Archive | April 26th, 2011




Introduction by Gilad Atzmon:

In spite of being the majority amongst the Israeli Jewish population, Arab Jews are heavily discriminated in Israel, both culturally and economically. Due to Zio-centric pressure and Euro-centric culture, Arab Jews have been reluctant to openly explore their heritage. Needless to mention that Arab military defeats didn’t help either, for decades Arab Jews in Israel have tended to hide their Arabic past.  For the obvious reasons Arab Jews in Israel have been found at the forefront of every possible political form of negation towards Palestinians and Arabs in general. They clearly wanted to disassociate themselves from their Arab past through blind identification with Zionist ideology and Israeli militancy.

Things, however, may change these days. Following the regional Intifada and the rise of Arab masses, young Arab Jews in Israel are becoming aware of their true origin and their culture. The following is an open letter to Arab peers written by Young Israeli Arab Jews- young people who come to realise who they are, where they come from and what they stand for.

“We Identify with you,” they confess to their Arab young neighbours. They relocate themselves within a new geo-political vision.  “We are a part of the religious, cultural, and linguistic history of the Middle East and North Africa.” They see Israel for what it is, “we, too, live in a regime that in reality—despite its pretensions to being ‘enlightened’ and ‘democratic’—does not represent large sections of its actual population in the Occupied Territories and inside of the Green Line border(s).”

However the young Arab Jews seem to come short of accepting the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian Right of Return. Though they advocate solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, they are yet to support or acknowledge the rights of Palestinian refugees. Like the Israeli ‘Left’, the young Arab Jews are willing to support the Palestinians as long as they stay behind the wall. We support the  “struggle of the Palestinian people living under Israeli military occupation…in their demand to end the occupation and to gain Palestinian national independence.”

This is not a lot but it is certainly more than nothing.

Young Mizrahi Israelis’ open letter to Arab peers

Translated from Hebrew;  English edited by Chana Morgenstern | Arabic version here

In a letter titled “Ruh Jedida: A New Spirit for 2011,” young Jewish descendants of the Arab and Islamic world living in Israel write to their peers in the Middle East and North Africa

We, as the descendents of the Jewish communities of the Arab and Muslim world, the Middle East and the Maghreb, and as the second and third generation of Mizrahi Jews in Israel, are watching with great excitement and curiosity the major role that the men and women of our generation are playing so courageously in the demonstrations for freedom and change across the Arab world. We identify with you and are extremely hopeful for the future of the revolutions that have already succeeded in Tunisia and Egypt. We are equally pained and worried at the great loss of life in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and many other places in the region.

Our generation’s protest against repression and oppressive and abusive regimes, and its call for change, freedom, and the establishment of democratic governments that foster citizen participation in the political process, marks a dramatic moment in the history of the Middle East and North Africa, a region which has for generations been torn between various forces, internal and external, and whose leaders have often trampled the political, economic, and cultural rights of its citizens.

We are Israelis, the children and grandchildren of Jews who lived in the Middle East and North Africa for hundreds and thousands of years. Our forefathers and mothers contributed to the development of this region’s culture, and were part and parcel of it. Thus the culture of the Islamic world and the multigenerational connection and identification with this region is an inseparable part of our own identity.

We are a part of the religious, cultural, and linguistic history of the Middle East and North Africa, although it seems that we are the forgotten children of its history: First in Israel, which imagines itself and its culture to be somewhere between continental Europe and North America. Then in the Arab world, which often accepts the dichotomy of Jews and Arabs and the imagined view of all Jews as Europeans, and has preferred to repress the history of the Arab-Jews as a minor or even nonexistent chapter in its history; and finally within the Mizrahi communities themselves, who in the wake of Western colonialism, Jewish nationalism and Arab nationalism, became ashamed of their past in the Arab world.

Consequently we often tried to blend into the mainstream of society while erasing or minimizing our own past. The mutual influences and relationships between Jewish and Arab cultures were subjected to forceful attempts at erasure in recent generations, but evidence of them can still be found in many spheres of our lives, including music, prayer, language, and literature.

We wish to express our identification with and hopes for this stage of generational transition in the history of the Middle East and North Africa, and we hope that it will open the gates to freedom and justice and a fair distribution of the region’s resources.

We turn to you, our generational peers in the Arab and Muslim world, striving for an honest dialog which will include us in the history and culture of the region. We looked enviously at the pictures from Tunisia and from Al-Tahrir square, admiring your ability to bring forth and organize a nonviolent civil resistance that has brought hundreds of thousands of people out into the streets and the squares, and finally forced your rulers to step down.

We, too, live in a regime that in reality—despite its pretensions to being “enlightened” and “democratic”—does not represent large sections of its actual population in the Occupied Territories and inside of the Green Line border(s). This regime tramples the economic and social rights of most of its citizens, is in an ongoing process of minimizing democratic liberties, and constructs racist barriers against Arab-Jews, the Arab people, and Arabic culture. Unlike the citizens of Tunisia and Egypt, we are still a long way from the capacity to build the kind of solidarity between various groups that we see in these countries, a solidarity movement that would allow us to unite and march together–all who reside here–into the public squares, to demand a civil regime that is culturally, socially, and economically just and inclusive.

We believe that, as Mizrahi Jews in Israel, our struggle for economic, social, and cultural rights rests on the understanding that political change cannot depend on the Western powers who have exploited our region and its residents for many generations. True change can only come from an intra-regional and inter-religious dialog that is in connection with the different struggles and movements currently active in the Arab world. Specifically, we must be in dialog and solidarity with struggles of the Palestinians citizens of Israel who are fighting for equal political and economic rights and for the termination of racist laws, and the struggle of the Palestinian people living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and in Gaza in their demand to end the occupation and to gain Palestinian national independence.

In our previous letter written following Obama’s Cairo speech in 2009, we called for the rise of the democratic Middle Eastern identity and for our inclusion in such an identity. We now express the hope that our generation – throughout the Arab, Muslim, and Jewish world – will be a generation of renewed bridges that will leap over the walls and hostility created by previous generations and will renew the deep human dialog without which we cannot understand ourselves: between Jews, Sunnis, Shias, and Christians, between Kurds, Berbers, Turks, and Persians, between Mizrahis and Ashkenazis, and between Palestinians and Israelis. We draw on our shared past in order to look forward hopefully towards a shared future.

We have faith in intra-regional dialog—whose purpose is to repair and rehabilitate what was destroyed in recent generations—as a catalyst towards renewing the Andalusian model of Muslim-Jewish-Christian partnership, God willing, Insha’Allah, and as a pathway to a cultural and historical golden era for our countries. This golden era cannot come to pass without equal, democratic citizenship, equal distribution of resources, opportunities, and education, equality between women and men, and the acceptance of all people regardless of faith, race, status, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnic affiliation. All of these rights play equal parts in constructing the new society to which we aspire. We are committed to achieving these goals within a process of dialog between all of the people of Middle East and North Africa, as well as a dialog we will undertake with different Jewish communities in Israel and around the world.

We, the undersigned:

Shva Salhoov (Libya), Naama Gershy (Serbia, Yemen), Yael Ben-Yefet (Iraq, Aden), Leah Aini (Greece, Turkey), Yael Berda (Tunisia), Aharon Shem-Tov (Iraq, Iranian Kurdistan), Yosi Ohana (born in Morocco), Yali Hashash (Libya, Yemen), Yonit Naaman (Yemen, Turkey), Orly Noy (born in Iran), Gadi Alghazi (Yugoslavia, Egypt), Mati Shemoelof (Iran, Iraq, Syria), Eliana Almog (Yemen, Germany), Yuval Evri ((Iraq), Ophir Tubul (Morocco, Algeria), Moti Gigi (Morocco), Shlomit Lir (Iran), Ezra Nawi (Iraq), Hedva Eyal (Iran), Eyal Ben-Moshe (Yemen), Shlomit Binyamin (Cuba, Syria, Turkey), Yael Israel (Turkey, Iran), Benny Nuriely (Tunisia), Ariel Galili (Iran), Natalie Ohana Evry (Morocco, Britain), Itamar Toby Taharlev (Morocco, Jerusalem, Egypt), Ofer Namimi (Iraq, Morocco), Amir Banbaji (Syria), Naftali Shem-Tov (Iraq, Iranian Kurdistan), Mois Benarroch (born in Morocco), Yosi David (Tunisia Iran), Shalom Zarbib (Algeria), Yardena Hamo (Iraqi Kurdistan), Aviv Deri (Morocco) Menny Aka (Iraq), Tom Fogel (Yemen, Poland), Eran Efrati (Iraq), Dan Weksler Daniel (Syria, Poland, Ukraine), Yael Gidnian (Iran), Elyakim Nitzani (Lebanon, Iran, Italy), Shelly Horesh-Segel (Morocco), Yoni Mizrahi (Kurdistan), Betty Benbenishti (Turkey), Chen Misgav (Iraq, Poland), Moshe Balmas (Morocco), Tom Cohen (Iraq, Poland, England), Ofir Itah (Morocco), Shirley Karavani (Tunisia, Libya, Yemen), Lorena Atrakzy (Argentina, Iraq), Asaf Abutbul (Poland, Russia, Morocco), Avi Yehudai (Iran), Diana Ahdut (Iran, Jerusalem), Maya Peretz (Nicaragua, Morocco), Yariv Moher (Morocco, Germany), Tami Katzbian (Iran), Oshra Lerer (Iraq, Morocco), Nitzan Manjam (Yemen, Germany, Finland), Rivka Gilad (Iran, Iraq, India), Oshrat Rotem (Morocco), Naava Mashiah (Iraq), Zamira Ron David (Iraq) Omer Avital (Morocco, Yemen), Vered Madar (Yemen), Ziva Atar (Morocco), Yossi Alfi (born in Iraq), Amira Hess (born in Iraq), Navit Barel (Libya), Almog Behar (Iraq, Turkey, Germany)

Watch an amazing film exploring Arab Jewish culture in Israel


To: U.N. General Secretary and U.N. Security Council

Petition to the United Nations Secretary General and Members of the U.N. Security Council to Establish a “No Fly Zone” over Gaza under the Principle and Norm of the “Responsibility to Protect”

To Be Presented to the Honorable U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the Honorable Ambassadors of the U.N. Security Council.

“The United Nations, whose membership comprises almost all the states in the world, is founded on the principle of the equal worth of every human being.”
–Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General of the United Nations

Please Watch This Short Video Before Reading the Petition. Thank You

No issue in modern history has endured more words, more speeches, more conferences, more peace initiatives, more promises, and more photo-ops, than Israel’s 44 year illegal occupation of over 3 million Palestinians.

World Governments and International Bodies have failed to bring an end to this occupation and establish a free, independent Palestinian State for refugees in their own land.

Thus it is up to us, you and me, people from around the world to stand up and demand an end to this illegal occupation that has thus far paralyzed and humiliated the world, our humanity, and what we all believe in, justice for all.

Signing is the simplest activism for justice for the Palestinians. Let your name and signature be the weapon for peace and justice for the Palestinians and peace and security for the Israeli people. A free Palestine means a secure Israel.

Thank you.

WHEREAS Israel is threatening another attack on Gaza which is at constant risk of another “Operation Cast Lead” with the most powerful air force in the region causing massive death and destruction.

WE, the undersigned Citizens of the World, demand that a “No Fly Zone” be immediately established over Gaza under the U.N. Principle of “Responsibility to Protect” as affirmed by the U.N. General Assembly and the U.N. Security Council and as currently applied to Libya.

WHEREAS for 44 years of Israel’s brutal military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, the world has been complicit with this illegal occupation in its silence to the suffering, death, injury, home demolitions, imprisonment and torture of civilians, constant confiscation of Palestinian land to build illegal settlements that now house over 500,00 settlers, the Judaization of Jerusalem, destruction of mosques and excavation of Muslim cemeteries, theft of fourth fifths of the water supply to the Palestinians, settler violence, no freedom of movement, the presence of hundreds of humiliating checkpoints, closure of schools and universities at whim, prohibition of Palestinian Muslims and Christians outside of Jerusalem to pray at their Holy Sites, the construction of a “Separation” Fence that confiscates more Palestinian land and divides villages and families, and the outrageous siege of Gaza’s 1.5 million people for 4 years that has led to a deteriorating economy, high unemployment, mass poverty, malnutrition of children, death of civilians due to lack of adequate health care, food, clean water supplies, widespread mental and psychological illness, especially among traumatized children, and thousands of destroyed homes from “operation cast lead” that Palestinians are unable to be rebuild due to Israel’s prohibition of entry of cement and construction materials.

No other nation on earth could commit these “war crimes” for such a lengthy time without an enraged world acting immediately to end the illegal occupation and suffering of millions of Palestinian refugees in and out of the Occupied territories.
But this is Israel.

Most egregious is the blind kneejerk support of Israel’s illegal policies by the United States that consist of massive financial aid even during times of enormous debt and huge budget deficits, military aid to replenish used weapons, and over 40 Vetoes to protect Israel from any criticism or condemnation, much less action, by the United Nations Security Council.

“Responsibility to Protect”

WHEREAS throughout its history Israel has defied the U.N. Charter, Hundreds of U.N. Resolutions, International Laws and the Fourth Geneva Convention, nor has it ever accepted U.S., E.U. ,and Quartet Peace Initiatives, nor the Arab Peace Plan of 2002 that met all of Israel’s “peace” demands.

WHEREAS Israel has never accepted or cooperated with any International investigation into its atrocities against Palestinian civilians, nor has it ever been held accountable for its history of war crimes against the Palestinians that continue till this day.

WHEREAS on April 2006 the U.N. Security Council affirmed the principle of
“Responsibility to Protect” against four crimes: genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

One of its main principles states:
“If a State is manifestly failing to protect its citizens from mass atrocities and peaceful measures are not working, the international community has the responsibility to intervene at first diplomatically, then more coercively, and as a last resort, with military force.”

WHEREAS under International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel is considered the “occupying power” and thus the sovereign state responsible for protecting Palestinian civilians, the principle and norm of the “Responsibility to Protect” is applicable to Israel.

WHEREAS given Israel’s documented violations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and gross breaches of International and Humanitarian Law (see below), Israel has failed to protect the Palestinians under its sovereign control thereby failing to uphold the U.N. Security Council affirmed principle of “Responsibility to Protect”, the onus of “Responsibility to Protect” the Palestinians is now placed on the United Nations and the Security council to implement this principle by establishing a ‘NO FLY ZONE” over Gaza. to protect the 1.5 million civilians trapped and besieged by Israel from what surely will be another invasion and aerial bombardment. .

Thereby, WE, the undersigned thereby urge the U.N. Security Council in the strongest terms possible to meet its humanitarian obligation and responsibility to protect the 1.5 million Palestinian civilians living in besieged Gaza from any further Israeli aerial bombardment by passing an immediate resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter to establish a “NO FLY ZONE” over Gaza under the norm of “Responsibility to protect”.

To the world when it comes to the Palestinian issue it seems the United Nations, the U.S., E.U. and other western democracies talk peace but reward Israel’s violence against an innocent Palestinian population

The U.N. must not have two standards for humanity’s worth; one for the world and one for Israel.

If the U.N. does not meet its legal obligations to hold Israel accountable for the very war crimes the U.N. accuses Israel of committing then eventually the people’s of the world will consider the U.N. irrelevant and proceed unilaterally to determine their own policies and strongly support the freedom and independence of the Palestinians.

A strong boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement against Israel is growing rapidly around the world. Israel’s isolation will increase and the United States through its complicity and blind support of Israel’s warring policies may pay a significant international price for that support.

The Arab world has begun its transformation and thus now is the time to force Israel to withdraw from occupied territories and make peace with all the Arabs.

Some Documentation of Israel’s War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity during “Operation Cast Lead”. Dec. 27, 2008 – Jan. 18, 2009

According to Professor Francis R. Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois College Of Law (Harvard Law School)
“There are 149 substantive articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention that protect the rights of every one of these Palestinians living in occupied Palestine. The Israeli Government is currently violating, and has since 1967 been violating, almost each and every one of these sacred rights of the Palestinian People recognized by the Fourth Geneva Convention. Indeed, violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention are war crimes.

“As matters of fact and of law, the gross and repeated violations of Palestinian rights by the Israeli army and Israeli settlers living illegally in occupied Palestine constitute war crimes.”

“On 19 October 2000 a Special Session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights adopted a Resolution set forth in U.N. Document E/CN.4/S-5/L.2/Rev. It stated: “it was gravely concerned” about several different types of atrocities inflicted by Israel upon the Palestinian People, which it denominated “war crimes, flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity.”

In operative paragraph 1 of its 19 October 2000 Resolution, the U.N. Human Rights Commission then: “Strongly condemns the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force in violation of international humanitarian law by the Israeli occupying Power against innocent and unarmed Palestinian civilians…including many children, in the occupied territories, which constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity”

And in paragraph 5 of its 19 October 2000 Resolution, the U.N. Human Rights Commission: “Also affirms that the deliberate and systematic killing of civilians and children by the Israeli occupying authorities constitutes a flagrant and grave violation of the right to life and also constitutes a crime against humanity”.
–Professor Francis R. Boyle, “Israel’s Crimes Against Palestinians, Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide”,, 8/28/2001

In an interview with Professor Richard Falk, Chris Hedged wrote an article in, “Israel’s ‘Crime Against Humanity’”, December 15, 2008. In it he writes.
“The U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, former Princeton University law professor Richard Falk, calls what Israel is doing to the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza “a crime against humanity.”…There is no structure of an occupation that endured for decades and involved this kind of oppressive circumstances…
….The magnitude, the deliberateness, the violations of international humanitarian law, the impact on the health, lives and survival and the overall conditions warrant the characterization of a crime against humanity.
This occupation is the direct intention by the Israeli military and civilian authorities. They are responsible and should be held accountable.”

The Goldstone Report.

In addition to the U.N. General Assembly and Human Rights Council, the majority of nations, the European Parliament, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Global Coalition of Civil Society Organization, and Religious institutions and leaders from around the world endorse the findings of the Goldstone Report.

However, as is customary for the United States in its protection of Israel at the U.N., it blocked the Goldstone Report from being submitted to the U.N. Security Council for action.

Key Findings in the Goldstone Report. A 575 page report

“We came to the conclusion, on the basis of the facts we found, that there was strong evidence to establish that numerous serious violations of international law, both humanitarian law and human rights law, were committed by Israel during the military operations in Gaza….The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes and possibly, in some respects, crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defense Force (IDF).”

“The mission finds that the conduct of the Israeli armed forces constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of willful killings and willfully causing great suffering to protected persons and as such give rise to individual criminal responsibility,” the report’s executive summary said. “It also finds that the direct targeting and arbitrary killing of Palestinian civilians is a violation of the right to life.”

Haaretz, an Israeli Paper on Dec. 7, 2008/ (Attack on Gaza Pre-Planned)
“Disinformation, secrecy and lies: How the Gaza offensive came about”
Barak ordered preparations for Saturday’s operation 6 months ago. (Operation Cast Lead)

Egypt had brokered a six month truce between Israel and Hamas in 2008.
Who Broke the Truce prior to launching “Operation Cast Lead?” —ISRAEL
Guardian: “Gaza truce broken as Israeli raid kills six Hamas gunmen”
–November 5, 2008
“A four-month ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza was in jeopardy today after Israeli troops killed six Hamas gunmen in a raid into the territory.”

Amnesty International: April 1, 2009, “
“Israeli troops reveal Gaza abuses.”
One soldier’s testimony on his time in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.
“That’s what is supposedly cool in Gaza… You see some guy on a road, walking along a path. They don’t have to be carrying weapons, you don’t have to identify that they have anything, you can just shoot them,” said one soldier.”

An Israeli Company Commander said in a Security briefing to soldiers:
“I want aggressiveness – if there’s someone suspicious on the upper floor of a house, we’ll shell it. If we have suspicions about a house, we’ll take it down… There will be no hesitation…Nobody will deliberate – let the mistakes be over their lives, not ours.” This is what Israel calls the “most moral army in the world.”

According to the UN
“The crisis claimed over 1,300 lives, 412 of them children, with more than 115 women and ~85 men over age 50, wounded more than 5,450 people, 1,855 of them children, as well as causing widespread destruction and suffering Large areas of Gaza had been razed to the ground, leaving many thousands homeless and the already dire economy in ruins.

From the International Coalition for the “Responsibility to Protect” Website:
“Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence – it’s a war crime”
From a Letter signed by many notable Professors and International Law Experts that appeared in The Sunday Times of London: January 11, 2009
“Israel’s actions amount to aggression, not self-defence, not least because its assault on Gaza was unnecessary. Israel could have agreed to renew the truce with Hamas. Instead it killed 225 Palestinians on the first day of its attack. As things stand, its invasion and bombardment of Gaza amounts to collective punishment of Gaza’s 1.5m inhabitants contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law. In addition, the blockade of humanitarian relief, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, and preventing access to basic necessities such as food “and fuel, are prima facie war crimes.

BBC, “UN official slams Israel ‘crimes’, December 10, 20009
“The UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories Richard Falk said Israel’s policies there amount to a crime against humanity. His statement came as UN human rights delegates urged Israel to take nearly 100 measures including ending its blockade of the Gaza Strip. He said the UN must act to protect the Palestinian population suffering what he called “collective punishment”.

In his statement, Mr. Falk called on the United Nations to make an “urgent effort” to “implement the agreed norm of a responsibility to protect a civilian population being collectively punished by policies that amount to a Crime Against Humanity”.

BBC, “Gaza strikes ahead of truce vote”, January 7, 2009
“John Ging, the UNRWA Chief in Gaza, told the BBC that there was “nowhere safe in Gaza.” Mr. Ging’s spokesman earlier said an investigation ought to be held to ascertain whether any war crimes had been committed in the incident. This is not the first time the UN has talked about war crimes in Gaza. Earlier this month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said some Israeli actions reported in Gaza might warrant prosecutions for war crimes.”

Guardian, “Occupied Gaza like Apartheid S. Africa”, say UN Report”, 2/23/2007 “Professor John Dugard, UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian territories issued a report in which he likened Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories to apartheid South Africa and says there should be “serious consideration” over bringing the occupation to the international court of justice. He also said that Israel’s response (attack) on Gaza has been grossly “disproportionate and indiscriminate and resulted in the commission of multiple war crimes.”

A.P, .July 24, 2006
“UN humanitarian Chief Jan Egeland called Israel’s offensive “disproportionate” and “a violation of international humanitarian law.”

Jewish Fast for Gaza, “Open Letter to Judge Goldstone”, April 24, 2010 –
’We affirm your findings…that presents strong evidence that during the war in Gaza Israel engaged in war crimes “

Independent UK Newspaper, January 15, 2009,
“Civilian casualties: Human rights groups (9 Israeli Human Rights Groups) accuse Israeli of war crimes”

Human Rights Watch, March 25, 2009;
“Israel: White Phosphorus Evidence of War Crimes.”

Amnesty International, “Israel used white phosphorus in Gaza civilian areas.” January 19, 2009
“Its repeated use in this manner, despite evidence of its indiscriminate effects and its toll on civilians, is a war crime,”

Physicians for Human Rights USA Report: Medical and Forensic Investigation, November 3, 2000
“The IDF is violating international humanitarian and human rights standards.”

