Jul 22, 2010

New problem for Vatican


Vatican Radio: Still Making Waves

A new report on the health effects of the Vatican's shortwave transmitters says the church is causing cancer in children

By Alexander Hellemans  /  July 2010


Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/Reuters

20 July 2010--A new study ordered by a court in Rome has revived the decadelong battle between the inhabitants of Cesano, Italy, who live close to a huge complex of shortwave antennas, and the operator of this complex, Vatican Radio [see "Sins of Transmission?" IEEE Spectrum , October 2005].  Environmentalists and the residents of Cesano and neighboring communities have been claiming for years that radiation from the antenna complex, located on a large plot 25 kilometers north of Rome, has increased the number of leukemia and lymphoma cases in children. It is an accusation the Vatican continues to deny.

The new 300-page research report, by a team at Milan's National Tumor Institute led by Andrea Micheli, supports the claim of Cesano residents: Nineteen children living at a distance of 12 km or less from the antennas died from leukemia or lymphoma between 1980 and 2003, a figure higher than in control groups in other parts of the country.

A researcher at the National Tumor Institute says that the court prevented him and his colleagues from making the report available. They also could not discuss its content, although the Italian newspaper La Repubblica says the report has been leaked. According to magistrates, the report justifies the current investigation of six officials of Vatican Radio for manslaughter. In response, the Vatican has enlisted the help of two counterexperts--the internationally renowned oncologist and former Italian health minister Umberto Veronese and Susanna Lagorio, an epidemiologist at the Italian National Institute of Health.

The first epidemiological study into the possible effects of the Vatican's radio waves, led by Paola Michelozzi of the Local Health Authority in Rome, reported an increase in childhood leukemia in the local population of 60 000 within a radius of 10 km of the antenna complex: 8 cases instead of the expected 3.7.  However, the study was not viewed as conclusive because of the small number of cases involved.

"It is really hard to know what to make of this kind of data; the numbers are too small," says Kenneth Foster, a University of Pennsylvania researcher specializing in the health effects of nonionizing electromagnetic fields, who published a study of the Italian regulations of RF fields and the controversy surrounding the Vatican transmitters in 2003. "Doing an epidemiology study in a small area, dealing with a rare disease, is a mission impossible," he says.

Michelozzi, who had not yet seen the recent Micheli report when IEEE Spectrum contacted her last week, sees a reason why the data might be distorted: "If you consider an area with a radius of more than 5 km, you include the suburbs of Rome, and then you include many other sources of exposure, such as low[-frequency] electromagnetic fields," she says. 

Although scientists have performed many epidemiological studies of the effects of radio transmission antennas on the surrounding population over the past two decades, they've gained very little insight. "This issue has been constantly debated, and not much has come out of it," says Foster. "There is no basic science that has convinced the health agencies that there really is a problem." Foster expects that the Micheli study will be fraught with the same problems. "The basic problem is that this is a very tiny study in a very localized area, and the work is done for the purpose of litigation. The advocates can pick and choose and find enough data and convince themselves that the world is coming to an end," says Foster

About the Author

Alexander Hellemans is a science writer based in London. In the April 2010 issue he reported on the plans of telecom-equipment makers to lower the power consumption of data networks.

Revisionist hatchet job on Shakespeare

Subject: revisionist hatchet job on Shakespeare


July 20, 2010

Ancient Grudges, Anew


So how do you turn one of Hitler's favorite plays into a production that New Yorkers can love?

You balance a Jewish moneylender's ugly urge to physically cut his enemy's heart from his body with a Christian merchant's ugly urge to symbolically cut his enemy's soul from his body.

You acknowledge that this is the only Shakespearean play that has jumped its category, morphing from "a comical history" into a disturbing drama. You realize that such a scalding tale of money, religious faith and bad faith in relationships — the same elements roiling today's world — cannot have a festive romantic comedy finale.

And you let Shylock — written as a comic villain three centuries after Jews were, in essence, expelled from England and then allowed back only to do the dirty work of usury — evolve into an abused and damaged man. After his daughter runs off with his ducats and diamonds to marry a Christian and convert, he wants revenge.

"The play has a very dark heart," says Daniel Sullivan, the director of "The Merchant of Venice" now at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, starring Al Pacino. "It's simply a matter of allowing that heart to bleed through the rest of the play."

After the Holocaust, he said, there's no way to play it as a comedy.

The last time the play was produced at the Delacorte was in 1962, when George C. Scott starred as Shylock. The New York Board of Rabbis protested, calling Shylock "an amalgam of vindictiveness, cruelty and avarice."

Joseph Papp, who was Jewish, fended off the rabbis and told Scott to "go all the way" because the audience would understand biblical wrath. Papp quoted from "King Lear": "Anger has a privilege."

Sullivan speculated that Shakespeare wanted to follow up on the success of Christopher Marlowe's "The Jew of Malta." "But that was a poisonously anti-Semitic play and Shakespeare could not do what Marlowe did," the director said. "He created a human being, for better or worse, who continues to nettle us."

Portia dresses up like a man to play a lawyer, and cleverly rebuts Shylock's demand for a pound of flesh in return for Antonio defaulting on his debt. She informs Shylock that he's not allowed to shed a drop of Christian blood while he exacts his pound, so he's stymied.

She also notes that since he is "an alien" who schemed to take the life of a Venetian, he must forfeit his property and fortune. When Antonio demands that Shylock convert to Christianity, the moneylender responds: "I am content."

But Sullivan didn't buy it. So he added a searing baptism scene, where Christian church men tear off Shylock's yarmulke and push him into the water as the priest prays in Latin and makes the Sign of the Cross over him. Shylock's frightened Jewish friends huddle on the side in the dark.

"He's broken, and the baptism is the thing that revives him," Sullivan says. Pacino, mesmerizing as Shylock, rejects his friends' entreaties to hurry away. He puts his yarmulke back on and deliberately walks past the Christians, who ominously track him offstage.

"Are they following him to do him harm?" Sullivan muses. "My feeling is they probably are. I don't think he survives."

He recalled that a friend of his appeared in the play at a Shakespeare festival in Utah and when Shylock said he would convert to Christianity, Mormons in the audience broke into applause.

"I realized that's what Shakespeare's audiences must have done," Sullivan said.

He set the play in turn-of-the-century Venice, at the advent of electricity, traders and stock markets.

The customary happy ending is replaced by depleted lust and aching questions. The text is the same, but body language and emphasis imply power struggles and disillusionment in love.

"The last act has always been problematic," the director said, "because it's always been this 'Hurray, the wicked Jew has been defeated' celebration."

In this version, after successfully masquerading as a man in Venice, Lily Rabe's Portia returns to her sumptuous estate in Belmont and realizes she can't have it all as a woman. One of Shakespeare's most sparkling heroines finds herself tied to a callow, bisexual, disloyal, tippling fortune-hunter.

Portia, her handmaiden, Nerissa, and Shylock's daughter, Jessica, don't trip off into the sunrise. Haunted by the harrowing events in Venice, the women go off separately to contemplate their flighty husbands and wonder: Is that all there is?

Everything is transactional. Obsession with money can trip you up. Obsession with love can let you down. And what could be a more modern message than that?

FOXNEWS and "Scary Black People"


FOXNEWS and "Scary Black People"
FOXNEWS maintains a not-so-covert racist narrative of "SCARY BLACK PEOPLE."
FOXNEWS does stories on "SCARY BLACK PEOPLE" all the time:
FOXNEWS on Barack Obama: "Obama is a racist who hates white people."
FOXNEWS on Shirley Sherrod: Breitbart Caught the Racist In The Act; "This proves NAACP is racist." - Sean Hannity;
FOXNEWS on the New Black Panthers: See there, here's proof blacks really are "scary people."
Harold Hill (a.k.a. Glen Beck) went on national television and called the President of the United States a "racist"; somebody who flashed a "deep-seated hatred of white people."

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Sent: Thursday, July 22, 2010 13:26

I saw the entire video of her speaking.........she told the story of how she used to be racist, since a KKK man murdered her father long ago, but now had seen the error of her ways and was no longer prejudice, but a good person who works hard to help all equally.
Andrew Breitbart needs his ass kicked sideways, for posting a racist video in the first place; I emphasize, "racist video" because Sherrod's original video was NOT racist!
It "became" racist when Butthole BreitBagger "bagged" him a good ole racist rant! BreitButt saw his brand of "racism" in them, thar Sherrodisms; thus, the "bad faith" edit job.
It's worth noting that  when CNN interviewed Sherrod, CNN Anchor Ali Velshi "goaded" Sherrod into supporting the idea of "shutting down" BreitBart's website. Velshi brought the subject up, by asking Sherrod, ""Do you think you should sue Andrew BreitBart, and if you do, what do you want?" Sherrod balked at the idea, telling CNN's Velshi she isn't sure what she wants, other than an apology from Mr. Breitbart; but according to Sherrod, Andrew Breitbart has not apologized to her.
Velshi pushed on: Do you think BreitBart's website should be shut down?" Sherrod replied, "Yes."
A word to all Americans, especially CNN's Canadian-commenator/anchor Ali Velshi:
Dear Mr. Velshi:
Here in America, us Americans do NOT support "shutting down" websites (as you said) that says things you don't like or may be harmful to you; the "solution" to free speech you don't like or free speech that has harmful effects on you is either to: 1) Sue the bastard: in some instances, you have a right to sue a person or corporation if their exercise of free speech was the direct and proximate cause of your suffering; 2) Exercise your right to free speech by responding to any such free speech you don't like, enjoy, or challenge.
I can tell you the constitutional solution isn't to go around willy-nilly "shutting down" websites you don't like.
Our Founding Fathers intoned the answer to the problem of free speech you don't like is, more free speech in your kind.
THEREFORE, on balance: Is Andrew Breitbart a conservative Republican scumbag? You bet.
Should his website be shut down? Probably not; but that will be for a court to decide; and as the courts, constitution and free speech go, Breitbart's website probably won't be shut down.
The "solution" to buttholes like Breitbart is not to shut his website down, but to educate the up and coming American voters that Breitbart and his website is what conservative Republicanism is all about: smiling facade, backed by the sharp knives of racism and fear of multi-ethnocentric American society.
No, Breitbart's website shouldn't be shut down: it should be studied by voters seeking to separate the wheat from the chaff. Breitbart's website is only "Exhibit A" in the long A-to-Z evidence list of Republican conservatism nastiness and hatred for his fellow man.
.r o n
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, July 22, 2010 12:27

