Wednesday, June 30, 2010

AIPAC Pressures Congress: Back Netanyahu, not the President!

MJ Rosenberg

The diplomatic crisis over Israeli settlements is going into its second week and there is no sign that either side is backing down. It started when the Israeli government announced that it would expand settlements in East Jerusalem while Vice President Joseph Biden was visiting Israel.

The initial reason for the blow-up was the administration's anger that the Israeli government announced the construction of 1,600 new settlement units in East Jerusalem while Vice President Biden was in Israel. This was a slap in Biden's face because the United States has always opposed settlements and, like the rest of the world, does not recognize Arab East Jerusalem as part of Israel. The United States has consistently stated that the final status of East Jerusalem, like the West Bank and Gaza, must be resolved in negotiations and not resolved unilaterally by Israelis or Palestinians.

Read more-The Huffington Post

US ‘Frustrated’ with Netanyahu on Indirect Talks

Israeli PM Called Unserious on Core Issues

According to Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, US special ambassador to the Middle East George Mitchell is growing increasingly frustrated with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “unserious” attitude on the indirect peace talks.
According to the reports, officials say that Netanyahu is refusing to seriously address a number of core issues, allowing the already slow-moving talks to turn into a glacial paced act of futility. The potential borders of a future Palestinian state have been one matter Netanyahu has refused to touch.
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Ali Abunimah: Israeli link possible in US torture techniques

The head of the American defense contracting firm implicated in the torture of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison has close ties to Israel and visited an Israeli "anti-terror" training camp in the occupied West Bank earlier this year.
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Fannie-Freddie Bailout Could Cost Taxpayers $1 Trillion

For American taxpayers, now on the hook for some $145 billion in housing losses connected to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, that amount could be just the tip of the iceberg.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the losses could balloon to $400 billion. And if housing prices fall further, some experts caution, the cost to the taxpayer could hit as much as $1 trillion.

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EXPOSED! - G20 Police in Black Bloc Anarchist Gear

WATCH AT 0:45.....all the plainclothes people running in that pack, and being let behind the line, are cops--including the black-clad 'anarchist' !!!! BTW, watch out for the old white-bearded flannel shirt cop and the famous 'scary lady' cop

Watch this obvious agent provocateur. She and her associates attack the protesters, including the cameraman, then rush behind the police lines, with the police covering their escape from the crowd.

Sinking Ship: Israel’s bleak future

by John J. Mearsheimer

Israel’s botched raid against the Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla on May 31 is the latest sign that Israel is on a disastrous course that it seems incapable of reversing. The attack also highlights the extent to which Israel has become a strategic liability for the United States. This situation is likely to get worse over time, which will cause major problems for Americans who have a deep attachment to the Jewish state.

The bungled assault on the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship in the flotilla, shows once again that Israel is addicted to using military force yet unable to do so effectively. One would think that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) would improve over time from all the practice. Instead, it has become the gang that cannot shoot straight.

The IDF last scored a clear-cut victory in the Six Day War in 1967; the record since then is a litany of unsuccessful campaigns. The War of Attrition (1969-70) was at best a draw, and Israel fell victim to one of the great surprise attacks in military history in the October War of 1973. In 1982, the IDF invaded Lebanon and ended up in a protracted and bloody fight with Hezbollah. Eighteen years later, Israel conceded defeat and pulled out of the Lebanese quagmire. Israel tried to quell the First Intifada by force in the late 1980s, with Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin telling his troops to break the bones of the Palestinian demonstrators. But that strategy failed and Israel was forced to join the Oslo Peace Process instead, which was another failed endeavor.

The IDF has not become more competent in recent years. By almost all accounts—including the Israeli government’s own commission of inquiry—it performed abysmally in the 2006 Lebanon war. The IDF then launched a new campaign against the people of Gaza in December 2008, in part to “restore Israel’s deterrence” but also to weaken or topple Hamas. Although the mighty IDF was free to pummel Gaza at will, Hamas survived and Israel was widely condemned for the destruction and killing it wrought on Gaza’s civilian population. Indeed, the Goldstone Report, written under UN auspices, accused Israel of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. Earlier this year, the Mossad murdered a Hamas leader in Dubai, but the assassins were seen on multiple security cameras and were found to have used forged passports from Australia and a handful of European countries. The result was an embarrassing diplomatic row, with Australia, Ireland, and Britain each expelling an Israeli diplomat.

Given this history, it is not surprising that the IDF mishandled the operation against the Gaza flotilla, despite having weeks to plan it. The assault forces that landed on the Mavi Marmara were unprepared for serious resistance and responded by shooting nine activists, some at point-blank range. None of the activists had their own guns. The bloody operation was condemned around the world—except in the United States, of course. Even within Israel, the IDF was roundly criticized for this latest failure.

These ill-conceived operations have harmful consequences for Israel. Failures leave adversaries intact and make Israeli leaders worry that their deterrent reputation is being undermined. To rectify that, the IDF is turned loose again, but the result is usually another misadventure, which gives Israel new incentives to do it again, and so on. This spiral logic, coupled with Israel’s intoxication with military force, helps explain why the Israeli press routinely carries articles predicting where Israel’s next war will be.

Israel’s recent debacles have also damaged its international reputation. Respondents to a 2010 worldwide opinion poll done for the BBC said that Israel, Iran, and Pakistan had the most negative influence in the world; even North Korea ranked better. More worrying for Israel is that its once close strategic relationship with Turkey has been badly damaged by the 2008-09 Gaza war and especially by the assault on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship filled with Turkish nationals. But surely the most troubling development for Israel is the growing chorus of voices in the United States who say that Israel’s behavior is threatening American interests around the world, to include endangering its soldiers. If that sentiment grows, it could seriously harm Israel’s relationship with the United States.

Life as an Apartheid State

The flotilla tragedy highlights another way in which Israel is in deep trouble. Israel’s response makes it obvious that its leaders are not interested in allowing the Palestinians to have a viable state in Gaza and the West Bank, but instead are bent on creating a “Greater Israel” in which the Palestinians are confined to a handful of impoverished enclaves.

Israel insists that its blockade is solely intended to keep weapons out of Gaza. Hardly anyone would criticize Israel if this were true, but it is not. The real aim of the blockade is to punish the people of Gaza for supporting Hamas and resisting Israel’s efforts to maintain Gaza as a giant open-air prison. Of course, there was much evidence that this was the case before the debacle on the Mavi Marmara. When the blockade began in 2006, Dov Weisglass, a close aide to Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, said, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” And the Gaza onslaught 18 months ago was designed to punish the Gazans, not enforce a weapons embargo. The ships in the flotilla were transporting humanitarian aid, not weapons for Hamas, and Israel’s willingness to use deadly force to prevent a humanitarian aid convoy from reaching Gaza makes it abundantly clear that Israel wants to humiliate and subdue the Palestinians, not live side-by-side with them in separate states.

Collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza is unlikely to end anytime soon. Israel’s leaders have shown little interest in lifting the blockade or negotiating sincerely. The sad truth is that Israel has been brutalizing the Palestinians for so long that it is almost impossible to break the habit. It is hardly surprising that Jimmy Carter said last year, “the citizens of Palestine are treated more like animals than human beings.” They are, and they will be for the foreseeable future.

Consequently, there is not going to be a two-state solution. Instead, Gaza and the West Bank will become part of a Greater Israel, which will be an apartheid state bearing a marked resemblance to white-ruled South Africa. Israelis and their American supporters invariably bristle at this comparison, but that is their future if they create a Greater Israel while denying full political rights to an Arab population that will soon outnumber the Jewish population in the entirety of the land. In fact, two former Israeli prime ministers—Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak—have made this very point. Olmert went so far as to argue, “as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.”

