Jul 10, 2011

Way back machine: Senate hearing in '77 were titled 'The colonization of the West Bank territories by Israel'! / Philip Weiss


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Here are the headlines from Mondoweiss for 07/10/2011:

Ben Gurion Airport showcases the normalization of apartheid in Israel/Palestine
Jul 09, 2011 09:44 pm | Dimi Reider

This post originally appeared on +972. Reider adds that he's not sure how long the process described below has been in place.

Israel responded to the "flytilla" with a wildly disproportionate deployment of police and extraordinary security checks. But Palestinian citizens of Israel are discriminated at the Ben Gurion Airport on an hourly basis – and are now able to racially profile themselves, using a specially provided form to warn the airport authorities of their arrival.

Tourists being watched by security forces at Ben Gurion airport, June 8 2011 (photo: Oren Ziv / activestills)

In the see-saw of travel-craving and homesickness preceding any trip abroad, there's one moment when you can feel the balance finally shifting and you becoming glad to be leaving Israel: When you arrive in your car or taxi to the airport gates and a burly, submachine gun-wielding security guard asks you to roll down the window to wish you a good evening. This isn't about courtesy, of course; he wants to get a good look at your face, and, most importantly, to hear your accent. If your accent sounds even remotely Arab, you will be asked to disembark, answer a flurry of intrusive questions, and asked to open your trunk (just in case it holds  a big wooden crate labeled "Acme TNT"). If your accent is "normal", you're swiftly waved through.

The undisguised racism of Israeli airport security profiling is a fact of life here as much as summer weather and the impossibility to park in Tel Aviv; only recently did civil rights organisations begin to challenge the practice. Arab passengers get different stickers on their passports at the end of the "did you pack a bomb by mistake" questioning in the queue to the check-in; their baggage is often searched manually (raising interesting questions about the effectiveness of the carwash-sized suitcase screening machines that everybody else go through); and in general, Palestinian Israelis can expect their check-in process to take about twice as longer, both in Israel, and, if they have the misfortune of flying with an Israeli airline, on their way home from abroad.

Recently, however, we've moved up a notch and are now asking the Palestinian Israelis to discriminate themselves. The Hebrew version of the Israel Airports Authority has this curious page, reachable through Ben Gurion Airport > Passenger Information > Security Information > [Official] in charge of minority treatment. The general information page of the section explains, in stumbling Brechtian:

"The security treatment of the passengers forms a centrally important link in the chain of service provided to passengers in the process of their departure from the country and return to the country via the Ben Gurion International Airport.

The Israel Airports Administration has set itself a goal of improving the efficiency of the level of service provided for the population of members of minorities in these processes, and decided to set up for this purpose a unit entrusted with liaising with the population of members of minorities in Israel.

The unit includes four delegates: Mr Abu Matir Mohammed, Mr Abu Ghanem Salame, Mr Yossi Makleda and Mr Salah Dubaa, employed on shifts at the airport. Their role is to coordinate, mediate and assist in the processes of security clearance, without infringing upon the necessary security processes."

Members of minorities is, of course, a euphemism for "Arabs" about as embarrassingly transparent as "persons of colour," and is used most often by the media to report an Arab is held on suspicion of rape or other offenses (they never specify the nationality when the suspect is a Jew). Incidentally, it's forever "members of minorities", not "minorities," because, as observed in recent years by academic like Yehouda Shenhav, Yoav Peled and Yossi Yona, the Jewish and democratic state can (grudgingly) abide only with recognising individual rights of individual Arabs on a case by case basis, never with describing them as a minority with a claim to collective rights.

But the real treat is the following form, which groups of Arabs (say, extended families or groups of friends)  areadvised to complete and send to the airport ten days ahead of their arrival (presumably so that the airport authorities doesn't deploy tanks across the tarmac if they espy more than two Arabs moving together, talking in Arabic and being all Arab). The PDF is a touch more honestly titled "EthnicMinoritiesForm." It reads:

To: The official in charge of the members of minorities population

Ben Gurion International Airpot

By fax no. 03-9752358

Regarding: Information on flight abroad

1. On date ______ a group/family is planned [sic] to travel to ______ on flight _____ at ______.

2. The group/family includes _____ passengers, as follows:

1. Mr / Ms ________________ Passport no. ____________

2. Mr / Ms ________________ Passport no. ____________

3. Mr / Ms ________________ Passport no. ____________

4. Mr / Ms ________________ Passport no. ____________

5. Mr / Ms ________________ Passport no. ____________

6. Mr / Ms ________________ Passport no. ____________

3. The group is traveling on the behest of the ______ office[/ministry], physicians/academics/public figures/sports delegation/organised tour/other _______ [Arabs don't take holidays or go on business trips -DR]

4. I would be thankful for any assistance you can extend at the airport.

5. Mr/Ms _______ will serve as contact person for the group, phone no. _______

Most respectfully,

Mr/Ms ___________

Phone no. _______________

Fax no.___________

It's cute that they bothered including pt.4, ensuring that the Arabs are not only discriminated at their own request, but are duly thankful. More than anything else, this is a clear and stark example of normalisation of apartheid: When both parties accept an ethnically discriminative practice as a given and just seek to make it a little more palatable; and when the discriminated party is expected to pro-actively cooperate, "in their own best interest."

The sad thing is that I can imagine official delegations and tour organisers probably do make use of the form, and both them and the airport authorities actually do prefer this Very Inferior Person treatment to the crude yanking of Arab passengers out of the waiting line. Have you made holiday plans for Israel this summer?


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Angry Arab describes new ambassador to Israel as 'Zionist fanatic,' and you gotta wonder–
Jul 09, 2011 12:13 pm | Philip Weiss

As'ad AbuKhalil, on the case, saying "a Zionist fanatic becomes US ambassador in Israel" and picking up on the swearing-in of the new US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro. 

"Among the guests at the ceremony were Ambassadors of Israel, Turkey and Morocco, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization diplomatic mission, former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, American Taskforce for Palestine founder Dr. Ziad Assali, other diplomats and Administration officials. Shapiro's wife and three young daughters, Liat, Merav and Shira, were also in attendance."


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Two US flotilla activists do flytilla
Jul 09, 2011 08:05 am | Ira Glunts

Flotilla activists are sent back at Ben-Gurion Airport

According to Ha'aretz (Hebrew),* two American women who were would-be passengers on the "Audacity of Hope" became the first of the flotilla activists to directly confront the Israeli blockade, not of Gaza, but that of the West Bank. The two did not attempt to go to Gaza by boat as planned, instead they flew to Israel from Athens and appeared at Ben-Gurion airport today (July 8) wearing t-shirts identifying themselves as participants in the flotilla. In so doing, they joined the "Welcome to Palestine" protest which has been dubbed the "flytilla."

The two women, whose photographs appeared in the newspaper (see above) were not named by the paper.  They were briefly questioned by airport officials, then placed on an airplane bound for the United States.

At the airport, the "flytilla" protesters declared their intention to travel to the West Bank in order to demonstrate that the Israelis do not permit foreigners free access to the occupied territories. They made their point loudly and clearly as reported by the media worldwide. Although the protesters declared that their intentions were to participate in only legal non-violent activities, 65 people were jailed and four were placed on departing airplanes. Israeli authorities said the detainees would be deported this Sunday.

Israel stopped other protesters by "going Greek," that is enlisting the aid of foreign authorities in stopping activists at the point of departure from reaching territory controlled by the Jewish state. The Israelis distributed a of list of 342 names of persons they wanted banned to numerous European airports. All the foreign airlines complied, restricting flights of about 200 people, according to the Israeli media.

Some of the passengers that were prohibited from boarding flights to Tel Aviv are threatening lawsuits against the airlines that stopped them from boarding. Also, organizers of at least two of the flotilla boats docked in Greece, the Tahrir and the Juliano, are pursuing administrative and legal avenues to have the Greek travel ban to Gaza lifted. There are activists who have left Greece that are ready to return if the boats are permitted to sail.

What can Barack Obama do to prove that he can be as heavy-handed and obsequious as the Greeks and the European airlines that have demonstrated in the last few days that they are ready, willing and able to bully hundreds of dangerous and provocative non-violent activists that hold the odd opinion that the Israeli occupation is both illegal and immoral? After all, the elections are coming, and this is a great excuse to act tough and pompous which I think he really enjoys.

