Nov 25, 2010

Toben: For what it's worth - a brief Report from Teheran [1 Attachment]

From: Fredrick Toben <>
Date: November 25, 2010 4:05:54 PM EST

If you spot serious errors, please advise - I'm a Reviser of things...
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The Latest from Mondoweiss for 11/25/2010


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Here are the headlines from Mondoweiss for 11/25/2010:

Israel holds entire family in detention–including 52 year old woman
Nov 24, 2010 02:55 pm | Seham

and other news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing
Israel razes Palestinian home in E.Jerusalem (AFP)
AFP - Israeli police on Wednesday razed an illegally-built house in occupied east Jerusalem, shortly before the Palestinian owner arrived home with a court order halting the demolition.*

Israel erases Palestinian village of Abul Ajaj from map
Israeli bulldozers under heavy military protection demolished Wednesday morning the village of Abul Ajaj in the northern Jordan valley region as a prelude to expanding the settlement of Metsuwah.

More Bedouin structures demolished in Jordan Valley
JERICHO (Ma'an) -- As the sun rose early Wednesday, Palestinian Bedouins living in Abu Al-Ajaj, a small village in the Jordan Valley were surprised to see Israeli bulldozers demolishing their sheds and sheep shelters.  The incident came only two weeks after Israeli authorities confiscated lands belonging to the village slated to expand an illegal settlement.

WATCH: The Battle for Al-Walaja, Palestine Monitor
In a small Palestinian village between the ancient cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, lies the village of Al Walaja.  In early 2010, the Israeli military entered the village to oversee the confiscation of Palestinian land for the construction of Israel's separation barrier, in defiance of international law.  In the months that followed, the people of Al Walaja, with support from Israeli and international activists, began a spirited campaign of non-violent resistance to put a stop to the theft of their land.

Al-Walaja: A Microcosm of the Palestinian Struggle
The first encounter with Abed occurs one evening in a spontaneous fashion with a small group of people keen on meeting this farmer, based in al-Walajah, whose story of long persistent fight on his land is known to many ones. One evening, we pay a visit of friendship and solidarity to Abed, and are invited to spend the night there or come back another time. The few sights I retain clearly from that first visit are the settlements appearing from every side of the hill, a check-point in the proximity of the house, an old stone-made construction where Abed has set himself up, and a tent-roofed large area where we sit and stay for a chat. At a distance, the glimmering lights of Jerusalem fill a gap between two settlement blocs in the night background. What was initially an un-planned evening visit turned into a revealing micro-story of resistance, embodied in the life of a simple man in his late forties, considered to be one of the last holdouts of al-Walajah's indigenous Palestinian population.

Jewish settlers move into house after Israeli police evict Palestinian family
Family of 14 driven out of house in Jabel Mukaber, an Arab neighbourhood targeted by ideologically motivated settler activists. Jewish settlers today moved into a house in East Jerusalem after Israeli police evicted a Palestinian family of 14 and removed all their possessions.  The move will dismay US officials who are striving to discourage settler activity in East Jerusalem in an attempt to restart the stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Palestinians clash with IDF over West Bank demolitions
Civil Administration personnel raze tent encampment, pigsty, road, prompting clashes between security forces, locals. No injuries reported. 'Demolitions aimed at expanding settlement of Masua,' one Palestinian says.,7340,L-3989277,00.html

The inauguration of a new settlement project in Al Farouq neighborhood
There is incoming information about the intention of the settlers to expand in Silwan especially in al Farouq neighborhood, expelling the Palestinians from their houses. Al-Farouq  neighborhood is located near Jabal al-Mukabber and has the most charming view of the valley. Its name is referred to by Khalifah (Omar Bin al khattab) who visited it. It is located in the southern side of Silwan, it's also one of the targeted neighborhoods because it is in the Holy Basin project. The Palestinian owners of the lands cannot use them under the pretext that these lands are protected under the provisions of the Israeli nature and parks authority. It is seemed to be that this is a start of preparing a new settlement project in this neighborhood.

Israeli court adjourns hearing into MP Abu Tir case
The Israeli Magistrate court decided in its Monday night hearing to delay the case of Jerusalemite MP Mohammed Abu Tir until 8th December to wait for the Israeli interior minister's response.

'Abu Teir sentence a desperate attempt to legalize exiling Arab representatives'
The team of bullied Arab leaders threatened to be exiled from Jerusalem praised Mohammed Abu Teir for not undersigning a paper agreeing to his exile in exchange for his freedom.

The establishment sees the (day)light, Ali Gharib
"The most Jewish possible Jerusalem is in Israel's interest," he said. It's cynical to take it too far, he added, but Israel wants to get Jerusalem as Jewish as possible without quashing a deal. "This could be seen as an area where American interests and Israel's intersests diverge."  Indeed, it could be seen as an instance of not only divergent interests, but a plainly spoken example of Israel's policy in East Jerusalem -- at best, mild ethnic cleansing -- coming from an establishment analyst speaking at a Congressionally-funded think tank, no less.

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Journalist Beaten While Filming Youth Arrest in Bil'in, Palestine Monitor
Haitham Al-Khatib is a journalist and resident of the Palestinian village of Bil'in, a village divided by the Separation Wall and home to the famous weekly non-violent protests. At 2 a.m this morning he was woken by the screams of his neighbour's young girls. Along with friend and fellow journalist Hamde Abu Rahmah he came running out of his home to investigate.

Nabi Saleh - how a whole village got sprayed with teargas and stink

Weekly Repression Update 15-22 November 2010

Successful International Week Against the Apartheid Wall in The Netherlands
The 'Wall Caravan' for the International Action Week against the Apartheid Wall in the Netherlands collected 3,155 signatures in nine days, 9 – 17 november touring 29 cities all over the country!   See for an impression this film: Film.  The response by the public was very positive. By touring about 2000 kilometers a large amount of people could see the campaign.  Some more pictures can be seen here (text in Dutch): Pictures.  The Wall Caravan was a co-project of the Netherlands Palestine Committee and 'Sloop de Muur' (Tear Down the Wall – SloopdeMur) with local support from activists across the country. At each stop signatures were collected for an action to force the Dutch Parliament to discuss the issue of sanctions against Israel, since it failed so far to seriously do so in spite of the ICJ verdict. The parliament is obliged to put any civic initiative on the agenda, if supported by at least 40,000 signatures. We are now more than halfway getting a firm boost this past action week.

South African students action for the Week Against the Apartheid Wall
As part of the Johannesburg South Africa events for the 8th global Week against the Apartheid Wall, a student orientated initiative set up a few events.  At the University of the Witwatersrand, students writing their end of year exams were handed fact sheets about the apartheid Wall. This information campaign gave many students new insight and aimed to improve awareness about the realities and illegality of the Wall.

NY activists confront Hebron Fund director Yossi Baumol

#BDS: BDS Success: Tindersticks Cancel Tel Aviv Shows
When agreeing to play our music in Israel we, perhaps naively, believed that the music we make is beyond political considerations.
Over the past weeks, the pressure exerted on us by people and organisations, some close to us, has shown us that this is not the case. It is difficult to defy a rapidly growing movement with whose aims we agree, even if we are not wholly convinced by their methods.  The songs we looked forward to playing and singing have already been tainted and their enjoyment stifled, if not completely drowned out by the political furore.  We sincerely look forward to a time when we, and others, can make our music for the people in the Middle East for the pure joy of the music itself.

American roots artist makes his Palestine debut
11/23/2010 - BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Grammy-nominated American roots musician Bill Kirchen made his Palestine debut Monday, in a special performance highlighting his week-long tour through the occupied West Bank.

#BDS: One hundred famous Norwegians call for cultural and academic boycott of Israel
OSLO (EJP)---One hundred famous Norwegians, led by the country's national football coach, have signed a petition demanding a cultural and academic boycott of Israel, accusing its educational institutions of "playing a key role in the occupation" and equating it with apartheid.