----- Forwarded Message ----
Sent: Thu, July 22, 2010 1:52:10 PM
Subject: [The Daily Chimp] The Daily Chimp for Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Daily Chimp for Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Daily Chimp for Thursday, 22 July 2010

The 25 most recent front page posts

Ted Rall | Protofascism Comes to America: The Rise of the Tea Party
Is the Tea Party racist? Democrats who play liberals on TV say it isn't. Vice President Joe Biden says the Tea Party "is not a racist organization" per se, but allows that "at least elements that were involved in some of the Tea Party folks expressed racist views." Right-wing Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has received permission to form an official Tea ...
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Posted Jul 22 2010 - 1:10pm

Cenk Uygur | Why Does Fox News Have More Power Than Any Progressive in the Country?
As we can all see now, when Fox says jump, the Obama administration asks how high? (Then jumps one inch less and considers it a progressive victory). Is there anyone Obama won't fire or throw under the bus if Fox asks him to? What if they ask Obama to fire himself? Would he do it? Or would he just fire Biden and say he met them halfway? If the firing of ...
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Posted Jul 22 2010 - 1:06pm

Allison Kilkenny | Ben Stein: the unemployed possess poor work habits, personalities
I know. You're sitting there, wondering why I'm wasting precious bandwidth on trashing the dude from those commercials for free credit scores, which aren't really free, and landed in a heap of trouble when they were accused of misleading consumers. Anywho. When he isn't lending his mug for the purposes of misleading ...
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Posted Jul 22 2010 - 12:47pm

Will Bunch | The Story Behind the 1965 Killing of Sherrod's Dad
For all the over-warped speed in initially getting that bogus version of the Shirley Sherrod story out there and pushing her our the door at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, other details in this story have been surprisingly slow to emerge. In particular, I'd been waiting to hear more about a comment from Sherrod on CNN that her father had been murdered ...
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Posted Jul 22 2010 - 12:33pm

MediaConsortium | Weekly Diaspora: Evangelicals Unexpected Allies for Immigration Reform
With only a week remaining before Arizona's contentious Senate Bill 1070 becomes law, Arizona human and immigrant rights groups have found unlikely allies among the religious community. The American Prospect reports that a growing group of evangelical Christian leaders, like Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr. ...
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Posted Jul 22 2010 - 12:29pm

Robert C. Koehler | The Secrecy State
Under the I-hate-government, let's-drown-it-in-the-bathtub administration of George Bush and Dick Cheney, the Secrecy State swelled to such enormous proportions it required more than a dozen investigative journalists from the Washington Post two years to fathom its size and shape. In our otherwise financially bankrupt society, where we can afford virtually...
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Cameron Salisbury | GMO, Gasses, Irradiation and Big Business: Subversion in the Grocery Store
Wouldn't you know it. Just when we thought that we had made choices that made the adulterated American food supply manageable, Corporate Agriculture finds new ways to quietly and unobtrusively pollute our lunch. We figured a way around the colors, texturizers, hidden gluten, preservatives and taste enhancers with unpronounceable names, and thought we were...
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RJ Eskow | Scammed: What Shirley Sherrod and Social Security Have in Common
This week's big story is that a faker scammed the media, trashing an innocent USDA employee's career in order to push a false right-wing narrative. But another scam's underway too, and it's targeting Social Security and other entitlement programs. As Republicans (and at least one Democrat) pushed budget-busting tax cuts, the "bipartisan" leaders of the ...
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Posted Jul 22 2010 - 11:58am

Laura Flanders | The F Word: Rolling Over on Shirley Sherrod
How many times is the Obama administration going to roll over for Glenn Beck? That's the question once again, this time as Shirley Sherrod, a Department of Agriculture official, is forced out of her job following the airing of a selectively-edited video of her speech at an NAACP banquet in March. The video, cut to make it appear as if the African-American...
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Posted Jul 22 2010 - 11:51am

Jane Stillwater | Las Vegas: This place will be dead without cars
I finally made it to the Netroots Nation convention in Las Vegas -- even after some [clumsy person] knocked my glasses off my head and stepped on them on the plane, forcing me to stumble blindly through the Las Vegas airport. But some kind soul directed me to a hotel shuttle and, well, here I am -- in what has got to be the car capital of the world. On ...
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Gary Leupp | "This Isn't Something the U.S. Wanted to Engage In" - Obama's Afghan War in Perspective
Practically everyone now understands that the war in Afghanistan is going very badly. This is not because the Taliban and other "insurgent" forces are strong and their foreign foes weak. It is because of the Afghans' indomitable spirit of independence that is only intensified by each civilian death due to house raids or bombs. Republican Party chair...
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Posted Jul 22 2010 - 11:27am

Tom Engelhardt | Tomgram: William Astore, Wars Don't Make Heroes
Consider a strange aspect of our wars since October 2001: they have yet to establish a bona fide American hero, a national household name. Two were actually "nominated" early by the Bush administration -- Jessica Lynch, a 19-year-old private and clerk captured by the Iraqis in the early days of the American invasion and later "rescued...
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Posted Jul 22 2010 - 11:19am

David Swanson | Blood on Our Hands
The most massive and brutal crime committed on this planet during the past decade has been the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And we're seeking to wash the blood off our hands without so much as an "Out, damn spot!" Nowadays "looking forward, not backward" is supposed to take care of everything, even as the crimes continue. What that takes care of is ...
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Posted Jul 22 2010 - 10:40am

Ted Rall | Cartoon: The Curse
American soldiers are complaining about PTSD in greater numbers...
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Posted Jul 22 2010 - 10:26am

Andy Borowitz | USDA Offers Sherrod Authority Over Farmville
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) - In an effort to rectify its treatment of former employee Shirley Sherrod, the USDA today offered Ms. Sherrod an expanded job at the Department of Agriculture, including total authority over Farmville. With Facebook now claiming over half a billion members worldwide, Ms. Sherrod's new job would mean that she would have ...
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Posted Jul 22 2010 - 10:17am

MediaConsortium | Weekly Pulse: Uncovered Abortions, Toxic Mani-Pedis, and Kagan's a Go
by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger Last week, the Obama administration preemptively caved to the anti-choice lobby by declaring that new high-risk insurance pools, a byproduct of recent health care legislation, will not cover abortions, even if states or patients pay for that coverage with their own money. Under health care reform, states must ...
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Posted Jul 21 2010 - 5:29pm

Jayne Lyn Stahl | HIV: Eastern Europe's Gulf Disaster
Coverage of the 18th annual International AIDS Conference has all but been eclipsed by nonstop footage of the BP oil spill, and Lindsay Lohan's arrest, but listen to this: Africa is no longer the nucleus of HIV infection. Eastern Europe and Central Asia now lead the world as the fastest growing HIV epidemic, the World Health Organization told the 18th...
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Posted Jul 21 2010 - 4:29pm

Bob Patterson | Coping with Brinker-Quixote Syndrome
The New York Time's recent obituary for Rev. William R. Callahan stated that the death had been announced by the Quixote Center. That was the first this columnist had ever heard of that group and we wondered if, in this age of ubiquitous awards ceremonies, they hand out kudos and statuettes annually to people who attempt the impossible. Everyone knows ...
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Posted Jul 21 2010 - 2:49pm

Border Jumpers | Makutano Junction Soap Opera
The last place most of us look to for useful information is television soap operas. But Makutano Junction, a Kenyan-produced soap opera set in the fictional town of the same name is not your average TV drama. Broadcast in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and throughout English-speaking Africa on ...
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Posted Jul 21 2010 - 11:52am

Robert Becker | Palin's 'Living Language' Gaffe Fells Fundamentalism
If Palin were aware of the world outside her head, she'd have quit on "refudiate" before committing a more serious theological blunder. Unless attention and celebrity solely define your notion of brassy cleverness or career advancement. There's something to be said, aside from "you can't fix stupid," about marching backwards but never retreating. It's...
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Marty Kaplan | Breitbart's Site Has Video of Kagan Saying She's a Commie
Should Rahm text her to withdraw her nomination? Everything about the Shirley Sherrod story stinks. Did the White House ask her to resign her USDA job because they thought a video on Breitbart's site -- making it appear she was biased against whites -- actually counts as real evidence? Haven't they heard about dirty tricks? Or is a right wing smear job ...
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Posted Jul 21 2010 - 10:49am

Brent Budowsky | The lynching of Shirley Sherrod
It is wrong when an entire Tea Party movement is smeared with the false charge of racism. It is wrong when Shirley Sherrod is smeared by a right-wing media that distorts the truth and tries to destroy this woman through character assassination. It is wrong when the president of the United States and the secretary of Agriculture cower in fear of righ-wing ...
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David Sirota | Elizabeth Warren and the Definition of 'Controversial'
Over the last few days, Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner have made the case that Harvard professor and Congressional Oversight Panel chairwoman Elizabeth Warren is too controversial a figure to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. This, then, raises the revealing question of how Washington defines "controversia.l"..
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Posted Jul 21 2010 - 10:33am

Charles M. Young | In the Church of the Reverend Gary Davis, Ernie Hawkins Is St. Peter
So here we are in the eighth term of the Reagan administration, in the middle of a heat wave, in the middle of the hottest year on record, in the middle of a likely mass extinction event. It's not quite time to say good-bye to your friends and family. It would be time to have a general strike, except nobody's doing anything, so it's hard to get jazzed ...
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Posted Jul 21 2010 - 10:24am

Robert Parry | The Right's Power of Infrastructure
Dwight Eisenhower, after commanding Allied forces in World War II and serving eight years as U.S. President, came to appreciate the power of political and economic infrastructure, leading to his famous warning about the threat to the American Republic from a "military-industrial complex." Yet, in the years since Eisenhower's Farewell ...
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Posted Jul 21 2010 - 10:19am

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Hamas v. Israel


Hamas is charged with rocketing Israeli settlements on the border, criminal acts no doubt, though a fraction of Israel.s violence in Gaza, let alone elsewhere. It is important to bear in mind, in this connection, that the US and Israel know exactly how to terminate the terror that they deplore with such passion. Israel officially concedes that there were no Hamas rockets as long as Israel partially observed a truce with Hamas in 2008. Israel rejected Hamas' offer to renew the truce, preferring to launch the murderous and destructive Operation Cast Lead against Gaza in December 2008, with full US backing; an exploit of murderous aggression without the slightest credible pretext on either legal or moral grounds.