Important Sources to Review:
Breaking the Silence is an Israeli Organization that collects Testimonies of IDF Soldiers who’ve served in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. READ the Horrific testimonies and watch the Videos. They document the widespread WAR CRIMES by Israel.
“Gaza War Crimes Investigation” MUST WATCH VIDEO INVESTIAGATION on Israel’s War Crimes in Gaza conducted by the Guardian
Letter Signed by Notable Professors and International Law Experts on Israel’s “War Crimes”; Sunday Times, January 11, 2009
Guardian, “Israeli minister warns of Palestinian ‘holocaust’” (in Gaza)
Feb. 29, 2008
U.N. Report on Zionist Terrorism 1944-1948


Posted in PoliticsComments Off on To: U.N. General Secretary and U.N. Security Council

US Duplicity with Pakistan


By Sajjad Shaukat



During his trip to Islamabad on April 20 this year, while praising Pakistan’s military operations against the militants, US Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen blamed in an interview with a private TV channel that “Pakistan’s perceived foot-dragging in tackling strongholds in North Waziristan belonging to the Haqqani network and its continuing relationship with it was the most difficult part of the US-Pakistani relationship. He further revealed, “The ISI has a long-standing relationship with the Haqqani network. That doesn’t mean everyone in the ISI, but it’s there…Haqqani is supporting, funding, training fighters that are killing Americans and killing coalition partners” in Afghanistan.

In this context, on the one hand Admiral Mullen has admired the efforts of Pakistan’s Army in relation to war on terror, while on the other has shown his stereotype-thinking and blame game against Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI. His interview indicates US previous self-contradiction and duplicity regarding Pakistan.

It is notable that despite Pakistan’s successful military operations against the Taliban militants and scarifies of country’s security forces including losses in political, economic and social terms in connection with war against terrorism,  Washington wants Islamabad to do more, and to take military action against the Haqqani group in North Waziristan. While Islamabad has already made it clear that army is engaged in other tribal areas, so it cannot attack the militants of North Waziristan.

In the recent past, rejecting US duress, Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has remarked that a decision about military action in North Waziristan will not be made on external dictation.

It is mentionable that in the past, while talking about the failed attempt of the Times Square bombing, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had warned that Pakistan would face “severe consequences” if a future terrorist attack on US soil was traced back to Pakistan. She had further accused, “Some Pak officials know where Bin Laden, al Qaeda, Mullah Omar and the Afghan Taliban leadership are.” While at the same time, sheadmitted regarding the suspect Faisal Shahzad that investigation is being carried out by both US and Pakistani investigative bodies which are “working well together” and “Pakistan is reciprocating US concerns over the threat of terrorism.”

Notably, in 2009, when the heavy-armed Taliban entered Dir, Buner and other adjoining areas, US high officials and their media had left no stone unturned in exaggerating the Talibinisation of whole Pakistan and underestimating the capabilities of Pakistan’s armed forces in coping with the rising threat. Quite opposite to the ground realities as witnessed by the successful military operations which flushed out the Taliban out of Dir, Buner and other adjoining areas, US paradoxical approach could be judged from the statements of its high officials who had indicated that Taliban’s advancement in other regions beyond Swat, would result in total control of Pakistan by these extremists who would also captured the nuclear weapons, endangering the security of the West.

On April 22, 2009, Hillary Clinton stated that Taliban “advances pose “an existential threat” to Pakistan. On April 23, she warned that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists. Adm. Mike Mullen and General David Petraeus, Commander of US Central Command had also expressed similar thoughts.

Surprisingly, when Pakistan’s armed forces ejected the Taliban insurgents out of Swat, Dir and Buner by breaking their backbone including command and control system—capturing many militants, then same American high officials started admiring the Pak Army.

These self-contradictory statements of the US high officials which still continue in one or the other way, show American duplicity with Pakistan—sometimes cajoling the latter with economic and military aid and sometimes pressurizing Islamabad to ‘do more’ against the Taliban militants.

It is of particular attention that despite the successful military operations by Pakistan’s armed forces and the arrest of renowned Taliban commanders including other militants and masterminds of Al-Qaeda, namely Khalid Sheikh and Abu Faraj, which became possible due to our country’s intelligence agencies—especially ISI, the US continues blame game against this superior agency.

On May 24, 2010, The Long War Journal, while quoting US military intelligence officials wrote, “The Pakistan-based Haqqani Network carried out suicide attack in Kabul on May 18 that  killed a Canadian colonel, two lieutenant colonels, two US soldiers, and twelve Afghan civilians.” The Journal elaborated, “The US officials disclosed the information after a briefing by the spokesman for the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s top intelligence service, Saeed Ansari who claimed that the attack was organized in Pakistan with the help of ISI.” On the same date, The New York Times also reported same allegation.

These are not new accusations against ISI, but are part of a perennial campaign against the agency which is the first defence line in thwarting the foreign plot against Pakistan. In 2009, The New York Times and Washington Post had disclosed in a series of allegations regarding presumed ties between ISI and militants of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa—aiding Afghan Taliban and in bombing of Indian embassy in Kabul.

It is mentionable that BBC, on October 7, 2009 displayed a documentary movie regarding the eighth anniversary of the US-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan. It stated that now this war is being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and “it will soon spread in Pakistan.”

This actually happened so as the US increased drone strikes on Pakistan’s tribal areas, particularly Waziristan. Although drone attacks have continued intermittently on the FATA, which have killed many innocent people, yet in one of the most lethal strikes, more than 40 civilians and policemen were killed when on March 18 this year, an unmanned US aircraft fired four missiles into a building in Datta Khel area of North Waziristan. On April 22, the American-CIA operated drone attacks killed 25 innocent people in the North Waziristan Agency.

Notably, from time to time, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership has protested against the attacks by the pilotless spy planes by pointing out that these are likely to affect war against terrorism in the country, but American policy makers do not bother for any internal backlash as they are playing a double game with Pakistan.

In the recent months, controversy existed between Pakistan and the US on the question of American national Raymond Davis who shot dead two Pakistani youths in Lahore on January 27, 2011. In this respect, on the one hand, US high officials said that on the issue of Davis, America would not break relations with Pakistan; while on the other, they continued pressure on Islamabad for his immediate release.

Sources had confirmed that David Raymond and his companions were agents of the American CIA and were on an anti-Pakistan mission. In fact, he was part of the illegal activities of the Blackwater whose employees entered Pakistan in the guise of diplomats. With the help of Indian secret agency RAW and Israeli Mossad, Blackwater has rapidly established its network in Pakistan. It has recruited Pakistani nationals who are vulnerable and can work on payroll, giving them high financial incentives to work for them. Further, some reports suggest that this notorious firm has been recruiting smugglers, employees of the security companies, experts of the psychological warfare, scholars and journalists in order to fulfill anti-Pakistan designs of America, India and Israel. The agents of these agencies are behind suicide attacks, sectarian violence and targeted killings in Pakistan.

Question arises as to why the US has been showing duplicity with Pakistan. As a matter of fact, Pakistan is the only Islamic country that possesses nuclear weapons which irked the eyes of ‘nuclearized’ America, India and Israel which want to destabilize this country.

Nonetheless, the Washington which had granted the status of non-NATO ally to Pakistan in the aftermath of 9/11 tragedy has been playing a double game with the latter. Besides, frustrated in coping with Al Qaeda-related militants on global and regional level, and to justify its failures in Afghanistan, the US has been displaying duplicity with Pakistan.

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on US Duplicity with Pakistan

Report: CIA chief held secret talks on Syria in Turkey



Ankara-based newspaper says Leon Panetta spent five days in Turkish capital reviewing recent unrest sweeping through Arab nations, mulling possible regime change in Syria

United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Chief Leon Panetta reportedly held a secret visit to Turkey lately, the Ankara-based Turkish daily Sabah reported.

Talks included planning for a possible regime change in Syria and ensuring the safety of the Assad family, the paper said.

Panetta reportedly set up a camp in the Turkish capital for five days in order to discuss the uprisings in Arab countries with top Turkish officials.

Panetta is rumored to have met with head of the Turkish Intelligence Organization (MIT), members of the government and officials from the General Staff.

MIT chief Hakan Fidan was sent to Syria to meet Syrian President Bashar Assad by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month.

The talks also touched on the fighting in Libya, Turkish-IsraHell relations, intelligence-sharing in Iraq, cooperation in Afghanistan and the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, Sabah said.

Sabah’s claim that Panneta’s talks included planning for possible regime change in Syria and ensuring the safety of the Assad family, were not corroborated by any other source.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Report: CIA chief held secret talks on Syria in Turkey

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter



Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland Palestine solidarity Campaign


Easter in Palestine

Apr 24, 2011


Christians in Palestine in pictures
24 Apr – not to be missed, gorgeous photos

WATCH: Miracle of the Holy Fire, Jerusalem 2011
23 Apr — Holy Saturday in Jerusalem, 2011. The Holy Fire is a thousand year old tradition where a fire miraculously appears in the tomb of Jesus on the Saturday before Easter and then is spread by candles throughout the city. [In this video people wait for the candles to appear in the streets and light their candles from them. Palestinian bagpipers play.]

Saturday of Fire: Bringing the Holy Spirit to the West Bank
After the lightning ceremony led by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theofilos III, “miraculous” by Christian tradition, candles and lanterns are sent out from Jerusalem to cities throughout the West Bank and the world. Most of the Palestinian residents have been kept in the West Bank this year due to an Israeli-enforced closure during the Easter and Passover holiday week. Some Palestinian Christians are awarded special passes, but checkpoints like Ramallah’s Qalandiya were very quiet this past week due to the closure. Palestine’s Christians, while on average wealthier than their Muslim neighbors, have felt enormous pressure since 1948, mirroring a region-wide mass exodus The Independent’s Robert Fisk calls the “Christian flight of Biblical proportions.”

WATCH: Ethiopian Easter 2011 in Jerusalem
Dir as-Sultan monastery Sepulchre Jerusalem

And more news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers

Stop privatizing national parks / Zafrir Rinat
24 Apr — In recent months a group of Knesset members, mostly from the political right, have been promoting an amendment to the national parks law which would allow the environmental protection minister to relay jurisdiction for a park to a non-profit association. Under the terms of the proposed amendment, these are associations whose goals include “perpetuation of values that have historical, archaeological, architectural or natural importance.” … one of the amendment’s main backers, MK Israel Hasson ‏(Kadima‏), has admitted that one of the main factors motivating the legislation is a High Court petition submitted by the Ir Amim non-profit organization protesting the transfer of management authority for the Jerusalem Walls national park to the Elad non-profit group. Elad is a right-wing organization devoted to expanding Jewish control over the City of David.

Action opposes political archaeology in Silwan
[photos] Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC)  23 Apr —  Protesters staged a sit-in outside the City of David settlement site yesterday in Wadi Hilweh district of Silwan. Demonstrators tied blindfolds over their eyes in symbolism of the countless Palestinians who have been kidnapped or arrested as opponents to settlement activity in their village of Silwan. The action was timed to coincide with the current influx of tourists and foreign visitors to the City of David, the majority of whom visit unaware of the fact that the site is on Palestinian land.

Israeli troops smash Palestinian property in Baten al-Hawa
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 24 Apr — Violent confrontations erupted in Baten al-Hawa district of Silwan last night, with Israeli forces smashing several vehicles belonging to Palestinian residents and firing tear gas, rubber bullets and sound bombs in the streets. Young Palestinians threw Molotov cocktails at the Israeli military-occupied roof of a Palestinian building in the center of the neighborhood. No injuries were reported, but extensive damage caused to residents’ property was recorded.

Jewish settler opens fire in East Jerusalem neighborhood
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 24 Apr 19:23 — A Jewish settler opened fire Sunday in the streets of Wadi al-Joz neighborhood of East Jerusalem, causing panic among the neighborhood’s Palestinian residents, according to witnesses. Moaz al-Za‘tari, director of al-Maqdesee for Social Development, said the settler acted hysterically and people stayed home in fear of being shot by the settler, waiting for the Israeli police to come and arrest him.

Video: Settler harassment of Palestinian shepherds
TaayushHebron 17 Apr – [not even the frightened animals are safe from them]

VIDEO: Land Day in Nabi Samuel
Mahsamilim 21 Apr — Nabi Samuel النبي صموئيل is a Palestinian village whose houses and lands are coveted by the Israeli Occupation. Most of it has been ruined, its lands robbed, and the greater part of its mosque turned into a Yeshiva (Jewish seminary). The village is totally isolated. An island in the area occupied by Israel. A severe policy of restriction of movement permits makes life unbearable for its inhabitants, imprisoning them in their own village. No one comes or goes without the occupiers’ permission. No one is allowed to come and visit its two hundred Palestinian inhabitants, including relatives and friends, except for holders of Israeli IDs. No one is allowed to build, even a wall, a sewage hole, or another room for the one room school in the village. Anything can be a pretext for the Israeli authorities to withdraw the villagers’ residency status so they live in the daily fear of being denied their right to live in their own village. On “Land Day” 2011, Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and other friends came to al Nabi Samwil to visit, show solidarity, protest, and plant some trees.


Israeli settler shot dead, 4 injured in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 24 Apr 17:14 — An Israeli settler was shot dead and four others were injured early Sunday after a group of Jewish worshipers snuck into Nablus without coordinating with Palestinian or Israeli security, officials said. Settler sources named the man killed in the incident as Jerusalem resident Ben-Yosef Livnat, a 24-year-old father of four who is the nephew of hawkish culture minister Limor Livnat, and was born in the Nablus-area settlement Elon Moreh. The shooting took place when dozens of armed ultra-Orthodox settlers entered the Joseph’s Tomb site without an Israeli military escort. The Palestinian officers told the group that they were not allowed in the area and said that in response settlers pulled out their own guns and pointed them toward the officers. Israel’s military confirmed no coordination attempts had been made.

Israelis shot in West Bank tried to break through Palestinian roadblock, probe shows
Haaretz 24 Apr 12:51 — Palestinian security forces opened fire early Sunday on three cars full of Israelis who entered the West Bank compound of Joseph’s Tomb without permission and then tried to break through a local checkpoint, according to an initial investigation by the Israel Defense Forces and the Palestinian Authority … A senior Israel Defense Forces termed the incident “a serious mishap caused by both sides.” The army is refraining from referring to the shooting as a terror attack, but has called it an unjustified attack against civilians. The Palestinian Authority opened its own investigation into the matter …Defense Minister Ehud Barak condemned the incident as “murder” and ordered the IDF to carry out an investigation of its own. He also demanded the Palestinians probe the incident quickly and take every step necessary to perpetrate those responsible. “No problem of coordination can justify an incident like this and the shooting of innocent people,” he said.

‘Murdered simply for being a Jew’
Ynet 24 Apr — …Meanwhile, the police asked the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court to remand three Breslov Hasidim, aged 19 from Jerusalem and Bnei-Brak, for five days for violating a restricted military zone order. The motion said that the three, along with 15 other hasidim, entered the Joseph Tomb compound on Sunday morning sans the proper permits. The act resulted in the shooting incident that left one Israeli dead and five others injured.  The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court ordered to release the three under a two-day house arrest. The court permitted the three to attend prayer services with the escort of family members and ordered them to pay bail of NIS 5,000 each (about $1,400). The 17-year-old brother of one of the wounded men arrived at Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, where they have been hospitalized. “They knew what they were getting into, and the level of risk involved. But they considered it as action,” the brother told Ynet. [why does the headline have nothing to do with the story?],7340,L-4060222,00.html

MK Limor Livnat: My nephew was killed by a terrorist disguised as a Palestinian policeman
Haaretz 24 Apr 15:49 — Hundreds attended the funeral of Ben-Joseph Livnat Sunday, who was killed and three others were wounded earlier in the day when a Palestinian security officer opened fire on their car as they were leaving the holy site of Joseph’s Tomb near the West Bank city of Nablus.

Netanyahu: PA must take severe steps against killers of Ben-Joseph Livnat
24 Apr — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly condemned Sunday the “atrocious” killing of Ben-Joseph Livnat, a 25-year-old father of four and nephew of Culture and Science Minister Limor Livnat in the West Bank, urging the Palestinian Authority to bring those responsible to justice … Netanyahu demanded in a statement that the PA must take severe steps against the Palestinian policemen who “misbehaved” and opened fire on the Israeli worshipers.

Report: Palestinians set Joseph’s Tomb on fire
(VIDEO – click on smaller arrow on the right to watch) – Unrest rattled the West Bank city of Nablus Sunday following the shooting of Breslov Hassidim visiting the Palestinian-controlled Joseph’s Tomb in the city.  Palestinian sources reported local Palestinian youths gathered around the Tomb’s compound shortly after the incident and set it on fire. A group of Palestinian youngsters rolled burning tires into the Tomb’s plaza, which was renovated only a few months ago. A Palestinian source said black smoke towered over the gravesite, adding the sight was “reminiscent of the days of the Second Intifada.”,7340,L-4060163,00.html

‘Worshippers visit Joseph’s Tomb every night’
Ynet 24 Apr — After unauthorized visit to Nablus holy site leads to fatal shooting incident, coordinator of entries to Joseph’s Tomb says difficulty to obtain permits from IDF prompts worshippers to trespass into vicinity illegally. ‘We’re allowed in only once a month. They give us 10 buses, but over half a million want to visit’,7340,L-4060258,00.html

Rightists threaten vengeance over Nablus shooting
Ynet 24 Apr — Shortly prior to the funeral of Nablus shooting victim Ben-Yosef Livnat, who was killed Sunday morning in a shooting at Joseph’s Tomb, presumably by Palestinian policemen, settlers embarked on a price tag retaliation, stoning a Palestinian car. A Palestinian child was reportedly hurt. In retaliation to that, Palestinians stoned Israeli cars, injuring an Israeli youth. Two homes and two cars were reportedly set on fire in the village of Hawara, on the funeral procession route … Right wing elements have declared that the latest price tag activities were “only the beginning” and that the settlers intend to continue taking vengeance over the Sunday morning killing.,7340,L-4060202,00.html


IOF troops open fire at Palestinian farmers
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC) 24 Apr — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened machinegun fire at Palestinian farmers and their fields east of Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, on Sunday morning. Palestinian sources said that the soldiers, stationed on the eastern borders of Khan Younis opened heavy machinegun fire as warplanes hovered overhead. They said that the farmers fled their fields due to the intensive shooting, adding that no casualties were reported.

Israel destroys spying devices in Gaza
Al-Ahram 24 Apr — The Israeli air force destroyed audio-visual spying devices after they were discovered by the Palestinian resistance, Palestinian sources told Ahram Online. The sources allege that a few days ago, a number of objects in sand hills in the south of Gaza City sparked the curiosity of Palestinian resistance affiliates as they passed by. The resistance’s leadership was informed and technological experts were sent to the site. They became certain that the objects were Israeli spying devices, the sources explained. They had started to move the devices when the driver received a phone call from Israeli intelligence elements calling on him to abandon the car within three minutes before it is bombed from the air.

Gaza children draw to honor slain activist
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Apr — Children in southern Gaza spent Saturday drawing pictures to honor slain Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni. Over a hundred children and their mothers participated in the memorial event, organized by a charity in Khan Younis. Children also wrote letters expressing their condolences to Arrigoni’s mother … “We wanted to tell, through drawings, that we are a people who love peace and what happened was nothing to do with our religion or morals,” 11-year-old Tasneim Al-Farra said. “I cried after I learned that the man had abandoned his homeland and came to defend us. He deserved to be honored, not murdered,” she added.

Gaza crossing open for limited goods
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) — Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh told Ma‘an that 110 trucks of goods were expected to enter the Gaza Strip. The official, who coordinates deliveries of goods, added that two truckloads of carnations harvested in Gaza would be exported to Europe via the same crossing. Limited quantities of domestic-use gas will also be allowed in the Gaza Strip.

Activism / Solidarity

Activists demonstrate, work land despite Israeli military harassment
PSP 24 Apr — On Saturday, April 23, eight Israeli activists and 24 international volunteers joined residents of Beit Ommar for an action near Karmei Tsur organized by the Beit Ommar National Committee Against the Wall and Settlements. The international contingent included volunteers from the Palestine Solidarity Project and International Solidarity Movement, as well as the Belgian group Checkpoint Singers … As the choir sang anti-oppression songs, Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals began to pull stones from the earth and add them to the rock walls bordering the field. Whenever a they approached the soldiers, the military would retreat, and soon a handful of the faster workers had pushed the IDF three-quarters of the way across the field.

The global wake of Vittorio Arrigoni
24 Apr — The International Solidarity Movement and activists around the globe will connect via webcast for the [Italian] funeral of Vittorio Arrigoni. The International Solidarity Movement will join synchronized funerals in Italy and Gaza for Vittorio Arrigoni. At 6pm tonight, activists, supporters and the public will converge on the Ramallah Municipality building – between the restaurants Stones and Cafe la Paix – to celebrate the life and legacy of Arrigoni, slain in Gaza earlier this month. [includes video of the launching of the Oliva].

International kidnapping

Palestinian prisoners challenges arrest by Israeli forces as ‘illegal extradition’
IMEMC 24 Apr — A Palestinian who was abducted Friday outside of Nablus in a joint operation by Israeli military and police forces has challenged his abduction on the grounds that Israeli police were acting “outside of Israel” by abducting him in the Occupied West Bank, and that this renders his abduction illegal under international law. An Israeli judge has allowed Mohamed Beni Gama’s lawyer to submit the argument, which could have broad implications for some of the 8,000 Palestinians currently imprisoned inside Israel … Palestinians are regularly abducted by Israeli forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (the West Bank and Gaza Strip), with an average of 200 taken per month into Israeli prison facilities (this number is based on a compilation of daily news reports, averaged over time). According to Beni Gama’s lawyer, Nachmi Finblatt, the use of Israeli police in the Palestinian Territories is equivalent to sending domestic police into a foreign country to arrest a suspect, asking rhetorically, “Would the police consider abducting a French national from France if they suspected him of breaking into a business in Israel?”

Other news

Israel ranks 7th in ‘happiness index’
Gallup survey shows 63% of Israelis satisfied with their lives, more than residents of United States, Britain. Denmark tops list with 72% happy campers, while only 14% of Palestinian Authority residents say they’re content with situation,7340,L-4060237,00.html

Thousands of Palestinians attend 9th Aqsa child festival
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC) 24 Apr — More than 15,000 Palestinians from occupied Jerusalem and the 1948 occupied lands attended on Saturday the ninth festival of the Aqsa child and the third drawing contest for kids in the Aqsa Mosque’s courtyards. Deputy head of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 occupied lands Sheikh Kamal Al-Khatib expressed his extreme delight to see such crowds attending this event to show their attachment to their holy sites.

New rule on marriage in Palestinian territories boosts women’s rights
Ramallah (Gulf News) 24 Apr — A married man in the Palestinian Territories can no longer remarry unless his first wife is officially notified, according to a circular issued by the Palestinian Supreme Council of Islamic Courts on Sunday.  According to the circular which was effective immediately and distributed to the various Sharia courts in the Palestinian Territories, the courts should not and cannot conduct marriages without informing the first wife. Also the to-be-wife should be informed that her husband is married. The ruling comes after growing complaints from women demanding more rights in the instance of marriage laws.