#BDS: Sign the Petition: Stop Your Plans of Opening a Muji Shop in Israel
Israel has oppressed the Palestinian people in various criminal activities.  Hundreds of UN resolutions have condemned Israel's colonial and discriminatory policies as illegal.  Also the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that the construction by Israel of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its associated rĂ©gime are contrary to international law.  To stop the Israel's crimes, and to build the world that the human rights and international laws are respected, we oppose the plans of opening a MUJI shop in Israel.  Please join our campagin and send your message. We will deliver your message to MUJI.

#BDS: Berkeley, CA: Holiday Bazaar featuring Palestinian crafts
Sunday, December 5, 10:00am - 4:00pm
Live Oak Park Recreation Center,
1301 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley
(at Berryman Street between Shattuck Avenue and Oxford Street - Northeast Berkeley)
Come shop at this popular, annual sale for hundreds of beautifully crafted items including Tatriz (Palestinian Embroidery); Hand-blown Glassware from Hebron; Carved Olive wood; Painted Ceramics; Organic, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil; Olives; Olive Oil Soap; Scarves, Shawls, and other Textiles; Calendars and Cook Books; Honey; Jewelry; Children's Clothing and Dolls from Gaza, and much more!

#BDS: Concluding Statement of Russell Tribunal on Palestine
Public Statement of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine following the conclusion of the London Session on corporate complicity in Israeli violations of international law.  The RTP London Session took place at the Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL on 20-21 November 2010.  Over the past two days, the Tribunal heard compelling evidence of corporate complicity in Israeli violations of international law, relating to: the supply of arms; the construction and maintenance of the illegal separation Wall; and in establishing, maintaining and providing services, especially financial, to illegal settlements, all of which have occurred in the context of an illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.  It is clear from the evidence of witnesses that this conduct is not only morally reprehensible, but also exposes those corporations to legal liability for very serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. What distinguishes the present situation from others in which international action has been called for, is that in this case both Israel and the corporations that are complicit in Israel's unlawful actions are in clear violation of international human rights and humanitarian law.

#BDS: Boycott: Put more pressure on Israel to change
As Israel increasingly ignores our government's objections to the expansion of settlements, its primary concern is with placating its own right-wing parliamentary coalition. And why should Israel be concerned with the protests of the Obama administration when U.S. military aid to Israel – now billions of dollars per year, paid by U.S. taxpayers at a time when they have no jobs and are losing their homes – continues unabated?

BDS Update: Anti-apartheid Hagues
Despite the stranglehold Israel lobbies have on Euro-parliaments and politicians, there have been some surprisingly plucky official moves to protest illegal Israeli settlements recently.  Israeli mayoral visits to Spain and the Netherlands were nixed in September because the delegation included leaders of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The visit of thirty Israeli mayors to the Netherlands was organised by the Israeli branch of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) after the Spanish municipal organisation cancelled a proposed visit in light of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

Education Department Announcement Sparks Fears of 'Clamp Down' on Criticism of Israel, Alex Kane
The following article originally appeared in the latest issue of the Indypendent: 
Jewish organizations are hailing an Oct. 26 announcement from the U.S. Department of Education that  will reportedly give greater protection against anti-semitism on college campuses. The announcement  emphasizes that Title VI, the part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that prohibits institutions that discriminate  on the basis of race or national origin from receiving federal funding, also includes protections for religious groups that share ethnic characteristics. The statement follows lobbying from Jewish organizations that urged the department to interpret "Title VI to protect Jewish students from anti-semitic  harassment."  However, the decision has been met with criticism from Palestine solidarity activists who fear that it could be aimed at silencing legitimate dissent against Israel. In an Oct. 29 blog post on MuzzleWatch, a project of Jewish Voice for Peace, activist Eyal Mazor writes that groups like the right-wing Zionist Organization of America advocated for this policy to "clamp down on student activism that has pushed universities to hold Israel accountable to international law."

Israeli Abuse of Palestinian Children
Gaza boy used as human shield: I'll always remember, Jared Malsin
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Majid Rabah, 11, says he will always remember the "black day" that Israeli soldiers ordered him to open bags they thought were rigged with explosives.  "Every moment I remember what happened," he said in his home in Gaza City's Tel Al-Hawwa neighborhood Tuesday.  An Israeli military court gave a suspended sentence and a demotion Sunday to the two soldiers who used Majid as a human shield, in a ruling he and his family said did not do justice to the trauma.

Psycho-social support for the children of Gaza
Children make up over half of Gaza's 1.5 million population. The traumatic experience of the 2008 - 2009 violence has left many with continuing psychological trauma, in addition to physical injuries, the loss of family members and damaged homes. Their young lives have continued under difficult material circumstances, as a large number of families are living in poverty and unemployment, and many school facilities have been damaged. Over the last five months, ACTED has been implementing a psycho-social support and nutrition programme to assist children in Gaza, with the financial support of USAID.

Palestinian poet tells audience of the plight of Gaza's students
DOHA: Renowned poet Mourid Barghouti held a poetry and prose reading session yesterday expressing his solidarity to students living in Gaza.  The reading from 'Ra'ytu Ramallah (I Saw Ramallah), an autobiographical narrative of this Palestinian writer was well received by the audience at the Virginia Commonwealth University-Qatar, atrium.  Barghouti, was introduced to the audience by Seif Salmawy, Managing Director, Bloomsburry Qatar Foundation Publishing. He read several poems and prose both in Arabic and English, at the event sby Al Fakhoora, an international campaign to support students in Palestine.

Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement
Italian FM says relaxing Gaza blockade "not enough"
GAZA, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on Wednesday said the relaxation of Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip was "not enough."  Addressing a press conference by the end of a three-hour visit to Gaza, Frattini said that he wants to see the number of commercial trucks entering Gaza "double." Frattini stressed that Israel must allow construction and raw materials into Gaza as well.  He added that Israel should also allow Gazans to export their goods to the West Bank and Europe.

Ramallah villages protest toxic factory
11/24/2010 - RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Residents of three villages near Ramallah held a protest Wednesday against a plastic factory built close to their homes and schools. The residents of Beit Ora At-Tehta, Saffa and Beit Sira told Ma'an radio that the factory emitted toxic gases.

IOA renews travel ban against Jerusalemite expert
The IOA has renewed the travel ban on Khalil Al-Tafakji, the settlement affairs expert and director of the maps section at Orient House in occupied Jerusalem, for six months.

Troops Invade Villages in Hebron, Install Several Roadblocks
The Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, reported, on Wednesday, that Israeli army invaded the villages of as-Sammou', Ithna and Beit Ummar, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and installed several roadblocks.

The Middle East Children's Alliance provides clean, safe drinking water to children in Gaza
There is a growing water crisis in Palestine that affects agriculture, industry, and the health of virtually every adult and child. In the Gaza Strip, poor sanitation and over-extraction have polluted the limited water supply. But thanks to the Middle East Children's Alliance, nearly 25,000 school children now drink clean, safe water every day.

The Lucky Ones, Palestine Monitor
Most sane people hate mornings. For London commuters, the tube journey to work in a rush hour crush takes some beating as a low point for the day. The experience might allow Londoners to in some way relate to the inhuman conditions inflicted on Palestinian workers each night and morning at Bethlehem's container checkpoint.

Racism and Discrimination
Israeli town launches campaign against foreign workers
Bnei Brak city hall begins public campaign against renting flats to migrant workers yet simultaneously employs them.

Violence/Aggression & Detainees
Jordanian embassy staff say attacked by police
Two embassy employees pulled over by police in Tel Aviv, say detectives assaulted them.,7340,L-3989030,00.html

Medics: Israeli gunfire injures Gaza worker
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man who was collecting scrap materials Wednesday near the border with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip, a medical official said.  Adham Abu Salmiya told Ma'an that the worker, who was not identified, was moderately injured in the leg. He was transferred to the Kamal Adwan Hospital for treatment, the official added.  The shooting was the tenth this month along the border area, Abu Salmiya noted. An Israeli military spokeswoman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Israel holds entire family in detention
A squad of more than 50 armed Israeli soldiers abused and abducted a 52-year-old Palestinian woman in Al-Khalil Tuesday morning after carrying out a fierce raid on her home.

