Dec 26, 2010

The Occidental Observer Newsletter - Articles by Edmund Connelly and Farnham O'Reilly PLUS Kevin MacDonald Blog

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Israel is (in)famous for its “false flag” operations, covert provocations meant to create blame for innocent parties or nations.

Michael Santomauro
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What sort of TRUTH is it that crushes the freedom to seek the truth?

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Christmas Phobia in Israel | The Occidental Observer - White Identity, Interests, and Culture

Michael Santomauro
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From New Zealand---the Article about the book: Debating the Holocaust [1 Attachment]

[Attachment(s) from ReporterNotebook included below]

Dec. 2010

From New Zealand---the Article about the book: Debating the Holocaust: A New Look At Both Sides


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The Latest from Mondoweiss for 12/26/2010


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Here are the headlines from Mondoweiss for 12/26/2010:

Thank you
Dec 26, 2010 12:17 am | Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz

Thank you. We have reached our goal of raising $40,000 in the month of December. When we were challenged by a generous donor to ask our readers to match their $20,000 donation we were doubtful we could do it. The most we had raised in the past was $10,000 and that was just a few months ago. We are humbled and deeply appreciative of this show of support, and promise to keep the site going strong into 2011.

2010 has been an incredible year for us and the site. As the year ends we have had over 5.6 million pageviews and over 3.2 million unique visitors. We've published 3,500 posts and generated an amazing amount of comments - over 120,000!

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the site as a reader, commenter, writer, or booster. All of your support has made the site what it is today.

Also, ever been curious who the most prolific of the Mondo commenters are? For the first time we've tallied the yearly contributions of our most frequent commenters. The top ten for 2010 for 2010 is after the jump. Enjoy!

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Without further ado, here are the top 10 most active commenters on Mondoweiss, with their number of comments, as of December 24:

Citizen : 7348
Chaos4700 : 6260
Richard Witty : 5286
Mooser : 4807
potsherd : 4707
Shingo : 4645
Avi : 3737
annie : 3014
thankgodimatheist : 2645
Shmuel : 2641

Thanks again!

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The murder of a 20-year-old shepherd on his family lands on the Gaza border– meets only thundering western silence
Dec 25, 2010 02:56 pm | Max Ajl

Max Ajl is back in Gaza. He reports on the killing of a 20-year-old shepherd, Salama Abu Hashish, shot through the kidney from the back as he was herding his animals a couple hundred meters from the border. We first picked up the ISM account the other day. See Ajl's complete report here.

Gaza, December 25 2010, Palestine 023

Today I went to the martyr's tent in Beit Lehiya. The shepherd who had died was freshly married. His child had been born two days before. His father said, "I am open," indicating a line running along his sternum. The young man who had died had been his oldest son, leaving three brothers and two sisters. My friends working here, and the statistics, say that these murders, even more, the injuries, have been incessant since I left at the end of July. Incessant, and nearly banal, and marked in the West by a thundering silence—the silence of a racism that roars at the deaths of a Jewish Israeli and does not even bother to shrug at the death of a Bedouin living with his sheep, amidst the soil that's dry from the rains which still, at end of December, have not come.

And what remains for his father? The stink of Beit Lehiya's open, fetid sewage pits glittering in Gaza's hot January sun, and a kilometer or two north of their home, the ghetto wall running along Gaza's northern frontier, with its watchtowers and their minders, one of whom put a hole in his son's back for being on the wrong part of his own land, a mistake for which his child will pay by never knowing his father. They will be no apology forthcoming for that murder. The family probably won't bother with an impotent lawsuit in the racist Israeli court system, and that same obdurate racism ensures that Salama's murder will be reprised again and again in the coming days and weeks while Israeli snipers maintain Israel's "security" in a buffer zone already monitored by endless surveillance towers, drones, motion sensors, tanks, and automated machine guns, all of it a constant reminder to his parents that their child's murderer walks free somewhere north or east of that concrete wall while they while away their time fuming, anguished, asking us as we visit, rhetorically rather than desperately, "Where is our freedom?"

...[W]e know the answer, we know exactly where that freedom is—it's under an Israeli-American jackboot that's trying to grind that desire for freedom into nothingness, into human dust, while Obama and Netanyahu babble insanely about the Zionist need for security, a security that can only be secured by endless piles of Palestinian corpses, with resistance quieted and Ashkelon safe amidst the secure tranquility of the killing fields to its south.

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Gaza children go to school in shipping containers
Dec 25, 2010 02:43 pm | Kate

and other news from Today in Palestine:

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Land, property, resources theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Deportation

Israeli military to deport Jerusalem Palestinian
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- The Israeli military has ordered an East Jerusalem Palestinian out of the city for four months for allegedly organizing protests against Israeli settlement there, the army and media said Thursday ... The banishment order is based on a rarely used emergency statute from 1945, when Britain ruled Palestine prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948. It was often used against clandestine Jewish groups battling the British.