The President can take the advice of his own State Department and publicly and personally order the Attorney General to seek prison terms for the two American provocateurs that tried to assault our "good friend and ally, Israel" by both sea and air. In doing this, our President could pledge that he is making one thing perfectly clear to all peace-loving Americans: Barack Obama will do all in his power to support Israel's right of self-defense.

* An English version of the Ha'aretz article is here.  Note there is no mention or photograph of the two American women.

Update 1: The Jerusalem Post quotes police as saying that 69 "flytilla" activists have already been deported (althought the headline says 39) and an additional 124 are being detained. 

Also, the paper quotes Deputy Prime Mininister Danny Ayalon making an over-the-top comment which characterizes his government's insane overreaction to this peaceful protest.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon thanked European countries on Saturday for helping to limit the number of pro-Palestinian activists arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport. Ayalon said that "Israel thanks the European countries for their assistance and cooperation in preventing the provocative "air flotilla" that was planned."

"Again it proved that contrary to conventional thought, Israel is not isolated and is a reputable player in the international community," the deputy minister added. Ayalon said that "no country would allow a violation of its sovereignty and laws, not by local law breakers and certainly not foreigners."

Update 2:  The website of the "Audacity of Hope" has a tweet identifying the two women as Kathy Kelly and Missy Lane.    However, neither woman pictured appears to me to resemble other photographs of Kathy Kelly on the Net.


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Jerusalem Ad: Beautiful apartment, breathtaking view, Jews only
Jul 09, 2011 08:04 am | Adam Horowitz


From Ofer Neiman:

Yad2 is a listing of second hand stuff and flats. The flat in question is located in the French Hill neighborhood, a Jewish neighborhood built after 1967 near Mt. Scopus, in occupied East Jerusalem.

Ad reads:
"Beautiful apartment including table and chairs. Wall closets. Breathtaking view. For Jews."


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Colonel w/ checkered past is last witness to be called in Rachel Corrie trial
Jul 09, 2011 08:01 am | Kate

and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid

Israel expropriates Palestinian land in order to legalize West Bank settlement
Haaretz 8 July -- Move is Netanyahu government's first confiscation of land in the territories ... Last week, acting on orders from the government, the Civil Administration declared 189 dunams of land belonging to the Palestinian village of Karyut to be state land, so as to retroactively legalize houses and a road in the Hayovel neighborhood of the settlement of Eli. This would seem to violate Israel's long-standing commitment to the United States not to expropriate Palestinian lands for settlement expansion. An Ottoman land law dating from 1858 allows uncultivated land to be declared state land. This law, which is still in force in the West Bank, is what was used to carry out the expropriation.   
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AF: IOA wants to wipe historic Ma'manullah Cemetery from memory
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 8 July -- The Aqsa Foundation that caters for Muslim holy shrines in occupied Palestine, has warned Thursday that the Israeli plan to put a fence on what remained of Ma'manullah [Mamilla] cemetery was meant to wipe the historical cemetery from memory. In a statement it issued on this regard, the foundation explained that the IOA had been striving hard to remove the cemetery from memory of history, being the biggest and oldest Muslim cemetery in occupied Palestine occupying nearly 200,000 sq meters of land.
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Videos; Mamilla Cemetery
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IOA destroys solidarity tent supporting sit-in legislators in O. Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 8 July -- The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has destroyed the solidarity tent that human right activists erected in support of the three Palestinian officials the IOA threatens to deport from their hometown ... According to local residents and eyewitnesses, special forces from the Israeli occupation army stormed the area and surrounded the solidarity tent before they leveled it to ground shortly before the activists held their final session to end a one-week conference in support of the threatened officials.
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IOF arrest 3 Jerusalem Palestinians, try 3 others
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 8 July -- IOF troops arrestedon Thursday night three young men from the Jerusalem suburb of Silwan after raiding the suburb and mounting raids on a number of Palestinian homes there. Eyewitnesses said that local youth clashed with the invading occupation troops and that the clashes lasted till late at night.
Meanwhile, a Zionist occupation court sentenced Nitham Abu Romoz (29 years old) and Wael al-Rajabi (30 years old) to four years and four months prison terms, and sentenced Ahmad Salymeh (23 years old) to three years and four months prison term
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Abir's Garden - a safe place to grow
Rebuilding Alliance 8 July -- Dear Friends, This morning we received a request from Haj Sami Sadeq, the head of the Al Aqaba Village Council, to ask you to call Congress. Here's why: The local Israeli Civil Administrator visited the section of the Peace Road that had previously been demolished and subsequently repaired by the village. Haj Sami tells us that visits by this administrator are always followed by the issuance of demolition orders a few days later. Bulldozers may arrive in a matter of days after that to carry out the orders. In 2003, the State Department was able to halt home demolitions in Al Aqaba after two homes were destroyed, saving the rest of the village. In April of this year, State Department officials arrived in Al Aqaba two days after the Peace Road was demolished, too late to stop it. This time, let's give them enough time to take action. [Abir Aramin was leaving school with her sister and two friends in the West Bank town of Anata on January 16th, 2007. She never made it home to her family. On this day a single shot was fired from the back of an Israeli Border Police jeep that was patrolling outside the gates of the Anata Girls' School.]
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IDF to allow organized visits to Joseph's Tomb once every three weeks
Haaretz 8 July -- Restrictions will be eased for Jewish worshipers ... The IDF prefers to allow access to the tomb once a month, while the settlers want once a week. The settlers say a lack of organized visits increases the motivation to risk visiting the tomb illicitly ... On the last organized visit, on Sunday night, forces roughly the size of a brigade were deployed in the city, including special forces and a drone that monitored events from above. 
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Fly-in / Flytilla

