scientist father looked down on rabbis, but big deal: we sought out the company of Jews, because they were smart and funny and shared our understandings. I have heard similar tribal attitudes expressed by a Jewish friend who dated non Jews in college but married a Jew because it was easier, and from a Palestinian friend who says she dates Arab men because there isn’t as much to explain personally.

I remember a non Jewish friend coming to my parents’ house to visit on Thanksgiving and getting very nervous within a few minutes. Where’s the liquor? He came up to me and murmured. I had to look in some old cabinet, for dusty bottles.

My sense of a Jewish people, of a continuous culture and understanding, informs my actions to this day. While I married a non Jew and have many non Jewish friends, I have a certain sense of loyalty to Jews, as an embattled people. When I go to Israel I generally don’t recognize the Israelis, who are as Shlomo Sand has said, a people, but I do recognize Ashkenazi Jews, be they Israelis or European.

This affinity is true even of some of my leftwing non Zionist friends. We occasionally look at one another and say, We are here not just out of devotion to human rights, but because we don’t want our people, the Jews to be hurt. In fact, we see our representation here in the Palestinian solidarity community, as proud Jews, as guarding against the thing we have always been warned about, that They are going to wipe us all out.

The belief that They are going to Wipe Us All Out, which is supported by history, to some degree, I can tell you is shared by many powerful Jews. They’ve told me so. Shmuel repeatedly urges people to give up trauma as a form of self-definition, but I can tell you that many people don’t take his advice, they are embracing it. Lately a friend when I asked him why he’s a Zionist said, Because they are always going to rise up against us, at some time or place. I don’t share that feeling, but there it is. 

My sense of my peopleness led me in college to seek out the company of other Jews at the Harvard Crimson newspaper, and to prefer the company of Jews in what struck me as an alien atmosphere. Yes, Ashkenazi Jews. Marty Peretz was a ringleader of the social studies Jews I knew, and there were haut German Jews, too, who were new to me, but still I had a sense of communality/caste identification. We saw each other as part of an elite with distinct values. When my mother asked me about my friends, I’d tell her about the Jews. My closest three friends were all Jews.

As I’ve said here often, I think that Jews hired other Jews. I know I’ve benefited from this full employment program on numerous occasins in my life. I think that Marty Peretz had me working at the New Republic when my work wasn’t that good in good part because I’m Jewish and was in the gang. I think that the editor who has given me more work than anyone, who will go nameless, loves me in part because we’re of the same tribe. When you look at hives of Jewish writers, say the New Yorker Magazine, or the professors at Columbia University schools, I believe there is a strong kinship network at work. I’ve mentioned Lawrence Summers and Elena Kagan and Michael Walzer and Judith Shklar, their faculty networks at Harvard, as indicative of the same tendency.

Hey it was no different when the WASPs were running the center ring. Just read Digby Baltzell. Again, though, if you think it’s just a coincidence that David axelrod and Rahm Emanuel, the two men closest to Barack Obama, are Jewish, when the Pritzkers and Crowns were so essential to Obama’s rise, with financial backing, I think you’re livin in dream land.

How bad or good is this? I think it just is. I don’t feel that bad about it. I think people are tribal. My wife has autochthonous WASP feelings and attachments she’ll never get over and I’ll never completely understand. Go figure. I like to think I’m fairly evolved – though yes I know people who are much more postracial than I am – still I have this tribal component. James North, who spurred this post, says he feels no allegiance to the Swedes, but to Americans. Good for him, I admire that, I’m a little different. Jeffrey Goldberg is different. I may not think about Is it good for the Jews? As the defining question, but I do think about it. When I was working in Minnesota a few years ago, a Norwegian-American guy was arrested for combing the marriage notices every week and sending out vicious anonymous letters to the couples who combined Swedish or Norwegian names and Irish names, any intermarriages. Or when I was at the Daily News in Philly, we did a police item about a rabbi arrested at the airport for embezzling synagogue money, and a Harvard friend’s father railed at me for putting that in the paper. That is the essence of the issue. He thought that it would feed stereotypes of Jews even though it was true, and he felt I had the power to block it, as I did, and he felt kinship with the rabbi even though he didn’t know him.

I titled this post Notes on my racism and undoubtedly these feelings feed racism. But they are real. To argue my friend’s father’s side for a moment, in the rabbi case, it came out of fear and insecurity, the fear that we would be wiped out, which again I have heard from some of the most empowered people on the planet. I don’t share that fear, I dedicate a lot of time on this site to arguing that history is moving in a completely different direction, but I feel a kinship with people who do, and as such I know that I will always be responding to that concern. I will always be in that conversation, even with members of my own family. I will argue, as Shmuel does, that you should not put Yad Vashem at the center of your world view. And we will win that struggle, some day. Still the fears are there, they unite people who regard themselves as a people, and if you think that we can get out of the Middle East mess without dealing with these identity issues, well–

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INTERNATIONAL FLAW: With New Iran Sanctions, POTUS Calls Tehran’s Kettle Black

October 2, 2010by Debbie Menon  

“The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.”  

– Samuel P. Huntington

Nima Shirazi via Wide Asleep in America

Timothy Geithner and Hillary Clinton announced a new round of sanctions against Iran on September 29, 2010. (AP)

“By alleging Iran has some problems, America’s problems aren’t resolved. Just alleging that Iran has problem is not going to resolve Mrs. Clinton’s problems for her.”

– President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking with Charlie Rose, May 3, 2010

On Wednesday afternoon, in a joint press conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner announced that the United States had imposed a new set of unilateral sanctions, including a travel ban and freezing of assets, against a number of top-ranking Iranian officials whom it accused of “serious and sustained human rights abuses” since the presidential election last year. The measure, which comes less than four months after the UN Security Council’s latest illegal resolution and the Obama administration’s last round of economic sanctions, was enacted via an Executive Order signed into effect last night by the President.

This marked, as Clinton pointed out, “the first time the United States has imposed sanctions against Iran based on human rights abuses.” Every US administration since Carter’s has issued unilateral sanctions against Iran due to its continued opposition to US imperialism and insufficient deference to American diktat. However, the sanctions have previously been justified using the pretense of Iran’s alleged “active support of terrorism,” its totally legal and fully monitored nuclear energy program, as well as the wholly fabricated notion that “the actions and policies of the Government of Iran constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States” and required “the declar[ation of] a national emergency to deal with that threat.” This last hysterical claim was introduced by the Secretary of State’s Presidential husband back in 1995.

This time around, Hillary Clinton stated, with regard to the eight government officials specifically targeted by the new order, “on [their] watch or under their command, Iranian citizens have been arbitrarily arrested, beaten, tortured, raped, blackmailed, and killed. Yet the Iranian Government has ignored repeated calls from the international community to end these abuses, to hold to account those responsible and respect the rights and fundamental freedoms of its citizens. And Iran has failed to meet its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

Apparently, the United States’ own recent history regarding the invasion and occupation of two foreign countries, the kidnapping, indefinite detention without charge, and the physical and psychological torture of thousands of people, including at places like Guantanamo, Bagram, and Abu Ghraib (where prisoners were raped by their American captors) is irrelevant to the administration’s finger-pointing charade and ongoing demonization campaign against Iran. Prisoners held by the United States in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, in addition to being “chained to the ceiling, shackled so tightly that the blood flow stops, kept naked and hooded and kicked to keep them awake for days on end,” have also been beaten to death by their interrogators. Of the fifteen soldiers charged with detainee abuse ranging from “dereliction of duty to maiming and involuntary manslaughter,” all but three have been acquitted. Those three received written reprimands and served, at most, 75 days in prison for their crimes.

In contrast, after reports of torture at Iran’s Kahrizak prison surfaced, the Iranian government moved swiftly to close the facility because it “lacked the standards” to maintain “rights of detainees” and launched an investigation into the allegations. Around the same time, 140 detainees were released from Tehran’s Evin Prison at the urging of the head of the Judiciary and Majlis ministers.

Additionally, according to a Financial Times report from June 25, 2009 and featured only as an insert in the print edition, several students who had been arrested during the post-election protests, rallies, and riots, were freed in order to join 1.3 million other young Iranians in taking the national university entrance exam.

In December 2009, Iranian authorities announced that twelve prison officials from Kahrizak had been arrested and charged with murder and other crimes, including abuse, negligence and deprivation of prisoners’ legal rights. This past June, courts passed down prison sentences and other punishment to those accused and two prison guards were convicted of murder and “intentional assault and battery” and were sentenced to death. It was reported this week that the death sentences have been rescinded at the request of the families of the victims.

Of course, human rights abuses in Iran are indeed serious and deserve condemnation. Most recently, Hossein “Hoder” Derakhshan, Iran’s so-called “blogfather,” has been convicted of “collaborating with hostile governments, committing blasphemy and propaganda against the Islamic Republic, and managing an obscene website” and sentenced to 19.5 years in prison.

Meanwhile, the United States firmly protecting its own war criminals, maintains a two-tiered justice system, routinely criminalizes dissent and whistleblowing, and breeds soldiers who kill civilians for sport and dismember corpses for fun.

“The steady deterioration in human rights conditions in Iran has obliged the United States to speak out time and time again. And today, we are announcing specific actions that correspond to our deep concern. The mounting evidence of repression against anyone who questions Iranian Government decisions or advocates for transparency or even attempts to defend political prisoners is very troubling,” Clinton continued, at the press conference. The Secretary of State also noted the distressing treatment of Iranian “human rights lawyers, bloggers, journalists and activists for women’s rights.”

This heartfelt announcement came just five days after the FBI launched its latest surreal assault in the US government’s “war on dissent” (as termed by former FBI agent and courageous whistleblower Coleen Rowley) by kicking down doors, raiding homes at gunpoint, issuing grand jury subpoenas, and seizing the personal property, including “documents, files, books, photographs, videos, souvenirs, war relics, notebooks, address books, diaries, journals, maps, or other evidence,” such as computers, cell phones, and emails of several American peace and justice activists in the Midwest. The raids were conducted under the guise of determining whether the targeted peace organizers and human rights advocates were actually devious supporters of “foreign terrorist organizations.”

Elderly anti-war protesters, graduate students, neuroscientists, and civil rights attorneys have all been held for years by the US government and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences on bogus charges.

Furthermore, the claim that the US government supports “transparency” is deeply ironic, considering Obama’s obsession with invokingstate secrets” and “sovereign impunity” in order to shield illegal programs like warrantless wiretapping and spying, extraordinary rendition, torture, drone warfare, and the extrajudicial assassination of American citizens from proper scrutiny and prosecution.

Whereas American officials are quick to declare their unqualified promotion of “new tools of communication” and support for “a free and open Internet,” as President Obama did last week at the United Nations General Assembly, the US is itself a surveillance state, which relentlessly monitors its own citizens. The CIA and other intelligence agencies have invested in technology and companies that specialize in monitoring social media and, this past summer, a Senate committee approved a wide-ranging cybersecurity bill that may grant the US president the authority to unilaterally shut down parts of the Internet during a “national cyber-emergency.” Just this week, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration will propose new legislation to mandate US government access to all forms of electronic communications, “including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct ‘peer to peer’ messaging like Skype.”