Israel uses arcane law to try to expel Palestinian
JERUSALEM (AP) – Israel is invoking an arcane military law to try to temporarily expel a Palestinian protest leader from his native east Jerusalem and if successful, Palestinians warn the measure could further hobble efforts to salvage moribund peace process ... Gheith has protested against 350 Israeli settlers living in heavily guarded enclaves in his overwhelmingly Arab neighborhood of Silwan, just south of Jerusalem's Old City ... Gheith is also a leading opponent of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's plan to raze 22 Palestinian homes in another neighborhood to make way for an Israeli tourist center. That plan is on hold. "They are trying to make look it like I am the one threatening the security, as if saying no to oppression and to house demolitions is an assault," he said.

Nativity deportees miss Bethlehem on Christmas
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinians deported after the 2002 siege of the Nativity Church were sad during Christmas to be away from Bethlehem and the church, which sheltered them for 39 days ... Fahmi Kan'an, a spokesman for the Gaza deportees, said Friday that they grieved to be away from the festivities ... "Nine years have passed, and we are burning and yearning to see each alley, tree, and stone in the city. We would never give up on Bethlehem even if they give us the whole world. It is our right to return to Bethlehem just as all other Palestinians displaced from their homes have the right to return."

UN envoys criticize Israel home demolitions
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Two United Nations representatives have criticized Israel for demolishing Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem, with a senior envoy saying the actions could violate international law. On Thursday, a field worker for the UN Relief and Works Agency, which cares for Palestinian refugees, decried the "trauma and indignity" of two home demolitions in East Jerusalem.

Violence / Incursions

Farmer injured in northern Gaza
GAZA CITY (AFP) -- A Palestinian farmer was shot and wounded Friday in the legs by Israeli army fire in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian medics said.

Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza after rocket attack
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli warplanes hit four targets in the Gaza Strip early Saturday, wounding at least two people, officials and witnesses said and knocking out power in a large swathe of the strip. The strikes came after militants fired a mortar and rocket into Israel on Friday, according to the army. One of the strikes in central Gaza targeted a car as it was pulling up near a site used by Hamas' military wing. Two of the occupants were wounded and taken to hospital, medics said. The other three air raids hit smuggling tunnels along the border with Egypt without causing any casualties. Earlier, Palestinians fired a mortar shell and a rocket into Israel, also without causing casualties, the army said.

1 hurt in clashes in Nabi Saleh
A young Palestinian man was injured Friday when Israeli forces raided the village of Nabi Saleh. Dozens of Palestinian youths confronted the forces and clashes erupted. A young man identified as Adi At-Tamimi was hospitalized with breathing difficulties. The army also invaded the village on Thursday.

Hamas wing takes credit for past attacks
Hamas' military wing said Saturday that the Israelis were "playing with fire" by escalating tensions in the Gaza Strip. The Al-Qassam Brigades said they were observing a previously declared ceasefire with Israel not out of weakness or fear, but to protect lives of Palestinian people and to prevent them from being drawn into a second war ... The official also claimed responsibility, for the first time, for a series of operations conducted between 2005 and 2010 that killed 15 Israeli soldiers and injured 47. The operations, according to Abu Ubayda, were in the Hebron area near Hagay settlement in the southern West Bank, in Etzion, in mount Sindas and in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Palestinian and Israeli demonstrators take to the streets of Silwan
(with photos) Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) -- A demonstration was held today in Silwan in protest to the Israeli government's attempts to exile Palestinians from Jerusalem. The demonstration commenced at 2pm, with a large number of both Palestinian and Israeli activists marching from Wadi Hilweh neighborhood to the threatened el-Bustan protest tent. Activists who spoke at the tent denounced the Israeli government's latest attempts to crack down on Palestinian political activity in Jerusalem, namely the attempt to impose a four-month ban on community leader Adnan Ghaith from the Jerusalem area.

Santa Claus brings rubber bullets, gas, and arrests
An Nabi Saleh – While the media's attention was focused on the Christmas spectacle in Bethlehem and people were celebrating Christmas eve, the village of An Nabi Saleh, located in the Ramallah region and in the direct neighborhood of the illegal settlement Halamish, faced another reality. Yesterday's demonstration was met by excessive violence on behalf of the Israeli military ... Two people – a 60 year old villager and his 50 year old wife – were hit in the head by rubber bullets shot through the window, while being inside their house. They were brought to hospital. Several more demonstrators suffered from the effects of inhaling massive amounts of tear gas. One elderly man had to be treated by an ambulance after tear gas canisters entered his house

Weekly anti-wall rally commemorates Christmas
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) – Two Palestinians and an Israeli journalist were injured Friday as confrontations erupted after Friday prayer in Bil'in, west of Ramallah in the central West Bank ... As protestors progressed toward the wall, an Israeli force behind cement barriers fired stun grenades, tear gas canisters, and rubber-coated bullets when the protestors attempted to cross behind the wall. The soldiers chased the protestors through the olive grove.  Palestinian cameraman Auda Abu Rahma, 22, was hit by a tear gas canister in his leg. Another person, 27-year-old Tariq Al-Khateib, was hit by a canister in his leg and an Israeli journalist was also hit in his leg. Dozens inhaled tear gas.

