Jun 27, 2010

Mondoweiss: Israel seizes oxygen tanks bound for Palestinian hospitals



A tale of two schools

Posted: 26 Jun 2010 09:53 AM PDT

When plans were announced in February 2007 to open the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), New York City's first dual-language Arabic public school, ugly anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia reared its head.  

Yesterday, the New York Times profiled a Brooklyn-based Hebrew language charter school.  There has been barely a peep about this school--a stark reminder of the privilege Jewish-Americans hold in our society and how racism against Arabs is an accepted part of our national discourse.

Here's an excerpt from a great New York Times profile by Andrea Elliott of KGIA's founding principal Debbie Almontaser about the concocted controversy:

In newspaper articles and Internet postings, on television and talk radio, Ms. Almontaser was branded a "radical," a "jihadist" and a "9/11 denier." She stood accused of harboring unpatriotic leanings and of secretly planning to proselytize her students. Despite Ms. Almontaser's longstanding reputation as a Muslim moderate, her critics quickly succeeded in recasting her image.

The conflict tapped into a well of post-9/11 anxieties. But Ms. Almontaser's downfall was not merely the result of a spontaneous outcry by concerned parents and neighborhood activists. It was also the work of a growing and organized movement to stop Muslim citizens who are seeking an expanded role in American public life. The fight against the school, participants in the effort say, was only an early skirmish in a broader, national struggle.

One of the more pernicious, and completely false, charges against KGIA was that the school had a political agenda to indoctrinate students to believe in "radical Islam." 

The Hebrew-language charter school, on the other hand, does have politics, namely Zionism, infused into it:

There are reminders of Israel everywhere — blue-and-white flags adorn the walls of one classroom, and another class often watches an Israeli children's show. The students celebrated Israeli Independence Day this year. (In the parlance of 5- and 6-year-olds, the day was known as the country's "62nd birthday," and prompted a project of construction-paper birthday cards.)

'NYT' story on anti-Zionists says their 'dual loyalty' prophecy has come to pass

Posted: 26 Jun 2010 09:28 AM PDT

This piece on the renewal of American anti-Zionism, by Samuel G. Freedman in the Religion column of the New York Times, includes the usual disclaimer, and some religious hokey-pokey too, but it is fair and important. I wonder if Freedman is not secretly sickened by the news from Jaffa Road.

Freedman quotes Steve Naman and Allen Brownfeld of the American Council for Judaism--that lion of Judaism during the Partition era. The most exciting paragraph in the story is this one:

My sense is that they believe that events are proving they were right all along," Jonathan D. Sarna, a historian at Brandeis University and author of the seminal book "American Judaism," said [of the anti-Zionists] in a telephone interview. "Everything they prophesied — dual loyalty, nationalism being evil — has come to pass."

What does this mean? It means the accusations re the Iraq war as a war for Israel's security have traction even in conventional thinking; it means that Eric Alterman's admission of dual loyalty, and Alterman's calling out Ruth Wisse for demanding dual loyalty of American Jewish youth, and John Judis's accusation of the prevalence of dual loyalty in the U.S. Jewish leadership, and Jeffrey Goldberg's coy equivocations around it, and Robert Kraft's wife Myra's blurting that she wants her sons to fight for Israel not the U.S. (Kraft is a big contributor to Freedman's school, Columbia), and Elliott Abrams's statement that Jews must stand apart in whatever country they live in except Israel, Abrams who worked in the White House as he believed this-- these statements have had an effect, they are undismissible. Now, when the Iraq war is well behind us. (Oh and yes a lot of non-Jews said this too, but got railroaded). I always said that one day the Center for Jewish History would have a debate about the Jewish contribution to the Iraq war disaster on its stage, which Freedman has spoken on. That day hastens. 

US tax dollars at work in Egypt

Posted: 26 Jun 2010 07:56 AM PDT

This is where US tax dollars are spent: propping up a ruthlessly violent Egyptian regime that doesn't respect human rights, civil society, and democracy: at Foreign Policy, Soha Abdelaty reports on the tyranny of Egypt's emergency laws.

Internet is undermining the authority & status of academics and journalists before our eyes

Posted: 26 Jun 2010 07:56 AM PDT

Yesterday I did a post about the humiliation of Jews and Palestinians that quoted Geoffrey Wawro's new book, and a passage in which Wawro wrote that Hitler's party won a majority in the 1932 elections in Germany.

Within an hour or two I got two notes, from Mark Wauck and Harry Clark, telling me that Wawro was wrong, that Hitler did not win a majority in the '32 elections. I promptly posted Wauck's correction.

I think this is important. Wawro is a big deal academic with a fancy endowed chair. Clark is a civilian, a writer and amateur historian. So is Wauck, a blogger and wideranging reader.

Yet on the playing field of the internet, the two amateurs put the ball in the back of the net, and Wawro didn't.

This is an important moment. The internet is demonstrating that knowledge, and the assembly of facts to make an argument, are not what I grew up thinking them to be, the sovereign province of academics and journalists who went to fancy schools and networked and yes, worked hard, but created professional/social barriers to entry into their guild.