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New battleline: 'Tablet' calls 4 'anti-Israel' blogs 'agents of influence'

Posted: 21 Jul 2010 08:16 PM PDT

Tablet ran a piece today on 4 "anti-Israel" bloggers who are allegedly mainstreaming anti-Semitism so as to gin up the traffic numbers of "media companies": Steve Walt, Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Greenwald and me. Exalted company! The piece says that all four are Jew-baiters and "agents of influence," and none is quoted-- though commenters on a couple of the sites are, and Jeffrey Goldberg, too, saying that Walt is trying to marginalize Jews from American life. A truly vicious charge about a guy who I'm told has promoted diversity at every turn. 

I might respond when I'm not tired. Andrew Sullivan responds here, pointing out that Tablet offered no evidence for the allegations (and that when it comes to an "open sewer of hate," a choice phrase in the piece, Netanyahu should be the focus). At Foreign Policy, Walt points out that the attack reflects the fact that our side is winning, then pluckily notes that Tablet is trying to intimidate the Washington Post company, which carries his blog.

Why do they use such ugly tactics? The answer is simple: the case they are defending is so weak that they cannot rely on facts, logic, and claims of justice to win the day. To be perfectly clear, I am not talking about the case for Israel's existence inside its pre-1967 borders, which I wholeheartedly support. Rather, I am talking about the case for defending many of Israel's policies, including its actions in the Occupied Territories, and its recent wars against Lebanon (2006) and Gaza (2008-2009). I am talking about the case for giving Israel unconditional and uncritical backing no matter what it does, which is not in either America's or Israel's interest. Those cases cannot stand up to scrutiny, which is why Smith and Goldberg have to rely on name-calling and character assassination instead of facts, logic, and rational discussion.

One final point is in order about the lobby's efforts to marginalize individuals who criticize Israel. Smith's attack is obviously designed to try to convince the people who run Foreign Policy to drop me from its site. Why else would Smith make a pointed reference to the "owners of the Washington Post" and to the "advertising staff" there?

The fact is that the blogosphere has succeeded in opening up a freewheeling and informative discourse about Israel and Middle East politics that is still largely absent from the mainstream media. Subjects relating to Israel that were taboo not too long ago are now being openly discussed on the internet, and by writers who have a large audience. This is a major headache for the lobby, which is used to the relatively easy task of policing the mainstream media. But rest assured that "pro-Israel" forces are hard at work trying to figure out how to silence the likes of Greenwald, Sullivan, Weiss, and me. Smith and Goldberg are part of that effort.

Birthright travel diary: Arriving in Tel Aviv

Posted: 21 Jul 2010 08:10 PM PDT

Earlier this month, activist Rachel Marcuse spent 10 days in Israel as part of the Taglit-Birthright program -- a fully sponsored trip for young North American Jews to learn more about the country. She went to bear witness and ask questions about the Israeli state's treatment of Palestinians, and to learn about other complex issues in Israel today. After the program, she spent another 10 days elsewhere in Israel and the West Bank of Palestine talking to Israeli Jews, Palestinian citizens of Israel, international activists, and Palestinians in the occupied territories. This is the first of a seven-part series on what she found. This series first appeared in and this story can be found here.

Day 1

I arrive at Newark Airport, just outside New York City, at 10 a.m. on a hot day in late June and stumble around -- exhausted from the past day of traveling from Vancouver -- trying to find my group. I spot a huddle of 20-somethings, some with shockingly large suitcases, sitting near the El Al Airline check-in, and zone-in on Hannah -- the only one in the crowd carrying a backpack. We do the standard "What's your name?" and "Where are you from?" and it becomes clear immediately that we're going to be friends. I exhale.

Gathered together by the organizers, our first team icebreaker has us tell the group of 40 our names, city of residence and describe the theme of our bar or bat mitzvah. I didn't have a bat mizvah. "Well, then tell us what your theme would have been if you had had one" one of our friendly 25-year-old group leaders says.

"I'm Rachel Marcuse, or Rachel four of five," I say, a little shocked that there are five Rachels on the trip; it seems a little excessive even for such a common name. "I'm from Vancouver. I'm the token Canadian bumped from another trip, so I'm happy to be with you guys... um... I guess my theme would have been dancing if I'd had a bat mitzvah." It turns out I'm not the only one who hasn't gone through the Jewish rite of passage. For those who are officially Jewish adults, the most popular theme for those born between 1983 and 1985 was unquestionably "under the sea." Yay, Disney!

At the first El Al Airlines security check, I'm bombarded with rapid-fire questions, all examining my Jewishness. No, I don't know my Hebrew name. Why am I going on this trip? To see Israel (don't say Palestine, I repeat in my head to myself). How do I celebrate high holidays? Well, I'm really more culturally Jewish. But, um, my parents met in Israel when they were both working for dance companies in Tel Aviv. The questioner looks dubious. Most participants get one interrogator. I get two. The fact that I'm on Taglit-Birthright seems to be my saving grace.

Taglit or Birthright, as it's translated from the Hebrew, is my "gift" from the Jewish people. It's also a free trip to the Middle East -- 10 days in Israel, all expenses paid save for some lunches and tips. Taglit is funded by North American Jewish organizations, philanthropists and the Israeli government. (Offering this information wins me 100 shekels for snacks in a Q and A at the orientation session, although, perhaps unsurprisingly, everyone receives the money in the end.) Taglit seems to have the ultimate aim of convincing young North American Jews to "make aliyah," i.e., to ascend to the "homeland" or at least take a more active role in their Jewish communities at home, presumably in a way that will support the State of Israel.

As a progressive, secular, non-Zionist Jew, I hadn't thought much about doing Birthright -- or at least, figured I could always do it the next year. Now 26, however, it's the last year I'm eligible. I struggle with the decision to go -- it's free for me, but do I even want to contribute in a small way to the Israeli economy? (We later learn that our contribution isn't so small --Taglit injects some $500 million U.S. into the Israel economy each year.) I go into the experience with an intention to bear witness and ask questions -- after all, what could be more Jewish?! I'll write about Birthright and extend my visit to Palestine... and see if I can be of some use. Plus, it's a free trip.

So, here I am, on El Al on my way to Tel Aviv. Amazingly enough, economy class is full and I'm bumped up to executive class. I figure it might be good travel karma for my bad trip the day before, a day of luggage delays and a missed flight. Sadly, I don't get to partake of the excessive booze options -- even ice wine is served! -- as Birthright prohibits drinking on the plane. I figure it's too early to start being a troublemaker.

I'm incessantly hit on by my seatmate, an Israeli real estate developer who upgraded from economy because the Taglit kids in the back were so loud. The El Al first officer joins in the flirtation. They warn me that Israeli men will be very aggressive and comment on my sleep drool. I blush. They comment on that, too.

Day 2

We arrive in Tel Aviv at 7:30 a.m. and are hit by a wall of heat and humidity upon leaving the plane. Customs is remarkably easy and we get on the bus. It will be pretty much be our home for the next 10 days.

We're driven to an outdoor shop and greenhouse just outside of Tel Aviv for orientation. We're met by the director of the trip provider that has organized this particular tour. He's a gregarious, no-bullshit American who made aliyah eight years past. I'm worn out from the two days of travelling and soften to him quickly. He asks how many of us are worried about being on a bus with 40 people for 10 days. "How about with 40 Jews for 10 days?" he asks, only sort of joking. Finally, he asks how many of us are worried about being bombarded by Israeli propaganda. A couple of people raise their hands. It seems that I'd ended up, somewhat accidentally, on the most moderate of the Birthright trips.

According to the straight-up Denver-born director, this Taglit trip provider prides itself on "plurality." Apparently, this is the only trip provider that builds in a visit to an Arab village to talk about "co-existence." There will be no visit to Palestine itself, though, and no Palestinian perspective included in any shape or form. I immediately sense that there will be many attempts to out-reasonable us. There will be no obvious brainwashing here.

I start to think about when I might "out" my politics. It turns out, it will happen the next day...

Rachel Marcuse is a Vancouver-based activist, facilitator and apparatchick. The executive director of the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), a municipal political party, she also freelances, focussing on facilitation skills, youth-engagement and strategic planning. Her views do not necessarily represent the positions of any organization whatsoever. She can be found on Twitter at rachelmarcuse.

TIAA-CREF divestment campaign finds strong support among shareholders

Posted: 21 Jul 2010 04:16 PM PDT

Yesterday, Jewish Voice for Peace attended TIAA-CREF's annual meeting as part of its campaign to get the retirement fund to divest from companies profiting off the occupation. The group delivered a petition signed by 15,300 people demanding the fund drop its investments in Caterpillar, Elbit, Motorola, Veolia and Northrop Grumman. Here's an account of how it went:

At the meeting, those who have retirement accounts with the company can stand up and speak. We had a designated speaker delivering the postcards to TIAA-CREF management, and we knew a few other people, mostly professors and teachers, would get up and ask that their money not be invested in companies that profit from discrimination, death, and destruction, and push hope and peace ever further away.

