Archive | December 2nd, 2010



December 02, 2010

Human shield case update

News in from the only democracy in the Middle East.  Zio=Nazi soldiers found guilty of using a 9 year old as a human shield will not be going to jail for their crime.  Here’s YNET:

Nazi Military prosecutors decided not to appeal the sentence of two Zio-Nazi soldiers who forced a nine-year-old Palestinian to open suspicious bags during Gaza HOLOCAUST.

The troops received a conditional sentence, and following the decision not to appeal the ruling will not be serving any jail time.


Convicted Nazi’s at court.

The faces of the convicted soldiers are obscured but their colleagues are clearly perplexed by this departure from the principle of “purity of arms”.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on THE ONLY DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST



Iran says it arrested killers of nuclear scientists

Teheran’s intelligence services claim to uncover wide network operating against Islamic Republic; allege Mossad, US, UK involvement.



Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi Thursday said that Iran has arrested those responsible for killing two nuclear scientists in Teheran on Monday, PressTV reported.

Speaking in a television interview, Moslehi said that Iranian intelligence agencies have uncovered a wide network of intelligence agencies operating against Iran, according to the report.


Iran blames ‘Zionist regime’ for killing top nuke scientist
Salehi: Iran increasing security for scientists and experts
‘West is assassinating scientists as negotiation strategy’

Moslehi announced that, “with the arrest of these people, we have found new clues to arrest other elements,” PressTV reported. He alleged, “The three spy agencies of Mossad, CIA and MI6 played a role in these attacks.

Separate but identical bomb attacks killed two prominent Iranian nuclear scientists in Teheran on Monday.

Iranian state television said attackers riding on motorcycles attached bombs to the car windows of the scientists as they were driving to their workplaces.

One bomb killed Majid Shahriari, a member of the nuclear engineering faculty at the Tehran University, and wounded his wife.

The second blast killed nuclear physicist Fereidoun Abbasi.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, “Undoubtedly, the hand of the Zionist regime and Western governments is involved in the assassination.”

Contrary to Wikileaks release, Iran is hugely popular among Arabs


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By Abbas Edalat and Phil Wilayto

Note: A shorter version of this article was published Dec. 1 by the Guardian newspaper.

The latest batch of Wikileaks revelations give the impression that, next to Israel, it’s the Arab states that are most energetically pressuring the U.S. to attack Iran. In terms of the real threat to Iran, that’s definitely putting the cart before the horse.

In the first place, the Arab governments mentioned as being hostile to Iran – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates – are all undemocratic, unpopular regimes that depend on U.S. support to stay in power. As such, they seem to have absorbed the unrelenting years of U.S. claims that Iran is the region’s greatest threat to peace.

A completely different view, however, is held by these governments’ own subjects, among whom Iran’s independent stance actually is hugely popular. A recent Zogby International poll conducted in conjunction with the University of Maryland asked Arab people in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates to name two countries they thought were the greatest threat to the region. Eighty-eight percent said Israel, 77 percent said the U.S. and only 10 percent mentioned Iran. (1)

Meanwhile, governments in the region that don’t hold a hostile view of Iran include those of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey, not all of which are hostile to the U.S.
As to where the real threat to Iran comes from, it should be remembered that, despite massive US arms sales to Saudi Arabia (2), not one Arab country has the military capability of launching a serious attack against Iran. Only one country in the region has that ability: Israel.

But Israel is dependent for its continued existence on its $3 billion in annual U.S. subsidies, plus the diplomatic firewall the U.S. maintains for it in the U.N. Security Council. There is almost no way Israel could attack Iran unless it were first fully confident that it would be backed by U.S. forces, either because it had already received a green light or because it calculated Washington would have no other choice.

Without a doubt, Iran does represent a threat to U.S. imperial interests in the Middle East. Thanks to its large oil and gas reserves, and the fact that those resources are controlled by its government, Iran has been able to emerge from a devastating Western-supported eight-year war of aggression by Iraq as an independent economic, military and political regional power. Iran takes no orders from Washington or London, its natural resources are off-limits to exploitation by Western corporations and it has no love for the wealthy, corrupt, pro-Western governments that dominate the area.

As such, Iran represents an obstacle to the hegemony the U.S. desires. But openly declaring hegemony to be its goal would win no friends among either local governments or populations, so the U.S. has resorted to fabricating the myth of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, much as it promoted support for a war against Iraq by creating a myth about weapons of mass destruction, ties to al-Qaeda and links to the attacks of 9/11. President Bush also authorized support for a number of terrorist organizations to destabilize the Islamic Republic of Iran. (3)

Although the U.S. has been charging for some eight years that Iran is using its nuclear energy program as a cover for the development of nuclear weapons, it has never provided the first shred of proof. And yet, U.S. charges of an Iranian nuclear weapons program have formed the basis for four sets of U.N. sanctions against Iran.

The latest, implemented in June 2010, has been based on “evidence” the U.S. provided of alleged Iranian plans to redesign a certain kind of missile to accommodate nuclear warheads. However, as revealed recently by investigative reporter Gareth Porter, the “evidence” refers to an outmoded missile Iran had stopped using years ago. It is simply a fabrication similar to the fabricated evidence against Iraq (4).

Despite some disagreement over how much of its nuclear-related activities Iran is legally required to disclose, the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, charged with monitoring compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, reported on Nov. 23 of this year that it “continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear materials in Iran.”

And in the Arab poll referred to above, 77 percent said that Iran should have the right to its nuclear program and should not be pressured to stop its activities.

No, the principle threat to peace in the Middle East, at least as regards to Iran is concerned, remains the United States, which for years, prodded by nuclear-armed Israel, has declared that in dealing with Iran, “all options are on the table.” As such, the onus is on the U.S. to remove this threat once and for all.

On Dec. 5, Iran is scheduled to begin revived negotiations with representatives of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members, plus Germany. This would be an ideal time for Washington to make the following declaration: that it will not attack Iran, will not allow an attack by Israel, will end all sanctions against Iran, will recognize Iran’s right under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty to pursue peaceful nuclear power, will return Iran’s nuclear file from the U.N. Security Council to the IAEA in exchange for Iran’s already stated pledge to allow the intrusive inspections of the IAEA’s Additional Protocol and will agree to discuss all outstanding differences in a spirit of mutual respect.

WikiLeaks cable warns of ‘widening crime war’ in Israel


The cable is signed by Ambassador James Cunningham, but appears to have been written by the American consul in Tel Aviv as a note on visa restrictions for members of Israel’s organized crime syndicate.

The U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv expressed concern to the State Department over the “sharp increase” of organized crime in Israel, in an unclassified diplomatic cable dispatched in May 2009 and revealed by WikiLeaks this week.

Entitled “Israel, a promise land for organized crime?”, the cable notes that while organized crime has “long-standing roots” in Israel, certain factors indicate that a “widening crime war” has begun to spiral.

Police cordon off a Tel Aviv crime scene

Police cordon off a Tel Aviv crime scene

Photo by: Archive

“In seeking a competitive advantage in such lucrative trades as narcotics and prostitution, Israeli crime groups have demonstrated their ability and willingness to engage in violent attacks on each other with little regard for innocent bystanders,” said the cable.

The cable cites the death of 31-year-old Margarita Lautin, who was killed in the cross-fire of an attempted mob hit in Bat Yam, and also car bomb that killed a driver and two pedestrians while targeting crime boss Yossi Alperon.

The document also details the web of crime families in Israel, and expresses concern that the number of syndicates was growing.

The cable is signed by Ambassador James Cunningham, but appears to have been written by the American consul in Tel Aviv as a note on visa restrictions for members of Israel’s organized crime syndicate.

The cable details worry that Israeli crime syndicates were playing a “significant role in the global drug trade, providing both a local consumer market and an important transit point to Europe and the United States.”

“Given the volume of travel and trade between the United States and Israel, it is not surprising that Israeli OC has also gained a foothold in America,” says the cable.

“The consular section has revoked several visas for those who have been convicted of crimes in Israel, but many OC figures have no prior criminal convictions and carry no visa ineligibilities,” says the cable. “As a result, many hold valid nonimmigrant visas to the United States and have traveled freely or attempted to travel for a variety of purposes.”

The author of the cable seems most worried by the fact that unlike members of crimes families from other countries, “Israelis who are known to work for or belong to OC families are not automatically ineligible for travel to the United States.”

The cable also notes a lack of law enforcement against organized crime, though it said police seemed to have been cracking down more in recent years.

“[Organized Crime] figures have generally been viewed as a nuisance to be handled by local police,” writes the cable. “Law enforcement resources were directed to more existential security threats from terrorists and enemy states,” writes the cable.

“In recent years, however, the rules of the game have changed… The old school of Israel OC is giving way to a new, more violent, breed of crime,” says the cable.”… The new style of crime features knowledge of hi-tech explosives acquired from service in the Israeli Defense Forces, and a willingness to use indiscriminate violence, at least against rival gang leaders.”

Despite the police crackdown and harsher sentences for members of crime syndicates, the cable warns that “increased efforts by Israeli authorities to combat OC have engendered retaliatory threats of violence.”

“Recent press reports indicate that as many as 10 Israeli judges are currently receiving 24-hour protection by the police against the threat of violence from members of crime organizations.

“Israeli OC appears to be intent on intimidating judges personally, as a way of influencing the legal process. Judges in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa have been assigned police protection, underscoring the depth of the problem.”


U.K. to restrict ability to charge foreigners with war crimes


Israel stopped sending delegations to Britain for fear pro-Palestinian activists would seek their arrest for alleged war crimes.

(Reuters) Britain has proposed legal changes restricting citizens’ right to seek the arrest of foreign politicians for alleged war crimes, tackling an issue that has caused tension with Israel, officials said on Wednesday.

Human rights group Amnesty International condemned the planned change, accusing the government of handing war criminals “a free ticket to escape the law.”

barak - AP - November 4 2010

British Foreign Secretary William Hague meets Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv, November 4, 2010.

Photo by: AP

The proposals, part of police reform legislation introduced into parliament on Tuesday, fulfil a promise of the seven-month-old coalition government to amend a law that has drawn protests from Israel.

Under existing British law, private individuals can start criminal prosecutions, including for international war crimes, by applying to a magistrate for a court summons or an arrest warrant. Magistrates do not need to decide whether there is a realistic chance of conviction.

Under the proposed new law, which could take months to make its way through parliament, the Director of Public Prosecutions would have to agree to an arrest warrant being issued in such a case.

“This is to ensure that people suspected of some of the most heinous crimes, wherever in the world they took place, can still be brought to justice in our courts but … only where there is a prospect of successful prosecution,” a Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain’s core principle remained that people guilty of war crimes must be brought to justice. The proposed legal change was designed to correct an anomaly that allowed “the U.K.’s systems to be abused for political reasons,” he said in a statement.

Israel halts strategic talks

Israel said last month it had stopped sending delegations to Britain for routine strategic talks out of fear pro-Palestinian activists would seek their arrest for alleged war crimes.

Last year, a British court issued an arrest warrant for former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni on war crimes charges but withdrew it upon finding she had cancelled a planned trip to Britain, according to media reports.

The Israeli government summoned the British ambassador to protest over the incident.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has said that the legal jeopardy faced by Israeli politicians and military officers could damage Britain’s efforts to play a role in Middle East peacemaking.

Amnesty International’s U.K. director, Kate Allen, said the proposed amendment sent the wrong signal and showed Britain was “soft” on war crimes and torture. “The current process allows victims of crimes under international law to act quickly against suspected perpetrators,” she said in a statement.

The planned amendment risked introducing delays that could allow suspects to flee, she added, calling the change “dangerous and unnecessary.”

“Unless a way of guaranteeing a means of preventing suspects fleeing can be built into the proposals, then the U.K. will have undermined the fight for international justice and handed war criminals a free ticket to escape the law,” she said.

Turkish official: Israel initiated massive leak


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Jewish state initiated massive WikiLeaks report, senior official in Erdogan’s party says

Further deterioration in ties: The Israeli government initiated the massive WikiLeaks disclosure this week in the aims of pushing Turkey into a corner, a senior official in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan charged Wednesday.

“We should look at the countries that are satisfied by the leak, and Israel is very satisfied,” said Huseyin Celik, the deputy chairman of Turkey’s ruling party.

Erdogan calls WikiLeaks docs ‘gossip’ / AFP 
Turkish prime minister visibly upset by leaked cables which claim he has eight Swiss bank accounts with private funds and surrounds himself with fawning advisors; says US must ‘hold cable writers accountable for slander’ 
Celik, who also serves as the party’s spokesman, said in a press conference that Turkey started to suspect that “the leak’s main objective was to weaken the Turkish government.”

Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul already hinted Tuesday that the massive leak was the result of “systematic work.” However, Gul and other government members refrained from directly naming Israel.

But Wednesday, Spokesman Celik, who is closely associated with Turkish PM Erdogan, did not hold back while emphasizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks hours before the WikiLeaks publication as a telltale sign Israel was being the leak.

“Even before the documents were exposed, they said that ‘Israel won’t be damaged.’ How did they know?” he said.

Some 8,000 documents of the more than 250,000 to be published by WikiLeaks arrived from the American embassy in Turkey. A similar number was originated from the US embassy in Tel Aviv


Israeli FM Lieberman–Erase the word ‘freeze’ from vocabulary


(AFP) – Zio=Nazi Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on Wednesday for the word “freeze” to be erased from the vocabulary in Israel, as he repeated his opposition to new curbs on settlement construction.

His comments come as the United States drafts a package of incentives intended to convince Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reimpose a ban on settlement construction that expired in September.

The Palestinians have refused to continue direct peace talks that started shortly before the ban expired until the moratorium is reimposed, but many in Israel, including ultra-nationalist Lieberman, oppose any new freeze.

“I think, like many others, that there will not be another freeze. We must erase the word freeze from our vocabulary,” he told Israeli public radio.

“We saw what the previous 10-month freeze got us — it didn’t achieve a breakthrough in the negotiations,” said the chief diplomat.

Lieberman added there was “a growing consensus that it is impossible to reach a definitive peace deal in a year.”

He reiterated his position the conflict would be better managed by reaching interim deals that could eventually lead to long-term agreements.

The United States is seeking an additional three-month settlement freeze in the West Bank to allow new direct talks to proceed, with the goal of reaching a final agreement within a year.

In exchange, Washington has offered a package of incentives, including fighter jets and diplomatic assistance for Israel at the United Nations.

But a final formula has yet to be reached, despite weeks of wrangling over the terms of any new freeze.

Netanyahu also faces opposition to a new freeze within his cabinet and has pledged any additional ban would not apply to east Jerusalem.

The Palestinians have said they will not return to negotiations if the moratorium does not extend to east Jerusalem, which they want for the capital of their future state.


Hillary Clinton says leak of diplomatic cables will not damage US diplomacy


(AP) The leak of thousands of sensitive U.S. embassy cables will not hurt American diplomacy, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared Wednesday at a security summit.

Clinton said she has discussed the revelations published on the WikiLeaks website with her colleagues at the summit in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The event is the first major international meeting of leaders and top diplomats since the memos began appearing on the website and in international publications this week.

The secret memos published by WikiLeaks contain frank details on several leaders attending the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe meeting. One note allegedly written by a U.S. diplomat in Kazakhstan details scenes of hard-drinking hedonism by several senior Kazakh ministers. The same report describes Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev as horse-obsessed and given to taking refuge from the often-frigid capital at a holiday home in the United Arab Emirates.

Other prospective conference delegates described less than flatteringly in the leaked cables include Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

“I have certainly raised the issue of the leaks in order to assure our colleagues that it will not in any way interfere with American diplomacy or our commitment to continuing important work that is ongoing,” Clinton said. “I have not any had any concerns expressed about whether any nation will not continue to work with and discuss matters of importance to us both going forward.”

Several officials at the summit echoed her comments.

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who met Wednesday with Clinton, released a statement saying the “recent Wikileaks disclosures would not affect our uniquely strong relationship.”

Kazakh Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev also said “this will have no bearing on our strategic relationship.”

The Obama administration has harshly criticized the leaking of the cables, saying the details in them could put lives at risk.

“I anticipate that there will be a lot of questions that people have every right and reason to ask, and we stand ready to discuss them at any time with our counterparts around the world,” Clinton added.

On the sidelines of the summit, Clinton and her Belarussian counterpart, Sergei Martynov, announced that the former Soviet republic of Belarus will give up its stockpile of material used to make nuclear weapons by 2012.

That’s a significant step forward in efforts aimed at reducting the risk of nuclear materials falling into the hands of terrorists, and follows similar commitments made by other former Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan. Washington will provide technical and financial help to enable Belarus to dispose of its highly enriched uranium stocks.

Clinton said the Obama administration is encouraged that Iran has agreed to return to Geneva for a new round of international talks on its disputed nuclear program. However, a uranium-exchange agreement that was announced following talks with Iran in October 2009 — but which later unraveled — would have to be modified to take into account the fact that Iran has since produced more enriched uranium, she said.

The OSCE was born in the 1970s to nurture rapprochement between Cold War enemies. But the organization has in recent years struggled to define a clear purpose — an anxiety reflected in the speeches of many leaders at the Astana summit. Failure to achieve any breakthrough in Europe’s various territorial stalemates, from Moldova’s separatist Trans-Dniester region to the perennial tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, has served as an embarrassing reminder of the OSCE’s weakness to effect significant change.

In a thinly veiled broadside at Russia, Clinton chided efforts to obstruct the placement of an OSCE mission in Georgia, whose own territorial integrity has been undermined by Moscow’s diplomatic and financial support for the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“It is regrettable that a participating state has proposed to host a mission, and the OSCE has not been allowed to respond,” Clinton said.

Russia fought a brief but intense war with Georgia over South Ossetia in 2008.


Former US ambassador to UN during Bush administration tells ‘Post’ he is mulling GOP presidential run to reassert strong US foreign policy.


( WASHINGTON – John Bolton is mulling a run for president because he believes the US needs to recover its international standing and be more assertive, including being willing to bomb Iran and scrap the two-state solution.

“Both our friends and our adversaries alike have assessed this as a very weak administration, uncomfortable with asserting American interests or defending them, particularly through the use of force internationally,” Bolton told The Jerusalem Post in an interview Tuesday.

“To raise national security back into the center of the debate – which is where I think it belongs – it could well take a presidential candidacy, because that is what helps focus people’s attention on these issues and that’s why I’m thinking of doing it.”

The former under secretary of state for arms control and US ambassador to the UN during the George W. Bush administration, Bolton identified proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism as the top challenges facing America, along with the threat of nuclear Iran.

Bolton, who would seek the Republican nomination should he run, rejected the idea that sanctions could eventually affect Iran’s nuclear ambitions as some in the US and even Israel have suggested.

“The most likely outcome with respect to Iran is that it gets nuclear weapons and very, very soon,” he said. “Given that diplomacy has failed, given that sanctions have failed, the only alternative to an Iran with nuclear weapons is a limited military strike against the nuclear weapons program.”

Though he said he doesn’t prefer such action, he believes it’s better than the alternatives. And he dismissed the argument that a focused strike would cause regional instability, pointing to Wikileaks’ dissemination of diplomatic cables this week showing Arab support for an attack.

“A preemptive military strike against Iran’s nuclear program would not cause chaos in the Middle East because the Arab states don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons any more than Israel does,” he said.

Bolton noted, however, that taking coordinated action could be harder because of the leaks and the concerns allies abroad will now have about working with America. But he assessed it would be a temporary rather than long-term setback.

Bolton does not believe two-state solution is working

He also said the revealed Arab support also punctures the Obama administration’s contention that progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was needed to help rally the Arab world’s help on Iran.

When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Bolton doesn’t think the current effort to forge a two-state solution is working.

“I think the entire model of the two-state solution has failed,” he declared. “There’s nobody on the Palestinian side that you can trust who will make the hard commitments necessary to achieve peace or who will be able to carry them out into the future.”

Instead, he proposed a “three-state solution” which would include the admittedly unpopular moves of returning Gaza to Egypt and the Palestinian areas of the West Bank back to Jordan.

According to Bolton, the current US-Israel negotiations to extend the settlement freeze in return for 20 F-35 fighter planes also makes for unwise conditioning.

“That’s a destructive kind of relationship for both countries,” he warned.

Still, he said it wouldn’t be difficult to reset relations with Israel under a new White House.

“I don’t think that would be hard,” he estimated. “Frankly, I’m not aware of any potential Republican candidate for president who couldn’t do a better job on this issue than Obama.”

Whether he could be a successful Republican candidate, however, is another question.

Bolton acknowledges that he’s never run for elected office let alone the presidency and would need to consult with his family and give serious thought to the obstacles before making a decision.

Political expert Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, however, gave Bolton no chance of being successful in getting the nomination.

“He has little visibility and no support except among a very small group of neoconservative interventionists,” he said. “Moreover, he has no experience in elective politics and has an abrasive personality not well-suited to retail politicking.”

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, called Bolton “the longest of long shots” for the Republican nomination, adding that he’s “enough of a realist to know that.”

Instead of running to win office, Sabato saw Bolton as launching a campaign in order to raise the profile of certain issues.

“If you want to get some of the issues that you believe need to be discussed on the table, you run for president,” he explained.

“This could be a campaign that is dominated overwhelmingly by economic and other domestic issues,” Sabato continued, noting Bolton’s interest in ensuring that foreign affairs are also addressed.

Bolton himself admitted his interest in highlighting international and security priorities, saying, “I’ve been concerned for the past two years that there has not been adequate attention to foreign policy and national security issues.”

But he emphasized that if he enters the race it will be a sincere bid.

“If I get in this, I get in it to win,” he said.


Experts: No Evidence North Korea Sent Iran Missiles


Claims From Diplomatic Cable Shaky, at Best

by Jason Ditz,


Of the myriad WikiLeaks cables that war enthusiasts are pointing to in their calls for attacking Iran, one of the few that contained anything substantive included a claim that Iran had acquired 19 advanced missiles from North Korea, giving them the ability to attack Western Europe.

Substantive but, as it turns out, extremely dubious, as experts are now saying that the allegation made in the cable, as experts say the allegation shows a lack of firm evidence that Iran ever obtained any such missiles.

Beyond that experts say there is no good evidence the missiles in question even exist, as North Korea has never shown it to be operational or conducted any tests involving one.

The allegation was key for the US, however, as it would, if true, be an excuse for the major missile defense deployments in Europe, nominally aimed at Iran but far outside their known missile range. This would have ideally placated Russia and given the US another excuse to rail against Iran. Or it would, if it was actually true.




Unstable Pakistan Has US on Edge


(AFP) Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari: “Stated flatly to Ambassador that the government of Pakistan would have no choice but to retaliate if attacked, and post has no doubt they are sincere.”
The US diplomatic cables provide deep insights into the true extent of Pakistan’s true volatility. American Embassy dispatches show that the military and the Pakistani intelligence agency are heavily involved in the atomic power’s politics — and often work against US interests.

The instructions came directly from then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and she didn’t beat around the bush. “Express Washington’s strong opposition to the release of Dr. Khan and urge the Government of Pakistan to continue holding him under house arrest,” Rice wrote to her ambassador, Anne Patterson, in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

It was April 2008, and the US administration was deeply concerned about reports that the man widely believed to be the biggest nuclear smuggler of all time, Pakistan’s Abdul Qadir Khan, could soon be a free man. Khan had allegedly supported North Korea, Iran and Libya in their nuclear programs by supplying them with plans and centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Although the Americans had exposed his proliferation ring back in 2004, and the nuclear scientist had confessed, probably under pressure from the government, Khan was never indicted or convicted in Pakistan, but merely placed under house arrest.

Ambassador Patterson, a resolute 59-year-old from Arkansas, immediately went into action. Her key contact was the head of the army’s Strategic Plans Division, Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, who was responsible for the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Kidwai had previously made sure that Khan was unable to do any further damage. Patterson also spoke with then-President Pervez Musharraf, who assured the US ambassador that there was nothing to worry about: “He will not be released.”

Kidwai, however, saw complications: “His legal status was that he was a free man. … If he tried to walk out today, … the government of Pakistan had no legal grounds to stop him.”

On Feb. 6, 2009, a court rescinded Khan’s house arrest, effective immediately. The news caught the new president, Asif Ali Zardari, completely off guard. Ambassador Patterson, for her part, was incensed over the “persistent lack of coordination” of the government in Islamabad. In response to her protest, however, Zardari and his interior minister guaranteed her that they would try to “establish a legal basis for Khan’s detention.”

That is exactly what they did. Today, Khan is once again cut off from the rest of the world. He is fighting a renewed legal battle in the courts against his house arrest — a state of affairs whose main purpose is to appease the Americans.

The Pakistanis’ sophisticated nuclear program is one of the main reasons why the US continues to increase its involvement in the region. The Americans know how unstable the country is, and how weak the government is. They also reveal how the Pakistani military and intelligence agency play the political game according to their own rules.

Hundreds of the diplomatic protocols deal exclusively with the threat posed by the nuclear weapons that the US’s unstable ally has in its possession. “Our major concern is not having an Islamic militant steal an entire weapon but rather the chance someone working in government of Pakistan facilities could gradually smuggle enough material out to eventually make a weapon,” reads one dispatch sent by the embassy in Islamabad to Richard Holbrooke, the US’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Taking Pakistan’s Nukes

The Americans would prefer to have complete control over the Pakistani nuclear arsenal but, as the reports show, they are a long way from achieving this goal. During his visit, Holbrooke merely received a briefing on the “physical, personnel and command and control safeguards for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.” The security technology at the nuclear facilities was significantly improved with help from the US. Nevertheless, the Pakistanis firmly reject any further involvement on the part of the Americans.

For instance, they oppose the plan for “fuel removal” to the US. The Americans supplied these elements for use in a research reactor a number of years ago. The man responsible for this decision, the director for disarmament in the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, justified the endless delays by saying “if the local media got word of the fuel removal, ‘they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.'”

