Archive | March 6th, 2012

SURPRISE, SURPRISE–India blacklists IsraHell defense firm amid corruption charges



India’s Defense Ministry bars IsraHell Military Industries from bidding on defense contracts for 10 years, along with 5 other firms.

ed note–While I am somewhat surprised that this took place in India, given the increasingly-cozy relationship that exists between the two, nevertheless it is still somewhat understandable, as the words ‘Israel’ and ‘corruption’ are as inseprable as ‘smoking’ and ‘lung cancer’.


Israel Military Industries will be barred from submitting bids for Indian defense contracts for the next ten years, along with five other firms, The Times of India reported on Tuesday.

The decision followed an investigation in 2009 by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (the Indian equivalent of the American FBI) which found that the companies had allegedly won past contracts through improper means, including bribing senior officials. ed note–IMAGINE MY SHOCK!!!

Following the investigation, the CBI recommended that action be taken against the companies. The firms were then given a chance to plead their case before the ministry. The latter, however, found their explanations insufficient.

The decision is expected to significantly impact Israel Military Industry’s activities in India, as well as that of other Israeli defense firms.

Israeli defense industry sources said the decision could also stymie the government’s efforts to privatize IMI, as India was considered one of its primary customers.

The other companies included in the blacklist were Singapore Technologies Kinetics, Rheinmetall Air Defence, Corporation Defence Russia, T.S. Kisan & Co. Pvt. Ltd. and R.K. Machine Tools Ltd.

Israel Military Industries said in response that it had not received any official notification regarding the move and therefore could not respond.

“IMI operated and operates according to the law and will continue operating vis a vis the Indian government to resolve the matter,” the company added.

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Last chance to save the NHS



It’s time for Britain’s doctors to take a stand in support of public health care.

It is not difficult to see the sorts of things that are crying out to be done to make the NHS a genuinely better and more efficient service: things like slashing the number of managers and putting clinicians back in charge; kicking the internal market into touch; ending the ridiculous business management-inspired culture of audit-for-audit’s-sake; scrapping PFI and cancelling related debt; nationalising the pharmaceutical industry.

I am a junior doctor currently working at Leigh Infirmary near Wigan in Greater Manchester. In early December I happened to read an article published in the latest edition of the British Medical Journal by one Nick Seddon – deputy director, apparently, of the ‘independent’ (ie, pro-business) think-tank ‘Reform’.

The article was entitled ‘Why shouldn’t private companies run failing hospitals?’, and it so incensed me that I felt compelled to respond in writing. Unfortunately the response quickly became a mini-essay that the BMJ were reluctant to print in full for reasons of space – although they did, in fairness, publish a shortened version online.[1]

Reading back over the unedited version of my reply (some 2,000 words), however, I feel it gives as clear, as concise, and as forthright an argument against the insidious privatisation and managerialism that are slowly throttling the NHS as I have seen. Many colleagues have told me that it puts into words what they themselves have felt for some time. For this reason I have been advised to submit my essay for publication in your journal, the better to circulate the argument as widely as possible.

It is hoped that in doing so, it will resonate with other doctors and other healthcare workers who doubtless feel, as I do, that the NHS is an institution worth fighting for, and that the regressive political direction of the last 30 years can and indeed must be reversed.

AM, Southport

SHO in psychiatry and CPGB-ML member

Replies welcome:

Reply to ‘Why shouldn’t private companies run failing hospitals?’

In Politics and the English Language, Orwell wrote that the purpose of what he called “political prose” was “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”, thereby allowing the writer to conceal his thoughts from himself and others. [2]

Though our bourgeois media invariably ascribe this tendency to ‘Stalinism’, it does not take a genius to identify that ‘political prose’ has in fact reached endemic proportions in the capitalist world, namely as what has come to be known – unofficially of course – as ‘management speak’.

Nick Seddon has given a fine example of the style with his November BMJ article ‘Why shouldn’t private companies run failing hospitals?’ Devoid of such trifling details as sources and context, Seddon cherry-picks facts and factoids alike apparently at random in support of his position, yet even then is clearly struggling to make the case.[ 1]

Perhaps, with his background in business management, he is unaccustomed to the standard requirement when writing in medical journals to tell the truth and to provide supporting evidence for your conclusions. I would be only too happy to enlighten him in these regards.

Seddon plucks a couple of examples that purportedly demonstrate the benefits of private-sector involvement in health care from Finland and Spain. This is disingenuous in the extreme, certainly in the case of Finland. To varying degrees, the continental western European economies have kept the social welfare provisions and business regulatory structures that have been decimated in the UK by three decades of Thatcherism.

When Seddon waxes lyrical about increasing private-sector involvement in the NHS, therefore, I very much doubt it is the strongly social-democratic Scandinavian model he has in mind. Rather, we catch a glimpse of his real vision of the future in the penultimate paragraph: “In the United States a range of organisations such as Kaiser Permanente, Intermountain, and Geisinger have long been leading the way,” he says, reassuringly …

The United States has the most expensive and inefficient healthcare system in the developed world. Well over 40 million Americans therefore still have no health insurance coverage at all, and millions more remain significantly under-insured [ 3] – a situation which, by the way, promises to remain essentially unchanged even if President Obama’s much-hyped healthcare ‘reforms’ are ever enacted, which now looks increasingly unlikely anyway [4]

A child of 5 could understand why this is the case: self-evidently, the more you bring profiteers into the running of a service – any service – the more expensive it’s going to be for the people who need to use it. That’s why, outside of the business community and the hard-right fringe, the desire of the majority of the American people has long been for more public funding and more public provision of health care.[ 5]

As regards the so-called Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) – the likes of Kaiser Permanente – that Seddon apparently considers to be ‘leading the way’, the feeling of the majority of Americans towards these institutions is probably best encapsulated by a memorable anecdote from Professor Allyson Pollock’s seminal 2004 book NHS plc – The Privatisation of Our Health Care. In the 1997 film As Good as It Gets, the female lead played by Helen Hunt reacts with outrage to the revelation that her insurance policy will not provide her severely asthmatic son with the inhalers he needs, declaring frustratedly: “F*cking HMO b*stard pieces of sh*t!!!” By all accounts, cinema audiences across the US famously broke into spontaneous applause at this outburst.[6] Enough said.

At the opposite end of the political spectrum you have socialist Cuba, whose entirely publicly-owned healthcare system “represents an important alternative example where modest infrastructure investments combined with a well-developed public health strategy have generated health status measures comparable with those of industrialised countries”.[ 7] In other words, Cuba – a third-world country – has built a healthcare system at a fraction of the cost of those of developed countries, yet with broadly similar – and in some cases actually better – outcomes.

Moreover, it has managed to achieve this despite 50 years of unceasing economic warfare and sabotage waged against it by the United States, and despite the devastating effect of the collapse in 1991 of its Soviet ally.

It is not difficult to see how such efficiency has been possible. Firstly, at no point in the Cuban system is there anybody who is driving up costs by making a profit out of it; and secondly, the fact that the state is the sole provider of health care avoids the wasteful duplication, cherry-picking, and poor coordination of services that inevitably arise when multiple inter-competing providers are involved.

On reflection, this all makes Nick Seddon’s call “to make care more joined up” by privatising it look even more bizarre.

Of course, as anyone who does any real clinical work in the NHS knows, there are ultimately two very good and interrelated reasons why private companies shouldn’t be permitted to run any hospitals, failing or otherwise: 1) Because the whole story of the involvement of the private sector in the NHS over the past 30 plus years has been an unmitigated disaster from start to finish; and 2) Because it’s precisely as a result of this private-sector involvement that we have such things as ‘failing hospitals’ in the first place.

The story has been a tragedy in five acts. First, the Thatcher government’s implementation of the findings of the 1983 Griffiths Report (headed by Sir Roy Griffiths, a former director of Monsanto and Sainsbury’s) brought business managers in to run the NHS.

Second, the NHS and Community Care Act 1990 – inspired by Alain Enthoven, formerly of the US Department of Defence – set up the so-called ‘internal market’ in the NHS: the designation of NHS hospitals as individual business units (NHS ‘Trusts’) that henceforth had to compete against one another for funding from ‘purchasers’ or ‘commissioners’. Those that were less ‘competitive’ were by definition ‘failing hospitals’.

Third, the huge expansion of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) by the Blair government from 1997 led many Trusts to run up significant long-term debts to private banks and construction companies in their efforts to out-compete one another. Ironically, Trusts that were subsequently unable to service these debts – principally through asset sales, ward closures, and job cuts – would again by definition be labelled as ‘failing’.

Fourth, the launch of ‘foundation hospitals’ after 2002 effectively provided a template for the transformation of NHS Trusts into embryonic private hospitals.

And finally, the Health and Social Care Bill 2011, if and when enacted, will administer the coup de grace to the NHS as we knew it, removing the historic legal obligation of the Secretary of State to provide a comprehensive health service, dissolving the Strategic Health Authorities, and compelling all remaining NHS Trusts to become – or be subsumed into – Foundation Trusts.[8]

What has happened, bit by bit, to the NHS over the past 30 years thus becomes blindingly obvious. When the Thatcher government wanted to privatise council housing, it was able to appeal to tenants’ aspirations to social mobility through home ownership. When it wanted to privatise gas, telecommunications, electricity, and water, it was able to spin illusions of a ‘shareholder democracy’ where the laws of the free market would operate to ensure cheaper bills (seriously).

Even when the Major government was itself running out of steam in the mid-90s it was just about able to use years of underperformance (actually a result of chronic underinvestment) as justification for rushing through the privatisation of British Rail.

But quick and out-in-the-open sell-offs such as these would never have been possible in the case of the NHS: it was depended upon and highly regarded as a publicly-owned institution by the overwhelming majority of the British public. Instead the government would need a slow, covert, and incremental privatisation process that could never be revealed as a privatisation process (instead cloaking itself in such anodyne terms as ‘reform’ and ‘modernisation’) until the final endgame, by which time, of course, it would be a fait accompli.

Only now that the end is almost upon us do the likes of Nick Seddon dare to show their true colours and argue publicly for out-and-out privatisation. “Look,” they say, “the NHS is just too expensive to run in the old way any more; we need to bring in the efficiencies of the market!” – deliberately obscuring the fact that it is precisely the semi-privatised world of multiplying managers, insane internal market-related administrative costs, and spiralling PFI debt that they have created that has made the NHS so unnecessarily expensive to run in the first place.

Anyone who can seriously, in 2011, continue to ignore the evidence of their senses and trot out the lazy right-wing dogma of ‘public sector inefficient; private sector efficient’ is, quite frankly, either lying or stupid. Has the selling off of council homes resulted in more affordable housing? Has the selling off of the electricity, gas, and water boards resulted in more affordable utility bills? Has the selling off of the railways resulted in more affordable rail travel?

Of course, what the likes of Nick Seddon really mean when they talk of ‘efficiency’ is profitability. And here we get to the crux of the matter: The privateers simply do not care that privatisation inevitably results in a shoddy, inefficient, disorganised, expensive – and not to mention downright dangerous – service, because the sole purpose of it is to pour money into their pockets.