“In signing this Executive Order,” Clinton declared on Wednesday, “the President sends the message that the United States stands up for the universal rights of all people” and serves “as a voice for the voiceless.” 

Nima Shirazi is a Staunch humanist. Opinionated egoist. Skeptical solipsist. Frustrated optimist. Hobbesian idealist.

Posted in USA1 Comment



Nobel Laureate Mairead McGuire arrested by Government of Israel

October 2, 2010

by Debbie Menon  


By Niloufer Bhagwat

Global Research,

September 30, 2010 

Mairead Maguire

It has been brought to the notice of the international community that Nobel Laureate Mairead McGuire second to none in her support to eliminate conflicts and the reasons for conflicts between nations and peoples, has been illegally arrested and detained by the Government of Israel when she arrived for the ‘PEACE CONFERENCE OF NOBEL LAUREATES’ to prevent her from attending a Peace Conference of Nobel Laureates from all over the world being held in Israel .

In arresting and detaining Mairead McGuire and preventing her from attending a peace conference, the government of Israel is seen all over the world as its own worst enemy, as nothing is eroding the State of Israel as much as its own acts such as Operation Cast Lead, collective killings on the MAVI MARMARA the creeping colonization of settlements in the region, and now the unjustified detention of Mairead McGuire, a sane voice for Peace  with compassion for people the world over.

Is it surprising that democratic sections of Jewish public opinion the world over with memories of their own persecution similar in nature to what has been inflicted on the Palestinians and victims of the holocaust themselves are now constrained to dissociate themselves from these policies?

To reiterate the government of Israel seems to be its own worst enemy and no public relations exercise has damaged the State of Israel more than its own acts .

You are aware that Mairead McGuire a very senior and eminent citizen of Ireland , is a voice of sanity in a deranged world , with malice towards none, what does the government of Israel wish to prove by this detention? I put this question to Jewish opinion and international opinion the world over, including in the State of Israel. 

Niloufer Bhagwat Vice President of the Indian Association of Lawyers ( India )




Make sure to listen to the point begining at 2 minutes where Kanjorski discusses the “electronic run on the banks” that would have bankrupted the US within 24 hours. “Someone threw us in the middle of the Atlantic without a liferaft and now we don’t know if we have what it takes to get back. We simply do not know”






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Enter the Israel Project’s ‘Best Shots of Israel’ contest

Oct 01, 2010

Adam Horowitz


As a service to The Israel Project we thought we’d let you know about

 their new photo contest


TIP Photo Competition

Send Us Your Best Shots of Israel!



1st Prize: $150.00
2nd Prize: $100.00
3rd Prize: $50.00

We are particularly looking for colorful photos that show the full variety of daily

 life in Israel. If you live there or if you are just visiting, give us your best shots and

we’ll display them on our site with full credit!

Email your best photo to:

Please submit your photos as .jpg and write “PHOTO CONTEST” in the subject line.

Just a warning though. The fine print says “No submission may depict harmful

or illegal activity or substances, or offensive subject matter as determined in the sole

 discretion of TIP.” So that might narrow your options some. Good luck!

Sanchez’s first mistake

Oct 01, 2010

Philip Weiss


I must point out that Rick Sanchez, who:

was unceremoniously fired by CNN today for talking some trash about Jon Stewart

 and the Jewish ownership of networks, was one of the few network anchors to give any

attention to the Palestinian side of the story. He was plainly alarmed by the Israeli assault

 on Gaza in 08-09. He interviewed Palestinian lawyer Diana Buttu. And below, he interviewed

Mustafa Barghouti, and showed that Israel broke the cease-fire ahead of the Gaza onslaught. 

As for his recent comments about Jews not being an oppressed minority and Jews owning the

television networks– it seems to me that these are legitimate subjects for discussion. Maybe his

 tone was inappropriate, maybe he should have gotten out the kid gloves. But they are legitimate

 subjects; and the manner of Sanchez’s dispatching is only likely to feed uninformed debate about

the nature of the American establishment. Let’s talk about it.

Of course I hope that in his next incarnation Sanchez looks more deeply into the Israeli oppression

of Palestinians. Somehow I sense that’s not in the cards…

Jewish boat’s captain says IDF used ‘considerable, unprovoked and dangerous violence’

Oct 01, 2010

Philip Weiss


Glyn Secker, the British captain of the Jewish boat to Gaza, reports on its interception

earlier this week, and his deportation. Key excerpts:

There then developed a sight which will remain with me for the rest of my life – with the

frigate in the background, two gunboats, two landing craft and four high powered ribs spread

 out in a semi-circle speeding towards us at perhaps 35 knots, with their bow waves and wakes

flashing in the sunshine. It was surreal, it was like an action movie, and entranced by the sight

 I had to remind myself this was actually happening – this overwhelming force for a 9.7 metre

40 yr. old boat, the majority of its Jewish occupants over 60 years old, with no weapons and a publicized

 policy of passive resistance.

The next we knew there were two ribs very close alongside with the commander on a megaphone

again warning us of the dangers if they boarded us. I reiterated our legal rights,  and for what it

was worth I accelerated, just to make a point that outpacing them was fantasy.

Then as planned Itamar addressed the commandos in Hebrew and English, calling on them not to

obey the orders to take actions which are illegal under international law. The ribs closed in, and

the boarding commenced.

All the crew and passengers (apart from myself as I was steering) held hands.They boarded us

simultaneously from both sides.

At that moment we cut the engines and sat over the access points to the cut offs to prevent

them restarting the engines. The wheel is on the starboard side of the boat. I was surrounded

 by three commandos, I held on to the wheel as hard as I could. It reminded me of being on

violent picket lines with the police trying to break through. One grabbed my left arm, another

my right arm. The third stood by with a Tazer gun. After a struggle they managed to prize my

hands from the wheel and threw me down on the floor. I managed to crawl behind them and remove

 the engine starter keys but one of them saw me and prized the keys from my hands.

On the opposite side of the cockpit Yonatan Shapira and his brother Itamar had been identified by

the IDF commander in charge. He sought to separate them from the others. Yonatan clasped Rami

in a hug to prevent himself being removed. The senior officer then moved one sideYonatan’s lifejacket

 covering his left breast, placed a Tazer gun in contact with his clothing and fired it directly into his heart.

 Yonatan let out a dreadful scream and the force of the Tazer caused him to lose control of his muscles.

He was pulled off Rami and across the cockpit to the middle. He was then hit twice more by the Tazer gun,

screaming out again.  Both he and Itamar were forcefully pulled off our boat  onto the IDF rib on port side.

They were driven at very high speed over the waters, which had now become moderately rough

(the wind had increased to a F4) and it would have been very uncomfortable especially for Yonatan still

 recovering from the Tazer shocks…

[The boat was then towed in to Ashdod, at high speed] As a gesture of defiance I decided to cook lunch!

Not easy in the circumstance but I managed to produce omlett (with garlic) sandwiches which Reuvan,

Lillian and I think Eli and I shared. Whilst in the galley I took the opportunity of chucking out of the

window the carving knife, the bread knife, a chisel and two hammers from the tool box, remembering

that similar items had been photographed as evidence of weapons on previous boats.

I’d like to point out that in the USA it is illegal for the police or the army to fire Tazers directly into the

heart as there have been a number of cases of heart failure and death as a result of such targeting.

The fact that Yonatan was released without charge makes it very clear that the use of the Tazer on

him was purely malicious.

Contrary to IDF reports, there was therefore, considerable resistance, be it non-violent, to the IDF’s

illegal hijacking of our boat, and there was considerable, unprovoked and very dangerous violence

perpetrated by the IDF.

On arriving at Ashdod we were greeted by perhaps 100 people in uniforms of one sort or another within

 an a secure area created by ships containers. We were obliged to pass through a tent where we were

subjected to detailed body searches and luggage searches. I was the last out as I insisted on making an

inventory of the boat valuables, though I was unable to get any officer to countersign it it, it was taken

 by a female officer from I believe their foreign office, but this was not clear. Before I was allowed back

on the boat to do the inventory it was searched, including the use of a dog. None of us of course had any

illegal drugs, but I have to admit of a nervous moment when someone asked me if any previous owner

 might have stashed anything away – this hadn’t occurred to me. Whilst waiting I was approached by a

Major who stated that he was in charge of  Gaza boarder security and he offered to transport our aid to Gaza.

He arranged for us to go onto the boat, I extracted the aid from the lockers and he placed it where he could find it later.

The boat was in a state of chaos, having been ransacked by those searching it. I don’t suppose they intend clearing out

the fridge and other food, so god knows what it will be like after a few weeks in what is still a hot time of year.

 Combined with the split bellows on the loo pump whoever goes on the boat next will need a good face mask and a

strong stomach.

I was taken to the Immigration and Boarder Authority where I experienced a truly Kafkaesque moment.

We were presented with a form to sign which stated that I was due to be deported being suspected of residing

 in Israel illegally. When I pointed out that the only reason I was in Israel at all was that the IDF had kidnapped

me and forcefully brought me into Israel on the orders of the government, the reply was that it did not matter

who had brought me in, but that now I was there I was there without permission and so due for deportation.

They were not amused by my laughter.

‘Commentary’: legitimacy issues, Palestinian resistance and U.S. opportunities are rotting Israel’s purpose

Oct 01, 2010

Philip Weiss


Here is an interesting/twisted piece that reaffirms my belief that Israel is not about the actual safety of

Jews– guess what, we’re back in Berlin and we’re doing fine all over the U.S.– it is a symbol for a certain kind

of Jewish identity, and increasingly a militant and isolated one.

Daniel Gordis in Commentary says that the “existential threat” posed by Iran is not actually to destroy Israel,

 but to destroy the soul of the Jewish people, by returning them to their eternal European condition in the

 Warsaw Ghetto– helpless at the hands of the goyim.

Gordis argues that what Israel did was to transform the Jewish condition in history from the powerless

victims of the last 1000 years to the masters of their own destiny. No one can f– with us! This was a joyous

project for Jews, he says, and it gave Israel resolution, in essence, to beat up Arabs who got in the way.

That is, until recently, when Gordis concedes that even Israelis are wearying of the military bargain.

[T]he cafés are filled with people socializing and leading what looks like the good European life.

Yet beneath this veneer, Israel is bone-weary. On its campuses, increasing numbers of faculty

members espouse the notion that Zionism is colonialism. Draft evasion is at an all-time high.

The international delegitimization of Israel haunts day-to-day life.

Perhaps most important, today’s Israeli parents are the first generation to send their children

to war unable to console themselves with the notion that theirs will be the last generation of

 children that will have to fight. Few Israelis believe that anymore. Palestinian recalcitrance is

much more deeply rooted than many Israelis had hoped….

One can sustain a commitment to this sort of existence only with the certainty that it makes an enormous difference. Until now, it has, and Israelis have known that. But after Iran has a nuclear capability that rests in the hands of evil men who believe that the Jewish state is a disease in its midst and that Judaism itself is a foul doctrine—in what way will the existential Jewish condition be all that different from what it was in Central Europe in the early 1930s?