These nuclear warheads are located in a country where it is unclear who stands on which side. To make matters worse, it’s hard to determine exactly what role the country’s notorious intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), plays in Pakistan. It’s rare that anyone expresses themselves as clearly as John Dister of the National Intelligence Council, a think tank for the US intelligence agencies. “When the ISI supports the Taliban, one can assume it is acting on government of Pakistan orders,” Dister is quoted as telling NATO allies in early 2008, at a time when President Musharraf was still governing. According to the dispatch, Dister “noted the huge anxiety in Pakistan leadership circles that US/NATO will pull out of Afghanistan in the near future, leaving chaos, thus causing the ISI to maintain links with Taliban as a hedge.” Dister added that Pakistan’s intelligence community is also motivated by fears that India may become more actively involved in Afghanistan.

Relations between Pakistan and the US are a constant rollercoaster ride, full of tensions and an endless tug-of-war over concessions, military operations and opposing notions of strategies. US senators, top military brass and US special envoy Richard Holbrooke make a steady stream of visits to Islamabad. Because of the billions of dollars in military aid that it gives to Pakistan, the US reserves the right to intervene in the country’s security issues, up to and including decisions about key positions.

‘Out of Control’

“We have learned since 9/11 that Pakistan responds, periodically, to US pressure on counter-terrorism; we should continue to press for action on specific agenda items.” This was the advice issued by Ambassador Patterson during the summer of 2008, in the run-up to a visit to the US by the new Pakistani prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Patterson listed all the things that the US chief of staff and the deputy head of the CIA achieved during a recent visit to Islamabad, which included the Pakistani authorities “arresting several Taliban shura members in Quetta” and “initiating an Army operation in North Waziristan.” She also wrote that “we expect they will allow another B-300 surveillance aircraft to operate.”

But the diplomat was also frustrated over all the things that had failed: “The government of Pakistan has not targeted Siraj Haqqani or his network; nor have they arrested Commander Nazir or Gulbaddin Hekmatyar. These militants are responsible for much of the 40 percent increase in cross-border attacks on our troops in Afghanistan this year.” And although President Musharraf had acknowledged that “elements of ISI may be out of control,” he remained “reluctant to replace ISI Director Nadeem Taj,” she wrote.

Shortly after Musharraf’s resignation as president in August 2008, however, the Pakistani Army’s then-head of military operations, Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, was appointed as the new director-general of the ISI. Pasha is an experienced commander who has conducted numerous operations in the tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan. In comparison to Taj, he has a reputation for being a cosmopolitan man who speaks not only English but also German; years ago, Pasha attended a number of courses at the Bundeswehr’s military academy in Hamburg.

The Pakistani government and the army regularly protest against the US use of drones in the tribal areas along the border to Afghanistan. The attacks, they say, violate Pakistani sovereignty and cause an increasing number of civilian deaths. In the dispatches from the US Embassy in Islamabad, however, the Pakistanis are much less harsh in their critique.

ISI head Pasha praised the weapons in comments to members of the Pakistani parliament. “The vast majority of those killed in drone attacks,” he said, “were foreign fighters or Taliban.”

Part 2: On the Brink of War between India and Pakistan

Many of the discussions between Islamabad and Washington deal with the topic of money, with billions of dollars involved. The war on terror in Pakistan is expensive, and for many it is also big business. In September 2009, for instance, the Pakistani finance minister complained once again to US special envoy Holbrooke that a payment of $500 million still needed to be made. The top diplomat responded that Washington couldn’t transfer the amount “because the Pakistani military had not properly accounted for its spending.” He added that Congress “required stricter accounting” for Coalition Support Fund (CSF) monies. CSF funding is the money that the US uses to buy the military cooperation of foreign countries in the so-called war on terror. Nobody receives more CSF money than Pakistan. Over the past nine years, over $7 billion in CSF funds have been transferred to the country, with even more money coming from other sources.

Nonetheless, the head of the army, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said he wanted to account for the funding “following UN standards,” — in other words, by naming lump sums. He didn’t want to have to give an exact account of how he was using the money. The diplomatic protocols make it clear that General Kayani is the most powerful man in Pakistan. They also show the weakness of the civilian president, Zardari. Zardari and his people “agree that Pakistan’s biggest threat comes from a growing militant insurgency on the Pak-Afghan border,” Patterson wrote in February 2009, shortly before Kayani’s visit to Washington. “The military and ISI have not yet made that leap; they still view India as their principle threat and Afghanistan as strategic depth in a possible conflict with India. They continue to provide overt or tacit support for proxy forces (including the Haqqani group, Commander Nazir, Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, and Lashkar-e-Taiba) as a foreign policy tool.”

At the same time, she portrayed General Kayani as “often direct, frank, and thoughtful.”

Disdain for the New President

Only a few months after Zardari had been sworn into office, Kayani and the ISI director-general Pasha were making no secret of the fact that they felt disdain for the new president. “Kayani and Pasha’s body language was disrespectful of their own president,” then-Afghan Interior Minister Hanif Atmar indignantly told the Americans in the spring of 2009.

In November of last year, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik even urgently requested a meeting at the US Embassy in Islamabad because, as he put it, the government needed political protection for the president. According to Malik, ISI Director-General Pasha was spinning intrigues against Zardari. The US ambassador was not convinced that Pasha was acting alone. “Malik’s view that ISI Director-General Pasha is behind the moves against President Zardari and that Chief of Army Staff Kayani is not involved is either naive or intentionally misleading,” she wrote to the US State Department. “It would be impossible for Pasha to move without Kayani’s acquiescence.”

Anything is possible at any time in Pakistan, be it an assassination or a military coup. But tensions have rarely been higher than on Nov. 26, 2008, when a group of extremists from the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba traveled by boat from Karachi to Mumbai and carried out simultaneous attacks at 10 different locations. It took nearly 3 days before all 10 assailants had been overpowered. A total of 175 people died, and only one attacker survived, the Pakistani Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab. “I was prepared to go to India,” ISI Director-General Pasha said a few weeks later in a SPIEGEL interview at his office in Islamabad. The diplomatic dispatches to the US administration now reveal just how crucial the issue of Pasha’s visit to India was during these chaotic days.

Both nuclear powers began to put their armies on alert. According to the embassy reports, then-Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee even apparently threatened Zardari over the phone with war. A military exchange between the neighboring arch-enemies threatened to spark a disaster for the entire region, which could engulf the entire world. “Both Chief of Army Staff General Kayani and President Zardari have stated flatly to Ambassador that the government of Pakistan would have no choice but to retaliate if attacked, and post has no doubt they are sincere,” reads a classified US dispatch. Embassy officials wrote that the Indians were convinced that the Pakistani intelligence agency had prior knowledge of the attack and had approved it. These suspicions could not be confirmed, but it is true that the ISI has provided Lashkar-e-Taiba with massive support, and that the terror group is fighting a guerrilla war against the Indians in Kashmir.

Cooperating with a Sworn Enemy

In Islamabad, communication between the military and the civilian government had become muddled and confused. Zardari gave his army chief only cursory information about his contacts with the US, other allies and India. The main challenge was to figure out how, if at all, Pakistan could cooperate with their sworn enemy India.

ISI head Pasha said that he was prepared to share intelligence information with the Indians, after assurances from the CIA that only the Indian intelligence agency would use the information — and that it would not be leaked to the public domain. On the other hand, nobody in Islamabad knew whether the Indians were even prepared to openly discuss what they knew with the Pakistanis. “If Pasha is embarrassed by what is essentially public dissemination without the Indians providing the results of their own investigation to Pakistan, it will undercut Pakistan’s ability to pursue its investigation, generate a public backlash in Pakistan, and could undermine Pasha personally,” wrote the US Embassy in Islamabad. For the time being, no exchange took place.

Amid the confused flurry of messages between the two governments, the media suddenly started reporting that Islamabad was supposedly sending Pasha to India. Then-British Foreign Minister David Miliband had been among the people who urged Pakistan to take the step, as a symbol of goodwill. In Pakistan, however, many felt that this gesture of reconciliation went too far, and the army leadership also opposed it.

Missiles in the Sandbox

Ultimately, President Zardari wanted to keep Pasha as a trump card, should the conflict with India further escalate. He told the Americans that it was “too early” for a meeting with the head of the intelligence agency: “Let the evidence come to light, let the investigation take its course. Then perhaps there is a position where the directors general could meet … The DG (Pasha) is too senior a person to get into who overall looks into the investigation.”

Shortly thereafter, Pakistani law enforcement officials arrested 124 suspects and tensions eased somewhat. The Pakistanis pressed charges against seven of those detained. But the trials of the defendants have been dragging on for a suspiciously long time. A war has been averted, but this certainly does not mean that anything has changed significantly. There is still a persistent air of mistrust on all sides. In December 2009, FBI agents informed the ISI that they had made a big catch: David Coleman Headley, an American citizen with a Pakistani father, who had scouted out targets in Mumbai on behalf of Lashkar-e-Taiba. He is believed to be one of the ring leaders behind the operation. Headley has pleaded guilty to the charges.

But the Pakistanis have never been allowed to question Headley in the US. In return, the ISI has refused to allow the Americans direct access to an alleged Headley accomplice, a former officer in the Pakistani army. All of this smacks of squabbling in the sandbox. But there are nuclear missiles in this particular sandbox.


U.S. Medic Jailed For Firing on Unarmed Afghans

Who are you going to believe, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs or your own eyes?

That is the question Americans are faced with today, following an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show in which he declared that calls for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to resign were “ridiculous and absurd.”

Gibbs went on to say that Secretary Clinton had never ordered diplomats to spy on UN Security Council officials, despite WikiLeaks’ public release of a classified document signed by Secretary Clinton explicitly ordering diplomats to spy on UN Security Council officials.

The revelation has prompted serious concerns as it shows, conclusively, that Secretary Clinton ordered spying against top UN officials and the stealing of their credit card numbers and other personal data in clear contravention to both US and international law. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is said to be planning to remind the Obama Administration that this is in fact a serious crime.

So far however US officials both past and present have met the leaks with complete dismissal, attempting to make the entire story about exactly how many people ought to be executed for embarrassing those in power. It seems that things like “proof” are too far outside their general field of expertise to even register.


Obama’s Lose-Lose: WikiLeaks Releases Put Obama in Untenable Position

Leaks Unveil Embarrassing Policies, Overt Crime

by Jason Ditz,

TACOMA, Washington (Reuters) – A U.S. Army medic was sentenced to nine months in prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty to shooting at unarmed Afghan farmers and agreeing to testify against other soldiers accused of terrorizing civilians.

Five of the 12 soldiers are accused of premeditated murder in the most serious prosecution of alleged atrocities by U.S. military personnel since the war began in late 2001.

Several are alleged to have collected severed fingers and other human remains as war trophies in Afghanistan.

In the first court-martial in the case, Staff Sergeant Robert Stevens, 25, admitted opening fire on two Afghan men for no apparent reason, saying he and other soldiers were acting on orders from a squad leader during a patrol in March.

“I performed those actions and I did it,” he said when asked by the presiding officer why he pleaded guilty to charges that carried a maximum penalty of nearly 20 years in prison.

The charge of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon was the most serious of four offenses to which Stevens, an Army veteran of 7-1/2 years, pleaded guilty at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington.

The case began as an investigation into hashish use by members of what was then known as the 5th Stryker Brigade but grew into a probe of what prosecutors have described as an infantry unit run amok.

A potentially explosive aspect is the existence of dozens of grisly photos that four of the defendants are accused of having taken of war dead, some of them showing U.S. soldiers posing with the corpses.

The images, so far sealed from public view, have drawn comparisons with pictures of Iraqi prisoners taken by U.S. military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004.


Stevens, though not regarded as one of the leading figures in the case, was court-martialled first because he waived his rights to a preliminary proceeding.

As part of the deal, military prosecutors said they would grant Stevens immunity from further charges in exchange for his testimony against the 11 other soldiers.

“It’s the right thing to do and I’m going to do it,” he said at the hearing.

The three other charges against Stevens were wrongfully tossing a grenade out of his vehicle during a convoy last spring, making false statements to military investigators and dereliction of duty.

He pleaded not guilty to a fifth charge, conspiracy to commit assault, stemming from the shooting incident involving the two Afghan farmers.

Prosecutors sought a prison term of at least 18 months.

Stevens will serve his nine months at a military brig on his home base. He will be demoted to E-1 private, the lowest rank in the Army, and forfeit his pay while in prison but will be allowed to stay in the military.


Despite Conclusive Evidence, White House Denies Clinton Ordered Spying


Gibbs Praises Hillary, Rejects Calls for Resignation

by Jason Ditz,

President Obama is increasingly finding himself in a no-win situation with regards to the WikiLeaks releases, as his pretense of support for transparent and honest government goes up in smoke in the face of secretive and in some cases downright criminal policies.

This has left the White House on the one hand sticking up for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by denying that she ordered crimes for which orders clearly exist signed in her own hand, and claims of weakness from would-be 2012 presidential candidates calling for mass executions.

Indeed, the actual damage done to America’s foreign policy so far appears comparatively minimal, with most of its key allies (Turkey being a notable exception) shrugging off evidence of State Department dirty dealings as unsurprising or trying to spin them to suit their own agendas. But his attempts to carve out a niche in his response to WikiLeaks that involves hysterical condemnations but stops well short of a Soviet style massacre of dissidents seems to be satisfying no one.

Perhaps it was inevitable that the president, after taking office on a mantra of change and a policy of continuity, would be placed into such a position, but it appears to have come surprisingly fast and to have left him no easy political escape. He cannot accept responsibility for the content of the WikiLeaks releases without firing (and prosecuting) many of his State Department appointees, who in all likelihood really were following policies he laid the groundwork for. Likewise though he has tried to make such claims of power under the guise of the global war on terror, it seems virtually impossible that he would be able to launch the sort of public wholesale slaughter that would render his rivals unable to accuse him of weakness.

Obama and GOPers Worked Together to Kill Bush Torture Probe



( In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. A “confidential” April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department—one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks—details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.

The previous month, a Spanish human rights group called the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners had requested that Spain’s National Court indict six former Bush officials for, as the cable describes it, “creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture.” The six were former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; David Addington, former chief of staff and legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney; William Haynes, the Pentagon’s former general counsel; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy; Jay Bybee, former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel; and John Yoo, a former official in the Office of Legal Counsel. The human rights group contended that Spain had a duty to open an investigation under the nation’s “universal jurisdiction” law, which permits its legal system to prosecute overseas human rights crimes involving Spanish citizens and residents. Five Guantanamo detainees, the group maintained, fit that criteria.

Soon after the request was made, the US embassy in Madrid began tracking the matter. On April 1, embassy officials spoke with chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza, who indicated that he was not pleased to have been handed this case, but he believed that the complaint appeared to be well-documented and he’d have to pursue it. Around that time, the acting deputy chief of the US embassy talked to the chief of staff for Spain’s foreign minister and a senior official in the Spanish Ministry of Justice to convey, as the cable says, “that this was a very serious matter for the USG.” The two Spaniards “expressed their concern at the case but stressed the independence of the Spanish judiciary.”

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Two weeks later, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and the embassy’s charge d’affaires “raised the issue” with another official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The next day, Zaragoza informed the US embassy that the complaint might not be legally sound. He noted he would ask Cándido Conde-Pumpido, Spain’s attorney general, to review whether Spain had jurisdiction.

On April 15, Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), who’d recently been chairman of the Republican Party, and the US embassy’s charge d’affaires met with the acting Spanish foreign minister, Angel Lossada. The Americans, according to this cable, “underscored that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the US and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship” between Spain and the United States. Here was a former head of the GOP and a representative of a new Democratic administration (headed by a president who had decried the Bush-Cheney administration’s use of torture) jointly applying pressure on Spain to kill the investigation of the former Bush officials. Lossada replied that the independence of the Spanish judiciary had to be respected, but he added that the government would send a message to the attorney general that it did not favor prosecuting this case.

The next day, April 16, 2009, Attorney General Conde-Pumpido publicly declared that he would not support the criminal complaint, calling it “fraudulent” and political. If the Bush officials had acted criminally, he said, then a case should be filed in the United States. On April 17, the prosecutors of the National Court filed a report asking that complaint be discontinued. In the April 17 cable, the American embassy in Madrid claimed some credit for Conde-Pumpido’s opposition, noting that “Conde-Pumpido’s public announcement follows outreach to [Government of Spain] officials to raise USG deep concerns on the implications of this case.”

Still, this did not end the matter. It would still be up to investigating Judge Baltasar Garzón—a world-renowned jurist who had initiated previous prosecutions of war crimes and had publicly said that former President George W. Bush ought to be tried for war crimes—to decide whether to pursue the case against the six former Bush officials. That June—coincidentally or not—the Spanish Parliament passed legislation narrowing the use of “universal jurisdiction.” Still, in September 2009, Judge Garzón pushed ahead with the case.

The case eventually came to be overseen by another judge who last spring asked the parties behind the complaint to explain why the investigation should continue. Several human rights groups filed a brief urging this judge to keep the case alive, citing the Obama administration’s failure to prosecute the Bush officials. Since then, there’s been no action. The Obama administration essentially got what it wanted. The case of the Bush Six went away.

Back when it seemed that this case could become a major international issue, during an April 14, 2009, White House briefing, I asked press secretary Robert Gibbs if the Obama administration would cooperate with any request from the Spaniards for information and documents related to the Bush Six. He said, “I don’t want to get involved in hypotheticals.” What he didn’t disclose was that the Obama administration, working with Republicans, was actively pressuring the Spaniards to drop the investigation. Those efforts apparently paid off, and, as this WikiLeaks-released cable shows, Gonzales, Haynes, Feith, Bybee, Addington, and Yoo owed Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thank-you notes.


Please check out the brand new book detailing Israel’s deliberate attack on the USS LIBERTY here 

Posted in UKComments Off on NOVANEWS**NOVANEWS



Jewish? Gay? Join us, white extremists say


By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor

Saturday, 27 November 2010

English Defence League supporters demonstrating in Bradford


English Defence League supporters demonstrating in Bradford.

A white extremist organisation is forging links with Jewish, Sikh and gay communities to fuel prejudice and fear and hatred of the Muslim community, it was claimed today.


The English Defence League (EDL), which was formed last year in protest at Islamic extremist activity, has also reached out across the Atlantic to build close ties with the American right-wing group, the Tea Party.

Hundreds of EDL members are planning demonstrations in Nuneaton and Preston today to protest at the building of mosques and what they claim is the growing influence in the UK of Sharia law.

But a new report, written by Professor Nigel Copsey of Teesside University, warns that the growth of EDL membership will spread Islamophobia in communities sharing a perceived “historical angst” against Muslims.

New branches of the League, such as the Jewish Division, could exploit the existing religious hostilities caused by territorial disputes in the Middle East, says Professor Copsey whose report was commissioned by the organisation Faith Matters.

It claims that these inter-faith tensions were brought into sharp focus last month when the senior US Jewish leader and Tea Party activist Rabbi Nachum Shifren denounced Islam at a EDL rally outside the Israeli Embassy in London. Israeli flags have also been spotted at several EDL demonstrations across the UK.

As well as aggravating religious tensions, the EDL has established a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Division to “defend” gay people from Sharia law. There are also specialist divisions for women, soldiers and disabled people. The report warns these communities to be vigilant against “selective racism” and the EDL’s attempts at manipulation.

Contributors to the EDL Facebook site confirm that the group wants to work with other minority organisation including those which promote women’s rights. One members writes: “After all, leftists have portrayed themselves for decades as the only ones really interested in promoting a progressive and inclusive agenda: homosexual rights, women’s equality, minority rights, reproductive rights, immigration, world peace, among others.”

One member added: “Remember there is a difference between being anti-Muslim and anti-Islam. We are against the ideology not the people. Let’s not forget that many Muslim women and children are victims of their own religion.”

But Professor Copsey warned: “True to the spirit of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, the EDL is targeting other ethnic communities. These communities need to guard against approaches by the EDL.”

Founder and director of Faith Matters, Fiyaz Mughal, said: “The EDL’s main aim is to increase tensions, raise hate and divide communities. Their attempts to portray themselves as a legitimate and open movement cannot disguise their violent, anti-Muslim agenda. This hate can easily mutate against another community.”

The EDL membership claim that they are not a racist group. In guidance issuedto its members attending today’s rallies the EDL leadership warns: “Violence and racism will not be tolerated. If you are found to be doing this, you will be ejected from the demonstration.”

On Monday, EDL founder Stephen Lennon denied assaulting a police officer during clashes with Islamic protesters in west London. He was granted bail and a trial date was set of 12 January. About 30 supporters gathered outside the court, some with EDL placards.

The Faith Matters report is entitled The English Defence League: Challenging Our Country and Our Values of Social Inclusion, Fairness and Equality.

Posted in CampaignsComments Off on EDL: NEW ZIO=NAZI



Israel recruits citizen advocates in Europe


‘Allies and friends’ will promote government policy to press and public meetings as part of fresh PR drive

28 November 2010


Avigdor Lieberman

ZIO=NAZI Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, has ordered a range of measures in a bid to improve Israel’s image in Europe. Photograph: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images

Israel has instructed its embassies in 10 European countries, including the UK, each to recruit 1,000 members of the public to act as advocates for its policies in a new public relations offensive.

A cable from the foreign affairs ministry was sent to embassies last week, with instructions from Avigdor Lieberman, the controversial and extreme right-wing foreign minister, to adopt a range of measures aimed at improving Israel’s standing in Europe.

The most unusual was the order to identify up to 1,000 people by mid-January to act as “allies” to Israel. One source described them as “friends who are willing not just to receive messages but to actively promote these messages”. These individuals – likely to be drawn from Jewish or Christian activists, academics, journalists and students – will be briefed regularly by Israeli officials and encouraged to speak up for Israel at public meetings or write letters or articles for the press.

Five European capitals have also been identified for a more conventional PR push. Israeli embassies in London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid and Rome will receive funds to hire professional PR firms and lobbyists.

PR companies will be asked to focus on political messages, such as: Israel’s position on talks with the Palestinians; subjects which can help “brand” Israel, such as tourism and technology; and regional issues to which Israel wishes to draw attention, such as human rights in Iran or Arab countries.

The foreign affairs ministry also suggested that embassies across Europe organise monthly high-profile public events to promote Israel and its government’s policies, and visits to Israel for influential individuals. Lieberman is planning to meet ambassadors to European countries next month to push the new PR offensive.

An Israeli official refused to comment on the disclosure but said: “Obviously we are always looking for ways to improve our communications, there’s nothing unusual in that,” adding: “There is anxiety about the way Israel is perceived abroad, and there is particular worry about certain countries in western Europe.”

Israel has previously launched drives to improve its image throughhasbara – literally meaning explanation, although alternatively interpreted as public diplomacy, spin or propaganda. During its three-week war on Gaza, which began in December 2008, Israel launched a PR strategy through its national information directorate to co-ordinate key messages on a daily basis.

The Israeli government, military and various embassies are adept at using social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to promote material. Organisations such as Bicom, the Britain Israel Communications Research Centre, in the UK and the Israel Project in the US, which describe themselves as independent, are dedicated to promoting Israeli policies. Both organisations offer regular briefings, contacts and tours to foreign correspondents based in Israel and Palestine, and all-expenses paid trips to Israel for journalists, including from the Guardian, based elsewhere.

Other countries undertake similar PR drives. Rwanda hired the London-based company Racepoint to feed positive stories to the media. Bell Pottinger, headed by Lord Bell, a former adviser to Lady Thatcher, represents Sri Lanka and Madagascar.

Meanwhile, the Israeli cabinet today approved a plan to build a huge detention centre capable of holding up to 10,000 illegal immigrants and refugees near its border with Egypt. Israel began building a fence along the border earlier this month. The population and immigration authority has said between 1,200 and 1,500 people, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, have crossed the border each month this year, compared to 300 per month last year. “There is a swelling wave threatening Israeli jobs, a wave of illegal migrants that we must stop because of the harsh implications for Israel’s character,” Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, told the cabinet today.

Also today, Major-General Uri Bar-Lev, the top policeman being investigated for alleged sexual assault and rape, said he was withdrawing his candidacy to become Israel’s police commissioner and taking an unspecified time of leave.






An IDF press release reads:

Israel Defense Forces soldiers early Thursday killed two armed Palestinian militants suspected to trying to infiltrate through the Gaza Strip border.

The troops opened fire on the two militants as they were in the midst of laying explosives at the fence near Kibbutz Kfar Aza. None of the soldiers was wounded.

There has been a rise in attempts by Palestinian militants to bomb targets along the border recently, as well as to launch rockets at Israel.

Last month, the Israel Air Force carried out a number of strikes on the Gaza Strip after a barrage of mortar shells, a Grad rocket and a phosphorous bomb were fired at the western Negev.

This kibbutz is reportedly over 2km from Gaza’s border. Were the militants “laying explosives” near the fence, or “trying to infiltrate”? Does it matter, or is this verbatim an IDF press release written by someone who knows his confusions and contradictions will never be dissected in the first place?

Who “lays explosives” to break through a barbed wire fence that can be cut apart with wire-cutters?

And if indeed they were planting explosives, how come “militants” planting explosives on their own land which is repeatedly subject to incursions from Merkava tanks that blow apart homes and kill children can be murdered by the occupying army while the Western commentariat twaddles about Wikileaks, while when militants–no quotation marks–kill paramilitary settlers illegally residing in or near Hebron we’re witness to a paroxysm of self-righteous fury and endless hand-wringing from the liberal-left? You want an Israel Lobby?

Look at the intellectually corrupt discourse that pervades the chattering classes, creating the “necessary illusions” to keep the conflict cruising along ruinously while the body-count–at least on one side–piles higher and higher day-by-day.