These people do not get involved with the NHS because they really fancy the challenge of delivering better health care, no matter what their glossy press releases may say. What they are after is a captive market – a guaranteed pot of taxpayers’ money with which they are free, and indeed are legally obliged, to boost their own profits.[9]

And if the shareholders demand more profits, no problem! By Seddon’s own admission, they can ‘reform’ the workforce and ‘renegotiate’ staff pay and conditions. But won’t cutting staff numbers potentially undermine the entire service? No problem there either – the Health and Social Care Bill promises to remove the Secretary of State’s legal obligation to ensure a comprehensive health service.

No doubt, if this response to Seddon’s article is published, I can expect a very polite rejoinder to the effect that ‘polemics that polarise debate are unhelpful’. To the charge that my argument against the privateers is a left-wing polemic, I am happy to plead guilty. After all, right-wing polemics dressed up in the politically neutral ‘professional’ language of management speak are still right-wing polemics, and deserve a response that brings the real terms of the debate out in the open.

Nothing has been more depressing in the NHS in recent years than the experience of senior doctors expressing their dismay and unease at the often bizarre edicts of corporate managers in private, yet feeling hamstrung into grudging acceptance by management’s claims to ‘professional’ authority in public.

It is not difficult to see the sorts of things that are crying out to be done to make the NHS a genuinelybetter and more efficient service: things like slashing the number of managers and putting clinicians back in charge; kicking the internal market into touch; ending the ridiculous business management-inspired culture of audit-for-audit’s-sake; scrapping PFI and cancelling related debt; nationalising the pharmaceutical industry.

The fact that these may seem like implausible dreams in these politically bleak times does not make them impossible and certainly does not make them wrong. After all, at one time the idea of an NHS itself must have seemed like an implausible dream.

Many doctors, despairing of the power of the managers, imagine that the way to fight managerialism is to become managers themselves. This is quite wrong; you might as well argue that the way to fight crime is to become a criminal yourself. On the contrary, the only way to counter the politically regressive aspirations of the privateers is to expose and oppose them at every turn.

Doctors must act not as managers and businessmen, but as workers and as citizens. Indeed, they must act as doctors. The NHS depends on it.


1. Why shouldnt private companies run failing hospitals?, 30 November 2010

2. G Orwell, Politics and the English Language, April1946

3. Health Insurance, US Census Bureau

4. ‘Obamas healthcare bill is enough to make you sick, by C Hedges, Truthdig, July 2010

5. Noam Chomsky interviewed by Amy Goodman Democracy Now, April 2009

6. AM Pollock, NHS plc – The Privatisation of our Health Care, 2004

7. ‘Health in Cuba’ by RS Cooper, JF Kennelly and P Ordunez-Garcia, International Journal of Epidemiology, 2006; 35: 817-824

8. Health and Social Care Bill 2011 

9. J Bakan, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, 2004

Posted in HealthComments Off on Last chance to save the NHS

In Syria, al Jazeera’s Credibility Implodes


The guy who runs al Jazeera’s Syrian coverage is the brother of a SNC bigwig


Over the last couple days the Syrian army has moved into the Baba Amr district of Homs.

The action is Syria’s Tiananmen.

The Western shorthand for Tiananmen is “authoritarian regime reveals its true monstrous face to the world and its own citizens by trampling on helpless pro-democracy demonstrators.”

Maybe so, but in the Chinese official political lexicon Tianenmen was “a demonstration of state power against a dissident group meant to illustrate the absolute authority of the state and the utter marginalization of the protesters.”

On February 25, I wrote this about the Homs endgame in Asia Times:

“Then there is Homs or, more accurately, the Baba Amro district of Homs, which has turned into a symbol of resistance, armed and otherwise, to Assad’s rule.

“Assad’s Western and domestic opponents have put the onus on Russia and China for enabling the Homs assault by their veto of the UN Security Council resolution, a toothless text that would have called for Assad to step down.

“However, the significance of the veto was not that it allowed Assad to give free rein to his insatiable blood lust for slaughtering his own citizens, as the West would have it.

“The true significance of the veto was the message that Russia and China had endorsed Assad as a viable political actor, primarily within Syria, and his domestic opponents, including those holding out in Baba Amro, should think twice before basing their political strategy on the idea that he would be out of the picture shortly thanks to foreign pressure.

“It is difficult to determine exactly what the government’s objectives are for Baba Amro. Hopefully, they are not simply wholesale massacre through indiscriminate shelling.

“Recent reports indicate that the government, after a prolonged and brutal softening-up, has decided to encircle the district, send in the tanks, and demonstrate to the fragmented opposition that ‘resistance is futile’, at least the armed resistance that seems to depend on the expectation of some combination of foreign support and intervention to stymie Assad and advance its interest.

“Whatever the plan is, the Chinese government is probably wishing that the Assad regime would get on with it and remove the humanitarian relief of Homs from the “Friends of Syria” diplomatic agenda.

“The message that Syria and China hope the domestic opposition will extract from Homs in the next few weeks is that, in the absence of meaningful foreign support, armed resistance has reached a dead end; it is time for moderates to abandon hope in the local militia or the gunmen of the FSA and turn to a political settlement.

“To Syria’s foreign detractors, the message will be that the genie of armed resistance has been stuffed back into the bottle thanks to “Hama Lite”; and the nations that live in Syria’s neighborhood might reconsider their implacable opposition to Assad’s continued survival.”

I think this interpretation of events is pretty spot on.

And I wish somebody would address the issue of who were the 4000 who stayed to the end in Baba Amr, “a working class district of 100,000”: Was it the core of the resistance? People who couldn’t or wouldn’t leave when the Syrian army tightened the noose?  Any second thoughts on that botched exfiltration of that Sunday Times reporter that got him out a couple days before the Syrian army moved in (and moved the journalists out) but apparently got 13 people killed?

Was Homs a) a carnival of slaughter unleashed by a madman against his own citizens? b) a bloody exercise in Fallujah-style collective punishment meant to terrify Syria’s Sunni majority into submission? c) a brutal and effective coordinated military/security/political/diplomatic campaign meant to isolate and marginalize the rebels and convince Syrians that the insurrection has no hope of foreign succor or domestic success?

Inquiring minds want to know.

It looks like they won’t find out from al Jazeera.

The main event, or what should be the main event, for Western observers of Syria is the messy implosion of Al Jazeera’s credibility.  Somebody disgruntled with the diktat of channel management that the Syrian revolution (at least the SNC version of it) “must be televised” leaked some raw footage of Homs coverage and interviews staged for maximum anti-regime effect.

As’ad AbuKhalil, proprietor of the Angry Arab newsblog, hails from the atheist/Marxist/feminist quadrant and is no friend of the Bashar regime.  He had this to say about recent trends in programming on Syrian state TV:

“It seems that Syrian regime had agents among the rebels; or it seems that the Syrian regime obtained a trove of video footage from Baba Amru.  They have been airing them non-stop.  They are quite damning. They show the correspondent or witness (for CNN or from Aljazeera) before he is on the air: and the demeanor is drastically different from the demeanor on the air and they even show contrived sounds of explosions timed for broadcast time…

“PS This is really scandalous. It shows the footage prior to Aljazeera reports: they show fake bandages applied on a child and then a person is ordered to carry a camera in his hand to make it look like a mobile footage.  It shows a child being fed what to say on Aljazeera.”

Later in the day:

“This is rather explosive.  You know how low Aljazeera has sunk when Syrian regime TV stations have a field day with the shoddy journalism and fabrication procedures of Aljazeera.  It seems that people inside Aljazeera have leaked raw footage and pre-air reports to someone in Syrian regime TV.  I am not surprised of the leak at all: I am in contact from people inside Aljazeera who are disgusted by the propaganda work of the network in the last few months.  …  I know how those things work and they know that I know.

The footage that are being shown show staging of events of calling a civilian an “officer” in the Syrian army, of faking injuries and feeding statements to people before airtime, etc. Aljazeera seems to be writing its own professional obituary.  I don’t know how it can really resurrect itself again. It is mortally wounded. I know that there are people in the network who are pained about what is happening but royal orders are royal orders in the network and no one dare to disobey.  I am told that orders came down to the effect that no half-position would be tolerated and that categorical adoption of the Qatari foreign policy on Syria is a job requirement.”

Actually, information about Al Jazeera’s Syria biases had already reached the English language media on February 24 (and Syria watchers when Josh Landis posted it on his Syria Comment blog), when an article in al Akhbar reported on some e-mails hacked off al Jazeera’s servers by the Syrian regime’s “electronic army”:

“The major find to be made public was an email exchange between anchorwoman Rula Ibrahim and Beirut-based reporter Ali Hashem. The emails seemed to indicate widespread disaffection within the channel, especially over its coverage of the crisis in Syria.

“Ibrahim … protested that she had ‘been utterly humiliated. They wiped the floor with me because I embarrassed Zuheir Salem, spokesperson for Syria’s Muslim Brothers. As a result, I was prevented from doing any Syrian interviews, and threatened with [a] transfer to the night shift on the pretext that I was making the channel imbalanced.’

“Ibrahim also spoke of how Syrian activists invited onto Al Jazeera use terms of sectarian incitement on air, ‘which Syrians understand very well.’

“They also confirmed an allegation Ibrahim had reportedly made in one of her emails: That Ahmad Ibrahim, who is in charge of the channel’s Syria coverage, is the brother of Anas al-Abdeh, a leading member of the opposition Syrian National Council. He allegedly stopped using his family name to avoid drawing attention to the connection.”

Yes, emphasis added.  The guy who runs al Jazeera’s Syrian coverage is the brother of a SNC bigwig.

The requisite ironic coda (and what should be the obituary for al Jazeera as a serious news outfit, at least as far as its current Syrian coverage is concerned) is contained in this observation:

“However, the scoop did not attract the attention that had been hoped for. Like other official Syrian media, the channel is not widely watched and has suffered a loss of viewer confidence.

“Thus the report was barely noticed, and Al Jazeera itself completely disregarded it.”

Yes, news you can report just by walking into your newsroom; that’s too far for al Jazeera (and, probably CNN).

Posted in SyriaComments Off on In Syria, al Jazeera’s Credibility Implodes

“A united, democratic nation with equal rights for all”


By Diana Buttu

As a former legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team, I spent more than six years working toward a “two-state’’ solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During that period, we held countless negotiation sessions, examined scores of proposals, met with hundreds of diplomats and even went house-to-house campaigning for the two-state solution. Today, we are no closer to achieving a two-state solution than we were 20 years ago when negotiations started. Since that time, the number of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank has almost tripled to 600,000, with settlements spreading throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip increasingly isolated from the rest of Palestine.

Some pundits point to poor leadership, the rise of right-wing governments, weak or uninterested US presidents, and a powerful Israel lobby, while others highlight the imbalance in negotiating power and the absurdity of negotiating while under occupation. The divergent views suggest an unsatisfactory impasse until we achieve the right alignment of stars: the perfect Israeli prime minister, the perfect American president, and the perfect Palestinian leader for peace to finally reign.