Arrigoni, Mer-Khamis to receive Jerusalem honors
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) 24 Apr  — President Mahmoud Abbas announced Sunday that he would present murdered Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni and slain Freedom Theater Director Juliano Mer-Kamis with the Jerusalem Medal of Honor. Family members of both men would be presented with the medals when Arrigoni’s mother visits Palestine, Abbas said.

Hebron names park after Arrigoni
HEBRON (WAFA) 24 Apr — Youth Development Society in Beit Ula, western Hebron Sunday named a park after the murdered Italian activist, Vittorio Arrigoni, in honor of his support for the Palestinian Cause. Minister of Local Government, Khaled Qawasmi, attended the inauguration ceremony and condemned Arrigoni’s assassination, stressing that the murder does not reflect Palestinian moral values.

Palestinian leadership refuses to move Arafat’s archive to Israel
Xinhua 22 Apr — A Palestinian official in Fatah movement said Thursday that the Palestinian leadership has not yet allocated the place to keep the archive of late President Yasser Arafat when they receive it from Tunisia. Secretary of the Revolutionary Council of Fatah Ameen Maqboul said that the Palestinian leadership has not yet asked for an Israeli permission to receive the archive. PNA President Mahmoud Abbas said during a recent visit to Tunisia that the new Tunisian leadership agreed to send Arafat’s archive to the PNA.

Analysis / Opinion / Human interest

WATCH: TEDx Ramallah reminds us of creation under occupation
21 Apr — The final speaker of TEDx Ramallah, the acclaimed author and architect Suad Amiry [author of Sharon and My Mother-in-Law: Ramallah Diaries], was a perfect end to an exhilarating day. You have to see her speech, embedded in two pieces throughout this post, to understand what I mean.[inspiring AND hilarious]

Israel to Christians: Christ is a monkey on a cross / Tim King
23 Apr — Show host to monkey depicting Jesus on the cross – “You are a Nazi, Yeshu (Jesus), you are a Nazi.” So, a slutty Israeli TV show features a chick in a skimpy bikini mocking Jesus Christ by showing him as a stupid looking monkey hanging on a cross. Then using the ‘f’ word, she proceeds to tell Jewish viewers that Christians, we ‘goyam’, are ‘dangerous’ toward Jews. From there, it gets much worse. We aren’t making this up; this is Israeli television being widely viewed today. The show is called, “The History Program of Toffee the Gorilla” … So all of you who tell me how bad I am for the articles I write about Israel, let’s hear your defense for this one.

Interview: Daughter of Franz Fanon on Palestine solidarity
EI 22 Apr — Last year, Mireille Fanon-Mendès France of the Frantz Fanon Foundation testified in the trial of Ameer Makhoul, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and the director of Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations. In January, Makhoul was sentenced to nine years in prison for charges related to espionage and contact with “enemies of the state.” According to Makhoul, during the 22 days he was held in isolation after his arrest, the Israeli authorities used severe interrogation methods that caused him both psychological and physical harm. Mireille Fanon-Mendès France knows Ameer Makhoul through years of regular meeting while representing their respective organizations at the World Social Forum’s International Council.

Children are the best peacemakers in the Middle East / Izzeldin Abuelaish
Guardian 24 Apr — For the sake of my dead daughters, I will never cease striving for peace — I always feel great joy every time I deliver a baby. To hear that first cry gives me hope because a new person has been born, a new chance at life. There will be a fresh pair of eyes to see the world and, I hope, see it in a better way … As I continue to follow news about ongoing tensions between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem and Gaza, I am reminded all the more of the children caught within this conflict. Having worked in Palestine and Israel, I know there is no difference between Israeli parents and Palestinian parents. Both instinctively protect their child. But in times of conflict, both must learn to understand this need about one another.Some view my lawsuit against the state of Israel sceptically.

Shekels as tools of the regime / Salman Masalha
24 Apr — The issuance of new bills with pictures of writers is a chance for the government to show its concern for Arab citizens – writer Emile Habibi for instance … The paper money in Israel apparently serves as an organ of Zionist propaganda. Anyone killing time in a queue can stop and scrutinize lines attributed to former President Zalman Shazar on the NIS 200 bill and consider where his tax money is headed:

At home and abroad, Israelis ignore the rest of the world / Gideon Levy
24 Apr — You might expect such a tourism-loving people to open its eyes and ears to what can be seen and heard around the globe. Instead, we keep walling ourselves in against what the world thinks and feels … There have been closed-in nations that traveled here and there. But this combination of complete apathy to the world and endless traveling around it is a truly Israeli invention. Why? Because as the bumper sticker says, Israeli is best, bro.

Israel, remember: Gaza will be part of Palestinian state / Zvi Bar’el
24 Apr — If the Palestinian state is recognized, Abbas will be responsible for what happens in Gaza, if he does not resign first. There will no longer be room for two governments.

‘Hypocrisy-seeking missile’: Omar Barghouti’s BDS reviewed
EI 22 Apr – ” “Our South Africa moment has finally arrived,” said Palestinian author-activist Omar Barghouti in a series of speeches delivered in 2010. With the publication of BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights, the first book dedicated to the game-changing boycott, divestment and sanctions movement — known by the initials BDS — has itself finally arrived … Barghouti excels in distilling the arguments surrounding BDS down to their essentials. It is precisely because of his insistent focus on these fundamental issues that it has become all but impossible to find articulate holders of opposing views willing to engage him in public debate.

The Middle East’s oldest dictatorship / Marwan Bishara
AJ 21 Apr — Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst discusses Israel’s rule over the Palestinians beyond the peace rhetoric — …Unlike other colonial powers and dictatorships in recent memory, Israel took all, but gave nothing in return. The settlements, the bypass roads and the industrial zones it built, are exclusively for Jews. Israel and its various Zionist organisations have built over 600 towns, villages and other form of settlements for the Jews, but none for the Palestinians — not even those it considers part of its own citizens, who make up almost one-fifth of its population. And much like other dictatorships, it’s in denial over the damage it has caused to the people under its rule, and delusional over occupation it deems necessary, benevolent, or even divinely promised. No other dictatorship in the region has been as indifferent and destructive for so long over those it ruled, as the Zionist regime has been in Palestine.

Video: MLK’s beloved community
20 Apr — Interview with Prince Immanuel Ben Yehuda and other members of the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, living in Dimona, Israel

Nablus stands beautiful and unvisited
NABLUS (IPS) 24 Apr — Palestine experiences a boom in tourism, as herds of tourists storm the cities of Jerusalem, Jericho and Bethlehem. Meanwhile, the West Bank city of Nablus, rich in historic and religious sites, hardly attracts visitors. “It’s an ancient city with a magnificent old town. It’s home to Jacob’s Well, the Samaritans and Sabastiya.” Salem Hantoli, manager of Nablus’ al-Yasmeen hotel, praises the various tourist attractions of Nablus, a city with 126,000 inhabitants in the northern West Bank … Aker points at Israeli measures as the main obstacle to attracting more international tourists. “When at Ben Gurion Airport you tell them you’re planning to visit Nablus, they’ll recommend you not going there because the city ‘isn’t safe’. And surely they’ll make it harder for you to actually enter Israel,” says Aker.

My travels: Mark Thomas on walking Israel’s West Bank barrier
Guardian 23 Apr — Comedian Mark Thomas found his idea of rambling along the Israeli barrier in the West Bank even more fraught than it sounds — The dubious honour of being the first person to walk the length of Israel’s barrier in the West Bank, to the best of my knowledge, belongs to, well, me. Admittedly it’s not a hotly contested title. Israel’s massive barrier covered in watchtowers, wire and soldiers is hardly a hiking trail but it will become one eventually. That is the fate of military follies, from the Great Wall of China to Hadrian’s Wall: they are destined to a future of tea shops and tour guides.


Saturday: 2 US soldiers, 9 Iraqis killed, 6 wounded
At least nine Iraqis were killed and six more were wounded in light violence. Two U.S. soldiers were killed during operations in southern Iraq as well. Although there were no large-scale attacks reported, a spate of shootings in the capital targeted government or security officials. Also, protests continued in at least two cities.

‘Commentary’ concedes Christians n Jews no longer enemies. Ergo–

Apr 24, 2011


Amid some actually quite pleasant ruminations on Easter at Commentary, the neoconservative flagship, there was this little comment at the end of a post byD.G. (David) Myers about the calendrical confluence of Judaism’s Passover and Christianity’s Holy Week:

What might also be recognized at this season is that Christians and Jews are no longer enemies, but the intended victims of a new enemy who is common to both.

Leaving aside the jab at Islam, so thinly veiled that no public ban would be necessary, the comment (and the post) raises interesting political, religious and philosophical questions about Zionism and Christianity.

It is my decidedly not expert understanding of Zionism that the notion of Jewish self-determination in the Holy Land — as opposed to just Jewish presence there by religious justification — is based at least somewhat on the perceived dangers Jews face when solely in the Diaspora. Anti-Semitism could lurk behind any turn of history, and Jews would need a place to go as a permanent refuge.

Some might wonder why a secular, democratic, pluralistic and inclusive America (or other Western country) would not provide the same kind of refuge sans the exclusivist nationalist flair. The response, so far as I can tell, is the idea that even America — despite the virtual eradication of anti-Semitism and a meritocracy that has allowed American Jewry to flourish — remains potentially unsafe for Jews. After all, German Jewry were probably just as if not more entrenched in the establishment during the Weimar Republic as their contemporary American counterparts. Beyond historical analogues, anxiety also springs from America’s overwhelming Christian character, due to that faith’s sordid history with anti-Semitism. The goyim, and particularly the Christians, can never be fully trusted.

But if, as Myers contends in Commentary, those dreadful days are behind us, one must wonder why the need for an exclusivist Jewish state in the Middle East remains so strong. If Christians have now awoken from the drunkenness of anti-Semitism, might Jews just be suffering its hangover, manifested in the fear of rising annihilationist sentiment in the West?

Commentary, I’d venture to guess, would offer up the potential of secular leftist ‘new anti-Semitism’ as a risk for Diaspora Jews. This would bolster the odd marriage of Evangelicals and neoconservatives at the right-wing of the pro-Israel lobby. Commentary, in fact, is central in trying to force critical liberal Zionist voices out of the pro-Israel tent, often promulgating the theory that the lost support can be made up for by the legions of Christian Zionists. But that raises additional questions: If Christian Zionists are enough to keep Jews in Israel safe, then why can’t they do so in the old red, white and blue?

A liberal NY Jewish institution invites an ethnic cleanser and a neocon to its stage

Apr 24, 2011

Philip Weiss

Every once in a while I get on my high horse, oh I’d say only three times a day, and right now is one of those times. Here is the tragedy of American Jews. It’s all you need to know.The 92d Street Y is hosting the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, who has overseen an operation of ethnic cleansing of Palestinian neighborhoods, to speak in New York; and who is his interlocutor– Bret Stephens, the neoconservative at the Wall Street Journal.

It fills me with despair. This is the discourse? Oh my god. This is why this website is so vital, because all god’s chillun got wings, including Palestinian and non-Zionist Jews. But only the rightwingers are allowed inside the Jewish tabernacle these days. I love the Jews, they’re mine, they’re my root; but their leadership is today deeply deeply deluded, by a messianism as profound and wrong-track as the Shabbatai Zevi. Remember this is the same 92d Street Y that lately disinvitedIzzeldin Abuelaish, the Gaza doctor whose three daughters were slaughtered by the Israelis, after the Jewish author who was to appear on stage with him and thereby give him hecksher (kosher him) dropped out of the event. Oh the blindness, oh the selfishness.

Thanks to Ali Gharib, who tweeted sarcastically: “I expect Bret Stephens to really grill Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat at 92Y.”

She was a Christian Zionist, right up to her first checkpoint

Apr 24, 2011

Philip Weiss

For Easter, here is a portion of a great piece by Alicia von Stamwitz published on America, a Catholic weekly, in February. It describes her conversion in college to Zionism as a born-again Christian, and her trip to Israel and Palestine last year, in a faith-based tour for Christian journalists. And in the occupied territories, she had an awakening. Here’s an excerpt. Her amazement at the settlements is just what James North said stunned him when he went to Palestine: nothing in the American press prepared me for this. I don’t care about the politics, by the way, von Stamwitz is on the road. Once you’re on the road, well just ask the disciples what happened on the road to Emmaus… von Stamwitz:

A tour hosted by Palestinians?

I was skeptical at first, but a few e-mail messages confirmed that it was a legitimate event backed by the U.S. Agency for International Develop-ment. It was part of a new initiative to revive the Palestinian economy, beginning with the tourism industry. Even the Israelis were on board under the banner of “economic peace” in the Middle East.

So I went. But almost immediately I found myself fretting about unexpected things. Like the Jewish settlements. When the guide announced that our bus was passing a settlement on the left, I leapt out of my seat on the opposite side for a better view. At first, I couldn’t locate it. Then the guide pointed to a massive compound straddling a hilltop in East Jerusalem.

It was disorienting. My mental image of a settlement was of a humble farming community in an uninhabited desert place, not a modern city of 40,000 on prime real estate. It is probably an exception, I thought to myself. But I could not help wondering: Is this where my Zion tree ended up—on one of these “fallow hills”?

Then there was the separation wall. The 440-mile concrete and coiled wire barrier was an arresting sight from either side. The guide claimed it choked commerce and isolated Palestinian families: “It’s like living in a prison or a ghetto.” I bristled at his choice of words. A more balanced account would have allowed that the wall prevented terrorist attacks, I thought. Still, it was an eyesore.

As the days passed I grew increasingly irritable. The guide’s monologues on the suffering of the Palestinian people, confiscated lands and bulldozed trees were annoying. I was here to see the holy sites of Judaism and Christendom, not to listen to propaganda.

By the time Israeli soldiers boarded our bus at a checkpoint outside Ariel, I was in no mood for political games. At all the other checkpoints, soldiers had merely glanced at our passports and waved us on. This time we were asked to disembark with all our personal belongings.

Grumbling, I collected my bags and followed my companions across the steaming asphalt to a cinderblock security station. We queued up to file through the lone metal detector, then waited to be interrogated by a stone-faced senior officer as she rifled through our bags. “Where have you been?” she asked. “Where are you going? Why are you going there?” An hour later we were permitted to return to the bus but were denied passage.

“Why wouldn’t they let us pass?” I asked the U.S.A.I.D. representative accompanying our group as we headed back to our seats.

“They won’t allow our Palestinian guide through,” he said carefully, picking his way through the words. “There are Jewish settlers up the road, and the soldiers believe our guide could be a threat.”

“So what’s the problem,” I blurted impatiently. “Can’t we just go on without him?”

I regretted my words at once. After an awkward silence, the U.S.A.I.D. rep answered, “We don’t want to do that. He hasn’t done anything wrong.” He was right, of course. I reddened and slunk into my seat.

What was happening to me? My ire should have been directed at the Israeli soldiers who had blocked our passage in order to protect the—for the first time I saw the need for a descriptive adjective—illegal settlers. Instead, I had turned on the Palestinian guide.

I was tired and a long way from home, yes; but a more accurate explanation of my agitation is that I was much further from the familiar stories of my college days. My misty Zionist narrative did not mention fortress-like settlements, graffiti-streaked walls and checkpoints. And it did not include indigenous Palestinians. In fact, it had explicitly denied their existence: “A land without people for a people without land.”

Goldstone Report gave us a moral vocabulary to describe the conflict

Apr 24, 2011

Philip Weiss

Adam Horowitz, Lizzy Ratner, and I wrote a piece for the Nation this past weekon the Goldstone reconsideration. Sorry it’s taken me a few days to pick it up (horn-tooting-muting issue) but here’s the heart of the piece:

Indeed, the largest lesson of the controversy has been that the world is not prepared to forget these hundreds of thousands of killed, injured and “deeply affected” civilians – or the report that documented their suffering. If Gaza was a contemporary Guernica, the report fit the battle by describing riveting horrors: the children forced to sleep next to their parents’ bodies for days on end as ambulances were denied access to neighborhoods; the 15-year-old boy whose mother sought to save him by sewing up the bullet hole in his chest with a needle sterilized in cologne; the mother and daughter, 65 and 37, shot and killed amid a crowd of civilians carrying white flags as they walked from a village in search of safe harbor; the student who calmly told Human Rights Council interviewers, “My legs were exploded away” by a shell that killed several members of his family. These images will haunt anyone who has read the report.

No less powerful is the moral vocabulary the report provided to describe the outrage of these events.

This language was drawn from the realm of international law and carried the promise of legal repercussions for the wrongs committed—by Israel and Hamas—during Cast Lead. Thanks to the report there were names, and consequences, for the suffering inflicted on the people of Gaza, as well as the people of southern Israel. The attack on Gaza’s only functioning flour mill became an example of Israel’s intentional destruction of the area’s civilian infrastructure, while the siege of Gaza, which deprived civilians of the means of sustenance, was correctly classified as a form of collective punishment. Both are war crimes, and both require criminal prosecution of those who planned and orchestrated them.

This moral vocabulary has now permeated the global discourse about Israel-Palestine. Israel’s apparent impunity has galvanized the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and inspired grassroots efforts to use universal jurisdiction to hold Israeli leaders accountable where the international community has failed to do so. This too is the achievement of the report: it has retold the story of the Israel-Palestine conflict and reshaped the contours of the debate.


Next year in Brooklyn

Apr 24, 2011

Yonah Fredman

This Pesach promises to be my last major holiday here before I make yerida back to Brooklyn and since I cite the “Next Year in Jerusalem” chant at the end of the seder to prove the Zionistic motif existent in “preZionist” Judaism it is a bittersweet occasion for me.  Being near my aging parents was certainly the overwhelming immediate cause of my aliya four and a half years ago and so guilt about abandoning them is a major element of my thinking these days.  But if they had retired to Florida, Australia (or Uganda) I would not have moved to be near them, so being in Israel was the overwhelming underlying cause for my aliya and so guilt about abandoning Israel is also a major element of my thinking these days.

This is my fifth Pesach in Israel (this “visit”) and it was the fourth Pesach that my parents, two youngest sisters and their husbands and kids gathered on Kibbutz Shluchot for the seder where my oldest sister, her husband and children live.  This will probably be the last get-together of the extended clan before I exit.  (My ultra Orthodox brother is a clan onto himself who avoids away games and thus celebrates his seder in Jerusalem separate from the modern Orthodox clan that gathers in Shluchot.)

Shluchot is in pre 67 Israel, but it is located less than two miles south of Beit Shean and thus the quickest route from Jerusalem to there is via the Jordan Valley and thus through the occupied West Bank.  (Except for three intentional visits to the occupied territory and numerous visits to East Jerusalem and numerous uses of Highway 443, my trips to Shluchot are the  most significant times of passing through the O.T.)

We were slaves in Egypt and God freed us is the quick summary of the seder and the essence of the Pesach/Passover holiday.  There is a tension between the freedom and the Us portion of that sentence in today’s Israel, but that tension is not highlighted at all at the family seder.

One of my idiosyncrasies is to think of the Holocaust on Passover.  At the seder itself I mentioned it at the ceremonial breaking of the middle matza known as “Yachatz”.  After the middle matza is split, the bigger half of it becomes theafikomen saved for the end of the meal and stolen by kids the world over and held for ransom.  And the smaller half of it is the “showbread” for the “This matza we eat because…”, or “This is the poor bread that our fathers ate…”  And I like to mention that in “the camps” the ability to split a piece of bread exactly in half was considered a useful talent, for if half a piece of bread was the price between inmates for whatever, he who split the slice did not get to choose and if he had the ability to break it exactly in half, he would get to keep exactly half after the other inmate had chosen.

In Shluchot in general I do not think of Palestinians or the Ultra Orthodox as I do constantly in Jerusalem.  But once when I opened a closet there I was “attacked” by twofold ghosts that resided in the closets.  Most of the original members of the Kibbutz were survivors who had lost their entire families in Europe before coming to Israel.  And the ghosts of that closet were both the Holocaust dead that had haunted the founders coupled with the exiled Palestinians that had lived nearby before they had been exiled by the founders of Israel.


Chomsky: Racism in our literary culture is harder to eradicate than polio, and Roma are Europe’s ‘most brutalized’ population

Apr 24, 2011

Philip Weiss

When I was in Boston recently I learned that Chomsky towers over both sides of the river, and there was frustration that he refuses to acknowledge the power of the Israel lobby. My response since I don’t live there is that he towers differently from New York, he’s a great tower, and let’s celebrate his vision. Here’s a piece at Tom’s Dispatch that while pointedly ignorant about the religious/ideological sources of American policy in the Middle East– no it’s all about oil (again as if Zionism had no claim on Chomsky’s own heart, and it did)– is wonderful about the global economic forces shaping our lives. (thanks, John Haines)

Elections have become a charade, run by the public relations industry. After his 2008 victory, Obama won an award from the industry for the best marketing campaign of the year. Executives were euphoric. In the business press they explained that they had been marketing candidates like other commodities since Ronald Reagan, but 2008 was their greatest achievement and would change the style in corporate boardrooms. The 2012 election is expected to cost $2 billion, mostly in corporate funding. Small wonder that Obama is selecting business leaders for top positions. The public is angry and frustrated, but as long as the Muasher principle prevails, that doesn’t matter.

While wealth and power have narrowly concentrated, for most of the population real incomes have stagnated and people have been getting by with increased work hours, debt, and asset inflation, regularly destroyed by the financial crises that began as the regulatory apparatus was dismantled starting in the 1980s.

None of this is problematic for the very wealthy, who benefit from a government insurance policy called “too big to fail.” The banks and investment firms can make risky transactions, with rich rewards, and when the system inevitably crashes, they can run to the nanny state for a taxpayer bailout, clutching their copies of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.

That has been the regular process since the Reagan years, each crisis more extreme than the last — for the public population, that is. Right now, real unemployment is at Depression levels for much of the population, while Goldman Sachs, one of the main architects of the current crisis, is richer than ever. It has just quietly announced $17.5 billion in compensation for last year, with CEO Lloyd Blankfein receiving a $12.6 million bonus while his base salary more than triples.

It wouldn’t do to focus attention on such facts as these. Accordingly, propaganda must seek to blame others, in the past few months, public sector workers, their fat salaries, exorbitant pensions, and so on: all fantasy, on the model of Reaganite imagery of black mothers being driven in their limousines to pick up welfare checks — and other models that need not be mentioned. We all must tighten our belts; almost all, that is.

Teachers are a particularly good target, as part of the deliberate effort to destroy the public education system from kindergarten through the universities by privatization — again, good for the wealthy, but a disaster for the population, as well as the long-term health of the economy, but that is one of the externalities that is put to the side insofar as market principles prevail.

Another fine target, always, is immigrants. That has been true throughout U.S. history, even more so at times of economic crisis, exacerbated now by a sense that our country is being taken away from us: the white population will soon become a minority. One can understand the anger of aggrieved individuals, but the cruelty of the policy is shocking.