He’s right, because Israel will not be able to maintain itself as an apartheid state. Like racist South Africa, it will eventually evolve into a democratic bi-national state whose politics will be dominated by the more numerous Palestinians. But that process will take many years, and during that time, Israel will continue to oppress the Palestinians. Its actions will be seen and condemned by growing numbers of people and more and more governments around the world. Israel is unwittingly destroying its own future as a Jewish state, and doing so with tacit U.S. support.

America’s Albatross

The combination of Israel’s strategic incompetence and its gradual transformation into an apartheid state creates significant problems for the United States. There is growing recognition in both countries that their interests are diverging; indeed this perspective is even garnering attention inside the American Jewish community. Jewish Week, for example, recently published an article entitled “The Gaza Blockade: What Do You Do When U.S. and Israeli Interests Aren’t in Synch?” Leaders in both countries are now saying that Israeli policy toward the Palestinians is undermining U.S. security. Vice President Biden and Gen. David Petraeus, the head of Central Command, both made this point recently, and the head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan, told the Knesset in June, “Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden.”

It is easy to see why. Because the United States gives Israel so much support and U.S. politicians routinely laud the “special relationship” in the most lavish terms, people around the globe naturally associate the United States with Israel’s actions. Unfortunately, this makes huge numbers of people in the Arab and Islamic world furious with the United States for supporting Israel’s cruel treatment of the Palestinians. That anger in turn helps fuel terrorism against America. Remember that the 9/11 Commission Report, which describes Khalid Sheik Muhammad as the “principal architect of the 9/11 attacks,” concludes that his “animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.” Osama bin Laden’s hostility toward the United States was fuelled in part by this same concern.

Popular anger toward the United States also threatens the rulers of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, key U.S. allies who are frequently seen as America’s lackeys. The collapse of any of these regimes would be a big blow to the U.S. position in the region; however, Washington’s unyielding support for Israel makes these governments weaker, not stronger. More importantly, the rupture in Israel’s relationship with Turkey will surely damage America’s otherwise close relationship with Turkey, a NATO member and a key U.S. ally in Europe and the Middle East.

Finally, there is the danger that Israel might attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, which could have terrible consequences for the United States. The last thing America needs is another war with an Islamic country, especially one that could easily interfere in its ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is why the Pentagon opposes striking Iran, whether with Israeli or U.S. forces. But Netanyahu might do it anyway if he thinks it would be good for Israel, even if it were bad for the United States.

Dark Days Ahead for the Lobby

Israel’s troubled trajectory is also causing major headaches for its American supporters. First, there is the matter of choosing between Israel and the United States. This is sometimes referred to as the issue of dual loyalty, but that term is a misnomer. Americans are allowed to have dual citizenship—and in effect, dual loyalty—and this is no problem as long as the interests of the other country are in synch with America’s interests. For decades, Israel’s supporters have striven to shape public discourse in the United States so that most Americans believe the two countries’ interests are identical. That situation is changing, however. Not only is there now open talk about clashing interests, but knowledgeable people are openly asking whether Israel’s actions are detrimental to U.S. security.

The lobby has been scrambling to discredit this new discourse, either by reasserting the standard argument that Israel’s interests are synonymous with America’s or by claiming that Israel—to quote a recent statement by Mortimer Zuckerman, a key figure in the lobby—“has been an ally that has paid dividends exceeding its costs.” A more sophisticated approach, which is reflected in an AIPAC-sponsored letter that 337 congresspersons sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in March, acknowledges that there will be differences between the two countries, but argues that “such differences are best resolved quietly, in trust and confidence.” In other words, keep the differences behind closed doors and away from the American public. It is too late, however, to quell the public debate about whether Israel’s actions are damaging U.S. interests. In fact, it is likely to grow louder and more contentious with time.

This changing discourse creates a daunting problem for Israel’s supporters, because they will have to side either with Israel or the United States when the two countries’ interests clash. Thus far, most of the key individuals and institutions in the lobby have sided with Israel when there was a dispute. For example, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have had two big public fights over settlements. Both times the lobby sided with Netanyahu and helped him thwart Obama. It seems clear that individuals like Abraham Foxman, who heads the Anti-Defamation League, and organizations like AIPAC are primarily concerned about Israel’s interests, not America’s.

This situation is very dangerous for the lobby. The real problem is not dual loyalty but choosing between the two loyalties and ultimately putting the interests of Israel ahead of those of America. The lobby’s unstinting commitment to defending Israel, which sometimes means shortchanging U.S. interests, is likely to become more apparent to more Americans in the future, and that could lead to a wicked backlash against Israel’s supporters as well as Israel.

The lobby faces yet another challenge: defending an apartheid state in the liberal West is not going to be easy. Once it is widely recognized that the two-state solution is dead and Israel has become like white-ruled South Africa—and that day is not far off—support for Israel inside the American Jewish community is likely to diminish significantly. The main reason is that apartheid is a despicable political system that is fundamentally at odds with basic American values as well as core Jewish values. For sure there will be some Jews who will defend Israel no matter what kind of political system it has. But their numbers will shrink over time, in large part because survey data shows that younger American Jews feel less attachment to Israel than their elders, which makes them less inclined to defend Israel blindly.

The bottom line is that Israel will not be able to maintain itself as an apartheid state over the long term because it will not be able to depend on the American Jewish community to defend such a reprehensible political order.

Assisted Suicide

Israel is facing a bleak future, yet there is no reason to think that it will change course anytime soon. The political center of gravity in Israel has shifted sharply to the right and there is no sizable pro-peace political party or movement. Moreover, it remains firmly committed to the belief that what cannot be solved by force can be solved with greater force, and many Israelis view the Palestinians with contempt if not hatred. Neither the Palestinians nor any of Israel’s immediate neighbors are powerful enough to deter it, and the lobby will remain influential enough over the next decade to protect Israel from meaningful U.S. pressure.

Remarkably, the lobby is helping Israel commit national suicide while also doing serious damage to American security interests. Voices challenging this tragic situation have grown slightly more numerous in recent years, but the majority of political commentators and virtually all U.S. politicians seem blissfully ignorant of where this is headed, or unwilling to risk their careers by speaking out.

- John J. Mearsheimer is a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and coauthor of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. This article first appeared in The American Conservative.

Amnesty reports US, Europe shielding Israel over Gaza war crimes

In its annual report, the rights group accuses Israel of continually violating human rights in Gaza with its ongoing economic siege.

Amnesty International complained in its annual report released Thursday that the U.S. and members of the European Union had obstructed international justice by using their positions on the UN Security Council to shield Israel from accountability for war crimes allegedly committed during last year’s Gaza war.
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Israel has its own Iranian opposition group

Two days ago, I found it curious to learn of a large rally held in Paris by the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI, also known as MEK or MKO) by reading the headlines on Ynet and on Ha’aretz. I usually follow Iranian opposition events via various other Iranian websites, where the rally was not mentioned. And while the Israeli press can be counted upon to have nearly daily entries in its hysterical campaign towards a military confrontation with Iran, it still seemed curious to find this rally by a relatively discredited Iranian opposition group featured so prominently on these Israeli websites. But then reading closely the matter was clarified somewhat (from Ha’aretz):

    The rally by the PMOI, which Washington considers to be a terrorist organisation, was attended by former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and Jose Maria Aznar, the former prime minister of Spain.

Bolton and Aznar were there to represent a transatlantic coalition of neoconservative pro-Israeli interests who seem to wish to promote the PMOI as the legitimate opposition to Iran's clerical regime. Bolton’s credentials need no rehearsal here, but let’s not forget that Aznar has recently signed on as a founding member of a European Friends of Israel, in the face of the disastrous repercussions of the Gaza Freedom floatilla raid.
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Israel has its own Iranian opposition group

Israel’s Iranian Opposition?