No, all human beings can acquire knowledge, and many of them are really good at expressing that knowledge.

In time this radical democratization of the means of expression will undermine traditional status in universities and the mainstream media, and income as well. As I say here often, the internet is doing to those priesthoods what the printing press did to the clerical establishment. It's amazing to watch.

A: Because they differ on the only issue he cares about, Israel

Posted: 26 Jun 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Q: Why does Jeffrey Goldberg take a meanspirited jab at Ezra Klein, based on something stupid Klein said years ago and has since recanted?

P.S. I think I've mentioned Goldberg in every post I've done today. Well almost. I'll give it a rest...

Israel seizes oxygen tanks bound for Palestinian hospitals

Posted: 26 Jun 2010 07:24 AM PDT

Land Theft/Ethnic Cleansing

Israel's Likud approves West Bank settlement growth (AFP)
AFP - The Likud party of Israel's hardline Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unanimously approved on Thursday a motion to continue settlement building in the occupied West Bank, a statement said.*

Israel: Lawmaker has 24 hours to leave Jerusalem
Jerusalem - Ma'an - Hamas lawmaker Muhammad Abu Teir has until Friday to leave Jerusalem, Israeli police informed him late Wednesday.  Officials said the Palestinian Legislative Council member was reached by phone at his Sur Baher home after sundown Wednesday with news that upon order of Israel's High Court, his residency rights would soon be voided.

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment

Bil'in: One Injured As Troops Attack Anti Wall Protest
A Palestinian man was injured on Friday after being shot by Israeli troops during the weekly nonviolent protest against the wall in Bil'in village central West Bank.

Women prepare for Gaza sail: We won't fight Israel
One of hundreds of female volunteers planning to sail to Hamas-ruled territory with diapers, milk, medical supplies and clothes says, 'Our only weapons are faith in the Virgin Mary and in humanity'.,7340,L-3910691,00.html

Iranian aid flotilla cancelled, won't sail to Gaza
Organizers cite 'Israeli threats' as the reason for canceling the flotilla; separate Iranian ship heads to Gaza via Caspian Sea.

Reports: Iranian ship may depart from Turkey
Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Citing unnamed organizers, Israeli media reported Friday that Iran will not send ships to Gaza in an effort to break the continued siege on Gaza.  US-based CNN released a report with a Tehran dateline, saying the official news agency of Iran released a statement to the same effect, quoting Hussein Sheikh Al-Islam, secretary-general of the International Conference for the Support of the Palestinian Intifada, in the statement as saying: "The Iranian ship carrying humanitarian aid will not go to Gaza."

Under pressure, Pride Toronto reverses censorship of "Israeli apartheid"
And after Pride Toronto remarkably agreed to censor the two words "Israeli apartheid" from the parades (while it's perfectly legal to utter the phrase in Israel or write it in Israel's most prestigious newspaper), it seemed as though B'nai Brith and friends won. But after a massive backlash, Pride Toronto has just announced it has overturned the ridiculous decision. Xtra reports.

In honor of US Social Forum: my first encounter with the "new anti-Semitism", Cecilie Surasky

Cypriot journalist Christiana Voniati, with whom I recently did this interview, Echoes From The Warsaw Ghetto In Gaza, reminded me this week of an article I wrote in early 2004 about going to the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India. Its cousin, the US Social Forum is happening right now in Detroit, so I thought this would be a good time to reprint what I wrote in 2004 because in many ways it marked my first personal encounter with the way so many groups, in this case the Simon Wiesenthal Center, were willing to lie and dehumanize in service of a political agenda. It also describes what I feel is even more true today-the parallel yet all too often deliberately hidden universe of mutual respect, love and friendship that already exists between many Arabs, Jews, Palestinians, Israelis and others, especially in this movement for justice and equality.

Stop the Bullets! Activism in the Buffer Zone
After the recent attack on International activists aboard boats of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the Boycott National Committees have called for an intensification of BDS campaigns and actions around the world While the raid is no longer in the news, Israeli armed forces are still targeting Gazan non-violent activists. Every week near the 'buffer zone', demonstrators and farmers are shot at with live ammunition. The violence against these activists, just as the violence against the Freedom Flotilla, cannot be ignored.  The BDS Movement website has lots of suggestions about how to start or support a local campaign.

Kenneth O'Keefe on BBC's Hardtalk

Midnight on the Mavi Marmara
The Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and How It Changed the Course of the Israeli/Palestine Conflict. Moustafa Bayoumi, Editor


Israeli air strikes kill two in Gaza - Palestinians
JERUSALEM, June 25 (Reuters) - Two Palestinians were killed in Israeli air strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical workers said on Friday.  They said they recovered the body of a man from a tunnel in the south of the coastal territory and the body of a second man remained under rubble.

Israeli warplanes raid Gaza (AFP)
AFP - Israeli warplanes flew three raids against the Gaza Strip overnight wounding one person, witnesses and Palestinian medical officials said Friday.*

Israelis Keep the Trigger Tight, Mel Frykberg
RAMALLAH, Jun 24, 2010 (IPS) - "Where is my daddy? Why is he not coming home? I want my daddy," sobs seven- year-old Yasmin, her big blue eyes filling with tears. She wakes up crying every night.