But perhaps the pundits are wrong and have failed to identify why six decades after Israel’s creation on top of Palestine there is no peace. In fact, we may have tried the wrong model: We tried to divide a land that had never historically been successfully divided and we focused myopically on the creation of a “state’’ rather than the fulfillment of rights.

Instead, we might look to a model focusing on equal rights for all individuals in the land irrespective of religion; a model which seeks reconciliation rather than separation and protects minorities rather than discriminates against them. The student-led one-state conference at Harvard this weekend aims to explore this model.

I am under no illusion that achieving equality for Palestinians and Israelis will be easy. Power is never voluntarily shared by those who wield it. Indeed, the idea of one state has already created hysteria among many of Israel’s supporters who claim it would “destroy Israel.’’ This is wrong. One-state proponents seek only to defeat the ethno-religious privilege that currently defines Israel and affords Jews superior rights to Palestinians, irrespective of whether the Palestinians are citizens of Israel or non-citizens living under Israel’s military rule.

Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories already function as a single unit. There are no separate border crossings for “Palestine’’ and no separate Palestinian currency. Yet Palestinians of the occupied Palestinian territories are denied the same civil and political rights as Israelis. For Palestinian citizens of Israel, the picture is similar. Such citizens vote in Israeli elections, but are denied the same rights as Jewish Israelis. More than 35 laws explicitly privilege Jews.

Perspectives are already changing. Today, more than a quarter of Palestinians support a single democratic state, despite the absence of any political party advocating the position. Israeli perspectives are changing too on both the left and right.

The primary obstacle to one state is the belief that this system of ethno-religious privilege – similar to the privilege that ruled apartheid South Africa – must remain. Indeed, Jim Crow laws and South African apartheid were similarly entrenched in many minds. Yet history demonstrates that ethnic privilege ultimately fails in a multiethnic society. Palestinians and Israelis are fated to live together. The real question is how – under a system of ethno-religious privilege or under a system of equality?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on “A united, democratic nation with equal rights for all”

Women’s Day is a day of solidarity with the administrative detainee Hana Al-Shalabi


By: Janan Abdu


A call for women’s and feminist organizations to announce Women’s Day to be a day of solidarity with the administrative detainee Hana Al-Shalabi and all female prisoners and women in the families of Palestinian prisoners .

Women’s Day, which marks the eighth of March, is a symbolic day to remind us of the struggle that women of the world go through to break the chains of sexism because they are women. However, there are different categories of women, whilst some women struggled for liberation and equality – for example against discrimination in terms of the right to vote and be elected, women were sexist towards women of other ethnic groups or on the basis of gender and race. There are debates and fundamental differences in how to deal with certain issues between the masses of women by the intellectual and ideological affiliation to different streams and sometimes contradictory or conflicting.

In Palestine, Women’s Day is a day of struggle. Despite the achievements of some significant things, were achieved as a result of long paths of struggle, we shouldn’t celebrate yet, we are still Palestinian women, whether in Palestine 1948 or in the West Bank and Gaza or the Diaspora suffering from colonialism, occupation, discrimination and racism. Women of the West Bank and Gaza Stripsuffer from the consequences of the occupation, and in Palestine 1948, we suffer from racism institutionalized in the laws and the fact that the state is the state of Israel, the state is built on our land and tore our families apart.

Palestinian women suffered the most from the occupation and the establishment of the Jewish state. They experienced the migration, separation, and non-settlement in neighbouring countries, they continue to live in risk of institutionalized discrimination, the risk of local displacement and uprooting, as in Negev, and continue to live at risk of having their families torn apart by the law of racial citizenship…

Our women have suffered of captivity in the past during the Mandate period, and have suffered from emergency laws used by the British Mandate also from and administrative detention. For example, the arrest of Palestinian activist Sathej Nassar, the Editor of “Carmel” magazine, and wife of Najib Nassar the activist, she was arrested under administrative detention for a year without providing an indictment against her; she was called a “very dangerous woman.” She was arrested on 23/03/1939, according to Emergency Law No. 15 B, which permits administrative detention, and was imprisoned in Bethlehem until 23/02/1940, and this was the first arrest and imprisonment of a Political Palestinian woman.

The Mandate government arrested many women and put them in prison for years up to seven to ten years for hiding or smuggling arms, and this happened during the general strike and the great revolution in 1936. In 1937, the feminist activist Maseel Maghanam wrote a book in English titled: “The Arab Woman and the Palestine Problem”: “do not talk about women’s rights as long as we under occupation.” She meant that they needed complete liberation of the entire system of occupation that suppress freedoms and initiate violence.

In the case of Palestinian women, the Jewish state helped in the continuing violence and the killing of women and even the failure to provide awareness and prevention, and even have the upper hand in the harsh living conditions experienced by Palestinian families (e.g. unemployment, poverty, displacement and home demolition, which can be one of the factors that cause some types of violence against women). Palestinian women still pay the price, and suffer from the occupation and its consequences; the Separation Barrier dismembered families and hindered human family communication.

Our women pay the price in captivity, detention, investigation and insults, and pay the price of the longest-lived Israeli occupation and colonialism, after the end of the apartheid system in South Africa.

Women and young girls pay the price of their family members’ captivity, and suffer discrimination in prison against them and their families because of the policies of prison administration, which prevent any contact between the political prisoners and their family, which isn’t the case for the political Jewish prisoners or for Arab or Jewish criminals. They don’t allow the Palestinian captive to hug his family, even in the most difficult moments, as cases of death.

Palestinian detainee Hana Al-Shalabi announced that she is on hunger strike to protest against her administrative arrest again after she was released in “Wafaa Al-Ahrar” deal in October 2011.

Administrative detention is arresting the person without being presented for any trial and without providing an indictment. There are 307 administrative detainees in Israeli prisons, including 3 women, and the total number of women detainees is 6 to date after the majority were released in the latest deal.

Let’s announce the eighth of March, a day of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, to unite frameworks and women’s movements behind this cause.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Women’s Day is a day of solidarity with the administrative detainee Hana Al-Shalabi

Dorothy Online Newsletter


Dear Friends,


By contrast to yesterday, the pickings on Israel were slim today in the foreign press that I checked (nothing new about Israel or Palestine in BBC, the Guardian, the Independent, France24, der Spiegel, and Al Jazeera).  Only the American papers carried news and/or commentary on Israel, and that only with reference to Obama’s speech at today’s AIPAC conference vs Israel’s demands.  My impression is that lately attitudes in the American press towards Israel are more critical than in the past.  However, an instance of true unabashed and justified criticism that flowed into my inbox today is from Thailand, not the US.


The 4 items below begin with ‘Today in Palestine,’ the compilation of reports and commentaries on events in (mainly) the Occupied Palestinian Territories.


The following 2 items are from the LATimes and NY Times, respectively, both about Iran.  Each relates what Obama will be willing to give vs what Israel demands.


Lastly, the item from the Thai news is harshly critical of Israel, as can be seen even from its title: ‘Annihilation hovers over Palestine, not Israel.’  The figures of the number of colonists quoted in the article is, however, a bit low I believe.  There are now over 700,000 in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and surroundings.


There also was not much of interest in the domestic Israeli press today.  Hence only 4 items today, which of course expands if you read a portion of ‘Today in Palestine.’  There you will hear more about Hana Shalabi, who is now in her 3rd week of hunger strike, and will also learn about other political prisoners, as well as much more.  If  you want to know what is happening in the occupied Palestinian territory, ‘Today in Palestine’ tells you.


That’s it for today.

All the best,




1 Today

Palestine for March 4, 2012



2 LATimes

Sunday, March 4, 2012



McManus: Israel’s brinkmanship, America’s peril

Is Israel serious in saying it might soon attack Iran’s nuclear facilities? It says it is, and the Obama administration is taking it at its word.,0,4807303.column


Doyle McManus


Last week, Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, confirmed a no-longer-surprising fact: the Pentagon has sent the White House a menu of options for going to war with Iran.


But that doesn’t mean the military thinks bombing Iran would be a good idea. “It’s not prudent at this point to decide to attack Iran,” Schwartz’s boss, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on CNN last month, adding that his advice applied to Israel as well as the United States. “A strike at this time would be destabilizing and wouldn’t achieve their objectives,” Dempsey said.


It’s hard to find a high-rankingU.S. militaryofficer who thinks war with Iran is a good idea. They point out that it is unclear that bombing Iran would succeed in stopping the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear technology, and that an attack would almost surely provoke Iranian retaliation and touch off a longer, wider war.


But that hasn’t stopped President Obama from rattling the saber.


“When the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say,” he told Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic last week. “As president of the United States, I don’t bluff.”


Part of the reason Obama sounds more hawkish than his generals is that he hopes the threat of military action can help bring Iran around. But he’s also trying to navigate a delicate situation with a leader who’s ostensibly one of his closest allies, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


Netanyahu and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, have said that they don’t believe economic sanctions and negotiations are working fast enough to persuade Iran to curtail its nuclear program. Barak has warned that Iran’s nuclear facilities will soon be so deep underground that they will be in a “zone of immunity,” safe from military attack — or at least safe from the scale of attack that Israel could muster.


Once that happens, Israel would have to depend on the United States for protection, and that’s not a position the Israelis want to be in. So Netanyahu and Barak have publicly suggested that it may soon be time for Israel to strike, despite the dangers that an attack would bring.


Are the Israelis serious? They say they are, and the Obama administration is taking them at their word. Over the past two months, a parade of U.S. defense officials has visited Israel. This week, Netanyahu is visiting Washington — hoping, according to Israeli media reports, to win a promise from Obama that the United States will prevent Iran from even attaining the capability to build nuclear weapons. Until now, the United States has said it will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but Israel wants the red line moved to the less easily defined point of “capability.”


For all Netanyahu’s bluster, Israeli officials still say war with Iran is something they’d like to avoid. An Israeli attack on Iran would almost certainly lead not only to direct retaliation from Tehran, but also a ground war with Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian militia that rules southern Lebanon. A poll of Israelis released last week found that only 19% favor attacking Iran without U.S. support, and only 42% favor an attack even with U.S. support.


Even Netanyahu has said that the outcome he’d prefer is an Iranian retreat in the face of economic sanctions, with no military action by anyone.


But is that possible?


The United States and its European allies have been working on proposals for the next round of nuclear talks with Iran, which are planned to begin next month. The aim, Obama said in his interview with the Atlantic, is to induce Iran’s leaders “to make a strategic calculation” to delay “whatever potential breakout capacity they may have.”


That probably means some kind of deal under which Iran would agree to limit its enrichment of uranium to levels well below what’s needed for nuclear weapons and submit to international inspections that would reassure Israel and other countries that it is not pursuing secret military projects.


The idea, said Dennis Ross, a former Obama advisor, would be to “stop the clock” and freeze Iran’s nuclear technology at a level that doesn’t threaten anyone else. But that would likely require the United States and its allies to soften their previous demand that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment as a first step.