But what happened was extraordinary. First 5, then 10, then 14 people, then more got up, one after another, to speak from the heart about why TIAA CREF must not profit from Israel's occupation. These people weren't just JVP members, but included TIAA-CREF shareholders attending the meeting for entirely different reasons, who were spontaneously moved to speak in support of our campaign.

Not a single person spoke to defend Israel's occupation. Not one.

In response, TIAA-CREF corporate leadership asked to meet with JVP, and they had their first direct talks today. JVP says the fund will respond if they hear from enough people, especially plan participants. You can find the petition to sign here.

Paul Berman's hidden agenda

Posted: 21 Jul 2010 01:33 PM PDT

Paul Berman thinks he is smarter than other people, or braver, or both. His latest book, The Flight of the Intellectuals, indicts a number of Western writers for being too dumb, or too cowardly, to confront what he considers the great and growing threat of "Islamic fascism." His targets are Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss-born, modernizing Muslim philosopher, and Westerners like Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash, who cannot see that Ramadan's reasonable public stances conceal sinister truths that he, Berman, will courageously spend 299 pages unveiling.

Berman's pursuit of Ramadan, and his contempt for those in the West he says Ramadan is duping, is pathological. But he nowhere answers what should be his most important question: what actually is Tariq Ramadan's hidden aim? Is Ramadan simply biding his time, pretending to be moderate until he amasses more Muslim followers, fools even more fellow travelers, and then pops out like a jack-in-the-box to reveal his true views and help establish the Muslim Caliphate across vast stretches of Europe and even America?

It is a commonplace in psychology that people often scrutinize others for the very flaws or weaknesses they fear in themselves. Berman's curious animus toward Ramadan may actually be motivated by his own agenda, which he quite possibly hides from even himself: his passion, in this and previous works, to defend the state of Israel at any cost. 

Berman has a problem with Ramadan, because, as he admits, most of what the man says and writes is calm and rational. So Berman is boxed into an unpleasant line of argument: Guilt by Genealogy. Tariq Ramadan's grandfather was the Egyptian Hassan al-Banna, who back in 1928 founded the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the leading nonviolent Islamic movement in Egypt today and almost certainly that country's strongest single political force. Berman searches Al-Banna's own writings, but he cannot come up with quite enough incendiary material. So he turns to that old standby, Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem. He discovers that in the 1930s Al-Banna spoke sympathetically of the Mufti, who did go on to ally with the Nazis, including making anti-Semitic broadcasts over Radio Berlin.

So here is the biggest strand of Berman's argument: Ignore nearly everything that Tariq Ramadan says and does today. Instead, note that his grandfather, 75 years ago, praised another Arab nationalist who was similarly resisting British colonialism. Ergo, Tariq Ramadan has inherited anti-Semitism in his bloodstream, which he conceals so he can seduce the Muslims of Europe and trick Western intellectuals. Further proof of Ramadan's secret guilt is that when he is asked to criticize his own grandfather, he waffles.

(The Mufti was not the only anti-colonial figure to promote German or Japanese fascism during World War 2 to strike back at the British or Dutch; nationalists with genuine followings in India [Chandra Bose] and Indonesia [Sukarno] made the same mistake. But Berman could have found an another example even closer at hand. Anwar Sadat was jailed for 2 years by the British in Egypt in 1942 for actually plotting with German spies, but his sins were conveniently forgotten after he signed the 1978 peace treaty with Israel.)

Genuine experts like Professor Marc Lynch have already shown that Berman's view of Tariq Ramadan is warped, "based on a narrow selection of sources read in translation and only a sliver of the vast scholarship on the subject," and that Ramadan is a genuine reformer. But Ramadan, for Berman, is in fact more of a useful distraction than a real target.

There are two vital subjects missing from a book that purports to be about Islamism and violence. The American war in Iraq, in which at least 100,000 and possibly 600,000 people have already died, is scarcely mentioned. And Israel also barely appears – and only as a victim, of the Palestinian suicide bombings of the early 2000s (which Tariq Ramadan and other moderate Islamists are blamed for not denouncing).

Berman snickers at the antiwar demonstrations in the West in early 2003 against the impending invasion of Iraq. But he nowhere admits that he supported the war. He is quick to suggest that certain other writers are cowards. But he does not have enough intellectual courage to either admit he was wrong, or to try and argue that the human and material cost of the war – now in its eighth year – has been worth it. And because he tiptoes around the Iraq war, he makes the absurd implication that Muslims are turning against the West partly because Tariq Ramadan was indirectly influenced by the Grand Mufti's anti-Semitism, instead of because Muslims know about Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and many, many tens of thousands of dead Muslims.

Berman's silence on Israel is just as glaring. His "Index of Names" (there are no footnotes or references in what purports to be a scholarly work) finds room for Plato and Plotinus, but there is no mention of Ariel Sharon, Avigdor Lieberman, or Dr. Baruch Goldstein, the Israeli "settler" who in February 1994 entered a mosque in Hebron carrying his assault rifle and murdered 29 Palestinians as they prayed, before he was overpowered and beaten to death.  Goldstein's "suicide assault" prompted some Palestinians to start retaliating with their own first suicide bombings the next month.

Other reviewers, like David Rieff and Pankaj Mishra, have already quite deftly dismantled Berman's simplistic views of Islamism. But no one so far has paid close attention to his evasions over Israel. In one place, Berman does recognize that the Irgun, the Israeli group that took part in the 1948 massacre of Palestinian civilians at Deir Yassin, "were in fact terrorists" – but the Irgun is safely 65 years in the past.

Surely Israel today is a fruitful place to study the connection between extreme socio-religious ideas and political violence? What kind of feverish intellectual atmosphere produced Dr. Baruch Goldstein? What were the influences on Yigal Amir, the fanatic who murdered the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (an act that some people, like the great Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery, say actually changed history)? Is it true that the Israeli military is so infected with extremist settler ideology that it cannot be relied on to evacuate the settlements?

And what of the Settler/Likud fellow travelers in the United States and elsewhere? Have their apologies for Israel's extremists, their labeling of all criticism as "anti-Semitism," made a 2-state solution impossible and put off a 1-state solution for many years and many more thousands of deaths?

Paul Berman most probably did not set out to distract attention from the U.S. disaster in Iraq and from Israel's fanatic expansionism. He most likely has a strong attraction to Israel as he thinks it was in 1948 or 1967, and he simply is afraid to examine his views and consider changing his mind. So instead of stalking the leading Israeli right-wingers of today, along with their intellectual apologists in Israel and in AIPAC, he wasted nearly 300 pages on Tariq Ramadan.

Bil'in leader sentenced to two months in prison for protesting

Posted: 21 Jul 2010 01:22 PM PDT

From the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee:

Bil'in Protest organizer Abdallah Abu Rahmah was sentenced to two months of imprisonment and to a six month suspended sentence, after a five year long trial on charges clearly related to freedom of speech.

Abu Rahmah was convicted of two counts of "activity against the public order", simply for participating in demonstrations, in one count despite the fact that "No evidence of violence towards the security forces was provided". Abu Rahmah was also convicted of "obstructing a soldier in the line of duty", for shouting at a police officer and refusing to leave the scene of a demonstration, of "breaking curfew", for being in the street in front of his house when the army declared curfew on Bil'in to suppress a demonstration, and of "incitement", which under military law is defined as "The attempt, verbal or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order". Abu Rahmah was convicted of inciting others to "[…] continue advancing [to their lands during a demonstration in Bil'in], claiming that the land belongs to them.

Adv. Gaby Lasky, Abdallah Abu Rahmah's lawyer said that "The military court threads a dangerous path of criminalizing legitimate protest in the West Bank. Abu Rahmah was arrested, prosecuted and sentenced with the clear intention of sending a message that the Palestinian struggle, even when of civic nature, will not be tolerated".

IDF destroys West Bank village after declaring it military zone

Posted: 21 Jul 2010 01:15 PM PDT

And other news from Today in Palestine:

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

IDF destroys West Bank village after declaring it military zone, Amira Hass
Since 1967, Israel has prevented the growth of Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley by cutting off their water supply or declaring large areas as live fire zones.

Peace Now reveals new plan to build 3 more stories in Kubaniyet Um Haroun
The Peace Now movement revealed that a group of Israeli settlers intend to build three additional stories in Kubaniyet Um Haroun in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Israeli settlers attempt to burn historical mosque in Jaffa
A group of extremist Israeli settlers attempted Tuesday morning to burn the western entrance of the historical Hassan Bek mosque in the city of Jaffa.

Indeed, what business is it of Israelis where Palestinians choose to build their homes?  Arab High Court Judge: What's Wrong with Arab Illegal Houses?
The State admitted in a previous court hearing that the mansions were illegally built. However, it had not taken action to tear them down. At the opening of Monday's hearing, the Prosecution announced that it had begun enforcement procedures for one of the nine structures.  A representative of Regavim showed the judges photographs of the illegal homes. Judge Joubran took a look at the pictures and said: "These are beautiful homes indeed. Whom does this bother? Whom does this hurt? They need to live well!"  The two other judges reportedly seemed taken aback by the statement but chose to ignore it.

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment
BSD: Youth Against Normalization

Swedish peace activist arrested. Witnesses say charge of assault is 'baseless'
A Swedish peace activist was arrested in Hebron last night and stood trial today in Jerusalem.  Nursing student Marcus Rednanver was accused of assaulting a soldier at a peaceful demonstration in Hebron 10 days ago.  Witnesses say the charge is baseless and that he has been targeted by police arbitrarily.  The judge ordered that he be detained and questioned for a further two days.
At approximately 11PM last night (20 July 2010) Rednanver and another Swedish man were passing a checkpoint near Tel Rumeida when soldiers forcefully detained him, confiscated his passport and called police.  Rednanver was not told where he had been taken but believed it was a police station near Hebron.  Officials at the Court of Peace in the Russian Compound, Jerusalem, heard his case at 12.30 this afternoon. Following the judge's ruling he was led wasy in handcuffs and shackled at the ankles. He told friends who attended the hearing that he had not been fed since he was arrested.  He will be released on Friday 23rd at 12 noon unless the police investigation can produce new evidence.