Clashes reported along border in northern Gaza
Gaza – Ma'an – A Palestinian military group affiliated with the attacked an Israeli patrol that entered the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday.  The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades said its forces fired several mortar shells toward an Israeli unit that penetrated the Erez area of northern Gaza near Beit Hanoun.  The group said in a statement that its operatives would continue to confront "the occupation and its crimes."


Child Tortured, His Privates electrified By Israeli Interrogators
Israeli interrogators tortured a Palestinian child who was detained and sent a detention near in a settlement near Hebron. The child said that the interrogators used electricity in torturing him by attaching wires to his testicles.

Family says Hebron teenager tortured
Hebron - Ma'an - A Hebron family living beside the illegal Israeli settlement Kyirat Arba said they were worried for the life of a brother, who they said was tortured last week, and not for the first time.  The young man, 19-year-old Saleh Daoud Ar-Rajabi, was reportedly taken by Israeli soldiers on 14 June for several hours, and returned home beaten. "They put their cigarette butts out on him, on sensitive parts of his body," Saleh's brother Kayed said.  After Saleh returned home, his brother added, "their torture made him act strangely."

Red Crescent medic detained at Gaza crossing
Gaza – Ma'an – Israeli forces detained a Red Crescent medic Wednesday night at the Erez crossing as he and four other medics were en route to a training conference in Jerusalem.  Maher Abu Auf, a Palestinian official at the Beit Hanoun crossing, said Israeli border guards detained medic Ashraf Al-Khatib and refused to explain why he was being held.

7 said detained in Hebron area
Hebron – Ma'an – Israeli troops raided several Hebron-area towns on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, detaining what Palestinain security sources said were eight men, with several homes reported ransacked.  North of Hebron troops entered Beit Ummar and Beit Awla, detaining Yousef Abu Hashem, Aziz Ismael, 42, Mufid Atashneh, and Ibrahim Al-Jabarin, 32.

Negev prisoners report 'uncountable number of insects'
Salfit – Ma'an – Palestinian detainees in Israel's Negev prison told lawyers Wednesday that as the summer encroached, an increasing number of insects and rodents had invaded their tents.  The prison facility is mostly outdoors, with several quadrants of tents set up in compounds for prisoners, who said the deteriorating conditions had caused several inmates to break out into rashes, while others said they had suffered hundreds of mosquito bits each night.


Army: 7 mortar shells fired from Gaza strike Israel
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Palestinians launched 12 projectiles toward Israeli territory over the course of Thursday, Israel's military said.  Seven mortar shells landed in the Sha'ar regional council and the rest landed inside the Gaza Strip, an Israeli army spokeswoman said.  The military official told Ma'an that there were no reports of injury or damage in the area, which is in the Negev desert northeast of Gaza.  Earlier Thursday, witnesses said 12 Israeli military vehicles entered Gaza in the north and destroyed agricultural land.

Siege/Human Rights/Humanitarian Issues

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 17- 23 June 2010

Gaza Power-Plant To Stop Functioning Friday
Engineer Canaan Obeid, deputy head of the Gaza Power Authority, stated that the only power plant in the Gaza Strip will stop functioning on Friday evening as it will run out of fuel needed to run it.

MOH: Israel prevents delivery of oxygen to hospitals
Bethlehem – Ma'an – Seven oxygen machines donated to the Palestinain Authority by a Norwegian development agency were seized by Israeli officials en route to hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza, the Ramallah-based health ministry said.  The machines, the ministry said in a Thursday statement, were confiscated by Israeli officials who claimed that the generators attached "came under the category of possible use for non-medical purposes" if they were delivered to the southern Gaza governorates.

Fake calls to "ease" the Gaza siege
Ever since Israel's murderous attack on the Freedom Flotilla on 31 May, there have been increasing calls from many parties on Israel to end its siege of Gaza. This is strange as well as deceitful, for the siege is not Israel's alone. Hasan Abu Nimah comments.

Policy change: Lieberman invites foreign ministers to Gaza Strip
During meeting with Italian counterpart, Israel's foreign minister proposes European delegation visit Strip, see there is no humanitarian crisis.,7340,L-3910441,00.html

PN exclusive: Life under siege
Three-quarters of the resulting damage remains unrepaired, including homes, schools, and hospitals, according to a recent reconstruction needs assessment [PDF] published by the United Nations Development Programme in Jerusalem.  Israel said it launched its offensive in December 2008 to halt the the fire of homemade rockets emanating from Gaza into neighboring Israeli communities.  Around US$527 million are required to return Gaza to its pre-war state, the equivalent of its status in December 2008, according to the UNDP. This figure is only a fraction of what is needed to repair and reverse the damage to public and private infrastructure that has occurred under the four-year Israeli blockade of the territory.

Blockade 'Eased' as Gaza Starves more Slowly, Jonathan Cook - Nazareth

As Israel this week declared the 'easing' of the four-year blockade of Gaza, an official explained the new guiding principle: 'Civilian goods for civilian people.' The severe and apparently arbitrary restrictions on foodstuffs entering the enclave – coriander bad, cinnamon good – will finally end, we are told. Gaza's 1.5 million inhabitants will have all the coriander they want.