We have received complaints about the words on your T-shirt so we have called the police - Gagosian Gallery / Laurie Arbeiter
I am writing to alert people about an incident that happened at the Gagosian gallery [in New York] Saturday, December 18, 2010, on the last day of the Anselm Kiefer exhibition, Next Year In Jerusalem. In response to the title of the exhibition and the content of the work [occupations/historical memory] a small group of artists and activists decided to view the show wearing a shirt with the words Next Year In Jerusalem in the three languages Arabic, Hebrew and English.

IHH to host welcome party for Marmara
(Ynet) Thousands expected to cheer flotilla ship back to home port in Istanbul after lengthy stay in Haifa ... The Marmara, which has been docking in Haifa port, will arrive in Istanbul through the sea after which it was named. On board are family members of the nine activists who were killed during the IDF raid on the vessel.,7340,L-4004217,00.html

Asia convoy waiting for Egypt visa to reach Gaza

"Asia to Gaza" convoy activists say Egypt is not cooperating and has yet to issue permits. Egyptian officials say the paper work is incomplete ... The convoy started off in New Delhi, passed through Iran, Turkey, and Syria and arrived in Lebanon on Friday. It is planning to reach Gaza by end of December, in time for the second anniversary of Israel's 22-day war on the Strip that started on 28 December 2008.


Israel monitors aid convoy heading to Gaza
JERUSALEM, Dec. 24 (UPI)  ...Israeli officials said the progress of the convoy is being monitored, and the Israeli Meir Amit and Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center said the APSP is hostile to Israel. The majority of participants in the convoy are from India but the possibility that al-Qaida affiliated groups may infiltrate activists cannot be excluded, the center said.

Siege / Restriction on movement / Rights violations

Allenby: PA detains 16, Israel denies 37 exit
Palestinian Authority police officers stationed at the Allenby crossing between the West Bank and Jordan detained 16 Palestinians wanted for fraud and other crimes ... Israeli officials at the crossing denied 37 Palestinians permission to leave the country for unspecified "security concerns."

if you're a Druze, the humanitarian exception apparently actually operates:
Patient transferred from Syria to Israel
Young Druze man studying dentistry in Damascus suffers brain hemorrhage, rushed to Haifa hospital through Quneitra Crossing  ... IDF officials stressed that even though the border crossing closes at 6 pm daily, the post is manned 24-hours-a-day and could be opened for an authorized humanitarian crossing in a relatively short period of time.,7340,L-4003931,00.html

Egypt completes initial building of security towers along Gaza border
Egyptian security officials say the government is building several 100-foot observation towers to improve security along the border with the Gaza Strip, stopping infiltration and sniper attacks. The officials said Saturday the first of the steel and concrete towers near the Rafah border crossing is almost completed.

Israel stalls on promised Gaza exports
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Two days after Israeli authorities approved the transport of Gaza strawberries into the West Bank, Dutch officials behind the project said foot dragging had delayed the first delivery ... The program facilitated by the consulate had already shipped hundreds of tons of berries and flowers to Europe, and Ziad said the deal with Israel was to allow 250 tons of strawberries to reach the West Bank market.

Gaza exports to increase Sunday
Reports on Radio Israel said the coming week of crossings operations would see some 15 tons of agricultural exports leave the Strip .. Since 2007, some 800 trucks of strawberries and carnations grown in Gaza have been exported from the coastal enclave. They have constituted the only export from the blockaded region, and have been transported because the goods are part of a Dutch government program to support Gaza farmers.

Gaza crossings closed for weekend
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities decided to close all the crossings with Gaza Friday and Saturday ... Israeli authorities allowed 177 truckloads via Karem Shalom, 130 of them for commerce, 35 for agriculture, four for aid, and eight for transport including 20 new vehicles.  Meanwhile, six truckloads of strawberries and flowers were exported while 159,500 kilograms of cooking gas were pumped in. No industrial fuel was transferred into Gaza.

Gaza pupils study in iron-made classrooms
It was freezing for tens of Gaza schoolchildren, who overstocked in iron-made classrooms, basically containers used for storing goods, at an elementary school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip, ruled by the Islamic Hamas movement ... UNRWA officials in Gaza said they were obliged to use those goods containers to cover the severe shortage of classrooms at Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza Strip amid an ongoing ban of construction materials into the enclave.


Youth arrest in Nabi Saleh
Three days before the first anniversary of the weekly demonstration held in An Nabi Saleh, on December the 22nd, Israeli forces arrested 23-year-old Bahaa Tamimi, a member of the community. He will face a trial in an Israeli Military court within the following week. The military has been searching for him for the past few weeks, frequently entering the village and asking for him. He was on his way to his work in Ramallah in the morning, when he was stopped by an apparently private car. Police asked for his ID and arrested him.

After hunger strike, PA moves Hamas prisoners
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Mediation between rights groups and the Palestinian Authority prison service brought to an end the hunger strike of two prisoners affiliated with Hamas, and a decision to move the men to prisons closer to their families ... Hamas officials said moving detainees close to their families was not enough, and said more pressure must be put on PA security commanders and ensure that the prisoners are released.