Grenade tossed at Palestinian prisoners in Hadarim jail
Unknown assailants, believed to be Jewish extremists, hurled an Israeli army grenade at the fence surrounding the Hadarim jail that accommodates around 800 Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday morning.

IOF troops wound Palestinian worker, round up three civilians in WB
A Palestinian young man was moderately wounded when Israeli occupation forces (IOF) near the Beit Hanun (Erez) crossing north of the Gaza Strip fired at him while collecting gravel on Wednesday.

IOF soldiers storm house of MP, arrest his son
Hamas MP Dr. Omar Abdulrazek has denounced the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) for storming his home on Tuesday evening and taking away his son.

Monthly Report of Detainees

Arab Helpers
Detainees' families to sue European states for supporting police regime of Abbas
Families of Palestinian prisoners in West Bank jails said they are mulling over filing a lawsuit against a number of European countries for supporting the police regime of Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas: PA detains 2, summons dozens
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) – Palestinian Authority security services have detained two more Hamas supporters in the West Bank and summoned dozens for interrogation, Hamas said Wednesday.  Hamas said in a statement that the two detainees were from Nablus and Salfit. Most of those summoned by the PA for interrogation were from Qalqiliya, in the northern West Bank, Hamas said.

War Criminals
UN Remains Deadlocked on Defining Terrorism, Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS – When Israeli commandos killed nine mostly Turkish activists during a raid on a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to Palestinians last May, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the attack as a prime example of "state terrorism."  "Even tyrants, bandits, and pirates have their own rules of ethics," he said, but not terrorists killing on behalf of a U.N. member state.  And when several internationally renowned artists, including the rock band the Pixies and British rocker Elvis Costello, responded by canceling scheduled concerts in Tel Aviv, Shuki Weiss, one of Israel's leading promoters, called the growing boycott movement "cultural terrorism."

Political Developments  
Palestinians not ask for U.S. guarantees after Israeli incentive package: official
RAMALLAH, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinian leadership has not asked for any guarantees following incentives package from the United States to Israel, a Palestinian official said Wednesday.  The Palestinians "have not entered any kind of trade-off with the United States," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization official, adding "We asked nothing in return."  His remarks followed media reports that Washington, which tries to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, considered offering guarantees to the Palestinian National Authority in exchange for Israel's incentives.

Syria slams Israel referendum bill
New law requires two-thirds Knesset majority or a referendum to cede land in East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.

Fatah meets for talks on Israel, Hamas (AFP)
AFP - Senior members of Fatah, the party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, met on Wednesday to discuss issues ranging from peace talks with Israel to reconciliation with Hamas.*

Hamas: Free our man and Fatah officials can leave
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Gaza government said Wednesday it is willing to reverse a decision to bar seven Fatah officials from leaving the Gaza Strip if Fatah-allied security forces release a Hamas member arrested in the West Bank city of Nablus.  The seven members of Fatah's Revolutionary Council prevented by Hamas security forces from leaving through the Erez crossing point on Tuesday.

Nunu: Fatah responsible for blocking travel of its members
The Palestinian government in Gaza has held the Fatah faction responsible for blocking the travel from Gaza to the West Bank of its revolutionary council members to attend its meeting in Ramallah.

Other News
Three Dead, Five Injured in Toxic Leak at Israel Oil Refinery
Two people died on Tuesday evening, a third person died on Wednesday morning, and five were hurt in an accident at an oil refinery in the city of Haifa, rescue services reported.

Palestinian officials fund schools, fill potholes in E. Jerusalem. Are they building a state?
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is spearheading an effort to improve public services for Arab areas of East Jerusalem, long neglected by municipal officials.

Shin Bet may build private road for Netanyahu through nature reserve
Environmental advocates claim shortcut from Prime Minister's Jerusalem residence to his Caesarea home would cause irreversible ecological damage.

Israeli fugitive to pay $54m to settle U.S. fraud suit
Kobi Alexander, former CEO of Comverse, fled to Namibia in 2006 and has been fighting extradition to the U.S.

Ousted Shas MK refuses to give up Knesset seat
Chaim Amsellem calls Shas leadership 'kangaroo court' and slams the party's 'habit of adopting Ashkenazi ways of life.'

Haaretz gets Partition wrong, Philip Weiss
Eldad Yaniv in Haaretz is trying to save Partition, save the two-state solution. None of that desperation has yet come to the U.S., where we don't have a clue about the crisis. It will come soon. Peevish post: Note that Yaniv gets the #s wrong on Partition. It gave more than half the land to Jews, who then comprised about one-third of the population. Yes I know, a small point, but it is evidence of the imbalanced history here. And young Americans should be aware of same as they look at the idea of a "Jewish democratic" state that is more Palestinian than America is Afro-American... Yaniv's SOS.

Do liberal zionists think that international law should be ignored because Israel will never adhere to it?, Nima Shirazi
Much discussion has already taken place here on Mondoweiss regarding the recent panel discussion entitled "Jewish Perspectives on the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions Movement" which was held at the Church of Gethsemane in Park Slope, Brooklyn a couple weeks ago.  I attended the event and think some of the most instructive aspects of the evening have so far been overlooked.

Two-state solution, R.I.P., Stephen M. Walt
Yesterday the Israeli Knesset voted 65-33 to approve the so-called referendum law, which requires a national referendum on any subsequent withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. According to Israeli journalist Dimi Reider, the new law:  Conditions any Israeli withdrawal from any of its territory -- into which Israel, alone in the world, includes the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem -- on passing a nation-wide referendum. To overrule the law, the Knesset would need a privileged majority of 80 out of 120 parliamentarians."

The peace process's last hurrah?, Nathan Brown
Over the past year, the terms of the debate among close observers of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have turned increasingly gloomy: is the peace process dead or merely dying? The U.S. may be about to answer this question: either the peace process will produce an agreement on borders by late February or it will be over.  According to widespread news accounts, that is when the U.S. will agree to drop requests that Israel suspend settlement construction.  We don't know the fine print of the U.S. pledge -- and in fact, the fine print does not seem to have been written. But if the U.S. really does back off any future requests for a settlement freeze, it is engaged in a very high stakes game of chicken with the peace process. The U.S. ploy has been widely described as a gamble, because even if a 90-day settlement works to secure a border agreement, there are many bridges to cross before a full two-state solution is achieved. But I would go farther than calling the U.S. plan a gamble; it may be close to a diplomatic doomsday device that could bring the current peace process to a full stop.

Inspirational Stories of Palestine, Rama Chakaki
There is no shortage of inspiration in Palestine. There is a shortage of platforms and media venues featuring inspiring people in and outside Palestine on a local, regional and global scale. When you mention Palestine and Media, visions of a people torn apart by conflict comes to mind. Refugees, school children standing across from tanks and demolished homes. Google the words Palestine and Media, 5 million photos depicting conflict come up. TEDxRamallah is the beginning of a movement to change that.

The Occupation Heats Palestinian Temperament, Michael Khaled for MIFTAH
The other day I was speaking about Palestinian culture with a friend who runs a school in Jerusalem. It happens to be the first Palestinian green school, which attracts attention from many foreigners, not the religious tourists coming to see the holy land, but the political tourists who want to see the Palestine-Israel conflict firsthand. He told me outsiders, even those well-versed in the conflict, come with wide eyes and wider smiles and ask why no one here returns their grin

Film review: Palestine as Hollywood fantasy in "Miral"
Any major film addressing the Israel-Palestine conflict can expect to court a measure of controversy, but American artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel's intervention is unlikely to cause much consternation among a mainstream cinema audience. Omar El-Khairy reviews Schnabel's film Miral for The Electronic Intifada.