Who are the immigrants targeted? In Eastern Massachusetts, where I live, many are Mayans fleeing genocide in the Guatemalan highlands carried out by Reagan’s favorite killers. Others are Mexican victims of Clinton’s NAFTA, one of those rare government agreements that managed to harm working people in all three of the participating countries. As NAFTA was rammed through Congress over popular objection in 1994, Clinton also initiated the militarization of the U.S.-Mexican border, previously fairly open. It was understood that Mexican campesinos cannot compete with highly subsidized U.S. agribusiness, and that Mexican businesses would not survive competition with U.S. multinationals, which must be granted “national treatment” under the mislabeled free trade agreements, a privilege granted only to corporate persons, not those of flesh and blood. Not surprisingly, these measures led to a flood of desperate refugees, and to rising anti-immigrant hysteria by the victims of state-corporate policies at home.

Much the same appears to be happening in Europe, where racism is probably more rampant than in the U.S. One can only watch with wonder as Italy complains about the flow of refugees from Libya, the scene of the first post-World War I genocide, in the now-liberated East, at the hands of Italy’s Fascist government. Or when France, still today the main protector of the brutal dictatorships in its former colonies, manages to overlook its hideous atrocities in Africa, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy warns grimly of the “flood of immigrants” and Marine Le Pen objects that he is doing nothing to prevent it. I need not mention Belgium, which may win the prize for what Adam Smith called “the savage injustice of the Europeans.”

The rise of neo-fascist parties in much of Europe would be a frightening phenomenon even if we were not to recall what happened on the continent in the recent past. Just imagine the reaction if Jews were being expelled from France to misery and oppression, and then witness the non-reaction when that is happening to Roma, also victims of the Holocaust and Europe’s most brutalized population.

In Hungary, the neo-fascist party Jobbik gained 17% of the vote in national elections, perhaps unsurprising when three-quarters of the population feels that they are worse off than under Communist rule. We might be relieved that in Austria the ultra-right Jörg Haider won only 10% of the vote in 2008 — were it not for the fact that the new Freedom Party, outflanking him from the far right, won more than 17%. It is chilling to recall that, in 1928, the Nazis won less than 3% of the vote in Germany.

In England the British National Party and the English Defence League, on the ultra-racist right, are major forces. (What is happening in Holland you know all too well.) In Germany, Thilo Sarrazin’s lament that immigrants are destroying the country was a runaway best-seller, while Chancellor Angela Merkel, though condemning the book, declared that multiculturalism had “utterly failed”: the Turks imported to do the dirty work in Germany are failing to become blond and blue-eyed, true Aryans.

Those with a sense of irony may recall that Benjamin Franklin, one of the leading figures of the Enlightenment, warned that the newly liberated colonies should be wary of allowing Germans to immigrate, because they were too swarthy; Swedes as well. Into the twentieth century, ludicrous myths of Anglo-Saxon purity were common in the U.S., including among presidents and other leading figures. Racism in the literary culture has been a rank obscenity; far worse in practice, needless to say. It is much easier to eradicate polio than this horrifying plague, which regularly becomes more virulent in times of economic distress.

I do not want to end without mentioning another externality that is dismissed in market systems: the fate of the species. Systemic risk in the financial system can be remedied by the taxpayer, but no one will come to the rescue if the environment is destroyed. That it must be destroyed is close to an institutional imperative. Business leaders who are conducting propaganda campaigns to convince the population that anthropogenic global warming is a liberal hoax understand full well how grave is the threat, but they must maximize short-term profit and market share. If they don’t, someone else will.

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

A.Loewenstein Online Newsletter


Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem
Chair of West Midland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Wikileaks Gitmofiles show broad US criminality towards suspects

Posted: 25 Apr 2011 08:21 AM PDT


Australia set to undermine East Timor (once occupied and now “free”)

Posted: 25 Apr 2011 07:52 AM PDT

Is there truly anybody who still believes Wikileaks is not releasing essential information to better understand our world?

The revelations just keep on coming and indicate a government in Canberra that is more than willing to play the post-colonial game. From simply fighting with the big boys in Afghanistan to creating trouble themselves closer to home:

Leaked diplomatic cables sent from the US embassy in Lisbon, Portugal in June 2006 have revealed that a leading Portuguese intelligence official told American diplomatic officials that the Australian government had repeatedly “fomented unrest” in East Timor, in order to advance its “geopolitical and commercial interests.” The extraordinary exchange occurred two weeks after Canberra had dispatched a military intervention force to the oil and gas rich state, as part of its “regime change” campaign against Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

The Australian government, then led by John Howard, targeted Alkatiri because of his perceived alignment with rival powers, especially Portugal, Timor’s former colonial ruler, and China. The Fretilin party leader was also despised by Canberra for his extraction of unwelcome concessions during negotiations over the division of the Timor Sea’s energy resources.

In February and March 2006, about 600 Timorese soldiers, known as the “petitioners”, mutinied. President Xanana Gusmao then issued a provocative speech on March 23 in which he denounced the Alkatiri government as corrupt and dictatorial. In April, various criminal and ex-Indonesian militia elements joined the petitioners and staged a series of violent attacks on soldiers and security forces who remained loyal to the state. The Australian government seized on the unrest to demand Alkatiri’s removal.

An Australian occupation force, comprising 1,300 troops and police backed by armoured vehicles and attack helicopters, was ordered into Timor on May 24. At the same time, the Australian media went into a frenzy, demanding Alkatiri’s resignation. The ABC’s “Four Corners” broadcast a lurid report featuring bogus accusations that the prime minister had formed a “hit squad” to assassinate Fretilin’s opponents. On June 26, Alkatiri capitulated, handing power to Canberra’s favoured candidate, Jose Ramos-Horta.

Concurrently with these developments, the World Socialist Web Site characterised what had happened as an Australian-inspired political coup. The WSWS concluded that there was no doubt that Australian military and intelligence operatives in Dili had advance knowledge of, and likely encouraged, the petitioners’ mutiny and violent protests. (See: “How Australia orchestrated ‘regime change’ in East Timor”)

The WikiLeaks-released diplomatic cables from the US embassy in Lisbon, published in the Portuguese weekly newspaper Expresso, have provided important new evidence confirming this analysis.

The key cable was sent by the US ambassador to Portugal, Al Hoffman, on June 12, 2006, i.e. 19 days after Australian troops were sent into Timor and 14 days before Alkatiri resigned. Headed, “Portugal: An Intel View of East Timor”, the cable reports on a discussion between a US embassy official (identified only as “Pol/Econ DepCouns”) and Jorge Carvalho, chief of staff of Portugal’s Intelligence Services (SIRP). The cable—which noted that Carvalho is Portugal’s equivalent to the US Director of National Intelligence—was marked “priority” and was widely circulated. Copies were sent to the US embassies in East Timor, Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia; in Washington, to the Secretary of State, Defence Secretary, National Security Council, and Central Intelligence Agency; and to the US military’s Pacific Command and Joint Intelligence Centre in Hawaii.

The cable read: “Carvalho commented that Australia had not played a productive role in East Timor, underscoring that Australia’s motives were driven by geopolitical and commercial (e.g. oil) interests while Portugal’s main interest was to maintain stability.”

The analysis presented by the Portuguese intelligence chief was clearly self-serving—Lisbon was and is just as preoccupied as Canberra with geostrategic and commercial concerns in East Timor. Carvalho’s remarks underscore the long-standing and bitter rivalry between Australia and Portugal over who would play the dominant role in so-called “independent” East Timor. However, his frank exchange with the US embassy official also demonstrates that the real motivations of Australia’s military intervention in 2006 were clearly understood by those in power internationally. The Howard government’s claims of a “humanitarian” operation aimed at providing security for the Timorese people were purely for domestic consumption in Australia.

On Australia’s front-line against privatised detention centres

Posted: 25 Apr 2011 07:20 AM PDT

Good on those brave souls raising the issue of privatised asylum seekers. In a real democracy, we would be able to visit people technically under our care:

Protesters have knocked over a fence at the Curtin Detention Centre near Derby [in Western Australia], with as many as 40 defying police orders to stay away from the site.

The protesters began a hasty retreat after police called in reinforcements and threatened to arrest anyone who remained at the site.

The busload of protesters arrived at the site about 4.30pm and found the gate barricaded with a 2.5m fence. They were also met by a “significant” police force at the gate, 7km down a driveway from the North West Highway.

Chanting “free the refugees”, “Serco and DIAC, blood on your hands” and waving placards, the group stormed the fence, knocking it over.

Refugees Rights Network spokesman Gerry Georgatos spoke to The West Australian during the clash, saying Serco guards appeared flustered by the arrivals and did not move against them.

However, more State Security officers and WA Police turned up within minutes of the group’s arrival. A car load of Department of Immigration and Citizenship officials arrived at the site during the melee but turned around and took off again when they saw the situation escalating.

Other vehicles approached the scene from within the detention centre.

Mr Georgatos earlier told The West Australian the group was undeterred by 17 arrests at the site yesterday.

He claimed detainees had emailed today begging the visitors for help, saying at least 25 people had collapsed from exhaustion or dehydration since the hunger strike began three days ago.

He claimed several had been treated inside the detention centre’s own medical facilities, though this has not been verified by the Department of Immigration.

“There’s 18 computers in there – obviously, they haven’t shut them down and anyone who is getting on the computers is pummelling us out information,” Mr Georgatos said.

“We don’t have the figures exactly but they’re not what DIAC and Serco are claiming … I’ve actually called them liars today.”

He said an attempt to visit the site earlier today was not allowed after Serco was warned the group was on its way.

He said Derby Police and State Security officers had watched the visitors like hawks since they arrived.

“We have been followed … they have been following us around town all day,” he said. “They’re everywhere.”

American attempts to understand post 9/11 world muddled and criminal

Posted: 25 Apr 2011 02:28 AM PDT

The evidence, via Wikileaks, just keeps on coming:

The documents also show that in the earliest years of the prison camps operation, the Pentagon permitted Chinese and Russian interrogators into the camps — information from those sessions are included in some captives’ assessments — something American defense lawyers working free-of-charge for the foreign prisoners have alleged and protested for years.

There’s not a whiff in the documents that any of the work is leading the U.S. closer to capturing Bin Laden. In fact, the documents suggest a sort of mission creep beyond the post-9/11 goal of hunting down the al Qaida inner circle and sleeper cells.

The file of one captive, now living in Ireland, shows he was sent to Guantanamo so that U.S. military intelligence could gather information on the secret service of Uzbekistan. A man from Bahrain is shipped to Guantanamo in June 2002, in part, for interrogation on “personalities in the Bahraini court.”

The documents make clear that intelligence agents elsewhere showed photos of Guantanamo prisoners to prized war-on-terror catches held at secret so-called CIA black-sites, out of reach of the International Red Cross. Notably the reports reflect that at times some captives faces were familiar to Abu Zubayda — whom the CIA waterboarded scores of times.

At times the efforts seem comedic. Guards plucked off ships at sea to walk the cellblocks note who has hoarded food as contraband, who makes noise during the Star Spangled Banner, who sings creepy songs like “La, La, La, La Taliban” and who is re-enacting the 9/11 attacks with origami art.

Wikileaks reveal how Hicks and Habib were abused in our name

Posted: 25 Apr 2011 02:19 AM PDT

The cases of two former Australian Guantanamo Bay prisoners, Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks, have received fresh oxygen after the release of their files by Wikileaks today. I’ve extensively covered them both over the years (Habib and Hicks) and one thing stands out; the sheer dishonesty of Western defenders of the policy and the callous brutality of American interrogators (physical or mental). Some details:

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib told Egyptian interrogators under “extreme duress” he planned to hijack a Qantas plane and had prior knowledge of the September 11 attacks on the United States, according to newly-released WikiLeaks files.

The documents also allege fellow Australian Guantanamo detainee David Hicks was approached to become a martyr by al-Qa’ida’s number three in charge of military operations, but refused the invitation.

Mr Habib’s Guantanamo prisoner file appears to confirm he was tortured by Egyptian authorities in 2001, making a raft of “admissions” which he later recanted.

In its latest high-profile information release, WikiLeaks has begun releasing 779 secret files from the United States’ notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

The 2004 files classified both Mr Habib and Mr Hicks as “high risk” detainees, with Mr Habib’s file alleging “violent behaviour” by him towards US guards.

Mr Hicks’ file describes him as a “compliant” but “deceptive”. He was held in “high regard” by other detainees, including senior al-Qa’ida operatives.

“The detainee is highly-trained, experienced and combat-hardened, which makes him a valued member and possible leader for any extremist organisation,” it says of Mr Hicks, who was returned to Australia in 2007 after being convicted by a US military commission of providing material support for terrorism.

In an analysts’ note on Mr Hicks’ file, it says: “Mohammed Atef, al-Qa’ida’s No. 3 in charge of military operations, approached detainee regarding his willingness to be a martyr, which the detainee declined.”

In his book, Guantanamo: My Journey, Mr Hicks tells how he left Australia in November 1999 and signed up with the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba, to join “the freedom struggle in Kashmir”.

After he had completed a beginner’s training course, LET sent him to Afghanistan for further training.

He said he reluctantly did a beginners’ course and denied doing any terrorism-related training.

The September 11 attacks occurred a month after Hicks’s final course, when he was in Pakistan.

He went back to Afghanistan after leaving his passport behind, he said, and joined up to fight with the Taliban to defend himself as the US attacked the country.

Mr Habib, who plans to sue the Egyptian government over his detention and alleged torture, told interrogators in Cairo he was en route to hijack a Qantas plane when he was detained, and had information on his home computer on poisoning US rivers.

He also claimed to have trained six of the 9/11 hijackers in martial arts and how to use a knife disguised as a cigarette lighter.

Once at Guantanamo Bay, Mr Habib retracted the confessions, saying he lied to Egyptian interrogators.

Mr Habib was released without charge from Guantanamo Bay in 2005 and returned to Australia.

His file says he had “direct and personal access” to a senior al-Qa’ida official but his US interrogators said his real value to the hardline Islamist terror group was as an Australian organiser and operative.

It contains a note by the Joint Task Force Guantanamo that Mr Habib was regarded as a detainee of “high intelligence value”.

It says he refused to take a polygraph test.

US intelligence officials regarded Mr Habib as a high value asset for his knowledge of al-Qa’ida financing, safe houses, and its training and tactics.

They questioned whether he was a “money courier and terrorist operations facilitator”, given his extensive international travel.

“Among the questions that remain unanswered: how did he afford to travel as extensively as he did while being unemployed and having lost a great deal of money in the matter of his Australian government contract?

“What were the actual number of times he went to Afghanistan, Egypt and the US (records indicate that he entered the US prior to 1993).”

After being arrested in Pakistan, Mr Habib was “rendered” by the CIA to Egypt.

He has described being tortured there by beatings, cigarette burns, electrocution, fingernail removal and near-drowning.

Mr Habib has alleged that Australian officials were involved in his rendition and torture.

After being transferred from Egypt, Mr Habib spent four years in Guantanamo Bay before being released in January 2005.

Mr Habib was last year refused a new passport on the grounds that ASIO still considered him a threat.

His lawyers said the decision was ridiculous, and based on unproven claims.

Mr Habib’s case against Egypt’s new vice-president, Omar Sulaiman, is seen as a human rights test case of the post-Mubarak era in Egypt.

An Australian-led campaign to support David Hicks and clear his name today released the following statement in response to the Wikileaks revelations:

Media Release

Wikileaks file on David Hicks- The U.S.S. Pettiloo says it all.

The file released on the Wikileaks website only confirms the inaccuracy of information that has been released by the former U.S. administration to the public in relation to David Hicks. The incompetence of the interrogators to obtain reliable and factual information is clear- they failed get Mr Hicks’ name correct, where he was captured, or the name of their own Navy ship- even when utilising interrogation techniques tantamount to torture. Much of the inaccuracies in the file have been addressed in Mr Hicks’ book, however, following is a list for your convenience.

Ø  David Hicks’ middle name is Matthew, not Michael

Ø  Jama’at Al Tablighi is a peaceful Islamic organisation- this has long been confirmed

Ø  Mr Hicks has at no time flown to East Timor- to engage in hostilities, or otherwise

Ø  LeT was not listed as a terrorist organisation until 2002, long after Mr Hicks had been detained. The report confirms that no member of LeT had engaged in a terrorist act- they allege an intention, which there is no evidence of. As Mr Hicks explains in his book, LeT dissolved after 2001. The group that calls themselves LeT now is not the same group as it was over a decade ago as it is made up of different people.

Ø  Allegations of meeting senior al-Qaeda leadership- Mr Hicks explains in his book that did not hear the word al-Qaeda until he reached Guantanamo Bay- and this was from the mouth of an interrogator. Mr Hicks has not met any people by the names of Abu-Hufs or Mohammed Atef, and the U.S. has not provided any evidence of this.

Ø  Mr Hicks did not go to Bagram at all- Mr Hicks was captured by the Northern Alliance at a Taxi stand in Baglan on his way back to Australia. He was then sold to the U.S. for approximately US$5000.

Ø  There is no such ship as the Pettiloo- Mr Hicks was transferred to two U.S. Navy ships, the U.S.S. Bataan and the U.S.S Peleliu- what they failed to mention in this report was the 10 hour beatings inflicted on Mr Hicks and the other detainees, and the photos depicting Hicks naked with a bleeding wound on his head due to having his head rammed into the tarmac several times.

Ø  As for the report stating that Mr Hicks ‘admitted’ to being a member of al-Qaeda- Any and all statements were obtained under torture, this is why he was not taken through a regularly constituted court. In the final Military Commissions hearing, David’s legal team submitted what is called the Alford Plea. This is a US based plea in which an accused person can agree to plead guilty whilst maintaining innocence. David has always maintained his innocence and strongly denies that he was involved with any terrorist organisations- he did what he had to do to come home.

Ø  The report alleges that Mr Hicks led in prayer and was held in high regard by other Guantanamo detainees- Mr Hicks cannot speak Arabic, and his knowledge of the religion would not qualify him to lead prayer. Some detainees thought that Mr Hicks was a spy, so any allegation that he was a leader is simply outrageous.

Ø  Any allegation that Mr Hicks was unruly or created disturbances is simply untrue. Former Guantanamo bay guard, Brandon Neely who was on the ground with Mr Hicks has confirmed this recently (link below).

Ø  As documents have revealed, detainees were forced to take medication and David was injected in the spine (see link below)

Ø  All charges that they quote in the document and the Military Commissions process were ruled as unconstitutional and illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court. Even the final Military Commissions Act of 2006 has been replaced by President Obama due to the unfairness of the system, and the fact that it did not establish a legitimate legal framework.

Ø  The report alleges that if Mr Hicks is released, he would be a threat to the U.S. and its allies- Mr Hicks has been a free member of society for over three years, and has proven this to be completely false.

Mr Hicks has never been accused of hurting anyone, participating in, supporting, preparing for or knowing of a terrorist act. The final charge in the Military Commissions hearing was one count under the material support for terrorism charge- which was foreign to Australian and international law- that did not accuse him of personally supporting terrorism, rather, it was alleged that he supported an organisation that supported terrorism. Of note is the fact that it has never been proven that the camps he attended were in fact al-Qaeda. Mr Hicks has never gone through a fair trial process.

This document shows that even back in 2004, Mr Hicks was not suspected and/or accused of hurting any person, or involved in any terrorist acts. The Australian government has always maintained that Mr Hicks has not broken any Australian Law.

“…I objected strongly to the Military Commissions Act that was drafted by the Bush Administration and passed by Congress because it failed to establish a legitimate legal framework…”

President Obama comments on the 2006 Military Commissions Act

Further information:

Evidence of forced medication

For a copy of David’s interview about torture and interrogations

This is what the Palestinian Authority is good at; flying first class

Posted: 25 Apr 2011 01:46 AM PDT

This Newsweek profile/interview with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas simply shows an elite Palestinian elite utterly out of touch with Palestinians on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza. The focus isn’t on ending the occupation or stopping daily Zionist incursions into Palestinian territory.

This Palestinian leadership has become drunk on Israeli and American largesse; its main goal is to destroy opposition to its rule and crush Hamas.

This is colonialism of the 21st century.

Occupation stories from deep inside normal Palestinian lives

Posted: 24 Apr 2011 06:55 PM PDT

Life in Palestine is often transmitted to the West by people who don’t live there, merely passing through. Father Peter Bray, the Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University, has regularly written missives about the reality under occupation.

Here’s his latest:

Easter Sunday 24th April 2011

Again I send special greetings on Easter Sunday from here in Jerusalem. I hope it is a time of great blessing for you as we celebrate the new life God has given us in Jesus.

Each year I have been here I have had the good fortune to celebrate the Easter ceremonies in Jerusalem where the events we remember happened. I have stayed in the brothers’ community in the Old City near New Gate and been able to wander the city and reflect on the fact that this was where Jesus spoke to people, listened to them, challenged them, received their applause, suffered their rejection, where he was handed over, abused, crucified and killed. It was, also, the place where God raised him from the dead to bring new life to people. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I have this opportunity to be here and share in these ceremonies!

Again I feel sorry for some of the Palestinian Christians in the West Bank who applied to the Israeli authorites for permission to come into Jerusalem to celebrate the ceremonies here. Many did not receive permission. It was unfortunate that in many cases only some members of a family received permission so that it was impossible for a family to come in and be involved in the ceremonies. There is no obvious logic to the decisions. I met one young man in Jerusalem who is in his third year at Bethlehem University. He was the only member in his family who received permission to come into Jerusalem. In another family the father, a son who is a student at Bethlehem University and a daughter received permission, but the mother and the other daughter did not. Knowing the pain this is to these people certainly makes the reflection on Jesus suffering something that is real for people living here today.

This is now my third year in Palestine and I have become aware of how the oppression and restrictions have increased in that time. Aliled to this is the unpredictability of what will happen. Recently over the course of two weeks I came through the checkpoint into Jerusalem about four times. The soldiers barely looked at my passport and simply waved me through. However, last week I spent almost twenty minutes at the checkpoint as they examined my passport very carefully and questioned me about the visa and what I did. They then searched through the things I had in the car.  Because I don’t know what is going to happen at the checkpoint I have to allow at least an hour to travel the seven kilometers into Jerusalem. While I have been carefully questioned at the checkpoint, I have not experienced abuse and humiliation as is often the case for the Palestinians.

It is in this context that Bethlehem University exists and thrives! About a third of our students come from East Jerusalem and so come through the wall twice a day to get to Bethlehem University. What I find inspiring is their resilience in not letting the way they are treated in coming through the Wall prevent them from being positive about being at Bethlehem University.

The current academic year concludes towards the end of May and we are planning for graduation on 9 and 10 June. So far it has been a very smooth year and I am hoping that continues through to the end! During this year there have been a number of really important things happen which will be beneficial to the Palestinian people whom Bethlehem University serves. The new Faculty of Education building is moving along smoothly and will be ready before the end of this calendar year. It is going to make such a difference to the campus and the way it will be used. It will also provide facilities for the €3.5 million project funded by the Spanish Government to work with teachers in primary and secondary schools in a large area of this part of Palestine. This is something I am excited about because it is improving what happens in primary and secondary school that significant change can be brought about here. From a selfish point of view, if we can work with those teachers to improve the quality of what they are doing in the primary and secondary schools then the quality of the students coming on to Bethlehem University is going to improve which means we will be able to do more with those students. It is an exciting venture and I am very pleased with the progress we have been making in working with these teachers. With the new facilities completed it will mean further possibilities will become available.