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Posted in PoliticsComments Off on TODAY IN PALESTINE: HYPOCRISY WATCH



01 Dec 2010

By Joseph El-Khoury
This statement could apply to many citizens across the Arab world. It could apply to the Egyptian voter who is contemplating a 97% domination of parliament by the political party affiliated to the Mubarak presidential monarchy. It could apply to the average Iraqi who had to wait 8 months for the formation of a government that looks suspiciously similar to the previous one. And so on and so on…
But closer to my heart and to my immediate concern, the Lebanese ‘citizen’ is facing a catch 22 situation like never before. For those who are not familiar with the expression it refers to a famous book by American writer Joseph Heller first published in 1961, which uses the context of military bureaucracy to denounce the absurd and irreconcilable choices inherent to modern humanity.
The catch-22 (or double-bind) faced by the Lebanese relates to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, set by the UN to investigate the murder of former PM Hariri and other politicians. I have been trying to sum up the latest on the subject in one paragraph, as deconstructing complex subjects into meaningful digestible parts is the best way to approach them.
To sum up, a tribunal is set up and is accepted, with some reluctance, as legitimate by all major political forces. This tribunal works painfully slowly for over 3 years to deliver ‘the truth’, which is sold to us as some Holy Grail that once found would herald an era of reconciliation and stability. The opposition in the meantime goes about its usual business dropping occasional platitudes on its support for justice in its broadest sense.
Early in 2009, information starts leaking over the direction taken by the investigation and its potential findings. Some Hezbollah members are apparently implicated. We are reassured initially that these are rogue individuals with a heightened sense of personal initiative. We then find out that there are quite a few of them.
The Party of God’s response is to condemn en-block the tribunal, the investigators, the witnesses, the backers and funders, the UN, its Lebanese proponents and lately everyone who cooperates with it. Even more recent we are told that whatever the content of the indictment, it is void and null. In essence, Hezbollah and a large proportion of the Lebanese official power structure no longer recognise it as a judicial authority.
The speculation over the indictment is probably not baseless and the frustration sensed following the release of the BBC Documentary and the CBC piece on it indicate that the rumours are not far from the truth. And here are the possible scenarios from this point onward, not in any particular order:
-If the tribunal does indict these so-called Hezbollah members and the Party of God chooses to sacrifice them in a Syrian-Saudi brokered deal, the accumulating clouds slowly dissipate and we remain stuck in a chronic instability over the essential issues facing the country (The Resistance, Israel, the relationship with Syria, Palestinian settlement)
-If the tribunal does indict these so-called Hezbollah members and the Party of God chooses to launch a civil disobedience movement followed by military escalation, the accumulating clouds thicken and the country faces bloodshed that will be mitigated by the absence of a counter-force to Hezbollah’s military superiority. Follows a de-escalation process brokered by Syria and Saudi-Arabia that results in the same chronic instability mentioned earlier
-If the tribunal does indict some random characters, possibly a radical Islamist group not linked to Hezbollah or Syria, we move on to the next contentious issue and remain in chronic instability.
-If the tribunal chooses to disband itself, having wasted millions and kept us on edge for years, we remain in chronic instability
-If the actual killers, motivated by a crisis of conscience, surrender themselves to the authorities to face justice and thus saving us the suspense of the trial proceedings, we remain in chronic instability.
So where does this leave this average Lebanese citizen…
With a massive headache and a case of severe neurosis reminiscent of the 1981 play by Ziad Rahbani “Film Ameriki Taweel’ (Long American Film). As for defense mechanisms, in the absence of a defense strategy, Unconscious Displacement is a possibility.
This could come in the form or a tactical but costly war with Israel, which might seem a lesser evil to some than a full blown intra Lebanese implosion…while real solutions are pending.




Yediot: “Security establishment” warns of imminent Palestinian prisoner strike

Didi Remez | December 2, 2010 at 15:08 | Categories: Impunity | URL:

This appears to be a General Security Service (GSS) leak:

The scenario that the security establishment is preparing for is threatening. The scenario envisions the security prisoners launching a hunger strike, setting fire to their cells, trying attack the guards, severing all contact with the prison authorities, refusing all visits by the Red Cross and family members, while their relatives will demonstrate outside the prisons and will enlist Israeli Arabs to the cause as well.

Israeli security officials said that the Palestinian Authority is behind the planned prisoners’ strike, which is expected to include a hunger strike and rioting in the larger prisons in Israel—similar to the strike that was held in the prisons in 2004, when the security prisoners rioted for 18 days. Israeli officials said they anticipated that the signal to launch the strike would be given in the course of the next number of weeks.

The assessment is that the Palestinian Authority will also launch a parallel “soft attack” that will involve the enlistment of Arab and other international media stations, as well as taking legal action to help shore up the prisoners’ struggle.

It will be interesting to see if the “legal actions” will tackle a major issue that has largely remained under the radar:  the 10,000 or so Palestinian prisoners are held in Israel in direct breach of international law.

On March 25, 2009, Yesh Din along with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)and HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual filed a petition to the High Court of Justice demanding that prisoners and detainees who reside in the West Bank not be held in facilities within Israel, and that arraignment hearings for such detainees also not be held in courts outside the West Bank.

The petition argues that holding Palestinian detainees in facilities located within Israel, a practice employed by Israeli authorities since 1967, violates Geneva Convention norms and infringes on detainees’ and prisoners’ right to due process, right to counsel, as well as visitation rights, as their lawyers and families are unable to meet with them.

In March 2010, following a hearing, the HCJ rejected the petition, stating that this issue was discussed and decided upon in a previous ruling. In that ruling, the HCJ refused to apply the International Humanitarian Law on this issue – and accepted the Israeli government’s position on the matter. [More here]


Palestinians planning prisoners strike

Alex Fishman, Yediot, December 2 2010 [Hebrew original here and at the bottom of this post]

The security establishment is bracing for the possibility that the Palestinian security prisoners who are incarcerated in Israel will launch a general strike, which is being planned by the Palestinian Authority.






Targeting Silwan’s children

Dec 01, 2010



And other news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

130 New Housing Units Approved in East Jerusalem Settlement of Gilo
The Jerusalem Local Planning Committee on Monday approved the construction of 130 new housing units in the East Jerusalem settlement Gilo. According to Israel’s Channel 7 news, new units will be built on land in the East Jerusalem town of Beit Safafa. Israel hands demolition orders to village mosque, homes
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Israeli forces on Monday handed demolition notices to a mosque and the owners of two homes in Al-Ma’sara village south of Bethlehem, locals said.  Six military jeeps entered the village and soldiers delivered the orders and photographed the homes and the mosque, said Awad Abu Sway, who coordinates settlement issues in the Bethlehem district. Settlers torch olive trees south of Nablus
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Residents of illegal settlements in the Nablus district set fire to olive trees on Tuesday, a Palestinian Authority official said.  Ghassan Doughlas, who holds the settlements file for the northern West Bank, said settlers from Yizhar settlement torched trees on land belonging to Madama and Asira villages south of Nablus. PA lawyers to prosecute settler vandalism
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority Agriculture Minister Ismail Daik announced Tuesday that his ministry established a legal department to prosecute settlers who damage Palestinian fields.  In an interview with Watan TV, Daik said 50 employees work at the department documenting settler attacks of Palestinian olive groves and farm land. Erase ‘freeze’ from vocabulary: Israel’s Lieberman (AFP)
AFP – Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on Wednesday for the word “freeze” to be erased from the vocabulary in Israel, as he repeated his opposition to new curbs on settlement construction.*

Palestinian territories: “Prolonged occupation, a new type of crime against humanity” – UN human rights expert
GENEVA (29 November 2010)– The Special Rapporteur Richard Falk urged the United Nations and the international community to draft a new protocol of international humanitarian law to address the situation of prolonged occupation and refugee status imposed upon the Palestinian people for over 43 years of Israeli occupation. “The Palestinian experience suggests the need for a new protocol of international humanitarian law,” he said in a statement issued Monday to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Mr. Falk stressed the need to impose “some outer time limit after which further occupation becomes a distinct violation of international law, and if not promptly corrected, constitutes a new type of crime against humanity.” 

East Jerusalem settlers and Israel’s never-ending War of Independence
Settler takeovers in East Jerusalem are generally portrayed as a battle over real estate, but in truth they are much more. For the settlers, they are part of the not-yet-ended skirmishing of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence — a war that, in their eyes, will be won only when Israeli hegemony is imposed in East Jerusalem, with the re-creation of what the settlers themselves refer to as the “Realm of Ancient [Jewish] Jerusalem” — a realm being established in the midst of, and in place of, the existing Palestinian neighborhoods.

Is ‘Peace Now’ friending settlers?, Philip Weiss
We just got this picture of Yariv Oppenheimer, the head of Peace Now in Israel, in green at left, hanging at a party with men who are said to be members of the Yesha Council, the settlers’ group. The guy to the right of Oppenheimer is said to be Danny Dayan, who has said, “a withdrawal from the territories of Judea and Samaria in the hope that a sympathetic president will rule is a suicidal delusion.”  Ofer N. found the picture on Facebook (at a farewell party for the outgoing Galei Tzahal radio reporter Guy Varon) and sent it to me… Ofer says that in the background (left) you can see Itamar Ben Gvir, of the Jewish National Front, a Kahanist party.

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Israeli Soldiers Fire at Road to Hope Convoy Members
(GAZA / SALEM) – Members of the Gaza Road to Hope Convoy were shot at by Israeli soldiers while partaking in activities on the International Day of Solidarity with the People of Palestine.  Ken O’Keefe of Aloha Palestine, is a writer known for his defender role on the ship Mave Marmara last May, which was attacked by Israeli soldiers while operating in international waters.  O’Keefe said, “Today we expressed our solidarity by painting messages of support on a wall in Beit Hanoun and demonstrating against the ongoing siege of Gaza.” 

International day of solidarity in Gaza greeted with Israeli bullets in Beit Hanoun
Live bullets were fired from snipers at an Erez control tower within a metre of demonstrators on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on Tuesday morning in Beit Hanoun, Northern Gaza. A German activist Vera Macht was injured as she stumbled while running for cover. The Local Initiative of Beit Hanoun organized the demonstration international mural and with extra attention focusing on the growing international Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, against Israel for its ongoing human rights violations of the Palestinian people. The demonstration was held in the area where 6 farmers and rock collectors, including 2 children had been shot and injured over the previous 2 days, seeing an acceleration of violence against civilians from the Israeli Occupation Forces. All I want for Christmas is an end to apartheid – Top ten brands to boycott
While there are many Israeli and multinational companies that benefit from apartheid, we put together this list to highlight ten specific companies to target. Many of these produce goods in such a way that directly harms Palestinians — exploiting labor, developing technology for military operations, or supplying equipment for illegal settlements. Many are also the targets of boycotts for other reasons, like harming the environment and labor violations. #BDS:Campuses work to further the BDS movement
The apartheid situation in South Africa ended in the 1990s in large part because of boycotts on college campuses, and many scholars have argued that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) is the most effective way for ending the current blockade and occupation of Palestine by Israeli military forces.  The BDS movement against companies with Israeli ties has been active at American campuses in recent weeks in response to desperate pleas from human rights organizations, the United Nations, and world political leaders to end the occupation. Black Monday – In Solidarity with Palestine
Today (Monday) is Black Monday, when everyone’s office internet fails as people shop online at their desk. It is also the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.  Today is a great day to show your solidarity by engaging in both buy-cott and boycott actions to support Palestinian human rights. 


Why NGO Monitor is attacking The Electronic Intifada
NGO Monitor has launched a campaign targeting a Dutch foundation’s financial support to The Electronic Intifada, accusing the publication among other things of “anti-Semitism.” NGO Monitor is an extreme right-wing group with close ties to the Israeli government, military, West Bank settlers, a man convicted of misleading the US Congress, and to notoriously Islamophobic individuals and organizations in the United States.

Arab Orthodox orgs slam church-Israel ‘collaboration’
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Arab Orthodox Central Council in Palestine and Jordan and the Council of Arab Orthodox Organizations in Palestine issued a statement on Tuesday “strongly condemning” cooperation between Greek Orthodox church officials and Israel’s Ministry of Tourism. of Palestinian Children

Chronicle of Fear: Sixteen Year-Old Reports Abuse During Interrogation in Military Jail, Joseph Dana
Mohammed Abu Rahmah was arrested from his home during a military nighttime raid on his village of Bil’in on November 23rd. Abu Rahmah, the son of imprisoned Bil’in organizer, Adeeb Abu Rahmah, was released without charge on Monday, and reports being harassed and beaten during his questioning.

Targeting Silwan’s children
Earlier this year, “Mahmoud” came home to see a letter with his name on it, instructing him to come to the Russian Compound prison facility in Jerusalem. The 15-year-old Palestinian resident of the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem went to the prison with his father, mother and aunt. He was interrogated for seven hours. of Palestinian teens was illegal, court rules
The two 16-year-olds from West Bank city of Qalqilyah, who are suspected of being accessories in a theft, were subjected to a 5-hour interrogation at four in the morning. experts condemn police treatment of Palestinian stone-throwers
Childcare experts call on authorities to monitor police interactions with minors; say 1,200 minors arrested for stone throwing in E. Jerusalem., East Jerusalem – 60 Israeli professionals speak out at violence against children

Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement

Coalition of Human Rights Groups Call Israel’s Gaza Bluff, Alex Kane
A large, international coalition of human rights groups released a report (embedded above) yesterday examining the ongoing and illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip and whether anything has changed post-”Freedom Flotilla.”  The answer is that not much has changed.  In the aftermath of Israel’s illegal attack on the Gaza-bound “Freedom Flotilla,” international attention was focused on the situation in Gaza.  In early July, responding to international pressure, the Israeli government announced an “easing” of the blockade.  The “easing” measures included promises of the allowance of more consumer products into Gaza and allowing the entry of construction materials for projects approved by the Palestinian Authority (which has no power in Gaza).  This new report has a handy chart looking at the promises made post-flotilla and how they match up to reality.

Israel allows cement, iron for UNRWA in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities allowed 183 truckloads of goods into Gaza on Tuesday, crossings officials said.  Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh said 138 commercial trucks carried goods for the commercial sector, 13 for the agricultural sector, seven brought humanitarian aid and eight were for the transport ministry.  Meanwhile, eight trucks brought cement and iron for the UN refugee agency in Gaza. Flying checkpoint stops Tulkarem residents
TULKAREM (Ma’an) — The area north of the At-Tayba checkpoint south of Tulkarem was declared a closed military zone on Tuesday afternoon, with a flying checkpoint erected at the edge of the zone.  Troops were seen checking identity cards of Palestinian civilians attempting to pass through the area, with at least three cards confiscated, stranding the bearers – who all worked for a garage nearby – for an unknown period of time. “Return to sender” – Israel blocks the mail to Gaza
Palestinians living under siege in the occupied Gaza Strip cannot even communicate by mail, as Israel also severely restricts or delays the delivery of post including letters and packages. Rami Almeghari reports for The Electronic Intifada. Aid Chain from Spain to Gaza
Several Spanish and Latin American actors, writers and singers, with the support of the UNRWA Committee in Spain, have begun a humanitarian campaign called Aid Chain, to raise funds to help refugee children in Gaza through the construction of a “virtual human chain” in which everyone can join.

Carol Chomsky memorial fund will serve ‘purposely wrecked society’ of Gaza and Nakba refugees in Lebanon, Philip Weiss
As many of you know, Carol Chomsky, a linguist and social activist, died nearly two years ago. She had been married for nearly 60 years to Noam Chomsky, whom she met when she was 3 and he was 5 and their parents got together near Philadelphia.  Well, here is a way to honor Carol Chomsky and her husband: give money this holiday season to the Chomsky Fund. The Fund was announced yesterday on the anniversary of Partition as a gesture of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Its “initial launch” will end on the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in two weeks, and in the midst of that fundraising period, Noam Chomsky will celebrate his 82d birthday.

Forgotten Palestinians
Bristling over the worldwide outrage and condemnation in the aftermath of killings of nine peace activists on board an aid convoy bound for Gaza, the Israel government agreed to allow more aid into Gaza to ease the pressure that had been building on the rogue regime because of its illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza. 


Nahr al-Bared reconstruction delay throws civil rights into spotlight
More than three years after Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in the north of Lebanon was destroyed, its reconstruction is finally under way. However, the process runs at a slow pace and remains only partially funded as further political obstacles appear on the horizon.

Racism and Discrimination

U.S. State Department: Israel is not a tolerant society, Adam Horowitz
You can read the most recent State Department report here; it shows that many of these issues remain the same. To understand how and why this level of inequality continues it is useful to look at the Israel Democracy Institute’s new Israeli Democracy Index for 2010 which was released today. It offers some very interesting data that sheds light on current Israeli (especially Jewish Israeli) views on democracy and the Jewish state. Here is a sampling of its findings:

Most Jews would deny Arabs say over future of Israel: poll (AFP)
AFP – Some two thirds of Israeli Jews believe Arab citizens should have no say on security or diplomacy issues as long as the conflict with the Palestinians lingers, a poll showed on Tuesday.* “Jewish and democratic” Israelis as confused about democracy as is their state, Yaniv Reich
Israelis love to think about themselves as little ‘d’ democrats, but they have a very peculiar way of understanding democratic principles.  A new poll released today by the Israel Democracy Institute brings into full, awkward view the contradictory, mutually inconsistent definitions of democracy that cohabit the Israeli psyche.  First the (semi) flattering news. 51% of Israeli Jews, the slimmest of majorities but a plurality nonetheless, said that Jews and Arabs should have equal rights. Indeed, just a smidgen above half the population of the so-called “light unto nations” believes that Jews and their neighbors ought to have equal rights. One need not wonder too much about what the other 49% thinks. And I would suspect that more specific questions about actual implementation of equal rights, like, say, the right of return, would see even that 51% plummet into the infinitesimal.

Palestinian teen wounded in IOF shooting
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) fired at Palestinian workers collecting gravel near Beit Hanun (Erez) crossing in northern Gaza on Wednesday wounding a teenager, medical sources reported.

Israelis unleash dogs on Palestinians
Israeli forces have unleashed their dogs on the Palestinians decrying the oppressive policies Tel Aviv implements on the occupied Palestinian territories. The forces used the “savage” animals, sound bombs and tear gas to suppress the protest which erupted before the Israeli troops razed two residences in the Arab neighborhood of Issawiya to the ground, the Palestine News Network (PNN) JCSER: “Israeli Police Used Dogs In Attacking Homeowners In Jerusalem”
The Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights in Jerusalem (JCSER) reported that Israeli policemen used dogs during their Tuesday attack against Palestinian homeowners as the police attacked their homes before demolishing them earlier in the day in Al Esawiyya, in occupied East Jerusalem. forces enter homes in northern West Bank
TULKAREM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces entered areas in the northern West Bank on Wednesday morning, entering several homes to question civilians and delivering summons orders to others.  The raids came in addition to two confirmed detentions in Nablus.  In Tulkarem, Palestinian security officials said the homes of Ala Salah Yassin, Ashraf Sareedy, and Basem Al-Hamshary were entered by Israeli intelligence officials and the men of the homes were questioned extensively.

Palestinian Woman Kidnapped While Visiting Detained Brother
Palestinian sources reported that resident Miriam Al Hour was kidnapped by the Israeli soldiers on Monday while visiting her detained husband, Jamal Al Hour, at the Nafha Israeli prison

IOF troops detain 7 Palestinians, settlers set fire to cultivated land
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up seven Palestinians in various West Bank areas at dawn Wednesday including MP Nayef Al-Rajoub in Al-Khalil and two brothers in Nablus. Israeli troops re-arrest Hamas MP in West Bank (AFP)
AFP – Israeli troops arrested a Hamas MP in the West Bank on Wednesday, just months after he was freed after serving a four-year jail term, Palestinian security sources and witnesses said.* Helpers

Hamas: PA detains 8 party members
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian security forces recently detained eight Hamas members in the West Bank, the party said Tuesday.  Hamas said in a statement that Palestinian Authority forces made the arrests in Nablus, Ramallah, Jerusalem and Salfit.

WikiLeaks exposes Egypt’s duplicity in Gaza siege
CAIRO, Egypt (IPS) – More than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables released by online whistle-blower WikiLeaks include statements made behind closed doors that could prove embarrassing for Egypt’s government, say analysts. Gaza wall to be completed this month, says new WikiLeaks cable
Egypt’s underground steel wall on the Egyptian-Gaza border is valued at US$40 million and is due to be completed in December 2010, a US Embassy cable has revealed. The cable has been exclusively leaked to Al-Masry Al-Youm.  The wall, which the Egyptian government says is aimed at curbing smuggling between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip, has been shrouded in secrecy until the present. War Profiteers Benefit from US Occupation of Iraq
The American Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC) recently hosted an event to discuss “investment opportunities” with the Iraqi government. That is, the sectarian, illegitimate, puppet Iraqi government that was installed in the wake of the illegal US invasion of Iraq.  While the massacre of Iraq and destruction of its ancient civilization should be cause for humanitarian alarm and antiwar activism, Iraq is simply another business opportunity for these vultures. At the time humanity sees in Iraq a horrifying number of widows, orphans, maimed, displaced, birth deformities as a result of depleted uranium and white phosphorus, AACC and its ilk somehow manage to overlook the carnage to focus on how to make a buck. erases post from its website refuting Jewish claims to Buraq wall
The Hebrew radio said that the information ministery of the Palestinian authority removed documents posted on its official website affirming that the Jews have no right to Al-Buraq (wailing) wall.

Hamas accuses PA, Israel of cooperating to remove it from W. Bank
Hamas said that the kidnapping of its MPs and the raids waged on their homes and offices are part of a plan carefully prepared by Israel and the PA to eliminate it completely from the West Bank.

War Crimes

Zionist weapons tested on Arabs then sold to the world, Antony Loewenstein
A disturbing piece in the LA Times that shows how Israel is profiting from marketing “anti-terrorist” gear. And Palestinians are guinea pigs:  As the threat of terrorism spreads, Israel has moved aggressively to turn domestic security technology into one of its biggest exports.  More than 400 Israeli companies export about $1.5 billion annually in domestic security goods and technology, including biometric devices, tear gas canisters, anti-intrusion systems, airport screening machines, explosives detectors and remote-controlled vehicles.

Coming soon – The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict, Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz
We are excited to announce the publication of our new book – The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict(Nation Books). We were very lucky to work with New York-based independent journalist Lizzy Ratner on the project, which explores the political, legal and social legacy of the Goldstone Report and the Israeli attack on Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009. The book includes an edited version of the report along with 13 essays from some of the leading commentators today on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict including: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Naomi Klein, Raji Sourani, Jules Lobel, Moshe Halbertal, Jerome Slater, Brian Baird, Rashid Khalidi, Henry Siegman, Ali Abunimah, Noam Sheizaf, Letty Cottin Pogrebin and Laila El-Haddad.  The book will be available on January 11, 2011, but you can pre-order it today to make sure you receive it as soon as possible. Also, be sure to stay tuned to Mondoweiss for excerpts from the book as well as other exciting news.

Political Developments

Hamas: We’ll honor referendum on peace
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh says group will back formation of Palestinian state with 1967 borders, Jerusalem as capital and resolution of refugee issue if approved by referendum, despite group’s differing ideology.,7340,L-3992676,00.html

Haniyeh: Israel planning Gaza escalation
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israel is laying the political groundwork for an escalation of attacks on the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister in the Hamas-led government, said Wendesday.  “We can sense there is an upcoming Israeli escalation against the Palestinian people in general and the Gaza Strip in particular,” he told reporters at a rare news conference in Gaza City. “We Are Ready For Real Peace, We Demand A Fully Independent State”
Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, stated Tuesday that the Palestinians are ready for real and comprehensive peace with Israel, but will not accept a temporary solution as they demand the implementation of all internationally guaranteed rights. asked U.S. to force settlement freeze on Israel, WikiLeaks cables show
Senior German official urged U.S. to threaten withdrawing its veto on an anti-Israel vote at the UN. ‘tipped off’ about Gaza war
Leaked US diplomatic cable says Israel raised the possibility with Fatah and Egypt about taking control of Gaza Strip. 

Top 10 Wikileaks Palestine Nuggets 

Knesset blocks WikiLeaks debate
Governing body rejects request for session on leaked U.S. diplomatic cables and their consequences for national security. 

IDF chief: WikiLeaks exposés will affect our diplomacy
A scandal set off by the publication of secret U.S. cables could lower the level of diplomatic discussions worldwide, says Gabi Ashkenazi. 

Radio host: Israel trying to ‘blackmail’ US into war with Iran
Reacting to Raw Story exclusive, Horton tells Fox that Americans ‘oughtta be really upset’ By declaring they’d wage a war against Iran by themselves, the nation of Israel is effectively “blackmailing” the United States into combat operations, according to a radio host who appeared on Fox Business Monday night. 

Turkish FM: We don’t hate Israel
Ahmet Davutoglu brushes aside leaked US diplomatic cable that described him as ‘exceptionally dangerous’, says tensions with Jewish state come from sharp policy disagreements.,7340,L-3992257,00.html

Other News    

Jerusalem holds day-long war drill
JERUSALEM, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) — Israel’s National Emergency Authority (NEA) on Tuesday held a comprehensive eight-hour war drill in Jerusalem to prepare the city’s residents for an all-out war with the Jewish state’s adversaries.  City workers and schoolchildren practiced fast, orderly evacuations to bomb shelters and other protected areas as the sirens went off. The siren test was also intended to map gaps in coverage throughout the city, according to the Jerusalem Municipality. 

Senators press AIPAC on START
Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) are pressing the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC to go public with its support of the START treaty, arguing U.S.-Russian cooperation is essential for the international effort to pressure Iran to curtail its nuclear program, Ben Smith reports.‘Sara Netanyahu driving us crazy’
Internal tensions in PM’s Office reach new high: Sources close to Netanyahu say at least two senior officials on their way out, accuse his wife of ‘badly influencing him and taking the bureau apart’.,7340,L-3992243,00.html Maariv runs some scary gossip on Bibi and “the Boss”
Last night, Channel Ten TV News’s Raviv Drucker exposed a letter written to Benyamin Netanyahu in early 2009. The author, one Yisrael Yagel, a former executive in Netanyahu’s 2008 election campaign, penned an indictment of the Prime Minister’s management style, with particular emphasis on the role and influence of Ms. Netanyahu (“the Boss”). Nablus university hosts PR conference
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Nearly 800 people atttended the opening ceremony of a conference for Palestine Public Relations and Communications in Nablus’ An-Najah National University on Tuesday.  The ceremony began with the Palestinian national anthem, and Al-Arabiya news anchor Maysoon Azzam opened the conference with a speech on the dangers of stereotyping Palestine in the international media. 