Obama noted that Iranian leaders have frequently insisted they aren’t seeking nuclear weapons. “So it doesn’t require them to knuckle under to us,” he said. But it would require them to allow more intrusive inspections than they have accepted in the past.


The Obama administration contends that a deal like that is more possible than ever before, because economic sanctions against Iran have finally begun to bite. But to obtain an agreement with Iran, the United States needs Israel to stay its hand.


The term “brinkmanship” was coined during the Cold War to describe threats of military action that, if implemented, would lead to disaster for both sides. It’s ironic that in this case, the brinkmanship is coming from America’s ally, Netanyahu, and it carries the potential of calamity not only for Iran and Israel, but for the United States as well.




3  NY Times

Saturday, March 3, 2012


U.S. Backers of Israel Pressure Obama Over Policy on Iran



WASHINGTON — On the eve of a crucial visit to the White House by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, that country’s most powerful American advocates are mounting an extraordinary public campaign to pressure President Obama into hardening American policy toward Iran over its nuclear program.


From the corridors of Congress to a gathering of nearly 14,000 American Jews and other supporters of Israel here this weekend, Mr. Obama is being buffeted by demands that the United States be more aggressive toward Iran and more forthright in supporting Israel in its own confrontation with Tehran.


While defenders of Israel rally every year at the meeting of the pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, this year’s gathering has been supercharged by a convergence of election-year politics, a deepening nuclear showdown and the often-fraught relationship between the president and the Israeli prime minister.


Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu will both speak to the group, known as Aipac, as will the three leading Republican presidential candidates, who will appear via satellite from the campaign trail on the morning of Super Tuesday. Republicans have seized on Iran’s nuclear ambitions to accuse Mr. Obama of being weak in backing a staunch ally and in confronting a bitter foe.


The pressure from an often-hostile Congress is also mounting. A group of influential senators, fresh from a meeting with Mr. Netanyahu in Jerusalem, has called on Mr. Obama to lay down sharper criteria, known as “red lines,” about when to act against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.


“We’re saying to the administration, ‘You’ve got a problem; let’s fix it, let’s get back on message,’ ” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who took part in the meeting with Mr. Netanyahu and said the Israeli leader vented frustration at what he viewed as mixed messages from Washington.


“It’s not just about the Jewish vote and 2012,” Mr. Graham added. “It’s about reassuring people who want to avoid war that the United States will do what’s necessary.”


To give teeth to the deterrent threat against Iran, Israel and its backers want Mr. Obama to stop urging restraint on Israel and to be more explicit about the circumstances under which the United States itself would carry out a strike.


Specifically, Israeli officials are demanding that Iran agree to halt all its enrichment of uranium in the country, and that the suspension be verified by United Nations inspectors, before the West resumes negotiations with Tehran on its nuclear program.


The White House has rejected that demand, Israeli and American officials said on Friday, arguing that Iran would never agree to a blanket ban upfront, and to insist on it would doom negotiations before they even began. The administration insists that Mr. Obama will stick to his policy, which is focused on using economic sanctions to force the Iranian government to give up its nuclear ambitions, with military action as a last resort.


Despite the position of the Israelis and Aipac, the American intelligence agencies continue to say that there is no evidence that Iran has made a final decision to pursue a nuclear weapon. Recent assessments by American spy agencies have reaffirmed intelligence findings in 2007 and 2010 that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program.


In his tone, at least, Mr. Obama is working to reassure Israel. In an interview published on Friday, Mr. Obama reiterated his pledge to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon — with force, if necessary — and ruled out a policy of accepting but seeking to contain a nuclear-armed Iran. The Israeli government, he said, recognizes that “as president of the United States, I don’t bluff.”


The White House’s choice of interviewer — Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for the magazine The Atlantic — was carefully calculated. Mr. Goldberg is closely read among Jews in America; in 2010, he wrote an article exploring the situations under which Israel would attack Iran.


American Jews are anything but monolithic. More dovish groups, like J Street, are trying to make a case against a pre-emptive Israeli strike. But for the next few days, Aipac will set the tone for an intense debate over the Iranian nuclear threat.


Mr. Obama will not lay down new red lines on Iran, even if he discusses them with Mr. Netanyahu, administration officials said. And he is not ready to accept a central part of Israel’s strategic calculation: that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be warranted to stop it from gaining the capability to build a nuclear weapon, rather than later, to stop it from actually manufacturing one.


In the interview, Mr. Obama warned Israel of the consequences of a strike and said that it would delay but not prevent Iran from acquiring a weapon. He also said he did not know how the American public would react.


Israel’s supporters said they believed that a majority of Americans would support an Israeli military strike against Iran. But polling data paints a murkier picture: while close to 50 percent of Americans say in several polls that they would support Israel, a slightly larger number say they would stay neutral. In some surveys, there is strong support for continuing diplomacy.


Supporters of Israel argue that in the American news media, Iran’s nuclear program has been wrongly framed as Israel’s problem, rather than as a threat to the security of the whole world.


“This is about the devastating impact on U.S. and Western security of a nuclear-armed Iran bent on bullying the region into submission,” said Josh Block, a former spokesman for Aipac.


Turnout for this year’s Aipac conference is expected to surpass all previous records. And the roster of speakers attests to the group’s drawing power. In addition to Mr. Obama, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta will speak, as will Congressional leaders including Senator Mitch McConnell, the chamber’s Republican leader, and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House.


On Tuesday, the screens in the Washington convention center will light up with the Republican presidential contenders Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who are likely to fault Mr. Obama as not doing enough to prevent Iran from getting a weapon.


“Aipac is the spearhead of the pro-Israel community’s efforts to move the American government’s red lines closer to Israel’s red lines,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former American envoy to Israel.


Officials at Aipac declined to comment about the conference or their strategy. But Mr. Block and other former Aipac officials said that, as in previous years, the group would blanket Capitol Hill with its members — all of whom will carry a message about the Iranian nuclear threat.


They will be pushing on an open door. Democrats and Republicans, divided on so much, are remarkably united in supporting Israel and in ratcheting up pressure on Iran. The Senate voted 100 to 0 last year to pass legislation isolating Iran’s central bank, over the objections of the White House.


There are four bills in the House and Senate that call for tougher action against Iran or closer military cooperation between Israel and the United States. Mr. Graham is one of 32 Republican and Democratic sponsors of a resolution that calls on the president to reject a policy of containing Iran.


“The Senate can’t agree to cross the street,” Mr. Graham said. “Iran has done more to bring us together than anything in the world.”


To counter Aipac’s message, J Street has circulated a video on Capitol Hill, highlighting American and Israeli military experts who have voiced doubts about the efficacy of a strike on Iran.


“We are saying there needs to be time for enhanced sanctions and diplomacy to work,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street. “We’re trying to calm down the drumbeat of war.”


David E. Sanger contributed reporting.



4 Forwarded by Mark


“his lie has been repeated so often that it has become the truth.“


Yes, but no sane educated person believes it. Those who believe it can be either sane or educated but not both.



On Sun, Mar 4, 2012

Kristoffer  wrote:

This lie has been repeated so often that it has become the truth. The real truth, as always, is quite different: It is Israel which is wiping Palestine off the map, day by day, slowly but surely, one settlement at a time.


Annihilation hovers over Palestine, not Israel

As the threat of Iran’s nuclear potential is hyped in Tel Aviv and Washington, it is the people in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem who are in real danger


Writer: Imtiaz Muqbil

Position: Executive editor of Travel Impact Newswire

•         Published: 4/03/2012 at 02:56 AM

•         Newspaper section: News

One of the claims being made to justify Israel’s demand for a blank cheque to attack Iran is that the Islamic Republic poses an ”existential threat” to the Jewish state in view of its statements about wanting to wipe Israel off the map.

This lie has been repeated so often that it has become the truth. The real truth, as always, is quite different: It is Israel which is wiping Palestine off the map, day by day, slowly but surely, one settlement at a time.

Here are the real facts:

On Feb 22 this year, Israeli authorities legalised the unauthorised settler outpost of Shvut Rachel in the northern West Bank and approved a plan for 500 new homes there. The plan was approved by the higher planning council of the Israeli civil administration, the military body that manages civilian affairs for most of the West Bank.

According to one report, the committee agreed to retroactively legalise approximately 100 homes already built there, as well as 95 homes without permits in the nearby settlement of Shilo, which has 2,000 residents, some 30km south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank.

The news agency Agence France Presse quoted Mr Yariv Oppenheimer, head of the settlement watchdog group Peace Now, as describing the move as ”one of the biggest projects in the territories”. The decision proved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was ”doing everything he could to prevent the creation of two states for two peoples”, Mr Oppenheimer said.

The AFP report said that more than 310,000 Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and the number is growing. Another 200,000 live in a dozen settlement neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in 1967 and annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

Robert Serry, the top United Nations envoy for the Middle East peace process, described the Israeli move as ”deplorable”, one that ”moves us further away from the goal of a two-state solution”.

Mr Serry was quoted from a UN statement as saying, ”During his recent visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, the UN Secretary-General [Ban Ki-moon] reiterated the United Nations well known position that settlement activity is illegal, contrary to Israel’s obligations under the road map [to peace] and will not be recognised by the international community.”

During his visit to the occupied territories on Feb 6, Mr Ban had renewed his call for progress in the Middle East peace process, citing the toll taken on the economy and lives of Palestinians by the ongoing Israeli occupation. ”The issue of settlements, which are illegal and hurt prospects for a negotiated solution, clearly has an economic dimension. Settlements and their infrastructure severely restrict access to land and natural resources by the Palestinian people,” Mr Ban said.

Also on Feb 22, the office of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and vice-president of the European Commission Catherine Ashton issued a statement saying it was ”deeply concerned” by Israel’s approval of new construction in the settlements.

The statement said, ”Settlements are illegal under international law. In addition the Quartet road map states that Israel should not only freeze all settlement activity, but also dismantle those settlements erected since March 2001. It is particularly important at this point that neither party in the Middle East peace process undertakes provocative actions which undermine the prospects for continuing the dialogue which was re-established in January. The high representative calls on Israel to respect its obligations under the road map and reverse this decision.”

A more detailed check indicated that the EU had issued a similar statement in September 2011 following an Israeli decision to advance settlement expansion in East Jerusalem with approximately 1,000 new housing units in Gilo. Ms Ashton ”deplored” that move, too.

Said the earlier statement, ”The EU has repeatedly called on Israel to end all settlement activity, including natural growth, and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001. Settlement activity threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution and raises questions about Israel’s stated commitment to resume negotiations.”

That’s not all.

On Feb 23, the Palestinians went public with news of an Israeli plan to transfer land allocated for a future Qalandia airport into an industrial zone. The land, clearly located in occupied territory, is part of the Palestinian Authority’s development plans after statehood. The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that the municipality of West Jerusalem had registered the unused land as state land.

It said that the Israeli Airport Authority made a submission to the Israeli municipality, requesting to register the land under its authority at the Israel Land Department.

On Feb 24, the Palestinian government issued a statement saying that this continued step-by-step Israeli expansion ”will kill the two-state solution”. In other words, it will wipe Palestine off the map.