New York Times covers a TV program
I will get to the issue at hand in a second but I will say this: since when does the New York Times report about a TV program? I mean there are official reports about hate and murder by the state of Israel that go unmentioned by the newspaper.  But this one got attention--as it should, of course.  The writer is John Burns who headed the segregated (by Iraqi versus non-Iraqi, i am told Iraqis could not stay overnight in the Western supremacist fortress in Baghdad) New York Times bureau in Baghdad.  He was a loud cheerleader for Bush's war and was invited to celebrate it with Bush's father in Texas, where he teared up embracing Bush senior.  But the report warrants attention but why not mention the hypocrisy: that Saudi Arabia receives great support and its horrors are still covered up by virtue of its subservience to the US and Israel:  "A British network of more than 40 part-time Islamic schools and clubs with 5,000 students has been teaching from a Saudi Arabian government curriculum that contains anti-Semitic and homophobic views, including a textbook that asks children to list the "reprehensible" qualities of Jews, according to a BBC documentarybroadcast on Monday."

Is Anti-Semitism More Acceptable Than Criticizing Israel?, Sean Fenley
Glenn Beck would appear to be the template for the anti-Semitic Zionist. After Beck odiously displayed a puppet show, with Hungarian Holocaust survivor George Soros as the stringer-puller-in-chief. Soros is, of course, ostensibly directing and manipulating the country and politicians on both sides of the "political divide" — presumably toward an end of his creation. Beck's defense for all of this, is that he is probably a stronger supporter of the state of Israel than his bogeyman and antihero.

Huffpo gives platform to Israel lobbyist's claim based on 3000-year-old artifacts, Philip Weiss
Marty Kaplan at Huffpo: "I take Israel personally." Further proof that the left is permeated by the Israel lobby. Further proof that Zionism has produced a giant IQ drop in what I grew up thinking were the smartest people in the country. Note that Kaplan hadn't been to Israel in 40 years till he visited lately; but he regards the wall there as his wall. And note the 3000-year-old artifacts of Jewish civilization Kaplan sees at the Israel Museum that combined with genealogical records at the Holocaust museum justify Zionist land claims for him and the rest of the "Jewish people."

Congressional request for Pollard pardon just another example of putting Israel's interests first, Maggie Sager
In one of the United States Congress' most recent displays of "Israel First" policy, 39 Representatives, all democrats, have requested that President Obama pardon Jonathan Pollard, an American convicted of spying for the State of Israel in 1987. Pollard is currently serving a life sentence for his crimes.

Trade Mordechai Vanunu for Jonathan Pollard
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is nothing if not an expert in chutzpah. He wants Washington to release Jonathan Pollard, arrested a quarter century ago on the steps of the Israeli embassy after spying for Israel, in exchange for a freeze on West Bank settlements. Even stranger is the fact that 39 American congressmen also are urging the release of Pollard who was, well, a traitor.  Presumably peace is in Israel's interest. Israel's future as a democratic Jewish state is threatened by its militarized occupation of the Palestinian territories. Why then should the U.S. government have to release someone who spied on the U.S. government for Israel to induce Israel to seek peace?  Some advocates of Pollard's release contend that the damage from his activities was exaggerated and his sentence was unduly harsh. Perhaps, though it ill behooves the Israeli government to make this case. After all, Israel maintains arbitrary restrictions on Mordechai Vanunu 24 years after he was kidnapped by Mossad agents and returned to Israel for trial after exposing the details of Israel's nuclear program.

The Israeli model of racism and discrimination receives cheers in Congress
"Representative John L. Mica, Republican of Florida and a critic of the Obama administration's new screening methods, says the Transportation Security Administration should look at Israel, which uses early detection techniques at airports. An editorial in The Washington Times last week praised El Al, the Israeli national airline, as employing the "smarter approach" of using "sophisticated intelligence analysis which allows them to predict which travelers constitute a possible threat and which do not." As it turns out, the security methods employed by Israel's famous Shin Bet security service at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv are frequently stricter and more intrusive than the full-body scanners and pat-downs American officials put into place Nov. 1, said security analysts and the travelers who regularly show up at Ben-Gurion four hours before their flights for screening.  At Ben-Gurion, some passengers have been searched so thoroughly that they have had to walk through the terminals, the gates and up to the doors of their planes with no handbags, wallets or even shoes."

The Israelification of America, Paul Woodward
As the Transportation Security Administration faces a barrage of criticism, some indignant Americans are calling for the "Israelification" of US airports — as though the security procedures used in a tiny Middle Eastern ethnocracy with one international airport could easily be scaled up for America.

If you wear the 'neoconservative burqa,' you will never see the 'root cause of Muslim antagonism to the U.S.',  Philip Weiss
Prince Turki Al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia
spoke to the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in Washington last month. The speech was reprinted in the latest Washington Report for Middle East Affairs (I subscribe; this issue's not online yet). Some staggering excerpts, emphases mine:  Saudi Arabia has had a clear view of where it is going and how to get there. In 1981, the late King Fahd issued what came to be known as the Fahd Peace Plan in which he called for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the occupied territories which Israel seized in 1967. He also called for the recognition of the de facto borders of all countries, prior to June 4, 1967. That meant recognition for the first time by all the Arab states for Israel in pre-1967 borders. All the Arab countries agreed to the plan. Israel, on the other hand, did not even say that it heard of it. The U.S. totally ignored it.

The Dangers of Embedded Journalism, PATRICK COCKBURN
Embedded journalism earned itself a bad name in Iraq and Afghanistan. The phrase came to evoke an image of the supposedly independent correspondent truckling to military  mentors who spoon-feed him or her absurdly optimistic information about the course of the war. To many, the embedded journalist is a grisly throwback to First World War-style reporting, when appalling butchery in the trenches was presented as a series of judiciously planned advances by British generals.

Bush the Warmonger in His Own Words, RAY McGOVERN
Why should George W. Bush have been "angry" to learn in late 2007 of the "high-confidence" unanimous judgment of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon four years earlier? Seems to me he might have said "Hot Dog!" rather than curse under his breath.  Nowhere in his memoir, Decision Points, is Bush's bizarre relationship with truth so manifest as when he describes his dismay at learning that the intelligence community had redeemed itself for its lies about Iraq by preparing an honest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. As the Bush-book makes abundantly clear, that NIE rammed an iron rod through the wheels of the juggernaut rolling toward war.

Israeli Planes Violate Lebanon Airspace
24/11/2010 Two Israeli warplanes have once again crossed over into Lebanese airspace in violation of a UN Security Council resolution, according to a statement released by the Lebanese military.  The Israeli aircraft crossed into Lebanese airspace over the southern border village of Kfar Kila at 11 a.m. local time (0800 GMT) on Tuesday and conducted several unwarranted flights above southern Lebanon, as well as the capital Beirut, the statement said.  The fighters flew over the southern border town of Alma al-Shaab, at 13:00 p.m. local time (1000 GMT) and left Lebanese airspace.  On Monday, an Israeli reconnaissance aircraft violated Lebanon's airspace and patrolled the skies above several areas in southern Lebanon, including the village of al-Nabi Shayth, located 57 km (35 miles) from Beirut. The remotely piloted plane carried out covert surveillance of Jouaya and Yahfoufa villages.  Israel violates Lebanon's airspace on an almost daily basis, claiming the flights serve surveillance purposes.

Hezbollah accuses Israel of infiltrating its mobile network (AFP)
AFP - Israel bugged the mobile phones of members of Lebanon's Hezbollah, allowing it to send false text messages and to track the phones' movements, a senior Hezbollah MP and a government expert said on Tuesday.*

'Israel Still Spying on Lebanon's Telecoms Network'
The Israeli aggression against Lebanese Telecoms network continues to be uncovered day after another…, On Tuesday, a much-awaited press conference over the Israeli ongoing violations was held at the Parliament by Telecoms Minister Charbel Nahhas, the head of the Information and Telecoms parliamentary bloc MP Hasan Fadlallah and the head of the head of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) Imad Hobballah., The press conference was aimed at showing the level of the Israeli violations and infiltration of the Lebanese Telecoms network and warning against the dangers of such violations at the level of national security.