Political Developments/Flotilla Fallout

Abbas blames Israel for freeze in talks
At press conference with visiting Austrian chancellor, Palestinian president expresses support of international probe into Gaza flotilla raid, urges Israel to lift siege on Strip.,7340,L-3910343,00.html

Israeli President Shimon Peres: U.S. and other powers must engage Hamas on peace
JERUSALEM -- Israel's president and elder statesman, Shimon Peres, urged the United States and other world powers this week to engage with Hamas in order to persuade the Islamist group to renounce violence and prepare for peace with Israel.

US senators urge Obama to stand by Israel
Bethlehem – Ma'an – In a letter, 87 American senators told President Barack Obama that the US "must continue" to stand with Israel. In a senate of 100 members, the group of 87 represents a strong majority.

Syria, Jordan slam Israel over blocked peace efforts (AFP)
AFP - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and visiting Jordanian King Abdullah II on Thursday blamed Israel for blocking peace efforts in the Middle East, the official SANA news agency reported.*

Malaysia pushing for UN debate on raid
Ynet learns Malaysia leading initiative to convene General Assembly for discussion on Navy's raid on Gaza-bound flotilla. Session slated to be held during Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Washington.,7340,L-3910354,00.html

Council of Europe: Israel broke international law
Council avoids condemning Israel, but criticizes Israel's handling of flotilla affair, calls on Hamas to release Shalit, allow Red Cross visit.,7340,L-3910345,00.html

ANALYSIS / Israel missed every opportunity to free Shalit
The negotiations on the swap deal to free captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit have been stuck since December; the way things look now, the affair is likely to drag on indefinitely.

Israeli Racism/Other News

Israel lobby group FLAME says black Ethiopian Jews are 'backward', Philip Weiss
Is the Israel lobby out of touch with America today? Or is this just the charm offensive for President Obama? Here's an ad that the lobby group FLAME (Facts & Logic About the Middle East) is running in at least one Jewish newspaper and that is on the group's website, too: an answer to the question, "Israel: An Apartheid State? Is there any truth at all in this oft-repeated calumny?"

Rabbi: Thomas shows 'the true face of the Arab'
"There lies beneath the skin of every sympathizer with the Arab cause a measure of hatred, a desire for revenge and a meanness of spirit," says Aglaze. "Thank you for lifting the cover and letting us see the true face of the Arab. Your angry face could not have been more helpful in letting us know what your people wants."  Rabbi Aglaze continues his diatribe, aligning Thomas' comments with what he labels a legacy of "it is better to destroy than to build" thinking. "In Gaza, after the enterprising Jews left behind beautiful fields of growing fruits and vegetables, your protégés proceeded to destroy them with a glee and a gusto that, in other civilized societies, are usually reserved for festivities." The rabbi also lumps the May 31 flotilla participants into this allegedly hateful legacy.

Palestinian awarded damages for distress caused by Shin Bet, 16 years on
Ziad Shami was awarded NIS 15,000 by the Jerusalem District Court for emotional distress sustained in a 1994 incident near Batir in West Bank.

First Lebanon war, Oslo Accords missing from Israeli textbooks
Education Ministry says it takes 20-30 years to arrive at a historical perspective suitable for teaching young students.


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.

Rattling the Cage: 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.

Hamdan Azhar: Strangling Gaza and the Radicalization of Political Discourse
Two weeks ago, the senior senator from New York, Charles Schumer, in a speech to the Orthodox Union, said that it "makes sense" to "strangle [the Palestinians in Gaza] economically." "There should be humanitarian aid and people not starving to death," he quickly followed up, but his qualification only underscored the brutality of his suggestion. Nor was Sen. Schumer speaking in a fit of passion; the video shows the cool-headed, rational Harvard-educated lawyer calmly miming the action of strangling with his clenched right fist. "I think the boycott is important for bringing about peace in the Middle East," he smirks, before laughing awkwardly and drawing cheers from his Orthodox Jewish audience.  Numerous critics have assailed Mr. Schumer for advocating "collective punishment" -- a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan went so far as to draw parallels between the senator's suggestion and the Nazi policy of Sippenhaftung under which relatives of political dissidents were systematically persecuted by the state.

UC Irvine's message: Criticize Israel, get suspended, Omar Kurdi
The university's proposed one-year suspension of the Muslim Student Union could have a chilling effect on free speech.,0,1942963.story

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."

Yes, Kahane lives
On July 29, 1986, extreme right-wing MK Meir Kahane submitted another no-confidence proposal: "The government's refusal to discuss the disintegration of Zionist ideology, which endangers the existence of the Jewish state." According to Kahane: "Since the beginning of political Zionism, the movement's thinkers have ignored and avoided the terrible and frightening truth of the basic contradiction between Zionism and enlightened Western democracy, to which all the Zionist leaders were indentured servants. Herzl, Nordau, Sokolow, Weizmann, Ben-Gurion - all of them, right and left, with their heads in the sand, one big ostrich. Not one of the progressives, the liberals, the enlightened waved a banner or blew a large shofar to warn of the terrible danger of the contradiction between the Zionist concept of a Jewish state and the democratic foundation of majority rule."