To be sure, Israel boasts a flourishing Jewish culture, a renewed Hebrew language, and an impressive array of Jewish accomplishments that could not have happened without the state. But all that, impressive as it is, is insufficient. For the first commitment of Zionism has been to provide safety to Jews. So far, it has more or less succeeded. But the minute that Iran possesses its long-sought nuclear weapon, Zion becomes not a haven for the Jews but a potential deathtrap. … And if that happens, Israel will have lost its purpose.

Without purpose, Israelis will not remain in Israel. The allures of Boston and Silicon Valley, where intellectual and financial opportunity await without the burdens of war and the shadow of extinction, will be too difficult to resist. Those who now stay in Israel do so, in large measure, because they sense they are part of a historic transformation of the Jewish condition. Absent that awareness, however, the most mobile of Israel’s citizens—who also happen to be those whom the state most desperately needs—will be the ones who abandon it.

In this way, Iran could end the Jewish state without ever pressing the button.

There are at least two spiritual/intellectual contradictions in this piece that show how hollow Gordis’s Zionist prescription is. 

First of all, he notes that Israel has established a European lifestyle, 500 miles east of Istanbul. So the whole enterprise is about overcoming European history, on a Middle East canvas. Isn’t that absurd? How fair to the Palestinians is that? Their rights don’t even feature in American-born Gordis’s conception of history. But is there any doubt that an indigenous population would resent this imposed burden of others’ history and continue to resist?

Second, and more important, Zionist Gordis sees the great historical transformation of Jews as taking place in Israel, with guns. But I regard the great historical transformation as taking place in the U.S. principally. And Gordis knows I’m right, when he says that if Israel gets too unpleasant, Israelis can freely move to the U.S. So if Israel is the protector of the Jews, then how is it that the most powerful nation in the world is a haven for Jews to make productive, safe lives? And if they are able to make their lives there, then why should the U.S. then go to war for Israel, as Gordis suggests, for the historical symbol that Israel represents to ethnocentric Jews? Is that really worth blood and treasure? 


Videos from Silwan

Oct 01, 2010

Adam Horowitz


The video above depicts a woman in Silwan testifying that late at night an Israeli border policeman, who was stationed on her roof, broke the glass window in the video and instructed her to make him coffee. He seems to have thought she was alone in the house, although her husband was there.

Joseph Dana posted the video as well and added:

Recently, I was on the ground and witnessed soldiers urinating and defecating on the roofs of private Palestinian homes, throwing bottles (water and beer) on to Palestinians pedestrians on the street and breaking windows left and right.

From the ground I tweeted:
“Soldiers are trashing roof tops with urine and feces in Silwan. We are cleaning up and putting the waste in front of the settler house”
“The police have no shame at all. They have broken a window now and poked their heads into the house demanding coffee”

Here’s another video that was shot by Israeli activist Sara Benninga:

The video features Israeli police chief Avi Cohen (bald, sitting on the car) and his police force waiting for “a suspect” to return home so they can arrest him. In the meanwhile, a woman comes to visit a sick sister who is inside the house, but she is refused entry by the police, who keep an ominous silence.

Here is a rough transcript:

Sara Benninga:
– 0:40 Her sister is sick, inside, and she wants to come in

– 1:00 [Palestinian man asks Avi Cohen in Hebrew fs the woman can come in. No response.]

– Benninga: Can you speak ? “yes”? “no”?

– 1:05 she’s an elderly woman. Let her in.

-[to Avi Cohen] it seems like you have got the upper hand, it is not likely that she is a threat to any of you. She is an elderly woman.

– 1:25 This is what an arrest looks like in Silwan, East Jerusalem. Silent, the (border) police do not talk or respond and prevent an elderly woman from visiting her sick sister.

– 1:45 This is the face of the Israeli police, the Jerusalem police. Avi Cohen, head of the minorities department is here.

– 2:00 Why won’t you let her in?

-[to Avi Cohen] You are the strong part here. She’s an elderly woman. Are you threatened?

– 2:30 The face of the rule of law 2010

– 2:55 Policeman: Excuse me, you are disturbing me.

– Benninga: No one intends to disturb you

-3:15 You know what is the worst thing about it? That the world can see how you behave, and that is a bigger threat than an elderly woman visiting a sick sister and being denied entry.

-3:33 [to the border policeman at the gate]
-Are you proud of what you’re doing??
-Where’s your name tag?
[policeman reveals tag]

And here’s a third video of Benninga with children in Silwan, a small hopeful sign that the few Israeli activists who are standing in solidarity with the people of Silwan, Bil’in, Nabi Saleh and other villages resisting Israel’s ongoing colonization might be showing the way forward to a more peaceful future in Israel/Palestine

Where is the ‘center’ of American Zionism?

Oct 01, 2010

Ali Gharib


Many of the liberal pro-Israel lobby J Street’s detractors from the American Jewish right complain that the group is outside the ‘mainstream of American Jewish opinion’ because it makes mild criticisms of Israeli policy and takes a dovish approach to Israel’s neighbors. If the logic of Jennifer Rubin, the prolific and pugnacious writer at Commentary, is to be believed, then those critics might be right — but not the way they envision it. It may just be that, according to Rubin’s disdain for the dominance of liberalism among American Jewry, J Street is ‘outside the American Jewish mainstream’ not because it is liberal, but because it is Zionist. 

We need to consider several posts from Rubin to string together this train of thought. It goes as follows:

Rubin, quoting a blog post from Rachel Abrams (wife of Elliott), has repeatedly called the liberalism of American Jews a “sick addiction.” In one such post, she laments that 58 percent of Jews still approve of the job Barack Obama is doing and proclaims: “There’s no denying it: a majority of American Jews are willfully indifferent to the fate of the Jewish State.”There are two points here: 1) Rubin, despite her consternation, takes as a given that American Jews are overwhelmingly liberal, and 2) that liberalism entails a “willful indiffer(ence)” to Israel.

On the latter point, she reinforces this notion in a later post about J Street where, in a passing comment, she declares that “liberal Zionism” (which she puts in skeptical quotes) is an “oxymoron.”

So, by Rubin’s logic, if liberals can’t be Zionists, and Jews are overwhelmingly liberals, then, indeed, a “majority of American Jews” are not Zionists. It’s no surprise, then, that J Street is outside of the ‘American Jewish mainstream’ — they are, after all, a progressive Zionist group. 

It’s also no wonder that the — according to Rubin — minority of American Jews who are not “willfully indifferent to the fate of the Jewish State” would, like Rubin herself, turn to far-right-wing Christian Zionists like Pastor John Hagee and his Christians United for Israel for unconditional support of Israeli policies. Hagee and his ilk are not exactly in the ‘Jewish American mainstream’ either, reinforcing the notion that the center of American Zionism might now be outside that realm as well.

Israeli forces use tear gas and sound bombs to attack protests in Bil’in and Nabi Saleh

Oct 01, 2010


And other news from Today in Palestine:

* Land/Property/Resource Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Israeli annexation of Jordan Valley bleeding Palestinians dry
Although the valley has a third of the West Bank’s water resources, Palestinians have not been allowed drill wells since 1967, writes Michael Jansen.  THE JORDAN Valley is a patchwork of different shades of brown and beige desert relieved by snatches of palm-frond green. Cropped fields are eating up the flat land while Israeli settlements and military zones are consuming the rolling hills, shrinking Palestinian space.  A thick band of dead land stretches north to south for 120km behind barbed wire, security roads, and mine fields along the Jordan river border with the Kingdom of Jordan.

Israeli Army Bulldozers Pave the Way For Settlement Construction Near Bethlehem
Israeli bulldozers began, friday morning, bulldozing lands adjacent to the settlement of Tekoa’, south east of the city of Bethlehem. bulldoze land, expanding Nablus settlement
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Settlers began bulldozing Palestinian farmland to build a new settlement in the northern West Bank on Friday, a Palestinian Authority official said.  Ghassan Doughlas, who holds the settlements file in the area, said a number of bulldozers were working in the area west of Urif village south of Nablus, which borders the illegal Yitzhar settlement.  Days earlier, Doughlas said, settlers expanded the settlement from the north, carrying out digging work north of Yitzar on Madama village land.

Report: Four illegal outposts to be built in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — The infrastructure for four illegal outposts is being constructed around the West Bank city of Hebron, a settlement affairs expert said Thursday.  In an interview with Ma’an Radio, Abed Al-Hadi Hantash said the outposts would be integrated to form a new settlement, which would be linked with Kiryat Arba, the largest settlement in the district.

PA: Settlers lobbying to demolish mosque
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers have distributed fliers calling for the demolition of a mosque in the northern West Bank, a Palestinian Authority official said Thursday.  Ghassan Doughlas, who holds the settlements portfolio in the area, said large banners have been posted opposing a mosque in the Burin village, which is near the illegal Yitzhar settlement.  “Several taxi drivers came across some 50-centimeter-long banners calling for demolition,” Doughlas said considering the call a provocation as mosques are places of worship.

Arab League may call for UN Security Council session on settlement freeze expiration
At its meeting on Wednesday in Cairo, the Arab League will consider a proposal to initiate an emergency UN Security Council meeting on the expiration of Israel’s freeze on West Bank settlement construction.

* Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment

Many Treated For Effects Of Tear Gas Inhalation During The Bil’in Weekly Protest
Ramallah – PNN – dozens were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation on Friday when Israeli troops attacked the weekly anti-wall protest in the central West Bank village of Bil’in.  International and Israeli supporters joined the villagers after the midday prayers at the local mosque and marched towards the wall built on local farmlands. People demanded the halt of construction in West Bank settlements and asked Palestinian leaders to unite.  As soon people reached the gate of the wall separating villagers from their lands troops stationed there showered them with tear gas, dozens of civilians were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.  Two years ago the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered the Israeli military to remove the part of the wall built on Bil’in land and the army still refuses to comply.

Israeli Soldiers Use Tear Gas Against Protesters In Nabi Saleh Village
Ramallah – PNN – Israeli soldiers used sound and tear gas bombs on Friday midday to suppress an anti wall protest in the village of Nabi Saleh near the central West Bank city of Ramallah.  Villagers along with international and Israeli supporters marched after the midday prayers towards local farmers’ lands were Israeli is planning to build the wall.  As soon as the people reached their lands soldiers stationed there used tear gas and sound bombs to stop their march. A number of people were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.  The head of the village council and member of the local popular committee against the wall, Bashier AL Tamimmi, said villages will continue to organize weekly actions against the wall and settlement. in Israel strike on intifada anniversary
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Follow-up Committee in Israel announced a comprehensive strike on Friday that included all Palestinian towns and cities marking the 10th anniversary of the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada.  On 1 October 2000, 13 Palestinians in Israel were killed while rallying in solidarity with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, the incident sparked a wave of popular protests that became known as the Second Intifada.  Across Israel, Palestinians participated in ceremonies and demonstrations mourning the slain or celebrating the will to resist oppression and occupation.  Israeli police told the media on Friday morning that preparations had been made to quell clashes if they erupted.