Lebanon Druze leader demands govt reject Hariri tribunal
BEIRUT (AFP) - Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt on Wednesday accused a UN-backed probe into the murder of the country's ex-premier of being politically motivated and urged the cabinet to unanimously reject it.  "This tribunal is aimed at destabilising Lebanon rather than rendering justice," Jumblatt told AFP.  "It would be appropriate at this time for the cabinet to meet and unanimously denounce the tribunal and its [upcoming] verdict."  His comments press reports implicating the militant group Hezbollah in the murder of Sunni ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, who was killed in 2005 along with 22 others in a massive seaside bombing.

Hariri tribunal slams CBC report
Prosecutor says Canadian report linking Hezbollah to the killing of Lebanon's former PM could jeopardise lives.

Hezbollah Condemns Israeli Plan to Expand Area around Al Buraq Site
23/11/2010 Hezbollah condemned on Tuesday the ongoing Zionist aggressions on the Islamic and Christian sanctities, pointing to the Israeli enemy's adoption of a plan to expand the area around Al Buraq Site.  In a statement it released, Hezbollah expressed belief that these aggressive practices come in the framework of a systematic plot to Judaize the Palestinian occupied territories, including religious sanctities.  The Resistance party said that these practices also confirm the Zionist scheme to Judaize all of Palestine, in addition to imposing this situation as a status-quo in light of an international collusion in this plan, and a disgraceful Arab silence.  Hezbollah concluded its statement by calling on Muslims and Christians as well as the world's free and noble people to be careful to the graveness and dangerousness of the Zionist aggressions against the religions, in addition to the concept of Human coexistence.  The statement urged all international concerned institutions to condemn the Israeli aggression and take all necessary precautions to prevent the enemy from proceeding with its criminal plots.

Police: 8 killed in attacks across Iraq (AP)
AP - Eight people have been killed across Iraq in separate drive-by shootings and a roadside bomb that targeted members of an anti-al-Qaida militia, Iraqi officials said Wednesday.*

Bombs kill three, injure 22 in north Iraq-police
BAGHDAD, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Two roadside bombs killed three people and injured 22 near a security checkpoint manned by members of the government-backed Sahwa militia in northern Iraq on Wednesday, police said.  The blasts, which occurred in the town of Shirqat, 300 km (190 miles) north of Baghdad, happened in quick succession, killing two Sahwa members and a civilian, a police source said.

Tuesday: 12 Iraqis Killed, 11 Wounded
At least 12 Iraqis were killed and 11 more were wounded in the latest attacks. Meanwhile, a Christian lawmaker called foreign offers of asylum "meddling" in the country's affairs and instead demanded that Iraq increase protection of the religious minority. Christians, however, aren't the only Iraqis stressed over their situation. Sunnis, with good reason, fear they are treated unfairly in the court system. Also, a special committee to address problems with implementing the census was formed.

Response: We doctors must protect all victims of torture and malpractice
In Iraq, medics may have colluded in mistreatment of prisoners. We must speak out.  In his analysis of the videos revealing the brutal interrogation of Iraqi prisoners by British soldiers, Dr Brian Fine of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture says: "All allegations of torture and other ill-treatment should be fully investigated and anyone found to be responsible brought to justice" (Important step toward the truth, 6 November). But what if those responsible include his professional colleagues and mine?

U.S. & Other World News
Rep. Kucinich slams fake Afghan elections, fake withdrawal, fake Taliban
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) again called for the United States to end its involvement in Afghanistan after it was revealed that NATO officials were duped into holding negotiations with a man posing as a senior member of the Taliban.

ADL supports the new START treaty--I kid you not
As part of that effort, the White House has been in contact with pro-Israel and pro-Jewish organizations, encouraging them to be vocal about their support for the New START treaty, and warning them that the failure of the treaty could have negative implications for the drive to halt Iran's nuclear program.  "Certainly we've been in touch with all sorts of different groups saying if you feel strongly about the treaty, we hope your voice will be heard," a senior administration official said when asked about whether Jewish groups had been contacted. The official added that the administration had not asked anyone to contact lawmakers.  Over the last three days, three major pro-Israel organizations issued strong statements of support for New START: the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the American Council for World Jewry (ACWJ)."

US launches giant eavesdropping satellite
THE United States has placed in orbit a vast reconnaissance satellite reputed to be the largest eavesdropping device ever launched into space.

Poll: Majority oppose body scans, nearly half seek alternative to flying
The use of backscatter x-ray machines to scan travelers' bodies and new pat down procedures at airports will cause 48% of Americans to seek an alternative means of transportation, according to a Zogby International poll.  Of the 2,032 likely voters polled between November 19 and November 22, 61 percent said they oppose the use of body scanners and pat downs.  The findings of the Zogby poll strikingly contradict an earlier poll of 1,137 adults conducted by CBS News November 7 to November 10. That poll found only 15 percent of respondents were opposed to the use of body scanners at airport security checkpoints, with four out of five saying they're in favor.  A Washington Post-ABC News poll of 514 adults conducted on November 21 found over half of respondents supported the use of body scanners and 70 percent supported the use of profiling at airports.  Another poll, conducted by USA TODAY/Gallup and published today, found that most travelers are bothered or angered by pat downs.

Application for Lower Manhattan Revitalization Funds Sparks More Unfounded Hysteria Over Park 51, Alex Kane
First, opponents of Park 51 were fretting about non-existent foreign money linked to the project.  Now, they're coming out in opposition to the possibility of federal funds going towards the center.  The New York papers today are amplifying Pamela Geller's latest attempt to stoke opposition to the Islamic community center in lower Manhattan.  In typical fashion, the New York Post's headline reads:  "GZ mosque in 9/11 cash grab."

Egypt says "amazed" by Ethiopia's Nile remarks
ABU DHABI/CAIRO, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Egypt said it was "amazed" by Ethiopia's suggestion on Tuesday that Cairo might turn to military action in a row over the Nile waters, saying it did not want confrontation and was not backing rebels there.  Egypt, Ethiopia and seven other countries through which the river passes have been locked in more than a decade of contentious talks driven by anger over the perceived injustice of a previous Nile water treaty signed in 1929.

In Cairo, an effort to put sexual harassment on the map – via Twitter and text
HarassMap, a website devoted to publishing reports of Cairo's endemic sexual harassment, debuts next month. Women can report abuse via Twitter, text message, e-mail, or Facebook.

Clash between Christians and police in Cairo leaves one dead

Thirty injured and 85 arrested after riots erupt when government halts construction of a church.

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Brooklyn-Jenin: The boycott Is legitimate for promoting peace
Nov 24, 2010 02:50 pm | Udi Aloni

Oh, Weakness

On the way from Brooklyn to Jenin I stopped for a bit of a rest in Tel Aviv and saw that the community of creative artists was still in an uproar around the Ariel Culture Hall issue. I think that some things should be said in the name of militant art and the more radical voices of the artists who signed the petition. In my humble opinion, the argument is not only about Ariel and the Green Line [1949 ceasefire line] but also a debate about the nature of art itself. Or in the words of philosopher Alain Badiou: what is militant art today, and is it actually possible?

What one needs to understand is that art – perhaps distinct from culture – is not supposed to be welcoming, and creating bridges that span nations and cultures is not its job. Militant art is the art of the weak, the person who barely exists in the public sphere. The person whose density is hardly noticed in the political world, the one whose opinion is taken into account by no-one. Militant art is the artist's ability to act from a condition of near-total disappearance and to create unrivaled power from that position of weakness. Michael Handelzalts wrote, with true concern for the actors, that "the actors will be the ones who pay the price." And I say that when all is said and done, the actors are the only ones who stand to gain from this, because while the terrible occupation will probably not end due to their protest, but they may become free of the stultifying embrace of a narrow-minded establishment.

The boycott on them by the right-wing should be seen as a blessing. It is a legitimate boycott, which brings into focus the civil war between fascists and humanists. The government's threats to cut budgets should also be seen this way, since the entire process helps unveil the hoax of Israel democracy around the world and can start separating Israeli art from Israeli politics, which is rather like surgery to separate conjoined twins. Perhaps it will be from the near-absolute nothingness, from our complete defeat by the nationalist spirit which blows throughout our country, that militant art can be made here, too.