Two days ago, I found it curious to learn of a large rally held in Paris by the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI, also known as MEK or MKO) by reading the headlines on Ynet and on Ha’aretz. I usually follow Iranian opposition events via various other Iranian websites, where the rally was not mentioned. And while the Israeli press can be counted upon to have nearly daily entries in its hysterical campaign towards a military confrontation with Iran, it still seemed curious to find this rally by a relatively discredited Iranian opposition group featured so prominently on these Israeli websites. But then reading closely the matter was clarified somewhat (from Ha’aretz):

    The rally by the PMOI, which Washington considers to be a terrorist organisation, was attended by former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and Jose Maria Aznar, the former prime minister of Spain.


Sticking the public with the bill for the bankers’ crisis

Naomi Klein

My city feels like a crime scene and the criminals are all melting into the night, fleeing the scene. No, I’m not talking about the kids in black who smashed windows and burned cop cars on Saturday.

I’m talking about the heads of state who, on Sunday night, smashed social safety nets and burned good jobs in the middle of a recession. Faced with the effects of a crisis created by the world’s wealthiest and most privileged strata, they decided to stick the poorest and most vulnerable people in their countries with the bill.

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If they build it, they will bomb.

“If they build a mosque there, I’m going to bomb the mosque,” said one outraged resident who lives across the street from the proposed house of worship between East 28th and East 29th streets on Voorhies Avenue. The resident, who refused to give his name, identified himself as a former Israeli soldier who had lived on Voorhies Avenue for eight years."
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Medieval theocracies gaolre

RIYADH — Judicial officials say a Saudi court has convicted four women and 11 men for mingling at a party and sentenced them to flogging and prison terms.

The men, who are between 30 and 40 years old, and three of the women, who are under the age of 30, were sentenced to an unspecified number of lashes and one or two year prison terms each.



Iran: Mother sentenced to death by stoning

Tehran, 28 Sept.(AKI) - A court in the Iran's second largest city, Mashad, has sentenced to death by stoning a mother-of-three for having an extra-marital affair, an Iranian newspaper reported Friday.

The daily Quds said the married woman's lover had confessed to having had sex with her and that the court sentenced him to 100 lashes.

There are currently eight women in Iranian prisons waiting to be executed by stoning, a practice usually reserved for those found guilty of adultery according to the Islamic republic's laws.
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An ‘emotional blockade’ is levied against Israel, says a French baffoon!

The international community has imposed an “emotional blockade” on Israel that has prevented the world from sympathizing with Israeli citizens, according to France’s Ambassador for Human Rights Francois Zimeray.

“World compassion has not gone to Israel,” said Zimeray, noting that both Israelis and Palestinian have suffered as a result of the conflict. “The world does not realize how intense this [Israeli] suffering can be.”
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How many deaths?

Only in Israel, stone throwing is called 'terrorism"!

"Since the soccer games began in South Africa several weeks ago, the IDF Central Command has noted a significant drop in Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank with a particular emphasis on stone throwing."
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Should it not be rather "teghghogh"?"

Palestinians 'cleanse' shops of Israeli settler-made goods

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories — Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad launched on Monday a new door-to-door campaign aimed at "cleansing" shops in the West Bank of goods produced in Israeli settlements.

The so-called "Shop-to-Shop" campaign is part of a months-old boycott that has seen the Western-backed Palestinian Authority impose fines and even jail sentences on merchants who trade in settlement goods.

"This is a new campaign, and an important part of the efforts, both official and popular, to cleanse the market of all settlements goods by the end of the year," Fayyad told reporters on a visit to a supermarket in Ramallah.

"This is also part of our efforts to bring about economic independence and self-sufficiency on the path to freedom and the end of the occupation," he said, referring to his plan to build the institutions of an independent state by the middle of next year with or without a peace agreement with Israel.

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Barred from Jerusalem for being Palestinian

To say that Palestinian Murad Al-Khalaf's roots are in Jerusalem is a serious understatement. His family lived in the Baka district of West Jerusalem until they were forced to leave in the war of 1948.

They have since lived – and live – in the inner East Jerusalem district of Ras al-Amud. His family doctor father's clinic in East Jerusalem's main street of Salahadin is opposite three shops owned by each of his uncles. One of his brothers, also a doctor, works at one of Jerusalem's two main (Israeli) hospitals, the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre. The city is, in short, his home.

New Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is an atheist


Turkey bars Israeli military plane from using airspace

ANKARA (AFP) – Turkey barred an Israeli military plane from using its airspace after last month's raid on Gaza-bound aid ships killed nine activists, the country's prime minister said Monday, as Turkish media reported a second plane was also turned away.

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Akiva Eldar / West Bank outsposts are growing 'under the state's nose'

If the state’s claim that it is taking care of illegal building in outposts sounds familiar, it’s because it’s just the same old pabulum they’ve fed us before.

By Akiva Eldar

"It is untenable that the state, which is equipped with surveillance apparatus, does not know what is happening right under its nose." This crushing line is documented at the Supreme Court and credited to its President Dorit Beinisch."

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The Orthodox Jews fighting the Judaization of East Jerusalem

Leading the demonstrations of solidarity with Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah are some young Israelis with a religious background. They explain their activism and how it correlates to their conception of the true meaning of the Torah

By Nir Hasson-Haaretz

Not long before Hillel Ben Sasson attended his first demonstration in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, Aryeh King − perhaps the person most identified with Jewish settlement there − declared that in the battle over the capital of Israel, the left had been defeated.

“In the past they organized demonstrations,” King told Haaretz last November, “but now we have made them understand that they have lost the battle. They can’t even recruit 20 people, and if there is a demonstration it’s Europeans who take part. Israelis don’t show up anymore. We have won.”

Unorthodox tactics1

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Americans Growing Weary Of Endless War

The Christian Science Monitor takes a look at the polls and finds that the American public is growing tired of a war in Afghanistan that has no real end in sight:

Until recently, the nine-year conflict in Afghanistan had become “the forgotten war” for many Americans – a complaint increasingly heard among US troops there.

But this week’s sacking of Gen. Stanley McChrystal as US commander puts Afghanistan – and especially how the fight against the Taliban is going – squarely back into public thought and concern.

Most Americans agree with Obama that McChrystal had to go, polls show. But they’re far less supportive of the conflict itself, weary of what’s become the longest war in US history.

A recent Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters finds that just 41 percent “now believe it is possible for the United States to win the nearly nine-year-old war in Afghanistan.” More to the point, a plurality of 48 percent now say ending the war in Afghanistan is a more important goal than winning it.

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Turkey cancels water sales to Israel

Following the attacks on the Freedom Flotilla in which 9 Turkish citizens were killed, Turkey has decided to continue severing ties with Israel by canceling the agreement it signed in 2000 to supply Israel with water for a 20 year period.
According to the agreement Turkey would sell approximately 1.75 billion cubic feet of water per year.
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Iran says Egypt barring Gaza aid ship from canal

TEHRAN — The Iranian Red Crescent said on Sunday that in addition to restrictions imposed by Israel, Egypt had barred a Gaza-bound aid ship from entering the Suez Canal, leading to the trip being postponed.

"The ship's departure has been postponed because of more restrictions imposed by the Zionist Quds occupying regime on the movement of aid to Gaza and prevention of the ship from using the Suez Canal, despite coordination with international bodies," the Red Crescent said in a statement faxed to AFP.