In photos: Palestinian men, women race in Jericho
The Palestinian Motorsport Federation hosted its fifth annual rally in the eastern West Bank city of Jericho on 26 November 2010. Some 61 drivers, men and women including seven from Jordan, competed in the motor-sport event. 


WikiLeaks Revelations About Israel/Palestine Counters Conventional Media Narrative, Alex Kane
As Peter Hart of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting notes, “WikiLeaks document dumps are largely what media want to make of them,” and the major U.S. newspapers have so far played up the WikiLeaks revelations about Iran and various Israeli and Arab officials’ alarm over Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.  The headlines on two New York Times articles read:  “Around the World, Distress Over Iran,” and “Iran Is Fortified With North Korean Aid.”  The Washington Post, whose overall coverage of the classified diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks has been lacking, has a piece titled, “Netanyahu says WikiLeaks cables show Arab states share Israeli concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.”  But that’s not all the latest documents from WikiLeaks show about politics in the Middle East.  Other leaked cables that have so far been ignored by mainstream media concern Israel’s perception of the Palestinian Authority (PA)–perceptions that undermine the conventional narrative on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and relations.

Josh Ruebner: WikiLeaks: Israel’s Security Concerns Often Clash with U.S. Interests
In an explosive WikiLeaks revelation, Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, the head of the Political Military Bureau of Israel’s Ministry of Defense, while discussing Israeli requests for U.S. military aid, “acknowledged the sometimes difficult position the U.S. finds itself in given its global interests, and conceded that Israel’s security focus is so narrow that its QME [Qualitative Military Edge] concerns often clash with broader American security interests in the region,” according to the State Department. Ann Wright on WikiLeaks and Accountability
Col (ret.) Ann Wright discusses cablegate on GritTV with Laura Flanders. “We were told as diplomats, ‘Don’t ever put anything in a cable you wouldn’t want on the front page of a newspaper.’ It shows that they’re a lot of arrogant people, that the system itself wasn’t checking itself,” says Ann Wright, Retired United States […] Wikileaks: The Tel Aviv Connection, Jeff Gates
What is Tel Aviv to do now that it’s known Israelis and pro-Israelis ‘fixed’ the intelligence that induced the U.S. to war in Iraq?  Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Con me consistently for six decades and the relationship is over, as is Israel’s credibility as a legitimate nation state.  Tel Aviv knows this. But what can the Zionist state do about it? Answer: Wikileaks.  Why now? Misdirection. Shine the spotlight on Washington to take it off Tel Aviv. That’s good old-fashioned psy-ops.  And challenge the credibility of the U.S. That’s Wikileaks. Wikileaks and the New Global Order, Jonathan Cook
The Wikileaks disclosure this week of confidential cables from United States embassies has been debated chiefly in terms either of the damage to Washington’s reputation or of the questions it raises about national security and freedom of the press.  The headlines aside, most of the information so far revealed from the 250,000 documents is hardly earth-shattering, even if it often runs starkly counter to the official narrative of the US as the benevolent global policeman, trying to maintain order amid an often unruly rabble of underlings. 

WikiLeaks’ harsh lesson on imperial hubris
The new WikiLeaks disclosures provide a useful insight, captured in the very ordinariness of the diplomatic correspondence, into Washington’s own sense of the limits on its global role — an insight that was far less apparent in the previous WikiLeaks revelations on the US army’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Jonathan Cook comments.

Wikileaks helped expose the indignities of Arab leaders, Rami G. Khouri
It is sad and shocking – pitiful, even, in many cases – how many Arab leaders are portrayed in the US State Department cables released by WikiLeaks earlier this week. A few points about the conduct of Arab leaders come to mind, as we learn new details of what they thought, said and did in various diplomatic moments. 

WikiLeaks: What the world is saying
The latest WikiLeaks trove of 250,000 diplomatic cables, obtained in advance by five news outlets, has generated enough fodder in the US alone to occupy American readers. But people all over, from Germany to Lebanon to Australia, are also talking about the sometimes troubling, sometimes mundane cables that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is gradually releasing for public consumption. 

Wikileaks Exposes Complicity of the Press, GARETH PORTER
A diplomatic cable from last February released by Wikileaks provides a detailed account of how Russian specialists on the Iranian ballistic missile program refuted the U.S. suggestion that Iran has missiles that could target European capitals or intends to develop such a capability.

‘WaPo’ hired Rubin because the Iraq war gang needs to hang together or hang separately, Philip Weiss
Jack Ross at PostRight, at the American Conservative, nails the wackadelic hire of Jennifer Rubin by the Washington Post. Excerpts:  Jennifer Rubin is a museum-quality specimen of the Jewish self-hate at the core of the neoconservative phenomenon (and also, not incidentally, of classical Zionism).  Others have noted this streak in her without grasping its deeper significance – that both Zionism and neoconservatism are ultimately based on the neurotic need of some Jews to refute classical anti-Semitic stereotypes to themselves.  …I’ve long felt that the reason the Washington Post and other pillars of the old establishment have become increasingly neocon since the election of Obama is because they know that they’re all in the same boat as the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan become manifest.  So its not surprising that they would bring on a wingnut like Jennifer Rubin.  But I will definitely be reading the Commentary blog far less frequently without the morbid entertainment of the Rubin train-wreck, with little to replace it but John Podhoretz’s middlebrow platitudes that would make Max Lerner blush. 

‘Daily Kos’ banned me and smeared Rachel Corrie, but we can’t give up on the Democratic Party,  Jim Harris
Daily Kos is the “premier online political community with 2.5 million unique visitors per month and 250,000 registered users.”   Its stated purpose is simple: “It’s a Democratic blog with one goal in mind: electoral victory.” Well, that’s a warning right there.  Its goal is simply to promote the Democratic Party brand, not to promote peace, social justice, or oppose oppression.  Yet many of us who blog at Daily Kos use the site to promote values such as opposing wars and oppression, no matter the current political popularity of such a stance.  If you write there in support of Palestinian liberation and ending US funding for Israeli oppression, you risk, at a minimum, that you will be subject to regular and vicious attacks from those who defend the status quo, or some slightly modified version thereof. I know, because I was banned from the site after writing on it for over 4 years.

University of Toronto caught in controversy over anti-Zionist master’s thesis, Adam Horowitz
The Canadian Jewish News reports on Jennifer Peto’s master’s thesis from department of sociology and equity studies in education at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE), a branch of the University of Toronto. The paper is titled “The Victimhood of the Powerful: White Jews, Zionism and the Racism of Hegemonic Holocaust Education”:

Israelify the US? Not if you Like the Constitution, Michael Khaled for MIFTAH
In the wake of the controversy which just passed in the U.S. over full body scans and more hands-on pat down procedures in airports, some pundits and security “experts” are calling for the Israelification of American airports.  These supporters sing praises of the system in place Israel’s single international airport. They say it is focused more on actual security rather than “security theatre,” yet I would argue that Israelification already has a firm foothold in America, and not just in our airports. The increasing normalization of war crimes conducted and justified in the name of fighting terror, the growing specter of the security state with the patriot act and warrantless wiretaps, ascendance of the “clash of civilizations” worldview among Americans pitting East versus West, and the parallel growth of Islamophobia have all pulled the American mindset closer to the Israelis’. American airports also seem to have copied one title aspect of the Israeli screening system though certainly in a more discerning and less blatant way, namely racial profiling.

The Other Britain Steps in the Right Direction
Fadi Abu Sada – Editor-in-Chief – PNN – After British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s last visit to Palestinian territory and his meetings with local nonviolent activists, we got the chance to meet another member of the British government: Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Foreign Secretary—the member of the opposition party, that is, who “shadows” their counterpart in government and proposes alternatives.

Book review: excavating Palestine’s “Hidden Histories”
In his new book Hidden Histories: Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean, Basem Ra’ad unearths new renderings of religious, historical and cultural material and offers readers a direction for thinking about research and activism alike.

Exclusive excerpt from Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between, Laila El-Haddad
Laila El-Haddad’s new book, Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between, follows El-Haddad’s life and work from 2004-2010, and includes great reportage from and about Gaza, Palestinian life, several pieces of poetry; a live-tweeted text from Cairo Airport, and even a recipe. It includes a great Foreword by Prof. miriam cooke of Duke University, and has received strong endorsements from Hanan Ashrawi, Ali Abunimah, Profs. Stephen Walt, Sara Roy, and Richard Falk, and Nora Barrows-Friedman.  Laila will be undertaking a west-coast book tour in February 2011, requests to have Laila come speak to community or activist groups on the west coast or elsewhere should be made via 

Free documentary on Israeli women soldiers; UPDATED with disclaimer, TheOnlyDemocracy
Israel is the only country in the world where 18-year-old girls are drafted for compulsory military service. In the award-winning documentary To See If I Am Smiling, the frank testimonials of six female Israeli soldiers stationed in Gaza and the West Bank pack a powerful emotional punch. The young women revisit their tours of duty in the occupied territories with surprising honesty and strip bare stereotypes of gender differences in the military. The former soldiers share shocking moments of negligence, flippancy, immaturity and power-tripping as they describe atrocities they witnessed and participated in.  The psychological transformation that these young women underwent as a result of military service is both upsetting and riveting. The culture of war transforms people: personalities change, moral codes are subverted, values are supplanted and masks are constructed to dull the pain of what they did and didn’t do in uniform.  “A brave and powerful testimony to the corrosive effect of power.” – Silver Wolf Jury, Int’l Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam (IDFA) *****Disclaimer: The above film apparently received funding from the Israeli government. Also, my original title indicated it was about Shministim, young people who refuse to serve in the army. This is about the experience of people who have served. 

Let Americans’ shift on gays in the military be a lesson for Israelis, Philip Weiss
This is a great day in the U.S. The Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, recommended that the U.S. government end the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays in the military. From now on, he said, they should serve openly. Battalions of liberal commentators, from Chris Matthews on down, will support Obama and the Congress as they move inevitably toward liberalization for a minority that has so often been hunted in our society. 


Wikileaks batch at Al-Akhbar
Al-Akhbar has received its own package of Wikileaks documents, it seems. Here is one on the Hariri tribunal and US role in it. Revelations: Hariri Assassinated with Russian Missile?!
01/12/2010 “When we asked a number of military experts what kind of explosives would be capable of generating such damage, they mentioned a new type of weapon. The combination of nuclear and nanotechnology science can trigger an explosion the exact strength of which can be regulated and controlled. The weapon is set up to destroy everything within a given perimeter, down to the nearest centimeter. The weapon is shaped like a small missile, a few tens of centimeters long. It must be fired from a drone. Actually, several witnesses assured they had heard an aircraft flying over the scene of the crime.”  Indeed, and while western media have announced that indictments against Hezbollah will be issued shortly by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Russian magazine Odnako chose to challenge the entire UN investigation. to take action if STL issues indictment in December: report
BEIRUT, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) — Lebanese Shiite armed group Hezbollah will implement “field plans” if the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) issues indictment in December, the local pro- Hezbollah Al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Tuesday.  The report said Hezbollah officials will not respond to any foreign actor and will implement their plans. However, the paper added that “the political conflict will shift to a more stable phase if the court’s indictment to be postponed until next March.” Hariri denies calling on US to strike Iran
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri denied Tuesday allegations that he called for a United States strike on Iran back in 2006, as intercepted diplomatic documents suggested Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had voiced regrets over Israel’s war with Hizbullah. Hariri was quoted by the New York Times as asking US officials in 2006 to “go all the way if need be” in halting Iranian nuclear designs. 

Hariri Meets Sarkozy: Relationship with Hezbollah Good
30/11/2010 From Tehran, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri travelled to France where he held talks on Tuesday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace, kicking off a three-day official visit to Paris.  Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Hariri denied relationships with Hezbollah were severed, noting that Hezbollah was a rather important political party in Lebanon. “The relationship with Hezbollah has always been good,” Hariri said. “Sometimes we have differences of opinion, that’s normal, this is politics, this is democracy,” he added.  On the other hand, the premier said that “nobody” knows the content of the anticipated indictment to be issued by the so-called Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) over the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri’s case. 
Al-Akhbar: “Hariri Held Interview with Israeli Journalist”
29/11/2010 The Washington Post’s journalist who conducted an interview with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri holds the American and the Israeli nationality, the Lebanese daily al-Akhbar reported on Monday.  The daily said that “Janine Zacharia has come from Jerusalem; she conducted the interview with Hariri in November 13, and now she is the head of Washington Post’s office in the occupied Jerusalem”.  Zacharia speaks Hebrew fluently and she manages the Arabic language, according to her appointment report.  Zacharia graduated from an American University whose name was linked to Israel. She has worked as a correspondent for both Jerusalem Report and Reuters.  The daily added that Zacharia has lived for five years in the occupied territories and worked as a journalist there. She returned to the US but she worked as Jerusalem Post’s correspondent in Washington, and as a diplomatic editor in Bloomberg channel.  Ten years later, Zacharia moved to be the head of Washington Post’s office in occupied Jerusalem. 

Palestinians vow to remain neutral amid Tribunal dispute
BEIRUT: Palestinian factions across the spectrum said Tuesday they would stand neutral with regard to the dispute among rival Lebanese parties over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). Fears of sectarian Sunni-Shiite strife mounted lately over reports of the imminent release of an indictment by the STL accusing Hizbullah members in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.


Tuesday: 5 Iraqis Killed, 7 Wounded
Even though U.S. troops are set to leave Iraq next year, the U.S. State Department and Pentagon believe it will stay expensive to keep remaining Americans safe in the country. Iraqi civilians also must worry about such attacks and other hardships they continue to suffer now. At least five Iraqis were killed and seven more were wounded in today’s light attacks. 

Explosion kills 4, wounds 30 in Iraq’s Diyala
Four people were killed and 30 others were wounded in the blast which targeted a restaurant in Diyala’s provincial capital city of Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, the source said on condition of anonymity. Iraq blast wounds Health Ministry employee
An employee at Iraq’s Health Ministry was wounded on Wednesday due to a bomb stuck to a governmental car belonging to the Health Ministry in Al Jihad District, western Baghdad. of Iraq Qaeda group leader uncovered
So called Security Minister of Islamic State of Iraq Hazem Abdul Razzaq Al Zawi who was arrested in Ramadi 10 days ago uncovered during investigations the real identity of Al Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Baker Al Baghdadi and War Minister Nasseruddin Allah Suleiman, an informed source from the Interior … delays first census since 1987 over land row (Reuters)
Reuters – Iraq’s cabinet decided on Tuesday to postpone again the nation’s first full census in more than two decades as it struggles to end a longstanding dispute between majority Arabs and minority Kurds over land and oil.* 

Sadrists expect big role in new Iraq government (AP)
AP – The Shiite Sadrist movement was the key bloc that assured Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s re-election, and now the fiercely anti-U.S. fundamentalist group wants its cut in return: A bigger role in Iraq’s new government. Already, it has gotten bolder on the ground.*


U.S. and other world news

Pentagon study ‘backs gay troops’
Study shows that most troops do not see a problem serving alongside openly gay colleagues, boosting calls for change.

Interpol: Julian Assange ‘Red Notice’ Issued
Interpol has issued a red notice for the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The notice is an international ‘wanted poster’ that the agency hopes will lead to the extradition of the wanted person to the country that originally filed the arrest warrant.  The notice is now appearing on Interpol’s website, saying that he is wanted for ” sex crimes.” The charges come from an alleged incident in Sweden. Mike Huckabee: WikiLeaks Source Should Be Executed (VIDEO)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and possible Republican presidential candidate provided a harsh assessment of what he believes to be an appropriate punishment for the source of the latest WikiLeaks transmission of U.S. embassy cables, saying that “anything less than execution is too kind a penalty.”  “Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason,” Huckabee said, according to a report from Florida Independent. “They’ve put American lives at risk.” Ecuador president nixes Assange invitation
QUITO, Ecuador (AFP) — Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa on Tuesday backtracked on an offer of residency to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, insisting no such invitation has been extended.  “There has been no formal offer to the director of WikiLeaks,” Correa told a news conference in the coastal city of Guayaquil. “That was a personal remark by the deputy foreign minister; he did not have my authorization.”’t hunt my son, says mother of WikiLeaks chief
SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — The mother of Australian-born WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange does not want her son “hunted down” by Interpol over two rape charges issued by the Swedish police, a report said Wednesday.  The international police agency has issued a global arrest warrant for Assange, one of the founders of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks which has caused a storm around the world by dumping secret messages from US diplomatic missions onto the Internet.

WikiLeaks cables: Bradley Manning faces 52 years in jail
Bradley Manning, a US army intelligence analyst, is suspected of leaking more than 250,000 diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks

Julian Assange: Hillary Clinton Should Resign
Hillary Clinton, Julian Assange said, “should resign.” Speaking over Skype from an undisclosed location on Tuesday, the WikiLeaks founder was replying to a question by TIME managing editor Richard Stengel over the diplomatic cable dump Assange’s organization began loosing on the world over the weekend. Stengel said that the U.S. Secretary of State was looking like “the fall guy” in the ensuing controversy and was her firing or resignation an outcome that Assange would want? “I don’t think it would make much of a difference either way,” he said. “But she should resign, if it can be shown that she was responsible for ordering U.S. diplomatic figures to engage in espionage in the United Nations, in violation of the international covenants to which the U.S. has signed up. Yes, she should resign over that.” 

Assange legal position explained
As the latest Wikileaks revelations continue to reverberate around the world, the man at the centre of it all is facing a legal backlash. Julian Assange,The Wikileaks website founder, is now the subject of an Interpol red notice, which calls for member countries to assist in his arrest. The US is considering pressing charges against Assange for espionage. Al Jazeera’s Bhanu Bhatnagar takes a look at his legal position.

Flashback: Wikileaks chief said he has 5GB of secret docs on Bank of America
In an interview published Monday, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange revealed that his whistleblower website intends to publish a trove of secret documents exposing the corruption of a major American bank. He declined to say which bank, but he offered what may be a telling hint last year as to who the megaleak will target. 

Bank of America shares fall amid leak rumours
Shares in Bank of America, the largest US bank, fell by more than 3 per cent amid speculation it is to be Wikileaks’ next target. The whistle-blowing website’s founder, Julian Assange, the subject of a US criminal investigation, claimed a fresh “megaleak” will target a major US bank “early next year”. 

US severs access to diplomatic files
In dramatic move following disclosure of sensitive cables, State Department disconnects access to government’s classified computer network. Defense Secretary Gates: Leaks embarrassing but will have little impact on US relations with other countries.,7340,L-3992319,00.html 

UN slams US over ‘espionage’ revelations
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman says organization will take up issue ‘with our US counterparts on various levels’. White House: Stealing of classified information a crime, Obama ‘not pleased’,7340,L-3991785,00.html 

WikiLeaks Cables Reveal U.S. Tried to Thwart Spanish Probes of Gitmo Torture and CIA Rendition
The latest disclosures from the massive trove of diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks reveal U.S. officials tried to influence Spanish prosecutors and government officials to drop court investigations into torture at Guantánamo Bay and CIA extraordinary rendition flights. We speak to Scott Horton, an attorney specializing in international law and human rights and a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine. [includes rush transcript–partial]

Leaked Cables Reveal U.S. Pressured Spain to Drop Case of Cameraman Killed in 2003 Attack on Journalists in Baghdad
Leaked U.S. embassy cables from Madrid reveal the United States pressured the Spanish government to close a court case brought by the family of a Spanish cameraman, José Couso. Couso was killed in Baghdad when a U.S. Army tank fired on the Palestine Hotel, which was filled with journalists, on April 8, 2003. Three U.S. soldiers have been indicted in Spanish court for Couso’s death. “I am outraged,” says Javier Couso, the brother of José Couso. “I can’t believe my government conspired with a foreign government… It seems we are citizens, or at least a small province, of the empire of the United States.”

Arab allies urged US to ignore human rights – memo
PARIS: authoritarian allies of the US in the Arab world have urged Washington to ignore human rights and take a more starkly aggressive stand against Islamist militants and Iran, leaked cables show. According to stolen US State Department cables published by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, Egypt advised the United States to forget about democracy in Iraq. 

WikiLeaks cables: You can’t blame Israel for mistrusting Arabs, says Qatari ruler
Israel deserves credit for seeking peace in the face of resurgent Hamas and Hezbollah, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani tells U.S. senator, according to classified dispatch.

WikiLeaks cables: Qatar okays use of its airbase for U.S. attack on Iran
“I think that you should remove your bases from [Qatar],” Dagan told American diplomats, according to the WikiLeaks document, “[The Qataris] owe their security to the presence of the Americans].”

Turkey PM lashes at U.S. diplomats for WikiLeaks ‘slander’
Tayyip Erdogan denies then-U.S. ambassador’s claim that he holds several Swiss bank accounts.

US Cable Confirms US Killed Women and Children In Yemen
The U.S. media paid scant attention in June when Amnesty International released a report charging that U.S. cruise missiles carrying cluster bombs had struck the village of al Majalah in southern Yemen on Dec. 17, 2009, killing 41 civilians, including 14 women and 21 children. 

Pakistani sues US over drone strike
Kareem Khan is seeking $500 million in compensation from the US government over the death of his son and brother.

WikiLeaks cable reveals secret pledge to protect US at Iraq inquiry
Ministry of Defence told US that UK had ‘put measures in place’ to protect American interests during Chilcot inquiry.  The British government promised to protect America’s interests during the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, according to a secret cable sent from the US embassy in London.  Jon Day, the Ministry of Defence’s director general for security policy, told US under-secretary of state Ellen Tauscher that the UK had “put measures in place to protect your interests during the UK inquiry into the causes of the Iraq war”. 

Leaked Cable Reveals US-Israeli Strategy for Regime Change in Iran
According to a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, in August 2007 the head of Israel’s intelligence agency urged US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, R. Nicholas Burns, to join with Israel in carrying out a five-part strategy to implement regime change in Iran. 

U.S. scrambled to understand protests in Iran, leaked documents show
Washington talked with foreign embassies, dissidents and businessmen to gauge the Iranian opposition, according to dispatches disclosed by WikiLeaks.  As protesters poured into the streets of Iran in the aftermath of the disputed 2009 reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, U.S. diplomats scrambled to decipher the erupting political crisis and the goals of the opposition’s so-called green movement, according to recently disclosed diplomatic cables.,0,3338923.story 

U.S. hits Iran nuclear program with new sanctions
Obama administration blacklists 10 Iranian businesses affiliated with the country’s state bank and national shipping lines. 

Inside Story – Targeting Iran’s nuclear scientists
Targeting Iran’s nuclear programme seems to have become about targeting the brains behind it. A top Iranian nuclear scientist has been killed and Iran is, predictably, blaming Israel and the CIA. Are the motives as obvious as they seem? And who really stands to benefit from the attacks?

US embassy cables: Saudis fear ‘Shia triangle’ of Iran, Iraq and Pakistan

‘Sarkozy the American’ mulled troops for Iraq: WikiLeaks (AFP)
AFP – Even before his election, President Nicolas Sarkozy convinced the US he was the most pro-American French leader since the war and even discussed sending French troops to Iraq, leaked cables showed.*

WikiLeaks cables: Nicolas Sarkozy, the Saudis and Carla Bruni
US embassy cables reveal French president offended Saudi sensibilities by inviting fiancée on state visit.  Nicolas Sarkozy offended the Saudis by planning to take Carla Bruni on a state visit before they were married, a secret US cable shows.  The French president made a high-profile trip to Saudi Arabia in January 2008 to improve his personal relationship with King Abdullah. But a memo from the US embassy in Riyadh said Saudi contacts “privately shared displeasure with certain French conduct” during the trip.  The hosts found Sarkozy’s invitation of his then fiancée, Bruni, “offensive given their strict, conservative culture against the company of an unmarried woman”. In the end, Bruni stayed home. But various “protocol faux pas” were committed by the French delegation. Sarkozy was deemed “less than gracious” for “avoiding tasting traditional Arab foods” and displaying a “bored look during the televised arrival sword ceremony”.

Sarkozy a ‘thin-skinned authoritarian’
US embassy cables have detailed how French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s staff and ministers fear their leader’s temper, and were concerned about the impact of his personal life on his presidency. 

Egypt opposition rejects election results as ‘invalid’
CAIRO: Egypt’s leading opposition group dismissed Tuesday the results of parliamentary elections as “invalid,” but nevertheless said its candidates would participate in weekend runoffs. The fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood has predicted its lawmakers will be almost entirely swept out of Parliament by what it said was rampant rigging. 

Inside Story – Women in Egyptian parliament
Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, is approaching 30 years in power and is likely to be celebrating victory for his National Democratic Party. For the first time, women will make up at least 12 per cent of parliament thanks to a new quota system. Can female voices answer the widespread calls for real democratic change in Egypt? 

U.S is responsible for Egypt ‘s election joke
There is no doubt that the United States is at least morally responsible for the scandalous election joke which took place in Egypt on 28 November.

Elections in Egypt, As`ad Abukhalil
I am sure that the last election is Iran rigged or was characterized with corruption and political interference.  But does anyone doubt that the last Sunday election in Egypt was the most corrupt and most farcical in the history of “elections” in the Middle East?  Yet, compare the coverage.  And imagine if this charade in Egypt took place in a country that is on bad terms with the US.

Jordan: Gravely Ill Woman Detained, Not Treated
(New York) – A Jordanian prosecutor ordered the pre-trial detention of a woman accused of a minor offense despite her life-threatening infection with necrotizing fasciitis, also known as “flesh-eating” bacteria, Human Rights Watch said today.

Riz Khan – When honour meets morality
Should morality be a universal law and can honour killings be stopped by enforcing a collective moral agenda? 