It is important to say here that establishment art is not always wrong or bad – wonderful things have been created in that way, throughout all of history. Despite this, the greatest artists knew when to break the contract with the establishment devil. Handelzalts is correct in saying that if the artists do now bow their heads they will be defeated by the state. But those who are prepared to take a risk for art will also be the ones who bring into being the beginning of a new art. That is the reason that I followed my friend Juliano to Jenin: that is where I felt the power of weakness, or art's ability to say something new. Or as my friend, Hezi Leskali, once wrote in his horribly simple poem, "Oh, Weakness."

A Few Words On The Artists' Organization Against Livnat

Freedom of creation is an issue worth fighting for, but in our case, it is not the point we are dealing with. We are dealing here with a much more dramatic struggle, with action against the occupation, with the struggle for the right of the children in Jenin to see an excellent play being performed in Haifa in up-to-the-minute Arabic, or their elementary right to travel freely to Lydda and hear a hip-hop concert by Dam.

Many of the cinematic artists who signed the petition supporting the Ariel resisters have previously collaborated with the occupation regime in a worldwide rebranding of Israel as an enlightened state. They smeared those very artists who responded to the Palestinian call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel and said that they were using an unacceptable tactic, that of a cultural boycott. I cannot deny being very gratified to see those very same cinematic creators taking that very-same strategy, albeit a tad late. However, if we all agree to admit the obvious fact that the settlers are not the primary persons responsible for the ongoing occupation, and that it is, rather, the elected government of Israel, which has carried this blame over the years, we can understand that a cultural and academic boycott on any government institution is a legitimate boycott for the promotion of peace and justice in nonviolent ways.

At the end of the day, I hope that there is no intention to build an impassable wall along the Green Line that will separate Jew from Jew. Rather, there is an honest desire to break down the walls which separate Palestinian from Palestinian. Many people are sick and tired of separation walls and racist selection. Many of us just want to experience an open space where audiences and actors, Jews and Arabs, can move freely together in the joint space of Israel-Palestine.

This article is from Udi Aloni's Brooklyn-Jenin column he is writing for the Israeli website Ynet about his experience living between New York City and the Jenin refugee camp, where he is teaching a film production class. You can read the entire Brooklyn-Jenin series here. This article was translated by Dena Shunra.

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For killing 9 on the flotilla, Israel should apologize to…. Israel!
Nov 24, 2010 01:40 pm | Philip Weiss

mamillaAs many of you know, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is building a museum of "tolerance" on a Muslim cemetery in  Jerusalem. You can see the construction walls in this picture's middle ground, amidst the gravestones.

Another branch of the LA-based Wiesenthal center is on 42d Street in New York; and last night demonstators from Jews Say No picketed the center for Islamophobia. They object to the construction as a "clear and gross violation of the human rights of all ...whose families are buried there," and also to the fact that the Simon Wiesenthal Center leadership has opposed the Islamic center in Lower Manhattan. Tolerance... 

Inside the NY center, they were holding a panel on Iran and Turkey. They promoted the event with a scare poster: "Should Israel Bomb Natanz?" A friend gave me $20 to go inside, and I did.

dor The panel went on for an hour and a half or so and I did not hear one statement about the American people's interest in bombing Iran or alienating Turkey. Not one.  In a panel moderated by JJ Goldberg, the former editor of the Forward, with at least four Americans on stage, there was not one moment of reflection, in an American space, about what was good for the American people.

There was a lot of talk about what the U.S. must do for Israel. David Pollock of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy called on the US to sit down with Turkey to urge it to make up with Israel. David Menashri of Tel Aviv University said that Iran was a threat to the free world, and the U.S. had to talk to Iran (before stopping it from getting nuclear weapons). A staffer at Dor Chadash (whose name I didn't get, Dahlia something) called on the U.S. to "do what it should do" and attack Iran. Goldberg made the joke that Americans were coming up on their Turkey day, but that was about it.

This is the narrowness of the Israel lobby. They are really concerned, all the time, with what's best for Israel. Amid all the discussion at the event about making a deal with the Palestinians for the sake of regional peace, there was not one reference to Palestinian human rights. Not one comment about the 43-year-long occupation and what it does to Palestinians.

The organization behind the event, Dor Chadash, is dedicated to building ties between American Jews and Israel and well, you wonder why young American Jews are headed for the exits. Self-centeredness. Pollock said that the Israelis ought to apologize to the Turks for the "unwanted deaths" of nine people on the Mavi Marmara, one of whom was an American, by the way. Menashri jumped in to say that the Israelis shouldn't apologize to the Turks, but "apologize to our own people for this unwise action."

Kill eight Turks and one Turkish-American and apologize to yourself. Is that Jewish?

Oh and this. Someone asked Pollock from the audience what a peace with the Palestinians would achieve because then Israel was still 20 percent Palestinian and this was a recipe for "conflict inside Israel" because they are the "same family" as the other Palestinians.

A Palestinian state, Pollock said, arguably, "doesn't solve the demographic problem, it reduces it, postpones the day of reckoning, puts it in a different context, but doesn't eliminate the problem completely." Because of the Palestinians' contact with brothers and cousins and the nationalistic impulse that a Palestiinian state would create. Things could go in a "more difficult or even dangerous direction... there is some risk of that." But "probably at least putting the bulk of this demographic problem across a border helps to reduce the temperature of the conflict." The upside is that Arabs in Israel prefer to be citizens of Israel, and are willing to make the practical accommodations that that requires. And Pollock thinks it's manageable for Israel to have even 30 percent Arab minority. "That's OK, that's quite manageable."

And you wonder why young American Jews, growing up in a multicultural society, are headed for the exits. Postponing the day of reckoning, indeed.

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The Palestinian right of return is not for the US, Israel, or Israel's supporters, to bargain away
Nov 24, 2010 01:35 pm | Nima Shirazi

When discussing possible solutions to the current Israeli/Palestinian impasse during a recent panel discussion entitled "Jewish Perspectives on the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions Movement," participant Gil Kulick suggested a return to the proposals of the 2000 Clinton Parameters, the 2002 Nusseibeh-Ayalon agreement, and the 2003 Geneva Accords. This would effectively declare the Nakba a Zionist fait accompli and force us to pretend that a wholly demilitarized Palestinian state - existing on 42% of the 80% of the 22% of 100% of their original homeland - is a viable expression of nationhood.  In terms of Israel's actual legal obligations regarding the Palestinian right of return, Kulick said this: "The right of return will have to be exercised within the Palestinian state…and I think everyone understands that."

Who "everyone" is was never fully addressed by Kulick or his anti-BDS co-panelist, Kathleen Peratis, who stated during her presentation that the Palestinian Authority would "settle" for relinquishing the right of return.  What both Peratis and Kulick, who also referred repeatedly to the possible concessions to be made by Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad, failed to either point out or understand is that neither Abbas nor Fayyad have any popular political mandate from the Palestinian people.  Whereas both Rebecca Vilkomerson and Hannah Mermelstein spoke of the BDS movement as a non-violent consensus of Palestinian civil society, supported by over 170 Palestinian organizations and encompassing not only the aspirations of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, but also Palestinian citizens of Israel and those in the Diaspora, Peratis and Kulick held firm to the idea floated by the United States and Israel that Abbas and Fayyad somehow actually speak on behalf of the Palestinian people as a whole and can somehow legally and officially bargain away their inalienable human rights and their rights as enshrined in international law.

What should have been pointed out by either the other panelists or the audience is that Abbas is no longer the elected president of the PA, his four-year term having expired on January 24, 2009.  Though theoretically appointed to an open-ended, extended presidency at the behest of the PLO's Central Council, Abbas actually serves at the pleasure of the United States and Israel.  Additionally, "prime minister" Fayyad was unilaterally appointed by Abbas as a replacement for the  democratically-elected Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in 2007, despite not having any legal authority to do so and in spite of the fact that Fayyad's own political party garnered a mere 2.41% of the vote in the 2006 elections, the least of any of the six parties running.  Fayyad even resigned his appointed post in March 2009 only to be reinstated by Abbas two months later.