Israel-bound submarines banned from testing in Norway’s waters
Following Oslo’s decision, the German shipbuilder HDW will have to carry out its deep-water testing of Israeli vessels at another site.

Irish Nobel laureate to appeal deportation from Israel
Mairead Corrigan-Maguire returned to Israel, despite ban for participating in Gaza aid flotilla.

Court: Nobel laureate won’t enter Israel
Mairead Maguire, who was detained at Ben Gurion Airport for taking part in Gaza-bound sail in late May, rejects court’s suggestion that she return to Ireland and submit formal entry request. ‘I swore during visit to concentration camps not to keep quiet in the face of suffering children,’ she says.,7340,L-3962504,00.html

Days of action planned after FBI raids on activists
Activists are planning new actions after rallies took place in dozens of cities across the United States to protest raids by the FBI on homes of anti-war and Palestine and Colombia solidarity activists in Minnesota and Chicago last week. The FBI also subpoenaed at least 14 activists in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan to testify at a grand jury.

Viva Palestina convoy heads to Gaza as ‘drop in the ocean’
The Viva Palestina 5 aid convoy, en route to Gaza, was given a warm welcome and wide media coverage when it entered Turkey on Monday. The Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH), which organized an aid flotilla that was attacked by the Israeli navy as it sailed to Gaza, resulting in the deaths of eight Turkish and one Turkish-American volunteers, was also there to greet the convoy. The assault took place in international waters. A UN body is currently conducting an investigation into the Israeli assault. Another international investigation, also led by the UN Human Rights Council, was recently completed and found Israel guilty of an unacceptable level of brutality.

Tunisian party calls for anti-normalization watchdog
The Tunisian Democratic Union party has called for the formation of an anti-normalization watchdog to thwart all forms and attempt to normalize ties with the Zionist entity.

Broadway Group Performs in Bethlehem
Bethlehem – PNN – The New York Tap Ensemble, a Broadway Performance Group, performed for an audience of local Palestinian students at Bethlehem University on Friday. The Groups performance was set up by the U.S. Department of State Cultural Affairs Officer, Cynthia Harvey, and was meant to bring two divided cultures together and experience a new side of art.  Tap is a form of dance and performance rarely seen or performed in the Middle East. It is a new forum, that the Cultural Affairs office, is trying use to open the minds of young people all over the Middle East.

#BDS: Jewish actor visits West Bank camp in quest for peace
In a small, bare room in a refugee camp in the southern West Bank, a Palestinian Muslim man and a British Jewish woman face each other on plastic chairs and grope towards a mutual understanding across decades of mistrust, injustice, hostility and violence. The man is Said Ali Banat Hajarah: 82, partially deaf, failing eyesight, a former farmer nostalgic about his fields and livestock, bitter at the loss of his family home more than six decades ago, still grieving the deaths of his father and a son at the hands of Israeli soldiers, convinced that the gun must be part of the toolbox of resistance alongside the pen and the voice.

#BDS: Full List of Irish Artists Who Endorsed the Boycott of Israel

#BDS: More varsities check Israel links
Major South African universities began looking into their own ties with Israeli universities within hours of the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) decision on Wednesday night to terminate its links with Ben-Gurion University unless it fulfils, within six months, two conditions UJ has specified.  After the Mail & Guardian’s report last week that Unisa vice-chancellor Barney Pityana had signed a petition calling on UJ to sever all ties with Ben-Gurion, three more varsity heads added their names: Saleem Badat (Rhodes), Derrick Swartz (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University) and Dan Ncayiyana (former vice-chancellor of what is now the Durban University of Technology).

#BDS: Platini threatens to annul Israel’s membership of UEFA
The president of the European Union of Football Associations (UAFA), Michel Platini, has threatened to annul Israel’s membership to the union because of the restrictions it imposes on Palestinian football players.  In a meeting with Jibril al-Rajoub, head of the Palestinian football union, Platini confirmed that Israel’s non-adherence to international sporting regulations will lead to the cancellation of its UEFA membership. He added; “We accepted them in Europe and furnished them the conditions for membership and they must respect the letter of the laws and international regulations otherwise there is no justification for them to remain in Europe. He continued; “Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behaviour.”

#BDS: AOL and Google Gobbling Israeli Startups
The past few months have been fruitful for Israeli startups. Several U.S. and European tech giants have made high-profile acquisitions. Foreign VCs are making massive capital injections. Now local publications such as Calcalist and The Marker are filled with rumors of upcoming purchases.  5Min Media, an Israeli-American video startup, is the most recent acquisition. AOL bought the company for an estimated $65 million, with chairman Tim Armstrong praising 5Min for helping to complete “our end-to-end video offering from content creation through syndication and distribution.”  In other words, AOL is going to raid the hell out of 5Min’s video library of 200,000-odd shorts and make use of both their (considerable) API development and existing syndication partners. 5Min comes to AOL with a robust library of content. The firm inked previous content-sharing agreements with CBS, Hearst and Scripps to convert existing programming into bite-size “how-to” videos. Additional video content comes from other media providers, which is then augmented with crowd sourced footage.

Lessons from the UC Berkeley Divestment Effort, Hillel on Campus
[Editor’s note: The Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s video report (above) on Israel-defense training for students made me think that now would be a good time to re-publish Lessons from the UC Berkeley Divestment Effort. My colleague Sydney Levy and I wrote it this summer in response to the UC Berkeley divestment struggle and Israeli Consul General Akiva Tor’s rather strange response to the effort.  In watching the JTA video in which the national head of Hillel is trying to make a subtle point but revealingly ends up comparing Muslims to vampires, I’d add that it has never been so clear to me how older Jews have failed this younger generation. Students are smart enough to handle an open conversation about complexity and Israel. But many in the older generation in power don’t want that to happen. The fundamental irony, of course, is that when it comes to both delegitimizing and existentially threatening Israel, no critic can hold a candle to Israel itself and its ever-expanding settlement project (and human rights abuses etc…) There is no faster way for Israel to continue down the path of self-destruction than to continue the status quo, unhindered. In that very important sense, the BDS movement may be Israel’s last chance. Especially now that we know that Congress and the Obama administration is no more willing to hold Netanyahu accountable than previous administrations.]

* The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights/Racism

Hunger and poverty worsen in Gaza
GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) – According to the World Food Programme and Food and Agriculture Organization, the food insecure in Gaza are an alarming 61 percent, with another 16 percent vulnerable to food insecurity.

Nikki Tillekens, “71% of Aid to the Palestinians Ends Up in the Israeli Economy”
Aid has become a larger and larger share of Palestinian GNI between 1994 and 2008. In this period of 15 years, aid increased from 14% of the GNI in 1994 to 49% of GNI in 2008. . . . On average 71% of aid given to the Palestinians ends up in the Israeli economy, meaning that, of the more than 12 billion dollars of foreign aid given to the Palestinians between 2000 and 2008, 8.7 billion dollars ended up in the Israeli economy. It also means that a larger share of the aid that is actually meant for the Palestinians ends up in the Israeli economy than in the Palestinian economy. before birthday, my son sees Gaza’s horror
The Electronic Intifada reporter Rami Almeghari was in the hospital with his son, whose lips were being stitched up, when the victims of an Israeli air strike were rushed into the admissions room.

Hamas crackdown further limits Gaza’s distractions from the siege, Hani Almadhoun
I have been watching with disappointment the news coming from Gaza regarding the government’s crackdown on popular attractions where many Gazans plan their staycations. According to a number of Gaza investors, making a large investment in Gaza requires you to be an affiliate of Hamas or partner with one who is. Otherwise, your investment is doomed. One technique used by the local government to discourage non-Hamas businesses is to impose outrageous tax rates (upward of 20%) on those places. If legal and municipal intimidation do not work, then there are always the masked gunmen. Founders of the Crazy Water Park in Gaza learned that the hard way when their new beach resort was set on fire during the night.

* Violence/Aggression & Provocations

Army Fires At Farmers, homes, In Rafah
Palestinian farmers stated Thursday evening that Israeli soldiers stationed near the border in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, fired rounds of live ammunition at them, their lands and homes. No injuries were reported.

Locals: Soldiers enter Iraq Burin village
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Two Israeli military jeeps entered Iraq Burin village in the northern West Bank on Thursday morning, locals reported.  Soldiers closed off a road and entered a resident’s home, before heading to the roof, witnesses said. Forces reportedly looked around, and then left when approached by villagers. police take over a house in Silwan waiting for “suspect”
YouTube – Sara Benninga “A police force, under the command of Avi “the brave” Cohen (bald, on car, middle) is waiting for `a suspect` to return home so they can arrest him. in the mean while, a women comes to visit a sick sister who is inside the house, but she is refused entry by the police, who keep an ominous silence. Life under occupation in `liberated` East Jerusalem”

* Detainees

Sources: Israeli forces detain Hebron judge
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained a magistrates’ court judge in Hebron overnight on Wednesday, security sources said.  Sources said forces ransacked Jamal Abdul Majeed Shadeed’s home before taking him to an unknown destination.  An Israeli military spokeswoman said no arrests were made in the West Bank overnight on Wednesday as it was a Jewish holiday.

Israeli Police Detains 12 Palestinians In Jerusalem
Israeli policemen detained on Thursday 12 Palestinians near the Al Aqsa Mosque and took them to unknown destinations. of MP Totah deteriorates inside sit-in tent
The International campaign for the release of kidnapped Palestinian lawmakers has warned that health of MP Mohammed Totah was deteriorating more and more while in the sit-in tent..

This is Zionism
As-Safir interviews this kid who was terrorized by Israel and arrested.

* Israel’s Arab Helpers

Hamas says PA detained 8 supporters
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas leaders accused Palestinian Authority security forces on Friday of detaining eight party supporters across the West Bank  The Islamist movement said the PA was continuing its arrest campaign against Hamas affiliates, adding that recent detentions were made in the Ramallah and Hebron districts.

West Bank to get 10 new police stations
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority Ministry of the Interior approved on Thursday the construction of ten police stations for West Bank towns and cities, out of 55 new structures approved for financing at the 2008 donors conference.  Representing Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), German donors backing the latest project, official Alexander Fritsch said the approved designs were selected based on priorities in West Bank services and security to residents. shuts down 580th tunnel
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) — Egyptian security forces seized eight smuggling tunnels in the Salah Ad-Din area of Rafah on Friday, police sources said.  The state intelligence department received information regarding the operation of the tunnels, an official said, describing them as 1.5 meters wide and running six meters underground.

ATFP Defends Relationship With Zionist Groups And Denies Its The Voice Of The PNA In Washington
Earlier Today the American Task Force on Palestine issued, through a tweet on Hussein Ibish’s blog, an “important” policy statement.  In it the ATFP attempts to defend its relationship with Zionist groups in the US.  The policy statement also states the “ATFP was not founded to represent any group other than itself, has faithfully stuck to its founding mission, and does not adhere to the policies or agenda of any other entity, including the United States government, any other government, or any other institution or organization.”

yet… Israel Project criticizes PA

“Peace” Talks/Political Developments
White House offers Israel a carrot for peace talks
In its scramble to salvage Middle East peace talks, the Obama administration has dangled incentives before the Israeli government that touch on some of the most sensitive issues of final status talks between the two sides, administration sources said.