American Activists Plan Gaza Flotilla Ship Named for Obama Book
A group of Americans opposed to Israel's naval blockade of Gaza is raising money online to pay for a ship from the United States to take part in a new protest flotilla scheduled to set sail for the Palestinian territory in September or October.  In an appeal for money posted on the Web site, the activists say they are "planning to launch a U.S. boat to Gaza, joining a flotilla of ships from Europe, Canada, India, South Africa and parts of the Middle East."

Jordan Gaza activists stage protest at Egyptian embassy
Amman - About 150 Jordanian activists demonstrated before the Egyptian embassy in Amman on Tuesday to protest Cairo's refusal to allow a humanitarian convoy to reach the besieged Gaza Strip, according to a prominent unionist.  'We staged a one-hour sit-in before the embassy with an intensive presence of security forces,' Ahmad Armouti, president of the Trade Unions Council, told the German Press Agency dpa.

The rising non-violent movement in Palestine: Mustafa Barghouti
A recent address by Mustafa Barghouti in Canada, in two parts. Born in Jerusalem in 1954, Dr Barghouti is a leader of the Palestinian National Initiative  founded in 2002 and a member of Palestinian Legislative Council as well as a former Minister of Information in the unity government in 2007. The full transcript from these Real News Network clips appears over the fold. Also check out Dr Barghouti's excellent 2008 address to the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) National Convention.

Video Part 1:
Video Part 2:

Liberate all ghettos
The action that we recently undertook on the terrain of the old Warsaw Ghetto -- to spray the words "Liberate all ghettos" in Hebrew and "Free Gaza and Palestine" in English -- has been used by some commentators in Israel and the Jewish community in Poland to accuse us of anti-Semitism. Ewa Jasiewicz and Yonatan Shapira comment for The Electronic Intifada.

Felicity Arbuthnot – An open letter to the Methodist Church on their decision to Endorse BDS

Are Arabs swimming with or against the BDS tide against Israeli Apartheid?
Charles C. Boycott seems to have become a household word because of his strong sense of duty to his employer. An Englishman and former British soldier, Boycott was the estate agent of the Earl of Erne in County Mayo, Ireland. The earl was one of the absentee landowners who as a group held most of the land in Ireland. Boycott was chosen in the fall of 1880 to be the test case for a new policy advocated by Charles Parnell, an Irish politician who wanted land reform.

Ra Ra Ramallah booms to Boney M (AFP)
AFP - Arabs and Israelis boogeyed ecstatically together in the occupied West Bank late into the night as 70s band Boney M belted out their nostalgic disco tunes at an open-air concert.*

Johnny Rotten: "Rise" against racism, boycott Israel
The following letter to British musician John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, who is scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv next month, was issued on 18 July 2010 by the Palestinian Students' Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) and the University Teachers' Association in Palestine (UTAP).

Johnny Rotten is Actually Perfect for Israel:  John Lydon's rotten politics | David Cronin
A few months ago Lydon claimed he's "well-known for being a pacifist" and named Mahatma Gandhi as his all-time hero. Surely, then, he would be open to supporting one of the most impressive examples of Gandhi's principles being put into action in today's world: the weekly demonstrations in the West Bank village of Bi'lin, where unarmed activists are regularly fired at by Israeli forces. Surely, too, he would be sympathetic to the call made by numerous Palestinian trade unions and other campaign groups for a cultural and economic boycott of Israel.  Not a chance, I'm afraid. Lydon has vowed to go ahead with a PiL concert in Tel Aviv, scheduled for late August. "If Elvis-fucking-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he's suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians, then good on him," Lydon told the Independent. "But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won't understand how anyone can have a problem with how they're treated."

Violence and Aggression
Report: Palestinian killed after IDF fires at figures near Gaza border
This most recent clash on the Gaza border comes a week after sources claimed an IDF shelling killed a Palestinian woman.

One Killed, Six Injured, By Israeli Bombardment To Northern Gaza
Gaza – PNN - At least one Palestinian civilian was killed six others were injured on Wednesday by Israeli bombardment targeting the town of Beit Hanon in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.  Local sources announced that Israeli tanks shelled resident homes close to the borders with Israel and later an Israeli jet fighter fired a missile at a group of residents killing one and injuring six others among them children.  Dr. Mo'awyiah Hassanie, from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, said that Mohamed Kafarnah, 20 years old, was killed by the shelling. He added that three of the injured sustained critical wounds.

Army Invades Khan Younis
Israeli soldiers, accompanied by a number of armed vehicles, tanks, and military bulldozers, invaded on Tuesday evening Abasan Al Jadeeda town, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli policeman beats a child in Jerusalem
Jerusalem, July 21, (Pal Telegraph) An Israeli policeman attacked yesterday and severely beat a child in Jerusalem, Sam Alseyuri 8 years near a market located near one of the gates of Al Aqsa Mosque.  According to local sources the attack on the child occurred after the performance of Asr prayer with his mother and two siblings: his brother Hossam 7 years, and his sister Rodat two years, where they went to a shop named "gifts of children" belongs to his grandfather, Haji Mohammad Arif Seyuri, who gave him a "plastic gun" to play with when he and his brother were surprised at the gate of an Israeli policeman trying to disarm them by taking the plastic gun from his hand by force then breaking it into pieces, he took little sam aside and started beating him infront of his brother.
Sam was then taken to a hospital where he was treated from sever injuries and bruises, though he is still traumatized and doesn't understand why did the Israeli policeman did so.

Israel raids Hebron, arrests 2
Hebron, July 21, (Pal Telegraph) Israeli occupation forces arrested late last night Palestinian citizens after raiding several houses in the town of "Thahereyeh" and the village of Abu Alasja south of Hebron in the West Bank.  Security sources said that the Israeli occupation forces also arrested Bassem Eid Tal (37 years) after entering the home his father and his brother's Mohammed house Mohammed and performed inspections operations.  They also arrested Ahmed Salem Abu Sondos from the village of Abu Alasja near the town of Dura, south of Hebron and took him to an unknown destination.  The IOF erected a checkpoint at the entrance to the village of Kirza south of Hebron and the Israeli soldiers searched the vehicles of the citizens there.

IOF troops raid Abasan, detain four west Bankers
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) went on the rampage east of Khan Younis city, south of the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday night bulldozing land and firing at Palestinian homes.

Ofer prisoners initiate protest steps against Israeli violations
Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli ofer jail started protest steps against the Israeli prison authority's violations of their rights.

PA to compensate family of Hamas detainee
Hebron – Ma'an – A Palestinian military court ruled Tuesday that Palestinian Authority Intelligence Services must compensate the family of suspect who died in prison.  But the Southern and Northern Provinces court exonerated five intelligence officers suspected of involvement in Haytham Abdullah Abdul Rahman Amr's death.  Amr was detained by PA intelligence forces on 11 June 2009 for affiliation with Hamas. He later died in a Hebron prison on 15 June 2009. Hamas accused PA forces of torturing Amr during questioning, leading to his death in PA custody.

The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian and Human Rights/Restriction of Movement
6 Palestinians missing in Gaza tunnel
GAZA, July 21 (Xinhua) -- Six Palestinian smugglers have gone missing Wednesday when a tunnel beneath Gaza's southern border with Egypt caved in, witnesses and rescue workers said.  The witnesses said it is still difficult to predict the fate of the trapped as rescue crews are digging the sand to look for them.  The workers were bringing in goods from Egypt, the witnesses said, but the sorts of goods were also unknown.

Industrial Fuel – Needs Vs. Supply – June 20 – July 17

An End to the Occupation Is Compulsory for the Achievement of Women's Rights in Palestine
The need for a solution to the Palestine-Israeli conflict is a national issue, but it is equally an issue of women's rights. Nicky Elliott spoke to a number of women's rights activists about their feelings regarding the importance of a political solution for women in Palestine.

Palestinian Children Under Occupation, Stephen Lendman
The Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations is a Beirut, Lebanon-based organization engaged in "strategic and futuristic studies on the Arab and Muslim worlds, (emphasizing) the Palestinian issue." In July 2010, it published the latest in its "Am I Not a Human?" series titled, "The Suffering of the Palestinian Child under the Israeli Occupation," saying:  Palestinian children grow up "under the Israeli occupation, surrounded by cruelty, oppression, killing, starvation and destruction." Yet, like all children, they dream of playing and living normally and safely. Instead, their father may be dead or in prison, their brother killed, their home destroyed, and their mother forced to give birth at an Israeli checkpoint, risking her and the newborn.

PA urges Israel to hand over oxygen machines
Ramallah – Ma'an – The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health appealed Wednesday to Israel to deliver seven oxygen machines donated by a Norwegian development agency that were seized by Israeli officials en route to hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza.
Heath Minister Fathi Abu Moghli delivered a second letter of appeal to donor countries and organizations, calling for "urgent intervention" for the medical supplies to be delivered to hospitals in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Human rights groups urge Ashton to end siege
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Gaza-based rights groups reminded EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton that calls to ease the siege on Gaza "fall short of addressing the root cause of humanitarian suffering" and urged her to take decisive action.  A coalition of 13 rights groups issued a letter on Monday, the day after Ashton visited Gaza, where she told reporters she noticed minor improvements in the situation, but said more was required.

Indonesian medical delegation arrives in Gaza
Gaza - Ma'an - An Indonesian delegation of doctors arrived in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday via the Rafah crossing, border officials announced.  Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities allowed the exit of a group of Palestinians with disabilities to leave Gaza.  Egypt opened the Rafah crossing on 1 June, following an Israeli raid on a six-boat aid fleet destined for Gaza, killing nine on board.