One other thing that has been going on quietly over the past few years has been the opportunity Bethlehem University has provided for our nursing programme to be available to students in a small village near Ramallah. I visited the teachers and students there again some three weeks ago and was inspired by what is happening there. In the village of Qubeibeh there is a nursing home organised by the Salvadorian Sisters. Sister Hildegard, from Austria, is in charge of this nursing home and was the inspiration behind getting the nursing programme available there. Qubeibeh is a Muslim village which is very isolated because of the way the Wall cuts it off from access to Jerusalem and other villages. As a result it is very difficult for the people to move around and for us to visit there. However, Sister Hildegard was able to persuade the Israeli Military that we should be allowed to come through the Wall at a special checkpoint and so instead of having to make a very circuitous route, we were able to get to Qubeibeh in a little over an hour.

What I found when we arrived were enthusiastic students who wanted to share their experience. There are 68 students following the nursing programme and I was very impressed with the first group of students who will graduate from there in June. Sister Hildegard told me when this group of students first began they were very reserved and quiet, almost timid. What I found were confident, empowered and very hopeful young people who were coming to the end of their four year involvement with Bethlehem University. In a very conservative Muslim village where the fathers have such dominance over their daughters, it was inspiring to see young women who were educating their parents into a different way of thinking about the role women could have. One young women had convinced her father that she was not going to get married until after she has a Masters degree. The father of another one had engaged her to be married at the end of her second year in the programme and was going to withdraw her. The young woman talked to her father, enlisted Sister Hildegard’s help, and eventually the father cancelled the engagement and the young woman will graduate this year. In addition to helping such young people to be empowered, the presence of Bethlehem University in Qubeibeh is gradually bringing about a change in the village and particularly in the way women are being treated there. I find this a wonderful expression of Bethlehem University preaching the Good News through action rather than words. I am reminded of Jesus’ words: “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full!” What Bethlehem University is doing in Qubeibeh is bringing a fuller life to these people and a freedom they had never imagined before. The other amazing thing is that all the students who will graduate in June already have jobs to go to. In the midst of restrictions, oppression and difficulties it is inspiring to see students blossoming in spite of it all!

Earlier in the year Bethlehem University was able to obtain a grant from USAID for over US$600,000 to establish an Excellence in Teaching Centre. This centre will work with the people employed by Bethlehem University to improve the quality of what we are doing in the teaching we do. It is crucial to continually work to improve the opportunities for students to learn. I keep asking the question “Is there a better way?” which I apply to anything that is happening at Bethlehem University. The Centre is answering that question with regard to teaching but I am also working towards a Quality Assurance system which will apply across all the things that happen at Bethlehem University. I have had two people visit Bethlehem University to help us with this, one from Ireland and one from England. I hope in the course of the next semester to move this along and get a system in place.

We have had many visitors come to campus. Some five weeks ago we had the President of East Timor spend some time with us and gave a lecture to a representative group from Bethlehem University. I am also delighted to have had a number of people from New Zealand and Australia visit. We had a delegation of Trade Union people from Australia spend some time with our students over a meal and then just last week a group of Australian federal politicians spent several hours on campus engaging with students and getting some idea of what life is like for them. As well, there have been many individuals from New Zealand who have called and had the opportunity to engage with our students and faculty to come away with a better idea of what life is like for students here. These people are most welcome because it confirms for the students that they are not forgotten, but there are people outside of the West Bank who are concerned about them.

I have been fortunate to engage with Tom Kennedy at the New Zealand Embassy in Turkey and he has been able to facilitate the funding the digitization of some of our resources in the Bethlehem University library. This has been warmly welcomed and acknowledged. One other New Zealand feature is a new set of Icons about the Trinity, Bethlehem and De La Salle. This took more than two years to complete but is now installed in the top corridor of the main building and is becoming recognised as a masterpiece. It was funded by the combined efforts of the three New Zealand groups: the De La Salle Brothers, the Brigidine Sisters and the Assumptions Fathers. We are certainly grateful for their support.

I am very grateful for the ongoing support for the work of Bethlehem University coming from people from around the world, including New Zealand and Australia.

I mentioned in my last e-mail that we had launched a capital campaign to raise US$25 million over four years. We are well on the way to that target at this stage of the campaign. I have attached an announcement some of you may not have received of the largest gift from an individual for Bethlehem University. I had been engaging Mr Dabdoub over the course of some time before he came forward with this gift which will make a significant difference to the Faculty of Business.

So life at Bethlehem University continues to be full and busy, but very inspiring in spite of the challenges we face. It is so obvious that what we are doing is worthwhile and so knowing that enables us to keep going. One of the real challenges in Palestine is to keep hope alive. The people have been promised and promised and promised and they are still occupied and oppressed! The presence of Bethlehem University as a beacon of hope to our students is a vital element in supporting the Palestinian people.

From this holy place I send you best wishes and pray the blessings of the Risen Lord will be yours. I would ask that you keep Bethlehem University in your prayers as we work to provide the best education we can for the students entrusted to us. May God’s peace and joy be part of your experience as you celebrate this Easter.

Best wishes

Brother Peter Bray

How America really feels about those chained in Guantanamo Bay

Posted: 24 Apr 2011 06:23 PM PDT

A place of torture, deprivation, lack of judicial oversight, a gulag and utterly deplorable. Welcome to the US empire:

Al-Qaeda terrorists have threatened to unleash a “nuclear hellstorm” on the West if Osama Bin Laden is caught or assassinated, according to documents to be released by the WikiLeaks website, which contain details the interrogations of more than 700 Guantanamo detainees.

However, the shocking human cost of obtaining this intelligence is also exposed with dozens of innocent people sent to Guantanamo – and hundreds of low-level foot-soldiers being held for years and probably tortured before being assessed as of little significance.

The Daily Telegraph, along with other newspapers including The Washington Post, today exposes America’s own analysis of almost ten years of controversial interrogations on the world’s most dangerous terrorists. This newspaper has been shown thousands of pages of top-secret files obtained by the WikiLeaks website.

The disclosures are set to spark intense debate around the world about the establishment of Guantanamo Bay in the months after 9/11 – which has enabled the US to collect vital intelligence from senior Al Qaeda commanders but sparked fury in the middle east and Europe over the treatment of detainees.

The files detail the background to the capture of each of the 780 people who have passed through the Guantanamo facility in Cuba, their medical condition and the information they have provided during interrogations.

Only about 220 of the people detained are assessed by the Americans to be dangerous international terrorists. A further 380 people are lower-level foot-soldiers, either members of the Taliban or extremists who travelled to Afghanistan whose presence at the military facility is questionable.

At least a further 150 people are innocent Afghans or Pakistanis, including farmers, chefs and drivers who were rounded up or even sold to US forces and transferred across the world. In the top-secret documents, senior US commanders conclude that in dozens of cases there is “no reason recorded for transfer”.

However, the documents do not detail the controversial techniques used to obtain information from detainees, such as water-boarding, stress positions and sleep deprivation, which are now widely regarded as tantamount to torture.

The Guantanamo files confirm that the Americans have seized more than 100 Al-Qaeda terrorists, including about 15 kingpins from the most senior echelons of the organisation.

The most senior detainee at the facility is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the operational commander of Al-Qaeda and the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, who will face a military tribunal later this year after plans for a full-scale trial in New York were abandoned.

His 15-page-file discloses that he was plotting Al-Qaeda attacks around the world in Asia, Africa, America and Britain. It concludes: “Detainee had numerous plots and plans for operations targeting the US, its allies, and its interests world-wide.”

It adds: “Detainee stated that as an enemy of the US, he thought about the US policies with which he disagreed and how he could change them. Detainee’s plan was to make US citizens suffer, especially economically, which would put pressure on the US government to change its policies. Targeting priorities were determined by initially assessing those that would have the greatest economic impact, and secondly which would awaken people politically.”

It can also today be disclosed that:

*A senior Al-Qaeda commander claimed that the terrorist group has hidden a nuclear bomb in Europe which will be detonated if Bin-Laden is ever caught or assassinated. The US authorities uncovered numerous attempts by Al-Qaeda to obtain nuclear materials and fear that terrorists have already bought uranium. Sheikh Mohammed told interrogators that Al-Qaeda would unleash a “nuclear hellstorm”.

*The 20th 9/11 hijacker, who did not ultimately travel to America and take part in the atrocity, has revealed that Al-Qaeda was seeking to recruit ground-staff at Heathrow amid several plots targeting the world’s busiest airport. Terrorists also plotted major chemical and biological attacks against this country.

*A plot to put cyanide in the air-conditioning units of public buildings across America was exposed along with several schemes to target infrastructure including utility networks and petrol stations. Terrorists were also going to rent apartments in large blocks and set off gas explosions.

*About 20 juveniles, including a 14-year old boy have been held at Guantanamo. Several pensioners, including an 89 year old with serious health problems were incarcerated.

*People wearing a certain model of Casio watch from the 1980s were seized by American forces in Afghanistan on suspicion of being terrorists, because the watches were used as timers by Al-Qaeda. However, the vast majority of those captured for this reason have since been quietly released amid a lack of evidence.

*Bin Laden fled his hideout in the Tora Bora mountain range in Afghanistan just days before coalition troops arrived. The last reported sighting of the Al-Qaeda leader was in spring 2003 when several detainees recorded he had met other terrorist commanders in Pakistan.

Guantanamo Bay was opened by the American Government in January 2002 at a military base in Cuba. The establishment of the controversial facility required a special presidential order as “enemy combatants” were held without trial.

A series of controversial torture-style techniques were also approved to be used on prisoners and many foreign Governments, including the British, pressed for their citizens to be released. However, the files disclose that British intelligence services apparently co-operated with Guantanamo interrogators.

The New York Times also leads with the yarn:

The dossiers also show the seat-of-the-pants intelligence gathering in war zones that led to the incarcerations of innocent men for years in cases of mistaken identity or simple misfortune. In May 2003, for example, Afghan forces captured Prisoner 1051, an Afghan named Sharbat, near the scene of a roadside bomb explosion, the documents show. He denied any involvement, saying he was a shepherd. Guantánamo debriefers and analysts agreed, citing his consistent story, his knowledge of herding animals and his ignorance of “simple military and political concepts,” according to his assessment. Yet a military tribunal declared him an “enemy combatant” anyway, and he was not sent home until 2006.

The 20th hijacker: The best-documented case of an abusive interrogation at Guantánamo was the coercive questioning, in late 2002 and early 2003, of Mohammed Qahtani. A Saudi believed to have been an intended participant in the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Qahtani was leashed like a dog, sexually humiliated and forced to urinate on himself. His file says, “Although publicly released records allege detainee was subject to harsh interrogation techniques in the early stages of detention,” his confessions “appear to be true and are corroborated in reporting from other sources.” But claims that he is said to have made about at least 16 other prisoners — mostly in April and May 2003 — are cited in their files without any caveat.

The hypocrisy at the heart of Washington’s behaviour is the constant message sent by officials that the US is a country of laws. Witness Barack Obama recently accusing alleged Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning of breaking the law, before he’s even faced any trial. Or the US backing countless Arab police states in the name of regional “stability”.

America makes it very clear to its various proxies who is the super-power and who is the client state. This has nothing to do with democracy, as Guantanamo Bay shows.

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on A.Loewenstein Online Newsletter

Syria the Latest Hit by Zionist Crime Lords



The Ugly Truth Podcast April 25, 2011



Syria in the crosshairs as the latest ‘hit’ by the Zionist crime lords. We are joined by Jonathon Azaziah to talk about the latest events and how they are all unfolding exactly as Israel needs in order for her to realize her milleniae-old dream of total domination of the Middle East.


Download Here

As always, please consider donating to keep this program plugging along

Thank you

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Syria the Latest Hit by Zionist Crime Lords

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter



Posted By: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign


Why Zionists promote anti-Muslim law enforcement trainings

Apr 25, 2011

Alex Kane

Following the September 11 attacks, American tax dollars began to flow to local law enforcement agencies around the country in order to enlist law enforcement in the “war on terror.”  The major consequence of this enlistment, as a report on the counter-terrorism industry released by the Political Research Associates shows, is that anti-Muslim trainers have ample opportunity to propagate crude stereotypes about Muslim-Americans to police forces in the U.S.  And a driving ideological force behind the percolation of Islamophobic trainings for law enforcement agencies is right-wing Zionism.

I interviewed Thom Cincotta, the author of the Political Research Associates’ report, for a piece on the report that appeared in AlterNet.  I asked him to go into detail about the fact that right-wing Zionism in the U.S. feeds anti-Muslim counter-terrorism trainings, and this is what he told me:

All of the rhetoric around these trainings leave very little room for Muslim-Americans to dissent from U.S. foreign policy or domestic counter-terrorism policy. There’s the notion that if anyone is outspoken, then they are providing ideological support for terrorism. When Dr. Zuhdi Jasser testified a few weeks ago before the King hearings, he characterized this as the “pool” where the violent radicals swim. So when you demonize, or paint legitimate advocacy groups or community groups as potential terrorists merely for speaking out against U.S. policy and because there is some vague overlap between the political goals of, say, an al-Qaeda—related to for instance, U.S. occupation of a foreign land—it leaves very little room for dissent and it stifles free speech.

You could see these trainings through the lens that by stigmatizing groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations or the Islamic Society of North America and other groups, in the domestic political sphere, it’s an attempt to silence a key bloc who support Palestinian rights in the United States. Without that vocal bloc pushing Congress, it’s hard to see how U.S. foreign policy with regard to Israel is going to change.

Alex Kane, a freelance journalist based in New York City, blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia in the U.S. at  Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

Human Rights activist Ahmad Qatamesh, detained for 6 years in the 90s, is arrested again without charges

Apr 25, 2011


Omar Barghoti released this statement earlier today accompanying an article (which follows) regarding Dr. Ahmad Qatamesh, a prominent Palestinian writer, academic and human rights advocate.

“They told him they will issue an “administrative detention” order against him, clearly indicating that they have arrested him for his writings and political views. Human rights organizations have squarely condemned administrative detention as an affront to justice, as the detainee is not formally charged and is not given a chance to defend him/herself or even access to the charges list. Please distribute this to your human rights and activists networks, urging everyone to do their best to pressure Israel to release him and all other Palestinian prisoners of conscience.”

In the early hours of dawn on Thursday, 21 April 2011, a large force of Israeli soldiers and intelligence officers raided the home of the prominent Palestinian writer and academic Dr. Ahmad Qatamesh in Al-Bireh and arrested him. An hour earlier, Qatamesh’s wife, 22-year-old daughter and two other female relatives, including a 14-year-old child, were taken hostage by Israeli troops in another apartment in an effort to compel him to surrender himself. He was led to “Ofer” detention center in Beitunia.

Ahmad Qatamesh was born in 1950 in a cave in Bethlehem to a refugee family expelled during the Nakba from the village of Al-Malihah, near Jerusalem.

Qatamesh earned his diploma in Arabic literature from the UNRWA-run Teacher Training Center in Ramallah.

In 1992, he was arrested by a massive Israeli force in the presence of his then 3-year-old daughter. Accusing him of being a particularly “dangerous” national leader, the Israeli Shabak tortured and ill- treated him for a hundred days, an experience that he articulately exposed in his well-read prison notes titled I Shall not Wear Your Tarboush (fez). After the Shabak failed to produce incriminating evidence, however, an Israeli military court issued an “administrative detention” order against him, in accordance with an emergency law that allows Israel to detain for renewable terms anyone under its jurisdiction without charges, trial or access to the charges against him/her. This unjust procedure was repeatedly condemned as a violation of internationally accepted standards of justice by leading human rights organizations, including Amnesty International*. Qatamesh’s detention was renewed continuously for almost six years, making him the longest serving administrative detainee ever. In April 1998, after a persistent public pressure campaign by Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights activists and organizations, Qatamesh was finally released.

Ahmad Qatamesh earned his master’s degree and later his PhD in political science from a Dutch university through distance learning, as he was under a travel ban by the Israeli occupation

LATimes ’98 describes Dr. Qatamesh’s previous 6 year imprisonment: “believed to have been imprisoned longer than any other Palestinian under what Israel calls “administrative detention.”

Amnesty International (pdf)


Syrian repression continues and intensifies: Assad regime kills 150 since Friday

Apr 25, 2011


Syrian Crackdown Intensifies: Over 150 Killed Since Friday as Assad Regime Attempts to Crush Protest Movement
Syria has intensified its massive crackdown on demonstrators, despite the lifting of emergency rule last week that banned demonstrations. Al Jazeera reports thousands of troops backed with tanks have swept into the southern city of Daraa, where a curfew is in place, setting up snipers on rooftops and killing at least 20 people. Government security forces have also stormed the large Damascus suburb of Douma. These latest developments follow protests on Friday that ended with more than 100 people killed in the deadliest day since the uprising began. We go to Syria to speak to Rula Amin of Al Jazeera and Razan Zaitouneh, human rights lawyer and activist.

Gunfire as Syrian troops move into Deraa
Hundreds of soldiers move into flashpoint town, as Syrian intellectuals denounce continuing violence against protesters.

Syrian forces raid homes to quell protests
Two MPs resign amid reported deaths of 15 people as outrage at government’s response to pro-democracy protests spreads.

‘Nine killed’ at Syria funeral processions
Two MPs quit parliament after security forces reportedly open fire on processions for pro-democracy activists.

Syrian Update: ‘Three killed’ in Jableh
Residents tell Al Jazeera they remain trapped in mosque as security forces patrol streets.

Angry Arab: Imam of Dar`a
I just watched a clip by the Imam of Dar`a on Aljazeera.  I can testify that he clearly seems to be a religious nut. I can see why Saudi Arabia and Qaradawi would be in favor of this guy.  He spoke like St. Augustine (who used to swallow his food and not chew them because he did not want to indulge in any pleasures on earth: he wanted to save that for the hereafter.  Of course, before he dedicated himself to his god, he indulged in earthly pleasures and admitted in his confessions that he would call on god to save him but…not yet (then): he said there are two trends: those who want the rule of God, and those who want earthly matters.

Angry Arab: Syria and Aljazeera
Comrade Hussein sent me this (I cite with his permission):  “I am not sure how Syria is going to end up; but I am writing this with the assumption that the regime will fall, although it is still not very likely so far.  I think al-Jazeera is covering up the highly sectarian agenda of many protesters while at the same time allowing for the Islamic nature of their slogans to be heard extensively on air to satisfy the broader Arab audience without having to deal with problematic issues at this point. This way, they cannot be accused of sectarianism bluntly, especially when they are heard chanting about national unity while slogans against other sects are swept under the rug (as when they said that it is part of ‘their’ religion to kill ‘us’ – Haytham Manna’ was at pains to repudiate that slogan by all means but to no avail). Now the really secular opposition forces, who are a minority, will probably commit the classic mistake of underestimating the fundamentalists’ power or their political acumen, only to find themselves victims of these people later on in case the regime falls (similar to the early Iranian scenario of 1979-1981, with the main difference between the presence of individual, almost self-financed, charismatic leadership and what we have with the Syrian MB). having said all this, I do think that no matter what, the Syrian people only have the right to decide on their government, even if it is a reactionary one.”

And more from the Arab uprisings:

Angry Arab: From Syria with doubt
A leftist comrade who I trust sent me this (I cite with his permission but I will keep him anonymous): “Hi As’ad, I have been going to Syria for several months now  due to my work….i am …;  So part of my work is to go to the client’s company…. I have been to Aleppo, Rakka, Hasaka Damascus and also the rural part of Aleppo and Damascus.
Except for Damascus and the Christian neighborhood of Aleppo you would think you are in Kandahar under the rule of Taliban (especially in the rural parts_…As’ad what you see there is scary…burqa3 everywhere…women are barely seen in the streets and the overwhelming majority is covered from head to bottom. Now I have been thinking about what is happening in Syria…and I  have been trying to support the protesters…but I cannot…those people will only bring Taliban alike into power…Saudi Arabia will have the upper hand in the region and Syria will be divided between sects in the best case scenario. (Not to mention that the arms route toward Hezbollah will be cut).  Yesterday in doma the chants were “Alawiyye bi eltabout…w masi7iey 3a Beirut”!! how can we ever support those guys…. I agree that there is another Syrian opposition but these are a minority….those leading the demonstrations are islamists – Saudi style….
All I am saying is that are you sure you want the Syrian regime to collapse…because the more I look at the “rebels”….the more I doubt the whole future of the region…..for the first time in my life I am doubting my decision to live in the region.”

Angry Arab: Communist Action Party in Syria
I have always admired this radical communist opposition group in Syria.  It used to be named Communist Action League.  It launched armed struggle against the Syrian regime back in 1976 when the orthodox Stalinist Bakdash communist party sided with the regime at all costs.  The Communist Action Party was ruthlessly and brutally suppressed: the fact that the party was predominantly `Alawite in composition only incensed the regime more.  I met a few of party members who fled to Lebanon over the years.  I am getting information from comrades in Syria that the party has been active in the protests, especially in the sit-in in Homs.  So no, not all the protesters are Salafite nuts, but Salafite nuts are there too.  That can’t be denied.

Angry Arab: Iranian assistance to Syria
I have been reading in the Western Zionist press that Iran has been assisting Syria in repression.  I totally reject such news.  I just don’t believe it and I feel strongly about this: the Syrian regime is fully qualified on its own to handle any repression inside the country.  Hell, Syrian Ba`thist regime is even qualified to teach Iran and Saudi Arabia lessons in repression.

Bahrain seeks death sentence for protesters on trial (Reuters)
Reuters – Bahrain is seeking death penalty for a group of protesters accused of killing two policemen during anti-government demonstrations in the Gulf island kingdom, state media reported on Monday.*

Bahraini forces open fire on protesters
Saudi-backed Bahraini troops have opened fire on anti-government demonstrators in the village of Karzakan, injuring at least one protester.

Amnesty International, “Bahraini Opposition Leader Ebrahim Sharif Feared Tortured”
Ebrahim Sharif was admitted to the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) military hospital in al-Riffa’, central Bahrain, reportedly for the second time on or around 10 April and his family does not know if he is still there. According to information received by Amnesty International, a patient at the hospital saw Ebrahim on 10 April and recognized him despite his swollen face, raising concerns that he may have been assaulted and otherwise tortured in detention. His family has officially requested visits to Ebrahim Sharif twice; the first time days after his arrest and the second time in the week of 18 April, but their requests have not received any answer from the authorities. Amnesty International fears that Ebrahim Sharif remains at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

Shiite mosques demolished in Bahrain crackdown (AP)
AP – Bahrain’s main opposition party says authorities have demolished 16 mosques as part of crackdown on Shiite dissent in the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom over the past month.*

Iraqi Shi’ites want Saudis to withdraw from Bahrain (Reuters)
Reuters – Hundreds of Iraqi Shi’ites rallied in Baghdad on Saturday to demand the immediate withdrawal of Saudi troops from Bahrain, which has sparked reminders of Iraq’s own sectarian divide.*

Iran urges Bahrain to heed people’s demands (AFP)
AFP – Iran on Saturday urged Bahrain to heed the demands of its people before it was too late, and insisted nothing could justify Saudi intervention amid Shiite-led protests in the Gulf kingdom.*

Iran says offers ‘moral’ support to Bahrainis (AFP)
AFP – Iran said Friday it offers “moral support” for the demands of the people of Bahrain and denied having any role in the Shiite-led protests in the tiny Gulf kingdom ruled by a Sunni dynasty.*

The father/mother of all buffoons
“Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa is perhaps the most tech-savvy of the Gulf states’ foreign ministers. In addition to his official government day job, Shaikh Khalid also maintains an active personal Twitter account through which he presents the official Bahraini point of view regarding the recent protests in the kingdom to his thousands of followers. Born in 1960 and educated at St Edward’s University in Texas, graduating with a BSc in History and Political Science, Shaikh Khalid, while in the US, volunteered in Jimmy Carter’s 1980 presidential campaign.”