65 pro-Palestinian fly-in activists transferred to detention facilities
Haaretz 8 July 20:22 -- Israel Police estimate that the bulk of events related to the pro-Palestinian 'fly-in' have ended. Authorities are waiting for a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt with a limited number of activists on board that is scheduled to land at Ben-Gurion International Airporton Friday night ... A total of 310 arriving passengers have been questioned by the Immigration and Population Authority. 69 of the passengers were found to be "fly-in" activists and were denied entry to Israel. The others were found to be regular tourists and were permitted to enter Israel. 
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'Activists asked about Israeli prisons'
Ynet 8 July -- Israeli passengers recall encounter with pro-Palestinian 'flytilla' activists on board flight home. 'You could tell they were stressed out; they were easily recognizable,' says passenger from Britain
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Welcome to Israel / Adam Horowitz
Mondoweiss 8 July -- Joseph Dana has been stationed in Ben Gurion Airport all day reporting on the "Welcome to Palestine" initiative. The scene he has shared can only be described as chaos. Israel has barred journalists from entering the airport, arrested Israeli activists who came to Ben Gurion in solidarity and stood aside as Israeli passersby cursed, spit on and punched "Welcome to Palestine" travelers arriving from abroad.
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Mobocracy at Ben-Gurion Airport / Larry Derfner
972mag 8 July -- Journalist Larry Derfner came to Tel Aviv airport to cover the arrival of international activists. Once in the reception hall, a small Israeli mob turned on him. In a matter of seconds, he found himself in a police van -- Anybody who believes the platitude that the people want peace, it's just the leaders who want war, should have been at Ben-Gurion Airport today. It's a good thing those Free Palestine activists got arrested; otherwise, the little mob that formed spontaneously would have punched them up pretty good ... Let me repeat -- the police started off arresting the demonstrators, but very shortly their main task was to keep them from being assaulted. They had to hold back the herd -- and that's what these people were, a herd incited by the idea that these protesters, non-violent protesters trying to get to the West Bank, were a menace, an immediate threat to their security.
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Dozens to be deported from TLV airport; 5 Israeli activists arrested / Joseph Dana
972mag 8 July -- Some 50 'Welcome to Palestine' activists reportedly barred from entering Israel while hundreds others banned from boarding flights; bystanders jeer, assault Israeli activists as police look on ... Welcome to Palestine was meant to demonstrate the effective control of Israel over the Palestinian Territories. Visitors to the West Bank usually hide their destination for fear of being deported from Israel, but participants of Welcome to Palestine decided to openly declare their wish to visit Palestinian towns and villages ... At one point,Jerusalem Post columnist Larry Derfner was detained as he pleaded with the angry mob of onlookers to stop attacking the detained activists ... Watching my enraged countrymen at Ben-Gurion, I imagined the daily headlines having been distilled into a kind of political methadrine and mainlined into their veins ... Theirs is the loudest voice in the land, it's joined by the voice of Netanyahu, the government, the settlers and most of the media. All competing voices are drowned out. Which is why these foreign activists on these flotillas, whatever I or anybody else thinks of the totality of their politics, are absolutely vital not only to the Palestinians, but to Israel. They're bringing oxygen to a suffocating nation.
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VIDEO (Hebrew) Confrontations at Ben Gurion
See Matan Cohen defending activists in English as he is arrested, at about 1:01
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VIDEO: Gaza 'Flytilla' activists arrested for chanting 'Free Palestine' in Tel Aviv airport
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Gaza fly-in gains momentum
Ynet 8 July -- Dozens of pro-Palestinian activists arrive in Israel despite foreign airlines' efforts to follow passenger blacklist; more than 60 detained by police; 25 denied entry into Israel ...  Foreign airlines cooperating: About 50 passengers at the Lufthansa terminal at Paris's Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport were turned back Friday morning, after French authorities discovered their names were included on Israel's list of "undesirables."  "Roissy-Charles de Gaulle is under Israeli occupation. We are peaceful people who have no intention of creating disorder in Ben Gurion Airport," group organizer Olivia Zemor protested. She later released a statement calling the moves to prevent activists from reaching Israel "provocative, blackmailing and illegal."
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VIDEOS and photos: Live in Roissy/CDG airport, Paris: Images of the rally