Said the statement, ”The Palestinian government warns that the policies and actions of the [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu government seriously prevent the creation of a viable Palestinian state due to an irreversible mechanism working daily to create, and altering, facts on the ground in the form of territory, jurisdiction, and development.

”While the Israeli government tirelessly talks about wanting peace and returning to the negotiations table, it is aggressively working on preventing any of the fundamental issues to be negotiated through irreversible facts that obliterate the viability of the two-state solution and the creation of the state of Palestine on 1967 territories.

”The laws of the Israeli occupier continuously legalises what is in contravention with international law and signed agreements through new settlement activity, strengthening control of occupied Jerusalem in a manner that reveals Israel’s determination not to relinquish 1967 occupied territory that are the basis for negotiating a two-state solution.

”The international community needs not to be baffled by the Israeli governments sweet talk and seriously review the occupation’s belligerent actions,” concluded the statement.

None of this grabbed headlines in the global media, of course. That’s because the world was conveniently distracted by the Syrian uprising, the attacks and would-be attacks on Israeli diplomats in New Delhi, Bangkok and Tbilsi, and the continued sabre-rattling over Israel’s plan to attack Iran.

Apart from the essentially useless statements deploring and condemning the Israeli expansion, the Jewish state faced no sanctions or any other form of retribution. As this is an election year in the United States, President Barack Obama, who grandiosely told the Islamic world two years ago that Israeli settlement expansion was ”unacceptable”, could do nothing.

Now, Israel wants to attack Iran because it claims Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map. Exactly who is trying to wipe whom off the map? You decide.


Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Dorothy Online Newsletter

Syria Rebels Recieve $100 Million Donation To Buy Weapons


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Syria Rebels receive $100 Million Donation To Buy Weapons
 The Guardian reports that the NATO controlled Libyan national transitional council has sent a $100 million donation to Syria rebels to purchase weapons.


Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, last year pushed for the Arab League to suspend Syria. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, last year pushed for the Arab League to suspend Syria.


Qatar crosses the Syrian Rubicon: $100m (£63m) to buy weapons for the rebels

A milestone has been reached in the conflict and, just as with the Libyan uprising last year, Doha is backing regime change

On Monday, Qatars prime minister declared his state’s intent to start helping the Syrian opposition “by all means”, including giving them weapons. Two days later, anti-Assad officials received an offer of a $100m (£63m) donation, from their brothers in arms in Libya. Coincidence? Unlikely, if the Libyan revolution is any indicator.

The third act, in what looks very much like the beginning of a concerted push to arm the Syrian insurgency, took place today when the previously gun-shy Syrian National Council formed a military council, which it says will act as a clearing house for anyone offering it arms.

Two probabilities have quickly emerged: the first is that a militarized Syrian National Council is unlikely to be short of suppliers. And, second, Libya is merely a conduit for the $100m, which was at least partly funded by Qatar to get things rolling.

Libya’s national transitional council has been quick to stress that the money it is sending is for humanitarian aid, which is clearly desperately needed in western Syria, withering under a regime offensive. No one in the nascent Tripoli government is quibbling about where the cash comes from. When asked yesterday how a state still in turmoil could afford such a generous gift, a spokesman for the Libyan council replied simply: “It won’t be a problem”.

Qatar’s remarks this week, as well as Saudi Arabia’s claim last Friday that arming the Syrian rebels would be an “excellent idea”, clearly shows a new reality. The Rubicon has been crossed. Hopes of resolving Syria’s raging insurgency through patience, or dialogue, have evaporated.

From the early days of the uprising against Colonel Gaddafi, Qatar was running more weapons to Libya’s rebels than any other state. Throughout the war, giant Qatari military transporters regularly disgorged tonnes of weaponry in plain view at Djerba airport in Tunisia, not far from the Libyan border.

The Qataris sent jet fighters to bomb Gaddafi’s armour and special forces to train rebels. They opened a military operations room in Doha and hosted the regime’s highest-profile defectors, as well as rebel leaders to whom they provided with money and mentoring.

As Syria has unravelled throughout the past year, Qatar has played another lead role. It was centre stage in the Arab League’s move to suspend Damascus as a member state and it has been increasingly strident in its criticism of President Bashar al-Assad, whom Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, had earlier tried to engage. As was the case in Libya, its agenda remains unclear.

The change in attitude had been subtle at first: a gradual disengagement, followed by increasingly stern back-channel diplomacy. All carried out in the way of the Arab world: avoiding insult or direct confrontation.

Not any more. “We should do whatever necessary to help them, including giving them weapons to defend themselves,” said Qatar’s prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani, on Monday. “This uprising in Syria now [has lasted] one year. For 10 months, it was peaceful: nobody was carrying weapons, nobody was doing anything. And Bashar continued killing them.

“So I think they’re right to defend themselves by weapons, and I think we should help these people by all means.”

After urging political recourse and discouraging intervention for so long, the Syrian National Council is now also speaking from a markedly different script

“We wanted to organize those who are carrying arms today,” its president, Burhan Ghalioun, said, stressing that any weapons coming into the country should be vetted by the council.

“The revolution started peacefully and kept up its peaceful nature for months, but the reality today is different. We know that some countries have expressed a desire to arm the revolutionaries. The SNC will be this link between those who want to help and the revolutionaries. It is out of the question that arms go into Syria in confusion.”

It is also beyond doubt that a long predicted milestone in the Syrian conflict has now been reached. From this point, nation states, rather than black-market arms bazaars, loom as potential suppliers to the outgunned opposition. Such a prospect is alarming the US and Nato, which said this week it absolutely ruled out direct intervention in a war that nobody seems to want and most seem to fear.

Posted in Syria1 Comment

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Watch live video from OccupyAIPAC

Mar 03, 2012

Annie Robbins

Video streaming by Ustream

Ahmed Moor in WaPo: Harvard One State conference ‘informed by the uncontroversial view that all people are created equal’

Mar 03, 2012

Adam Horowitz

Ahmed Moor writing in the Washington Post:

The degree to which the country is a single, indivisible unit is sometimes underscored by the most mundane experiences. A Palestinian friend recently told me about being pulled over for speeding in the West Bank. The person who ticketed him was an Israeli army official.

Yes, Palestine has been colonized out of existence, and the Israeli army is busy policing traffic.

The army’s nearness to the average Palestinian extends beyond settlements. The region has few freshwater resources. In Israel, maintaining access to water is a matter of national security. The mountain aquifer underneath the West Bank’s rocky topography is one major source, and the army regularly destroys “unauthorized” wells and cisterns to secure Israeli hegemony over the scarce resource.

It was awareness that there will never be a viable Palestinian state that prompted me to work with other Harvard students to organize a one-state conference this weekend. Our work has been informed by the uncontroversial view that all people are created equal. Assessing an environment in which Israel controls the lives of 4 million people and deprives them of basic human rights, we ask whether there is an alternative: Can the one-state solution deliver equal rights to everyone?

Critics say that raising the question of equal rights in Israel/Palestine reveals our motives; we seek to destroy Israel, they say. They contend civil rights for everyone in the country will mean “the elimination of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.”

For some, everything that happens in the Middle East is viewed through the prism of what is best for the Jewish people. But the Palestinians are people, too. Preserving “Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people” is a costly endeavor. And I regret that the cost is borne almost exclusively by Palestinians living under apartheid.

Read the entire article, “One state for Palestinians and Israelis,” here.


Amnesty International: Anti-wall protest organizer Bassem Tamimi is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally

Mar 03, 2012


Amnesty: Release prisoner of conscience Bassam Tamimi
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Mar — Anti-wall protest organizer Bassem Tamimi is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty International reiterated Friday. Tamimi was arrested in March and charged with “incitement and support of a hostile organization, organizing and participating in unauthorized processions, incitement to throwing objects against a person or property”. Amnesty says Tamimi, detained for his role in organizing protests against the encroachment onto Palestinian lands by Israeli settlers, denies the charges and should be considered a prisoner of conscience.
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Land theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Restriction of movement

Rights groups: Lift travel ban on Al-Haq director
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Mar — Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on Thursday called on Israel to revoke a travel ban on Palestinian rights activist Shawan Jabarin, after allowing him to travel temporarily. Israel’s state prosecutor agreed to a ‘temporary exception’ to the ban allowing Jabarin to travel to Geneva at the invitation of the UN special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression. But the two rights groups said Thursday that Israel never produced any evidence to justify banning Jabarin from traveling, and should follow this belated exception by lifting the arbitrary ban entirely.
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Abandoned by their own city
Haaretz 3 Mar by Yehudit Oppenheimer — Jerusalem city hall and Israel’s Education Ministry have an obligation to provide Jerusalem children with a decent education that endangers neither their lives or their future …the infrastructures and services in these neighborhoods – Shoafat camp, Dahiyat al-Salam, Ras Hamis, New Anata – in which more than 35,000 people live in unbearably crowded conditions, are on the verge of collapse. These neighborhoods have no emergency services whatsoever, neither medical first aid nor firefighting services … The attempt to fix the boundaries of Jerusalem through unilateral steps, rather than agreed-upon political negotiations, has created enclaves that are constantly in peril. In general, the almost 70,000 Palestinian residents of neighborhoods beyond the separation fence but still within Jerusalem’s jurisdiction (in the areas of Shoafat in the northeast and in the Qalandiyah area in the north) live under inhuman conditions today.
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Hamas warns Israel against Judaizing Buraq plaza
GAZA (PIC) 1 Mar — Hamas warned the Israeli occupation authority on Wednesday against Judaizing the Buraq plaza, south of the Aqsa mosque in occupied Jerusalem. It said in a statement that any such plan would constitute a violation of the holy Aqsa mosque. Hamas was commenting on a news report that settlement organizations, with Israeli official support, were planning to build two centers in the Buraq plaza.
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Occupation forces demolish a protest tent in Khirbet Sousya
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 1 Mar —  IOF troops on Thursday afternoon dispersed a protest held by the residents of Khirbet Sousya and Khirbet Um Nir, to the east of Yatta in the southern West Bank district of al-Khalil, to protest the demolition notices handed to residents of the two hamlets by the IOF.  The IOF troops also demolished a protest tent and threatened the protestors with arrest on the pretext of hampering the work of the army; scuffles broke out between the residents and the occupation troops.  Jewish settlers on Tuesday warned the residents of Khirbet Sousya that they should leave their lands so that it can be annexed to the nearby Jewish settlement. The settlers have already applied to court to annex an area of 1000 Dunums (1 Dunum=1000 square meters, 1/4 acre) which is owned by the residents of Khirbet Sousya.
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State, settlers reach deal to evacuate West Bank outpost of Migron
Haaretz 1 Mar — Tentative agreement, a written version of which still has to be approved by both the State Prosecutor’s Office and the Supreme Court, states outposts’ residents must relocate to nearby hill by 2015.
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Rightist NGO ranks Israel MKs according to support of settlement building
Haaretz 1 Mar — According to report by Mattot Arim, there has been a 50 percent increase in ‘activities’ which support the settlement movement and the ‘national camp’ as a whole.
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Israeli forces