Gaza official says new Israeli siege policy 'bluff'

Gaza – Ma'an – The Israeli cabinet decision last month on easing certain terms of its blockade of Gaza is a "continuation of Israel's attempt to bluff the world," an official said Wednesday.  Jamal Al-Khoudary, the head of the popular committee against the siege and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said there was no real change in the Gaza Strip since Israel's declaration.
"Israel can't say it is implementing its decision if it keeps two Gaza crossings closed, while partially opening the other two," Al-Khoudary said.

During the time of the siege, Yousef M. Aljamal
During the time of the siege, Ahmed, a very young child in Gaza, left his home with his family because it was located very close to a big mosque that people had heard was going to be bombed. Later, while he was playing football, he was bombed by an Israeli F-16, separating his body into very small pieces. Ahmed escaped from his destiny to his destiny.

  During the time of the siege, Zyneb, a youth in her twenties, was prevented from leaving Gaza to receive medical attention. Due to that, she passed away and was the first victim of the siege. She left her family, husband, and many friends, all who loved her. After she passed away, one of the Israeli soldiers who worked hard to prevent her from leaving, asked her father, as he was carrying her dead body, "Why do you cry? All of us will die!"

What happens after you allow cocoa into Gaza?
Twenty-one days after the June 20, 2010 cabinet decision, Israel allowed Gaza merchants to import raw materials for industry. This followed three years of prohibiting the entrance of raw materials to Gaza, as part of a declared policy of "economic warfare". Last week fabrics, empty cans, thread and industrial cocoa were brought in.  Although Israel states that the number of trucks carrying goods into the Gaza Strip has risen by 70% since the cabinet decision, when seen in context, that number still only accounts for 34% of the needs of the residents of Gaza and its economy (in 2005 the number of trucks entering Gaza was 10,400 per month).

Ending the Gaza Blockade Might Help Israel as Much as Gaza
In the wake of Israel's botched attack on a Turkish ship bringing relief to Gazans from Israel's (and Egypt's) economic blockade of Gaza, the Israelis have responded to intensely negative world opinion by relaxing the blockade. That move may help Israel as much as Gazans. Ending the counterproductive economic embargo and blockade would help both parties even more.

War Criminals
Israeli report on shootings of '4 civilians' fails to state that they were three sisters, 3, 5, and 9, and their grandmother, Philip Weiss
On Monday the Israeli government posted its latest word on the Gaza conflict of '08-'09. It's called the "second update" on its investigation of incidents during the conflict. Below I have excerpted three accounts of one incident in the war: the shootings of three sisters and their grandmother on January 7, 2009, in which two of the girls died. The accounts: 1, the Israeli government's account, 2, a report on the incident in the Goldstone Fact-Finding Mission of the U.N., and 3, the account of the shootings from the girls' father, as told to the Goldstone Mission.  Notice that the Israeli account, which absolves the Israeli unit engaged of any criminal responsibility, and describes the shootings as allegations purely, refers to the case as the shooting of 4 civilians, and while it gives their names, it does not say that the civilians were three sisters, aged 3, 5, and 9, and their 60-year-old grandmother.

Must Watch Video Documentary: Operation "Cast Lead, To Shoot an Elephant"
Members of the International Solidarity Movement were present in Gaza when the bombing started on December, 27th 2009. Together with two international correspondents from Al Jazeera International (Ayman Mohyeldin and Sherine Tadros), they were the only foreigners who managed to write, film and report for several radio stations what was happening inside the besieged Palestinian strip.

Early release of Tom Hurndall's killer symptom of wider Israeli crimes
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) condemns the early release from prison of the Israeli soldier that murdered photography student and ISM volunteer Tom Hurndall in Gaza in 2003. The Israeli press yesterday reported that Taysir Hayb will be released three years early from an already short eight-year sentence.  His murder was only a symptom of a much wider culture of impunity in the Israeli army. This early release serves to reinforce the notion that the Israeli army can continue to commit war crimes against Palestinians without fear of serious consequences.  Tom's mother Jocelyn Hurndall told ISM London that: "this reduced sentence comes at a time when the world is becoming more sceptical about Israel's investigations into its own actions. It's a reminder of Israel's disregard for international law and opinion."

Israel says it will limit white phosphorus, not outlaw it
A report given to the UN by Israel details how it will attempt to limit civilian casualties in the future.

Political/Other Developments
Abbas: Specific US assurances on borders needed (AP)
AP - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told his Fatah movement he wants a more specific U.S. commitment on the borders of a future Palestinian state before agreeing to direct talks with Israel, an adviser said Wednesday.*

Abbas demands Israel halt settlement before talks (AFP)
AFP - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah movement insisted on Tuesday that direct peace talks with Israel hinge on a complete halt to Jewish settlement building.*

MK Tibi: Israel prefers dialogue over peace
Bethlehem – Ma'an – The idea of a bi-national state is a "nightmare" for Israel, Palestinian-Israeli Knesset member Ahmad Tibi told the Ma'an-produced No Spin talk show on Palestine TV on Tuesday.  "The Arabs living in Israel are much more interested in the two-state solution based on 4 June 1967 borders," Tibi said. A solution based on the 67 borders would be the "minimum" Palestinians could accept, he added.

Israeli lawmaker visits flashpoint religious site (Reuters)
Reuters - A senior lawmaker of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing party on Tuesday visited a flashpoint religious site in Jerusalem revered by Jews and Muslims, a move that has sparked violence in the past.*

Egypt, Turkey leaders discuss Mideast peace process (AFP)
AFP - The leaders of Egypt and Turkey met in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss stuttering international efforts to coax Israeli and Palestinian leaders back to the negotiating table, the MENA news agency said.*

EU ministers to visit Gaza in September
Delegation responds to invitation from Lieberman to see Gaza situation 'with their own eyes'.,7340,L-3922738,00.html

Netanyahu: I'm willing to take political risks for peace

The Prime Minister is not saying whether he will end the settlement building freeze or resume construction as freeze deadline nears.

MESS Report / What did Netanyahu promise Obama?
Was a deal formulated under which the U.S. would play ball on Iran (tougher sanctions and policy) while Israel will make concessions in favor of the Palestinians?

Other News
Report: Germany reconsiders funding Israel's latest submarine
The American weekly Defense News said the collapse of the deal presents the Israel Navy with major difficulties in renovating its aging fleet of ships and submarines.

Jurists say Arab's rape conviction sets dangerous precedent
Sabbar Kashur sentenced to 18 months for posing as Jewish man to bed woman

IDF guarding Hebron vineyard of former Jewish militant
Reservists in the Israel Defense Forces have been deployed at night to guard the vineyard of a head of the former Jewish underground in the Hebron area, a reserve officer says. This would violate the IDF's policy against guarding private property.  The former militant, Menachem Livni, was convicted in the 1980s for his role in the attack on an Islamic college in which three Palestinian students were killed. He received a life sentence, but president Chaim Herzog pardoned him after seven years.

Awww poor baby...  Supreme Court: Pearlman disconnected from world
Justice Edmond Levy rebukes State Prosecutor's Office, Shin Bet for failing to bring 'Jewish terrorist', other suspect to court hearing. Prosecutor: It was a misunderstanding.,7340,L-3922965,00.html

PA sues Israeli companies over fuel theft claims
Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Palestinian Authority has filed suit in an Israeli court over the alleged theft of fuel by an Israeli transport company contracted by the nation's largest oil distributor.  The allegations, brought forth in a Ma'an investigation days earlier, involve a petrol distributor taking advantage of PA customs inefficiencies to pilfer thousands of liters of fuel.

PA municipal chief accused of stealing water
Hebron - Ma'an - Palestinian Authority forces detained the head of the Tarqumiya Municipality on Wednesday on allegations that he and other Hebron officials failed to commit to the Water Authority's standards on infrastructure and water theft.  Mohammad Al-Ja'freh and several others including employees of nearby municipalities and owners of illegal water extensions on the Hebron district were detained and taken for questioning.

Israel to deploy new anti-missile system in November
Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Israel will deploy its new anti-missile system designed to combat threats from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, the Israeli Defense Ministry said Monday.  "The Iron Dome interceptor, in conjunction with air force and anti-aircraft systems, successfully downed a large number of threats in fully operational mode," the ministry said in statement quoted by Agence France-Presse.

Report: Knesset to review flag burning law
Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Israeli parliament is scheduled to discuss an amendment to the Burning Flag Law, the Hebrew-language daily Maariv reported Tuesday. According to the daily, the amendment is aimed at deterring anti-Zionist Jews from burning the Israeli flag, and would see convicted offenders fined up to 67,300 shekels.

Russia says delivers 50 armoured vehicles for Palestinians (AFP)
AFP - Russia has delivered 50 armoured personnel carriers to Jordan where they are now waiting to be transferred to the Palestinian security forces, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.*

Israel rescinds travel warning on Turkey
Counter-Terrorism Bureau announces it is now safe to travel to Turkey, despite government's anti-Israel comments; however Israelis warned to stay away from mass rallies, avoid political arguments.,7340,L-3922680,00.html

Third man arrested in case of espionage against Israel
Resident of Arab village of Baka al-Garbiyeh arrested week after police arrest Druze man suspected of crimes against Israel's security.

Likud lawmaker: Jews should be allowed freer access to Temple Mount
Deputy parliament speaker says it is 'distorted' Israeli police makes it easier for Muslims to visit the holy compound than for Jews.

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest
Gaza's only fisherwoman
In Gaza, traditional industries like fishing are dominated by men but one 16-year-old girl is changing that. She has taken charge of her father's fishing boat and the family's livelihood after he suffered an injury to his leg. Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reports.