The public is dumb and therefore the public pays, Gideon Levy
Having lost hope due to Prime Minister Netanyahu's deceit and trickery, perhaps the Israeli public will finally start to ask: Where to? And why?

Reining in Barkat
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is once again proving that he remains faithful to the views of the extreme right on all issues related to the capital.

Ignoring the tsunami
The superpower under whose patronage we shelter is becoming increasingly weak and increasingly distant, and the Middle East is becoming unstable.

The failed peace process is on display in Silwan, Kieron Monks
From Cast Lead to the Mavi Marmara, few states have displayed Israel's commitment to unilateral action. A unique ability to deflect external criticism has allowed successive adminstrations to pursue unpopular policies without hindrance. A microcosm can be glimpsed in Jerusalem, where Mayor Nir Barkat's intention to re-develop in Silwan place the Municipality's glamour project over the rights of residents, the agenda of his government and stillborn proximity talks.

The Holy Land Foundation Case: 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.

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.

Gaza: Dangers of Foreign Influence?, Belen Fernandez - Istanbul
A June 13 exclusive on entitled 'Gaza Flotilla Official Was Foreign Fighter in Bosnia War' purports to reveal the history of Osman Atalay, executive board member of ÝHH, the Turkish NGO instrumental in organizing the aid flotilla to Gaza intercepted on May 31 by Israeli commandos. Collateral damage from the interception included 9 Turkish humanitarian activists.


Lebanon Arrests Palestinian Suspected of Spying for Israel
25/06/2010 Lebanese security forces have arrested a Palestinian man suspected of aiding Israeli intelligence, the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar reported on Friday.  The resident of the Bourj Al-Shimali refugee camp in southern Lebanon allegedly supplied information to Israel over a five year period, according to the report.  Investigators who raided the suspect's home found advanced communications and spy devices that the man allegedly used to contact the Israeli agents via the internet.  An investigation into spying for Israel has led to more than 50 arrests since last year, including holding a former brigadier general of the General Security directorate. More than 20 have been formally charged.  Lebanon, which is in a state of war with Israel, has described the arrests as a major blow to Israel's spying networks in the country.

Barak "Concerned" over the Lebanese Gov't Difficulties to Deal with Hezbollah
24/06/2010 Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday that the proximity talks would not help end the deadlock and solve the disagreements between Israel and the Palestinians.  According to Barak, direct negotiations are the only way to advance an agreement based on a solution of two states for two people and help strengthen peace and security in the region.  Speaking during a meeting at the State Department in Washington, the Israeli defense minister said that Israel was "concerned" over the Lebanese government's difficulties to deal with the Hezbollah organization. He added that the Lebanon government would be fully responsible for any act carried out from its territory against the Zionist entity.
Israel has 'no intention' of leaving Ghajar
BEIRUT: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday he was looking forward to Israel's withdrawal from the border village of Ghajar, as a Lebanese Army source said Tel Aviv had "no intention" of pulling out.

Pollution in Beirut reaches dangerous levels - scientists
BEIRUT: Pollutants in Beirut's air have reached concentration levels so high the substances are now toxic for human health, two researchers at University of Saint-Joseph announced on Thursday as they presented the findings of a research project.


Thursday: 22 Iraqis Killed, 33 Wounded
The formation of the new government came across a new roadblock, this one over the failure of two large Shi'ite groups to compromise on the selection of the next prime minister. This new delay could mean further destabilization of Iraq's fragile security gains. At least 22 Iraqis were killed and 33 more were wounded in attacks that targeted security personnel. Also, Gen. David Petraeus, who once commanded American forces in Iraq, is now in charge of operations in Afghanistan.

Series of bomb attacks hit Iraq
Suicide attacks and bombings across country leave several security personnel dead.

US vehicle runs over family in Ninewa
Three people from one family were killed and three others of the same family were wounded when a U.S. vehicle ran them over in the northwest of Mosul city.

Allawi opposes SOFA Agreement
Head of Al Iraqiya List Iyad Allawi held the United Nations and the US responsible for reform prior to US Forces withdrawal from the country. Washington should protect the democratic process for which Iraqis have sacrificed, Allawi said in a statement.

Iraq cuts officials' privileges amid power crisis (AFP)
AFP - Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani on Friday revoked electricity privileges enjoyed by government officials as he took temporary control of the power portfolio amid public fury over rationing.*

Iraq drives to protect oil pipelines
News Middle East Policing Iraq's oil industry Iraq's oil police force has the difficult job of securing the country's main source of revenue, but they lack the manpower and equipment to protect pipelines and infrastructure. The pipelines are vital to feeding the refineries across Iraq, but since the US-led invasion the network has been subject to frequent acts of sabotage. Al Jazeera's Omar Al-Saleh reports on how officials from the police force are determined to protect the country's oil production. June 25, 2010

Iraq Trying To Retain Its Minority Communities
BAGHDAD -- An Iraqi minister says Baghdad wants to discourage emigration by its minority groups and has urged other countries not to accept asylum seekers from these communities, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.  Emigration and Displacement Minister Abdel Samad Sultan told RFI on June 23 that his ministry has asked the European Union, the United States, and Australia to refuse applications for asylum by members of Iraqi minorities in order to preserve the country's ethnic and religious diversity.