Bahrain FM finds parody of himself on Twitter (AP)
AP – Bahrain’s top diplomat and prolific tweeter Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa has warned followers about a spoof version of himself on the Twitter social media site.*

Bahrain: Below the radar
The Arab uprising that has failed to capture the international media’s attention.

Mubarak to be moved to military hospital
Egypt’s top prosecutor orders the transfer after medical exams showed that the ex-leader is stable enough for the move.

Egypt’s Copts vie for bigger role
As Egypt tries to forge a new political future, Coptic Christians aim to move out of the political shadows.

Egypt makes concession to anti-governor protesters
CAIRO, April 25 (Reuters) – Egypt’s military-led government tried to quell more than a week of protests against the new governor of a southern province on Monday by saying he would not take up his duties for three months. Sate media reported the activities of Emad Mikhail, a Christian and former police officer who was appointed as governor of Qena province this month, would be “frozen for three months”.

Egyptian revolutionary comrades
…are calling for a demonstration against the Zionist embassy in Cairo.  BE THERE: or Be Like Mubarak.
Jamal kindly translated:
“March and Stand-In In Front of the Embassy of the Zionist Entity
“The Supporters of the Palestinian Revolution” invite you to a march and stand-in in front of the embassy of the Zionist entity which gets moving from in front of the main gate of Cairo University on Wednesday 27 April at exactly 2:3pm demanding the following:
-Condemning the Zionist occupation of our Arab land in flesh, blood, roots, and history
-Cancelling normalization in all its forms
-Ceasing the export of natural gas to the Zionists immediately along with the return of all that the Zionists have stolen from us in this shameful normalization.
-Ceasing the building of the steel wall of shame immediately
-Treating Palestinians the same as Egyptians are treated in Egypt, acknowledging their rights to residency, education, work, and health just the same as Egyptians.
Shimon Peres called on the youth of Egypt to normalize, this will be our response to him in front of their embassy.”

Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Mubarak’s protege
It is refreshing to read things against Saudi Arabia in the Egyptian press these days. It is delightful.  I can’t wait until the Egyptian press goes all out against the House of Saud.  So there is a brewing scandal which did not bring any attention in the US:  Mubarak’s corrupt businessman (who was involved in the corrupt deal of gas sales to Israel and who was in the Egyptian mukhabarat and who bought a villa for Mubarak in Sharm Al-Shaykh) was caught (not personally as he fled) trying to smuggle precious items from Cairo airport headed to Saudi Arabia and addressed to son of Prince Muqrin (head of Saudi mukhabrat).

Iraqis rally against extending U.S. troops presence
MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) -Thousands of Iraqis rallied in the northern city of Mosul Sunday in one of the biggest protests yet against any extension of the U.S. military presence in Iraq.

Three Libyan state TV stations go off air after explosions
TRIPOLI, April 24 (Reuters) – Three Libyan state television stations went briefly off air after three loud explosions were heard in central Tripoli soon after midnight. Libyan Television, Jamahiriya and Shababiya all stopped broadcasting but returned to air within half an hour.

Nato strike hits Gaddafi compound
A Nato air strike on the Libyan capital Tripoli badly damages buildings in Col Muammar Gaddafi’s compound, officials and witnesses say.

Kadafi fighters flee Misurata, but their artillery onslaught continues
The victorious Libyan rebels in this key western city have lost hundreds of fighters in block-by-block battles. Meanwhile, explosions continue to shake the buildings. Fighters loyal to Col. Moammar Kadafi fled their last position inside the western Libyan city of Misurata on Sunday morning, leaving the center of the besieged port community in the hands of rebels seeking to oust the longtime leader.,0,3872358.story

Libyan foreign minister crosses Tunisian border-TAP
CAIRO, April 23 (Reuters) – Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi crossed the border into Tunisia on Saturday, Tunisia’s state TAP news agency said. TAP said Obeidi, who entered Tunisia through the main transit point of Ras Jdir on the Tunisian-Libyan border, was heading to Djerba airport. It said he was believed to be on his way to Cyprus, but a senior Cypriot government source said: “We cannot confirm this report, he is not coming to Cyprus.” A security source at Djerba airport said Obeidi later took a flight to the capital Tunis. Obeidi was promoted to foreign minister after the defection of his predecessor Moussa Koussa to Britain. He visited Cyprus earlier this month to discuss the conflict, and held talks with government officials in Greece, Turkey and Malta as deputy foreign minister

Fifteen dead in Gaddafi ambushes – rebel spokesman
CAIRO, April 23 (Reuters) – At least 15 people were killed by booby-traps and in ambushes set up by Gaddafi brigades on Saturday while withdrawing from the Libyan city of Misrata, a rebel spokesman told Al Jazeera television. “I have received information about 15 people were martyred and 31 wounded as a result of ambushes by the Gaddafi brigades at the site of their withdrawal,” the spokesman, Abdel Basset Abu Mezerik, told the station. He said forces to the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had also used “dirty methods” of booby-trapping bodies and cars while withdrawing from Misrata.

Libyan children suffering rape, aid agency reports
Children as young as eight have been subjected to sexual assaults, according to accounts given to Save the Children. Libyan children as young as eight have suffered sexual assaults, including rape, amid the worsening conflict across the country, a British aid agency has warned. Although Save the Children said it could not confirm the reports, the charity said the accounts by children were consistent and they were displaying signs of physical and emotional distress. The allegations come from 200 children and 40 adults who have fled from Misrata, Ajdabiya and Ras Lanuf and are now in temporary camps in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

Reports of pro-Gaddafi sleeper cells in Ajdabiya
Doctors and nurses in a hospital in Ajdabiya tell Al Jazeera they suspect men loyal to Gaddafi are among them, posing a constant threat. Sue Turton reports from Ajdabiya

Battle for Libya: Update from Benghazi
Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from the opposition stronghold of Benghazi, sheds light on the current situation in Libya, and the role “tribes” are playing in the battle.

Gaddafi forces pulling out of Misurata
Gaddafi’s forces say they have suspended the fighting in Misurata, but they have planted booby trapped bombs, which have caused many casualties. As Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons reports, the city’s hospitals are struggling to cope.

Report from Misurata
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons is in the Libyan city of Misurata. He says attacks on the city are intensifying.

Libya rebels claim ‘Misurata is free’
The Pentagon has confirmed it has launched its first drone attack, but gave no details on the target. A spokesman for opposition forces, meanwhile, says they have won over control of Libya’s third largest city, Misurata. There is no independent confirmation of this. But the city’s hospitals have been reporting an influx of injured, among them – government soldiers. Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna reports from the opposition stronghold of Benghazi.

Update: Fighting continues in Misurata
Anti government forces had claimed they were in control of Misurata. However, Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from Misurata, says the city has “not been liberated at this stage” despite certain claims being made by opposition forces. Listen here to our correspondent’s latest update.

Inside Story: Battle for Misurata
Located in western Libya, Misurata has become the most dramatic battleground in the country’s uprising which began in February. But there has been confusion – while Colonel Muammer Gadaffi’s forces announced a withdrawl from the city on Friday, they have continued to bombard the city. Inside Story discusses with guests: Faraj Najem, a Libyan author and historian; Mohammed Ali Abdallah, the deputy secretary general of the National Front for Salvation of Libya; and Hesham Jaber, a military analyst. This episode of Inside Story aired on Sunday, April 24, 2011.

Frost Over the World – What next for Libya?
Next month, Italy hosts the next international conference on the situation in Libya. In the last few weeks Italy has become a key player in NATO’s response to the conflict there. Sir David talks to Franco Frattini, the Italian foreign minister, about this. Plus, Mohammed El Senussi, the exiled crown prince of Libya, and Alex Stubb, Finland’s foreign minister, join the show.

Taking Qaddafi out (and not for dinner), Stephen M. Walt
When my clock radio went off this AM, the first story I heard was about a NATO air attack on Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi’s compound near Tripoli. Although NATO officials have denied that this was an attempt to kill Qaddafi, it is hard to believe that the officials responsible weren’t hoping for a lucky shot. U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham told CNN that it was time to “to cut the head of the snake off, go to Tripoli, start bombing Qaddafi’s inner circle, their compounds, their military headquarters.” Similarly, Senator Joe Lieberman called for “going directly after Qaddafi,” saying that “I can’t think of anything that would protect the civilian population of Libya more than [his] removal.”

Rap Music Inspires Libyan Rebels To Defeat Gadhafi
AJDABIYA, Libya — Libyan rebel fighter Jaad Jumaa Hashmi cranks up the volume on his pickup truck’s stereo when he heads into battle against Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. He looks for inspiration from a growing cadre of amateur rappers whose powerful songs have helped define the revolution.

Moroccans stage peaceful pro-democracy protests
RABAT — Several thousand demonstrators marched peacefully in Moroccan cities Sunday to demand more democracy and social justice despite King Mohammed VI’s concessions, including the release of political prisoners. Protest rallies began Sunday morning in Casablanca, Tangiers and Marrakesh, correspondents said, while others were scheduled later in the day in Rabat and Fes in response to a call by the pro-reform February 20 Movement.

Protests break out in Omani city
Thousands take to the streets in southern city in Gulf state to press for better wages, jobs and end to corruption.

Saudi Arabia
Women not allowed to vote in Saudi elections
As voters show up to register for Saudi Arabia’s upcoming elections – the second ever in the country’s history – women still seem to be missing from the picture. Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra reports from Riydh.

Two shot dead at Yemen protests
At least two anti-government protesters have been killed in separate clashes with security forces in Yemen, medical sources and witnesses say.

Saleh defiant, day after agreeing to handover plan
SANAA, April 25 (Reuters) – Yemen’s veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh has struck a defiant tone in an interview, a day after his government said he had accepted a Gulf Arab plan to hand over power within weeks. Saleh has faced down three months of street protests as well as pressure to go from his main backers Saudi Arabia and the United States, and opposition groups fear his verbal acceptance of the plan may be no more than a tactic.

Yemen protesters reject US-backed transition
SANAA (AFP) – Yemen’s protest movement insisted Sunday on President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rapid exit and prosecution after his party accepted a Gulf plan for him to quit in 30 days in a move hailed by Washington. The United States urged a peaceful transition after Saleh’s ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) party said late Saturday it accepted a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) plan under which he would quit following months of protests.

Yemen president agrees Gulf plan to resign
Aide to Ali Abdullah Saleh says leader has agreed to step down under a 30-day transition plan after weeks of protests.

Ghassan Bin Jiddu: resigns from Aljazeera
This is big: the Beirut bureau chief for Aljazeera, Ghassan Bin Jiddu, who hosts the program Hiwar Maftuh (widely watched), hassubmitted his resignation.  It is due to the recent radical shift of Aljazeera’s coverage in alliance with the Saudi-Israeli alliance in the Middle East.  Ghassan Bin Jiddu is one of the most visible personalities of the network and he was seriously considered to be the director-general of the network before Waddah Khanfar was given the job.  Ghassan belongs to the Arab nationalist mold and is a fierce supporter of resistance to Israel.  I last saw him last year when he invited me to dinner with Samir Al-Quntar.  Bin Jiddu was very influential in Aljazeera and this step will bring further embarrassment to the network.  On a related note, I must report this:  I have heard from a number of people who work in Aljazeera Arabic and English and I am hearing that the majority are quite irate at the coverage of the network especially in relation to the Bahrain issue.  There will be marked changes in Arab media in the next months and years: comrade Hicham yesterday observed that Egyptian media in the new era will once again play the leading role that it had played in the 19th and 20th century, before the Sadat-Mubarak era.

Empire – The evolution of Arab revolutions
The Arab Spring is in full bloom. Peaceful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt sparked a democratic tide that has swept across the region. In Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, it is now a tale of two protests, with the situation deteriorating into widespread violence and outright war. It seems some regimes will stop at nothing to resist change. So with no unified leadership or clear agenda, and with domestic complications in each and every country, is this truly a revolution? And if this is an Awakening — what path will it follow — that of Turkey? Of Iran? Or rather a third way, an Arab way. Empire finds out. Joining Marwan Bishara to discuss these issues are: Rabab el-Mahdi, a professor of political science at American University, Cairo; Christopher Dickey, Middle East editor of Newsweek and The Daily Beast; Patrick Seale, author of The Struggle for Arab Independence. Our interviewees are: Ahmed Maher, founder of the 6 April Youth Movement, Egypt; Mohamed Arafat, from Egypt’s Social Deomocratic Party; Shaeera Amin, former deputy director of Nile TV; Hugh Miles, author of Al Jazeera – How Arab TV News Challenged the World.

Can you imagine being forced to organize a ‘humanitarian delegation’ in order to simply visit your grandparents?

Apr 25, 2011

Lydda Four Eight

My grandma just had a stroke this weekend, in Gaza. She’s crying out constantly to her children, she wants them to be next to her in the hospital. We’re scrambling for a way to get into Gaza. I’ve pleaded on my facebook status for help. One of my friends suggested I “organize a humanitarian delegation” so that the Egyptian Embassy will give me special permission to travel through Rafah to Gaza. Really?

Ben-Gurion is much closer to Gaza and travel would be less complicated, less
visas. Usually one travels through Israel to get to Gaza, as it is much closer and you pay an Israeli tourist visa/ entrance whether through Rafah or Ben-Gurion anyhow. But since Israel’s siege on Gaza, Israel has closed crossings into Gaza which means I can not travel from Ben-Gurion airport to Gaza unless Israel permits me to enter through the Erez Crossing.

Even going through Ben-Gurion, there is the harassment, the interrogation, the strip
search, the constant verbal assaults on identity and of course to top that off
the deportations. After all that trouble there’s no guarantee to get in through
Ben-Gurion, and then there is even much less of a possibility of getting to Gaza
through the Erez crossing. First Israel made the Erez crossing more complicated
by making us get out and switch cars, then they made it more complicated by
making us walk a 1/2 mile distance with countless pieces of luggage (filled with
gifts for family in Gaza), then Israel shut down Erez all together. What is the word for that? Degradation?

My other option is to fly to Cairo, get in a taxi and drive 5 hours or so to Rafah and go to Gaza through the Rafah border. The Rafah border is intermittently closed, limits number of travelers, requires multiple visas (one for Egypt another for Israel) will be very exhausting as one of the people I need to bring to Gaza is wheelchair bound and crossing through Rafah requires multiple ins and outs of buses (by Egypt and Israel) and taxis over a distance of 1/4 mile or so. This is all followed by a final interrogation and strip search at Israeli customs (at least that’s what it looked like the last time I was able to get through Rafah) before freedom to Gaza.

Of course we’re not even guaranteed permission to travel through Rafah once we land in Egypt hence my friend’s suggestion to “organize a Humanitarian Delegation.” Can you imagine being required to “organize a Humanitarian Delegation” in order to visit your grandparents? Maybe it’s just me being sympathetic to my own circumstances, but something is strikingly Kafka-esque and painfully cruel that instead of just jumping on a plane to see my tata (grandmother) I’m forced to “organize a Humanitarian Delegation” to get permission from a neighboring country to enter Gaza.

Unfortunately, the “humanitarian delegation” sounds like our best hope! Thank you Israel and your supporters. My 89 yr old grandmother’s one wish while she rests in the hospital is for her children to be with her, and we have the visas, the passports,
and the money to buy airplane tickets, but we don’t have Israel’s permission to
enter Gaza. So what seems like a normally simple task of getting on a plane to visit family has become overshadowed by MASSIVE obstacles by the Penal Colony.

“Lydda Four Eight” is a stay at home mother with a black hole in her heart. Her last attempt to go to her grandmother’s home was rejected by Israeli Army Commander at the Erez Crossing. This post combines several comments Lydda Four Eight has made on Mondoweiss

Love During Wartime: Interview with director Gabriella Bier

Apr 25, 2011

Laura Durkay

Young artists Jasmin and Osama are newlyweds, but building a life together seems impossible: she’s a Jewish citizen of Israel; he’s a Muslim Palestinian living in the West Bank.  Israeli law prevents them from living together in Israel, and life in the Occupied Territories has its own challenges.  Bureaucratic and social pressures eventually force them into exile in Germany, but their problems are not over yet.  Love During Wartime demonstrates how life in Palestine/Israel subjects even the most personal and basic of goals—trying to build a life together with someone you love—to the pressures of apartheid and occupation.

Love During Wartime is currently screening in the World Documentary Competition at the Tribeca Film Festival.  Screening times can be found here.  Director Gabriella Bier sat down with me to talk about the film.

LD: Tell me a little about your background and why you decided to make the film.

GB: I’m Jewish, and I was brought up in a pro-Israel family.  My parents were a bit different from the majority, they could think for themselves, but I went to Jewish schools and everything.  I started working as a journalist.  I traveled for many years in West and East Africa, and many of my parents’ friends told me, “You should do something in Israel”—I assume they wanted something pro-Israel—but I always felt that this is too emotional for me; it’s much too complicated to get into, and I didn’t know enough.  But then the Second Intifada broke out.  I live in Stockholm, and on the Swedish left there was very strong anti-Israel sentiment, while in my own community the climate was very hostile to the Palestinians.  I’m in a mixed marriage.  I have two children, and my son was very small at the time, and I thought, I can’t stay out of this, because this is about my children and about the future.

I wanted to make a love story.  So often the portrayal in the media and in certain documentaries removes the human element.  One of my aims with the film was not to reach only people who thought that mixed marriages were okay, but also people who were biased against them.  Maybe this love story could make them feel something different.  I want to communicate with the people who are against this, too.

I also discovered about myself—I mean, I traveled for many years in the West Bank, but I was brought up in these Jewish Zionist surroundings, and there was a great fear of Palestinians and Muslims and Arabs.  I have relatives in Israel, and when I went to the West Bank, everyone was like “You’re crazy,” and I was afraid.  But I discovered meeting people and becoming friends was the way to overcome that.

LD: Did you have any problems with Israeli security while you were filming?

GB: Not really.  For me, the hostilities on the personal level were much more difficult—people can really hate each other and that disturbed me much more.  That and of course the difficulties in people’s everyday lives in Palestine, for Osama’s family.  [In Osama’s family’s village] every man had been to prison.

LD: There’s one scene in Osama’s sister’s house where you can see that there are bullet holes in the wall.

GB: Yes, it’s from the Israeli army.  You see these traces of the occupation everywhere, and that’s just part of life.  You’ve heard these stories many times, but to see it, visually…in a film, you can’t tell everything, for example, the fact that Israel is much more powerful and much stronger; what the living conditions are like in the West Bank.  I felt it was much stronger to visualize it—you don’t have to say it if you can show it.

LD: Were there other moments like that, when the occupation found its way into people’s daily lives?

GB: I wasn’t there to film it, but one of the times Jasmin was in the village with Osama, he was scheduled to have an art exhibition in Ramallah, and they invited some Israeli friends to come, and somehow it got through to the Shabak [GSS, the Israeli secret police].  At night, when Jasmin and Osama were sleeping, they broke the door down, just to tell Osama, “We want to see you at the office at 8 o’clock in the morning.”  When he went to the office, they told him he wasn’t allowed to bring any Israelis to his exhibition.

Another example: Jasmin and Osama were going to have a hearing [in an Israeli court, on whether they would be allowed to live together], and Osama wanted to be at the hearing, so he asked for a permit from the military, and he’s calling every day to get the permit, and eventually he gets it, but the hours are later than the hearing.  It turned out the hearing was postponed, but the military didn’t know that.  So you see a lot of things that are done just out of spite.

LD: What do you hope that people get out of watching this film?

GB: I want people to feel something for them, to maybe see things differently.  I’m not a politician; I’m a filmmaker, so I concentrated on the personal part of the story.  I struggled, myself, a lot, seeing things that Israel does that I think are terrible.  It was very hard to digest on a personal level.  I’m conflicted because Israel still means a lot to me, but the government now is terrible; it’s super nationalistic, and it’s totally scary and damaging.  I struggled with it a long time, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s possible to be critical of Israel and still love it and feel at home there.  The country has gone very far in the wrong direction, but I always think that there is a way back, or there is a new way.

People like Jasmin and Osama are the future of their country, and the fact that they have basically been kicked out and have to live in Germany in order to save their marriage—that is a tragedy.  But they are the future.  They’re an example for all people.

A concoction of distortions, half-truths and emotionally-potent oversimplifications of scripture is Christian Zionism

Apr 25, 2011

Craig Nielsen

I converted to the Christian faith some 13 years ago and the overwhelming nature of the love of God in Christ for myself and all of humanity (with particular emphasis on the despised of society) left a mark on me that inspires me every single day of my life.

Over the years, I have seen a number of spiritual fads and movements in the Church come and go and have come to terms with the fact that many leaders of the Christian Church are poorly theologically educated. I have also come to know that some denominations of the faith are definitely more vulnerable to gross distortions of the scriptures than others while realising that no denomination is free from error or can afford to be arrogant and self righteous about their understanding of the scriptures.

Having made that point, I believe that Christian Zionism is the most harmful distortion of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible that I have ever come across in what is known as mainstream Christianity.

The Gospel of Christian Zionism is held together by three basic tenets.

1. The Jewish people (by the simple virtue of their Jewishness) own the land of Palestine due to the fact that God gave them the land as an everlasting possession in an eternal covenant.

2. The current Zionist State of Israel has come about as the result of God fulfilling His promise to the Jewish people in the Old Testament. Hence the Zionist State is directly connected to the Israel of the Old Testament and its existence is an unambiguous portent of the imminent return of Jesus.

3. The Old Testament instructs us that anyone who criticises the current Zionist state of Israel will come under a divine curse and conversely, any who bless the Zionists will be the recipient of a divine blessing. The Zionist state must be supported politically and militarily in an unconditional manner (unless of course it chooses to allow a Palestinian state to exist in Eretz Israel).

It suffices to say that all of the above teachings are either not a part of the teachings of Orthodox Torah Judaism or have had any consensus within the Christian Church for two thousand years. They are a concoction of distortions, half truths and emotionally potent oversimplifications of scripture. I will deal with them briefly here.