Initiative seeks end to politically motivated arrests
GAZA CITY -- The association of independent Palestinian figures in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip announced Friday an initiative sponsored by Egypt to end politically motivated arrests, which Fatah and Hamas practice reciprocally ... The committee is to receive lists of detainees held for their political affiliation from Palestinian factions and should have access to detention centers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to check files of each detainee and decide whether they have been detained over political affiliation or violation of the law. After that, according to the new initiative, the committee will request the release of all detainees who were not proved guilty of any breach of Palestinian law.

Racism / Discrimination

Wave of ethnic rage sparks concern in Israel
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- A wave of protests and discriminatory acts by Jewish Israelis against Palestinians and Africans is worrying rights activists and has prompted an unprecedented appeal for calm from Israel's prime minister.

Refugees: We're not Israel's diseases
Some 1,300 people rally in Tel Aviv against plan to set up detention facility for infiltrators near Israel-Egypt border. 'Netanyahu, don't be a racist,' they chant. Schoolchildren join march, say 'refugees have rights too',7340,L-4003935,00.html

African immigrants caught between Israeli government and society
...All non-Jewish foreigners challenge Israel's aspirations for a Jewish majority and character while treating others fairly. But the African issue offers a test of humanitarianism and international law -- and social tolerance too.  Largely lumped together as "infiltrators," many of the Africans come from war-torn regions. Most come from Eritrea; Sudan is a close second, with a number from Ivory Coast and other countries ... All asylum seekers undergo a process of "refugee status determination, " or RSD, except for Sudanese and Eritreans, who enjoy a temporary sweeping protection ... Out of 4,000 asylum seekers interviewed this past year, only two met the criteria

Please don't hate us / Haile Mengisteab et al.
...We assure the Israeli public that we are not a threat to Israel or to its Jewish character. We have been labeled with so many names so far, such as economic migrants, infiltrators and so on, expressing in a contradictory way our true reasons for being here ... We want to make it clear that we are not infiltrators or economic migrants. Rather, we are people with real political problems and we are at the top of the global ranking in terms of asylum seekers in need. In fact, some 88% of Eritrean asylum seekers in other countries are granted refugee status.,7340,L-4003542,00.html

Racism has reared its head and the public is apathetic / Gideon Levy
...The obsequious populism of Lapid, the conscientious patron of his city's indigent residents, cannot cover up the disgrace: If the dark-skinned people were blue-eyed blonds, there would be no problem here. The proof? Israel absorbed hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish Russians, blue-eyed blonds, and nobody protested, nobody muttered a word of complaint. Ask the Ethiopians, ask Israeli Arabs, including Bedouin and Druze who serve in the Israel Defense Forces, and then decide whether we're talking about pure, unadulterated racism, and not anything else.

'The darkness to expel' / Uri Avnery
IT IS easy to despair before the filthy wave of racism that is engulfing us. The remedy for this despair: the growing number of young people, sons and daughters of the new Israeli generation, who are joining the fight against racism and occupation ... Young volunteers for each of these fights - and for all of them together - are needed today more than ever, in face of the racism that is raising its ugly head all over Israel – an open racism, shameless and indeed proud of itself. The phenomenon by itself is not new. What is new is the loss of any vestige of shame. The racists shout their message on every street corner and earn applause from politicians and rabbis.

Academy of hatred / Ziv Lenchner
Op-ed: Silence not an option in face of growing hatred, racism on Israel's streets ...  Against the backdrop of the polished productions courtesy of the radical, inciting Right, and certainly under the spell of its malignant inspiration, a special elite unit was operating in Israel's capital as of late. This gang of young Jerusalemites and settlers, most of them teenagers, pulverized random Arabs in God's name. This devilish group, some of whose members already confessed, even employed a temptress, in the spirit of Mossad.,7340,L-4004009,00.html

Only a strong political center will halt Israel's racist frenzy / Ari Shavit
As it is turning into a multicultural and multicommunal society, Israel does not know how to organize relations among the various minorities; the result is repulsive outbursts of hatred.

War crimes

Report: Bereaved doctor to sue Israel
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, who lost three daughters when the Israeli army fired shells at his home during Operation Cast Lead, will file on Sunday a massive damages claim, an Israeli newspaper reported. "I didn't want to file the lawsuit, and until now I didn't want to discuss it," he told Yedioth Ahronoth in a phone interview from Toronto, Canada, where he immigrated following the tragedy. "I tried to take every step that would allow me to close this with love and goodwill, but they didn't leave me a choice.

Gaza: Two years after the horror / Haidar Eid
This week marks the second anniversary of the horror inflicted on the people of the Gaza Strip. Nothing has changed! Gaza has returned to its pre-invasion state of siege, confronted with the usual international indifference. Two years after the Israeli assault that lasted 22 long days and dark nights, during which its brave people were left alone to face one of the strongest armies in the world, Gaza no longer makes the news. Its people die slowly, its children are malnourished, its water contaminated, and yet it is deprived even of a word of sympathy from the President the United States and the leaders of Europe.