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Lieberman wants Palestinians stripped of citizenship and relocated

Jonathan Cook, Foreign Correspondent

NAZARETH // Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s far-right foreign minister, set out this week what he called a “blueprint for a resolution to the conflict” with the Palestinians that demands most of the country’s large Palestinian minority be stripped of citizenship and relocated outside Israel’s future borders.
Mr Lieberman said that Israel faced growing diplomatic pressure for a full withdrawal to the Green Line, the pre-1967 border, and if such a partition were implemented, “the conflict will inevitably pass beyond those borders and into Israel”.
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Toronto Police Attack Peaceful Protesters and Journalists at G20 Protests

June 26, 2010, Toronto, Ontario-After a large march and rally against the meeting of the G20, police attacked a crowd of peaceful protesters in Queens Park. The following clip shows police attacking and arresting protesters. At 1:02, video journalist Brandon Jourdan is thrown to the ground and beaten by police while shooting video.


NY Times: zionist terrorism during the Mandate of Palestine was romantic.

A little-noticed comment in a New York Times interview with Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni has critics arguing that it shows the media has a "double standard" when it comes to terrorism.

In an interview published Tuesday, Livni, the leader of Israel's centrist Kadima party, boasted that her parents, both members of the Zionist militant group Irgun in the 1940s, were the first couple to be married in the newly-formed state of Israel.

"Both of them were in the Irgun," Livni said. "They were freedom fighters, and they met while boarding a British train. When the British Mandate was here, they robbed a train to get the money in order to buy weapons."

To which New York Times reporter Deborah Solomon responded: "It was a more romantic era."

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GORDON DUFF: Israel Planned Iran Attack From Caucasus Base

Israeli Ruse Allows Use of Turkish Air Corridor

By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

A week ago, Israel leaked to the press that they had permission from Saudi Arabia to use their air space to attack Iran. The Saudi’s quickly denied this. The effort on Israel’s part was a ruse to cover their real plans, to attack from the Republic of Georgia, close to Iran’s northern border. However, the breakdown in relations with Turkey after miscalculating the response to their Flotilla raid on a Turkish ship in international waters may have ended this operation.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Netanyahu Plays the Vuvuzela, Rannie Amiri

Assuming you haven’t left planet Earth in the past two weeks, you know the 2010 World Cup is well underway in host nation South Africa. Even the uninterested have heard the unmistakable “buzz” emanating from its stadiums, as if a massive swarm of bees had descended. The vuvuzela, or African horn, is the source of the reverberating sound and blowing it is the proud tradition of South African football fans. Although it may be causing consternation among players (and hearing loss among spectators), FIFA has dismissed calls to ban it. Indeed, the raucous chorus of vuvuzelas has been the hallmark of this year’s World Cup and—respectively putting South African sporting sensitivities aside—one of its great distractions.
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Patriot act: A Palestinian American sentenced to 65 years imprisonment for operating a charity!

Defending My Father ... and the Constitution, NOOR ELASHI

The case perhaps most notably authorized by the Material Support Law, which was upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday, was that of the Holy Land Foundation, once the largest Muslim charity in the United States. My father, Ghassan Elashi, co-founded this charity, and after two lengthy, expensive trials, he’s now serving a 65-year prison sentence.

The panel was split 6-3, the valiant minority being Chief Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth B. Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. Writing the majority opinion, Chief Justice John G. Roberts concluded that the Material Support Law is not too vague and does not violate the First Amendment, opposing the extensive arguments of constitutional law expert David Cole who, along with the Center for Constitutional Rights, challenged the law in the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Breyer wrote the dissenting opinion, stating that the law could criminalize speech and association “only when the defendant knows or intends that those activities will assist the organization's unlawful terrorist actions.”

The Patriot Act, which expanded a provision in the Material Support Law to include those who provide “assistance,” essentially made it illegal to send charity to the U.S. Treasury Department lists of desig nated terrorists. The Holy Land Foundation, or HLF, was never found guilty of giving charity to a desig nated terrorist organization. Rather, they were convicted of conspiring to give material support in the form of humanitarian aid to Palestinian charities called “zakat committees” that prosecutors alleged were fronts for Hamas, which was designated in 1995.

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Where Kindness Is A Crime, Max Blumenthal

In a May 7 article, Haaretz reporter Ilana Hammerman described in dramatic detail a crime she had methodically planned and committed. In defiance of laws supposedly related to Israel's security, Hammerman picked up three teenage Palestinian girls in their village in the West Bank, took them through the Betar checkpoint, and drove them into Tel Aviv. There they ate ice cream, visited the mall and museum, and played in the sea. Even though the girls lived just a few kilometers from the beach, Israel's military occupation had prevented them from ever visiting it before their illegal "day of fun."
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Let the flotillas through, Larry Derfner

If we forcibly stop the ships, it’ll be an even greater victory for the Islamists and an even worse humiliation for Israel.
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A great resource on the Hamas women, Helena Cobban

Kudos to Conflicts Forum, which a few months ago published (PDF) a very informative study by the Hebron-area journalist and researcher Khaled Amayreh on the role of women in Hamas. Amayreh's study is in two parts. The first consists of interviews with three of Hamas's female MPs: Sameera al-Halayka from the Hebron area, and Jamila Shanti and Huda Naim from Gaza. The second is Amayreh's own analysis of the significant role women have played in bolstering Hamas.
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Flotilla aid to enter Gaza under UN supervision

Gaza - IRIN - After intense diplomatic negotiation with Israel, the UN has agreed to oversee the transfer of 70 truckloads of humanitarian aid that Israel seized from a flotilla of six ships on 31 May.

Thirty loaded trucks have been stuck at the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip, while another 40 truckloads of aid are being stored in warehouses operated by the Israeli Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) for the Strip.
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British unions at the forefront of moves to isolate Israel

The recent news that Britain’s largest union, Unite, agreed to boycott Israeli companies was clearly the beginning of something far bigger:

"One of Britain’s largest trade unions passed a motion at its annual conference in Bournemouth last week accusing Israel of lying over the Gaza flotilla incident and has called for a complete boycott of Israel and for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, it was confirmed on Thursday."

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Why the Irish Support Palestine?

Once upon a time, Ireland was a huge supporter of Jewish aspirations in the Promised Land. What happened?
As the world scrambled to respond to Israel's deadly May 31 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, the first reaction came from an unlikely source: Ireland. On the morning of June 5, the MV Rachel Corrie, which had set sail from the east coast of Ireland in an attempt to breach the Gaza blockade, was intercepted by Israeli forces. The vessel's Irish passengers included Mairead Maguire, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate for her work to bring peace to Northern Ireland.

The ill-tempered diplomatic spat between the Irish and Israeli governments that accompanied the Rachel Corrie's journey to Gaza is just the latest episode in the countries' long history of antagonistic relations. Tensions recently escalated again with the Irish expulsion of an Israeli diplomat amid Irish anger over Israel's alleged use of eight forged Irish passports in the recent murder of a Hamas official in Dubai.
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How the Zionist Project Might End : Getting Out of Palestine


Although the Israel lobby expressed particular outrage at Helen Thomas’ suggestion that Israelis go back to Germany and Poland, many Israelis have done precisely that. In his book, The Seventh Million, Tom Segev writes that many thousands of Israelis have “requested and received German passports.” According to the Jewish Virtual Library, there were 118,000 Jews living in Germany in 2006. Another 49,700 lived in Hungary and 3,200 in Poland.

Disconcerting as some Zionists may find this, Jews have not stayed away from countries where they faced near extermination under the Nazis. Does this mean that these countries are now safer for Jews than Israel?
Read more


It appears that Abe Foxman is or will be stepping down soon from his position as head of the ADL…..

Jon Voight seems more than ready to fill his sandals.