8 July 17:07 -- The passengers turned away from Roissy are still at the airport waiting for the refund of tickets.[confrontations with the police, arrests, etc - great PR for Palestine]
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Welcomed to Palestine
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) 8 July -- Briditta, from Germany, arrived in the West Bank on Thursday. "As a German, I feel somehow drawn to Israel because of our history," she told Ma'an, "but that does not mean I tolerate illegal behavior." Briditta is looking forward to joining in with activities planned by Palestinian civil society organizations as part of the 'Welcome to Palestine' initiative over the following week.
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Barghouti: Israeli 'hysteria' not stopping solidarity
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) 8 July -- Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti said Friday that Israeli 'hysteria' over international solidarity would not stop foreign peace activists. 
Barghouti, who is head of the Palestinian National Initiative party, said the Israeli government had turned Ben Gurion airport into a 'military post' and accused Israeli officials of 'violating all international navigation laws that regulate flight'.
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Islamic movement in Israel leader to remain in jail after court denies appeal
Haaretz 8 July -- London court rules against Sheikh Ra'ad Salah's appeal of detention order; demonstration held outside UK embassy in Israel.
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Israeli Arab group demands Ra'ad Salah's release in UK
Haaretz 7 July -- Representatives of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee sent a letter yesterday to the British government protesting the arrest of Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement. 
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Palestinian detainee not released after term ends
HEBRON (Ma'an) 8 July -- A detainee in Israeli jail completed his eight and a half year sentence on Wednesday, but his expectant family waited in vain. Ma'an correspondent learned that Israeli authorities refused to release Ra'ed Samih Qefeisha on the date scheduled according to a decision by Israeli court. No reason was given for the extension of detention. Qefeisha, from the West Bank city of Hebron, was detained on May 9, 2003 and charged with affiliation to Fatah. He remains in Israeli prison Ramon. 
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Soldiers arrest daughter of Fatah lawmaker
NABLUS (Ma'an) 8 July -- Israeli soldiers arrested the daughter of a Fatah lawmaker Friday at the Atara checkpoint near Ramallah. The girl was identified as Besan Mahmoud Abu Baker, 21, daughter of Najat Abu Baker, a Fatah official from Nablus. 
"Israeli soldiers present at the checkpoint of Atara had stopped the car the girl was riding in, forced her out, arrested her and took her to an unknown location," the girl's mother Abu Baker told Ma'an. Israeli forces have tightened their arbitrary search procedures at military checkpoints like Atara since early on Friday morning, activists told Ma'an. Six others were detained at Atara on Friday before being released, they added
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Israeli forces detain Palestinian from Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma'an) 8 July -- Israeli forces detained a young Palestinian from Nablus district village Salim at dawn on Friday morning. Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers entered the village from the south and searched a number of homes. Khaldun Hassen Isa, 25, was detained and taken to an unknown location.
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PA security summons four citizens from Yatta
RAMALLAH (PIC) 8 July -- PA security on Friday morninghanded four citizens from Yatta town in the southern West Bank district of al-Khalil summonses. Those summoned include Sheikh Atef Rabba' and his brother Sheikh Taiseer Rabba' who work at the Islamic Orphans Welfare Society. The two brothers spent in occupation jails more than four years in administrative detention, without charge or trial. They also spent about eight months at PA jails where they were brutally tortured. The PA preventive security also handed summonses to both Jebrael al-Amour and Osama al-Hamamda for next week.
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Gaza flotilla activists aboard the Tahrir refuse to lose hope / Amira Hass
Haaretz 8 July -- Will remaining on board the Tahrir until it is allowed to sail serve the demand that Israel and the world honor the Palestinians' right to freedom of movement? ... The coast guard boat, carrying four or five soldiers who participated in taking over the vessel, remains beside the Tahrir. The soldiers and sailors greet people, offer them sesame bagels and even listen to a radio program dedicated to the flotilla. But they make sure the boat doesn't escape. Still, someone must pay, so the coast guard arrested three activists who had been off the boat when it sailed on July 4 and brought them to trial Wednesday in the nearby town of Neapolis.
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Activism / Solidarity