Jerusalem Post: Obama Promises Israel The World In Exchange For 60 Day Freeze
The Jerusalem Post is reporting that President Obama is making Prime Minister Netanyahu an offer it is hard to imagine him refusing.
In return for agreeing to a 60-day extension of the just lapsed settlements freeze, the Obama administration will not ask for an extension beyond that point.  According to David Makovsky, an official at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (the AIPAC-founded think-tank), Obama’s offer was incorporated “in a draft letter negotiated with Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak and chief Israeli peace negotiator Yitzhak Molcho, and ultimately sent from President Obama’s desk to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.”

PM rejects U.S. guarantees in exchange for renewing freeze
U.S. reportedly incensed over PM’s rejection of a draft letter that would have extended moratorium on West Bank settlement construction.

‘Mitchell denies that U.S. offered to support an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley’
Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath: Mitchell told Abbas that Obama did not offer U.S. support for an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley in exchange for a two month settlement freeze.

Erekat: Israel holds key to resuming talks
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The chief PLO negotiator says Israel can restart peace negotiations by freezing settlements.  Saeb Erekat said Thursday that the PLO had repeatedly demanded that Israel stop housing construction in the occupied Palestinian territories, including so-called natural growth, to give the peace process “the opportunity it deserves.”

PFLP calls for immediate withdrawal from talks
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on Thursday called on the PLO to withdraw from talks in the absence of a total end to settlement building.  The leftist faction rejected a two-month extension to the partial freeze on settlement building, which US President Barack Obama was reported to have suggested in a bid to save collapsing peace talks.

Hamas: West continues to make contact
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hamas leader Ismail Radwan told a political discussion panel that western leaders continue to make efforts at contacting the party, often through representatives of other Arab nations with which Hamas enjoys good relations.  Talks sponsored by the west have come to a “big zero,” Radwan said, and President Mahmoud Abbas now “waits for the Arabs to decide on peace.”

* Other News

Senior UN officials visit Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Hebron Mayor Khalid Al-Useili met with senior UN officials Thursday to discuss the situation in the West Bank city.  Al-Useili was joined by local councilors to brief UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Robert Serry and UN Development Programme special representative Jen Anders Toyberg-Frandzen.

Arabs mark decade since October riots
Arab Monitoring Committee wants cases of 13 victims reopened, says frustration growing in sector.,7340,L-3962345,00.htmlDutch advertising watchdog criticizes Israel tourism information as ‘misleading’
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch advertising watchdog has criticized Israel for publishing “misleading” information on its tourism website that blurs the borders between Israel and occupied Arab territories.  The Advertising Code Committee says in a nonbinding ruling that material distributed by the Dutch branch of the Israeli National Tourism Board does not “clearly show where the border lies between what is internationally recognized as Israeli territory and ‘disputed’ areas.”  Pro-Palestinian activists complained that the maps gave the impression that parts of the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem are in Israel, as well as the Golan Heights captured from Syria.

Newly-elected Labour leader speaks at Friends of Palestine fringe event
This Labour Party conference has hosted three fringe events on Palestine, which were all well attended: a joint Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and LFPME fringe, with journalist Michael White interviewing long standing Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufmann; a joint PSC, Unite the Union and LFPME event on Gaza, with special guest speaker MK Haneen Zoabi and speeches from Richard Burden MP and Andy Slaughter MP; and the joint LFPME and Friends of Al-Aqsa reception. At the latter event, the newly-elected Labour leader, Ed Miliband, shared the platform with seasoned campaigners for Palestine and former MP and Director of LFPME, Martin Linton. Mr. Miliband paid homage to the dedicated activists who have been working for the rights of the Palestinian people. He gave specific mentions for Richard Burden MP, Andy Slaughter MP and Martin Linton (former MP) who have been campaigning for the Palestinians for many years.

Fayyad signs $40 million World Bank agreement
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — World Bank representative Miram Sherman signed an agreement with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Thursday to deliver a $40 million grant to the PA.  Fayyad said the grant was aimed at enabling the PA to continue building state institutions and developing the infrastructure for a Palestinian state.

Union instructs employees not to return cars to PA
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The civil servants’ union has instructed employees not to hand in their cars as a dispute over the Palestinian Authority’s decision to reduce the number of government-issued vehicles continues.  Government spokesman Ghassan Al-Khatib announced in August that 6,200 government cars would be revoked from high-level civil servants as part of the cabinet decision to reduce government spending and become less reliant on foreign aid.

Report: Bodies of 18 Ottoman soldiers found near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma’an) — The bodies of 18 Ottoman soldiers have been found in the northern West Bank, a Turkish news network reported Thursday.  The bodies were found in a cave near Aqaba village in the Nablus district, and initial investigations suggested the soldiers were killed by British soldiers in 1918, the Jerusalem-based Turkish news network TRT-Turk said.

If the perpetrator was Muslim, it would be headline news…  Lawsuit: Rabbi sexually abuses student; affair hushed by college
Teacher at religious college in Jerusalem files suit against rabbi for allegedly harassing former student. Teacher claims affair was silenced by college, which reached financial settlement with Takana forum in return for immunity.,7340,L-3961880,00.html

* Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

Israel’s Jewish Character Is Subject for Debate, Ahmed Moor
Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama have spent a great deal of energy trying to forestall any discussion of Israel’s Jewish character and what that actually means. The Israelis want the feckless and illegitimate Palestinian Authority head, Mahmoud Abbas, to affirm Israel’s “right to exist as the Jewish state.” But that raises the question: Does Israel have a right to continue as a race-exclusive state?  Israel is the Jewish state for the Jewish people. It came to be through an act of ethnic cleansing — creating the world’s most protracted refugee crisis in the process. Today, the Jewish state is home to about 1.5 million non-Jews. To be a non-Jew in the Jewish state is to be a second-class citizen. The ideology that underpins the existence of the Jewish state — Zionism — is a racist doctrine.

Palestinians are loath to invest in a one-state solution
The idea of the one-state solution keeps popping up, particularly when the two-state solution is undergoing difficulties. Maybe this is because people in the Middle East are unable to imagine anything other than one- or two-state solutions. Ball is Now in Obama’s Court, George S. Hishmeh – Washington, D.C.
Although some may blame Benjamin Netanyahu and even Mahmoud Abbas for dropping the ball soon after their peace negotiations began three weeks ago, the more likely person who will be blamed should the talks collapse totally will be no other than Barack Obama on whom many had banked. The American president has been very reluctant to be forceful, much as this could have favorably tipped the balance in favor of a final settlement. On the other hand Obama’s public remarks, including his speech at the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly earlier this month, were noteworthy for his bluntness over Israeli suspension of colonization and ethnic cleansing that has been evident again this week in occupied East Jerusalem. Yet, as one columnist said on another subject, “when we really need (Obama) to take a strong stand, he’s halfhearted” – a view that is gaining ground among several Mideast observers.

Israel’s Stranglehold over US Foreign Policy, Maidhc Ó Cathail
If Israel’s stranglehold over U.S. foreign policy is to be broken, Americans will need to be informed about the harm that Washington’s unconditional support for the Jewish state is doing to American interests, say leading analysts of U.S.-Israeli relations.  According to John J. Mearsheimer, co-author of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, “The only plausible way to weaken the lobby’s influence on U.S. foreign policy is for prominent policymakers and opinion-makers to speak openly about the damage the special relationship is doing to the American national interest.”  “Plenty of people in the United States, especially inside the Beltway, know that Israel is an albatross around America’s neck,” says Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. “But they are afraid to stand up and say that for fear that the lobby will attack them and damage their careers.”

Israel Conscripts More ‘Ambassadors’, Belen Fernandez
While attempting to read an article on the Haaretz website this afternoon about the brutality of the IDF takeover of the Gaza-bound boat Irene, filled with Jewish activists, I was distracted by an advertisement at the top of the page.  The ad featured a cheerful non-Israeli woman with bangs and a flowered scarf around her neck, a picnic scene in the background, and a skewer of meat oscillating at her side. The accompanying speech balloon, which alternately appeared in Hebrew, Russian, and English, was a reference to the skewered meat: “Cooking methods in Israel are quite primitive…”. The balloon was then replaced by a black box of text with the following appeal: “Are you tired of seeing how we are portrayed in the world? “You can change the picture! Now in English, Russian and Hebrew.”

A New Low in Middle East Diplomacy, Stephen M. Walt
Yesterday the Jerusalem Post reported that the Obama administration has offered Israel a generous package of new benefits if it will just extend the settlement freeze for another two months. The source for the report was David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a key organization in the Israel lobby. Makovsky is also a co-author with Obama Middle East advisor Dennis Ross, so presumably he has accurate knowledge about this latest initiative. Assuming this report is true, it marks a new low in U.S. Middle East diplomacy. Just consider the message that Obama’s team is sending the Netanyahu government. Netanyahu has been giving Obama the finger ever since the Cairo speech in June 2009, but instead of being punished for it, he’s getting rewarded for being so difficult. So why should any rational person expect Bibi’s position to change if this is what happens when he digs in his heels?

And so the settlement expansion continues, Antony Loewenstein
Will they or won’t they? The international media was counting down the hours until Israel’s self-described “settlement freeze” ended this week.  Most Western journalists, based in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, looked for any signs from the government of Benjamin Netanyahu that would appease the perceived outrage of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas who claimed he would walk out of US-backed talks if colonies continued construction.  The elaborate dance came and went, building resumed and Palestinians were once again left standing at the altar with no concessions and less land without Zionist footprints.  In fact, if reporters had actually travelled around the West Bank during the last months they would have found extensive settler work. Dror Etkes writes in Haaretz that even according to official Israeli figures the number of housing units built in settlements barely reduced over the last 10 months.

Caught Between a Wall and a Shipwreck, Alex Kane
The Israel/Palestine conflict has become so all-consuming that even objects are central to the struggle. Two recent books illustrate this fact. René Backmann’s A Wall in Palestine looks at the planned 490-mile-long, 25-foot-high wall, complete with fencing, trenches, thermal imaging and sniper towers, that Israel is building in parts of the West Bank. The second work, Midnight on the Mavi Marmara, is a collection of essays examining the deadly Israeli attack on an international seaborne convoy. The “Freedom Flotilla” was attempting to break the crippling blockade of Gaza, which began in 2007 when Hamas took power after winning democratic elections and defeating a U.S.-backed effort to install Fatah, the party that lost the elections, into power.

What You Get for Not Rocketing Israel
Throughout its short life, Israel has engaged in many actions that the world democracies have deemed dubious and inconsistent with Israel’s claim to be “the only democracy in the Middle East.” One can mention the Israeli wall in the West Bank, Wars on Lebanon and Gaza, a choking and indiscriminate blockade on the citizens of Gaza, ethnic discrimination against Arabs and attack on and killing of a number of individuals on board a Turkish flotilla in international waters just over the past few years alone. Israel has consistently countered condemnations and repeated U.N. Security Council resolutions denouncing its actions with one argument: those actions are necessary because of the actions of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza has refused to accept the existence of Israel and repeatedly fired rockets into Israel.