Two sisters bring performance art to Syria
In Syria, a country with significant state censorship, the arts are given freer rein – but these sisters’ performance art is toeing even that line.

UK galleries search for Middle East art
Art insitutions in the UK are increasing their acquisitions of contemporary 20th and 21st century works, particualrly those from the Middle East, rather than traditional western works.

Coming soon – The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict

Dec 01, 2010

Philip Weiss &

Adam Horowitz


You’ve heard the controversy – 

Now read the report for yourself

We are excited to announce the publication of our new book – The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict (Nation Books). We were very lucky to work with New York-based independent journalist Lizzy Ratner on the project, which explores the political, legal and social legacy of the Goldstone Report and the Israeli attack on Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009.

The book includes an edited version of the report along with 13 essays from some of the leading commentators today on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict including: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Naomi Klein, Raji Sourani, Jules Lobel, Moshe Halbertal, Jerome Slater, Brian Baird, Rashid Khalidi, Henry Siegman, Ali Abunimah, Noam Sheizaf, Letty Cottin Pogrebin and Laila El-Haddad.

The book will be available on January 11, 2011, but you can pre-order it today to make sure you receive it as soon as possible. Also, be sure to stay tuned to Mondoweiss for excerpts from the book as well as other exciting news. 

Pre-Order The Goldstone Report

You can also pre-order the book from the following booksellers:


Order from an online bookseller

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(Check your local Yellow Pages for a bookstore near you.)

International online orders

Notes on Hanukkah: The Maccabees and Zionism’s ‘invented traditions’

Dec 01, 2010

David Shasha


1. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, a Hebrew word meaning “to dedicate,” is a minor Jewish festival with no Biblical source.

2. Hanukkah is a historical holiday that commemorates the Jewish defeat of the Seleucidite Syrian Greeks in 165 BCE by a priestly family called the Maccabees. These Maccabees sought to defeat not merely the Greek occupiers, but to defeat their Jewish acolytes, the so-called “Jewish Hellenizers.”3. Our rabbinic sources have not preserved any legitimate historical information for us. But the rabbis do set out the legal requirement of the holiday, a single prescription to light candles for eight nights, in the Tractate Shabbat of the Babylonian Talmud. This legal discussion, our only “official” Jewish source for the holiday, is in essence appended to a much larger discussion of the intricacies of lighting candles for the Sabbath.4. Our historical source for the holiday is the apocryphal Book of Maccabees 4:52 ff. where we read of the Maccabean rededication of the Temple on 25 Kislev, the traditional date of Hanukkah.5. The rabbis who canonized the Hebrew Scriptures at Yavneh circa 100 CE neglected to include the Book of Maccabees in their Bible. There are many ways that we might speculate on this excision of the Maccabees from the Masoretic Bible. 

6. The rabbis saw the Hasmonean dynasty as usurpers to the Priestly offices in the Temple and the monarchy. The Hasmoneans were country priests who did not come from the Zadokite lineage and took it upon themselves to lead the rebellion against Antiochus and the Syrian Greeks. From the rabbinic point of view, whatever positive gains were gained by this defeat of the Seleucids was negated in the very strict literal sense of Jewish law regarding priestly succession as elucidated in the rabbinic sources.

7. We can then examine the Hasmonean lineage and its impact on the Jewish culture in Pharisaic and post-Pharisaic Judaism. The first Hasmoneans by and large stayed true to the Jewish legal traditions along the rabbinic model. But as the generations went on, the Hasmoneans continued to garner more and more power and forgot the traditions that stirred the rebellion in the first place. At the nadir of Hasmonean power, the usurpation of the throne by the Idumean pretender Herod, who was technically a member of the Hasmonean clan as he married into the family, capped off what was by then many decades of Hellenization by the Temple priests.

8. So it should be noted that the rabbis were less than thrilled with the physical specimens of the Hasmonean dynasty who populated the Temple precincts in their own day. It would then make sense for the rabbis to seek to expunge the historical record of the Maccabean revolt and the reasons for the celebration of the Hanukkah holiday.9. But the rabbis could not eliminate a holiday which had popular roots among both the Jewish masses and the priestly elite. Hence, they developed a hagiographic tale of a cruse of oil that was found amidst the Temple relics that was the only “pure” oil that could be used to light the Menorah, Hebrew candelabrum; according to the rabbis the oil, a one-day supply, lasted for the eight-day rededication ceremonies. It is curious to note that the Temple Menorah contained seven branches while the Hanukkah Menorah contains nine.10. The story of the cruse of oil knowingly obscured the historical underpinnings of the holiday which, in addition to the Book of Maccabees sources, appears in Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities Book 12, Chapter 7. Our historical sources tell us nothing about the cruse of oil but do tell us a good deal about the Maccabees and their war against the Syrians.11. The rabbis, as is known, were split over their own thoughts and desires about Jewish national independence. There was a faction led by R. Akiba that continued to struggle for Jewish independence while another group, led by R. Yohanan Ben Zakkai, sought to make peace with the occupiers and develop a new Jewish national life based upon study and practice of the written and oral traditions of the Hebrew faith. According to this model the Jews would live at peace with the Romans in exchange for their religious freedom and communal autonomy.

12. The Hanukkah commemoration, a clearly nationalistic holiday, a holiday that was more political than spiritual, was muted within the rabbinic liturgical calendar. The rabbis were deeply concerned with the restoration by the Maccabees of Torah study rather than political independence. The rabbinic Hanukkah is a contemplative holiday that highlights the warmth of family ties and the freedom afforded by the Maccabean revolt for Jews to live in religious freedom.

13. With the dual emergence of new trends in the modern period; Jewish nationalism in the form of Zionism and the increased attention paid by Jews to Gentile-like behaviors and assimilation, the holiday of Hanukkah, a relatively minor part of the Jewish liturgical calendar as we have said, takes on a newly significant role.

14. For the Zionists, the Maccabean revolution was an alternative historical model to the standard narrative of the rabbis. In the Macabees, the Zionists found a valid historical model on which to base their own Judean nationalism. Rather than maintaining the codes and beliefs of the Talmudic sages, the Zionists re-formed a “new” Jewish “nation” upon “invented traditions” that were deeply informed by the Maccabean paradigm.

15. In the Zionist narrative the Hellenizing Maccabees were expunged and the Nationalist Maccabees were valorized. The movement which led to Herod and the eventual destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE was blanked out, as was the paradigm shift of R. Yohanan Ben Zakkai and the emergence of a new humanistic Judaism based upon the collection of the source traditions during this period of the written and oral traditions in the forms of the Masoretic Scriptures and the Mishnah, leading to the magnum opus of this rabbinic formalism, the Babylonian Talmud.

16. Zionism saw itself as heir to the Maccabeean revolution and not to the rabbis. The quietism of the rabbis was eliminated in favor of a new aggressiveness that thought little of the religious and cultural implications of this realignment of Jewish life. Zionism was an attempt to restore national life to the Jews at the expense of the religious imperatives developed in the Diaspora by the Jewish Sages.

17. The increasing level of assimilation by Jews into Gentile society has made Hanukkah a holiday meant to match up against Christmas, a central Christian holiday that forms, with New Year’s Day, the very core of Christian self-definition. Over the past century, Christmas has taken on mammoth proportions and has served to drive the engine of modern Western consumerism.

18. Thus, Jews who felt ill at ease with their own faith turned to Hanukkah as a “twin” holiday to stand up next to Christmas. 

19. So, in summation, Hanukkah is a very minor Jewish holiday that has been obscured by the way in which Judaism has used the historical source materials and by the manner in which the Jewish rabbis sought to impress their own stamp upon the conceptualization of the holiday. Modern Jews have reframed the holiday and have given it new meanings not originally inherent in either the historical or the religious sense(s) of the commemoration transforming Hanukkah into a “major” Jewish holiday.

David Shasha is the director of the Center for Sephardic Heritage in Brooklyn, New York. He has written articles for the Huffington Post and publishes a weekly e-mail newsletter Sephardic Heritage Update through the Center. To sign up for the newsletter visit:, and you can contact David directly at

‘Daily Kos’ banned me and smeared Rachel Corrie, but we can’t give up on the Democratic Party

Dec 01, 2010

Jim Harris


Daily Kos is the “premier online political community with 2.5 million unique visitors per month and 250,000 registered users.”   Its stated purpose is simple: “It’s a Democratic blog with one goal in mind: electoral victory.” Well, that’s a warning right there.  Its goal is simply to promote the Democratic Party brand, not to promote peace, social justice, or oppose oppression. 

Yet many of us who blog at Daily Kos use the site to promote values such as opposing wars and oppression, no matter the current political popularity of such a stance.  If you write there in support of Palestinian liberation and ending US funding for Israeli oppression, you risk, at a minimum, that you will be subject to regular and vicious attacks from those who defend the status quo, or some slightly modified version thereof. 

I know, because I was banned from the site after writing on it for over 4 years.

My diaries mostly dealt with the daily and routine violence of the occupation. Home demolitions and evictions of Palestinians from their homes are the subject of many (and the mockery they make of a “peace process”). 

I was also not afraid to criticize the Jewish establishment, including the ADL and even groups like Hillel when some locals hosted Efraim Eitam. But the last straw was perhaps my last diary, a report of the protest of Israeli peace groups and their concern that Israel is becoming a fascist state.  The pressure must have been too intense for the DKos administration to withstand, so it became easier just to ban me.  

I was not all that surprised.  In one of my comments, made in regard to the ADL’s attack on the Muslim Community Center planned in New York, I stated that no matter where we live in America “we can demand that bigotry be rejected by all, including New Yorkers, and the ADL.” It elicited this emphatic and crude response:  “You have no fucking standing my friend, to demand anything.”  That statement, I believe, encapsulates the view that, at Daily Kos, unless you conform to certain limits of acceptable criticism of Israeli policy and of the institutions that support Israeli policy (including the Democratic Party), you simply do not have any standing.  For example, saying the Israeli settlements should no longer expand is permissible. But say that the US should cease the funding of Israeli aggression and you can expect to be attacked as being an anti-Semite.

A case in point, and again, very crude but not at all subject to administrative sanction at Daily Kos: in attacking the memory of Rachel Corrie and supporting the Official Israeli line about how she was killed, a commenter said:

… if the ISM’s [International Solidarity Movement’s] story were true, and the bulldozer had run over her, then backed over her, they’d have buried her in tupperware.  The fact that she actually had an open casket funeral would suggest that this scenario was not, in fact, what happened.  Additionally the autopsy report finding dirt and debris in her lungs is consistent with the IDF’s version of the story that she was on rubble, fell, and was buried under it and crushed by it.  But that doesn’t fit the ISM’s (and your) narrative of malicious, vindictive, thieving Jews, so their version of the story was a bit different.

Notice the clear accusation of anti-Semitism; in this case simply for refusing to accept the Israeli government story on the killing of Rachel Corrie, and the utter disrespect the commenter exhibits toward the family of Rachel Corrie (does any family ever bury their dead in Tupperware?  It looks like a variation of the extremist taunts of Rachel as “St. Pancake”). That is the kind of impunity at Daily Kos allowed for those whose views conform to the current anti-Palestinian policies of the Democratic Party.

Would we expect anything better? Not from partisans of a political party where the leadership is supporting starvation sanctions on the people of Gaza. Not from a forum that promotes the political fortunes of Obama, whose military support of occupation and dispossession of the Palestinians is without parallel, and belies his words of mild disagreement with Israeli policies.

Still, we can hope for better, we can work for better, at Daily Kos and even the Democratic Party itself.  There are still supporters of human rights who share the latest news and analysis of US policy active at Daily Kos, and they persevere despite the obstacles. Israel has no worries about the current political leadership of the Democratic Party (and needless to say, the Republican Party), but about the grassroots they should be very worried.

I see a steady erosion of support for unqualified support of Israeli policies and growing support for a human rights and justice approach.  The Progressive Democrats of America has supported congressional candidates like Marcy Winograd, a Jewish non-Zionist. While many of us have given up on the major political parties as avenues of creating justice; we need to recognize that we have many allies within the parties, especially the Democratic Party. 

So Daily Kos may muzzle a few very active commentators, but the tide is going in the wrong direction for that to be anything but a short-term gain for those who wish to keep the status quo.  The future belongs to those who side with human rights and supporting international law.

Jim Harris is now busy with the website and organizing a December protest of AIPAC in the Bay Area.

Some things just didn’t make sense

Dec 01, 2010

Steve Feldman 

I grew up in the womb of the Jewish Community of Washington, D.C, studied at our Hebrew Academy (a school that my grandfather helped found), and worshiped at the Beth Shalom Orthodox Jewish synagogue. After marrying, I travelled to visit family in Israel. On one trip, I had the pleasure of seeing one of the Israeli national forests that held trees that I had helped to plant with the coins I collected in my youth. Looking out from atop a tree-covered hill, I remember experiencing a feeling of pride in Israel military power while catching the sounds of Israeli fighter jets passing though the valley below.

My understanding of Israel evolved. On one of the trips to Israel, my uncle, proud of Israel’s many accomplishments, drove us to see diverse different parts of the country, including the swamps that were drained and the forests that were planted. In none of those places did we see any sign of places where Palestinians used to live. “That’s odd,” I wondered. “How do I reconcile us reclaiming a land of empty swamps and deserts and making them bloom with the fact that 700,000 Palestinians had become refugees? Where had these people lived?” Something just didn’t seem to fit. If the land had been empty swamps and deserts, how did 700,000 people become refugees?

In trying to learn more about Muslims, I took a course on Islam that presented the Muslim perspective of what Islam was like. Boy, was it different from the perspective learned from my teachers/rabbis and the U.S. media! The course made the basic tenets of Islam sound altogether similar to those of Judaism that I studied in Hebrew school: devotion to one God, giving charity, acting in humble, respectful ways that bring honor to one’s faith, and treating others as we would be treated. I began to wonder if our perceptions of Arabs were misperceptions.

As I studied the history of Israel, I learned disturbing things that did not fit at all with the things I had been taught. I had been taught things like, “Arabs started all the wars,” and “Jews never terrorized anyone.” I was very surprised to find that these fundamental facts of Jewish history were flatly wrong, that Israel, in collusion with England and France, started the 1957 war, and that there were organized Jewish terrorist groups—the Irgun and the Stern Gang.

These organizations were recognized as terrorists by other Jewish organizations of their day. According to Israeli historians, the Jewish terrorist groups had perpetrated the first bombings of buses and civilian markets in Palestine (only much later did I appreciate the irony in the claim that we can’t negotiate with terrorists, knowing that leaders of the Irgun and Stern Gang had been elected Prime Ministers of Israel).

At least we Jews didn’t commit atrocities. Well, I found out we did one time, in a place called Deir Yassin. Later though, I learned that it wasn’t just Deir Yassin; Israeli historians documented that we Jews had expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinian men, women and children from their homes, whole villages of people, before any Arab army declared war on the nascent Jewish state. I no longer found this surprising.

Having learned that so many of the other “historical facts” I had been taught weren’t true, learning that there had been expulsions didn’t seem surprising. Indeed, the expulsions—committed by horribly persecuted European Jews desperate for a country of their own— seemed to make a whole lot more sense than what I had been taught: that “Arabs fled their villages in order to make it easier for the Arab armies to kill Jews.” When I think of that now, it never really made much sense, as up until about 1920, there were hundreds of thousands of Muslim and Christian Arabs in Palestine, living in peace alongside thousands of Jews.

If Arabs had wanted to “throw the Jews into the sea,” it seems they could have done it long before 1948. Any remaining seeds of doubt were dispelled by learning that there were Haganah war plans—in writing in the IDF archives!—that called for, “Destruction of villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris)” and “the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state.” 

I was left with a new appreciation of the Israel/Palestine conflict, no longer thinking of “the founding of the Jewish State” but always thinking of “the founding of the Jewish State at the expense of the non-Jewish families who were already living there.” We used to be so proud in hearing that our heroic soldiers killed 20 of theirs for every one we lost because we cared so much for human life. Now I realize that killing 20 of them for each one of ours, or imprisoning hundreds or thousands, shows nothing about our regard for human life./ I’ve begun to consider how the world looks both to us, and to them.

Yes, we are horrified when a Gilad Shalit is taken prisoner. But now I feel the same pain for each and every Palestinian who is taken prisoner. We know the pain when the people of Sderot are terrorized; I feel the same pain for the terror suffered by our brothers and sisters in Gaza. I still feel the pain knowing that Jews were killed in the Hebron massacre of 1929, but now I also realize that over 800 Muslims were killed in Palestine that year, and that the conflict was caused by colonialism and nationalism, not by anti-Semitism. The idea of Israeli democracy and equal treatment was lost, too.

I read the writings of Palestinian Christian families, Israeli citizens, who were displaced from their homes and not allowed to return to those homes after the 1948 war was over, even though the families were still living in Israel. A Jewish person from Minneapolis can go live in the homes of those families, but not the Israeli Christian family who had been expelled. And those trees I had helped to plant? They had been planted over the remains of Palestinian families’ homes and villages. I don’t have the same sense of pride in those trees anymore.

I hear my Israeli relatives talk of Arabs as though they were animals. Having grown up in the Jewish community, I used to think that way, too. I understand that thinking, knowing that we’ve seen Arab terrorism and that my Israeli family members have probably lost close friends to it. Still, I know that we commit most of the killing. I’m left with the same sick feeling upon hearing Arabs called animals as when I heard Blacks called animals back in a less enlightened time in Washington, DC.

My sense of Jewish morality remains as strong as ever. The lessons in Torah tell me that the expulsions of Palestinian families from their homes and villages were not in keeping with Jewish values. Yes, we Jews must have peace and security, but peace and security can’t come from mistreating other people. Peace and security will come when we realize that what we did was not in keeping with our Jewish standards, when we treat our Muslim and Christian brothers as we would ourselves be treated, and when we tear down the walls and invite Palestinians to return to their homes and villages to live in peace together.

Feldman is author of A Jewish American’s Evolving View of Israel published by the American Council for Judaism (and Compartments: How the Brightest, Best Trained, and Most Caring People Can Make Judgments That are Completely and Utterly Wrong.

Solarz said Israel’s security was a reason for Gulf War

Dec 01, 2010

Philip Weiss


Steve Kornacki says that the late Stephen Solarz made Chuck Schumer what he is today, though Schumer had the temerity to vote against the 91 Gulf war, as a Brooklyn congressman. And then the next year:

When [Bill] Clinton’s [presidential] campaign ran into trouble after a loss in New Hampshire to Paul Tsongas, Solarz was dispatched to Florida to scare Democrats away from Tsongas with claims that Tsongas, through his opposition to the Gulf War, had endangered Israel’s security. If Clinton won, it seemed, Solarz just might get that promotion to secretary of state.

(thanks to Jeff Blankfort)

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on MONDOWEISS ONLINE NEWSLETTER




Let Americans’ shift on gays in the military be a lesson for Israelis

Nov 30, 2010

Philip Weiss


This is a great day in the U.S. The Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, recommended that the U.S. government end the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays in the military. From now on, he said, they should serve openly. Battalions of liberal commentators, from Chris Matthews on down, will support Obama and the Congress as they move inevitably toward liberalization for a minority that has so often been hunted in our society.

Some day let me tell you about the rationalizations I came up with to justify discrimination against open gay service in the military, back when this issue first broke into American public life in 1993. That was 17 years ago. America wasn’t ready then, I wasn’t ready then; and those who haven’t changed will have to get out of the way.

Ali Abunimah has said that white South Africa was overwhelmingly against sharing power even near the end of apartheid; but those attitudes changed.

The whites of the segregationist south were overwhelmingly against sharing power in the Jim Crow era, and those attitudes changed.

I waffle about full democracy in Israel & Palestine, a one-state solution, because though I think it’s a grand idea, I know Israelis and I can tell you that they aren’t ready for it, they think they need a Jewish state. So I offer them a kind of shelter for what is often prejudice because I fear massive bloodshed.

How long can that shelter last? As the gays in the American military example shows, the world moves forward. Disturbing ideas become familiar before long. The two-state solution once seemed radical; now it is The Paradigm– and it has only produced oppression.

Today liberal Americans should remind Israelis about what has come to pass in our society in spite of engrained attitudes. And tell them that the widespread Israeli prejudice against Palestinians as being somehow inferior or unsuited to modern society is not just unbecoming, it’s going to disappear in the rear view mirror.

International day of solidarity in Gaza greeted with Israeli bullets in Beit Hanoun

Nov 30, 2010

Adie Mormech


Live bullets were fired from snipers at an Erez control tower within a metre of demonstrators on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on Tuesday morning in Beit Hanoun, Northern Gaza. A German activist Vera Macht was injured as she stumbled while running for cover. The Local Initiative of Beit Hanoun organized the demonstration international mural and with extra attention focusing on the growing international Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, against Israel for its ongoing human rights violations of the Palestinian people. The demonstration was held in the area where 6 farmers and rock collectors, including 2 children had been shot and injured over the previous 2 days, seeing an acceleration of violence against civilians from the Israeli Occupation Forces.

It was actually the United Nations General Assembly who in 1977 called for this annual observance of 29th November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. It was on that day, in 1947, that the Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine resolution 181, which began the horrific trend of violent land expropriation and expulsion of the Palestinian population. Over two thirds of Gazans are UN registered refugees from this period.

Tuesday morning 30 people, amongst them 5 internationals from the International Solidarity Movement and two more including Mavi Marmara survivor Ken O’Keefe and Irish Activist Cormac O’Daly, gathered in Beit Hanoun at approximately 800m from Erez Crossing. Opposite the remains of the destroyed Agricultural College, which was bombed during the war on Gaza, the demonstrators put up a wall of slogans and international and Palestinian flags to express solidarity. All demonstrators held up letters forming the slogan “Boycott Israel boycott!”, before marching down towards the Erez Wall.

They were also protesting their right to their land, much of which is now lost or out of bounds by the Israeli imposed “buffer-zone.” The  buffer-zone, extended to 300 metres  wide in December 2009, stretches along the entire border fence on the frontier with Israel. According to a recent UN report the violence used to restrict Palestinians from accessing their land actually covers areas up to 1500m from the border fence, meaning that over 35% of Gaza’s most agricultural land is in a high risk area causing severe losses of food production and livelihoods.

As the demonstrators neared to within 100 metres of the wall, chanting and waving flags it was clear one of the watch towers was open, evidently monitoring.  The barren waste land all around was a result of the forced neglect as they marched into a place that has been made out of bounds by the threat of Israel snipers and shelling. As a soldier shouted from the tower, the group decided to walk back towards the village center. At around 500 metres from the fence, IOF snipers opened fire at them, the first few shots at head height missing many of the people on the march by a metre or less. Afterwards, another ten shots were fired.

According to Local Initiative organiser Saber Al Za’anin the day highlights the responsibility of international civil society to exert pressure to end the violent siege and occupation of Palestinian lands: “It is vital that Internationals support the Palestinian cause and make the world understand the horrific occupation and attacks Palestinians live under day in day out. The international grass roots boycotts are saying no to Israeli violence and oppression and its time that the International governing community did the same to hold Israel to account for their crimes. We painted flags of countries from around the world on a mural and demonstrated. Now its time for the world to increase the power of their demonstrations, lobbying, festivals, legal work and boycotts to finally end the conflict.”

On the violence at the borders, demonstration participant Ken O’Keefe said: “When people are shot and killed for collecting rocks so they can be crushed and turned into powder and ultimately into cement, because cement is banned under the Israeli siege, you know the so-called “easing” of the siege is a farce. The siege must be smashed into oblivion, and the only people who will make that happen are people of conscience who are willing to act.”

Released on Wednesday was a report ‘Dashed Hopes, Continuation of the Gaza Blockade’ signed by over 21 international organizations including Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid and Medical Aid for Palestinians. It calls for international action to make Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade, saying the condition of the Palestinians of Gaza under Israeli siege continues devastate daily living for the 1.5million  population, over half of which are children.

63 years before the day of the demonstration, On 29 November, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted for Resolution 181 for the partition of Palestine into two states and envisaged a Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem. It was this plan that triggered the ongoing suffering for the Palestinians given the hugely unequal partition of the land.

According to Israeli Historian Ilan Pappe, “The injustice was as striking then as it appears now… the Jews, who owned less than six per cent of the total land area of Palestine and constituted no more than one third of the population, were handed more than half of its overall territory”

According to Pappe, from the beginning the major global institutions and power-brokers were pitted against them: “The Palestinians were at the mercy of an international organization [the United Nations] that appeared ready to ignore all the rules of international mediation, which its own charter endorsed…One does not have to be a great jurist or legal mind to predict how the international court would have ruled on forcing a solution on a country to which the majority of its people were vehemently opposed.”

Then after the resolution partition came the Nakba or ‘Catastrophe’ during which the nascent Israeli army forcibly annexed even more land, leaving them controlling 78% of the land for a prospective Israeli State, leaving behind the West Bank and Gaza. During these attacks which began in March 1948, which included massacres such as Deir Yassin village, close to 800,000 Palestinians were uprooted, 531 villages had been destroyed, and eleven urban neighbourhoods emptied of their inhabitants. With the ‘slow motion ethnic cleaning’ that has ensued ever since, Israel has now settled over 60% of the 22% of historic Palestine and militarily occupies the rest. [1]

[1] Pappe, I. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), One World Publications, Oxford.

Maybe the internet hasn’t killed Israeli PR just yet

Nov 30, 2010

Adam Horowitz


The above interview is with Curtis Brown about his article (written with Diana Allan) The Mavi Marmara at the Frontlines of Web 2.0 in the Autumn 2010 edition of the Journal of Palestine Studies. It looks critically of what many in the blogosphere are doing, including us here at Mondoweiss, and says that social media and blogs are not necessarily influencing the discourse and coverage of more mainstream media outlets as much as we might hope. From the interview:

Well, one of the ideas that my co-author and I were critiquing, or examining with a certain amount of skepticism, is the idea that social media is intrinsically leveling. To take one particularly salient example for the present case is the idea that because video is cheap to produce and free to distribute via You Tube that, therefore, grassroots use of video clips by media activists can compete on a level playing field against a state owned PR apparatus with a well oiled machine and influential lobby.