Villages march in solidarity with Freedom Flotilla and Welcome to Palestine
Ramallah (PNN) 8 July  – Israeli troops attacked on Friday nonviolent protests organzied every week in a number of West Bank villages ... Protests were reported in the villages of al-Nabi Salleh, Bil'in, and Ni'lin in the central West Bank, as well as al-Ma'ssara in the south ...In Bil'in village on Friday, international and Israeli supporters joined villagers and replanted trees on land given back to local farmers after the army adhered to a court order and rerouted the wall around Bil'in giving the villagers half of their lands back.Also on Friday, one boy and a youth were slightly injured when troops fired tear gas at the weekly protest in the village of al-Nabi Salleh. Palestinians and their supporters dragged a mock-ship they called Popular Resistance Flotilla. As soon as they reached the end of the village, troops attacked them with tear gas
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Final witness to testify in Rachel Corrie case Sunday
IMEMC 7 July -- Colonel Pinhas Zuaretz is scheduled to testify on Sunday July 10, 2011 as the final witness for the case involving the killing of Rachel Corrie. Rachel Corrie was an American activist for the ISM who was killed by a bulldozer when acting as a human shield to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip in 2003.  Colonel Zuaretz was the commander of Gaza Division's Southern Brigade and faces responsibility for the death of Rachel Corrie. He is possibly the highest-ranking officer to face a "cross examination" involving abuses of civilians in Gaza during the Second Intifada, according to a report issued by the Palestinian Solidarity Organization today.
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Knesset set to discuss bill to outlaw boycotts against Israel
Haaretz 8 July -- Two controversial bills - one prohibiting calls for a boycott against Israel, and the other restricting the ability of human rights groups to raise funds abroad - are likely to be the focus of fierce debate in the Knesset next week. 
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Political / Diplomatic / International news