The Old Testament relationship between the Jewish people and the land of Palestine clearly reveals that the possession of the land is not absolute but conditional upon the Jewish people’s acceptance of the “yoke” of the Torah (the ethical and religious traditions of the Law of Moses which demand equality between Jew and non-Jew living in Israel). This covenant relationship is extremely specific. Leviticus 25: 23 states “… the land is Mine and you are but aliens and My tenants” The land of Palestine/Israel is no more owned by the Jewish people than the “Holy of Holies” (the inner sanctum of the Temple) is owned by the High Priest. Failure to live up to the covenant responsibilities of the Jewish people while in the land will result in expulsion and exile. Even Moses and the entire first generation of Hebrews that were liberated from Egypt in the book of Exodus were barred from entering the land of Canaan due to their continued and profound disobedience to God. The Jewish people have no legitimacy as a people in authority in Israel (in Biblical terms) outside of the terms of their tenancy or covenant agreement with God. The expulsion of Jews from Israel in history is evidence of God’s determination with regard to this point.

The secular, colonialist ideology of Zionism falls dismally short of the covenant responsibilities of the Jewish people in this regard. This is part of the reason why Orthodox Jews recoiled in horror at the idea of the Zionists trying to recreate the nation of Israel in modern times. The famous three oaths of the Talmud which forbid Jews to retake Palestine either by force or by political activism were a further barrier to the acceptance of Zionism.

As to the second point, there has been no consensus within the Church as to whether or not anything at all can be termed an unambiguous portent of the return of Christ. This comes from the very words of Jesus which inform us that His coming will be like a thief in the night with no one knowing the hour or the day of His final return. All movements within the Church that have claimed that the return of Jesus was imminent depending on particular historical events have ended up with egg on their faces. The Christian Zionists’ insistence that Jesus return was due in 1988 is an obvious example of this.

The current Zionist state of Israel has no connection to the Israel of the Bible. Virtually every Orthodox Jew on earth agrees to the fact that the exile of the Jewish people has not ended. The exile is a spiritual problem and cannot be solved by nuclear arsenals or secular European colonialist ideologies. It is a spiritual problem which requires a spiritual, non material solution, coming directly from the hand of God, not David Ben Gurion.

The scripture in Genesis that refers to God blessing those who bless Abraham and cursing those who curse him has never been interpreted by Orthodox Jews or Christians in the manner that Christian Zionists demand. The criticism of Israel by prophets like Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and even Moses (let alone Christ) stand in mute defiance to Christian Zionist doctrine. Being a chosen people of God only acts to increase the Jewish people’s responsibility to God and humanity rather than gives them a license to behave as they want. This has been the understanding of Torah Judaism for hundreds of years.

Christian Zionist ethics are driven by a mantra of “the end justifies the means”. For them, since God is bringing back the Jewish people to Israel according to prophecy, the Jewish people’s responsibility to treat non-Jews with equality and mercy in Israel can be ignored. What matters is that they take all the land, every other consideration is trumped by the golden rule of “take the land by whatever means necessary”.

Christian Zionism promotes an ideology totally foreign to the love of God revealed in Jesus’ care and concern for all the vulnerable in the land of Israel including, the non-Jew. Christian Zionism’s betrayal of Arab Christians in Palestine is also a telling indictment on their theology. Much more could be added to this list of issues with the Christian Zionist dogma.

For a more detailed discussion see:

Rabkin, Y. (2006). A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism. Fernwood Publishing: Canada, Zed Books: London. Sizer, S. (2004).

Christian Zionism: Road-Map to Armageddon? Intervarsity Press: Downers Grove, Illinois. Nielsen, C. M. (2010).

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict. Nielsen Adelaide, South Australia.

Craig Nielsen runs a site taking on Christian Zionism from a Christian perspective. He sent us this article on the religious issues.

Young Arab Jews of Israel cry out for their Tahrir (and Palestine’s too)

Apr 25, 2011

Philip Weiss

At +972, excerpts of a truly beautiful letter by young Israeli Mizrahi Jews to Arabs across the Middle East expressing solidarity with their uprisings. The signatories’ names are at the link, it looks to be about 60 of them. Really a fabulous manifesto. Note the inclusion of their brothers in the occupied territories. This is the anti-rough beast slouching from Jerusalem, a great healing. Excerpt (thanks to Peter Belmont):

We are a part of the religious, cultural, and linguistic history of the Middle East and North Africa, although it seems that we are the forgotten children of its history: First in Israel, which imagines itself and its culture to be somewhere between continental Europe and North America. Then in the Arab world, which often accepts the dichotomy of Jews and Arabs and the imagined view of all Jews as Europeans, and has preferred to repress the history of the Arab-Jews as a minor or even nonexistent chapter in its history; and finally within the Mizrahi communities themselves, who in the wake of Western colonialism, Jewish nationalism and Arab nationalism, became ashamed of their past in the Arab world.

Consequently we often tried to blend into the mainstream of society while erasing or minimizing our own past. The mutual influences and relationships between Jewish and Arab cultures were subjected to forceful attempts at erasure in recent generations, but evidence of them can still be found in many spheres of our lives, including music, prayer, language, and literature.

We wish to express our identification with and hopes for this stage of generational transition in the history of the Middle East and North Africa, and we hope that it will open the gates to freedom and justice and a fair distribution of the region’s resources.

We turn to you, our generational peers in the Arab and Muslim world, striving for an honest dialog which will include us in the history and culture of the region. We looked enviously at the pictures from Tunisia and from Al-Tahrir square, admiring your ability to bring forth and organize a nonviolent civil resistance that has brought hundreds of thousands of people out into the streets and the squares, and finally forced your rulers to step down.

We, too, live in a regime that in reality—despite its pretensions to being “enlightened” and “democratic”—does not represent large sections of its actual population in the Occupied Territories and inside of the Green Line border(s). This regime tramples the economic and social rights of most of its citizens, is in an ongoing process of minimizing democratic liberties, and constructs racist barriers against Arab-Jews, the Arab people, and Arabic culture. Unlike the citizens of Tunisia and Egypt, we are still a long way from the capacity to build the kind of solidarity between various groups that we see in these countries, a solidarity movement that would allow us to unite and march together–all who reside here–into the public squares, to demand a civil regime that is culturally, socially, and economically just and inclusive.

We believe that, as Mizrahi Jews in Israel, our struggle for economic, social, and cultural rights rests on the understanding that political change cannot depend on the Western powers who have exploited our region and its residents for many generations. True change can only come from an intra-regional and inter-religious dialog that is in connection with the different struggles and movements currently active in the Arab world. Specifically, we must be in dialog and solidarity with struggles of the Palestinians citizens of Israel who are fighting for equal political and economic rights and for the termination of racist laws, and the struggle of the Palestinian people living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and in Gaza in their demand to end the occupation and to gain Palestinian national independence.

In our previous letter written following Obama’s Cairo speech in 2009, we called for the rise of the democratic Middle Eastern identity and for our inclusion in such an identity. We now express the hope that our generation – throughout the Arab, Muslim, and Jewish world – will be a generation of renewed bridges that will leap over the walls and hostility created by previous generations and will renew the deep human dialog without which we cannot understand ourselves: between Jews, Sunnis, Shias, and Christians, between Kurds, Berbers, Turks, and Persians, between Mizrahis and Ashkenazis, and between Palestinians and Israelis.

Two upcoming Goldstone events in Chicago & the Bay Area

Apr 25, 2011

Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz

goldstoneWe have two speaking events coming up in Chicago and Oakland in connection with our book The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict.

The first one is tomorrow evening in Chicago, and we’re very excited thatGoldstone Report contributor Ali Abunimah will be appearing with Adam at the University of Chicago (right). The event is being organized by the American Friends Service Commitee and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the University of Chicago. You can learn more about the event here, or find the details on Facebook.

Also, we’re honored that the The Middle East Children’s Alliance will be throwing a Bay Area book release party on Thursday, May 5. We are both going to be speaking, and we’ll be introduced by UC Hastings Law School professor George Bisharat, an incredible honor. That event will be raising money for MECA’s Maia Project, which works to bring clean water to children in Gaza.

We hope you can join us for one of these events if you’re nearby, and if not we hope to visit your town soon!


Shepherds vs settlers in the Holy Land as the IDF passively stands by

Apr 25, 2011


This is Palestine. It is hard to watch. Notice the IDF as they passively stand by and let the settlers run wild. At the end they come to the aid of the landowner after he has been attacked but during the abuse they do nothing. What kind of arrangement is this?

Poster Avi has translated the Hebrew text that accompanies the youtube link.

The Moor family has a large agricultural plot East of the Sussyia settlement. ……… About a decade ago, the [Moor] family was attacked after the murder of Ya’ir Haar Sinai. The family fled its land fearing attacks by settlers and relocated to live in the village of Manzal, not far from their own land. ……… From that point onward, Moors’ land and their water wells supposedly became, ipso facto, the property of the widow Daliya Haar Sinai. ………. With the encouragement of Ta’ayush activists and with the legal assistance of rabbis for human rights, members of the Moor family returned to graze their sheep on their own land. ……… In the last year, friction grew between the activists and settler groups from the vicinity who came to interfere and create provocations with the aim of forcing the military to close the area for everyone, in addition to the expulsion/eviction of the Palestinian land owners. …….. Usually, the Israeli army stood by and was party to that dirty trick. A legal appeal forced the army to abide by the law. At the start of the month, a major general’s order was issued, allowing members of the Moor family to return and use their own land. ………. The order forbids Israelis in general from entering the area, settlers and activists alike. But, as usual, the masters of the earth don’t give a hoot about the regional commander’s order. In front of them stands the moral and heroic, the terrorizing army, trigger-happy when it comes to the Palestinians; it bends and is easily trampled over by the settlers. Without lifting a finger, the army gazes with apathy at the settlers who assault and injure the land owner. ……….. Cameraman: Eid Moor

Who is the settler Avidan Offir and why is he not arrested? And this “Mega Settler Moshe Deutsch”?

What is the effect of a military order if the IDF does not enforce it? Do the settlers rule the IDF in the territories?

Any improvement on google’s translation would be appreciated.

Hat tip Kate’s List

rmines Oren argument with graphic straight out of the ‘ZOG’ archives

Apr 25,2011

Philip Weiss

Did Foreign Policy think it was doing Michael Oren a favor when it pasted the following graphic at the top of a long piece by the ambassador explaining why Israel is the “ultimate ally” of the United States? I don’t think so. I have to think some shmendrick in the art department has an anti-Zionist agenda.fp

Oren’s piece is an attack on the realist idea that the U.S. might have distinct interests from Israel (including a desire for Palestinian freedom) and is rooted in Oren’s potted history of Zionism being rooted in the American revolution. But I think that flag image will make a lot of Americans gag. It makes me gag. It’s frightening, could have come off a hate site, and only underlines the realist wisdom that no two countries have congruent interests… The piece repeats two weak talking points: that Arab leaders only care about Iran and that the Arab revolts have had little to say against the U.S. or Israel… Both are misrepresentations. Thanks to Matt Duss.

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

Flotilla to Head for Gaza




[In light of plans of the flotilla to head for Gaza in May, I find this initiative odd at this particular time, but am forwarding as requested.  Dorothy]

Original message from Es. <>

can u please forward this to ur lists?

================ Call in English, French, Spanish, and Italian.
Please spread this call widely, put it up on homepages, and if you can:
translate it and send the translation back to: Also, if any groups are organizing to join in other countries, contact
through that email address or the number in the call. Let’s get going, let’s break the siege through land and sea! Let’s go to Gaza!
On the 21st April, a meeting regarding the discussions and reflections on
the murder of Vittorio Arrigoni was held in Rome amongst different activists. From the gathering, the need to organize a convoy to Gaza through
Egypt was decided.
Let’s start this process by sharing those points:
‐ We want to go to Gaza through Rafah Border Crossing with all in the world that need to say aloud what Vittorio used to say: Stay human! We want to do it from Egypt because, in the post Mubarak era, that border must be opened to break the siege imposed for too long on the people in Gaza.
‐ We want to be in Gaza on the 15th May which is the 1 month anniversary
of Vittorio’s death. It will be also Nakba day, when thousands of young Palestinians, as already announced, will go back to the street all over the
world to ask for the end of the occupation and also, a new unity and the
end of the internal division within the Palestinian authorities.
We want to go to Gaza for different reasons:
‐ Although Vittorio was killed, it has to be clear that they can not stop
the international support for the Palestinian people. Also thanks to him now the international support is much stronger and united against the occupation both of Gaza and of the West Bank.
‐ We want to give voice and continuity to the work that Vittorio, together
with palestinian men and wemen was bringing forward. Partucularly the independent information that he managed to pass to the world from
the besieged gaza strip. For this reason, we will bring materials, tools
and all we need to give life to a Media Center dedicated to Vittorio.
‐ The Freedom Flotilla will soon sail towards Gaza. Even though the two
initiatives are organised separately, the two journeys, both via land and via sea, could reinforce each other to break the siege of Gaza.
Further info:
‐ The convoy will last six/seven days in order to give the possibility to
participate for as many people as
‐ It will take place between the 11th and 19th May.The exact dates will be
agreed in few days with the people
in Gaza that will host us. So, lets start to get ready!
‐ I will cost around 450/500 Euros all included. And depending on the
number of participants, it might be
‐ For any question and to join the caravan please contact us using this
e‐mail or this
phone number +39‐3333666713.These contacts will be running from monday
25th of April.
‐ We are opening a website called ‘vik2gaza’ to publicise information. ‐
We will activate a bank account where we will start to collect feas for
accommodation and transport costs and the visas from Egypt.
‐ We will need some personal preparation to engage in this trip. CO.R.UM.‐
Convoglio Restiamo Umani ‐ Stay Human Convoy French:
A Rome le 21 avril il y a eu une assemblée citadine née des
discussions et des réflexions sur lʼassassinat de Vittorio Arrigoni. Cette
assemblée a exprimé un grand consensus et une forte conviction de la
nécessité de partir pour Gaza maintenant, en passant par lʼEgypte.
Commençons ce processus en partageant ces points:
– Nous voulons aller à Gaza en passant par le col de Rafah avec tous et
toutes ceux qui dans le monde partagent l’urgence de crier fort et clair
ce que la voix de Vittorio nous a dit plusieurs fois: “Restons
humains!”. Nous voulons le faire de la limite égyptienne parce-que nous
considérons dans l’ère post-Moubarak que ce col-là doit s’ouvrir pour
briser le siège auquel la Bande de Gaza est désormais contrainte depuis
– Nous voulons être à Gaza le 15 mai, un mois après la meurtre de
Vittorio, le jour de la Nakba, quand milliers de jeunes palestiniens ont
annoncé qu’ils redescendront dans la rue dans tout le monde pour
demander la fin de l’occupation mais aussi une nouvelle unité et la fin
des divisions internes à l’Autorité Palestinienne
Nous voulons entrer pour différents raisons:
– Car, même s’ils ont tué Vittorio, il doit être clair qu’ils ne peuvent
pas arrêter la solidarité internationale envers la population
palestinienne. Une solidarité qui grâce à lui est encore plus forte et
unie contre l’occupation de Gaza et de la West Bank.
– Car nous voulons continuer les chemins que Vittorio, avec les hommes et
les femmes palestiniens, était en train de poursuivre. Surtout le travail
d’information indépendante que Vittorio a su transmettre d’une Gaza
toujours assiégée. Pour cette raison nous allons créer un Media Center à
lui dédié.
– Sous peu il va partir ainsi une Flottille internationale vers Gaza et
les deux initiatives, par voie maritime et par voie terrestre, même si
différentes et organisée séparément, peuvent renforcer l’action à fin de
briser le siège.
Des informations pratiques pour commencer:
– La durée du convoi sera de presque 6/7 jours pour permettre à
beaucoup de personnes de s’organiser avec si peu d’avance.
– La période sera incluse entre le 11 et le 19 mai, les dates seront plus
précises dans quelques jours. Pendant ce temps tenez-vous libres! – Le
coût pour toute la période sera à peu près 450/500 euros, le prix va
diminuer en proportion avec le nombre des participants
– On est en train d’ouvrir un site internet (“vik2gaza”) pour recueillir
toutes les informations nécessaires
– On a activé une adresse e-mail ( et un nombre de
téléphone (+39-3333666713) pour recueillir les adhésions
– On est en train d’activer un compte bancaire où sera possible verser une
quote-part pour organiser les déplacements et les nuits
– Des moments de préparation seront nécessaires pour pouvoir affronter le
mieux possible ce voyage
CO.R.UM.- Convoi Restons Humains SPANISH:
Después del asesinato de Vittorio Arrigoni una amplia asamblea de
diferentes activistas en Roma el día 21 de Abril acordó una firme necesidad y un amplio consenso deir a Gaza. La decisión tomada en dicha asamblea quiere empezar este proceso mediante el
intercambio de
los siguientes puntos:
‐ Queremos ir a Gaza a través del paso fronterizo de Rafah con todos y
todas que en el
mundo quieren gritar en voz alta lo que Vittorio solía decir: ” Seguimos
siendo seres
humanos!” Queremos que la frontera con el Egipto de la era post Mubarak se
convierta en
un cruce que rompa el asedio que desde demasiado tiempo sufre la
población de Gaza.
‐ Queremos ser en Gaza el 15 de mayo, día del primer mes de aniversario de
la muerte de
Vittorio y, también , día de la Nakba. Día en el cual miles de jóvenes
palestinos quieren
volver a las calles para exigir el fin de la ocupación y pedir una nueva
unidad que ponga un
fin concreto y real a la división interna de la Autoridad Palestina.
Queremos ir a Gaza por diferentes razones:
‐ A pesar del asesinato de Vittorio la solidaridad internacional con el
pueblo palestino no
se parará, sino que será una lucha aun más fuerte y unida contra la
ocupación de Gaza y
‐ Queremos dar voz y continuidad al trabajo que Vittorio, junto con los
hombres y mujeres
palestinos, estaba llevando a cabo. En particular modo queremos seguir con
el trabajo de
información independiente que el ha sido capaz de llevar a cabo en una
situación de
constante asedio. Por esta razón queremos traer todo los materiales y
necesarias para abrir un MEDIA CENTER que será dedicado a él.
‐ A corto plazo también la FLOTILLA INTERNACIONAL intentará llegar a Gaza
por mar.
Creemos que las dos iniciativas, aun si organizadas por separados, podrían
mutuamente para romper el asedio de Gaza.
Más info:
‐ La caravana tendrá una duración de 6/7 días de manera de dar la
posibilidad a tod@s
de organizarse con tan poco tiempo de adelanto.
‐ Se llevará a cabo entre el 11 y 19 de Mayo. La fecha se definirá con más
detalle dentro
de pocos días. Mientras tanto, empecémonos a prepararse!
‐ El costo será de unos 450/500 euros, con la esperanza de reducir la
cifra a medida que
aumenta el numero de afluencia.
‐ Para cualquier consulta y para unirse a la caravana por favor
contáctenos usando el
correo electrónico o el número de teléfono
‐ Estamos abriendo una página web llamada “vik2gaza” para difundir todas las
informaciones necesarias.
‐ Estamos activando una cuenta en la cual se empezará a recoger dinero
para los gastos de
traslado y alojamiento.
Serán indispensables momentos colectivos para preparar de la mejor manera
este viaje.
Próxima reunión el día 28 de abril a las 19:00, Forte Prenestino, Roma. ITALIAN:
A Roma il 21 Aprile si è svolta una assemblea cittadina frutto delle
discussioni e delle riflessioni scaturite dopo l’assassinio di Vittorio
Arrigoni. Dall’assemblea è uscito un largo consenso e una ferma
convinzione della necessità di andare a Gaza adesso, passando dall’Egitto. Iniziamo questo processo condividendo i seguenti punti: – Vogliamo andare a Gaza passando dal valico di Rafah con tutti e tutte
coloro che nel mondo condividono l’urgenza di gridare forte e chiaro
quello che la voce di Vittorio ci ha detto tante volte: Restiamo Umani! Lo
vogliamo fare dal confine egiziano perché reputiamo nell’era post Mubarak
che quel valico deve aprirsi per rompere un assedio a cui la Striscia di
Gaza è ormai da troppo tempo costretta. – Vogliamo stare a Gaza il 15 maggio, ad un mese dall’uccisione di
Vittorio, il giorno della nakba, quando migliaia di giovani palestinesi
hanno annunciato che torneranno in piazza in tutto il mondo per chiedere
la fine dell’occupazione ma anche una nuova unità e la fine delle
divisioni interne all’Autorità Palestinese. Vogliamo entrare per diversi motivi: – Perchè anche se hanno ucciso Vittorio deve essere chiaro che non possono
fermare la solidarietà internazionale verso la popolazione palestinese e
che grazie a lui è ancora più forte e unita contro l’occupazione di Gaza e
della West Bank. – Perchè vogliamo continuare a dare voce ai percorsi che Vittorio, insieme
agli uomini e alle donne palestinesi, stava portando avanti, soprattutto
quel lavoro di informazione indipendente che Vittorio aveva saputo
trasmettere da una Gaza continuamente assediata. Per questo porteremo giù
le nostre attrezzature per dar vita ad un Media Center dedicato proprio a
lui. – A breve partirà anche una Flottilla internazionale alla volta di Gaza e
le due iniziative via terra e via mare, anche se diverse e organizzate
separatamente, si possono rafforzare a vicenda per rompere l’assedio. Alcune informazioni pratiche per iniziare: – la durata del convoglio sarà di circa 6/7 giorni per poter dare modo a
tante persone di organizzarsi con cosi poco anticipo.
-il periodo sarà incluso tra l’11 e il 19 maggio, le date saranno definite
in maniera più dettagliata entro pochi giorni. Intanto
cominciate a tenervi liberi e libere!
– il costo di tutto il periodo sarà di circa 450/500 euro, sperando di
abbassare la cifra con il crescere delle persone.
– stiamo aprendo un sito internet per raccogliere tutte le informazioni
necessarie si chiamerà vik2gaza
– abbiamo attivato una e-mail (vik2gaza[at]autistici[.]org ) e un numero
di telefono (+39-3333666713) per raccogliere le adesioni
– stiamo attivando un conto presso il quale sarà possibile versare una
quota di partecipazione per organizzare gli spostamenti e i pernottamenti.
– saranno necessari dei momenti di preparazione per poter affrontare nel
migliore dei modi questo viaggio. CO.R.UM.- Convoglio Restiamo Umani



Posted in Gaza1 Comment

Dorothy Online Newsletter


Dear Friends,

Today’s message begins with a review of Omar Barghout’s ‘BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights,’  While the critique does not delve into the issues of bds, it does summarize Barghouti’s arguments well.  I have not yet read the book, but from the review it would seem to be a very worthwhile read.

Item 2 is a commentary arguing that the present Israel-Palestine situation is unsustainable for both Palestinians and Israelis. Agreed.

Item 3 is a letter to the editor of the Guardian, countering the impression left (according to the writer) by Conal Urquhart regarding the murder of Juliano Mer-Khamis.