Furthermore, the right of return is not a bargaining chip to be bartered away by the US-approved Palestinian leadership.  It is affirmed repeatedly in international law, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 13.2) to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 (Articles 44, 46, and 49) and is deemed an inalienable and individual right meaning that it is impossible for any governing or official body to abrogate or deny this right on behalf of an entire people.  As the mere act of "expulsion" is illegal, the right to return after a forced displacement is self-evident.

The 1948 UN General Resolution 194 specifically applies the right of return to the Palestinian refugees. Paragraph 11 states "that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible." 
This resolution has been reaffirmed practically every year since its adoption with near unanimity.  While it is true that while General Assembly resolutions are "non-binding," unlike Security Council resolutions, Israel's admittance to the UN as a member state (Resolution 273) was conditioned on the explicit acceptance and implementation of Resolution 194 and its stipulations. Consequently, Israel is bound, as a condition of membership in the UN, to implement 194 and to facilitate the return of the Palestinian refugees.  Everyday it refuses to do this - which is everyday over the past 62+ years - it has been in violation of its own UN membership and international law.   

It is disheartening, to say the least, that Kathleen Peratis, who is a lawyer, demonstrates so little knowledge of these basic elements of international law.  At one point during the panel discussion, Peratis also falsely claimed that Israel's "legitimacy" as a state is verified by the international mandate of United Nations General Resolution 181.  Yet, not only was UNGR 181 a non-binding resolution, accepted with a vote of 33 to 13 (with 10 abstentions) only after extensive  diplomatic bullying and arm-twisting by both the US and Russia, but it was also merely a recommendation - not an affirmation or creation of anything - that required the approval of both Jewish Zionist and Palestinian Arab for it to be implemented.  As the resolution was understandably rejected by the Palestinian representatives (and only begrudgingly accepted by the Zionists as a jumping off point for continued colonial expansion), it has absolutely no legal authority and by no means legitimizes Israel's subsequent unilateral declaration of independence in 1948.     

That Israel exists is beyond doubt.  That a community of European settler-colonialists had a legal mandate from the international community to establish an ethnocratic state on land inhabited by other people, however, is not.  That Israel can only exist as a discriminatory state that privileges its Jewish citizens should be evidence enough that the concept of what Israel "is" should not only be reevaluated, but also redefined.

Nima Shirazi is a political commentator from New York City. His analysis of United States policy and Middle East issues, particularly with reference to current events in Iran, Israel, and Palestine, can also be found in numerous other online and print publications, as well as his own website,

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Arava Institute claims to promote peace, but remains silent on justice
Nov 24, 2010 01:30 pm | Adalah-NY

The Arava Institute's online event "With Earth and Each Other," held Sunday, November 14, exemplified why the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions is vital. The event was billed as a celebration of Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians working together for the environment. But it failed to educate viewers about the most basic facts of Israeli policies, and thus simply reinforced the status quo. The event, billed as not "political," suggested that the Middle East conflict can be resolved if people of different religions and ethnicities are nicer to each other. It presented no information on the fundamental and systematic inequalities that are at the root of the conflict.

Adalah-NY and numerous other groups had urged participants, including religious and environmental organizations and performing artists like Pete Seeger, Dan Bern, and Mandy Patinkin, to respect the Palestinian boycott call and bow out. Arava Institute was targeted for boycott due to its failure to condemn Israel's on-going ethnic cleansing of Bedouin residents of the Negev desert, where Arava is based, and Arava's very close partnerships with the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the Israeli government. The Israeli government and the JNF have been instrumental in cleansing the land of the indigenous Palestinian residents and planting over their villages with trees. While Arava extolls international cooperation in service of the environment, they remain silent about Israeli and JNF policies, including, as one recent example, the Israeli government's destruction (five times in succession) of Al Araqib, a Bedouin village in the Negev, to make way for a JNF forest.

"With Earth and Each Other" was completely silent about Israeli colonialism, settlements, house demolitions, appropriation of water, and uprooting of olive trees. The tone of obfuscation was set in the first minutes when one of Arava's Israeli Jewish students, Gavriel Vinevgard, introduced himself by saying, "My parents live in the Golan Heights here in Israel." However, Israel has militarily occupied and illegally colonized the Golan Heights, part of Syria, since 1967. No country recognizes the Golan Heights as part of Israel.

At another point, the narrator gestured to a huge concrete wall Israel built and explained, "Behind me is the wall that separates Israel from Palestine. The water that we share doesn't recognize the barriers that we build." But Israel built 80% of that wall inside the occupied West Bank, separating Palestinians from Palestinians, rather than separating Palestinians from Israelis. And Israeli settlers live on both sides of the wall, siphoning off the West Bank's most plentiful water resources while spewing polluted water into Palestinian communities.

Omitting basic facts that would challenge the regime of domination, the program focused on platitudes that promoted an undefined peace, excluding any mention of justice. Typical comments from participants included: "I must see the conflict from our joint shared side." "Our past must not determine our future." "We should join together to make this future closer to the present." "I want us to really live like neighbors."

Viewers and participants were told that water, air, and land must be shared by all peoples in the region, across borders. But they were not told that Israel monopolizes these resources for its Jewish residents and controls the borders in order to do so. Israelis use around three and a half times as much water as West Bank Palestinians. Israel is building settlements over two of the West Bank's three main water aquifers in an effort to keep control of those resources. And in the Negev desert, where Arava is located, Israel denies entire Bedouin villages' access to running water.

Land distribution is similarly skewed. In the West Bank, where 2.5 million Palestinians live, Israel's military controls and administers approximately 60% of the land (known as Area C), with 500,000 Jewish settlers directly controlling 42% of the West Bank. Within Israel, Arava's partner, the JNF,directly controls 13% of the land, and effectively controls 93% of Israel's land through its role in the Israel Land Administration, renting and leasing only to Jewish citizens. This violates the rights of Israel's Palestinian citizens, who comprise 20% of Israel's population.  

Pete Seeger opened the hour-long program with a song about Martin Luther King Jr. and the importance of joining together to struggle nonviolently for change. Seeger may not know that most of the Palestinians and Israelis who are nonviolently protesting Israeli rights abuses together in the West Bank also support the economic, academic and cultural boycott of Israel, another proven nonviolent tactic.  Seeger had promised to make a strong statement about Palestinian dispossession during the program, but the closest he came was a tangential reference to the Montgomery bus boycott.

The event leaves the impression of a project to corral idealistic youth into activities of friendly inter-communal cooperation that enforce a strict silence on issues of dispossession.  Palestinians have called for a boycott of these types of activities, similar to the international boycott imposed on apartheid South Africa, because experience shows that they serve as a cover for the entrenching of discriminatory policies. Staged by an Israeli academic institution that calls itself "non-political," "With Earth and Each Other" was a "feel good" event. The event implied that peace can be achieved without justice, and so unintentionally confirmed the importance of the Palestinian call for a boycott of these sorts of activities.   

For more background on the event:

Letter to Pete Seeger from Jeff Halper, Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions,

Letter from over 40 organizations to Pete Seeger (including Adalah-NY),

Letter from 17 groups in the Gaza Strip to Pete Seeger,

Letter to Pete Seeger from Israelis from BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within

Fact Sheet: Boycott the Arava Institute's "With Earth and Each Other," Adalah-NY,

Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel is a grassroots strategic alliance of concerned organizations and individuals in New York, formed to demand an immediate, unconditional, and permanent end to U.S. and U.S.-sponsored Israeli aggression in the Middle East.

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I start profiling
Nov 24, 2010 10:01 am | Peter Voskamp

Let's stop playing games and start profiling. That seems to be the sentiment emerging from some quarters in reaction to the furor over TSA groping. The terrorists have by and large been male and Islamic, the argument goes, and, well, we know how to pick them out. No need to prod and poke nuns, eight year olds and octogenarians.