Abbas Must Forge Palestinian Unity, James Gundun – Washington, D.C.
Mahmoud Abbas, acting president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), seems to have an infinite number of reasons to disengage from US-sponsored negotiations with Israel. Reduced to a singularity, Palestinians possess little trust in America to negotiate an equal two-state solution and none in Israel. But Abbas wisely chose to await a special Arab League meeting, scheduled for October 4th, before deciding the near-term fate of direct talks with his counterpart, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Although Abbas is talking a tougher game since Israel’s settlement “freeze” in the West Bank expired, he can’t move either way without covering fire.

The West Bank’s reluctant movie star
Away to the west of Budrus, a startlingly red sun was sinking towards the horizon behind Jaffa as the Israeli border police patrol arrived. They had driven at speed in their two jeeps along the military road beside the footprint-detecting sand track and the electronic fence that help to make up the separation barrier here. To the north, beyond a straggling, rocky olive grove and perched on top of a 160ft pylon, we could just make out the security camera, capable of taking a recognizable image of a human face from three miles. “What are you doing here,” asked the armed and uniformed men donning their helmets as they jumped from the jeeps, and used their keys to open the locks in the barrier to reach us. “You should be 150 metres back from the fence,” they said. “And you certainly shouldn’t be taking pictures. You are being held for questioning.”

Farewell to Arms: Jenny, Iraq and the Next War, Ramzy Baroud
Let’s call her Jenny. Jenny was alone, and clearly confused. Her face was dotted with acne, and her short, blond hair was stiff at the ends. As the Skyline train sped towards the next destination, she stood ‘at attention’ in her military fatigue and boots staring aimlessly into the vastness of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Jenny was not the only returnee from Iraq. The airport was bustling with men and women in uniform. There seemed to be little festivity awaiting them. The scene was marred with the same confusion and uncertainty that have accompanied this war from the start: unclear goals that kept on changing while its own advocates – in the media, the government and within right-wing think tanks – began slowly and shamelessly disowning it. They all changed their tune, and many of them redirected their venom at Iran. In the meanwhile, the soldiers continued to fight, kill and fall in droves. Following the recent reduction of troops in Iraq, thousands were expected to come home, while others headed to Afghanistan to battle on, carrying with them their inconceivably heavy gear and their continued bewilderment.

G-d’s Little Air Force, Gordon Duff
Mickey Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation have been fighting the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs for a very long time. Weinstein’s group is working to restore normal constitutional rights and practices in a military organization that has been hijacked by Christian Zionists who call themselves “Evangelicals.” The idea is simple. To get into the Academy or to remain there, un-raped, unbeaten, you have to attend regular “bible study” groups and continually mumble prayers.

* Lebanon

Hezbollah: Egypt arming rival Lebanese militias
Sources close to Shiite group say Egypt, Jordan training Sunni militias as part of ‘subversive initiative against Lebanon for Israel’s benefit’.,7340,L-3962430,00.html

“STL Taking Wrong Direction, Hariri Can Prevent Hezbollah Accusation”
01/10/2010 Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem said Hezbollah won’t take the initiative to the civil strife, but will put an end to it in appropriate ways. “Hezbollah would defend itself and the defense could be political or through the media,” his eminence said.  In an interview on LBC television, Sheikh Qassem said that Hezbollah will wait for the tribunal’s indictment on the assassination of former premier Martyr Rafiq Hariri to react, adding that Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s upcoming speech in a few weeks will tackle the STL issue.  Sheikh Qassem noted that Hezbollah has not yet been informed of “the outcome of contacts conducted by the parties of the tripartite summit on the (Special Tribunal for Lebanon) indictment issue.”  “Any indictment that accuses Hezbollah is an unjust indictment because we have nothing to do with this case whatsoever, and we even reject mere accusations,” he added. bars members from Hariri court interview (AP)
AP – Hezbollah has denied a request from the international tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister to interview some of its members, the group’s deputy leader said Thursday.*

American Study: Saudi Arabia Want to Close out STL
30/09/2010 Middle East Policy Survey, published by the US-based Middle East Policies, revealed a study saying that it is expected that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) would soon sentence indictments against parties which it believes they are involved in PM Rafiq Hariri’s assassination.  The study considered that the predictions were lately focusing on the claimed part that Hezbollah took in the assassination, referring that the Lebanese are afraid that if Hezbollah was accused, it would lead to violence and chaos all over Lebanon.  The Middle East Policy Survey study also mentioned that Syria’s President Bashar Assad wants Lebanon to condemn the STL and stop any financial contribution. The study also added that high ranked US officials said that apparently, Saudi Arabia aims at the same outcome. According to informed sources, The Middle East Policy Survey study added that Saudi Arabia wants to close out the STL, where Lebanon is no longer important enough to it.

Ain al-Hilweh residents skeptical about peace talks
SIDON: Palestinian refugees in Lebanon seem unmoved by the recent Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, with many believing the negotiations’ failure or success won’t affect their situation.  At Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh near the southern city of Sidon, residents widely differ in political views and affiliations, but most can agree that the Washington negotiations are nothing more than a “formality.”  “Talks are only formalities … only blood and the power of the gun will stop the occupation of Palestine … everything else is meaningless,” says resident Mostafa al-Mawaad.

Mossad and the Phalanges
“The Mossad is simply an instrument. Our job was to provide intelligence and to create contacts with the Christians in Lebanon. These contacts began as far back as the 1950s and 60s, as part of an all-encompassing policy conceived by David Ben-Gurion.”

New initiative hopes to codify human rights in Lebanon
BEIRUT: A number of activists launched an initiative aimed at reinforcing human rights in Lebanon on Thursday.
The Beirut Initiative was conceived of as an open framework for communication and discussion between Lebanon and the diaspora in order to create a national charter for the fundamental rights of Lebanese.

Lebanon’s dirty laundry
How dirty is your laundry? Maybe I should ask your maid and quite possibly she will air out information dirtier than your clothes. Yes, I am referring to the treatment these workers are subjected to that reminds me of history class in the United States when I used to read about slavery.

Hariri’s House of Cards, RANNIE AMIRI
A war of words has erupted between Lebanon’s Hezbollah-led March 8 Coalition and Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s ruling March 14 Coalition, posing the greatest challenge to Hariri’s leadership yet and threatening the viability of his “national unity” government.  As indictments loom following the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s (STL) investigation into the February 2005 assassination of the late premier Rafiq al-Hariri, his now-prime minister son finds himself trapped between diametrically opposed forces. Those in his parliamentary bloc and own Future Movement back the STL—and importantly, its funding—while the March 8 opposition has called for it to either seriously consider claims of alleged Israeli involvement in Hariri’s killing or be shut down.

* Iraq

Thursday: 3 Iraqis Killed, 10 Wounded
At least three Iraqis were killed and 10 more were wounded in light violence. Despite the seemingly quiet news day, one story underscored the deterioration of news reporting in Iraq.

Iraq breaks record for longest time with no government
BAGHDAD – Iraq on Friday will surpass the previous record for the country that has gone the longest between holding a parliamentary election and forming a government, experts say.  The Netherlands had held that unfortunate honor after a series of failed attempts left the country without an elected government for 207 days in 1977, according to Christopher J. Anderson, director of the Institute for European Studies at Cornell University. Iraqi Shiite cleric backs al-Maliki (AP)
AP – Powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has agreed to support the bid by Iraq’s prime minister to retain power, aides said Friday, in a move that could speed an end to the seven-month political impasse and bring dealmaking that may give key concessions to al-Sadr’s anti-American bloc.*

* Iran

NYT links Iran worm to bible
File named ‘Myrtus’, moniker for Esther, has experts believing Israel planted virus in Iran’s computers.,7340,L-3962247,00.html

Obama pressed to weigh Iran strike
Senator Joe Lieberman, Congressman Howard Berman say US must put time limit on sanctions.,7340,L-3962291,00.htmlU.S. sanctions selectively under its Iran policy
The administration penalizes a Swiss subsidiary of Iran’s national oil company but avoids confronting Russian and Chinese firms, which may have added to diplomatic friction.  The Obama administration rolled out its first penalty Thursday under the new U.S. sanctions on Iran, but carefully avoided any challenge to Russian and Chinese companies that would have risked diplomatic fallout.,0,4887736.story

Ominous signs in Iran under siege
An Iraq war in slow motion, the impasse between Iran and the United States has all the ingredients of a major crisis. With Washington – still angry at the Iranian president’s audacity in New York – leading a concerted destabilization campaign, and oil majors adding bite to sanctions, the stage is set for more ominous developments. – Kaveh L Afrasiabi


‘Horrifying’ Swat Valley Executions: WARNING- Video Contains Graphic Images
An Internet video showing men in Pakistani military uniforms executing six young men in civilian clothes has heightened concerns about unlawful killings by Pakistani soldiers supported by the United States, American officials said.

US attack Kills 3 Pakistani Soldiers
Pakistani military officials said two NATO helicopters crossed over into Pakistan’s Kurram tribal region along the Afghan border before dawn and fired on paramilitary troops at the Mandata Kandaho border patrol post. When the soldiers fired back at the helicopters, the aircraft retaliated by firing two missiles, destroying the post and killing the three soldiers, the Pakistani military said.,0,1294697.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fmostviewed+%28L.A.+Times+-+Most+Viewed+Stories%29Pakistan Cuts NATO Supply Line In Apparent Retaliation For Killed Troops
A permanent stoppage of supply trucks would place massive strains on the relationship between the two countries and hurt the Afghan war effort. Even a short halt is a reminder of the leverage Pakistan has over the United States at a crucial time in the 9-year-old war.

Drone attacks will continue: Panetta
The ISI DG asked the CIA Director to provide secret information to the Pak-Army, adding that the Pak-Army would conduct an operation on the secret tip-off provided by the CIA, the channel reported. daily times monitor.

[Shameless] CIA promises to ‘respect’ Pakistan sovereignty
 Pakistan said Thursday that visiting CIA chief Leon Panetta had promised to respect its sovereignty and examine reports that NATO helicopters conducted deadly cross-border raids from Afghanistan.

Pakistani tribesmen protest against US drone strikes
“We are protesting against the drone attacks. Americans are killing innocent civilians but the government has completely failed to protect us,”Malik Jalal, a tribal elder and one of the strike organisers told AFP.

New Poll: Pakistanis Hate the Drones, Back Suicide Attacks on U.S. Troops
A plurality of respondents in the tribal areas say that the U.S. is primarily responsible for violence in the region. Nearly 90 percent want the U.S. to stop pursuing militants in their backyard and nearly 60 percent are fine with suicide bombings directed at the Americans.

* Afghanistan

7 Civilians Killed in NATO Airstrikes
Residents in the Central Logar province say a tank of the American forces was hit by a road-side mine blast in the province’s Baraki Barak district on Wednesday night, after which NATO forces started air-bombardments in the province killing three civilians.