Congress votes in favor of PA aid suspension
AP 8 July --  A week after the Senate approved a similar proposal; the US House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly backed the idea of suspending aid to the Palestinian Authority if it continues to refuse a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They also rejected Palestinian pursuit of statehood through the United Nations. The vote was 407-6 for the nonbinding resolution that also called on the Obama administration to consider suspending aid to the Palestinian Authority in light of the deal between the government and Hamas - considered a terrorist group by Israel and the US.
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UN bid to bypass Security Council as US veto likely
RAMALLAH (AFP) 8 July -- The Palestinians may take their bid for statehood to the UN General Assembly rather than the Security Council, where a US veto is likely, an official said on Friday. "We will submit our request to the Secretary General, maybe in the last 10 days of July," Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh told journalists.
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Romania backtracking over Palestinian statehood vote
AFP 8 July -- Romania said Friday it had yet to decide on its vote on a unilateral Palestinian bid for statehood in September, two days after telling Israeli's Benjamin Netanyahu it opposed any unilateral solution.
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Turkey PM: Israel must still apologize for last year's Gaza flotilla raid
Reuters 8 July -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday that it was "unthinkable" to normalize ties with Israel unless Israel apologized for the killing of nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara ship bound for the Gaza Strip last year.  Erdoğan also said that two other conditions for the normalization of ties were Israel lifting its blockade of Gaza and Israel paying compensation to the victims of the flotilla raid.
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Israel 'trusts Germany' over Saudi tank deal
BERLIN (AFP) 8 July -- A top Israeli official said he was unaware of a disputed German deal to sell hundreds of tanks to Saudi Arabia but had complete confidence in the German government, in an interview published Thursday. Saudi Arabia is reportedly about to buy 200 Leopard-2s, Germany's main battle tank which is also produced under license in Spain, for a multi-billion-euro (dollar) sum. Germany, which for more than 20 years has declined to sell such heavy weapons to Saudi Arabia because of concerns over human rights and fears for Israel's security, has refused to officially confirm the reports citing a secrecy policy on such deals.
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Lebanon to search for natural gas in Israeli waters
Haaretz 8 July -- The Lebanese government has hired a Norwegian firm to conduct a seismic survey on the border of Israel's exclusive economic zone. Lebanon intends to parcel out the rights to search for natural gas and oil in the area, which may also include part of Israel's exclusive economic zone, according to information obtained by the Israeli government. As a result, the cabinet will be asked to approve an official decision on Sunday detailing the borders of Israel's exclusive economic zone ... the border between Israel and Lebanon has never been agreed upon.
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Other news