The videos of the Mavi Marmara attack, edited by the IDF, were promoted by Israeli spokespeople and commentators. They enjoyed almost, kind of, incessant reruns on American news and cable stations. They existed against a background machinery of promotion. The footage of activists and independent journalists and so on, you could say then, was promoted by progressive independent media, by Democracy Now and so on.

So, in other words, traditional preexisting networks of influence and material resources determine to a great extent the reach and impact of social media. And when large vested interests are involved, viral phenomenon can rock the boat but they are not going to capsize it.

Even more interesting is the idea that social media doesn’t actually enter the traditional media, but rather runs parallel to it. Again from the interview:

We could take, for example, Max Blumenthal. He is an excellent independent journalist who works in the blogosphere and on twitter. He did force a few Israeli retractions with regards to the flotilla attack. These then were reported by Robert Mackey’s blog in the New York Times and this, Blumenthal claimed and other commentators claimed, was a major breakthrough for pro-Palestinian, grassroots media activism.

But what gets lost there is that Mackey’s blog is almost entirely devoted to meta commentary about what goes on in the new media. It’s viral videos, mashups, internet memes. So that an important story about the official Israeli narrative being contradicted or undermined, or even disproved in some cases, that sits side by side with the story about the “Bed Intruder Rant” being turned into a music video through Auto-Tune and then it becomes a viral on You Tube.

Neither of these stories, then, migrate to the news pages or the print edition of the New York Times. In other words, you could say that what goes on in social media has become a circumscribed arena within the mainstream press. It is something that is reported on for an enthusiastic sub audience that is interested in this, the way that sports, technology news, and pop news are reported. It has become an arena in itself.

One of the things that we say in this paper, one of the ideas that we suggest, is that if the Mohammed al-Dura video were coming out now in this media climate, rather than a decade ago, that it might rip through the blogosphere and onto Robert Mackey’s desk and not get noticed by the news pages.

Not sure what I think about this quite yet (I think the characterization of Mackey’s work at the Times, and its news function, is incorrect for one), but I’ll wait to comment once I’ve read their full piece. In the meantime, certainly something to think about.

Searching for the ghost of Israeli democracy

Nov 30, 2010

Max Blumenthal


Fania Oz-Salzberger, Amos Oz’s daughter, has challenged my characterization of her comments at the Nexus Institute’s “Return of Ghosts” symposium. Here is what she wrote in the comments section of my blog:

I am befuddled by your representation of what I thought had been a cordial and thoughtful exchange. The snippets you report of my symposium input are inaccurate and out of context. My arguments in the symposium and the accompanying article are far more qualified and complex than represented here. I do stand by the claim that Israel is a vibrant democracy, but it is also – as I said clearly – a flawed one. Wilders is unwelcome to many Israelis, certainly not the handful in which you purport to place me. More crucially, I never “proclaimed” “that occupation has little or nothing to do with the motives of suicide bombers”, but spoke against any insinuation that suicide bombings could be justified by occupation. Finally, I did not “jump in” but politely awaited my turn, despite being an Israeli. In our public and private exchanges I gave your opinions the respect that your blog has now denied my own views. You have good arguments in your arsenal, why the cheap shots?

I have been waiting for video of the symposium before responding to Oz-Salzberger or clarifying my own account, which was based on my impressions from the panel and recorded without the benefit of notes. Now that we are able to view a portion of the symposium’s first debate, let’s go to the videotape:

In her opening remarks (at around 2:45), Oz-Salzberger went on at length about Israel’s democratic tradition. I did not take her comments out of context. Oz-Salzberger said, “My own experience, I come from Israel; 62 years old. Always a democracy ever since it was founded, it was made a democracy which was quite an achievement for its generation, but always a democracy under siege from outside and from within.” I did not hear her describe Israel as a flawed democracy, though she did make a general statement against majoritarian rule and in favor of protecting minority rights in Israel and Europe.

To restate what I wrote in my previous post, I thought Oz-Salzberger’s remarks about Israel’s uninterrupted democratic tradition underplayed the severity of the situation in her country, and seemed incongruous in light of the other panelists’ remarks about the decline of democracy in their own countries. Reasonable people can debate whether Israel is a democracy. Personally I agree with MK Ahmed Tibi, who says that Israel is indeed a Jewish and democratic state: it is democratic to its Jewish citizens and Jewish to its Arabs. Just ask the residents of  Dahamash  and  Al-Arakib — all Israeli citizens — if they think Israel is a democracy. I also think it is critical to note that Israel controls everything in the West Bank, administering a kangaroo court system that railroads non-violent activists and jails people for organizing against the occupation. Is that democratic? Whether or not it is, my only objection with Oz-Salzberger was that she downplayed the authoritarian and racist trends being advanced by Israel’s government, in the Knesset, and in the streets of Tel Aviv — and which beg for exposure.

I did not write anything in my first post about Oz-Salzberger’s reference to Israel as “a democracy under siege from outside and from within,” but after watching the video, I think this remark demands clarification, especially because of Oz-Salzberger’s claim to Ofer N. in my comments section: “I don’t believe in “enemies within”, and young (or old) Israelis holding such opinions [my note: she was referring to supporters of BDS] are no traitors. But I think they are wrong.” I distinctly recall Oz-Salzberger complaining to the audience about the leftists in Tel Aviv, presumably referring to supporters of BDS. There is no video yet to confirm my recollection, but I would be surprised if she thinks, as Avigdor Lieberman does, that this small element is besieging Israel “from within.” So whom or what was she referring to? Arabs? Leftists? Extremist settlers?

As for my characterization of Oz-Salzberger’s response to my comments on suicide bombing, I am still awaiting video of the exchange (I never accused her of interrupting me, but perhaps my use of the American colloquialism “jumped in,” which is the same as “weighed in,” but could be misconstrued as “cut in,” was unclear to her). Oz-Salzberger claimed she said suicide bombing could not be justified by occupation, but when did I say that it could? I was making an objective point about the motives of suicide bombers, not justifying their actions by way of insinuation. If video appears of the exchange, I will clarify this dispute.

If I took anything out of context, it was a comment by Mitchell Cohen. I originally reported that he “enthusiastically seconded” Oz-Salzberger’s remarks about Israel’s vibrant democracy. In fact, he seconded her opposition to majoritarian rule and made an important point about demagogues who exploit the language of democracy to advance an anti-democratic agenda. (I think he would have agreed with her characterization of Israeli democracy, but that is beside the point).

Based on our public and private interactions, which were indeed cordial and thoughtful, I think Oz-Salzberger represents an element within the Zionist movement that is reasonable and worldly, but is standing by passively with a sense of bewilderment while the colonial, ethnocentric aspects of Zionism consolidate their hold on Jewish Israeli society and gain strength in the Jewish diaspora. If a solution to the conflict ever appears on the horizon, I am confident that she and others like her would a part of it, especially if it preserves the fundaments of Zionism through two states. However, a solution has never been further away. Soothing a foreign audience by telling them that everything is basically kosher with Israeli democracy only furthers the problem because sooner or later, that celebrated democracy may be nothing more than a ghost.

This post originally appeared on Max Blumenthal’s blog here.

U.S. State Department: Israel is not a tolerant society

Nov 30, 2010

Adam Horowitz


The above headline is taken right from Haaretz. Akiva Eldar wrote in 2009 about a report from the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor which found:

The report says that the 1967 law on the protection of holy places refers to all religious groups in the country, including in Jerusalem, but “the government implements regulations only for Jewish sites. Non-Jewish holy sites do not enjoy legal protection under it because the government does not recognize them as official holy sites.”

At the end of 2008, for example, all of the 137 officially recognized holy sites were Jewish. Moreover, Israel issued regulations for the identification, preservation and guarding of Jewish sites only. Many Christian and Muslim sites are said to be neglected, inaccessible or at risk of exploitation by real estate entrepreneurs and local authorities.

The report makes it clear that practices that have become routine in Israel are considered unacceptable in enlightened countries and should be corrected.

You can read the most recent State Department report here; it shows that many of these issues remain the same. To understand how and why this level of inequality continues it is useful to look at the Israel Democracy Institute’s new Israeli Democracy Index for 2010 which was released today. It offers some very interesting data that sheds light on current Israeli (especially Jewish Israeli) views on democracy and the Jewish state. Here is a sampling of its findings:

86% of the Jewish public (76% of the total population) thinks that critical decisions for the state should be made by the Jewish majority.

53% of the Jewish public also believe that the State is entitled to encourage the emigration of Arabs.

81% of the population agrees with the assertion that “democracy is not a perfect regime, but it is better than any other form of government.” However, 55% of the public believes that Israel should put observing the law and public order before the ideals of democracy. Of the Jewish respondents, 60% of those on the political right supported this idea compared with 50% of those in the center and 49% of those on the left.

43% of the general population feels that it is equally important for Israel to be a Jewish and democratic country, while 31% regards the Jewish component as being more important, and only 20% defines the democratic element as being more important.

51% of the general public approves of equality of rights between Jews and Arabs. The more Orthodox the group, the greater the opposition to equal rights between Jews and Arabs: only 33.5% of secular Jews oppose this, compared with 51% of traditional Jews, 65% of Orthodox Jews and 72% of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

67% of the Jewish public believe that close relatives of Arabs should not be permitted to enter Israel under of the rubric of family unification.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of Jews believe that as long as Israel is in conflict with the Palestinians, the views of Arab citizens of Israel on foreign policy and security matters should not be taken into consideration.

55% of the general public thinks that more resources should be allocated to Jewish municipalities than to Arab municipalities, while a 42% minority disagrees with this statement.

Within the Jewish public, 71% of right-wing supporters agree that more resources should be allocated to Jewish municipalities than to Arab municipalities, as compared to 46% of centrists and 38% of leftists. When segmented by degree of religious observance, 51% of ultra-Orthodox Jews agree with the statement, while 45% of Orthodox Jews, 28% of traditional Jews, and 18% of secular Jews agree with it.

46% of the Jewish public admitted to being most bothered by Arabs, followed equally by people with cognitive disabilities living in the community. 39% were bothered by foreign workers, 25% would be bothered by same-sex couples, 23% by ultra-Orthodox Jews, 17% by Ethiopian immigrants, 10% by non-Sabbath observers, and 8% by immigrants from the Former Soviet Union.

The Arab public is less tolerant than Jews of neighbors who are “Other.” 70% thought the least desirable neighbors would be same-sex couples and 67% were opposed to having ultra-Orthodox Jews as neighbors, followed closely by 65% who would be opposed to former settlers. 48% answered that the most “tolerable” neighbors would be foreign workers.

You can read the whole report here.

Exclusive excerpt from Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between

Nov 30, 2010

Laila El-Haddad


El Haddad book coverLaila El-Haddad’s new book, Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between, follows El-Haddad’s life and work from 2004-2010, and includes great reportage from and about Gaza, Palestinian life, several pieces of poetry; a live-tweeted text from Cairo Airport, and even a recipe. It includes a great Foreword by Prof. miriam cooke of Duke University, and has received strong endorsements from Hanan Ashrawi, Ali Abunimah, Profs. Stephen Walt, Sara Roy, and Richard Falk, and Nora Barrows-Friedman.

Laila will be undertaking a west-coast book tour in February 2011, requests to have Laila come speak to community or activist groups on the west coast or elsewhere should be made via

The blog that was the source of much of the material in my book Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between came about largely by happenstance. It was originally named “Raising Yousuf” and later became “Gaza Mom.” I started it during fall 2004, not even knowing what the word “blog” meant and with no idea of where this new adventure would take me.

That year was a testing time for my husband and me: We were recently married and living with our first child in Boston, where we had met shortly before I finished graduate school at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Just one year earlier, in August 2003, I had gotten my first real break as a journalist with the newly launched Al Jazeera English website. In 2004, that position would take me back to do some reporting from Gaza, my family’s beloved home city. But my husband Yassine could not come with us. As a Palestinian with refugee status, Yassine was denied the right to enter or even visit Gaza or any other part of the occupied Palestinian territories (OPTs)—despite the fact that Palestine is his homeland and that of his wife and child.

Yassine is denied any version of “the Right of Return” to his ancestral homeland. This, while Israel gives Jewish people from anywhere in the world—or anyone who can trace his Jewish ancestry back to several generations earlier or is a spouse, a grandchild, or child of such a person—the immediate “right” to reside in any of the areas it controls, even if their immediate ancestors have never lived in the area.

Yassine was born in the UN-administered refugee camp of Baalbek in Lebanon. Until shortly before that point, his family had been living in a Palestinian refugee camp in a refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, called Tel al-Zaatar (“Hill of Thyme”) that was a flashpoint in the internecine fighting of the Lebanese civil war. (Yassine’s uncle was killed in the anti-Palestinian massacre perpetrated in Tel al-Zaater in 1976.) Yassine grew up amid the civil war that continued to rage throughout Lebanon in the 1980s. Thirty-five years earlier, his grandparents had been driven out of their homes in historic Palestine, during the Jewish-Palestinian battles that accompanied the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The villages from which two of his grandparents fled were both destroyed in their entirety by the Israeli authorities, soon after 1948. . . .

In 1993, Yassine won a scholarship to attend high school in the United States. From there he made his way to college and eventually to Harvard Medical School. I had also done all my college studies in the United States; and it was while he was at medical school that we met.

* * *

My parents were both medical doctors. When I was born in the late 1970s, they were among the scores of thousands of Palestinian professionals working in Kuwait. I was born in Kuwait and then passed most of my youth living primarily in the Gulf kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain; however, my brothers and I would spend our summers, springs, and sometimes our winters in Gaza.

I remember that at the height of the first Palestinian Intifada in around 1990, we kids were mocked in my mother’s hometown of Khan Younis, just south of Gaza City, for not knowing the difference between the insignia of the two main Palestinian movements, Fateh and Hamas! My parents tried to keep our lives as far away from politics as possible. But our existence as Gaza Palestinians was itself inescapably political.

Because I am a Gaza Palestinian, I hold a Palestinian Authority (PA) “passport” and the all-important identification or residency card, known as a hawyia, issued by the Israeli military authorities who still control the population registries of both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The hawiya is the document by which we Palestinians from the OPTs live and die. It is a document that, when I was growing up in the 1980s, we struggled hard to preserve and renew because Israel threatened to take it away from Gazans living outside the occupied Gaza Strip, just as today it still tries to take it away from Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. Even when we were children we endured annual, 24-hour trips to Gaza by land, complete with strip searches at the hands of young soldiers, just so we could hang on to our hawiyas.

But the hawiya is the ultimate Catch-22. With it, the Israelis, who still today—despite their much-vaunted “withdrawal” from Gaza in 2005—control all the Gaza Strip borders, consider me to be a “legal resident” of Gaza. And thus, so long as the only land crossing, at Rafah, is open. the Israelis will graciously “allow” me to travel to my hometown, Gaza. But they forbid most other kinds of people—even Palestinians from the nearby West Bank or refugee Palestinians who grew up in exile, like my husband, let alone any of my American or European friends who might want to visit me—from doing so.

The hawiya is also used to prevent me from traveling to other areas Israel controls like the West Bank, Jerusalem, or “1948 Palestine” (that is, modern-day Israel). It even bars me from the kind of access to those areas that other, non-Palestinian journalists have. As an Israeli army officer once explained to me, “We consider you as Palestinians, and therefore security threats, first; as journalists, second.” All those kinds of restrictions intensified after the conclusion of the Oslo Accords in 1993. (Go figure.)

The Israeli military has imposed the hawiya system on the indigenous (and therefore legitimate) residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip continuously throughout all the 43 years since they first occupied these territories back in 1967, long before I was born. From the mid-1990s on, possession of a hawiya has also entitled its holder to obtain a passport issued in the name of the PA (though the whole system is still maintained and controlled by Israel.) But basically, the hawiya system lies at the heart of the tight-knit mechanism by which Israel controls Palestinian movement, residency, and life in general.

It allows Israel alone to decide which “Arabs” it will recognize as “Palestinian,” which couples it will recognize as “families” that qualify for “reunification” and thus residency, and who is allowed to move where and at what point—all inside our own homeland. As the pioneering Israeli journalist Amira Hass has explained:

This control allowed Israel to deprive hundreds of thousands of Palestinians of their residency status after 1967. It allowed the continuation of marital, social, economic, religious and cultural ties between Gaza and the West Bank until 1991—and then, it severed those ties.

This control allows Israel to prevent the addition of foreign residents to the population registry; it allows Israel to intervene in, and even decide, the choice of a partner, place of study, type of medical treatment, address, quality time with children, participation in celebrations and funerals, the writing of wills and distribution of family property. Israel has the authority to ban the entry of friends or family members who are not Palestinian residents—not just their entry into Israel, but also into the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

After Israel occupied the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip in June 1967, it issued hawiyas only to those Palestinians it found in residence there during a door-to-door census. Palestinians who had been driven out of, or fled, their homes in either the 1948 war or the 1967 war were excluded, as were any Palestinians who, at that time, were abroad for whatever reason—studying, working, visiting family, or vacationing. An exception was made for Palestinian physicians, for whom there was a desperate need. My parents were both dong medical internships in Egypt at the time. They grabbed the opportunity to return to Gaza, traveling in Red Cross ambulances with blackened windows that whisked them through the closed military zones of the newly occupied Sinai.

Then in 1975, my father had a sharp argument with the head of the Israeli medical military unit, who had come to meet with leading Palestinian doctors in Gaza to assess the needs of the main hospital there. The Israeli officer arrived with a predetermined opinion: The hospital had no further needs. My father, a person who tells it like it is, staunchly disagreed. He told the officer that the hospital was substandard, ranking at only “negative 2 on a scale of 1 to 10,” and that “we run out of antibiotics by the first week of the month!” The other Palestinian doctors panicked, pleading with my father to stay quiet, but he continued. Israeli promises to build a new hospital never materialize, he continued.

“So we’re liars?” asked the Israeli official. “Take it anyway you like,” My father replied.

The Israeli official forwarded my father’s file to Israeli intelligence, where he was then summoned on a weekly basis. He was advised to leave Gaza to seek work elsewhere—or face imprisonment, so he and my mother left. . . . Many years later, when their careers in the Gulf came to an end, my parents decided to retire back home in Gaza City.

* * *

When I started traveling to Gaza for my job in 2004, I took my son Yousuf, then 9 months old, with me. (He was still nursing.) Yassine stayed behind in the United States. A tech-savvy cousin suggested I should start a “blog” to help Yassine keep in touch with our travels and with Yousuf’s development. My first reaction was that I knew nothing about creating or maintaining websites! “You don’t need to,” she replied. “Just create a title, and you’re off.”

And so I did. In the fall of 2004, Raising Yousuf was born while we were visiting Boston. The idea was to write strictly about, well, raising Yousuf. I created a separate blog in which I commented on all things purely political, often in a satirical manner. But in December 2004, as I traveled back to Gaza with Yousuf, I was faced with the very real prospect that I would be unable to return to the Strip, and I would have no recourse for appeal against that decision. I was stuck in Cairo, a city that I barely knew, waiting to make the arduous land journey to the Rafah Crossing, which was (and still is) the only way Gazans who had left the Strip for any reason, could get back in.

Israel announced it was indefinitely closing the Rafah crossing after a bomb killed several of their soldiers there. That closure stranded 1.5 million Palestinians inside the Strip, and tens of thousands of others (including us) outside it. It continued for 55 days, leaving Yousuf and me beached in Cairo. I came to understand then, as I would 100 times over in the years that followed, that as a Palestinian you cannot separate the personal from the political. Our identity surfaces with particular intensity on international borders!

In 2006, I left Gaza to spend more time with Yassine in the United States, though I remained determined to return as frequently as I could. My parents stayed behind in their apartment in central Gaza City. At that point, I had to face a different challenge: the pain of being stranded outside my homeland when it was under siege. I struggled to explain our complicated lives to Yousuf—and later to his little sister Noor, born in early 2008: Palestine and Gaza; border crossings and closures; the right of return and occupation; civil unrest and Palestinian division. Who were “the bad guys”? Why were the Israelis, who made for so many of the miserable experiences he had, not visible? Why couldn’t we travel like ordinary people, when we want and how we want? Why could the children’s beloved baba (daddy) never travel to Gaza with us, anyway?

I managed to visit Gaza twice more in 2007. But in 2009, after Gaza had been under prolonged closure, my attempts to go back failed. In April 2009, the Egyptian authorities, which were colluding closely with Israel to keep Gaza completely closed, held my children and me in Cairo airport for 30 hours before they finally expelled us back to the United States. Finally, in early summer 2010, responding to pressures raised by the Israel’s lethal showdown with the Turkish-led aid flotilla, Egypt loosened the siege—just a little. In July 2010, I was able to go back to Gaza for a three-month visit.

The chapters that follow cover this 6-year period—from fall 2004, when the second Intifada was still raging and Israel’s systematic demolitions of homes along Gaza’s southern border was at a peak, until the very recent past. They chronicle in intimate detail such historic events as Israel’s highly misleading “disengagement” from Gaza, which ended up repackaging its occupation in more insidious forms; the first truly democratic Palestinian parliamentary elections, held in 2006—and the Western-backed, Israeli-enforced boycott and bloody intra-Palestinian feuds that ensued; and ultimately, Israel’s “Cast Lead” assault on Gaza, which still left Israel’s tough siege of the Strip in place despite the many new needs for reconstruction that became clear once that assault’s ruins could be surveyed. Today, much of the optimism and hope I saw during critical moments like the Palestinian elections also lie in ruins. But its people go on living.

* * *

Throughout the book, you will be introduced to many of the people in my life, most of them Gazans. Chief among them are my children, Yousuf, now 6 years old; Noor, who turns 3 in January 2011; my husband, Yassine, now nearing the end of his medical training in the United States; my parents, Maii El-Farra, a pediatrician, and Moussa, a retired obstetrician gynecologist (OBGYN).

The tone and style of writing changes continuously throughout the book, as do the space, the setting, the content, and the situation. In the book, you will see me trying to navigate the variegated terrain of identities and spaces, of being reporter and mother, of being a Palestinian under occupation and a Palestinian in exile—and all the complexities and details in between. I try to do this with as much fluidity and clarity as possible.

This book does not claim to explain Gaza comprehensively or to speak for all of its residents. It is merely a singular account within the dizzying multiplicity of experiences and existences that constitute the Palestinian experience as a whole. It is a window into Gaza during some of its most turbulent years and into the violated but resilient lives we live as Palestinians. It is a story about mothering, homeland, identity—and su.

Israeli troops arrest two boys in Hebron– 10 and 15

Nov 30, 2010



Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

MSD: Israel has razed 1, 485 homes in east J’lem since its occupation
Al-Maqdesi for society development said Israel has demolished 1, 485 Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem since 1967 and issued 1, 322 orders to raze homes in the same area in 2009 and 2010.

Four Houses Razed in Jerusalem; Estimates Predict Unprecedented Palestinian Exodus
Jerusalem – PNN – In a series of home demolition operations in East Jerusalem, Israeli troops razed one building in Ras Khamis and two in ‘Issawiya, and a fourth home was destroyed by its owners in Sheikh Jarrah to avoid the demolition fee imposed by the Israeli municipal authorities. The incidents come as a Jerusalem think tank predicts that about 3500 Palestinians will be forced out of the city in the next year.

Violent Confrontations in ‘Issawiya Ahead of Planned Demolitions 
Jerusalem – PNN – The East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya witnessed violent confrontations between Palestinian citizens and heavily-armed Israeli police.  A local source said police set up blockades and issued a demolition order for one home, saying it was unlicensed. Violence ensued near the entrances of the blockade and more Israeli soldiers and police were called in.  Eyewitnesses said that most of the assaults and arrests of Palestinians were carried out by Israeli soldiers dressed up as Arabs. Others claimed they used police dogs to disperse the protestors.  Maher Husayn of ‘Issawiya said the Israeli police went beyond their lawful responsibilities in arresting children and closing off entrance points to the neighborhood.

Bulldozers demolish home, workshop in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) – Bulldozers of the Jerusalem municipal council escorted by Israeli police and border guards demolished a newly constructed home and a printing workshop Tuesday in the neighborhood of Al-Isawiya, north of the Old City.  The home, under construction for two years, was a 125-square-meter building belonging to Atiyya Imteir, a father of eight and worker at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

Protests after Israel demolishes E.Jerusalem home
JERUSALEM — Palestinians protested in east Jerusalem on Tuesday, throwing rocks and setting several cars on fire, after Israeli forces demolished a home in the Arab neighbourhood of Issawiya.  Israeli police and the local officials confirmed that a home and a small room housing a printing press next door had been demolished in Issawiya, in occupied east Jerusalem.  Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the building was demolished because it was built illegally.

UN Report Uncovers Israeli Efforts to Drive Palestinians from Jerusalem 
Cairo – PNN – The Cairo-based UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released a report on Monday saying that Israeli settlers in Jerusalem cooperated with Israeli police to seize a three-storey Palestinian apartment in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jebel al-Mukabar between November 10 and November 23.  Three families, 14 people all together including five children, left as a result.  The OCHA report said that settlers bought the apartment from a family member who died several years ago, putting the deal into dispute. The Palestinian owners of the buildings demanded to see the papers of sale and alleged that they were defrauded.  OCHA claimed this is the second time buildings have been seized by settlers since the beginning of the year. In July, settlers took over eight residential units in the Old City, resulting in the flight of eight Palestinian families, or 29 people in all. 

Palestinian leader warns of settlement ‘time bomb’ (AFP)
AFP – Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas warned Monday that Israel’s settlement of occupied territories has become “a time bomb” that could destroy peace hopes at any moment.*

Israel`s latest settlement plan angers Palestinians
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israeli authorities on Monday approved a request for 130 new Jewish homes on the outskirts of annexed east Jerusalem, drawing an immediate protest from Palestinian officials.  The Jerusalem municipal council approved a request that would rezone an area in the settlement of Gilo, near Bethlehem, allowing residential construction on a plot of land originally designated for a hotel. 