US attack kills 4 Afghan civilians
An airstrike by NATO forces killed four Afghan civilians and wounded three others in Ghazni province, southwest of the capital Kabul, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said on Thursday.‘Afghan children’ killed in Nato raid
Wednesday’s incident comes days after Nato was accused of killing 13 civilians in Laghman province on Sunday.

* U.S. and other world news

Ecuador Declares State of Emergency as President Correa Escapes Attack from Rogue Armed Forces
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa is denouncing what he calls an attempted coup against him by members of Ecuador’s armed forces. Protesting police and armed forces stormed Congress, blocked roads and took control of the airport. Correa was trapped inside a hospital for twelve hours before armed forces loyal to him stormed the building and rescued him.

U.S. Approval Gains Nearly Erased in Middle East/North Africa
Approval fell significantly between 2009 and 2010 in 6 of 10 countries.  WASHINGTON, D.C. — Approval of U.S. leadership is now similar or lower than what it was in 2008 in several of the Middle East and North African countries Gallup surveyed in 2010, erasing gains seen after the transition from the Bush administration to the Obama administration. Egypt, Syria, and Algeria are the exceptions, though in all cases approval remains relatively low. suicides spike: 4 Fort Hood soldiers take their lives in 3 days
“It is frustrating that so many Fort Hood soldiers have decided to take their own lives,” Maj. Gen. William Grimsley, Fort Hood’s senior commander, said.

Study: Wars could cost $4 trillion to $6 trillion
Joseph Stiglitz, who received the 2000 Nobel Prize for Economics, and Linda Bilmes, a public policy professor at Harvard University, said the number of veterans seeking post-combat medical care and the cost of treating those individuals is about 30 percent higher than they initially estimated.

At least 78 GOP candidates would force women to bear rapists’ babies
A partial list of Republican candidates running for US Congress in this year’s mid-term elections shows that at least 78 of them have professed to oppose abortion in all cases, including where rape or incest are involved.  The Republican National Coalition For Life, a political action committee formed by anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schlafly, sends out questionnaires every election season to Republican candidates asking them to lay out their positions on abortion.

US to apologize for ‘atrocious’ STD experiments in Guatemala
Unlike Tuskegee experiments, doctors intentionally infected patients with gonorrhea, syphilis, encouraged them to spread the STDs and many were left untreated  Nearly forty years ago, the Associated Press reported, “For 40 years, the U.S. Public Health Service has conducted a study in which human guinea pigs, not given proper treatment, have died of syphilis and its side effects. The study was conducted to determine from autopsies what the disease does to the human body.”

People & Power – White Power USA
People & Power looks at America’s neo-Nazis. Is the US heading toward a future of greater diversity and racial tolerance, or of racially-motivated violence and separation?

You get the truth only from ‘former’ officials
Warning from the Obama administration’s submission to Israeli pressure, in an interview with OTV, Michael Scheuer, a “former” senior CIA officer, said: “Three hundred million Americans could wake up tomorrow to discover that a foreign leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, led them to war with Iran, which might lead to war with the rest of the Muslim world.” He added, “Israel has no value whatsoever when it comes to American interests. It does not produce or give us anything we need. The only thing we get from it is that it is leading us to a religious war it seeks with Islam.”

Syrian sweets becoming an international sensation
Syrian sweets are becoming so popular that they rival Turkish baklava and bring in $60 million in revenue from sales abroad.

Who wants to visit the Middle East? Twice as many people as in 2000
Amid greater political stability and increased efforts to attract visitors, Middle East tourism is outstripping the markets in Asia and Europe.

* Islam in the West

Kingsborough Community College honchos slapped for firing Muslim professor Hanaa Khalil
Honchos at Kingsborough Community College  have been ordered to take a workplace discrimination class after a chemistry professor charged she was fired for being a Muslim.  Hanaa Khalil, who filed a complaint with the city’s Human Rights commission, was also awarded $7,700 in back wages and $10,000 in damages.  “I am hoping that I will be the last one to go through this at this school,” she told the Daily News.

Disneyland in veil compromise
Disneyland, the renowned theme park in the Californian city of Anaheim, has allowed a Muslim employee to wear a specially designed headscarf in a compromise after initially prohibiting her religious veil. Noor Abdallah was told she could not wear the hijab at work because the Disney dress code does not allow for religious apparel of any kind before she sought the legal assistance of an attorney. Abdallah, although not fully satisfied, says the scarf approved by Disney is a “good first step” in letting her dress in compliance with her beliefs. slams UK cameras used to snoop on Muslims
Report criticizes UK police for installing surveillance cameras in Muslim neighborhoods British police apologized Thursday for a counterterrorism project that installed surveillance cameras in predominantly Muslim neighborhoods, saying that although the cameras had never been switched on, the program had damaged trust and caused anger in the community.

‘Burqa ban’ key to Dutch coalition
Political deal to form minority government including anti-immigration party could result in ban on face-covering veil.

Rabah Ghezali: France’s Illegal Ban of the Burqa
It is nonsensical to suppose that an individual’s free and deliberate choice to veil their person violates their own human dignity.


Farewelling two-state-solution, ‘FP’ authors suggest permanent residency status in Israel for refugees

Oct 01, 2010

Philip Weiss


Yet another sign that the two-state solution idea is over; Mickey Bergman and Amjad Atallah at Foreign Policy propose two multi-ethnic states side by side, but with overlapping citizenships. Israel preserves its Jewish character, but Palestinian refugees gain residency rights in Israel as nationals of Palestine. The same option would go for the colonists in the Palestinian state. Interesting. So Palestinian life could flourish again in Jaffa and Haifa and Lydda? Some key excerpts of their argument:

[W]hat if, within a context of a peace agreement between the two states, and as part of a comprehensive peace with all the Arab states, Palestinian refugees wishing to exercise their right of return into Israel are granted Permanent Residency Status as a means of providing them with restitution and residency? This will be an implementation of their right of return; yet will not change at all the electoral demographics and future of the State of Israel as a Jewish State.

…If a permanent status agreement resulted in two nation states along the 1967 border with two intermingled populations and a Permanent Residency Status in both countries, a fair choice could then be offered to Palestinians in Israel. They could choose to maintain their citizenship in Israel and become full Israeli citizens with all the rights and obligations that entail to any Israeli citizen including military or national service. There is already precedence for this in the case of the Arab Druze community in Israel. If they choose to become Palestinian citizens, they could assume Permanent Residency status and they (and their offspring) would continue to live, work, and pray in Israel but would vote in Palestinian national elections.

Many states with common heritages and linked economies have reached bilateral or multilateral agreements allowing each state’s citizens the freedom to reside, own property and vote in local elections in one state while retaining citizenship and the corresponding right to vote in national elections in another state. The Scandinavian states of Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Norway, through the formation of the Nordic Passport Union, allow citizens of any state to reside and work in another state while retaining their national citizenship.. 

In the case of both Jewish settlers and Palestinian refugees, the implementation of such a solution would need to be negotiated between the two states. In the case of Palestinians who are already citizens of Israel, their representatives will need to be brought into the discussion and have a determinative voice in any application of this principle as it directly impacts on their interests.

Moreover, in a regional context, the Permanent Residency Status offers a tool for treatment of Palestinian refugees in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Palestinian refugees, choosing to remain in their current locations can obtain Palestinian citizenship and also be offered permanent resident status in their host countries.

There are obvious challenges to such a model but also obvious benefits. The benefits include reinforcing international legal principles while remaining true to the concept of a two state solution. It provides two powerful constituencies (settlers and Palestinian refugees) options that take into account their concerns. It secures the interests of the often-ignored Palestinian minority in Israel and the Jewish majority at the same time. It overcomes deep-seated suspicions among the two communities of each other. It prevents forced population transfers. It strengthens both Israel and Palestine as multi-ethnic states even as they preserve their national identities. It reduces the complexities in negotiating any changes to the 1967 border. Finally, it builds in a necessary normalization component between the two states as they must interact with each other on a regular basis. 

The challenges include overcoming the bigotry inherent in both communities in the short term. It will require Palestinians to acknowledge the emotional (if not legal) ties of the Jewish settlers to Palestinian land and requires Israelis to acknowledge the humanitarian and legal consequences to the Palestinian civilian population in the wake of the creation of Israel as well as their ties to Israeli land. It will also require front-loading more robust international security guarantees as was done by the international community for Bosnia and Kosova. 

Granted, the Permanent Residency Status is a complex idea. Much in depth legal and practical analysis will be required in developing this tool. But an Israeli Palestinian peace must bring both states into the 21st century. French and German citizens today easily travel, work and live in both countries, enjoying equal rights, while remaining true to their mother country’s citizenship despite their far more violent and destructive history with each other. The idea of population transfers, colonization, and “pure” ethnic states belong to a disastrous by-gone era.


No wonder Americans are ignorant. . .

Oct 01, 2010

James North


Here’s today’s story in The New York Times on the negotiations for peace.  Buried in the 12th paragraph is the following sentence about Jonathan Pollard, who spied for Israel and is serving life in prison, and whose release Israel is using as a bargaining chip to freeze the growth of the settlements.

Mr. Pollard is a heroic figure in the settlements; winning his release would be a coup for Mr. Netanyahu and could allow him to justify extending the freeze.

This sentence begs for more reporting and explanation.  Pollard’s treachery in the 1980s apparently compromised — and may have caused the deaths of — American agents in the old Soviet Union.  Why do these “settlers” regard a man who betrayed the United States as a hero?  Let’s send someone out to interview them.

You have to continue nearly to the end of the story, to paragraph 20, to learn that the

. . . settlements are widely regarded as illegal.

What does “widely regarded” mean?  By Palestinians?  Arabs?  Other unnamed people we may not entirely trust?

Why not say the simple truth, “The settlements are illegal under international law, a fact accepted by the United States and every other nation on earth other than Israel?”

These two examples do not exhaust the errors and slants in what is purportedly a news article.  Is it any wonder that busy Americans, who don’t have the time to do extensive research, are confused?


Robert Wright, like others, coming to understand the one state reality

Oct 01, 2010

Ahmed Moor


Robert Wright recently joined the one-state debate with a measured and well-intentioned piece in the New York Times. Unfortunately, he mistakes the one-state solution for a tactical cudgel instead of understanding it for what it is – an end unto itself. Wright clings to the atavistic (I don’t mean that pejoratively – just that the idea that people ought to be partitioned in this age is regressive) two-state outcome. He thinks that the one-state can be employed as Palestinian threat against Israeli colonization. The idea is to bludgeon Israeli complacency to death with the threat of Palestinian enfranchisement.

Wright accurately depicts two opposing positions in the post or anti-two-state camp. Some of us believe that with enough determination, goodwill, resilience, and a principled demand for justice we can pull off a one-state solution. Others believe that Jewish Israelis will never withdraw the boot heel from sunburned Palestinian necks. It’s a fair view, but I have faith in our ability to undermine Zionism completely, even in the minds of Jewish Israelis.

There’s a third possibility, apparently. Wright suggests that by threatening the Israelis with the end of Jewish racehood we can wake up the unplugged tech-savvy Tel Aviv bubble to the urgency of our need. That may or may not be true – I don’t think it matters really.