Olmert in book: Barak tried to prevent Gaza op
(Ynet) Former prime minister's autobiography filled with harsh criticism of defense minister in both military and political arenas. 'Complete and utter nonsense,' says Barak,7340,L-4003879,00.html

IDF officers finish course on reducing civilian casualties
(JPost) The first-ever training course is aimed at helping Israel prevent another Goldstone Report in future ops in Gaza, Lebanon.

Political/Diplomatic news

Ecuador formally recognizes Palestinian state
QUITO, Ecuador (AFP) -- Ecuador formally recognized Palestine as an independent state on Friday, following the lead of its neighbors Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay earlier this month.

Hamas: Committed to truce
Hamas committed to mutual ceasefire in Gaza 'as long as there is no oppression and no aggression,' group leader al-Zahar tells crowd of supporters; truce no sign of weakness, he says,7340,L-4004011,00.html

Abbas: No Israeli presence in future state
(Ynet) During tour of Ramallah, PA leader says will not agree to IDF positions along borders of Palestinian state and will not accept Israeli troops as part of international force.,7340,L-4004200,00.html

UN to commemorate Durban conference (AP)
UN to hold summit honoring contentious 2000 anti-racism meeting that singled out Israel; US votes against proposal to celebrate event, envoy Rice says it 'included ugly displays of intolerance, anti-Semitism',7340,L-4004063,00.html

Haniyeh to reshuffle cabinet
Hamas spokesman Taher An-Nunu said Haniyeh formed a special committee to meet with factions and national figures to offer them positions in the new government.

Haniyeh files complaint with UN
Hamas spokesman Taher An-Nunu said Thursday that Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh filed a complaint to the United Nations via a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon against Israeli army activity.

Turkey set on improving Israel ties but insists on apology for Gaza flotilla raid
Turkey's foreign minister said on Saturday that his country wants improved ties with Israel but that Israel must apologize and offer compensation for its raid on a Gaza Strip-bound aid flotilla in May in which nine Turkish citizens were killed.

Turkey ties frayed, Israel turns to the Balkans
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel is boosting its ties with Balkan nations after a deep freeze in relations with Turkey, formerly its closest and strongest regional ally.

Christmas in Palestine

'Christmas for all' appears on new postage stamp
(with photo) President Mahmoud Abbas approved Saturday the issuance of a new Palestinian postage stamp on the occasion of Christmas. The phrase "Christmas For All" will appear on the stamp. The Palestinian postal service took part in Friday's Christmas celebrations in Manger Square and announced the stamp. Hundreds of international visitors got to see the design in a tent where it was exhibited.

Tens of thousands turn out for Christmas in Bethlehem
The West Bank city where Christians believe Jesus was born welcomed an unprecedented number of foreign guests on Christmas eve, Palestinian Authority officials said Friday. PA minister of tourism Khaloud Deibis told Ma'an that this year's estimates showed that about 90,000 would arrive by the end of the season compared to 60,000 last year.

Photos of the midnight Christmas Mass in Bethlehem 2010

Voices of Christmas
Bethlehem - PNN - Manger Square is a melting pot unheard of in the West Bank on Christmas Eve, hosting old and young, boys and girls, travelers from far and near. Here are some of the voices from Bethlehem:

Patriarch arrives in Bethlehem
24 Dec - The West Bank city of Bethlehem welcomed Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch Fuad Tawwal on Friday afternoon, accompanied by senior officials of the Catholic Church. The delegation was received at the northern entrance of the city by the mayors of Bethlehem and nearby Beit Sahour and Beit Jala ... Abbas and other Palestinian Authority officials and foreign dignitaries will attend midnight mass led by Tawwal at the Nativity Church, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.

Gaza Christians off to Bethlehem

Hundreds given chance to leave blockaded area for Christmas -- Erez Crossing, Israel - More than 500 members of the Gaza Strip's tiny Christian community left the blockaded territory on Thursday to participate in Christmas celebrations in Jesus' traditional birthplace of Bethlehem. The Israeli military coordinated the rare passage to the West Bank ahead of the holiday ... Residents leaving Gaza on Thursday played down any differences with Hamas, saying they were in solidarity as Palestinians in the struggle against Israel.

West Bank: Bethlehem glows on Christmas Eve
(with photos) In the West Bank city of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, thousands of Palestinians and visitors from all over the world gathered at Manger Square on Christmas Eve to watch Jerusalem's Catholic patriarch, Fouad Twal, lead a procession of priests to the Church of the Nativity and to listen to his midnight Mass sermon. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who regularly attends the midnight Mass, was among them.

Christmas with Arafat in Bethlehem / Nabil Sha'ath
...On the 24th of December 1995, I entered Bethlehem with my bride and my brother, and friends, accompanying Arafat to our joy and that of thousands of Palestinians who celebrated Christmas that year in Bethlehem. Raja and I were seated upfront inside the Nativity Church, just behind Arafat and his [Christian] wife. The square was jammed with thousands celebrating Christmas. Arafat was finally here. From that day until Christmas of the year 2000, Arafat lived in the monastery of the Church of Holy Nativity from the 23rd of December to the 19th of January every year, attending Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and Armenian Christmas celebrations ... On the 24th of December 2001, the Israeli siege prevented him from going to his beloved city. He was never able to go there again.