Harvard Study Documents Media Bias and Misreporting, Stephen Lendman
This writer's November 2009 article titled "Paid Lying: What Passes for Major Media Journalism" also discussed this topic in detail.  It called major media journalism biased, irresponsible, and sensationalist — misreporting, distorting, exaggerating, misstating, or suppressing vital truths — serving state and corporate interests over the common good, including bankers controlling the nation's money, unpunished corruption at the highest levels, democracy for the select few, sham elections, a de facto one party state, imperial wars, occupation, and torture.

Time to crack down on settlement funding, Yousef Munayyer
The time has come for a comprehensive effort to crack down on this obvious loophole in U.S. foreign policy. Stating opposition to settlements, while allowing pro-settlement groups in this country to funnel tax dollars to Israel's hilltop colonies, undergirds the perception of hypocrisy Middle Easterners are all too accustomed to associating with the United States.  Thus far, actions to counter the efforts of pro-settlement funders using a tax-deductible status have been limited to filing complaints with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Through this method, activists have been able to register a complaint with the IRS, usually claiming a settlement-funding charity either engages in misleading fundraising or funds discriminatory practices.

Holy Land 5 case reveals double standard in enforcement of US law
On 21 June 2010, the Supreme Court ruled to continue to authorize prosecutions of charities under the Material Support provision, disappointing families and supporters of the Holy Land Five and troubling US-based organizations that directly support grassroots humanitarian programs in the Middle East.

One-state Debate Explodes Myth about the Zionist Left,  Jonathan Cook
A fascinating debate is entering Israel's political mainstream on a once-taboo subject: the establishment of a single state as a resolution of the conflict, one in which Jews and Palestinians might potentially live as equal citizens. Surprisingly, those advocating such a solution are to be found chiefly on Israel's political right.  The debate, which challenges the current orthodoxy of a two-state future, is rapidly exploding traditional conceptions about the Zionist right and left.

Israel on Tish'a B'Av, 2010, Adam Horowitz
Today is Tish'a B'Av, the day on the Hebrew calendar that Jews all over the world commemorate the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem because of baseless hatred. So it's especially ironic that his past week we witnessed no less than FOUR new laws proposed and passed in the Israeli Knesset that are outrageously anti-democratic in nature: 1) Stripping an Arab parliamentarian of her privileges for her non-violent activism 2)  Narrowly defining who is considered a Jew, and therefore able to access state privileges 3)  Requiring a loyalty oath to a supremacist ideology in order to receive state privileges 4)  Criminalizing free speech that advocates divestment from the occupation

Israeli Operatives in the U.S.,  Jeff Gates
A long misinformed public lacks the tools to grasp how they are being deceived. Without those tools, Americans will continue to be frustrated at being played for the fool.

Israel's Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis Want To Reject The Diaspora, Threatening To Split World Jewry
A Jew is a Jew is a Jew. Except when he or she is not.  Just ask Joel Chasnoff, a man who immigrated to Israel, joined the army, fought in Lebanon, then discovered the state didn't consider him Jewish.

Palestinian Chef Finds Occupation Hard to Digest, Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler
RAMALLAH – Nasser Abdulhadi is a mild-mannered man who runs a restaurant. He was always known as the jovial sort. One day, his friends say, he stopped being jovial. He chose instead to fight for a world title for one of his country's national dishes, and through that to gain worldwide recognition for Palestine.  Nasser's campaign began when he heard from a friend who had flown in from the U.S. that the Israeli national airline, El Al, had served mosakhen, a dish made of bread, chicken, and onion spiced with purple sumac, as an "Israeli national dish."

Tuesday: 11 Iraqis, 5 Iranians Killed; 32 Iraqis, 5 Iranians Wounded
As the British inquiry into the Iraq war revealed new insights into the internal machinations behind the invasion, violence soldiered on back in Iraq. At least 11 Iraqis were killed and 32 more wounded in various attacks. Five Iranians also died and five more were wounded in an attack on pilgrims. More casualties also resulted from the guerilla war between Turkey and PKK rebels.

Three killed by Iraq car bomb (AFP)
AFP - Three people, including a child, were killed and 18 wounded by a car bomb in Qara Teba in Iraq's Diyala province on Tuesday, security officials said.*

Inside an Iraqi Kurdi refugee village
In northern Iraq, a 26 year conflict has been causing thousands of villagers to flee their homes. Gabriel Gatehouse has been to see the effects of the attacks.

Iraq's last Sabeans take sad New Year dip in Tigris (AFP)

AFP - Sheikh Alaa Aziz was saddened by the sight of only a handful of fellow Iraqi Sabeans in simple white cloths dipping in the muddy waters of the Tigris in an ancient purification rite for their New Year.*

Inside Story - Iraq's political wrangling
Iyad Allawi, the former Iraqi prime minister whose Iraqiya coalition won 91 seats in the country's March parliamentary election, has sought support to form a government from Moqtada al-Sadr, the Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia leader. What would it take for Allawi and al-Sadr to form a political alliance? And to what extent are outside forces hindering or aiding the process?

Israel threatens to attack populated Lebanese areas
BEIRUT: Israel threatened on Tuesday to attack highly populated areas of Lebanon as its military chief claimed Hizbullah was using urban infrastructure to conceal weapons.  Chief of General Staff for the Israeli Army, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, said his force would not hesitate to strike Lebanese towns and villages if forced into any fresh conflict.  "Hizbullah is consolidating its presence in inhabited areas where the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) can't discover weapons," Ashkenazi told Israeli radio while on a trip to Italy. "We will move in these areas if need be."

MP Fadlallah: UN Needs to Condemn Israeli Espionage
In an interview with Agence France Presse, loyalty to the resistance bloc MP Hassan Fadlallah urged the United Nation's Security Council to call for the arrest of three Lebanese communications workers suspected of spying for Israel., MP Fadlallah urged the Lebanese government to send the Israeli espionage case to the Security Council "immediately". According to Fadallah, "Israel will continue its espionage activities if the world does not condemn it. The world needs to know about Israel's aggression and its consequences in Lebanon."

PM Saad Hariri Denies Links to Spy Suspect Tareq al-Rabaa
20/07/2010 Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri's press office described as "fabricated, incorrect and baseless" on Tuesday a report published by Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar stating that spy Tareq Al-Rabaa had close ties to his Future movement.  The report also said that the alleged spy was the prime minister's right arm in the telecommunications sector, in addition to his relation with the ISF Information Bureau which gave him special facilities and licenses due to his position within the team.

Report: Lebanese party denies recruiting Fatah fighters
Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - A Lebanese party denied reports on Tuesday that officials asked the Fatah leadership in Lebanon to recruit fighters into the movement, Lebanese media reported.  The Future Movement, the Lebanese premier Saad Hariri's party, said the allegation was "totally baseless," NOW Lebanon quoted a statement issued by party official Ahmad Hariri as saying.

Allow Them to Own a Home? La, Abadan! (No, Never!)/Palestinian Rights in Lebanon, FRANKLIN LAMB
The explosive issue of Palestinian civil rights for Lebanon's refugees will move to  center stage under the Lebanese Parliamentary spotlight this week, with  meetings of parliamentary committees and a  legislative session now scheduled to consider late breaking  proposals by the March 14  alliance, led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The main holdouts, as predicted, will be the right wing Christian Phalange party and its allies and former Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has been tasked  this week with getting them on board.  The Washington DC-Beirut based Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, not heeding the admonition of the late Mahatma Gandhi,  who when following various pre-Independence  reports of 'progress'  with representatives of Her Majesty the Queen,   Bapu told the assembled  media:  "Promises are made and fools rejoice!."

A Southern Symphony: Woe Unto The Wretched
"They're bombing Lebanon,"  I remember my mother's words as they stung me like hot coals; On July 12th, 2006 my family was huddled around the television, listening to the news. The voices would shatter my eardrums as the death toll would climb higher and higher. Soon it was just noise.  CNN,MSNBC,FOX,ABC – Media personnel would recite numbers and memorized, commercialized statistics. I shouldn't have expected them to profess any natural sentiment for the Lebanese being slaughtered en masse but I grew bitter nonetheless.  Lebanon's graceful sky's were raining blood.

Iran's Parliament adopts bill against inspections
Iran's Parliament authorized the government on Tuesday to retaliate against countries that inspect cargo on Iranian ships and aircraft as part of new United Nations sanctions over its nuclear program.  MPs, hoping to discourage compliance with a fourth round of Security Council penalties, passed a bill allowing the government to respond in kind, with cargo inspections of its own.  Last month's Security Council resolution calls on, but does not require, all countries to cooperate in cargo inspections if there are "reasonable grounds" to believe the items could contribute to the Iranian nuclear program, and any inspection must receive the consent of the ship's flag state.

Obama: Iran's path of defiance will only bring it more isolation

At press conference with British PM Cameron, Obama says U.S. remains committed to diplomatic solution to conflict over Iran's nuclear program.

U.S. and other World News
Ex-MI5 chief slams war on Iraq
The former head of British intelligence has criticised the US-led war in Iraq in a testimony before an inquiry panel in London. Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller said that the war, which was launched in 2003, was not justified because Iraq had not posed a threat to the UK at the time. She also said that Britain's involvement in the 2003 conflict played into Osama Bin Laden's hands and radicalised British muslims. Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee reports from London. [July 20, 2010]

'Iraq war led to surge in terrorist plots against Britain'
Britain's involvement in the invasion of Iraq led to an almost unmanageable increase in the number of terrorist plots against it, a former head of British intelligence revealed Tuesday.

Plane carrying U.N. secretary-general diverted by rocket attack in Kabul
A plane carrying U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was forced to divert less than a mile from Kabul when the airport came under rocket fire.,0,6415051.story

US military build-up in Kandahar will bolster Taliban, warns security monitor
Nato's counterinsurgency tactic shows no signs of success, says Afghanistan NGO Security Office.