There’s no doubt that Wright’s call for manipulating the Israelis through an equal rights movement is cynical. By evoking principled democracy, we can cow the Israelis – who fear democracy in Palestine/Israel – into submission. That’s fine, but I feel that there are a few errors in Wright’s analysis that undermine his main point.

The first and most obvious one is that a two-state outcome can never materialize in Palestine/Israel. The latest round of elegiac White Housing is a convenient place to mark the death of the two-state outcome. No amount of Israeli quaking is going to cure Zionism of its fixation on Palestinian land or water. The Israeli apartheid regime will also refuse to relinquish territory for ‘security’ reasons.

I also disagree with Wright that a significant portion of Israelis will ever be ready to do what it takes to de-settle the settlements. It’s not enough to engage in land swaps. The settler colonies were created to atomize contiguous Palestinian lands. The master plan was too well executed. So for a genuine two-state outcome to emerge hundreds of thousands of settler-colonists will have to be evacuated. The real question is whether the somnolent bubble is more afraid of civil war or Palestinian enfranchisement. I am convinced that the Israelis will not war with the Judeans and Samarians.

Wright is a very astute observer in several important ways, however. He understands the power inherent in a civil rights struggle, and he knows how to get there. He writes:

If Palestinians want to strike fear into the hearts of Israelis they should (a) give up on violence as a tool of persuasion; (b) give up on the current round of negotiations; and (c) start holding demonstrations in which they ask for only one thing: the right to vote.

The strategy he talks about is the right one. I’d rewrite the first sentence to read “if the Palestinians want their equal rights” in place of “strike fear into the hearts of Israelis” but I’m otherwise completely with him.

Later, Wright identifies one of the surmountable but sticky obstacles to a one-state solution: the Palestinian Authority. He says that “regional experts tell me that in general officials on the Palestinian side don’t welcome a one-state solution because that would deprive them of the power they have now, whereas they would remain prominent during the implementation of a two-state solution.”

We’ve known this for a long time. It’s just nice to see a mainstream source openly recognize that the craven, self-aggrandizing Palestinian officials are ready to sacrifice a people to personal ambition. If the New York Times is saying it, perhaps someone in the administration is thinking it. In the end I don’t know if the PA will be dismantled but Abbas et al are doing a fine job of making it obsolete. Their actions have likely quickened the wholesale adoption of the one-state struggle by Palestinians in Palestine/Israel. Perhaps credible leaders like Azmi Bishara will step in to fill the void.

In all, Wright’s article was a net positive. He is clearly struggling with the idea of a Jewish state, and may want to preserve it for whatever reason. But I think that people like Wright are on the right track and will eventually come to see that there isn’t an alternative to the one-state solution. Not that I’d want one.

Finally, and slightly off-topic, I’d like to respectfully disagree with Jerome Slater’s belief that the one-state solution is a bad idea.  I don’t think that the Zionists are necessarily any worse than any other racists in history, and many of them have made (turbulent and ongoing) transitions into humanity’s fold. 

Posted in Middle East1 Comment



Please Forward

Paul Mackney, former President of Birmingham Trades Union Council and Ex General Secretary of NATFHE, will be speaking at tomorrow’s protest on behalf of the Coalition of Resistance, a broad united national campaign against cuts and privatisation in our workplaces, community and welfare services founded Statement by Tony Benn in August 2010




Build the fight back against Con Dem cuts

Join the mass Protest at the Tory Party conference

12 noon this Sunday 3rd October

Assemble Lionel Street, Birmingham B3 1AG by BT Tower

Called by the Right to Work Campaign


and many other local union branches and campaigns





speaking of that broken Israeli culture

6,000 Israeli Arabs marched today amidst a call for a general strike in commemoration of 13 boys who Israeli police officers murdered in October 2000. They marched from a town in the Galilee, Kfar Kanna. MK Ahmed Tibi said that “Failure to put the criminals on trial is like making sure the victims are really dead,” and added that Israeli racism has mounted since October 2000: it has now reached what he calls “frightening levels”–structural and cultural racism has practically suffused Israeli society, while the left is mostly silent, in retreat and disarray. A few weeks ago, I had some unkind words for Bernard Avishai’s polemic against Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions.

I think extended intellectual disquisitions arguing against BDS should be dissected and countered for the simple reason that there is nothing else for activists to do internally or externally right now. Without something to do, we fall quiescent or fall into ineffectiveness. Maybe more weirdly, we call for Palestinian non-violence and have cat-fights about its efficacy and the appropriate level of nuance to integrate into such a call, as though we have absolutely anything to do with Palestinian society’s ability-or-not to mount a non-violent Third Intifada.

Yitzhak Laor argued a few days ago,

Environmental associations or feminist organizations put out press releases; the activists from the Matzpen socialist organization who once went out onto the streets to tell about the iniquities of Zionism have been replaced by Zochrot, which promotes awareness of the Palestinian exodus of 1948. This group has offices on Tel Aviv’s Ben Yehuda Street, plenty of money from Europe and zero political effect….Yes, the monitoring by Peace Now and B’Tselem has importance, as does the humanitarian aid of Physicians for Human Rights. But between this and a political struggle in Israel’s streets – the real arena for a struggle – there is very little. 

At my talk a few weeks ago, someone asked me if there were groups in Israel that I considered worthy of support. I answered, yes, absolutely: Physicians for Human Rights, Ta’ayush, Zochrot, the Alternative Information Center, Anarchists Against the Wall. But I added that such groups themselves usually recognize their own feebleness and beg for outside intervention. And despite frothing from those claiming that BDS is ineffectual (if ineffectual, why set up silly blogs to say so?),

the French government is repressing BDS activists while Jewish Voice for Peace is spearheading a major campaign to push TIAA-CREF to divest from the Israeli occupation. There’s always plenty to do. The trouble is getting more people to get going doing it.

Technorati Tags: BDS, Israel, Jewish Voice for Peace, Palestine, TIAA-CREF, Yitzhak Laor, Zionism

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Posted in Middle EastComments Off on ZIO=NAZI MURDERED PALESTINIAN BOYS



October 2nd, 2010

RelatedFiled Under

Filed Under: BritainFeaturedLabour PartyMost read articlesStatements

The positive outcome of the Labour leadership contest is that the new leader is not David Miliband, and the privatising, war supporting Blairites have been rejected. We should not underestimate the discarding of Blairism and New Labour by important sections of the labour movement. The Blairites tasted another major defeat the day before when Ken Livingstone won a crushing victory over Oona King to become Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London. However as we argue in this statement from Socialist Resistance Ed Miliband is only marginally different to his right-wing brother David.

Ed Miliband in his maiden speech at Conference said that the Iraq war was wrong, much to the obvious anger of his brother David and Alistair Darling sitting in the audience. Undoubtedly other strong supporters of the war were equally angry off camera. When listing the Labour Government’s failures, Ed Miliband also rejected, verbally at least, New Labour itself, its willing subordination to market forces, soft regulation of the banks, privatisation, and cavalier attitude to civil liberties. Importantly he has rejected the Brown/Darling line on the debt which was to reduce it by 50% over one Parliament. He has said that this is too quick and that more should be raised from taxation rather than cuts — including a further tax on the banks. David Miliband by contrast had defended the Blair/Brown legacy and pledged to continue the Blair revolution.

In the leadership campaign Ed steered left and gained strong support in the trade unions and among genuine rank and file activists  because they believe ,or hope, that he will fight the devastating Tory cuts. Whatever else the leadership campaign showed, it represented a small shift to the left in the Labour movement and in society at large and showed that public opinion is moving against the savage Tory plans to reduce the deficit. There is a growing recognition that the cuts will dismantle many of the post-war gains of the movement represented by the welfare state and the NHS, and will lead to mass unemployment.

However, as Salma Yaqoob explained in an initial response on her blog she was underwhelmed by Ed’s victory, reporting that, “his first statements as leader are designed to lower expectations, not raise them, with the BBC reporting that ‘Mr Miliband pledged not to oppose every government cut, saying public services would need to learn to do more with less…’ This rapid readjustment back to the political centre ground and accommodation to the media consensus was reinforced in his Conference speech where he made it clear that he would not be supporting ‘waves of irresponsible strikes’ against the cuts. He has already called on the BBC unions to call off the strike due to take place during the Tory Party conference.

The ranks of trade union leaders at conference, who had financed and backed Ed Miliband’s campaign and who had, up to this decisive point in his speech, been enthusiastically clapping their new leader, sat stony faced at his rejection of strike action. Len McCluskey, a candidate in the election for Unite’s general secretary and who has rightly opposed all cuts, shouted “rubbish”. Ed Miliband even stated that if elected to power (in five years) he would not be in a position to reverse all the damage of the Tory government.

In his first few days as leader Ed Miliband has shown himself, on the decisive issue of this parliament, to be only marginally different to his right-wing brother. David is clearly furious at being so out-manoeuvred. Ed Miliband may be just an opportunist, or too weak to challenge the pro-market and anti-public service establishment consensus. In any case he has shown himself, as Salma wrote, “too willing to concede the argument [on cuts] before it has even begun.” We can be sure that there will be a big media campaign to keep Ed within the bounds of the establishment consensus, while arguing that if the Labour movement ‘rocks the boat’ Labour will becomes unelectable.

We in Socialist Resistance are against all cuts, which must be fought at every level, through campaigns, mass demonstrations and strikes. The capitalist offensive to make the working class and the middle classes pay for the crisis of the capitalist system, and a slavish media consensus arguing that the books must balance and the cuts made, can only be challenged and rolled back by the kind of actions we have seen in Greece, Spain and elsewhere. Ed Miliband has already made it clear he will be on the wrong side of this fight.

The Socialist Resistance executive committee made this statement on October 2nd 2010.





SAT 9th OCT 12 Noon

Assemble  Mount Pleasant Liverpool L3 5TQ

Biggest left/Irish republican event in England

Organised by Cairde na heireann

James Larkin, the son of Irish parents, was born in Liverpool on 21st January 1876. When he was five years old he was sent to live with his grandparents in Newry in Ireland.

Larkin returned to England in 1885 and found employment as a dock labourer. Converted to socialism, Larkin joined the Independent Labour Party in 1893 and spent his spare time selling The Clarion.

In 1893 Larkin became a foreman dock-porter for T. & J. Harrison Ltd. The following year he was sacked when he went on strike with his men. Larkin remained active in the union and in 1906 he was elected General Organizer of the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL).

Larkin was now sent to Dublin to organize casual and unskilled workers in the docks. On 11th August 1907 Larkin formally launched the NUDL in the city. Over the next twelve months Larkin recruited 2,700 men to the union. He also led three strikes and the NUDL, concerned by the costs of these industrial disputes, suspended Larkin on 7th December 1908.

Larkin established his own union, the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU). As well as Dublin the union had branches in Belfast, Derry and Drogheda.

The ITGWU also had a political programme that included a “legal eight hours’ day, provision of work for all unemployed, and pensions for all workers at 60 years of age. Compulsory Arbitration Courts, adult suffrage, nationalisation of canals, railways, and all the means of transport. The land of Ireland for the people of Ireland.”

Statue of James Larkin on O’Connell Street, Dublin



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