American actor Jon Voight

American actor Jon Voight

Jon Voight to Obama: You are harming Israel and promoting anti-Semitism

In an open letter in The Washington Times, staunch Republican actor writes: You will be the first American president that lied to the Jewish people, and the American people as well, when you said that you would defend Israel.

American actor and staunch Republican Jon Voight has submitted a public letter to The Washington Times, in which he accused President Barack Obama of putting Israel in harm’s way and promoting anti-Semitism across the world.

“You will be the first American president that lied to the Jewish people, and the American people as well, when you said that you would defend Israel, the only Democratic state in the Middle East, against all their enemies,” wrote Voight, who last year called Obama a false prophet.

“You have done just the opposite. You have propagandized Israel, until they look like they are everyone’s enemy – and it has resonated throughout the world,” he wrote. “You are putting Israel in harm’s way, and you have promoted anti-Semitism throughout the world.”

“You have brought this to a people who have given the world the Ten Commandments and most laws we live by today. The Jewish people have given the world our greatest scientists and philosophers, and the cures for many diseases, and now you play a very dangerous game so you can look like a true martyr to what you see and say are the underdogs,” he wrote.

“But the underdogs you defend are murderers and criminals who want Israel eradicated.”

“You have brought to Arizona a civil war, once again defending the criminals and illegals, creating a meltdown for good, loyal, law-abiding citizens. Your destruction of this country may never be remedied, and we may never recover. I pray to God you stop, and I hope the people in this great country realize your agenda is not for the betterment of mankind, but for the betterment of your politics,” he added.

Voight signed off his letter by writing: “With heartfelt and deep concern for America and Israel.”

Friday, June 25, 2010

'The wall ruined my life, separated my family'

Bethlehem - Ma'an - The demolition of a Palestinian man's home on Monday was his final lost battle in a string of defeats going back to the 1990s, the Beit Jala man told Ma'an. In 1992, Israel confiscated several hundred dunums of land belonging to the family, where the tunnels system was created to connect the illegal Israeli settlements of Gilo and Bettar Illit with Jerusalem. What was left undeveloped on the far side of the tunnel road was confiscated, and the farming family was left to find a different source of livelihood.
Read more

Hebron Jew won't claim home until Palestinians return

Hebron – Ma’an – An elderly Jewish man from Hebron has asked the city's mayor to permit his burial in a Muslim cemetery when he dies, insisting that his body not be placed in one of the sites now controlled by Israeli settlers. Haim Bajayo, 75, visited Mayor Khalid Al-Useili at his office in the southern West Bank city and described in detail how Jews and Arabs had generally enjoyed amiable relations until the arrival of tens of thousands of foreign immigrants from the 1920s until 1948, the year Israel was established and most of Hebron's Jews fled to the new state established in their name.
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Israeli helicopters unload equipment 'meant for attacking a Muslim state' at Saudi airport

Helicopters landed at a Saudi airport and unloaded equipment intended for attacking targets in a Muslim state, semi-official news agency reports.
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Teenager shot by settler forced to pay fine

Hebron/Bethlehem – Ma'an – A teenage boy shot by an Israeli settler has been fined by Israeli police investigating the case, family members said. Mohammad Ibrahim, 16, was shot in the chest as he walked home from school with his friends on 4 June. His friend, Moataz Moussa Omran Banat, was also shot in the leg. On Tuesday, Ibrahim’s father said Israeli police from the Kiryat Arba settlement asked him to bring his son to make a report on the incident.
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Family says son paralyzed from torture in Israeli jail

Jenin – Ma'an – The parents of a Palestinian detainee from Jenin have called on international rights groups to secure their son's immediate release, after he was reportedly tortured in an Israeli prison. Asad Sholi, from the Kafr Dan village in Jenin, was severely beaten by Israeli Prison Service staff, during which both hands and legs were broken, parents said.
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Targeting Israel's Palestinians, Ben White

Israel's Palestinian minority has always been subject to discriminatory policies, but some now say that a more open conflict between the Israeli establishment and its Palestinian citizens appears to be brewing. In May, Ameer Makhoul, the director of Ittijah, a network for Palestinian NGOs, was taken from his home in the middle of the night by the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service. Once the media gag was lifted, it emerged that Makhoul and another Palestinian citizen, Omar Said, a natural medicine expert and Balad party activist, were facing serious security-related charges. Both men were denied access to lawyers for approximately a fortnight. Makhoul's wife, Janan Abdu, says she feels that her husband is being made an example of. "He's in a key position in within the community here, has a high profile internationally and he has been speaking clearly about discrimination and encouraging a boycott [of Israel]."
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US vetoed Shalit release deal and other things I learned from "diplomatic sources"

"I had some interesting conversations with what I can refer to as diplomatic sources familiar with these matters and thought the following points worth sharing..."
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Belgian lawyers to charge Barak and Livni for war crimes

Two Belgian lawyers, working on behalf of a group of Palestinians, plan to charge 14 Israeli politicians, including Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni and Matan Vilnai, for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Read more-Haaretz

33 Greeks to sue Israeli officials over Gaza flotilla raid

Group of Greek citizens who took part in Gaza-bound flotilla that was taken over by the IDF last month to sue senior Israeli officials - including Defense Min. Barak, and army chief Ashkenazi.
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Gaza flotilla organizer: We'll sue Israel at ICJ

Audrey Bomse of Free Gaza movement says members collecting evidence, testimonies from passengers stopped by Israel on their way to Strip in order to make Jewish state 'pay the price for its crimes'. Civilians to file similar claim in Greek court.
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Balkan summit condemns Israeli raid on Gaza flotilla

13 southeastern European countries, including Turkey, call for independent and internationally credible investigation on Gaza flotilla deaths.
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Did the State Dept cave to pressure in denying flotilla activist entry to U.S.?,

Alex Kane
When a near-capacity crowd of New Yorkers sat down in their seats to hear testimonials on June 18 from survivors of Israel’s attack on an aid flotilla trying to break the blockade of Gaza, they expected to hear from three different activists. Instead, they only heard from two at the House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn.
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The Last Keffiyeh Factory In Palestine

Originating in ancient Mesopotamia, the Keffiyah was popular among Arab men who used it to protect their face, head, and neck from the elements of nature. The traditional pattern, which is still used today in Palestine and other Arab Nations, was modeled after fishing nets and ears of grain. During the Arab Revolt in the 1930s, the keffiyah became a symbol of Palestinian nationalism and in the 1980s Yasser Arafat made the keffiyah a globally recognized symbol of the Palestinian struggle. Today, cheaper imports of the keffiyah from China threaten an already troubled industry. Rebecca Fudala takes a look inside the last keffiyah factory in Palestine.
Read more-The Palestine Monitor

Turkish Military Delegation In Israel For Drone Deal

Turkish Military officials are currently in Israel to receive instructions and test four Israeli drones, Heron, manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries, owned by Israel.
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War uproots Iraq's signature date palms, and their tenders

In Iraq's date-production heyday, official estimates put the number of palm trees at 30 million, but decades of war and water salinity have cut that figure so dramatically that the United Nations agriculture mission considers date-palm rehabilitation an urgent national priority.

It would take armies of gardeners to revive the industry, and they'd have to be as skilled as Kadhim is, knowing how to pollinate, when to trim the leaves and the precise moment when dates are ready for picking.

Many of his old gardening friends said they're not willing to risk their lives to work for the equivalent of $10 a tree, which is still more than customers pay in the south, where it's safer and the trees are more abundant.

Kadhim left his farming community near the southern Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf a decade ago, after he heard how much Baghdad families were willing to pay to keep their palm trees groomed. Few of his original customers remain.