PCHR Weekly Report: One civilian killed, 6 wounded by Israeli troops this week
IMEMC 2 Mar — …a Palestinian civilian was killed in a peaceful demonstration in al-Ram village, north of Jerusalem, protesting Israeli forces attempts to raid the al-Aqsa Mosque. In addition, 5 protesters, including an Israeli Knesset Member and a member of the Palestinian National Council, were wounded in 2 peaceful demonstrations in the center of Hebron. Israeli forces have continued bombardments and shootings in the Gaza Strip. A Palestinian resistance fighter was wounded in the east of Gaza City … A tunnel and a container were destroyed in Rafah and damages were caused to 3 houses and offices of the International Federation of Football in the north of the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces also fired at Palestinian fishermen and their fishing boats….Full report
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The silence of the lambs: On the violence of the security forces against animals and people during the destruction of the village of Ta’ale in South Hebron Hills
Rabbis for Human Rights 28 Feb — When the security forces demolished structures in Ta’ale, violating the Supreme Court’s order, they did not pity the animals. A horrifying story of destruction and death. Please tell people this story so they will know the conduct of the security forces in South Hebron Hills. The community in Ta’ale was left without a future and a chance to survive … Many animals were injured during the demolitions when they were recklessly evacuated, and if they were not evacuated they were injured and died from the destruction itself. During the demolitions, some of them were seen running frightened and helpless. Rabbis for Human Rights activists were told that the soldiers kicked and hurt some animals.
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Ministry says Israeli reasons for raid on TV station baseless
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 1 Mar – The Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology (MTIT) Thursday denied Israeli claims that Palestinian television broadcast frequencies disrupt airport and wireless communications. It said these claims were baseless and stressed that there is no way TV transmission could technically affect airport operations or wireless devices … Undersecretary of MTIT Suleiman Zuhairi told Voice of Palestine radio that the Israeli allegations are a prelude to stealing Palestinian frequencies for the benefit of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank. He said the Palestinians were never officially informed of this matter, explaining that there is a joint Palestinian-Israeli committee that regularly works on the issue of frequencies and it was never informed of the existence of any problems.
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Israel environment ministry: IDF getting away with pollution
Haaretz 1 Mar — The Israel Defense Forces is ignoring the requirement to submit environmental quality reports with apparent impunity, according to a senior Environmental Protection Ministry official. Eighteen months ago, on a tour of IDF bases in the West Bank, Itzhak Ben-David, the Environmental Protection Ministry’s deputy director general for enforcement, observed that fuel and oil were leaking into the ground. Such fuel leaks threaten ground water and soil quality.
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Haniyeh blames power crisis on Egypt
GAZA CITY (Reuters) 2 Mar — Gaza’s top political leader blamed Egypt on Friday for causing a power crisis that has triggered lengthy blackouts in the Palestinian enclave, laying bare tensions between his Islamist group Hamas and Cairo. The outages started in mid February, leaving households with just six hours of electricity a day, provoking widespread criticism within the territory of Hamas, which governs Gaza … “Is it reasonable that Gaza remains without electricity a year after the revolution in Egypt?” Haniyeh said in a weekly address, accusing Cairo of trying to force Gazans to accept their energy supplies via arch foe Israel. “Is it reasonable that Gaza remains blockaded a year after the dismissal of the tyrant (Mubarak) regime?” he said. There was no immediate comment from Egypt.
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Flooding damages 8 homes in north Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 Mar — Heavy rainfall and icy temperatures have damaged eight homes in the northern Gaza Strip since Thursday, a civil defense spokesman told Ma‘an. Six homes in Jabalia city were flooded with water on Friday morning, and two others were under water in Gaza City, Muhammad Yousef said. Further, seven people were injured in car crashes across the Gaza Strip amid the stormy weather, Yousef added.  Many streets have suffered damage and the civil defense force has been inundated with calls about falling trees and billboards toppling, he said, adding that the service is prepared to attend all emergencies.
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Egypt’s parliament recommends supplying Gaza with electricity, fuel
IMEMC 2 Mar — The Arab Affairs Committee at the Egyptian People’s Assembly of the Parliament recommended on Thursday conducting a legal study to determine and improve the operational methods of border terminals between Gaza and Egypt, and also recommended providing the coastal region with power and fuel supplies should Israel refrain from implementing its commitments regarding providing services to the area as part of its responsibility as an occupying force.
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Gaza children run marathon to raise funds for UN summer camps
DPA 1 Mar — Thousands of children ignored rain and wind Thursday to run the length of the Gaza Strip in a marathon organized by the United Nations Relief aid Works Agency (UNRWA) to draw attention to their situation … “The marathon sends two messages; the first is that Gaza children are seeking to enjoy a normal life equal to other children in the world and the second that UNRWA is in real need from Arab and international countries to keep providing services to the Strip’s people,” Nordahl said.
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London calling a runner from Gaza
Sydney Morning Herald 3 Mar — GAZA CITY: Bahaa al-Farra was up early on Thursday morning to join hundreds of others in the second Gaza marathon, spanning the length of the tiny Palestinian enclave … for Farra it’s not about fun or politics but a passion for running that has gripped him for six years and which will reach its highest point so far when the 20-year-old from Gaza City represents Palestine at this year’s London Olympics … Farra will be one of a four-strong Palestinian team and is the only one from Gaza. The others – two swimmers, including a woman from Bethlehem, and another runner – live in the West Bank.
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Going to Palestine after a lifetime of longing / Doha Shams
Al Akhbar 2 Mar — The road to Rafah is reminiscent of the road to Baghdad. The trees and shrubs lining the road dwindle as we approach the province of North Sinai in Egypt. To the right, there are high voltage power lines. The driver points to them saying: “This electricity is going to Jordan.”  It is my first trip into Palestine.
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PA-controlled office in Gaza ransacked
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 Mar — Unidentified assailants raided the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority-controlled Civil Administration building in the northern Gaza Strip overnight Wednesday. Headquarters chief Maher Abu al-Quf told Ma’an that the Israeli side of the office alerted them to an attempted robbery at 11.30 p.m. on Wednesday evening. Personnel rushed to the site but the suspects had left the scene after damaging the offices and ransacking its contents. It is the 11th time such an incident has taken place, Abu al-Quf said. Hamas police have opened an investigation. The Civil Administration, which in Gaza remains under the control of the West Bank Palestinian Authority government, is charged with coordinating with Israel on matters relating to the crossing terminals.
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PFLP armed wing claims rocket attack
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 Mar — The armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility Thursday for firing three mortar shells at an Israeli force east of Gaza … Earlier, Israeli media reported that three rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed in an open area in the Ashkelon Regional Council of southern Israel. There were no reports of injury or damage, Israel’s Ynet news service said.
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Hanaa’ al-Shalabi, hunger-striking for 16 days

Profile of hunger-striking prisoner Hanaa Shalabi
AIC 2 Mar — The fight against Israeli administrative detention continues. Meet Hanaa Shalabi, a female administrative detainee entering her 16th day of hunger strike … Like many Palestinian families, al-Shalabi’s is not new to Israel’s display of force. Samir Shalabi, Hanaa’s 24-year-old brother, was shot by Israeli occupation forces in September 2005 and both her sister Huda and two other brothers have been detained in Israeli prisons for various periods of time. In the past, the Palestinian NGO  Addameer: Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association contended that allegations of Hanaa’s involvement in a “terrorist attack” were not proven. After as many as seventeen days of interrogation, including eight days of non-stop questioning, Israeli security gathered no proof of al-Shalabi’s affiliation with any Palestinian political and armed group. Nevertheless, an Israeli military judge condemned her in the past to six months of administrative detention because, according to a ‘secret file’ none of al-Shalabi’s attorneys could see, she represented a danger to the “security of the area”.
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Protest outside Hasharon Prison in solidarity with Shalaby on Sunday
RAMALLAH (PIC) 1 Mar — Popular and human rights activists called for a protest outside Hasharon prison on Sunday to express solidarity with Hana’ al-Shalabi, who has been on hunger strike for the past two weeks to protest her administrative detention. The organisations calling for the protest said that it will start on the afternoon of Sunday 4 March 2012 stressing on the importance of participation of large numbers to support Shalabi (30 years) and Palestinian captives in occupation jails in general.
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Shalabi ‘patient, steadfast’ until demands met
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 1 Mar — Palestinian hunger striker Hana Shalabi said Thursday from Hasharon prison that she is continuing her open hunger strike and remains patient and steadfast until her demands are met. A Palestinian prisoner society lawyer, Fawaz Shalludy who visited Shalabi, said the prisoner had suffered as the Israeli prison administration put her in an open area in the cold in Ofer detention center. Shalludy pointed out that the prisoner’s spirits are high although there are signs of fatigue and weakness on her because of the strike.
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Shalabi determined to continue her hunger strike
IMEMC 2 Mar …her parents in Borqeen town, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, are also hunger-striking in solidarity with their daughter, and voiced an appeal to local and international human rights groups to intervene and secure the release of their daughter.  Speaking to the IMEMC on Thursday, Yahia Ash-Shalabi, the father of Hana’, stated that his daughter lost a lot of weight, and that she can barely stand due to a decline of her health condition. “Hana’ is losing a lot of weight; she can barely stand. I hold the Egyptian mediators of the prisoner-swap deal responsible for the well-being of my daughter,”
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Shalabi supporter hospitalized after solidarity strike
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 Mar — A prisoner on hunger strike in solidarity with Hana Shalabi has been transferred to hospital after he was released from jail, a detainees center said Friday. Suheil Akram Al-Masri, 26, has refused food for 13 days to support the female detainee … Al-Masri was transferred to hospital after fainting on his arrival home to Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday night. His parents said they had expected his release from Israeli prison on April 20, after his four year term completed. From hospital, Al-Masri vowed to continue his hunger strike until Shalabi is released.
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Other detainees