Other news

Gaza's fallen women: doing time for 'moral' crime
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) - Najwa Abu Amra cries inside a Gaza jail as she explains how she got here. Struggling to care for two sons and a drug-addicted husband, she agreed to sleep with a man for about 50 dollars. She had resisted prostitution in the past, but she was getting desperate. "My husband isn't normal, he was telling me to sleep with men because they would give him money," she told AFP. "He did what he liked and he didn't give me anything. I didn't know what to do."

Squabbling hinders repairs to Bethlehem Nativity Church
As thousands of Christian pilgrims and tourists visit Bethlehem, the site where it is believed Jesus was born, the local authorities are warning that unless urgent repairs are carried out to the centuries-old Church of the Nativity, they may have to restrict visitor numbers in future.

As tensions on its borders grow, so do rivalries among Israel's defense industries
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi disclosed this week that for the first time, Hamas fired advanced Russian-made Kornet missiles from the Gaza Strip, earlier this month, and damaged an IDF Merkava tank. Such anti-tank capability has, up to now, belonged only to Syria and Hezbollah. In view of this new threat, the IDF has decided to deploy along the Gaza border the one tank battalion that is equipped with the Windbreaker, a special system used against anti-tank weapons

Analysis / Opinion

Abulhawa: Delegitimization? We are merely drawing back the curtain on child arrests and confiscation of water
Nothing scares supporters of Israel so much as the delegitimization issue, which boils down to this fear: writers/activists are successfully changing the image of Israel in the eyes of the world, and officials are sure to take note. Yes, we are. We are showing what Israel is. Susan Abulhawa has been offensively labeled as anti-Semitic by Bernard-Henri Levy for her novel, Mornings in Jenin. She responds at Huffpo: "He simply slaps on the word "antisemitism" to discredit any negative portrayal of Israel. This word -- with its profound gravity of marginalization, humiliation, dispossession, oppression, and ultimately, genocide of human beings for no other reason but their religion -- is so irresponsibly used by the likes of Levy that it truly besmirches the memory of those who were murdered in death camps solely for being Jewish. ..."

Security and Defense: Avoiding Cast Lead II / Yaakov Katz
Hamas has long-range rockets, and Israel's deterrence may have eroded, but neither side is interested in another large-scale conflict ... The current round of clashes and escalating violence is also being fought primarily along the border. This time, though, it is not because Hamas or Islamic Jihad are lacking missiles that can hit deep into Israel – on the contrary, they have the Iranian-made Fajr-5, which can strike Tel Aviv – but because, at the moment, they prefer not to use them.


Friday: 10 Iraqis killed, 9 wounded
Despite a much-publicized "withdrawal" of U.S. troops last summer, American soldiers are still celebrating Christmas in Baghdad, but attacks have not stopped. At least 10 Iraqis were killed and nine more were wounded in the latest violence.

For Christians in Iraq, a Christmas of mourning and fear
...Nearly two months after a shocking assault by Islamist militants, Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church will commemorate Christmas quietly, with daytime mass and prayers for the dead, under security fit more for a prison than a house of worship. It is the same at Christian churches across Baghdad and northern Iraq, where what's left of one of the world's oldest Christian communities prepares to mark perhaps the most somber Christmas since the start of the Iraq war.


Lebanon: Israeli jets breached our airspace
Tensions high: At least 12 Israel Air Force fighter jets breached Lebanon's airspace Thursday morning, the Lebanon Army says. According to the Lebanese military, the jets flew over the town of Naqoura, among other sites, starting at 9:10 am, leaving Lebanon about an hour and 25 minutes after first entering the country's airspace.,7340,L-4004037,00.html

Islamist leader found dead in Lebanese refugee camp
BEIRUT (Ma'an) -- The head of Fatah in Lebanon, Muneer Maqdah, said Saturday that Ghandi Sahmarani, who was found dead this morning, was the leader of what remained of the Islamist Soldiers of Levant group. Maqdah told Radio Lebanon that the motive behind the killing was not clear but that no gunshots were heard recently.

Hizballah fears 'Qaeda' type attacks from Lebanese Sunnis (TIME)

A day after the radical "Salafist" Sunni preacher Sheikh Omar Bakri was arrested last month, having been sentenced in absentia by a Lebanese court to life imprisonment on terrorism charges, he received an unexpected visitor in his holding cell at Beirut's police headquarters. Nawar Sahili, an MP from Lebanon's militant Shi'ite Hizballah movement — the Salafists' most powerful local enemy — and a lawyer by training, offered Bakri his legal services ... Now I'm working to bring Sunnis and Shi'ites together on certain issues, such as confronting Israel," Bakri said in his home in Tripoli, Lebanon's religiously conservative second largest city.,8599,2039359,00.html

Other Mideast

Video: Ancient Christian site opens in UAE
The only known pre-Islamic Christian site at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, located at Sir Bani Yas Island, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, has opened to tourists for the first time. A Christian church is the latest attraction in this conservative Muslim nation. Christian monasteries have already been discovered in nearby Saudi Arabia, though rarely publicised due to reluctance to embrace pre-Islamic religions in the region. Al Jazeera's Dan Nolan reports.