"So many families have left," Kadhim said, rattling off examples from neighborhoods throughout Baghdad . "Even when I find strangers in their houses, they never tell me they were displaced. They say the old families left or that they're relatives. Some of them just say, 'We live here now instead of them.'"

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PLO Rejects Naturalization: Rights Not Up For Bargaining

Palestine Liberation Organization Representative in Lebanon Abdullah Abdullah hailed government efforts aimed at giving Palestinian refugees their civil rights. "There is an encouraging factor behind the proposals to grant Palestinians in Lebanon their civil rights," Abdullah told Lebanese daily An-Nahar. "This stems from the fact that the Lebanese are convinced that the Palestinians reject naturalization," he explained. Abdullah stressed that both Lebanese and Palestinians are against the naturalization of Palestinians and that both sides support the right of return. He slammed as "unrealistic" some reports that said about 400,000 Palestinians intend to buy apartments in Lebanon, a matter that is likely to cause housing price hike.
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Why Palestinians are second-class citizens in Lebanon | Ahmed Moor

Arab leaders pay lip service to Palestinian rights – except when it comes to the rights of domiciled refugees in their countries.
I moved to Beirut from New York nine months ago and began looking for an apartment. After 10 continuous years in America, I wanted to return to the Arab world – and returning to my family's roots in Palestine wasn't an option.
Read more- The Guardian

Obama fires US commander of war in Afghanistan

Barack Obama, the US president, has dismissed General Stanley McChrystal, the US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, over disparaging comments about the president's staff in a Rolling Stone magazine interview. Obama said he would not tolerate any act that could undermine civilian control of the US military. The president was quick, however, to say that the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan would continue -- though without its chief architect. Afghan officials expressed disappointment over McChrystal's dismissal, but Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, said he accepted the decision. Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer reports.

McChrystal's boss takes over as US commander in Afghanistan

General David Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, has replaced General Stanley McChrystal as commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, following the latter's removal. Petraeus is widely seen as being instrumental in turning around US fortunes in the Iraq war, and many are waiting to see if he can he do the same in Afghanistan. Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane reports.

Wikileaks plans to release files about deadly U.S. airstrike on Afghan civilians plans to release as soon as this week documents related to a U.S. airstrike that killed Afghan civilians last year and plans to release combat footage of the incident this summer, the founder of the whistleblower site said in an interview Monday.
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Punishing Turkey, Philip Giraldi

Does anyone remember the movie The Boys from Brazil? It told the story of how a group of top Nazis had moved to Brazil where they made a number of clones of Hitler-as-a-child that were being strategically placed around the world to eventually bring about a Fourth Reich. The movie ended ambiguously, with many of the Hitler children still alive and evidently expected to eventually turn into Hitler adults. The movie makers were clearly on to something because there have been a lot of Hitler sightings by Israel and its friends over the past few years. Saddam Hussein was described as a new Hitler while Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been depicted in even more heinous terms as a reborn Nazi leader preparing a new Holocaust. More recently Israel demonstrators have displayed effigies of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the hairline altered and a moustache added to create a caricature of Hitler.
Full article

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why this obsession with Israel and the Palestinians?

I'm not alone in my disproportionate interest in Israel – but why do so many of us pick away at this conflict like it's a giant scab?
Benjamin Netanyahu
When I see Binyamin Netanyahu and his colleagues putting their side of some event, I do not see honest men.

Robert Fowke

One reason why Israel is singled out for so much attention is because its supporters are so very vociferous, pushing their agenda at every opportunity. As a consumer of news, the speed of their responses and their sheer ubiquity inflames my interest and my antipathy. Why do they persist in trying to defend the indefensible?

Another reason for my disproportionate interest in this conflict is that I feel I have been lied to, and I feel that people are still trying to lie to me and I don't like it. Why try to convince me that those Turkish activists on board the Mavi Marmara were terrorists? Whatever else they were, they patently were not that. If the word "terrorist" is to have any meaning at all it must refer to those who attack innocent civilians. From an Israeli propaganda perspective, silence would be better than lies.

I can remember a time back in the 1960s when I accepted a view of Israel as a plucky little state full of kibutzes busily taming the desert. At that time I had scarcely heard of the Palestinians. Then I discovered the other narrative.

My purpose here is not to go into the rights or wrongs, but to point out that if Israel had been described to me from the start as the product of remorseless expropriation of some else's land (not the full story, I know), I might well have lost interest by now.

But having been told how heroic and wonderful it was and then to find out that, at the very least, there is a different and more troubling story running in parallel, that affects me emotionally....

.....When I see Binyamin Netanyahu and his colleagues putting their side of some event, I do not see honest men and my emotions are the same as those I experience when I see burglars and con-men – distaste and disapproval. And yet they won't shut up.

Read more-The Guardian

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Helen Thomas (and the long, anticolonial walk to freedom)

A remarkable essay by Boulos:

Someone recently asked me whether I thought Helen Thomas was guilty of anything. My reactions were mixed.

Emotionally, I have to admit that there was something very gratifying about what she said, however flip it was. The fourteen year old boy inside of me loved it. Anyone who is an Arab or a Muslim who is honest will tell you that they had the same reaction. They probably emailed an article about it to a friend, approvingly, though they might deny having done so if asked. And it’s not just Arabs and Muslims who had a moment of private exhilaration at Helen Thomas’s words. Anybody who has ever stopped reading something by Marty Peretz or Charles Krauthammer or Barry Rubin or any number of other writers and analysts mid-paragraph, in quiet revulsion at their undiluted bigotry, or anyone who has been incredulous and felt powerless and angry when one elected official or pundit after another insouciantly talks about sending the Palestinians packing out of the West Bank, or expelling them from Israel, or anyone who has listened to some figure in a position of authority speak with exquisite ignorance, confidence, condescension and derision about Palestinian history and Arab culture will feel the same way.

I have heard the Palestinians demonized so much, called so many bad things (non-existent is actually relatively tame) in so many fora, in an unchallenged way that it felt really good to hear somebody say what she said. Even if it was only to quote her and damn her. The shoe was on the other foot—not even on the other foot, sort of in the vicinity of the other foot—for a split second in the national discourse, and there was some inexplicable sense of pleasure in that. Saree Makdisi’s piece in the LA Times was delicious because he chose just a few examples (many, many more could have been adduced) and he called out the hypocrisy. He held a mirror up to our cultural and political elite; I’m sure they looked away.

A lot of this conflict, at least in the western media, boils down to the refusal in our discourse to acknowledge the equal humanity of Palestinians. I remember reading the NYT very closely every day during the Second Intifada. You could have done studies on the amount of ink and where that ink was spilled (p. A1 or p. A15?) in terms of its coverage of Jewish and Palestinian deaths. The valuation of human lives implicit in those decisions about space allocation communicated a lot about the relative worth of Arabs and Jews in American mainstream discourse. At Baruch Goldstein’s funeral, the rabbi there announced that a million Arabs weren’t worth a Jewish fingernail. The NYT and other news sources seemed to me to be different only in degree, not in kind, in the assumptions they brought to their coverage. I remember going to a protest once as an undergrad; the sign I held just said, "Arabs are People, too." I don’t think many Americans really believe it. And when I read about Israel funding therapy for pets traumatized by rocket attacks and at the same time that Israeli sonic booms over Gaza have caused a ‘malignant spread of deafness among children,' I wonder whether the Israeli government really does, either.