Item 4 “Children are the best peacemakers in the Middle East”

is by Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, who lost 3 daughters and a niece when a tank fired into the room in which they were sitting. The incident occurred during Israel’s 2008-9 military campaign in Gaza and during a  TV news program.  The doctor’s pain—his repeated ‘why?’ was heard by viewers due to the inability of the reporter (who was acquainted with Dr. Abuelaish, and who was obviously himself in shock and in pain over the incident) to hang up on the poor man in his moment of woe. The incident received a good deal of publicity, because the doctor is an obstetrician and had cared for patients and delivered babies in Israeli hospitals.  Not all the responses to his pain were generous or understanding.  Some were horrid (e.g., ‘he deserved it after what Hamas is doing to us”—as though he could control Hamas’s acts).  Was unpleasant (to put it mildly) to see how stupid, uncaring, and brain-washed Israelis could be.  There was, however, a good deal of sympathy for him in the media.

In item 5, Turkey warns Israel against a repeat of its attack on the last flotilla during the sailing of the upcoming one.

Since none of the preceding are about events here in the unholy land, item 6, Today in Palestine, furnishes you with some information about things occurring  here.

All the best,



1. [forwarded by Abraham Weizfeld

The Electronic Intifada

“Characterizing actions and positions that target Israeli apartheid and colonial rule as anti-Semitic is itself anti-Semitic, for such arguments assume that Jews are a monolithic sum that Israel represents and speaks on behalf of and, moreover, that all Jews per se are somehow responsible for Israeli crimes, a patently racist assumption” (149).

“Hypocrisy-seeking missile”: Omar Barghouti’s “BDS” reviewed

Abraham Greenhouse

The Electronic Intifada

22 April 2011

“Our South Africa moment has finally arrived,” said Palestinian author-activist Omar Barghouti in a series of speeches delivered in 2010. With the publication of BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights, the first book dedicated to the game-changing boycott, divestment and sanctions movement — known by the initials BDS — has itself finally arrived.

The long-awaited volume aims to summarize the key arguments that Barghouti — a co-founder of the movement — has been making in the six years that he has been working to rally global support for the landmark 2005 Palestinian BDS call.

Something between a monograph and an anthology, the volume brings together essays, open letters (some co-authored), interview transcripts and even a campaign case study. These elements, while stylistically varied, revolve around the same three central points: first, that the nature of the oppression visited upon Palestinians by Israel resembles, in many ways, the situation of black South Africans under apartheid; second, that this oppression must be actively resisted; and third, that the growing BDS movement provides the most moral, efficient and effective mechanism for conducting that resistance.

Barghouti does not suggest that Israel’s policies toward Palestinians precisely mirror those of apartheid South Africa, however. “Israel’s version of apartheid is more sophisticated than South Africa’s was,” he explains. “It’s an evolved form” (167). He points out numerous similarities as well as differences, noting that many of the distinctions are the result of the fact that “South Africa, unlike Israel, did not employ ethnic cleansing to expel most of the indigenous population out of the country … In South Africa, the overall plan was to exploit blacks, not throw them out” (169).

As the author demonstrates, many of Israel’s practices in maintaining the resulting system of institutional inequality are clearly worse than those of South Africa under apartheid. To those who dispute the label of “apartheid” to describe Israel, Barghouti notes that apartheid has “for decades been recognized by the United Nations as a generalized crime with a universal definition” (199).

Drawing much of its inspiration from the South African struggle, Barghouti explains that the BDS movement represents a “qualitatively new stage” in the history of Palestinian resistance to colonization and occupation (61). As expressed in a quoted statement by Palestine’s BDS National Committee (BNC), “Israel’s impunity is the direct result of the international community’s failure to hold it accountable” for its behavior (209).

The existence of a Palestinian-led movement which asks its international supporters to demonstrate solidarity not only in words, but through concrete actions, has effectively broken this cycle. Now, as a result of worldwide BDS efforts, companies directly profiting from the oppression of Palestinians “are experiencing real, deep losses that are directly connected” with their complicity in Israeli apartheid (165). Thus, “the BDS movement has dragged Israel and its well-financed, bullying lobbying groups onto a battlefield where the moral superiority of the Palestinian quest for self-determination, justice, freedom and equality neutralizes and outweighs Israel’s military power and financial prowess” (62).

Barghouti excels in distilling the arguments surrounding BDS down to their essentials. It is precisely because of his insistent focus on these fundamental issues that it has become all but impossible to find articulate holders of opposing views willing to engage him in public debate. As Barghouti makes plainly clear, the bottom line in the relationship between the core, rights-based demands of the BDS movement, and the positions of all those who oppose them, is that those who continue to support the concept of a “Jewish state” — from “soft Zionists” on the left to the overt proponents of genocide on the right — advocate a system of society in which rights are bestowed, abridged, or denied on the basis of ethnic origin, while the BDS movement insists that all human beings must be treated as equals.

Rather than admit to the nature of this distinction, those who oppose the BDS movement on the basis of political conviction consistently resort to other arguments. Some address the goals of the BDS movement, but many simply the means. Both types of arguments are deftly deconstructed by Barghouti, who hones in on their inherent flaws like a hypocrisy-seeking missile.

Barghouti’s skill at exposing the often racist assumptions and double-standards which undermine the contentions of BDS opponents is most clearly evident in his discussion of academic boycott, a subject treated extensively in the volume.

Critics who challenge academic boycott of Israel on the grounds that it jeopardizes the academic freedom of Israelis, the author says, “completely ignore that by denying Palestinians their basic rights — all our freedoms — Israel is infringing deeply on our academic freedom. That doesn’t count, it seems … Those who care about academic freedom only when it pertains to Jewish Israelis — perceived as ‘white,’ ‘European,’ ‘civilized’ — and not when it pertains to us brown Palestinians are hypocritical, to put it mildly” (174-175).

Barghouti emphasizes the anti-racist position which forms an explicit pillar of the BDS movement’s platform: “Individuals who believe that some are more human or deserve more rights than others based on differences in ethnic, religious, gender, sexual, or any other human identity attributes cannot belong to this consistently antiracist struggle for universal rights,” he states (33). The author turns accusations of inherent anti-Semitism in the movement on their head: “Characterizing actions and positions that target Israeli apartheid and colonial rule as anti-Semitic is itself anti-Semitic, for such arguments assume that Jews are a monolithic sum that Israel represents and speaks on behalf of and, moreover, that all Jews per se are somehow responsible for Israeli crimes, a patently racist assumption” (149).

The author does not mince words in criticizing projects which “normalize” the current state of affairs between Israel and the Palestinians. “Joint projects that claim to be ‘apolitical’ are often the most blatantly politicized,” he writes, for they “deliberately disregard the context of colonial oppression and imply the possibility of achieving peace without addressing the root causes of conflict” (140).

True peace cannot possibly be achieved in such a context, Barghouti argues: “A master and a slave can reach an agreement where the enslavement is accepted as reality and the slave cannot challenge it but only make the best out of it. There is no war — no conflict, nobody is killing anybody — but the master remains master and the slave remains slave. That is not the kind of peace that we, the oppressed, are seeking or can ever resign ourselves to” (173).

With Palestinians in Gaza facing a man-made catastrophe as a result of a siege deliberately crafted to push the entire population to the brink of destruction, Barghouti argues, BDS has become a moral imperative: “Unless the price of its system of oppression is sufficiently raised through concerted civil-society pressure campaigns, [Israel] will never give it up,” he writes (173). “In short, Palestinians cannot wait. Israel is no longer ‘just’ guilty of occupation, colonization and apartheid against the people of Palestine … It has embarked on what seems to be its final effort to literally disappear the ‘Palestinian problem.’ And it is doing so with utter impunity. The world cannot continue to watch. Thus BDS. Thus now” (47).

Barghouti does an admirable job of providing a lucid theoretical overview of BDS which incorporates many of the lessons learned in the activist trenches. It is nearly impossible to develop and articulate a perfect synthesis of “academic” and “activist” perspectives, but Barghouti arguably comes closer to bridging this divide than than any other figure writing in English. Though his writing undoubtedly leans slightly more toward the theoretical, his awareness of developments “on the ground” among activists actually implementing BDS campaigns around the world is impressive.

Readers are likely to notice that key facts and arguments are distributed, and sometimes repeated, throughout the volume, rather than being consolidated and treated sequentially. Some may view this as a flaw (though perhaps an unavoidable one, owing to the disparate nature of the source material), but others may see this as a deliberate choice by the author to help readers to keep central themes front-and-center as they engage with the material. The approach also ensures that those who choose to read only particular chapters will still likely be exposed to the most crucial elements.

In his conclusion, Barghouti states that BDS possesses “almost all the ingredients” necessary to end Israel’s multi-faceted oppression of Palestinians, but does not specify what ingredients remain missing (225). The book’s utility to activists would be strengthened if the author were to provide additional context here, describing with what other political forces BDS activists must engage in order to achieve the most concrete and lasting gains.

Barghouti is nevertheless convinced that BDS will serve as the central pillar in a strategy that will ultimately decide the outcome of the Palestinian struggle: “When Israel’s oppression is met with substantial resistance, primarily from the Palestinian people, the Arab world and the world at large, particularly in the form of sustainable BDS campaigns leading to comprehensive UN sanctions, as was the case in the struggle against South African apartheid, the Israeli economy will suffer tremendously and the BDS movement inside Israel will gain considerable momentum.” Among Israelis, this will lead to a massive evaporation of support for apartheid policies (who will themselves join the BDS movement in growing numbers), Barghouti predicts, and then “Collapse of the multitiered Israeli system of oppression … becomes a matter of time” (223).

Abraham Greenhouse is co-founder of the Palestine Freedom Project ( which provides resources and logistical support to grassroots Palestine solidarity activists, and has been active in organizing BDS campaigns both prior and subsequent to the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for BDS. Follow him on Twitter as @grinhoyz.


2.  The Guardian,

25 April 2011

For Israelis and Palestinians, the status quo is neither sustainable nor desirable

To suggest Israelis and Palestinians are equally responsible would suggest they hold equal power to shape events. They don’t

Gary Younge in Silwan, East Jerusalem

Back in 2008 a Florida couple running a small business that throws children’s parties bought two costumes that looked like Tigger and Eeyore on eBay from a firm in Peru for $500. When Walt Disney saw the characters advertised online, it threatened legal action for an infringement of copyright laws and presented the couple with a seven-point demand to cease and desist.

The couple complied with all but one – instead of sending the costumes to Disney to be destroyed, they sent them back to Peru for a refund. “We needed the money,” explained Marisol Perez-Chaveco, whose family was on public assistance. This was too much for Disney, which responded with a million-dollar lawsuit plus costs.

One would think that a company dedicated to marketing itself as the wholesome home of eternal childhood would regard such a heavy-handed approach as an own goal; as though the magic castle was home not to family fun but a faceless corporation ruthlessly pursuing small family businesses. But for Disney that is precisely the point. They want people to witness the ferocity with which they pursue their interests (they once threatened to sue a daycare centre for painting Minnie, Micky and Goofy on its walls) pour encourager les autres.

After a week in the West Bank participating in the annual Palestine Festival of Literature, you get the feeling Israeli security services are using the same public relations team as Disney. We were kept several hours at the Israeli-Jordan border while three Britons with Turkish and Arabic sounding names were held for questioning.

At the West Bank-Israel crossing on the access highway to Nazarath, only brown-skinned people had their passports held. Our final event in the village of Silwan – an evening of poetry, literature and Palestinian rap – was a riot. Literally. Local youth responded to Israeli teargas with a hail of stones. The British consul, who was to attend, turned back halfway. The rest of us, holding onions to our noses to counter the gas, walked past burning tyres, smoking skips and bricks strewn across the road, to the venue. By the time we got there, most people had fled.

The point isn’t that they should have treated us better because we were foreign. But rather, if this is how they treat foreigners who they know have a voice, imagine how they treat locals. Families with small children waiting for hours before putting the entire contents of their car in shopping trolleys and wheeling that through security so they can get home. Grown men and women being shouted at by teenagers with guns. We got only a glimpse. And even that was an eye opener.

The intimidation, humiliation and harassment that emerge from these encounters are not byproducts of a broader strategy. Like Disney’s legal warnings, they are central to the strategy itself. Occupation on this scale and for this length of time can only prevail by a consistent and persistent effort to crush the spirit of the occupied.

Meanwhile, Tinker Bells sprinkle their fairy dust to blur the view or to beautify the ugly. Witnesses are told they either didn’t really see what they saw, only saw what they wanted to see, should have seen something else as well, or should have gone somewhere else where they could have seen worse.

Elsewhere, a vigorous marketing campaign ensures that when the strip-searching is done the first thing you see when you pull up your trousers are tourist posters of religious sites against azure skies saying “Welcome to Israel”.

Since 2005, a massive rebranding campaign has taken place to dispel Israel’s reputation for religiosity and war and portray it instead as the home of “creative energy”. The trouble is, since then there has been the bombing of Lebanon, the Gaza blockade, the attack on a Gaza aid flotilla, and the escalation of illegal settlements.

To suggest that Palestinians are equally responsible for this state of affairs would suggest the two sides hold equal power to shape events. They don’t. No matter how many rhetorical checkpoints get thrown up, there are some basic facts you just cannot get around. Israel is the occupier; Palestinians are the occupied.

That justifies nothing, and explains a great deal. Israel does not have to be the worst place on Earth for the occupation to be worthy of condemnation. Nor can its actions or existence be understood in isolation from western foreign policy and Europe’s history of antisemitism. Similarly, Palestinians do not need to be beyond criticism for their right to resist occupation to be considered valid.

At the first cabinet meeting after the 1967 war Israel’s justice minister, Yaakov Shimshon Shapira, asked: “In a time of decolonisation in the whole world, can we consider an area in which mainly Arabs live, and we control defence and foreign policy? Who’s going to accept that?”

The truth is that while much of the world didn’t like it, they were prepared to accept it for several decades. That seems to be changing. Israel’s power is not in question. But its influence is clearly waning. Polls show a significant shift in Europe towards support for Palestinians. In September, the UN general assembly looks set to support the recognition of a Palestinian state within its 1967 borders.

Whether such a solution is even possible at this stage is an open question. Through its land grabs and settlement building Israel has created an ugly patchwork out of the West Bank, which is sewn together with a range of separate and unequal ID cards, access roads and car registration plates for Israelis and Palestinians that would be difficult to unpick without the whole thing unravelling.

Israel’s refusal to talk to Hamas and the effective emasculation of Fatah has left it with no one with any credibility to negotiate with. The Palestinian Authority – an authority without any real authority – is regarded by most as simply another layer of occupation. Last week the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said he opposed another armed uprising. But the truth is that Fatah wasn’t behind the last uprisings, and would be incapable of leading any more. Through the entire week, Abbas’s name did not come up once.

In this regard, the Israeli occupation has been a victim of its own success on its own terms. It has not so much provided security for a Jewish state as created a fortified country in which non-Jews live as a majority either as second-class citizens or not as citizens at all.

“The continuation of the occupation guarantees the nullification of Zionism,” argued the historian Professor Yehuda Bauer last week, the day before a demonstration of prominent Israelis against the occupation. “That is, it rules out the possibility that the Jewish people will live in its land with a strong majority and international recognition. In my eyes, this makes [Israel’s] government clearly anti-Zionist.”

A Palestine that is independent, non-contiguous and home to thousands of foreigners who do not respect its laws is not viable. Given the trajectory of Israeli domestic politics, an Israel that reverses the expansionist impulses of the past 44 years in return for peace is not likely. The status quo is neither sustainable nor desirable. Something has to give.

One need not embrace Palestinian self-determination to challenge this situation. A simple demand for equality and human rights for Palestinians will do.

• This article was amended on 25 April 2011. A phrase in the original read, “At the crossing into Nazareth”. The location of the crossing has been clarified in the text.


3.  The Guardian,

26 April 2011


Conal Urquhart gives the impression that Juliano Mer Khamis was an unpopular, quixotic outsider, disliked by most and hated by some, and a victim of irreconcilable cultural differences (A killing inspired by drama not politics, 22 April). He quotes extensively from a “fatwa-style” extremist leaflet and speaks with a “group of elderly women” . But to the public who went to the Freedom Theatre and the actors and students who participated in its productions, this Palestinian theatre was extraordinarily popular and successful.

The theatre’s latest production, Alice in Wonderland (which we, a group of artists with New York Theatre Workshop, attended just days before Juliano was killed) was performed 35 times and was often sold out. While Alice was banned for school-age children by the Palestine education ministry on the grounds that it was “immoral”, this same ministry often brought school children from all over the West Bank in large groups to the Freedom Theatre. This belies the assertion that Juliano “only managed to alienate those he most wanted to inspire”.

Urquhart frames Juliano’s murder as a struggle between “liberal western values of freedom of expression and a more conservative, traditional world view”. This is an outdated opposition. Ideals such as freedom of expression and equality have long been an integral part of the Palestinian struggle, even if these same values have been eroded by a decades-long, brutal occupation.

Juliano did “alienate” and anger a powerful minority of the Palestinian communities he served – but what theatre that is truly challenging, truly radical, doesn’t? Let’s hope that theatres around the world will take inspiration from the Freedom Theatre, because necessary and vital theatre is threatening, controversial, and therefore, at times, deadly for its practitioners.

Naomi Wallace

Erin B Mee

Otterburn, North Yorkshire

4.  The Observer,

24 April 2011

Children are the best peacemakers in the Middle East

For the sake of my dead daughters, I will never cease striving for peace

Izzeldin Abuelaish

[His 3 daughters and niece were killed by an IOF tank shell exploding in their room in Gaza.  For a brief background on Isseldin Abulaish see Dorothy]

I always feel great joy every time I deliver a baby. To hear that first cry gives me hope because a new person has been born, a new chance at life. There will be a fresh pair of eyes to see the world and, I hope, see it in a better way.

The world is filled with conflict and the conflict does not seem to end. In the delivery room, the conflict of painful labour comes to an end as a mother delivers a baby and holds him or her in her arms. The cause of her pain is handed to her and she views the baby as a gift.

As I continue to follow news about ongoing tensions between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem and Gaza, I am reminded all the more of the children caught within this conflict. Having worked in Palestine and Israel, I know there is no difference between Israeli parents and Palestinian parents. Both instinctively protect their child. But in times of conflict, both must learn to understand this need about one another.

Some view my lawsuit against the state of Israel sceptically. For two years, I have waited patiently and worked tirelessly to get Israel to admit responsibility for the killing of my daughters, aged 20, 15 and 14, coupled with an apology. Instead of hope, I was presented with denial and attempts to justify their killings.

In order to get closure, I want Israel to understand the pain I and others have faced, not deny it or ignore it in arrogance and ignorance. These traits are currently dominating the decisions being made – we cannot progress to a state of goodwill unless that changes. People are not just numbers and statistics. We feel pain, we love, we hurt. One of the biggest pains for me was when the legal adviser to the Israeli Ministry of Defence described my daughters’ deaths as “collateral damage”.

In my experience, no baby is born violent or hateful. By contrast, the environment, the lifestyle into which a child is born, is key. If that were not the case, people wouldn’t choose to move to and live in neighbourhoods that they deem safe, nor would parents inquire about and select certain schools that they deem the best quality for their children.

By the end of the first intifada, I saw children, some very young, throwing stones in anger at Israeli tanks. Quite what they thought they would achieve was beyond me, but I witnessed it with my own eyes. The day the Oslo Agreement was signed and the tanks began to withdraw, I witnessed the same children giving flowers, olive branches and candy to the Israeli soldiers as they left.

It is for those children, and for my three daughters and niece who I lost in the Gaza war in 2009, that I tour numerous countries, trying to promote justice, respect and the understanding that we are human and we are fundamentally the same. The journey is difficult, because I am often away from home, but my soul is energised by the people I meet along the way – others who hope, like me, that a peaceful solution will be found to a crisis that has already gone on for far too long.

The individuals I meet are on the whole very happy to hear someone speaking the same language as them. They are convinced that a peaceful solution can be found, convinced that some progress can be made towards taking moral courage, taking responsibility and being truthful, eventually leading to reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. This model can be applied to any conflict in the world and is not limited to the Middle East.

Occasionally, there are a rare few individuals who I regret to say do not share my hopes. I don’t regard any of the questions or comments that I receive difficult to answer, but it pains me to hear the sentiments behind them sometimes. In a recent radio interview in Philadelphia, a caller from Bosnia told me he was filled with hatred towards the people who killed his family.

While I, too, feel the pain of loss, I would have liked to have had the opportunity to talk more with him and help him understand that healing comes through doing good things in the memory of those we love. Conversely, hatred keeps us blind and prevents us from seeing any good in life. Through doing good deeds, we keep them blessed and alive.

I implore Israelis and Palestinians to develop the necessary moral courage and responsibility to move forward with actions towards a process that would save the lives of families and, most important, children. Instead of moving tanks, there needs to be a movement of hearts. Instead of continuing a cycle of action and reaction, there needs to be action on the ground, not just talks.

Each of us should do our part, depending on our circumstances and abilities. All the military might of the Israeli state is not providing it with security and safety. All the rockets going into Beersheba are not providing Palestinians with the rights they are entitled to.

The Israeli government has enforced a statute of limitation for Palestinians to challenge and ask questions. After that, the assumption is that we should forget our loved ones, that we should move on. As long as I am alive, my daughters will live on with me. As long as I am walking on a path towards justice and peace, my daughters will be walking with me.

Justice for my daughters is striving to ensure that more young lives are not lost. I don’t want to tell my girls they were killed in vain. I don’t want to tell the babies that are born in times of conflict that they are born in vain.

In life and in death, children remain the best advocates for peace and are the beauty of life. In our lives we have priorities. The future is our priority and our children are our future.

See online video


5.  Haaretz,

April 26, 2011

Turkey: Israel shouldn’t repeat its Gaza flotilla mistake

Speaking with the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this week, Turkish FM says it is Israel’s responsibility to lift its blockade on the Strip, saying no one nation owned the Mediterranean.

By Haaretz Service

Tags: Israel news Turkey Gaza Gaza flotilla

Israel mustn’t attempt to stop a planned aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip, Turkey’s Foreign Minister told in an interview on Monday, adding that Turkey could do nothing to stop organizers from launching the flotilla.

Turkey said on Thursday it had received a request from Israel to help stop activists sailing to Gaza on the first anniversary of an Israeli raid on a Turkish ship, but it said the flotilla plan was not Ankara’s concern.

The comment comes after Ankara had already made it clear earlier this month that it would and could not stop the 15-ship aid flotilla, planned to set sail next month, a year after nine Turks were shot dead after Israeli marines stormed a flotilla organized by a Turkish Islamist charity.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu urged Israel not to “repeat the same mistake,” adding that it was “Israel’s responsibility not to implement [a blockade] against Gaza.”

“A fact-finding mission of the UN declared that [the blockade] is illegal,” Davutoglu said, adding that in last year’s flotilla people were killed 72 miles [116 kilometers] from the coast, so this was in international waters. The Mediterranean does not belong to any nation.”

Referring to Turkey’s professed inability to stop flotilla organizers from going ahead with their plans, saying: “We can advise, we can say something, but we cannot stop the flotilla.”

Turkey, a secular Muslim nation, has been an important regional ally of Israel for more than a decade.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party government, which has roots in banned Islamist movements, froze relations with Israel after the deadly raid.

Ankara has demanded an apology as a condition for mending ties, regardless of a UN probe’s findings into the incident.


6,  Today in Palestine

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Dorothy Online Newsletter

Shoah’s pages