Non-Aligned Movement reiterates call for end to Israeli settlement building
UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) — Maged Abdelaziz, the permanent representative of Egypt to the UN, said here Monday that Israel must stop infringing on the Occupied Palestinian Territories in order to allow a two-state solution to be negotiated in the Middle East.  The Egyptian ambassador made the statement when he was speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) at a UN meeting to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. 

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Weekly Repression Update 22-29 November 2010

Protesters: Israeli forces fire on Gaza march
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces opened fire on a peaceful protest march in the northern Gaza Strip near the Erez crossing point, demonstrators said.  The march was organized by the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The demonstrators were carrying Palestinian flags. 

Letter from prison: I have a lot of energy to struggle
The following is an excerpt from a letter by Palestinian political prisoner and civil society leader Ameer Makhoul, written in response to a postcard featuring an image of a lighthouse sent by The Electronic Intifada contributor Adri Nieuwhof: “The lighthouse, al-fanar in Arabic, is an inspiration. I have built a lighthouse here in jail. It has been built in my mind because I am not allowed to use the space, but my mind is totally mine.” 

Arrested while helping farmers in Saffa Valley
It was a bright, warm morning in the occupied West Bank’s Saffa Valley Thursday, 18 November when, without warning, the Israeli occupation forces were upon us. Within moments, five Israeli soldiers were shouting in Hebrew. “You have one minute to leave the area!” they said, before shooting stun grenades at our feet. Moments later, we were told to sit quietly and hand over our passports. A six-hour detention was to follow. 

Ain al-Hilweh refugees mark day Palestine was divided
SIDON: Palestinian refugees at the south Lebanon camp of Ain al-Hilweh staged a demonstration Monday to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Refugees gathered outside the notorious refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh and representatives of various Palestinian political and civil-society organizations were present. 

Princeton students vote on alternate hummus brands (AP)
AP – Princeton University students voted Monday in a referendum by a pro-Palestine student group on whether to expand the school’s hummus offerings.*

My aunt the revolutionary, Dima Shaibani
Hana al-Shaibani gave up her comfortable life in 1960s Baghdad to live in a refugee camp and fight for the PLO.


Israeli-Palestine Holiday Tour, Without Showing the Conflict
The French tour company Voyageurs du Monde (World Travelers) has launched a new brochure to promote tourism in Israel and Palestine as a whole, under the slogan “peace and love” but only mentions, superficially, the separation wall or the checkpoints. The project has been supported by the Israeli National Tourism Office as well as the Delegation of Palestine in France. 

Abuse of Palestinian Children

Israeli Troops Arrest Two Boys in Hebron, 10 and 15
Hebron – PNN – Israeli forces arrested two boys in the township of Saeer, east of Hebron, during a series of home raids on Tuesday.

Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement

UN officials denounce Israeli law violations
BEIRUT: Israel’s continued flouting of international law and denial of human rights to millions of Palestinian civilians living under occupation was strongly denounced Monday by a collection of leading United Nations and Lebanese political figures speaking on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. 

Gaza still struggling despite Israeli let-up
A partial lifting of Israel’s Gaza Strip blockade has had only a limited effect in improving life for residents of the Palestinian coastal enclave, a coalition of humanitarian groups said Tuesday.  A report by 22 organizations and entitled “Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade” says an Israeli pledge to liberalize the import of materials for UN and other international building projects has barely dented a backlog. 

Falk: Prolonged occupation new crime against humanity
GENEVA (Ma’an) — Israel’s prolonged occupation of the Palestinian territories is “a new type of crime against humanity,” a senior UN envoy said Monday.  UN representative on human rights in the Palestinian territories Richard Falk urged the international community to draft a new protocol of international humanitarian law to address the situation imposed on Palestinian people by 43 years of Israeli occupation. 

The Victims of Sol Or
The Sol Or factory, located in Tulkarem’s industrial settlement, has become a killer. The factory produces gas and fuels, which require strict safety regulations, but its owners have neglected them at the cost of their employee’s lives.

Gaza Famers Get Home Garden Training
ANERA – PNN/Gaza – Winter is approaching in Gaza but that doesn’t mean that farmers there are idle. With help from ANERA, 35 farmers are getting ready to launch their own home gardens.   The first step included five training sessions conducted by the American Near East Refugee Aid – ANERA. In the coming weeks the 23 men and 12 women in the project will receive the greenhouses, tools, seedlings, water tanks, fertilizers and irrigation system to achieve their goal. Throughout the training and implementation of the gardens, the focus is on best agricultural practices.  Trainer Mohammed Khader describes the term “home gardens”: “Home garden is an area of arable land surrounding a home, regardless of its size. It can be used for growing vegetables, fruit trees and ornamental plants and flowers or for raising animals such as sheep and poultry for the provision of animal protein.” 

Racism and Discrimination

Poll: Most Israeli Jews believe Arab citizens should have no say in foreign policy
Israel Democratic Institute conducts study on democracy, concludes that more than half Israelis say Arabs should be encouraged to emigrate.

Survey: Half of Israeli Jews oppose having Arab neighbors
Survey finds 46% of Israeli Jews consider Arabs as worst neighbors, while quarter of population thinks haredi and gay neighbors the least desirable. ‘Media fuels radicalization,’ says Justice Minister Ne’eman.,7340,L-3992058,00.html

Haredi town of Bnei Brak moves to evict migrant workers
This comes on the heels of a campaign announced by the municipality earlier this month to stop landlords in the city from renting to illegal immigrants.

Chief rabbi: Torpedo IDF conversions law
In urgent letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, Rabbi Amar says automatic recognition of army conversions will have ‘severe consequences’.,7340,L-3991615,00.html


Israel raids limited area in Bait Hanoon
Israeli occupation forces raided Monday a limited area in Bait Hanoon, in north of Gaza Strip. According to local sources, bulldozers and vehicles invaded meters in the Palestinian land. Residents in the area reported that they targeted the invaded forces by mortar shells. 

Carts evacuate 5 wounded workers at Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Five Palestinian workers were shot and taken to hospital on Tuesday, after Israeli forces opened fire on the group in what the injured said appeared to be a rapid succession of sniper attacks.  The men said they were collecting stone aggregates in the northern Gaza Strip near the evacuated Israeli settlement of Eli Sinai north of Beit Lahiya when the incident occurred.  Medics said ambulances could not reach the area, so the men were first evacuated by donkey cart until they were safely out of Israel’s unilaterally imposed “no-go-zone” which officials say is kept clear because it is an area where attacks are launched against Israel. The lands in the zone constitute some 20 percent of arable farm lands in the Strip.


Shin Bet arrests 3 Fatah faction members
Three Fatah members admit to carrying out September terror attack in Hebron injuring 35-year-old pregnant woman, who gave birth hours later.,7340,L-3992109,00.html

Center condemns nights raids in Israeli prisons
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli prison authorities assaulted detainees during overnight cell raids at Nafha prison, a detainees’ center in Gaza said Monday.  The center issued a statement condemning the raids and said the treatment of Palestinian political prisoners violated human rights. 

Arab Helpers

PA militia kidnaps professor Douqan from his home
A Security militia from the Palestinian authority kidnapped Monday evening professor Ghassan Douqan, a lecturer at Al-Najah university, after a violent raid on his home in Ma’ajeen neighborhood.

20 Hamas affiliates arrested by PA
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority forces detained 20 members of Hamas, the Islamist movement said Tuesday.  The group said in a statement the arrests took place in Nablus, Jenin, Hebron and Qalqiliya.

Political Developments

Palestinians confront Israeli control in West Bank (AP)
AP – With a pledge to rebuild a demolished road, the Palestinian prime minister is opening a confrontation with Israel over the large parts of the West Bank that are under sole Israeli control.*

Netanyahu: Germany could play central role in Mideast peace
Speaking after joint meeting in Jerusalem, German President Christian Wulff urges Israel to adopt a constructive attitude on settlements and the Gaza Strip.

IOF raids villages in Jenin
29 Nov 2010 – Jenin, November 29 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided Monday Brqeen village and number of neighborhoods in south of Jenin city, in north of the West Bank. Israeli soldiers raided shops and restaurants and questioned number of citezens , local sources reported. 

WikiLeaked: John Kerry calls for Israel to cede Golan Heights and East Jerusalem – By Josh Rogin
On a February trip to the Middle East, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) told Qatari leaders that the Golan Heights should be returned to Syria, that a Palestinian capital should be established in East Jerusalem as part of the Arab-Israeli peace process, and that he was “shocked” by what he saw on a visit to Gaza.

Netanyahu said no peace with ‘right of return’: WikiLeaks (AFP)
AFP – The Palestinians will not be a partner for peace until they drop demands for the “right of return,” Benjamin Netanyahu said two years before being elected premier, leaked US cables showed on Monday.*

WikiLeaks blows cover off Israel’s covert Gulf states ties
Diplomatic cable dating from 2009 indicates that then FM Tzipi Livni had a good working, personal relationship with U.A.E. Foreign Minister Abdullah Ibn Zayed.

‘Souring’ Israel-Turkey relationship seen in WikiLeaks trove
Confidential documents show how Americans grew frustrated and even angry over a Turkish foreign policy out of sync with the U.S. vision.  U.S. officials had scrambled to keep two allies from airing their growing differences in public — again.,0,1451149.story 

WikiLeaks exposé: Israeli officials accused Egypt of undermining ties
The cable, from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, quoted Uzi Arad, chairman of Israel’s National Security Council, as accusing Egypt’s Foreign Ministry of harming relations with Jerusalem.

Other News

Golan Leaders Disown Likud MK Ayyoub Qarra
During a meeting led by dozens of Druze figures in the occupied Golan Heights, social and religious leaders and residents declared that they disown Member of Knesset Ayyoub Qarra of the Likud Party, and that al-Qarra will not be welcomed or acknowledged by anyone. 


Gaza/West Bank Unite Through ‘Puppet Shoes’
Yesterday night, the French-German Cultural Center in Ramallah screened a series of short films produced by youth in refugee camps throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The screening was held in coordination with venues in Nablus, Gaza City and Amman, Jordan to commemorate International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Palestinian Folk Dance- Dabka – Goes International
The groups in Genève – Switzerland, Toronto – Canada, Utrecht – The Netherlands, Paris – France and Geel in Belgium, preformed the Palestinian traditional Dabka dance.  These groups did a joined international flashmob action to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and to promote the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions until Israel complies with international law. 

Review: paintings scream to break walls of silence
Scottish artist Jane Frere’s exhibition In the Shadow of the Wall reminds us that the plight of the Palestinian people is not just confined to periods of overt conflict, but is an ongoing, everyday experience. Stephen Fiddes reviews for The Electronic Intifada. 


Robert Fisk: Now we know. America really doesn’t care about injustice in the Middle East
I came to the latest uproarious US diplomatic history with the deepest cynicism. And yesterday, in the dust of post-election Cairo – the Egyptian parliamentary poll was as usual a mixture of farce and fraud, which is at least better than shock and awe – I ploughed through so many thousands of American diplomatic reports with something approaching utter hopelessness. After all, they do quote President Hosni Mubarak as saying that “you can forget about democracy,” don’t they? 

WikiLeaks Docs Expose Egyptian Complicity with Israeli War Crimes (Again), Alex Kane
One of the most striking things that I took away from my time in Egypt last winter was the extent to which the U.S.-backed Mubarak dictatorship goes to squash public dissent on their government’s Gaza policy (see the video above).  Swarms of riot police encircled peaceful protests calling on the Egyptian government to let activists part of the Gaza Freedom March into Gaza.  During the marchers’ standoff with the Mubarak regime, the Egyptian government was exposed as being collaborators in the Israeli blockade of Gaza, something that deeply upsets ordinary Egyptians and led to Mubarak getting hammered in the Arab press. 

Someone Should Tell Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: WikiLeaks Docs Show Israel’s Happiness with Palestinian Authority, Alex Kane
There isn’t anything earth shattering (yet) that was revealed by the latest batch of WikiLeaks documents regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but that doesn’t mean they are meaningless.  Numerous leaked cables have given insight into how Israel views its negotiating partner, the Palestinian Authority (PA), which controls the West Bank. Some members of Congress should especially read the cables, like incoming House Foreign Relations Committee chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose hysteria over the United States’ funding of the PA doesn’t bear much relation to the reality of how the PA operates. 

Clinton ‘tore the fabric’ herself long before we ever heard of Wikileaks, Kathleen Galt
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s response to the latest Wikileaks release was shaky and full of holes at best. Hypocritical is more like it. Clinton stated “Let’s be clear. This disclosure is not just an attack on America — it’s an attack on the international community.” Such leaks, “tear at the fabric” of responsible government.  “There is nothing laudable about endangering innocent people, and there is nothing brave about sabotaging the peaceful relations between nations,” Clinton said at the State Department news conference.

If you’re going to cite Arabs re Iran in Wikileaks, why not re ‘Israel causing U.S. to lose Muslim hearts and minds’?, Philip Weiss
NPR just aired an exchange between Robert Segal and the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg over the fact that Wikileaks cables show that Arab governments want to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  I don’t doubt the cables; though when Goldberg says that the Arab governments perceive an “existential threat” from Iran, just as Israel does, I don’t trust him a lick. Goldberg told us that Saddam had links to Al Qaeda and helped get us into the Iraq debacle.

“We Have Not Seen Anything Yet”: Guardian Editor Says Most Startling WikiLeaks Cables Still To Be Released
“In the coming days, we are going to see some quite startling disclosures about Russia, the nature of the Russian state, and about bribery and corruption in other countries, particularly in Central Asia,” says Investigations Executive Editor David Leigh at the Guardian, one of the three newspapers given advanced access to the secret U.S. embassy cables by the whistleblower website, WikiLeaks. “We will see a wrath of disclosures about pretty terrible things going on around the world.” Leigh reviews the major WikiLeaks revelations so far, explains how the 250,000 files were downloaded and given to the newspaper on a thumb drive, and confirms the Guardian gave the files to the New York Times. Additional cables will be disclosed throughout the week.

Noam Chomsky: WikiLeaks Cables Reveal “Profound Hatred for Democracy on the Part of Our Political Leadership”
In a national broadcast exclusive interview, we speak with world-renowned political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky about the release of more than 250,000 secret U.S. State Department cables by WikiLeaks. In 1971, Chomsky helped government whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg release the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret internal U.S. account of the Vietnam War. Commenting on the revelations that several Arab leaders are urging the United STates to attack Iran, Chomsky says, “Latest polls show] Arab opinion holds that the major threat in the region is Israel, that’s 80 percent; the second threat is the United States, that’s 77 percent. Iran is listed as a threat by 10 percent,” Chomsky says. “This may not be reported in the newspapers, but it’s certainly familiar to the Israeli and U.S. governments and the ambassadors. What this reveals is the profound hatred for democracy on the part of our political leadership.”

Wikileaks: fishy? The seclection, As`ad Abukhalil
Many in the Arab world are expressing doubts and skepticism about Wikileaks.  I note to them–when they ask me the following.  The selection by the New York Times (and even by Guardian) is rather fishy.  There is not a single document that is embarrassing to Israel.  Not one.  The New York Times did a political hack job with the documents: it used them as a campaign to launch a war on Iran.  Yesterday, they drew a silly chart showing all those Arab leaders calling for a war on Iran.  The documents released is a small fraction of the total documents.  We have to wait for the total release.  Is it possible that the intelligence officer who released them protected Israel by holding off on some documents? The volume is too large for him to go through them, I think.  And most importantly, despite the release and the fanfare and the noise from the White House: there is nothing that is really embarrassing or revealing about the US government.  Only embarrassing about US puppets in the Middle East region. [end]

Obama’s Middle East turkeys, MJ Roseberg
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government has repeatedly treated even the most polite requests to live up to its international commitments (i.e., freezing settlements) with contempt. So now the Obama administration has escalated from simple requests to a version of “pretty please, with a cherry on top.” 

MSM stirs– Wilkerson tells Olbermann Israel can’t be ‘democratic and Jewish’, Susie Kneedler
Last night Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson gently set a naive Keith Olbermann partly straight. Olbermann noticed (at 2:45 or so) that a 2007 cable in the WikiLeaks communiques gives “a reason other than the obvious for Israel’s opposition to Iranian nukes”: that they pose a ‘demographic” threat to “Israel’s long-term survival as a Jewish and democratic state.” Olbermann mentioned that “surveys find that one-third of Israelis would leave [Israel if Iran had the bomb] and Palestinian Israelis already make up twenty percent,” so if Palestinians “become a majority, Israel would have to figure out how it could remain both Jewish and democratic at the same time.”

Sullivan combats anti-Semitic smear by Goldberg, Philip Weiss
Is Sullivan the best? Yes. He is doing the hard labor of taking on the Israel lobby forcefully in the mainstream media, with unrivaled clarity and eloquence. Here he bats down a piece of thuggery from Jeffrey Goldberg, that Sullivan believes that “a group of warmongering Jews– alone” is pushing World War III. Disgusting. Though Sullivan makes clear as he has again and again lately that the Israel lobby is unstraightforward about its agenda and that agenda is at odds with the American people’s interests.

Will the PA Declare a State… or Collapse?, Stuart Littlewood – London
The other day I looked back with sadness on how nothing had changed for the better since my last trip to Palestine three years ago. On that occasion I also visited Gaza, an experience indelibly etched on my memory. The situation there only goes from bad to worse – intolerably worse. But if I’m dispirited, heaven knows how the average Palestinian must feel as a result of the incompetent leadership they have had to endure these last 63 years… a leadership which failed to coherently argue and convey the justice of the Palestinian cause and never bothered, even to this day, to formulate and put into action an effective communications plan to win freedom.

Fatal Diplomacy, Mitri I. Musleh
The Israeli cabinet continues debating on whether to accept the US offer for a 90 day freeze in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, excluding any settlements build up in East Jerusalem.  By doing so, the US is hoping to get the direct talks between the Palestinians and Israelis back on track. International news quoted diplomats claiming that the incentive package the US is offering Israel includes commitments to fight international resolutions critical to Israel. Further, the US Congress would be asked to supply 20 F-35 stealth fighter jets to Israel as part of a huge military aid package.  If the above claim proves true, a new fatal chapter in the Middle East could just be opening up. 

What would you do if . . ., Mohammed Said AlNadi 

By disempowering women, Arab states only punish themselves
The Egyptian poet Hafiz Ibrahim once declared that “a mother is a school. Empower her and you empower a great nation.” What he meant was that if women were offered the social and economic opportunities they merited, they could help to build strong nations.


More WikiLeaks memos touch on Lebanese politicians’ stands
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri reportedly urged the United States to “go all the way” in stopping Iran’s nuclear program in August 2006, according to leaked secret US diplomatic memos released this week. 

Jumblatt: Erdogan’s stance ends Lebanon’s isolation
BEIRUT: Head of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) MP Walid Jumblatt praised Monday remarks made by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visited Lebanon last week, saying the stances moved Lebanon from isolation. “Erdogan has stressed in Akkar that Palestine is the central cause and he also recalled the Sabra and Shatila massacres. 

Berri Working on Meeting between Nasralla and Hariri
28/11/2010 Lebanese Speaker Nabih Berri reassured the Lebanese that he is thoroughly following up the situation in Lebanon from every angle and with all concerned parties.  Speaking to the Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar, Berri revealed he was working on setting a meeting between Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah and Prime Minister Saad Hariri when the latter returns from his tour abroad.  The Speaker underlined the Syrian-Saudi efforts to establish reconciliation in Lebanon and pull this country from its quagmire.  Berri also said that the few coming days will be “very busy” especially upon Hariri’s return to Lebanon, as a large scale political activity should take place amongst the parties involved in the current crisis. 

Hezbollah hoping Syria, Saudi can defuse Lebanon tensions (AFP)
AFP – Hezbollah is counting on a joint Syrian-Saudi initiative to contain the impact of looming indictments by a UN-backed court set to implicate members of the group in the murder of Lebanon’s ex-premier, experts say.* 

Maariv: Ball in Hezbollah’s Court, Feltman Deeply Involved in Lebanon Quagmire 
27/11/2010 Israeli daily Maariv reported Friday that “there are US-Israeli understandings” on ways to counter the repercussions of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) indictment against Hezbollah in the assassination case of former Premier Rafiq Hariri.  The newspaper’s correspondent in Washington Shmuel Rosner said that the US administration was working on this track more than it was on the Israeli Palestinian track. He added it was surprising to see how busy the US official’s schedule on the Middle East, be it with Saudi or Israeli officials who have been to Washington lately. 
Iran, Lebanon ink 9 MoUs on mutual cooperation
TEHRAN, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) — Iran and Lebanon signed nine memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on expansion of mutual cooperation between the two countries Monday as Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri wrapped up his visit to the Islamic Republic, the official IRNA news agency reported.  The agreements included the expansion of mutual cooperation, campaign against illiteracy, addiction and drug trafficking, cultural heritage, rehabilitation of handicaps, protecting elderly males and females, supporting unprotected children and women affairs as well as family planning, said the report. 

Rights activist calls for end to brutality in dealing with spy suspects
BEIRUT: The Foundation for Human and Humanitarian Rights called for respecting the rights of suspected spies, during a workshop against the death penalty it held Monday. Several experts took part in the workshop and the foundation’s executive director Wael Kheir linked human rights to the freedom of the press, saying a free press played a major role in protecting human rights. 


Monday: 13 Iraqis Killed, 33 Wounded
Interior Minister Jawad Bolani said security forces thwarted an attack on the French embassy that was planned by the same insurgents who took over a church last month; however, they were not able to prevent the violence that led to at least 13 Iraqis losing their lives today. Another 33 were wounded as well. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari called the latest WikiLeaks dump “unhelpful and untimely.” 

Iraq forces thwart attack against French embassy: general (AFP)
AFP – Iraqi forces thwarted an attempt by a suicide bomber to blow up a vehicle by the French embassy using intelligence gathered after a bloodbath at a Baghdad cathedral, a general told AFP on Monday.*

More than 500 Iraqi Christian families flee to Kurdish north
The exodus of Iraqi Christians is continuing and 507 families have landed in the Kurdish north where security conditions are relatively stable.  Many more families have fled directly abroad, mainly to Syria, Jordan and Turkey.  Those fleeing to the Kurdish north are reported to be mostly low income Iraqi Christians whose meager resources will not make it easy for them to make ends meet in a foreign country.  But the Kurdish north, where Kurds have established a semi-independent state in the three provinces of Arbil, Sulaimaniya and Dahouk, is even more expensive than countries such as Syria.  Rents are extremely high and commodity prices dearer than in other parts of Iraq.  The large exodus began after scores of Iraqi Christians were killed in a church in Baghdad as they attended mass on Sunday.\2010-11-29\kurd.htm 

U.S. and other world news

Powerful Republican suggests to colleagues he’d shoot at Obama
‘Put anything in my scope and I will shoot it,’ GOP Rep. says of Obama Administration The former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee may have just destroyed his chances to lead that committee again — if close attention is paid to a slideshow he’s circulating to his Republican colleagues.

US says it may go after WikiLeaks chief
The United States on Monday said it was carrying out a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and would pursue the whistle-blower website’s chief if he were found to have broken the law.  “We have an active, ongoing criminal investigation with regard to this matter,” Attorney General Eric Holder told a press conference the day after the website began releasing some 250,000 confidential State Department memos.  “We are not in the position, as yet, to announce the result of that investigation,” he said, adding that the justice and defense departments were both probing the website. 

U.S. opens criminal investigation against WikiLeaks founder
Julian Assange: Obama administration is ‘a regime that doesn’t believe in the freedom of the press’; Ecuador offers asylum to Assange.

GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a ‘foreign terrorist organization’
GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a foreign terrorist organizationA key Republican Congressman from New York has a new definition for the word “terrorism” that doesn’t require the use of violence or even fear. 

Assange may have a new home
Bravo:  Ecuador on Monday offered Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who has enraged Washington by releasing masses of classified U.S. documents, residency with no questions asked. “We are ready to give him residence in Ecuador, with no problems and no conditions,” Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas told the Internet site Ecuadorinmediato.  “We are going to invite him to come to Ecuador so he can freely present the information he possesses and all the documentation, not just over the Internet but in a variety of public forums,” he said. 

WikiLeaks fallout reveal more cracks in Afghan war strategy
The continued political survival of US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry suggests the doubts he expressed about the war strategy have deepened in American government circles.

Afghan policeman kills 6 American troops
The shooter also is killed. It is the deadliest such incident in a year and points up the dangers U.S. troops face as they try to train local police and soldiers to take over security.  An Afghan border policeman on Monday turned his weapon on Western troops, fatally shooting six of them. NATO did not disclose the nationalities of the slain soldiers, but an Afghan official said they were American.,0,4351945.story 

Exclusive: Leaked cable reveals US-Israeli strategy for regime change in Iran
Wiki-leak confirms reporting by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh According to a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, in August 2007 the head of Israel’s intelligence agency urged US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, R. Nicholas Burns, to join with Israel in carrying out a five-part strategy to implement regime change in Iran. 

Iran calls for unity among Islamic countries
TEHRAN, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for strengthening unity among Islamic countries, especially between Iran and Lebanon, the Iranian presidential website reported Monday.  If the Lebanese government and its “resistance”, implying Iran- backed Shi’a group Hezbollah, against Israel are in the same front, the Zionist regime will not be able to harm the Lebanese nation, Ahmadinejad said in a meeting with the visiting Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri in Tehran on Sunday. 

US threatens Iran with military action
Mullen made the remarks following Iran’s announcement that the Bushehr nuclear power plant in south of the country has started to generate electricity.

Israel primed to attack a nuclear Iran
US embassy cables show security service has told Washington ‘all options’ are on table if Iranian bomb looks inevitable 

Russia offered Israel $1 billion for drone technologies to cancel deal to supply Iran with S-300 missiles
Russia offered Israel $1 billion for advanced drone (automatic aircraft) technologies, and in addition offered to cancel the deal to supply Iran with S-300 missiles, according to an official cable published Sunday via WikiLeaks. 