I'm reminded of the band of cutthroats lining up for work in "Blazing Saddles." Nazis, banditos, Ku Klux Klansmen. It was obvious every one of them was a bad guy.

Assumptions are tricky though. I just learned as much in a slightly embarrassing turn. Speaking of favorite movies, a few nights ago I found myself watching "Amadaeus," the classic Milos Forman take on Peter Shaffer's Mozart play.

As I watched F. Murray Abraham's remarkable Oscar-winning portrayal of Italian court composer Antonio Salieri, I thought to myself. "Wow, what an unlikely selection for the role: a Jewish actor from the stages of New York."

A couple taps on the keyboard revealed that all my assumptions — based, yes, on a name and appearance — were entirely wrong. Abraham is the product of a Christian Syrian father and an Italian mother, and he grew up near El Paso, Texas. Well, well. But he earned that Oscar, God bless him. And I learned a lesson.

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Extremist group appropriates J Street slogan, 'pro-Israel, pro-peace'
Nov 24, 2010 09:29 am | Philip Weiss

Here is StandWithUs appropriating J Street's rhetorical positioning-- "pro-Israel, pro-peace"-- in a call to buy goods from the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The pro-Israel, pro-peace community urges you to join a counter campaign. We are making November 30 a BIG (Buy Israeli Goods) Day....When you go holiday shopping, choose presents from the wonderful array of Israeli-made items, from fine Israeli wines to the high quality Ahava beauty products, Israeli jewelry, shoes and clothing lines, and of course, food. Select Sabra or Tribe hummus, great Israeli wines and Osem cookies to grace your holiday party.

Meanwhile, notice that J Street, sensing the threat to the two-state solution, has called on the U.S. to delineate borders for a Palestinian state-- and thereby give up on the settlements issue, accepting 3/4 of the West Bank settlers as part of Israel. Facts on the ground. J Street is inside the Jewish community, and as I said a year ago, American Jews largely support the settlements. Barney Frank, in probably the second most liberal district in the country, said that it was "political suicide" (per Jeff Halper's report) to come out against settlements unless he could get 5000 Jews in his district to line up behind him. Well, they haven't. And J Street was lately tossed from a Reform temple in Frank's district as being too transgressive. The community has spoken. I admire J Street for reviving the tradition of dissent, taking on the Establishment, and suffering excommunication. But the ground is shifting under all our feet...

Thanks to Nancy Kricorian of Code Pink's Stolen Beauty campaign, which opposes the illegal occupation hammer and tongs, for the tip.

Oh and here is the Associated Press, picked up in the New York Times, suggesting that Har Homa, an illegal settlement that sheared off a mountain south of Jerusalem, overlooking Bethlehem, to populate with Jews, was somehow a "neighborhood" of Jerusalem and settlers moved there unaware of the encroachment.

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have moved to sprawling Jewish areas in east Jerusalem believe they are ordinary residents of their capital who will never be asked to vacate their homes....

"Israel's attempt to deceive the international consensus, and to redraw that consensus, has not been successful," said Husam Zomlot, a Palestinian spokesman. "These are not neighborhoods. They are illegal colonies, extraterritorial entities on occupied territory."

But AP's not buying the lesson:

If Israel has lost international understanding where the east Jerusalem neighborhoods


Har Homa was considered an outrage by the Palestinians when it was built, and still is. Any fool knows that these are not neighborhoods. As an undergraduate at NYU said of her plans to make aliyah, at an aliyah conference there a week back that I attended, "I want to strengthen the Jewish presence across the Green Line."

When I say my people, I mean American Jews. They are the tribe I grew up with, we had a lot going for us. God save my people from our ethnocentrism.

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Let us not give thanks for xenophobia sweeping the country…
Nov 24, 2010 09:13 am | Philip Weiss

LA Times editorial. Great. Where is the voice of populist progressivism elsewhere in our press?

Across the country, xenophobia is enjoying a heyday. Oklahomans, of all people, recently approved a ballot measure to ban the use of international law and, specifically, Sharia law, in their courts. As has been widely noted, that manages the rare feat of being both unnecessary and unconstitutional. More troubling, it suggests the degree to which voters have become motivated by fear and the extent to which they are willing to retreat into insularity.

Politicians feel it and exploit it. Elected officials who know better prey upon the public's anxiety by suggesting that immigrants, especially those in the country illegally, are to blame for the economic collapse of the George W. Bush years or the long, hard climb out of it. 

American Muslims, who enjoy every right of every American, also suffer from this inward-looking narrowness. When a popular commentator confesses that he is unnerved to sit next to a Muslim on an airplane, too many Americans reflexively sympathize. When another commentator questions whether Jews have a right to consider themselves an oppressed minority, those same Americans should feel the recoil of their bigotry. Many do not. The freedom to practice one's religion is celebrated this week, but of late, it is denigrated too often, as if this were a Christian country or a Judeo-Christian country rather than one of magnificent, intentional diversity.

Yes I disgree with the Jewish bit. I don't think we're an oppressed minority, and considering ourselves that is a form of self-deception.


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Give thanks to the community we are building
Nov 24, 2010 08:18 am | Philip Weiss

I give thanks today to my community. We are building it, a diverse community of brave people working across traditional tribal and ethnic and religious lines to try and forge a vision of coexistence in a troubled brutalized place. Let us celebrate our commitment, and learn from one another. I'm trying to learn myself, and overcome my own deeply-engrained prejudice.

We disagree about stuff. OK. But remember what happens when we remain inside our own religious and national communities, how weak we can be.

Think about Israeli student Maya Wind, who is being pilloried in Israel's largest English language site. Wind is a shministim, she refused to serve in the Israeli occupation. Last week we did a couple posts about a brave thing Wind did, when she put on a uniform to act as a soldier at an Israeli checkpoint, at Columbia University. maya

Well now Ynet has picked up Wind's story, and is trying to shame her in her own society. "Israeli student joins other side of conflict":

While Israel struggles to justify its actions to an ever-growing hostile international community, some choose to join the other side – Maya Yechieli Wind, 19, from Jerusalem, is currently studying in New York's prestigious Columbia University and chooses to spend her spare time organizing anti-Israeli displays depicting IDF soldiers beating and humiliating Palestinians at checkpoints....

While in Israel, Wind refused to don an army uniform, in the display she gladly depicted an IDF sergeant who, according to Wind, regularly abuses and humiliates the Palestinian population at the checkpoint. ...

Wind took her part very seriously, aggressively ordering students to kneel to the ground while threatening them with a carton rifle.

The "soldiers" then proceeded to check the "Palestinians'" bags, while tossing books and personal belonging onto the floor.

This is the price that a dissenter pays. I don't like to quote old posts, but here is what I said when Maya Wind and Netta Mishly spoke at the behest of Code Pink a year ago:

"the theme of the talk [was] how isolated these young women are. They are in a militarized society in which everyone serves, in which people look forward to serving. When Netta was 15, her class had been taken to a shooting range to try out guns and she had refused because she just didn't want to–even when people said, you will have to get used to it in another three years anyway– and the school gave her a demerit for not taking "part in a social event."

"Everyone they know has served. Their grandparents, their fathers, their uncles. Netta had gone to her own father's release ceremony from the Reserves. "It's all very personal." And everyone their age is a soldier; and they are thought to be soldiers too, until they are asked what their role is in the army, and they have to answer. That is the way life is understood. And Maya said that her real punishment had not been jail– no, jail had actually brought her family together, gotten her mother to respect her choice—it had been the feeling of isolation in Israel society. She feels she can never be an ordinary person.

"Both women were declared mentally unfit. That was the only category the army had for them, after they had gone to jail for two weeks for not serving. Very Yossarianish. And the women are in support groups, because there are so few people like them in Israeli society.

"When I go to events like this, I also feel less isolated."

I like that last line. This week let's think of the community we are actually building, and be thankful for it.


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