Bitterness Grows Amid U.S.-Backed Sons Of Iraq
In the past three weeks, at least 19 members of an Iraqi paramilitary force that was supported by the U.S. military have been killed. Scores more of the so-called Sons of Iraq have been wounded in assassination attempts.  In the province of Diyala, a climate of fear has descended on the men whom many credit for helping defeat al-Qaida in Iraq.  Sheikh Hussam, a member of the Sons of Iraq for the past three years, sits in a small concrete structure with mostly bare walls; the cushions on the floor are thin and scuffed. Hussam has not gotten rich fighting al-Qaida in Iraq.

Iraq preparing to host AL summit
CAIRO: Iraq's representative to the Arab League (AL) says his country is going ahead with preparations to host next year's summit of the 22-member organisation, already allocating $100 million.  Qais Al Azzawi said on Thursday "tremendous" preparations are under way to host the Arab world's kings and presidents for the 2011 summit, including restoring whole palaces to accommodate.
Al Azzawi said hosting the summit would show that Iraq can "stand on its feet."  It would be the first high profile international event to be held in Iraq since the US-invasion.

Iraq through the eyes of a tree healer
Jawad Kadhim is a third-generation date-palm tree doctor, one of a dwindling number in Iraq's capital. His job offers a unique window on how the sectarian violence has changed behavior in the various neighborhoods of Baghdad.

U.S. and other World News

US Senate backs Tehran sanctions
The US Senate unanimously approves new sanctions against foreign companies trading with Iran.

Anti-Iran Bill in House Makes Claims With No Basis in Fact, Jeremy R. Hammond
Representative Jim Costa (CA) sponsored a bill introduced into the U.S. Congress on Tuesday "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives on the one-year anniversary of the Government of Iran's fraudulent manipulation of Iranian elections, the Government of Iran's continued denial of human rights and democracy to the people of Iran, and the Government of Iran's continued pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability."

Iran renews call for nuke-free world
Mottaki said that using the issue of such weapons as a tool to achieve political aims is the worst form of "blackmailing" and called on the international community to prevent nuclear-armed countries from accessing such weapons.

Hiker moms 'shocked' by story on children's arrest (AP)
AP - The mothers of three American hikers held in Iran on suspicion of espionage said Thursday they hope a report that their children were arrested on the Iraqi side of the border will help lead to their release.*

CIA hires Xe, formerly Blackwater, to guard facilities in Afghanistan, elsewhere
The revelation comes only a day after members of a federal commission investigating war-zone contractors blasted the State Department for granting Xe a new $120 million contract to guard U.S. consulates under construction in Afghanistan.

WikiLeaks founder drops 'mass spying' hint
WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has given his strongest indication yet about the next big leak from his whistleblower organisation.

Wikileaks: A Publisher Of Last Resort: "privatized censorship": Wikileaks editor interview on censorship.

Hail to the whistleblowers
Whistleblowers like those at WikiLeaks make huge sacrifices and are a vital last resort to check the powers of government.

Police find 11 beheaded bodies in Afghan south
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, June 25 (Reuters) - The bodies of 11 men, their heads cut off and placed next to them, have been found in a violent southern province of Afghanistan, a senior police official said on Friday.  A police patrol discovered the bodies on Thursday in the Khas Uruzgan district of Uruzgan province, north of the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, said police official Mohammad Gulab Wardak.

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More than 11,000 Egyptians have responded to a Facebook call for a Friday protest of police brutality in the death of Egyptian businessman Khalid Said. After a second autopsy, Egypt today upheld the original finding that the man had choked on a bag on drugs.

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Saudi youth are struggling with their identities | Fahad Faruqui
Young people in Saudi Arabia are torn between conservative ideology at home and the world outside.  MTV's True Life documentary series recently featured a group of young Saudis grappling with the kingdom's rigid social norms – and their cry for change stirred bitter emotions in conservative quarters.  They weren't talking about politics, but about themselves and their desire to live the life they choose. Their demands may seem mundane, but in a way, they are far more radical than calling for democracy or political reform because they strike at the core of Saudi Arabia's social system and its religious underpinnings.

Three US Presidents' failure to effect right of return calls on Jews to examine our role in society

Posted: 26 Jun 2010 07:21 AM PDT

When we hear someone call for the "right of return," we tend to think the speaker is a Palestinian solidarity activist or a radical who doesn't believe that Israel has a right to exist. How many of us understand that for many years, American presidents of both parties also called for the right of return, as essential to the American interest in stability in the Middle East?

I certainly didn't know this till I read Victor Kattan's book showing that the Truman administration had opposed the "brutal" Israeli policy toward the refugees in the late 1940s--but did very little about supporting the refugees in the end. Well now I am reading Geoffrey Wawro's new book Quicksand and I came on several passages about presidential stances on the right of return of Palestinian refugees. They show that over three decades, Truman, Kennedy and Nixon all felt that the return was important. And of course the U.N. has called for the return of the refugees again and again.