Israeli right rails against solidarity with Khader Adnan
AIC 2 Mar by Sergio Yahni — The Israeli right in parliament uses the global solidarity for Khader Adnan as a tool to promote ousting Palestinian MKs from Knesset and to criminalize Israelis who oppose Israeli policies. On 21 February, Khader Adnan agreed to end a hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention and inhuman treatment by Israeli authorities. On his 66th day of strike, Adnan’s lawyers negotiated a deal with the Israeli military prosecutor that Adnan will be released on 17 April instead of 8 May, and that his administrative detention order would not be renewed. Deputy Knesset Speaker Danny Danon (Likud) railed against this deal, saying it “set a dangerous precedent.” Danon also called for an immediate Knesset debate on the matter, saying prosecutors “capitulated to terrorism” and that “this deal renders the Israeli values system meaningless.”
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Israeli forces arrest seven Palestinians across West Bank
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 1 Mar — Israeli forces Thursday arrested seven Palestinians across the West Bank, according to security sources. They said Israeli soldiers raided the town of Arrabeh, near Jenin, and arrested five Palestinians after raiding their homes and tampering with their contents. Israeli soldiers also raided Deir Estia, north of Salfit, and arrested two Palestinians
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Activist: Palestinian detained with hunting rifle
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 2 Mar — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian man who had a hunting rifle in Beit Ummar north of Hebron, a popular committee official said Friday.  Muhammad Ayyad Awad said the man who was detained was not identified. He had taken advantage of the weather to go hunting but Israeli forces detained him.
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Israeli police terrorize prisoners in Asqalan
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 1 Mar – Over 300 heavily armed Israeli police officers raided late Wednesday cells of Palestinian prisoners in Asqalan prison [in the] south of Israel, terrorizing the prisoners who were protesting mistreatment of the prison administration, according to statement issued by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC).  It said Israeli police searched the cells until early Thursday morning, held two prisoners in solitary confinement and took six others to an unknown location.
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IOF troops storm Hamas captives’ ward
RAMALLAH (PIC) 1 Mar — IOF troops from the Mitsada unit, on Thursday morning raided and searched ward 12 of Ofer prison which has 120 Hamas prisoners. Well informed sources told PIC that the soldiers raided the ward around ten on the morning and detained prisoners who were in found in ward’s yard [and?] in toilets.
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Report: Israel kidnapped 380 Palestinians in February
IMEMC 2 Mar — Palestinian researcher, specialized in Detainees’ Affairs, Riyadh Al-Ashqar, stated that Israel heightened the rate of its illegal arrests of the Palestinians in the occupied territories in February, and kidnapped more than 380 Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, in occupied East Jerusalem, and the 1948 territories. In a press release, Al-Ashqar said that among the kidnapped Palestinians in February were 54 children and six women, including one female detainee who was released under the Prisoner Swap deal. He said that 14 residents were kidnapped while working in their lands, close to the Israeli “security fence” along the border between Gaza and Israel. Troops also kidnapped a cancer patient identified as Hikmat At-Taramsy, 48, at the Erez (Beit Hanoun) Terminal while on his way to an Israeli hospital after receiving all needed permits….
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Activism / Solidarity / BDS

Israeli troops use gas to suppress anti-wall protests
IMEMC 2 Mar — On Friday many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation as soldiers suppressed anti wall protests organized in a number of West Bank villages. The protests were in solidarity with political detainee in Israeli Jails Hana Ash-Shalabi, who is on hunger strike for 16 days in protest of her captivity. In central West Bank, troops attacked the weekly anti wall protests organized at the villages of Bil‘in, Ni‘lin and al Nabi Saleh. Israeli and international supporters joined villagers after the midday prayers at all three locations. Soldiers fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at protesters in al Nabi Saleh before they left the village
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Video: Bil‘in and Nabi Saleh Demo 02.02.2012 by Haitham al-Khatib
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Occupy AIPAC to protest Netanyahu’s US visit
WASHINGTON (WAFA) 2 Mar — Occupy AIPAC, which calls for a new American foreign policy in the Middle East, Thursday kicked off a week of actions to protest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the Unites States and his push for war on Iran, according to a statement issued by the group … Occupy AIPAC will urge Obama to reject the Israeli push for war on Iran and insist on respect for Palestinian rights. Events and protests will also draw attention to the role of AIPAC, the most powerful pro-Israel lobby group in Washington, in influencing US policy through its stranglehold over Congress.
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Occupy AIPAC live-streaming summit tomorrow
2 Mar — Occupy AIPAC starts tonight!  If you’re in DC this weekend we look forward to seeing you soon! See the UPDATED schedule of actions here. We will be live-streaming the Occupy AIPAC Summit tomorrow, Saturday, March 3, 9:00am-5:30pmEST – watch it live at or directly on Ustream link to Even if you can’t join us at Occupy AIPAC, we need your help in promoting this message far and wide. The 99% say NO to war on Iran and YES to diplomacy and respect for Palestinian rights.  Please take a moment to spread the word with social media and send a message to Obama and Congress.
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University of London launches Centre for Palestine Studies
LONDON (WAFA) 2 Mar — University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) launched on Thursday the Centre for Palestine Studies (CPS) as a newly constituted center of its London Middle East Institute, according to a SOAS launch invitation.  SOAS website on the new centre
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Decade-long demise of Palestinian armed resistance
JPost 1 Mar — Despite the eruption of bloody clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem over the weekend, support by Palestinians for armed struggle against Israel has seen an unprecedented demise over the past decade, a new poll shows. Support for armed resistance is at a 14-year low as more and more Palestinians say they prefer using strikes, boycotts and demonstrations over rockets and suicide bombings to pursue their cause, according to a poll released by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC).
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Boycott failed? D-9 bulldozers on way to IDF, sale ‘never frozen’
Arutz Sheva (settler site) 1 Mar — Dozens of new D-9 armored bulldozers have begun arriving in Israel, for use by the IDF’s Engineering Corps, the IDF Website reports. Caterpillar, the American company that manufactures the D-9, reportedly froze a deal to supply the bulldozers 16 months ago, following pressure by the ultra-leftist International Solidarity Movement. However, the Defense Ministry told Arutz Sheva Thursday Caterpillar had never frozen the sale.
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Political developments

Haniyeh: Leaders should meet in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 Mar — The prime minister in Gaza on Thursday called on Palestinian leaders to visit the Gaza Strip, saying they all have a right to visit the enclave as part of an undivided Palestine. Speaking during a lunch meeting with leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ismail Haniyeh said such a visit would demonstrate the unity of the land and Palestinian people.
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Shaath ‘appreciates’ Haniyeh’s invitation to Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Mar — Fatah leader Nabil Shaath said Friday that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s invitation to party leaders to meet in the Gaza Strip was a positive step, saying he appreciates the move … Shaath said Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas loves Gaza and is excited to visit, although he is currently on an international tour. “At the same time, Abbas does not need an invitation to go to an area under his presidency,” Shaath commented.
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Hamas deputy: Political operations out of Damascus
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Mar — Speaking from Cairo, the deputy head of Hamas’ politburo said Thursday that Hamas’ offices would remain in Syria despite the relocation of all political and media activities out of Damascus.
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Israeli national anthem and non-Jews

Former judge backs Arab judge over Israeli anthem scandal
Haaretz 1 Mar — Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran received support from an unlikely source Thursday, in the wake of criticism leveled at him for refusing to sing Israel’s national anthem at a public event. Former Vice President of the Haifa District Court Menachem Ne’eman who is a member of the Religious-Zionist community and who served alongside Joubran, told Arutz Sheva that “we must remember that Israel has a 20 percent minority, and it is obvious that they cannot identify with the contents of the anthem.”
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Arab justice’s Hatikva silence was a song of protest / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 1 Mar — The refusal of Justice Salim Joubran, the first Arab to win a permanent appointment to the Supreme Court, to sing ‘Hatikva’ was an instructive lesson in Israeli democracy … A fifth of this country’s residents, the state’s Arab citizens, must now express their gratitude to their justice; in his silence, he gave expression to their voice. But lovers of democracy must be even more grateful, because he reminded all of them that the supreme test of democracy is how it treats those who don’t join the choir.
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Haaretz editorial: Israel should consider altering its anthem to include non-Jews
2 Mar — …Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran has the right not to sing the national anthem, “Hatikva.” The law doesn’t oblige him to do so, and the song’s lyrics don’t enable him to do so … The lyrics of Israel’s anthem were written in 1878 by Naphtali Herz Imber as an expression of the national sentiments of the Jewish people, and the Jewish people only. No Arab citizen who had any self-respect, political awareness or national consciousness could sing these words without committing the sins of hypocrisy and falsehood.
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Israeli Sectarianism / Discrimination

Put women in bus ads, state demands
JPost 2 Mar — Gov’t tells High Court that exclusion from public sphere affects women’s “dignity, right to equality, freedom of expression. “The exclusion of women from advertisements on buses and in public places is “a violation of the fundamental rights of women,” according to an opinion the state submitted to the High Court of Justice on Wednesday.
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Second-class solidarity / Mike Prashker
Haaretz 2 Mar — In the face of the current hate-fest in the public sphere, what we need is unprecedented solidarity and cooperation across our internal divides — This past Tuesday, during a Knesset committee meeting on the status of women in Israel, MK Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism ), responding to the participation of Reform movement representatives in the hearing, proclaimed that “Reform Jews are even worse than Arabs.”
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Ex-minister Benizri claims Israel ‘most anti-Semitic state’
Ynet 1 Mar — After release from prison, former Cabinet member says ‘incitement campaign’ against haredi public reminiscent of anti-Jewish propaganda during Holocaust — …During the interview, Benizri also criticized what he called an anti-haredi campaign in the media: “Almost every other item is about haredim, calling them ‘parasites.’
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Other news

Feature: Government debt drives contracting sector to the verge of collapse
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 1 Mar — Hasan Abu Hnoud, owner of Dar al-Bina’ contracting company, had to fire all his 72 employees because the Palestinian Authority (PA) did not pay him dues estimated at $6 million since 2010. Abu Hnoud put all his company’s equipment up for sale and plans to move his operation to Libya to pursue his livelihood in what he believes is a better job market. Dar al-Bina’ is one of 450 contracting companies in the Palestinian Territory suffering from the acute financial crisis that has been facing Dar al-Bina’ is one of 450 contracting companies in the Palestinian Territory suffering from the acute financial crisis that has been facing the Palestinian Authority for the past two years, which is threatening to bring down the entire contracting sector the Palestinian Authority for the past two years, which is threatening to bring down the entire contracting sector.
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Schools reopen in Gaza, still closed in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Mar — Schools are reopening in the Gaza Strip while in the West Bank, some classes remain cancelled amid heavy snow and rainstorms across the occupied territories, officials said Friday.
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Bulgaria: Bulgarian border police detain 6 illegal immigrants on freight train
Sofia News Agency 2 Mar — Border police from the southwestern city of Petrich have detained six illegal immigrants of Palestinian origin hidden in a freight train. The Palestinians were found during a routine inspection of an international freight train travelling from Greece to Croatia at the Kulata railway station … They had no identification documents but said they were Palestinians and their destination was Western Europe.
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British lord forced to resign after ‘Israel will not last’ claim
Al Akhbar 29 Feb — A British Lord [peer] has been forced to resign from her party after saying that Israel would not last forever if it continued to oppress the Palestinians. Jenny Tonge, a former MP for the Liberal Democrats, which is the junior partner in the British government, made the comments in a speech at a British university. “Beware Israel,” she said. “Israel is not going to be there for ever in its present form. One day, the United States of America will get sick of giving £70bn a year to Israel to support what I call America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East – that is Israel. One day, the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA: enough is enough.”
link to (listserv) (archive)

Nine ‘Shalit exchange’ political prisoners re-arrested in February

Mar 03, 2012

Allison Deger

prisoner swap
Palestinians in Gaza celebrating the release of a political prisoner from the “Shalit exchange.” (Photo: United Nations News Centre)

Yesterday, the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) reported in February over 380 Palestinians were arrested by Israeli authorities. Riyadh Al-Ashqar compiles detention figures from the West Bank, Israel and the Gaza Strip, and conducted the detainee research.