At a non-emotional level, of course, I know that Thomas was wrong. To make Jewish Israelis leave would be to repeat the disaster of 1948. It would be to inflict upon Jews what the Zionists inflicted upon the Palestinians. It would be to do unto others what they did unto you, not as you would have them do unto you. It would be a mess and a huge human disaster. And, apart from the morality of it all, it would be totally foolish for the Palestinians to do just that. Israel has a highly educated population with a strong economy. It would be an act of national idiocy to try to make Jews leave. You can just look at the mess Mugabe has created in Zimbabwe if you need any more proof of this. (And with this said, I should add that I really don't think anybody wants to ship Jews out or push them into the sea: this is nothing but a bogeyman that has been held up by Zionists for decades to shut down serious debate and discussion or change the subject away from Israeli crimes and misdemeanors. I hesitate to even mention this issue because in so doing, one plays to Zionist fear-mongering and the image of the Arab as the heartless, barbaric savage, capable of any cruelty). If Arabs and Jews could somehow learn to all get along, it would be one of the most amazing countries in the world. Just a phenomenal place.

Thomas’ words were gratifying in the same way that seeing a bully get punched in the nose is gratifying—like that scene at the end of Back to the Future when Biff gets decked—but it’s a dead end in terms of resolving the conflict in real life or in any real way. It’s also wrong because what you have now are generations of people who have been born there and grew up in that place.

I like what Ahmad Tibi says. He says I have no problem with Jews being here, but if you want to start talking about shipping people out—a common topic in Israeli mainstream political discourse—we should do it according to the principle that the last to come should be the first to leave. That seems most fair to me.

If there were a one-state solution, it would actually be a source of strength to make it a homeland for the Jewish people, even if they are a minority. But nobody is asking me. I'm like Will Rogers: all I know is what I read in the newspapers. But that's usually pretty depressing, and predictably depressingly slanted. So now I check the blogosphere.

Which is often worse. I just read Jeffrey Goldberg’s take on the Helen Thomas controversy. In two paragraphs, he really piles on some hefty charges. Thomas is a foot soldier in a Roman-inspired war against the Jewish people and commits a sin that is "the first cousin of Holocaust denial": denying that Jews are a nation. Also, she seeks to deny Jews "the truth of their history" (whatever that means). He reels off the charges like a cop reading off of a notepad after arresting a perp.

A reading of Thomas’ statement that is much more charitable, plausible and also just simpler would be that Thomas probably doesn’t give a fig about his nationalist anxieties. What Helen Thomas cares about is Palestinians. I don't know her and have never met her, but my suspicion is that she sees them as...human beings.

It’s not metaphysical at all. Nor is it national. Nor is it about denying anything. It’s about affirming the humanity and dignity of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine and refusing to deny them rights and respect because of wrongs inflicted on Jews by Europeans (not by Palestinians), and because they didn’t have the good fortune of being born Jews and not Arabs. Tortured attempts by Zionists to use Hajj Amin al-Husayni’s interactions with Nazis to tar all Palestinians (including the large number of Palestinian Christians) as having been at the forefront of the Final Solution represent an implicit acknowledgment that the moral calculus of Zionism doesn’t quite add up. The journalist Bat Yeor’s polemical, pseudo-historical construction of the notion of dhimmitude represents a similarly deeply problematic effort coming from much the same place.

The real fault of the Palestinians is not that they were Nazis and flaming anti-Semites, it was that they were living in the wrong place at the wrong time and had the audacity to not compliantly go along with decisions about their fate that were made without their input and against their wishes in faraway European and American cities. They didn’t do what they were told to do. They didn’t behave as they were expected to behave. This is still the problem with the Palestinians. They will not do as they are told—by the Americans or by the Israelis—and this simply will not do. Good Arabs, those who will do what they are told, get a pass and a pat on the head. So Ahmedinejad (who is Iranian and not Arab) is rightly excoriated for his despicable Holocaust denial but nobody talks about Abu Mazen’s equally despicable doctoral work on Holocaust denial. Abu Mazen says things the Israelis and Americans (and Jeffrey Goldbergs) like. At least most of the time. If Abu Mazen falls out of line, be sure we'll hear about the Holocaust denial. I guess Sadat being assassinated meant that he could never fall out of line; we remember him as a good Arab and forget that he was a Nazi, too.

Because Thomas herself has Middle Eastern heritage, she might be less inclined than other pundits, many of whose knowledge of Arab culture probably does not go much beyond buying Sabra Hummus at Costco, to see the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine as lesser humans than Europeans and somehow, some way, not entitled to the same dignity, self-respect and human rights, essentially because they had the misfortune of being born speaking Arabic and not English, French or German. If achieving and maintaining the Zionist dream means destroying a society, displacing hundreds of thousands of people, killing tens of thousands more, invading, bombing and attacking at least half a dozen countries, developing a large nuclear arsenal, denying minorities equal rights, maintaining a decades-long military occupation, reducing 1.5 million people to grinding poverty, giving aid and comfort to Apartheid South Africa, etc., then maybe that dream should be put into early retirement or atleast radically reconfigured. Something has gone terribly wrong.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Was it?

There is a world beyond Europe, eastern and western. You might even say that the world is flat. Non-European peoples have had their own historical experiences and have their own histories of tragedy, suffering and struggle. These are no less vivid, painful, human and important simply because we in the US do not learn about them in school, best-selling popular histories are not written about them and Hollywood does not make movies about them.

It is not a coincidence that most of the wider, non-European world is generally more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause than it is to the Zionist one. Helen Thomas’s comments raised ire in the US, but they would be seen as utterly unremarkable to much of the population of this planet. Now, this might be because the entire world is anti-Semitic and really just hates Jews. (And there is undoubtedly anti-Semitism at work in some criticism of Israel; and it should be deplored, denounced and shunned.) But chalking all such support up to an irrational, primal hatred of Jews is too facile and too self-serving. Global sympathy for Palestinians might perhaps be because much of the world was colonized by Europe and then went through decolonization. Much of the world recognizes in the Palestinian struggle things that resonate with its own long walk to freedom. Because much of that world, like the Palestinians, had little to do with inflicting suffering on Jews in Europe, it finds the self-pity and persecution complex which seems to animate wealthy, well-educated American Zionists to be bizarre, self-indulgent and totally alien to their own historical experience, not to mention contemporary realities. Netanyahu thinks this is 1938. It feels a lot more like 2010 to me. And I’ve been scratching my head and trying to recall the last pogrom that happened on the Upper West Side, and just can’t remember. It must have been before the Giuliani years. Yes, that’s it. Before Rudy. I’m sure he put a stop to them when he cleaned up the city.

With Apartheid over, Israel stands alone as an historical relic and curiosity—the last remaining example of European settler colonialism. And this is how much of the globe sees the question of Palestine, through the lens of anti-colonial struggle and liberation.

The French were in Algeria for 130 years and fought savagely to stay there. Israel is only 62 years old and it, too, has fought with a ruthless amorality to maintain its ethnocracy. Time will tell if the Zionists last as long as the French did.

Attempting to re-frame the question of Palestine in terms of European persecution of Jews and calling Helen Thomas bad names will not make the anti-colonial narrative that she was giving voice to go away. How many Americans know that when the French left Algeria, almost all of the pied noirs went as well? How many Americans even know what a pied noir is?

If the traffic police realize that people might be operating in narratives other than their own, they might realize that it’s possible to be pro-Palestinian and critical of the Zionist project yet not driven by the nefarious (Roman) motive of denying the Jewish people the truth of their history (whatever that means). And, one hopes, they might at least think twice before throwing the book at someone.

Palestinians aren’t denying anything. They just want their houses and farms and villages back.

Boulos lives in the US. His grandparents were from Jaffa.

(via Mondoweiss)

After 8 years, why hasn't Israel responded to the Arab peace initiative?

Akiva Eldar

Few Israelis know what is written in the first pan-Arabic and pan-Islamic document that proposes recognizing Israel and exchanging hostile relations for normalization.