Why then didn't it happened? Read the passages from Wawro:

If the Jews and Arabs would not agree to the [Bernadotte plan that called for the return of refugees and the division of Jerusalem, Truman's secretary of state George] Marshall wanted the UN to impose it "as the best possible basis for bring peace to a distracted land." … Marshall did not reckon with the power of the Jewish lobby. Israeli foreign minister Moshe Sharett successfully argued that the Arab states were trying to "ruin" Israel by "uniting to force Israel to take back refugees" and construct homes for them. But the "refugees" were Palestinians, and the Israelis had deliberately and systematically destroyed their homes. Surely the Palestinians retained some rights in their native land. When Marshall in Paris publicly announced America's intention to implement the Bernadotte plan in the UN General Assembly, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, cochairman of the American Zionist Emergency Council, counterattackeda t home inWashington…pronounced himself "profoundly shocked" by Secretary of Marshall's support of the Bernadotte plan….

[Bernadotte is assassinated by the Stern Gang, in Jerusalem in September 1948]

Brought belatedly to his senses,

Truman did what he should have done before and after the Bernadotte assassination: he demanded that the Israelis accept the return of at least two hundred thousand Palestinian refugees to their homes and that they make real concessions…

Straining to solve the Palestinian refugee crisis once and for all, Kennedy, who had visited Palestine and absorbed its complexities during the British Mandate years, eagerly backed the Carnegie Endowment's Johnson Plan in 1962. Named for Joseph Johnson, the endowment's president, the plan gave the Palestinian refugees—whose number had now swelled to 1.3 million—the choice of returning to their homes in Palestine—now Israel—or resettling with cash compensation in other Arab states. Israel opposed the plan—as well as Johnson's call for a "Palestinian entity" (forerunner of the Palestinian National Authority) and a UN trustee for confiscated Arab properties in Israel—and ultimately agreed to accept no more than twenty thousand refugees, less than 2 percent of the total, which was tantamount to rejection. Kennedy, who had named Myer Feldman White House "desk officer for Israel"—a new position that reflected the power of the Israel lobby—heard arguments from both sides. "The faster you disengage from this plan the better," Feldman warned him. "Otherwise… there will be a violent eruption both domestically and in our relations with Israel." But Secretary of State Dean Rusk warned of "political repercussions" in the Arab world if Kennedy did not begin to lean hard on the Israelis….

Nixon told an NSC meeting in June 1970 that failure to solve the Palestinian refugee question was one of the "major lapses" of the post-World War II era.

It is clear from Wawro's book (and, regarding Truman, reading Michael Cohen's book, Truman and Israel, which anatomizes Zionist lobbying) that both Truman and Kennedy were forstalled by domestic political pressures levied by political aides-- usually Jewish aides who were sympathetic to Zionism--the nascent Israel lobby. In Truman's case this included the refrain that Democrats had lost seats during the '46 Congressional elections because he was trying to be evenhanded in Palestine. In time, Kennedy complained of Zionist "control" being exercised by Jewish donors, via bundler Abe Feinberg, who had huge access to the White House following his work to save Kennedy's chestnuts in the '60 election.

In time, Nixon would express rage over "domestic political considerations" playing any part in his Middle East policy.

What the extracts show is that as there was no overarching American interest in supporting Partition in the first place, neither was there such an interest in denying the human rights of the refugees. There was a special interest, which many influential American Jews shared. And the refugees were blocked from returning, and the issue festers.

This is the reason that I continually state that the absence of a Palestinian state is a Jewish political achievement—63 years after it was first promised. The other amazing lesson about the passages is that the exact same political constellation holds in our politics today, only today it is both more powerful and more openly scrutinized. The access that Eddie Jacobson, A.J. Granoff and Max Lowenthal and Rabbi Stephen Wise had with Truman is echoed today in the presence in the corridors of the Obama White House of Rahm Emanuel and Lee Rosenberg and Michael Froman, all Zionists.

What is also obvious is that this political constellation has never produced peace, it is incapable of it, it is one sided. But I believe that this is the way that American Jews have come to understand power. We are a tiny minority, we have little choice but to exercise it via our own cultural gifts—elite gifts of prestige, financial success, and access.

As I frequently say, this way of exercising influence worked for my ancestors in the 1890s when the nascent Jewish lobby of financiers convinced Presidents Cleveland and Roosevelt to pressure the Russians to free my people. And a good thing.

But it hasn't worked in the Palestine question. It has produced an imbalanced policy again and again. The next generation of American Jews must ask themselves if this is the way. I believe, as Yonatan Shapira, an Israeli pilot said last week to a Jewish audience in New York, that the only way out of the mess is if Palestinians at last lead, if Jews give up their exceptionalist ideas about themselves and take the lead from Palestinians, who know the issue better than we do.

This is true when it comes to the right of return. It is Israel's "nightmare scenario," as a friend once put it it to me. But it is a basic idea of human rights, and one that the United States sought to enforce again and again, and I would argue that presidential policy was nullified. And of course the issue festers, and resonates in the Palestinian Diaspora, most of whom, by the way, would not elect to return but are damned if they will give away that right.