Bomb blast blamed on Israel and US kills Iran nuclear scientist
Iran has accused Israel and the US of orchestrating bomb blasts yesterday morning in Tehran that killed a prominent nuclear scientist and injured a colleague.

Landslide vote was a fraud, say Egyptian opposition
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said yesterday a “rigged election” had all but wiped out its presence in parliament, virtually eliminating opposition to President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party before next year’s presidential vote. 

Angry Egyptians riot, burn cars, claiming vote fraud
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt: Protesters set fire to cars, tires and two polling stations, clashing with police firing tear gas in riots that erupted around Egypt Monday over allegations the ruling party carried out widespread fraud to sweep parliamentary elections.

MIDDLE EAST: Focus on domestic workers’ rights
DAMASCUS Tuesday, November 30, 2010 (IRIN) – The UN International Labour Organization (ILO) is encouraging the drafting of labour legislation to provide foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in the Middle East with legal protection.

Kuwait MPs want jail for women in swimsuits
KUWAIT CITY: Five Islamist MPs in Kuwait Monday proposed a one-year prison term and $3,500 fine for women who wear swimsuits at the beach. The lawmakers, representing various Islamist groups in Parliament, also said in a proposal to amend Kuwait’s penal code that the same penalty should apply to women who reveal their upper chest or take part in “indecent behavior.

MSM stirs– Wilkerson tells Olbermann Israel can’t be ‘democratic and Jewish’

Nov 30, 2010

Susie Kneedler


Visit for breaking newsworld news, and news about the economy

Last night Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson gently set a naive Keith Olbermann partly straight. Olbermann noticed (at 2:45 or so) that a 2007 cable in the WikiLeaks communiques gives “a reason other than the obvious for Israel’s opposition to Iranian nukes”: that they pose a ‘demographic” threat to “Israel’s long-term survival as a Jewish and democratic state.” Olbermann mentioned that “surveys find that one-third of Israelis would leave [Israel if Iran had the bomb] and Palestinian Israelis already make up twenty percent,” so if Palestinians “become a majority, Israel would have to figure out how it could remain both Jewish and democratic at the same time.” 

Wilkerson, formerly Colin Powell’s chief of staff, countered:

Israel’s problem is more profound, I think, than you just stated it.  The profoundness of it is that Israel will find it increasingly difficult to be democratic and Jewish, even with the current demographic situation–no outside [Iranian] forces impacting.  Israel will be an apartheid state probably within a couple of decades if it tries to maintain the current policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians’ growing population.  And that’s not very good for the future. South Africa proved that.

Wilkerson didn’t discuss Israeli-government apartheid now–suffered by Palestinian citizens of Israel, as well as the stateless people in the illegally Occupied Territories.   Instead, Wilkerson affirms that “Israel’s got a problem….That’s why we need a two-state solution….two states that are viable, economically, politically, security-wise.”

Perhaps Wilkerson wants to ease Olbermann and his “Countdown” audience into the full facts. Wilkerson tells Keith that “Anyone who’s studied the situation–and I will admit that that’s few” knows about Israel’s “demographic” “problem.”  Olbermann himself started by proving his ignorance that Iran is Persian rather than “Arab”– announcing that “the biggest cheerleaders for war with Iran, are–[pause]–other Arab leaders.”  (KO corrected himself later, substituting “Middle Eastern” for “Arab.”)

Wilkerson, to his credit, pointed out–as one who’s composed and read many such cables–that “the information being reported back to Washington isn’t necessarily the truth,” but is “designed to obfuscate, and to lie, and to twist, and to turn–anything but the complete truth….and if they are the truth as seen by the observers, the observers are often fooled.”

University of Toronto caught in controversy over anti-Zionist master’s thesis

Nov 30, 2010

Adam Horowitz


The Canadian Jewish News reports on Jennifer Peto’s master’s thesis from department of sociology and equity studies in education at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE), a branch of the University of Toronto. The paper is titled “The Victimhood of the Powerful: White Jews, Zionism and the Racism of Hegemonic Holocaust Education”:

The University of Toronto is coming under fire for granting its “imprimatur” to a master’s thesis that critics say is an allegation of “Jewish racism” and is of low academic standards.

In a letter to University of Toronto president David Naylor, retired sociology professor Werner Cohn said the thesis posits that “the Jews of the world, most particularly those of Canada and the United States, are racist and seek to oppress people of colour everywhere.”

The thesis, Cohen goes on, is averse to empirical data, and its author, Jennifer Peto, “makes wild… charges against her fellow Jews without a shred of evidence. . . “

Summarizing her thesis, Peto stated that it “focuses on issues of Jewish identity, whiteness and victimhood within hegemonic Holocaust education. I argue that today, Jewish people of European descent enjoy white privilege and are among the most socio-economically advantaged groups in the West. Despite this privilege, the organized Jewish community makes claims about Jewish victimhood that are widely accepted within that community and within popular discourse in the West.

“I propose that these claims to victimhood are no longer based in a reality of oppression, but continue to be propagated because a victimized Jewish identity can produce certain effects that are beneficial to the organized Jewish community and the Israeli nation-state.

Later in the article Peto identifies as “an anti-Zionist Jew” and says “by supporting Israel, [Jews] are supporting a brutally oppressive regime.” The article adds:

She said it can be painful for Jews to become anti-Zionist, but it was less painful for her “because I was already an outcast in the Jewish community and estranged from my family for being atheist, queer, gender-queer, feminist and generally outspoken in a highly normative, Orthodox setting.”

Update from Alex Kane:

Werner Cohn, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of British Columbia, has been making quite a name for himself this year as someone who wants to shut down academic critics of Israel.

He was among the academics leading the smear campaign against Brooklyn College professor Moustafa Bayoumi, theeditor of a book highly critical of the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla.  Bayoumi’s other book about Arab-Americans in Brooklyn was assigned as reading for incoming freshmen at Brooklyn College, which prompted Cohn and others to create an uproar. . . .

To give you an idea on where Cohn is coming from, he has written on “Jews who hate Israel,” links to documents that supposedly show Noam Chomsky’s “links to the neo-Nazis” and recently wrote a blog post that compared the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement to the Nazi campaign of boycotting Jewish-owned businesses in Germany.

It appears Cohn has somewhat of an obsession with members of the Jewish community who are critical of Israeli policy.  But instead of interrogating why such members exist–the occupation, massacres in Gaza, the colonization of the West Bank–he simply denounces them as “haters” of Israel.

You can read Peto’s thesis and judge for yourself after the jump:

Israel – Jennifer Peto

Is ‘Peace Now’ friending settlers?

Nov 30, 2010

Philip Weiss


We just got this picture of Yariv Oppenheimer, the head of Peace Now in Israel, in green at left, hanging at a party with men who are said to be members of the Yesha Council, the settlers’ group. The guy to the right of Oppenheimer is said to be Danny Dayan, who has said, “a withdrawal from the territories of Judea and Samaria in the hope that a sympathetic president will rule is a suicidal delusion.”

Ofer N. found the picture on Facebook (at a farewell party for the outgoing Galei Tzahal radio reporter Guy Varon) and sent it to me… Ofer says that in the background (left) you can see Itamar Ben Gvir, of the Jewish National Front, a Kahanist party.


I don’t live in Israel, I find it hard to understand that society. I do know that it’s hard for Israelis to support, for instance, boycott of the settlements if they have friends and relatives living there…

A week or so back Uri Avnery blasted Oppenheimer for meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

[H]ow did it enter the minds of these “Senior Peace Now Members” to meet this man of all people, and thus bestow legitimacy on him?

[B]ehind Ayalon there looms the man who appointed him: the minister for foreign affairs, Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman is an international symbol of racism, a settler and defender of settlers, the principal assistant in Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to obstruct peace and eternalize the occupation. …

Dozens of foreign ministers refuse to meet with Lieberman. No Arab leader agrees to shake his hand. Egyptians loathe him; for Palestinians he is the symbol of evil. He cannot show his face in respectable international society. So, for heaven’s sake, what caused the “Senior Peace Now Members” to legitimize this person?

UPDATE: Oppenheimer has responded on facebook, writing a comment there (per Ofer) stating he never socializes with people like Ben Gvir, but people like Dayan are different, because they do not support pogroms against Palestinians, so Dayan is only an “ideological adversary.”

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on MONDOWEISS ONLINE NEWSLETTER




Amazon crushes free speech and we’re watching

01 Dec 2010

This is a disgrace and shows the utterly spinelessness of some in corporate America. We will not forget:

The United States struck its first blow against WikiLeaks after pulled the plug on hosting the whistleblowing website in an apparent reaction to heavy political pressure.

The main website and a sub-site devoted to the diplomatic documents were unavailable from the US and Europe on Wednesday, as Amazon servers refused to acknowledge requests for data.

The plug was pulled as the influential senator and chairman of the homeland security committee, Joe Lieberman, called for a boycott of the site by US companies.

“[Amazon’s] decision to cut off WikiLeaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies WikiLeaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material,” he said.

“I call on any other company or organisation that is hosting WikiLeaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them.”

The department of homeland security confirmed Amazon’s move, referring journalists to Lieberman’s statement.

WikiLeaks tweeted in response: “WikiLeaks servers at Amazon ousted. Free speech the land of the free – fine our $ are now spent to employ people in Europe.”

The development came amid increasingly angry and polarised political opinion in America over WikiLeaks, with some conservatives calling for the organisation’s founder, Julian Assange, to be executed as a spy. Availability of his website has been patchy since Sunday, when it started to come under a series of internet-based attacks by unknown hackers. WikiLeaks dealt with the attacks in part by moving to servers run by Amazon Web Services, which is self-service. would not comment on its relationship with WikiLeaks or whether it forced the site to leave. Messages seeking comment from WikiLeaks were not immediately returned.


Colombo starts to feel heat over killings of Tamils

01 Dec 2010

Wow. What a Guardian headline: “WikiLeaks cables: ‘Sri Lankan president responsible for massacre of Tamils’”:

American diplomats believed that the Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, bore responsibility for a massacre last year that is the subject of a UN war crimes inquiry, according to a leaked US cable.

Lawyers for Tamil activists in Britain are seeking an arrest warrant against President Rajapaksa for alleged war crimes committed last year at the bloody end of the long-running civil war against Tamil separatists. Rajapaksa, who is in the UK, is due to meet the defence secretary, Liam Fox, tomorrow and had an address to the Oxford Union scheduled for Fridaycancelled due to security concerns.

Thousands of Tamils are thought to have died in a few days in May 2009, when a large concentration of Tamil Tiger guerrillas and civilians, crammed in a small coastal strip, came under heavy bombardment from Sri Lankan government forces.

In a cable sent on 15 January this year, the US ambassador in Colombo, Patricia Butenis, said one of the reasons there was such little progress towards a genuine Sri Lankan inquiry into the killings was that the president and the former army commander, Sarath Fonseka, were largely responsible. “There are no examples we know of a regime undertaking wholesale investigations of its own troops or senior officials for war crimes while that regime or government remained in power,” Butenis noted.

“In Sri Lanka this is further complicated by the fact that responsibility for many alleged crimes rests with the country’s senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his brothers and opposition candidate General Fonseka.” Fonseka was convicted of corruption by a court martial this year.

In her cable to Washington, Butenis seeks to explain why there is so little momentum towards the formation of a “truth and reconciliation” commission, or any other form of accountability.

Most Tamil Tiger commanders, also under suspicion for war crimes such as the use of civilians as human shields, had been killed at the end of the war.

President Rajapaksa had meanwhile fought an election campaign promising to resist any international efforts to prosecute “war heroes” in the nation’s army.

Not only was the Colombo government not interested in investigating itself, but Tamils in Sri Lanka – unlike those abroad – were also nervous about the issue as it might make them targets for reprisals.

Butenis wrote: “While they wanted to keep the issue alive for possible future action, Tamil leaders with whom we spoke in Colombo, Jaffna and elsewhere said now was not time and that pushing hard on the issue would make them ‘vulnerable’.

“Accountability is clearly an issue of importance for the ultimate political and moral health of Sri Lankan society,” the ambassador concluded, but she did not think it would happen any time soon.


All those private lobbyists in DC wondering if their money will come this month

01 Dec 2010

Feel the fear as the political elites scramble for cover. The poor dears, having to find ways to defend behaviour by their well-paying clients:

Much has been written about the State Department’s intensive effort to deal with the release of secret diplomatic cables by the website WikiLeaks, but there is also a separate, massive effort to deal with the crisis by the embassies of foreign governments, aided by the paid lobbyists and consultants who represent them.

Working as a Washington lobbyist for a foreign country is usually a pretty sweet gig. These hired guns keep governments informed on anything in town that could affect their country’s diplomatic or political interests — for a hefty monthly fee, of course. Lobbyists apply added elbow grease when relevant legislation needs cheerleading on Capitol Hill. Consultants work harder when foreign officials are in town or there’s a pressing bilateral issue. But overall, crises are relatively rare.

Not this week, though: It’s all hands on deck on K Street, as firms are fielding frantic and constant requests from diplomats in foreign capitals, trying to make sense of the released and soon-to-be-released WikiLeaks State Department cables.

“When was the last time that every embassy and every consultancy in town went into crisis mode simultaneously,” one consultant with clients in Europe and Asia told The Cable. This consultant said that his firm has been totally swamped since Sunday’s initial document dump with panicked emails, rushed conference calls, and requests for information.

“Basically you have governments that have absolutely no idea what’s in these documents. And everybody from senior officials to embassy personnel to Washington consultants are in a mad scramble to go through each new batch of documents as they come out to identify items that are potential vulnerabilities, paint their bosses in an unflattering light, or reveal some sensitive information,” the consultant said. “The entire chain of command is in panic mode with every new release.”

“The spectrum goes from panicked to intrigued, optimistic to ape shit.”


Sarkozy, like Gillard, Cameron et al, long to look into the eyes of US President

 01 Dec 2010

Just what the world needs; another Western leader desperate to be loved by America:

President Nicolas Sarkozy is an unusually solid French friend of America. He is also a “mercurial” man operating in “a zone of monarch-like impunity” surrounded by advisers often too fearful to give honest counsel, according to leaked cables from the United States Embassy in Paris.

Last December, the American ambassador shared an anecdote with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: when the mayor of Paris had the Eiffel Tower lighted in Turkey’s national colors for a visit by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in April 2009, aides to Mr. Sarkozy, a staunch opponent of Turkey’s entry to the European Union, rerouted the presidential plane so he would not see it.

“Élysée contacts have reported to us the great lengths they will go to avoid disagreeing” with Mr. Sarkozy “or provoking his displeasure,” said the cable, signed by Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin. It was part of a trove of documents obtained byWikiLeaks and made available to several news organizations.

Five years of correspondence between Paris and Washington chronicle a spectacular post-Iraq turnabout between one of the West’s most complicated diplomatic couples. Mr. Sarkozy, who took office in May 2007, was described even last year as “the most pro-American French president since World War II” and a “force multiplier” for American foreign policy interests.

President Nicolas Sarkozy is an unusually solid French friend of America. He is also a “mercurial” man operating in “a zone of monarch-like impunity” surrounded by advisers often too fearful to give honest counsel, according to leaked cables from the United States Embassy in Paris.

Last December, the American ambassador shared an anecdote with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: when the mayor of Paris had the Eiffel Tower lighted in Turkey’s national colors for a visit by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in April 2009, aides to Mr. Sarkozy, a staunch opponent of Turkey’s entry to the European Union, rerouted the presidential plane so he would not see it.

“Élysée contacts have reported to us the great lengths they will go to avoid disagreeing” with Mr. Sarkozy “or provoking his displeasure,” said the cable, signed by Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin. It was part of a trove of documents obtained byWikiLeaks and made available to several news organizations.

Five years of correspondence between Paris and Washington chronicle a spectacular post-Iraq turnabout between one of the West’s most complicated diplomatic couples. Mr. Sarkozy, who took office in May 2007, was described even last year as “the most pro-American French president since World War II” and a “force multiplier” for American foreign policy interests.


Zionist weapons tested on Arabs then sold to the world

01 Dec 2010

A disturbing piece in the LA Times that shows how Israel is profiting from marketing “anti-terrorist” gear. And Palestinians are guinea pigs:

As the threat of terrorism spreads, Israel has moved aggressively to turn domestic security technology into one of its biggest exports.

 More than 400 Israeli companies export about $1.5 billion annually in domestic security goods and technology, including biometric devices, tear gas canisters, anti-intrusion systems, airport screening machines, explosives detectors and remote-controlled vehicles.

“Israel’s domestic market is tiny,” said Alon Slonim, vice president for international marketing at Ispra, which manufactures tear gas and other riot gear. “The only way to grow is to export.”

 Competing with mass-producing firms in nations such as the United States and China is challenging, Slonim said, so Israeli companies need to be creative to stand out. 

 For example, based on Israel’s experience in dealing with Palestinian protests and uprisings against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Ispra designed tear gas canisters made of softer plastic to reduce the risk of injury if the projectiles hit demonstrators. The canisters are also designed to blow up shortly after they disperse their gas, to discourage protesters from picking them up and tossing them back at police.

Then this quote is utterly offensive and isn’t even countered by an alternative point of view. Note the not so subtle connection between extremism and Islam.

Israel’s experience in combating Palestinian extremists has made Israeli companies somewhat expert in guerrilla tactics, rocket attacks and suicide bombers, said Doron Havazelet, director of the new Homeland Security Institute at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

 “The proximity of Israeli culture to Islamic culture produces a better understanding of the issues,” he said. “Israel is a country that stood at this front line earlier than most others.”


How dare you look into our boys doing bad things, says US

30 Nov 2010

Here are just two examples of Washington pressuring nations not to pursue investigations into alleged human rights abuses committed by the US post 9/11. Real democracy in action.


US officials tried to influence Spanish prosecutors and government officials to head off court investigations intoGuantánamo Bay torture allegations, secret CIA “extraordinary rendition” flights and the killing of a Spanish journalist by US troops in Iraq, according to secret US diplomatic cables.

Among their biggest worries were investigations pursued by the magistrate Baltasar Garzón, who US officials described as having “an anti-American streak”.

“We are certainly under no illusions about the individual with whom we are dealing,” they said after he opened an investigation into torture at Guantánamo Bay prison camp. “Judge Garzon has been a storied and controversial figure in recent Spanish history, whose ambition and pursuit of the spotlight may be without rival.”

The revelations contained in the leaked documents will be embarrassing to Spanish prosecutors who shared information on cases they were involved in, and whose identities the Americans wanted protected.

They included the attorney general, Candido Conde-Pumpido, national court chief prosecutor, Javier Zaragoza, and fellow prosecutor Vicente González Mota, responsible for the CIA flights affair.

Zaragoza is revealed as a valuable source who accuses Garzón of opening some human rights cases in order to “drum up more speaking fees”. He proved to be an ally as the US tried to stem a flood of investigations at Spain‘s national court – one of the world’s most vigorous courts in exercising international jurisdiction over human rights crimes.

A major worry was a torture case brought by a Spanish non-governmental organisation against six senior Bush administration officials, including the former attorney general Alberto Gonzales.

Senator Mel Martinez, a former Republican party chairman, and the US embassy’s charge d’affaires visited the Spanish foreign ministry to warn the investigation would have consequences. “Martinez and the charge underscored that the prosecutions would … have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship,” the officials reported.

Officials in Madrid discussed with Zaragoza ways in which a US investigation into the same allegations might be opened in order to force the Spanish court to close its own case. “Zaragoza has also told us that if a proceeding regarding this matter were underway in the US, that would effectively bar proceedings in Spain. We intend to further explore this option with him informally,” they said.

Garzón, who opened a separate torture investigation, was deemed to put self-promotion first. “We suspect Garzón will wring all the publicity he can from the case unless and until he is forced to give it up,” said the officials.

“Zaragoza said he had challenged Garzón directly and personally on this latest case, asking if he was trying to drum up more speaking fees,” they reported.

They noted that Garzón was already in hot water over his investigation into human rights crimes committed under Spain’s former dictator General Francisco Franco. As a result Garzón now looks set to be removed from his job by supreme court judges next year.

“Zaragoza doubts Garzón will risk a second such complaint,” they said.

But US officials worried he would go down fighting. “It is hard for us to see why the publicity-loving Garzón would shut off his headline-generating machine unless forced to do so,” they reported. “We also fear Garzón – far from being deterred by threats of disciplinary action – may welcome the chance for martyrdom, knowing the case will attract worldwide attention.”

When another Spanish magistrate began investigating the alleged use of a Spanish airport for secret CIA flights carrying terror suspects, officials noted that US policy was to deal with these cases in closed-door conversations with governments.

They were especially alarmed when magistrates and prosecutors in both Spain and Germany began comparing notes. “This co-ordination among independent investigators will complicate our efforts to manage this case at a discreet government-to-government level,” they warned.


So far, the 251,287 secret State Department cables leaked by Wikileaks have been more embarrassing to the United States than particularly revealing. But one exchange between U.S. and German officials reveals a sad reality about the tangled web woven by the Bush administration when it decided to engage in torture — and highlights how President Obama has kept the U.S. ensnared by that legacy.

According to 
this leaked document, the U.S. State Department in 2007 warned Germany that issuance of arrest warrants for CIA officers involved in the kidnapping of an innocent German citizen, Khalid El-Masri, imprisoned for months in Afghanistan and allegedly tortured there would “have a negative impact” on the two countries’ relationship. Indeed, Deputy Chief of Mission John M. Koenig reminded German Deputy National Security Adviser Rolf Nikel that a similar move by Italy, which a year earlier had prosecuted CIA officers for their involvement in the kidnapping from Milan and rendition to Egypt of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, had “repercussions to U.S.-Italian bilateral relations.”

According to the cable, which appears to summarize the two officials’ conversation, “The DCM pointed out that our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German Government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the U.S.”

Scott Horton at Harpers adds details to this last case:

The El-Masri cable suggests that the Embassy in Berlin was trying to protect thirteen CIA agents then subject to an arrest warrant. These agents’ true names are now known, and an arrest warrant continues to hang over them–now issued by Spanish prosecutors after American diplomatic pressure effectively chilled the German investigation. But the most noteworthy thing about this cable is the addressee—Condoleezza Rice. Might she and her legal advisor, John Bellinger, have had an interest in the El-Masri case that went beyond their purely professional interest in U.S.-German diplomatic relations? The decision to “snatch” El-Masri and lock him up in the “salt pit” involved the extraordinary renditions program, and it seems as a matter of routine that this would have required not only the approval of the CIA’s top echelon but also the White House-based National Security Council. It’s highly likely that Rice and Bellinger would have been involved in the decision to “snatch” and imprison El-Masri. If authority was given by Rice, then responsibility for the mistake—which might well include criminal law accountability—may also rest with her, and this fact would also not have escaped Koenig as he performed his diplomatic duties.

Wikileaks, Taiwanese style

30 Nov 2010  

Chomsky: Wikileaks cable show US contempt for world

30 Nov 2010

Noam Chomsky on the Wikileaks cables:

One of the major reasons for government secrecy is to protect the government from its own population.

So Hillary Clinton and Benjamin Netanyahu surely know of the careful polls of Arab public opinion. The Brookings Institute just a few months ago released extensive polls of what Arabs think about Iran. The results are rather striking. They show the Arab opinion holds that the major threat in the region is Israel- that’s 80. The second major threat is the United States- that’s 77. Iran is listed as a threat by 10%.

With regard to nuclear weapons, rather remarkably, a majority- in fact, 57–say that the region would have a positive effect in the region if Iran had nuclear weapons. Now, these are not small numbers. 80, 77, say the U.S. and Israel are the major threat. 10 say Iran is the major threat. This may not be reported in the newspapers here- it is in England- but it’s certainly familiar to the Israeli and U.S. governments, and to the ambassadors. But there is not a word about it anywhere. What that reveals is the profound hatred for democracy on the part of our political leadership and the Israeli political leadership. These things aren’t even to be mentioned. This seeps its way all through the diplomatic service. The cables to not have any indication of that.

US visiting refugee camps to further its oh so noble goals

30 Nov 2010

The fusing of aid and military actions is a worrying development that threatens the independence of truly independent NGOs (and the US military isn’t part of this, sorry Barack):

US military plan to survey refugee camps and aid agencies on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, possibly to obtain targeting information for air strikes, sparked alarm among diplomats in Islamabad.

In mid 2008 the US defence department special operations command requested US embassies in Kabul and Islamabad toprovide information on camps housing Afghan refugees or civilians displaced by fighting with the Taliban.

“They have requested information on camp names and locations, camp status, number of IDS/refugees and ethnic breakdown, and NGO/humanitarian relief organisations working in the camps,” read a cable from the Islamabad embassy.

The defence attache’s office was instructed to “reach out” to the UNHCR (the UN refugee agency), USAid and the state department.

The information was requested in response to the special operations command – which oversees secret US military missions – “regarding [internally displaced people] IDP/refugee camps and NGO activity”. The purpose of the request was not clear, the cable noted cautiously.

“Some emails have suggested that agencies intend to use the data for targeting purposes; others indicate it would be used for ‘no strike’ purposes.”

The diplomats seemed alarmed by the idea. “We are concerned about providing information gained from humanitarian organisations to military personnel, especially for reasons that remain unclear. Particularly worrisome, this does not seem to us a very efficient way to gather accurate information,” the cable said.

The embassy curtly noted that such requests should be directed to the CIA station chiefs in Kabul and Islamabad and the local representatives of the director of national intelligence. The diplomats’ sensitivity was understandable. The request came three months after US navy Seals carried out a cross-border raid on a militant base in South Waziristan that drew a furious response from Pakistani officials.

The most likely target of any US strikes against refugee camps would be in the western province of Balochistan, home to the Taliban leadership council, the Quetta Shura. The cables show US and Pakistani officials believe the Taliban use such camps to arm, train and recruit fighters.


What’s a little drone attack against Assange via Canadian TV?

30 Nov 2010

Tom Flanagan, senior advisor and strategist to the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, calls for the murder of Julian Assange:

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