What would we say if the Arabs were to ignore an Israeli peace initiative for more than eight years? What would we write if, during all this time, the Palestinian leadership were not to have even one discussion about our initiative? How many Israelis, including learned members of the academic world, know what is written in the first pan-Arabic and pan-Islamic document that proposes recognizing Israel and exchanging hostile relations for normalization?


Mike Huckabee New Yorker Interview: There's no such thing as a Palestinian

"I have to be careful saying this, because people get really upset--there's really no such thing as a Palestinian," Huckabee said during his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.
The Huffington Post

Max Blumenthal: The Israeli Media’s Flotilla Fail

If the raid of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was a disaster for the Israel Defense Forces, its aftermath demonstrated an equally bewildering performance by the Israeli media. The IDF Spokesman’s Office churned out one misleading claim after another, each one more implausible than the next, seeking to implant in the public’s mind a version of events that bore little relation to reality. To a degree, this was to be expected; but it was startling to see how some of Israel’s most respected reporters lined up to serve as military stenographers, barely challenging the IDF’s rapidly changing versions of events. IDF claims about the flotilla passengers’ links to Al Qaida, anti-Semitic statements shouted at the Israeli Navy, and their terrorist intentions were eagerly broadcast by the Israeli media without a second thought. When independent reporters forced the IDF to retract or “clarify” all of these claims, Israeli news outlets refused to correct their errors, or covered them up without acknowledgment.
Full story

Quartet of Mideast negotiators: Situation in Gaza still 'unacceptable'

The Quartet - the U.S., EU, Russia, and the UN - welcomes Israel's decision to ease its blockade of Gaza, but says more must be done to alleviate pressure on the population there.
But the statement added that the "current situation in Gaza, including the humanitarian and human rights situation of the civilian population, is unsustainable, unacceptable, and not in the interests of any of those concerned."

Jewish Settlers Target Palestinian homes in Tel-Aviv!

Jewish settlers storming the garden of an elderly Palestinian woman may seem like something you would expect to happen in Hebron, not cosmopolitan Tel Aviv. But that is exactly what happened to Zeinab Rachayel, an Arab resident of Tel Aviv’s mixed suburb, Yafo. Rachayel was in her courtyard on a Sunday afternoon when several buses full of settlers from the West Bank arrived, parking nearby. Armed with Israeli flags, young men lined the sidewalk outside her home chanting “this is our land”. One by one, they entered her garden, until Rachayel was confronted by dozens of settlers in their late teens and early twenties. “Another one entered and he said, ‘Listen, you’re not staying here. Yafo is just for Jews. Get out of Yafo,’” Rachayel says. The men continued to threaten and intimidate her, repeatedly saying that the Arab presence in Yafo is only temporary.
Full story

He Should Have Kept His Mouth Shut


The French have a phrase, “He missed an excellent opportunity to keep his mouth shut.” That’s certainly true of Obama last Tuesday when he rolled out a big gun from the arsenal of White House crisis management, an Oval Office address. Excluding FDR’s radio chats of the 1930s, there’s scant evidence across the past forty years that as a venue for rallying the nation, the presidential sanctum did Obama’s predecessors as president much good. In Obama’s case many of his stoutest supporters in the press could say little in its favor. Obama would have been advised to say nothing and leave the nation to the evening's main business, the NBA playoffs.

It was certainly the worst rally-the-nation speech by a US president I’ve ever watched, and that includes Nixon’s cornered-rat addresses of the early 1970s and – an ominous parallel -- Jimmy Carter’s fireside chat on April1977, four months into his presidency, in the Oval Office promoting his plan for Energy Independence. To dramatize the need for conservation Carter wore a cardigan. He said the crusade for energy reduction was “the moral equivalent of war.” As he said these words he clenched his fist. America was not impressed, but more than they were on Tuesday.

Full article

Intimidating Supporters of Palestine: US Fear Factory Kills Free Speech


America is still embarrassed by the infamous McCarthy Hearings which ruined the lives of thousands of innocents during the ifties.

Anyone then, suspected of being linked to communism was arrested, interrogated and either imprisoned or forced to give names of others suspected of communist tendencies.

And so the fear and intimidation spread like a great plague across the USA. Names were blacklisted, careers and lives ruined as the authorities ruthlessly traded on peoples’ fears, paranoia and weaknesses.

With little or no evidence people were found guilty and anyone daring to question any of the actions and the wild accusations also had suspicion cast upon them.

But hey folks, that was back in the Fifties and various administrations resolved the same insane hysteria, hatred and fears would never again cast a dark shadow across the Land of the Free.

Sadly, the Salem-style witch hunts have returned, but the new villains are no longer communists. The Red Scare has been replaced by those who shout Viva Palestina!

From the very highest law-makers right down to ordinary John Doe there is an irrational fear so great that it holds many of them hostage in their homes, workplaces and schools.

Full article

Talking to Rabbi Jeremy Milgram: An Israel Beyond Zionism?


Jeremy Milgram is a member of “Rabbis for Human Rights” and a participant in the inter-religious dialogue in Israel. He lives in Jerusalem.

Ludwig Watzal: What do you think of Israel´s handeling of the Gazean freedom flotillas?

Jeremy Milgram: Pretty bad. Excessive use of force. We have known this for a long time when it comes to demonstrations by Palestinians. This time it was an excessive and inappropriate use of force against Europeans and Internationals. The people today did not do anything illegal. They tried to get into Gaza. These are terrible moments in Israeli society.

My feelings are that Israel`s reckless reaction to the boats should make a lot of people very nervous, as well as the fact that Israel continues to posses atomic bombs. This was poor policy by Israel in terms of responding to a non-threat in case of the boats. Just imagine the reaction if there would have been a real threat from Iran.

Why does the Israeli government react to every crisis with such ferocity?

The idea of always using force and to be the first in using force as a last resort, has to do with the identities of those who are in charge, the group of seven who make the decisions [the so-called security cabinet L. W.] Of those seven, three were military commanders: Netanyahu, Yaalon, Barak, Lieberman and Yihsai are off-the-wall: they are people to whom you don´t want to give any power. We have a very inadequate leadership.

Has the reliance on force anything to do with the holocaust trauma?

There is an abnormal amount of fear. I think of the fear that is being manufactured from above. By this fear, any anger regarding what we suffered in the holocaust is redirected from Christian Europe to the Muslim Middle East. I think this is a manipulation. But I think also that Israelis are really afraid. The Palestinian resistance, which has also taken violent forms has been a catastrophe because it hardened Israeli attitude. Israelis are thus afraid to make any change, such as to relinquish any piece of land or accord the Palestinians any geographic advantage, even if they have a bad conscience.

Full interview-Counterpunch

When Force Doesn't Work


NIGHT. UTTER darkness. Heavy rain. Visibility close to nil.

And suddenly – a flash of lightning. For a fraction of a second, the landscape is lit up. For this split second, the terrain surrounding us can be seen. It is not the way it used to be.

* * *

Israel’s action against the Gaza aid flotilla was such a lightning flash.

Israelis normally live in darkness as far as seeing the world is concerned. But for that instant, the real landscape around us could be seen, and it looked frightening. Then the darkness settled down over us, Israel returned to its bubble, the world disappeared from view.

This split second was enough to reveal a dismal scene. On almost all fronts, the situation of the State of Israel has worsened since the last flash of lightning.

The flotilla and the attack on it did not create this landscape. It has been there since our present government was set up. But the deterioration did not start even then. It began a long time before.

The action of Ehud Barak & Co. only lit up the situation as it is now, and gave it yet another push in the wrong direction.

Full article-Counterpunch