Yemen says anti-terrorism forces sent to south
ADEN, Yemen (AFP) – Yemen has deployed new anti-terrorism forces in the country's restive south, the interior ministry announced on Saturday, as Washington urged Sanaa to step up its fight against Al-Qaeda.

Report: Dubai men molested Palestinian boy
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- A court in Dubai has sentenced two Emirati men to six months in jail for molesting a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, local media reports said Friday.


Egypt FM: We are not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons
Egyptian foreign minister refutes a May 2008 U.S. cable released by WikiLeaks which said that Egypt might develop nuclear weapons if Iran obtained them.

WIkiLeaks to 'prove' Mossad behind Dubai murder
DUBAI (AFP) -- Dubai's police chief said WikiLeaks will confirm his charge that Israel's Mossad secret service was behind the Jan. 20 murder of a Hamas commander visiting the emirate, in a newspaper report Friday ... WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, quoted on the website of Al-Jazeera television, has vowed to release "sensitive" documents on the Israel-Hezbollah war of 2006 and on Mahmud Al-Mabhuh's murder in his Dubai hotel room.

Army opens probe into how Bradley Manning stole files
Washington - The U.S. Army has launched a wide-ranging investigation into how a private suspected of downloading thousands of secret reports and diplomatic cables and handing them over to WikiLeaks was able to do so and whether other soldiers should face criminal charges in the case, McClatchy has learned. The Army confirmed the investigation, but wouldn't release details.

U.S. news

Guantanamo closure recedes into distance
Washington - President Barack Obama's hopes of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility appear as far from being realised as ever in the wake of new legislation approved by Congress this week. Wednesday's approval by the Senate of an amendment banning the use of Pentagon funds for 2011 to transfer detainees at Guantanamo, the U.S. naval base on Cuba, to the United States or its territories appears to guarantee that the facility will remain open for business at least through next September.

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DADT repeal exposes Israel's discriminatory policies
Dec 25, 2010 11:56 am | Philip Weiss

For several nights this week Chris Matthews was thrilled by the repeal of Don't ask/don't tell, and he many times repeated the idea that Catholics and Jews had "assimilated" into American society when they had served in World War II and the rest of society saw what they were willing to do for their fellow citizens. Now gays too will be fully assimilated, he said.

And every time he said it I reflected that Palestinians are not drafted into the Israeli army. They can serve, I am told; and the Druze are drafted. But by and large, young men and women from the 20 percent Palestinian Israeli population do not serve and aren't wanted either. This is rationalized because they wouldn't want to serve in forces fighting other Arabic-speaking people-- slaughtering children in Gaza. And on Israel's part, they would be regarded as a potential fifth column. 

But why constitute a society in such a way that you can't trust such a sizeable minority in the army? How can such a society last? This is further support for the argument Fawaz Gerges put forward in the Nation earlier this year-- Hamas is coming to tolerate Israel's presence because Saladin also tolerated the presence of a Crusader state along the coast. Yes and how long did that last?

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US interest in stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan demands rapprochement with Iran
Dec 25, 2010 11:21 am | Philip Weiss

Stephen Kinzer at the Daily Beast, calls for a reset of the US-Iran and US-Israel relationships after going to a dinner with Ahmadinejad in New York. I don't think he dares to suggest why there is so much "emotion" here on the U.S. part, that is to say he does not lay out the power of the Israel lobby (h/t Chris Varley):

Together the U.S. and Iran might accomplish more in the Middle East than any pair of countries possibly could- starting with cooperation to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan . They are so caught up in emotion, however, that they insist on remaining enemies and refuse to take steps that would benefit both.

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Because the specialists who spent last evening with Ahmadinejad see this crazy reality, the dining room was filled with an intense and almost palpable sense of frustration….

Given both the urgency of the mounting U.S.-Iran crisis and the benefits that could accrue from trying to resolve it, logic might dictate that American diplomats would be taking advantage of Ahmadinejad's stay in New York ….

After a couple of hours answering questions, Ahmadinejad thanked his guests and slipped out into the night. Lamentably, no American diplomats pursued him…. There are 30 years of missed opportunities between the U.S. and Iran . This was another one.

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Obama's only tool against Netanyahu is… delegitimization
Dec 25, 2010 10:47 am | Philip Weiss

Lately I have had conversations with two very-connected Jews that suggested to me the wheels are coming off the lobby's cart, that the collapse of the talks due to Israel's intransigence is upsetting American Jews, and some of the grown-ups are getting closer to saying, F-you, Israel, we're done indulging your disgusting habits. Yes, I know, I say that every other week. But here are those conversations, massaged to remove identifying particulars.

1. I have to say: the deal over there hasn't worked out. It's no different from the Northern Ireland situation. You have a religious group of colonizers that went over there a while back and they depended on their co-religionists back in the old country and never made peace with the locals. My kid came back from birthright talking about the Palestinians' conditions, appalling. Oh but I'm for a two-state solution. For the sake of peace.

2. The whole settlement business is now exposed for what it was, a landgrab. They were just trying to get all the land for the Jews and they treated the locals with complete contempt. The racism is astonishing there now. You saw what the rabbis said about not renting to Palestinians?