Private contractors' deepening reach in US intelligence
The man nominated to be the next US director of national intelligence has defended the role of private contractors in the intelligence community. Retired Air Force General James Clapper was speaking in the wake of a series of articles in The Washington Post which have revealed the extent of involvement of the private sector in the US government's top secret programmes. There are also concerns over former spy chiefs working for the private contractors after leaving public office. Roger Wilkison reports. (July 21, 2010)

Egypt denies Mubarak's health is failing
* Information minister says president in good health
* Media reports "rumour and speculation"
* Statement issued two days after stomach cancer report

Saudi to codify Sharia 'for clarity'
Resistance from conservatives expected to slow formalisation of largely unwritten laws to bring uniformity to judicial rulings.

Bad Translation Makes Fundamentalists Of Us All
Religious phrases are scattered liberally throughout Arabic languages. The secret to translating is not to take them literally.

Israeli report on shootings of '4 civilians' fails to state that they were three sisters, 3, 5, and 9, and their grandmother

Posted: 21 Jul 2010 04:56 AM PDT

On Monday the Israeli government posted its latest word on the Gaza conflict of '08-'09. It's called the "second update" on its investigation of incidents during the conflict.

Below I have excerpted three accounts of one incident in the war (to which Norman Finkelstein directed my attention): the shootings of three sisters and their grandmother on January 7, 2009, in which two of the girls died. The accounts: 1, the Israeli government's account, 2, a report on the incident in the Goldstone Fact-Finding Mission of the U.N., and 3, the account of the shootings from the girls' father, as told to the Goldstone Mission.

Notice that the Israeli account, which absolves the Israeli unit engaged of any criminal responsibility, and describes the shootings as allegations purely, refers to the case as the shooting of 4 civilians, and while it gives their names, it does not say that the civilians were three sisters, aged 3, 5, and 9, and their 60-year-old grandmother

1, The Israeli investigation:

(3) Amal, Souad, Samar, and Hajja Souad Abd Rabbo & Adham Kamiz Nasir

108. This incident involved the alleged shooting of four Palestinian civilians on 7 January 2009 in the neighborhood of Izbat Abd Rabbo, and was reported to Israeli authorities by several human rights organizations. The MAG referred the complaint to a direct criminal investigation which was recently concluded. In the course of this comprehensive investigation, the MPCID collected testimony from eleven Palestinians who witnessed the events. Some of them were unable or unwilling to testify before MPCID investigators, but provided detailed affidavits. In addition, the investigators reviewed medical reports and death certificates, as well as aerial photographs provided by an Israeli NGO, which helped identify the different units involved in the incident. More than fifty commanders and soldiers from these units were also questioned by the MPCID. Some were questioned multiple times in order to clarify the circumstances of the case.

109. The evidence collected in the course of the investigation could not confirm the description of the incident by the complainants, who claimed that a soldier standing on a tank had opened fire at a group of civilians. The substantial discrepancies between the complaint and the findings of the investigation—in particular, the identity of the force and the sequence of events—led the MAG to conclude that the evidence was insufficient to initiate criminal proceedings.

2, Now: The Goldstone Report,

hear it narrated here


770. The Mission visited the site of the shooting of Amal, Souad, Samar and Hajja Souad Abd Rabbo and interviewed an eyewitness, Mr. Khalid Abd Rabbo, on site. Khalid and Kawthar Abd Rabbo gave their testimony at the public hearing in Gaza on 28 June 2009. The Mission also reviewed sworn statements from two additional witnesses it was not able to interview in person.

771. The family of Khalid Abd Rabbo and his wife Kawthar lived on the ground floor of a four-storey building in the eastern part of Izbat Abd Rabbo, a neighbourhood east of Jabaliyah inhabited primarily by members of their extended family. Khalid Abd Rabbo's parents and brothers with their families lived on the upper floors of the house. The residents of Izbat Abd Rabbo started hearing the sound of shooting and of the Israeli ground incursion in the evening of 3 January 2009. Khalid Abd Rabbo's family decided to stay inside the house, all gathered on the ground floor, as they had done safely during previous Israeli incursions into the neighbourhood.

772. In the late morning of 7 January 2009, Israeli tanks moved onto the small piece of agricultural land in front of the house. Shortly after 12.30 p.m., the inhabitants of that part of Izbat Abd Rabbo heard megaphone messages telling all residents to leave. According to one witness's recollection, there had also been a radio message broadcast by the Israeli armed forces around 12.30 announcing that there would be a temporary cessation of shooting between 1 and 4 p.m. that day, during which time residents of the area were asked to walk to central Jabaliyah.

773. At about 12.50 p.m., Khalid Abd Rabbo, his wife Kawthar, their three daughters, Souad (aged 9), Samar (aged 5) and Amal (aged 3), and his mother, Hajja Souad Abd Rabbo, stepped out of the house, all of them carrying white flags. Less than 10 metres from the door was a tank, turned towards their house. Two soldiers were sitting on top of it having a snack (one was eating chips, the other chocolate, according to one of the witnesses). The family stood still, waiting for orders from the soldiers as to what they should do, but none was given. Without warning, a third soldier emerged from inside the tank and started shooting at the three girls and then also at their grandmother. Several bullets hit Souad in the chest, Amal in the stomach and Samar in the back. Hajja Souad was hit in the lower back and in the left arm.

774. Khalid and Kawthar Abd Rabbo carried their three daughters and mother back inside the house. There, they and the family members who had stayed inside tried to call for help by mobile phone. They also shouted for help and a neighbour, Sameeh Atwa Rasheed al-Sheikh, who was an ambulance driver and had his ambulance parked next to his house, decided to come to their help. He put on his ambulance crew clothes and asked his son to put on a fluorescent jacket. They had driven a few metres from their house to the immediate vicinity of the Abd Rabbo house when Israeli soldiers near the Abed Rabbo house ordered them to halt and get out of the vehicle. Sameeh al-Sheikh protested that he had heard cries for help from the Abd Rabbo family and intended to bring the wounded to hospital. The soldiers ordered him and his son to undress and then re-dress. They then ordered them to abandon the ambulance and to walk towards Jabaliyah, which they complied with. When the families returned to Izbat Abd Rabbo on 18 January, they found the ambulance was in the same place but had been crushed, probably by a tank.

775. Inside the Abed Rabbo house, Amal and Souad died of their wounds. The family decided that they had to make an attempt to walk to Jabalya and take Samar, the dead bodies of Amal and Souad, and their grandmother to hospital. Khaled and Kawthar Abd Rabbo, and other family members and neighbours carried the girls on their shoulders. Hajja Souad was carried by family and neighbours on a bed. Samar was transferred to al-Shifa hospital and then, through Egypt, to Belgium, where she still is in hospital. According to her parents, Samar suffered a spinal injury and will remain paraplegic for the rest of her life.

776. When Khalid Abd Rabbo returned to his home on 18 January 2009, his house, as most houses in that part of Izbat Abd Rabbo, had been demolished. He drew the Mission's attention to an anti-tank mine under the rubble of a neighbour's house.

From the Goldstone Mission's interview of Khaled Abed Rabbo, the father of the three girls:

Khaled Abed Rabbo

On January 7 at 12:50 p.m. the Israeli army bulldozed our garden and the Israeli tanks were positioned in front of our house. They started yelling at us through the speakers and asked us to leave the house. So I came out along with my wife and my three children: Suad, 8 years old, Samar, 4 years old, and Amal, 3 years old, and my mother, 60 years old. We were all holding white flags. The Israeli army was stationed right across from our house. So we stood by our entrance and holding… white flags. The tanks were seven meters away from our house…. They did not say anything to us. There were two soldiers sitting on top of the tank. One of them was eating chips. The other one was eating chocolate. We were looking at them like what are we supposed to do, where should we go… We were surprised because there was all of a sudden a third soldier coming out of the tank and they starting shooting at the children with no reason… with no explanation, no pretext. My daughter, 3 years old, her stomach was hit and her intestines were coming out. So really I was amazed at how could a soldier be firing at my daughter? So I carried my daughter, 3 years old. She could hardly breathe…. My other daughter was also wounded in her chest. So I took both of them, Samar and Amal, inside the house. My wife and my mother and my other daughter Suad were still outside. All of a sudden my wife joined me carrying Suad… Her chest was wounded by many bullets. My mother, 60 years old, she was carrying the white flag and she was wounded on her forearm and also in her stomach. So we were all inside the house and we started calling the ICRC, the ambulances, anybody to come and rescue us but nobody came and all of a sudden we heard an ambulance but all of a sudden nothing, silence. But later, we saw that the Israeli soldiers asked the ambulance drivers to come out of the car, to undress, and they bulldozed the ambulance with the tank… My daughter, Amal, 3 years old, she was dying and at the end of the day she did die. My other daughter, 8 years old, like I said, her chest was riddled with bullets. She passed away. My other daughter, Samar, her back was riddled with bullets. Her back was open. She was not breathing through her nose but through her lungs and she was telling me, "Dad, help, help," and I couldn't do anything. She was thirsty. I was afraid if I gave her any water something would happen. I didn't know what to do. My mother, 60 years old, was also dying. I was helpless. I didn't know what to do for my children. There was my daughter dying in front of me. So I carried her and left the house even if I had to die myself because I couldn't take it anymore. So I carried my daughter and left the house again so that the soldier, he might as just well kill my daughter and kill myself because I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't let my children die in front of me.

Netanyahu moves ahead on taking Jordan Valley

Posted: 21 Jul 2010 04:43 AM PDT

Days after it was reported that Netanyahu said in 2001 that Israel would defeat the two-state process by declaring military zones all across the Jordan Valley, Amira Hass reports that Israeli soldiers destroyed a Palestinian village in the Jordan Valley on Monday for just that purpose:

The IDF demolished about 55 structures in the West Bank village of Farasiya, including tents, tin shacks, plastic and straw huts, clay ovens, sheep pens and bathrooms. These structures served the 120 farmers, hired workers and their families who lived in the Jordan Valley village.

The Civil Administration said they had declared the area a live fire zone and posted eviction orders for 10 families in tents on June 27....

The villagers made a living by sheep farming and working land owned by families in the town of Tubas. Some of them have been living in Farasiya for decades.

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