The article on Al-Ashqar’s report also indicates nine of those arrested were prisoners released under the October 2011 Shalit exchange between Hamas and Israel. Of the political prisoners re-arrested, the most notable is hunger striker Hana Shalabi.

The other “Shalit exchange” prisoners are identified by IMEMC:

One of the kidnapped women is a lawyer, and former political prisoner, identified as Shereen Al-Esawy; she was taken prisoner after the army broke into her home and searched it, in occupied East Jerusalem.

The rest were identified as Mofeeqa Al-Qawasmi (the wife of detainee Mohammad Shafeeq Al-Qawasmi), Mona Abu Sneina (the wife of political prisoner Hamdan Abu Sneina), and Aesha Mousa Ghannam.

The four male political prisoners who were released under the Shalit Prisoner Swap Deal, and were rearrested in February, were identified as Ayman Abu Da’oud, Yousef Abdul-Rahman Shteiwy, Mahmoud Adnan Salim, and Rami Abu Haniyya.

The number of arrested Palestinian politicians also increased substantially, according to a separate study by Al-Ashqar. In January the number of imprisoned legislatures was 26. IMEMC and Al-Asqar label this practice as “kidnapping of the elected legislators” and explain that it “is carried out under direct political decisions made by the office of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and not by regional military commanders.”

Since 1967 Israeli forces have used administrative detention as a tool to hold Palestinians in prison without formal charges.  Incarceration rates for this form of imprisonment correlates to the highs and lulls in Palestinian popular resistance. For example, during the first Intifada almost two thousand Palestinians were held in detention. This number dropped to 16 prisoners in early 2001, and again skyrocketed during the second Intifada to over a thousand.

In the past two years, there has been an overall increase in the number of Palestinians in prison through administrative detention orders. After Operation Cast Lead in 2009, the number of prisoners held without charge was close to 200. Today, that number has climbed to over 300.

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Why can’t we just stay in Afghanistan forever?

Posted: 02 Mar 2012


The last decade has seen an explosion in private security and intelligence companies making a killing in the “war on terror”.

And now, with growing anger towards both mercenaries and the Western occupying forces that use them, this suggestion seems both delusional and symptomatic of the rot that imperial thinking guarantees:

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is intent on barring private security contractors and Afghans from guarding U.S. bases in Afghanistan, a move that could complicate President Barack Obama’s timetable for withdrawing American forces after more than a decade of war.

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., introduced the legislation on Thursday in response to the insider attacks by Afghan security forces against U.S. and other coalition troops. McKeon held a hearing last month in which the military said more than 45 insider attacks have occurred since 2007 – 75 percent in the past two years.

In a recent spate of anti-American violence touched off by the burning of Muslim holy books at a U.S. base last week, two U.S. troops were gunned down by two Afghan soldiers and an accomplice on Thursday. All told, six Americans have been killed by their Afghan partners in recent days.

“War is bad enough that we put our young people out there at risk,” McKeon said in an interview taped for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.” “They shouldn’t have to worry about security within the base.”

The legislation would require the president to ensure that there are enough trained members of the military to fight the war in Afghanistan as well as provide security for American troops. If the president refuses, he must certify to Congress that private security contractors or the Afghan Public Protection Force can provide protection that is at least equal to the U.S. military.

The bill would prohibit the president from shifting troops from current operations in Afghanistan to protect bases. Such a step would force the president to increase the number of troops in the country – a move certain to face strong opposition in a war-weary Congress.

Stop idealising the war journalistPosted: 02 Mar 2012 

Robert Fisk is typically provocative (and accurate) in today’s Independent column:

It took a lot of courage to get into Homs; Sky News, then the BBC, then a few brave men and women who went to tell the world of the city’s anguish and, in at least two cases, suffered themselves. I could only reflect this week, however, how well we got to know the name of the indomitable and wounded British photographer Paul Conroy, and yet how little we know about the 13 Syrian volunteers who were apparently killed by snipers and shellfire while rescuing him. No fault of Conroy, of course. But I wonder if we know the names of these martyrs – or whether we intend to discover their names?

There’s something faintly colonialist about all this. We have grown so used to the devil-may-care heroics of the movie version of “war” correspondents that they somehow become more important than the people about whom they report. Hemingway supposedly liberated Paris – or at least Harry’s Bar – but does a single reader remember the name of any Frenchman who died liberating Paris? I do recall my dauntless television colleague, Terry Lloyd, who was killed by the Americans in Iraq in 2003 – but who can remember the name of one of the quarter or half a million Iraqis killed as a result of the invasion (apart, of course, from Saddam Hussein)? The Al Jazeera correspondent in Baghdad was killed in Baghdad by an American airstrike the same year. But hands up who remembers his name? Answer: Tareq Ayoub. He was a Palestinian. I was with him the day before he died.

And who can forget the words of the Israeli journalist Amira Haas – Haaretz’s reporter in the occupied West Bank, whom I often quote. She told me in Jerusalem that the foreign correspondent’s job was not to be “the first witness to history” (my own pitiful definition), but to “monitor the centres of power”, especially when they are going to war, and especially when they intend to do so on a bedrock of lies.

Yes, all honour to those who reported from Homs. But here’s a thought: when the Israelis unleashed their cruel bombardment of Gaza in 2008, they banned all reporters from the war, just as the Syrians tried to do in Homs. And the Israelis were much more successful in preventing us Westerners from seeing the subsequent bloodbath. Hamas forces and the “Free Syria Army” in Homs actually have a lot in common – both were increasingly Islamist, both faced infinitely superior firepower, both lost the battle – but it was left to Palestinian reporters to cover their own people’s suffering. They did a fine job. Funny, though, that the newsrooms of London and Washington didn’t have quite the same enthusiasm to get their folk into Gaza as they did to get them into Homs. Just a thought. A very unhappy one.

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Young activist disrupts AIPAC panel about ‘Israel on Campus’
Mar 04, 2012 09:04 pm | Adam Horowitz


From Young, Jewish and Proud:

Liza Behrendt, 22 year old member of Young Jewish and Proud, the youth wing of Jewish Voice for Peace, stood up during a breakout session called “The Struggle to Secure Israel on Campus” to call attention to the silencing of Palestinians— and young Jews who support them — on U.S. campuses.  Liza stood on stage and unfurled a banner that read, “Settlements Betray Jewish Values” and “Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof,” the Jewish text from Deuteronomy meaning “Justice, Justice, You Shall Pursue.”

The panel included representatives from AIPAC, Stand With Us, The David Project, and Hillel, who discussed tactics for opposing human rights groups on campus, an in particular those that promote the use of Boycott, Divestment or Sanctions (BDS) to pressure Israel to be accountable to international law.  Panelist Wayne Firestone, CEO of Hillel, last year issued controversial guidelines barring Hillel groups from partnering with organizations that support any facet of the BDS movement or that lack a specifically Zionist stance.  “I felt it was necessary to confront Wayne Firestone, whose condescending guidelines barred my Brandeis University chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace from joining Hillel last spring.  Hillel’s guidelines are part of organized efforts to enforce an ideological status quo among young Jews on Israel, but they are completely out of touch with what’s happening among young people,” said Liza Behrendt.

AIPAC enticed over 1,000 students to attend this year’s policy summit, including over 200 student body presidents, mostly by subsidizing their trips to DC.  This morning student activists distributed hundreds of copies of an open letter (link to from members of Students for Justice in Palestine and Young Jewish Proud to AIPAC student delegates that highlights the myths and realities of AIPAC.

This effort to draw attention to the silencing of Palestinians and young Jewish activists is part of a weekend long series of activities to highlight the destructive practices of AIPAC.  A separate group of Jewish activists from Jews Say No and Just Foreign Policy went inside the AIPAC conference and gave interviews to journalists, in which they stressed that AIPAC doesn’t represent the majority of American Jews who oppose war with Iran and who want the US to oppose settlement expansion in the West Bank.  Activists held daylong protests outside the AIPAC conference.

Timed to coincide with the AIPAC policy conference, Occupy AIPAC ( is a coalition effort initiated by CODEPINK: Women for Peace and endorsed by Occupy Wall Street, Occupy DC, and over 130 organizations, including Jewish Voice for Peace, Interfaith Peace Builders, Jews Say No, Just Foreign Policy, US Palestinian Community Network and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. The purpose of the week of actions is to urge Obama to reject the Israeli administration’s push for war on Iran, insist on respect for Palestinian rights, and draw attention to the role of AIPAC as a special interest lobby that maintains a stranglehold over US policies.

The counter lobby: Occupy AIPAC to press Congress on war with Iran, US military aid to Israel

Mar 04, 2012

Alex Kane

Hundreds of protesters from Occupy AIPAC massed outside the Washington Convention Center, where the AIPAC conference is held (Photo: Alex Kane)

Washington, D.C.–Before this year’s American-Israel Public Affairs Committee conference ends, thousands of Israel lobbyists will blanket Capitol Hill, pressuring elected officials to sign onto ahawkish Senate resolution on Iran. But they won’t be the only group lobbying on Israel and Iran.

Occupy AIPAC, the Code Pink-organized counter summit challenging the Israel lobby, will have their own legislative asks. On Tuesday, activists plan to bring their anti-war message to meetings with Congressional members of the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees.

I picked up a copy of Occupy AIPAC’s legislative agenda yesterday. Number one on the agenda is opposing the Lieberman-Graham resolution in the Senate that “confuses U.S. ‘red lines’ and significantly lowers the threshold for going to war,” according to the National Iranian-American Council. Occupy AIPAC is also urging support for the Ellison-Jones letter on Iran urging diplomacy (J Street is also promoting the letter).

“The [Lieberman-Graham] resolution is a blank check for war,” Occupy AIPAC states. “By moving the goalposts for war, and ruling out diplomatic alternatives to war, this resolution could be used by the current or future president as justification for war without further Congressional authorization.”

Tensions with Iran aren’t the only issue on activists’ minds. US military aid to Israel is also criticized in the legislative agenda packet because the aid has been used to “commit grave and systemic human rights abuses against Palestinians, a direct violation of the Foreign Assistance Act and the Arms Export Control Act.”

Specifically, Occupy AIPAC will push for the following amendments to the 2013 budget: restricting the use of US weapons to Israel’s sovereign territory; promoting a freeze on the expansion of Israeli settlements; ending the blockade of Gaza and more.

Fat chance any of those asks will be taken seriously. Still, they’re laudable goals.

I asked Rae Abileah, the Code Pink activist who disrupted Benjamin Netanyahu last year and was assaulted as a result, about Occupy AIPAC’s legislative agenda.

“AIPAC is bringing 13,000 people to lobby the hill, and over 1,000 of those are students, and 200 of them are student body presidents. So they’re really a well-fund, well-oiled operation,” said Abileah, as protesters near her chanted against a potential war with Iran. “We’re seeking to kind of put a cog in the wheel, disrupt business as usual, by trying to get reality inserted in that discussion on the Hill…In terms of legislation, we’re in a really dire spot. We don’t have any illusions that we’re going to shift Congress this weekend. We just have the hope that we’ll change public opinion about the threat of a war with Iran.”

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