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Why Obama caved is a mystery. Congress was waiting for him to take the next step after he said the settlements must end in Cairo. Even Hillary was on board. No more construction! When Netanyahu refused to give in on settlements, Obama should have come out and said, OK, you won't come to the settlement table; you must come to the borders table. He should have increased the pressure on Israel, and the Jewish community wouldn't have turned on him.

Obama's advisers have a too-fearful view of the lobby. And yes, there's something passive about Obama, over-respectful.

There's only one way to save the two-state solution. The delegitimization argument. Israelis don't care about anything anyone says because they have the U.S. behind them, but they care about delegitimization. It drives them crazy. We're being delegitimized around the world! They're hysterical about it, it scares them.

This is the road that Obama can walk. He can say, You're delegitimizing yourselves by an illegal occupation.

After the second conversation, I reflected that even liberal Zionist Dan Fleshler now argues that some parts of the delegitimization narrative are accurate (harsh criticism, not demonization). And Noam Chomsky said very similar things many years ago: Israel's occupation serves to delegitimize it. And who listened? History doesn't wait around like someone waiting for the 10 bus, history's a galloping horse, and I do believe history has moved on...

But that's the news from liberal Zionists...

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If Houston's Pacifica radio station is concerned about anti-Semitism, it should emulate 'Beyond the Pale'
Dec 25, 2010 10:18 am | Philip Weiss

The other day we mentioned the decision by KPFT, the Pacifica station in Houston, to give time to the Israeli consulate in Houston because of alleged anti-semitic comments by listeners (apropos of Jewish power in the media). Happily, this decision is being widely ridiculed on-line.

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How should KPFT have handled the problem of Jewish programming? Well it should imitate WBAI in New York, which airs Beyond The Pale, "the only Jewish program on radio or television devoted to bringing a left perspective to political and cultural debates."

"Beyond the Pale" came about for the same reason: WBAI was responding at the time to allegations of anti-Semitism. And by putting on this programming, WBAI has done something to help reform Jewish identity too. For Beyond the Pale is not Zionist.

P.S. Here is the response of those who oppose the airtime for the Israeli consulate to some smart questions:

Why oppose the Israeli consulate having a show on KPFT?

As an official voice of the Israeli government, the Israeli consulate necessarily has as a mission to legitimize and propagandize acts of war. Further, during a time of an active illegal military occupation and in light of the Goldstone Report, Israeli consulates necessarily find themselves in the role of propagandizing and whitewashing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Don't you want to talk to everyone, including those with whom you disagree?

Interviews with the Israeli consulate are important, as there are many tough questions that should be asked. However, turning over control of programming to the Israeli consulate is different. There are many other formats that are appropriate to bring in the Israeli consulate, including debates and moderated discussions. If Obama came on air to talk about how much we are helping Pakistan and no one asked him tough questions about the illegal drone attacks, he would have gotten a free-pass. Similarly, if the Israeli consulate can come on KPFT and frame things the way they want without getting confronted on anything, we have provided a platform for military propaganda.

Who is in charge of Israeli consulates?

The far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman is the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs (Israel's equivalent of our Secretary of State). On December 21st 2010, Lieberman told Newsweek that he wanted to take Israeli citizenship away from at least half of Israeli Arabs.

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Colleges now recruiting Jewish students in part for anticipated alum donations
Dec 25, 2010 09:19 am | Philip Weiss

I grew up hearing about quotas on Jewish students. These quotas helped to form American Jewish identity as an outsider identity; the quotas enraged my father's generation and fostered the rise of neoconservatism.

Well how will Jewish identity absorb this truth? From the JTA, Sue Fishkoff, a piece about how colleges are now recruiting Jewish students, apparently in good measure because Jewish wealth is now such a significant factor in the Jewish presence in American society:

Schools large and small with few Jewish students are actively working to recruit more by building Jewish student centers and creating kosher dining options as part of a "build it and they will come" recruitment strategy.

Admissions officers and deans at these schools rarely say they are actively recruiting Jewish students; instead they say they are looking to "increase diversity." But off the record, many admit that Jewish students bring certain assets, from leadership skills and good academic records while they are on campus, to a propensity for donating to the school once they graduate.

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I think Pollard will be freed
Dec 25, 2010 09:18 am | Jeffrey Blankfort


It won't be as dramatic as Lee handing his sword to Grant at Appomattox--after all, Lee and his men put up a fight--but if Obama hands Pollard to Netanyahu, as now I think he will, it will be a surrender of American sovereignty to Israel and his greatest humiliation yet.

Although I predicted he would be a disaster as a president, he has been far, far worse, with even more betrayals of the public yet to come. By the summer he will have us in a full fledged war in Pakistan, with troops as well planes, and no doubt, in Yemen, as well, and the others will keep going. 

And, besides bailing out Wall Street and giving the finger to Main Street, he has miraculously cleansed the country of an anti-war movement. 

Beam me up, Scotty? Wazzat, Scotty no longer works here? He's been fired? Than fix me up with a Jim Beam then and after a few I'll pretend I'm up in space.

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