I don't think it is so hard for Jews to get their heads around the idea of Palestinian return. For an obvious reason: The Jewish state, which so many Jews still believe in, was politically constructed out of the suffering of Jewish refugees in Europe. I don't think it can be politically redeemed until it accepts the rights of the Palestinian refugees. Notice I am not talking about a Jewish state or a binational state or actual numbers of folks who would return; I am talking about recognition of a basic human rights issue, ignored forever. 

A right that so many of our presidents recognized. It seems to me that this history is a strong argument for Jews of conscience to reject power politics, and begin to trust the grass roots.

'Zio-pressure' reportedly scotches anti-Zionist musicians' church gig in Rochester, N.Y.

Posted: 26 Jun 2010 06:27 AM PDT

Rich Siegel is a New Jersey musician whom we wrote about a few weeks back in connection with being harassed for his bumperstickers. He sends along the following report. I'm leaving out some of the phone numbers because... well, the enterprising can be enterprising on their own.

Hello Friends- 

I have just been informed that a concert and presentation that was scheduled to be given this coming Tuesday night at First Unitarian Church in Rochester, NY, by jazz saxophonist and noted Israeli Anti-Zionist Gilad Atzmon, and myself, is being canceled due to pressure from a local rabbi.

The concert was organized and promoted by Dan McGowan, founder and chairman of Deir Yassin Remembered, along with a second concert in Geneva, NY, which is going on as scheduled on Wednesday night. Dan was given two reasons for the concert cancellation: 1) that there are going to be activities in adjacent rooms and the noise level of the concert would interfere, and 2) admitted pressure from Rabbi Laurence A. Kotok of Temple B'rith Kodesh to cancel the event. Reason 1 was hardly believable, as the concert has been planned for about two months. Surely someone would have thought of this. 

Dan was very smart and gave them the opportunity to have the event at a different venue, or to take the music out of the event and make it just spoken presentations given by the three of us- Dan, Gilad, and myself. He was turned down. So it is clear that the real reason for the cancellation is Zio-pressure. 

The parties who are caving to Zio-pressure are as follows:

John Keevert, chair of local Social Justice Council, co-sponsor of the event. 

Ron Johnson, representative of First Unitarian Church, co-sponsor and venue for the event.

The First Unitarian Church, Co-Ministers, Scott Taylor and Kaaren Anderson.

Tell them that this event must go on, either at the church or at another venue in Rochester- that they must not let Zio-pressure kick us out of Rochester.

The rabbi who has instigated this cancellation is Rabbi Laurence A. Kotok of Temple B'rith Kodesh.

Tell them that Jewish Anti-Zionists have the same right to free speech as everyone else, and that their attempt to squash our free speech is a disgrace. Thank you, -Rich Siegel

NYT describes Jewish terrorism as 'romantic'

Posted: 26 Jun 2010 06:03 AM PDT

From an interview of Tzipi Livni in the NYT magazine, in which the raid on the Mavi Marmara is described as "tragic." I've met interviewer Deborah Solomon, smart lady; I wonder whether she was inoculated, as I was, by Zionism, and to what degree. This is typically one-sided. 

Solomon: Your parents were among the country's founders.

Livni: They were the first couple to marry in Israel, the very first. Both of them were in the Irgun. 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.

Solomon: It was a more romantic era...

Remember that the Irgun blew up the King David Hotel, killing 90-odd civilians, and ethnically-cleansed Deir Yassin and later Jaffa, where Palestinians were literally forced into the sea. As my tipster notes: If Livni's parents had been Palestinian, it would have been labeled "terrorism." Remember that Hamas is being isolated and the people of Gaza starved in part because Hamas brigades have smuggled weapons into the Strip.

Dual loyalty ha ha

Posted: 26 Jun 2010 05:45 AM PDT

Jeffrey Goldberg is often entertaining but I don't find this amusing. It's a riff about someone who threatened Matt Drudge, and Goldberg promptly turns the subject to himself:

I've received various invitations over the years to kill myself, or let myself be killed, because I'm a supporter of Israel, or because I support the Kurds in their struggle against Saddam, or because I supported the invasion of Iraq (mainly because I'm a supporter of Israel, actually).

I guess that last is a joke. But I'm with Freud on this one, I think it's an admission. As Goldberg himself has said recently, the Iran threat puts American supporters of Israel in a difficult position because they might want to put their Israel support ahead of their American interest and urge an attack on Iran. So he has acknowledged that dual loyalty is a real problem when it comes to Zionists; and when he jokes about this I am only reminded that yes, Virginia, many supporters of the Iraq war surely did so out of concern for Israel's security, not the U.S.'s. From being verboten, this idea is now coming into the edges of the mainstream, David Hirst accepts it in Beware of Small States. And of course all the neocons who supported the war said not a word about the Israeli occupation of Palestine.


Dalton's Holocaust Radio Debate on April 24, 2010:


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Amazon's: DEBATING THE HOLOCAUST: A New Look At Both Sides by Thomas Dalton

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