'Shabbat phones' for Netanyahu aides
Ynet 8 July -- Prime minister's bureau purchases kosher phones for religious aides, enabling communication on Jewish day of rest ... The Shabbat phone was created by the Zomet Institute which specializes in adapting medical and security equipment for Shabbat use. It utilizes a special technology: A special mechanism scans the phone for activity regularly. This way when the user presses buttons, picks up the phone or hangs up he is not directly activating the device. Actions are performed only when the scan picks up on them thus canceling out the electrical aspect. 
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Tali Fahima wants job in Ramallah
Ynet 8 July -- Israeli pro-Palestinian activist Tali Fahima, known for her close relationship with Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades commander Zakaria Zubeidi and her recent decision to convert to Islam, is looking for a job in the Palestinian territories. 
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Analysis / Opinion

The pro-Palestinian fly-in poses no danger to Israel / Amos Harel
MESS Report 8 July -- Excessive preparations for clashes risk becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy ... The overreaction stems from the siege mentality that has taken hold over the past two years in the clash between the Netanyahu government and the campaign to delegitimize Israel in Europe ... To this should be added the permanent atmosphere of panic and confusion around Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 
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Times coverage of fly-in protest masks nature of Israeli control over Palestinian lives / Adam Horowitz
A friend writes: 
Isabel Kershner has some useful information about Israel's hysterical response to the fly-intoday, though she leaves out the frightening scenes of angry crowds at the airport. But she obfuscates the basic reality that the fly-in was meant to underline, that Israel controls all borders and entry and exit of Palestinians and foreigners into and out of the West Bank, and cuts Palestinians off from the outside world. Readers won't learn these very basic facts about Israeli control over Palestinian lives in the NY Times.
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Empathy toward the Palestinian side invokes hatred and distrust / Yael Sternhell
Haaretz 7 July -- The anger at Israelis who support Palestinian independence resembles the treatment of whites who supported the black civil rights movement -- The July 15 march scheduled by the solidarity movement for Palestinian independence will surely stir an ugly wave of threats against Jews who dare to deviate from the consensus: those who express their identification with the Palestinian desire to end the occupation and establish an independent state. In the Israel of 2011, every manifestation of basic human empathy toward the Palestinian side, every disclosure of understanding for its aspirations and priorities hits a wall of hatred, distrust and the growing siege mentality. 
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Way back machine: Senate hearing in '77 were titled 'The colonization of the West Bank territories by Israel'! / Philip Weiss
Mondoweiss 8 July -- Yes, it was in 1977. I was wearing muttonchops. That's a link to a Library of Congress record titled "The Colonization of the West Bank Territories by Israel," a Senate hearing on "The Question of West Bank Settlements and the Treatment of Arabs in the Israeli-Occupied Territories" dated October 17 and 18, 1977. Fouzi El-Asmar, the Palestinian poet and author of the amazing book To Be an Arab In Israel, testified. El-Asmar lived behind barbed wire for a while, near Lyd. Also testimony from the great Dr. Israel Shahak, Professor of Chemistry, Hebrew University, where he describes how settlements are first referred to by their Arabic names, and then later biblical names ... OK: What's happened to my country, the U.S., that we can't call colonization colonization and have the likes of Saree Makdisi and Mazim Qumsiyeh and Jeff Halper testify before the Senate? I believe the reason is the rise of the meritocracy, the new order of Jews inside the establishment, the Israel lobby as a fact of our elite culture. In '77 the WASPs were still au saddle. As I hasten to add every time I make this point, it's a great thing, generally, for everybody that the bluebloods were deposed, them too. But when it comes to Middle East policy it means that there's no debate.  
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Is Palestine next? / Adam Shatz
LRB 14 July issue -- ...The old Arab order was buried in Tahrir Square. Young revolutionaries rose up against a regime which for three decades had stood in the way of Palestinian aspirations. It seemed too good to be true and some pundits in Palestine wondered whether it wasn't an American conspiracy. But it wasn't, and Palestinians began to re-examine what had been one of their most disabling convictions: the belief that the US controls the Middle Eastern chessboard, and that the Arab world is powerless against America and Israel. 'There has been a kind of epistemic break,' a young Palestinian said to me. The excitement among Palestinians sometimes seems to be mixed with unease, even envy: the spotlight has been stolen from them. 
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US collusion in the Gaza blockade is an affront to human rights / Cindy Corrie
Guardian 8 July -- My daughter's death shows the cruelty of an America that won't protect its own and is complicit in harming Palestinian civilians -- When Greek authoritiesprevented the US ship the Audacity of Hope leaving its port in Athens this week, they dealt a blow to a group of brave and principled Americans who were trying to carry thousands of letters from US citizens to those who wait on Gaza's shores.I know many of the people who were on this boat, and my family's letter was part of their cargo. In 2003 my daughter Rachel Corrie made her journey to Gaza and was run down and killed by a US-made Israeli military Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer. She was trying to protect a Gazan family and their home, one of thousands illegally destroyed in Israeli military clearing operations ... After eight years, our family remains engaged in prolonged court proceedings seeking accountability that the US government has been unable to secure -- though it has no difficulty sending Israel $3bn annually in weapons that do the damage.
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Gaza and a liturgy for justice / Ray McGovern
8 July -- The Audacity of Hope, the U.S. boat among a small flotilla seeking to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza, was turned back by Greek authorities doing the bidding of Washington and Tel Aviv. However, for ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who was among the passengers, the endeavor demonstrated the commitment of Americans from a variety of backgrounds to fight injustice ... Our kind of extremism can be seen as rooted in a liturgy that rejects pseudo-worship, which prophet Isaiah warned that God finds sickening: "Trample my courts no more! … Your incense is loathsome to me. … Make Justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow. … I will strengthen you … a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring prisoners out of confinement, and from the dungeon those who live in darkness..."
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Derfner: Flotilla activists are 'bringing oxygen to a suffocating nation'
Jul 09, 2011 08:01 am | Adam Horowitz

Larry Derfner describes the scene yesterday at Ben Gurion Airport as the "Welcome to Palestine" protesters starting arriving. Derfner was briefly arrested and let go. He titled his piece "Mobocracy at Ben-Gurion Airport," and it's not clear from the title of this post, but the "suffocating nation" is Israel:

Anybody who belives the platitude that the people want peace, it's just the leaders who want war, should have been at Ben-Gurion Airport today. It's a good thing those Free Palestine activists got arrested; otherwise, the little mob that formed spontaneously would have punched them up pretty good.

Only minutes after I got to the Arrivals hall, a few activists stood in front of the phalanx of reporters and cameramen, held up their little signs and started chanting "Israel Apartheid" and "Free Palestine!" (I'd written previously here that they were foreign activists who'd just gotten off a plane; I've learned since that they were Israelis.) The cops tore the signs from their hands and started pushing them toward the exit. After the first couple of minutes of watching in shocked silence, people in the terminal started to boo. Men were cursing loudly – "sons of bitches," "garbage," and things in Arabic I didn't understand.

A couple of dozen people, mainly men but also a few women, followed very close behind the tightly-bunched demonstrators, cops and reporters to the police van. "Throw them in the garbage," shouted one woman. An old man tried to get at one of the activists, but the police stopped him.

I was there ostensibly as a journalist, and I was scribbling notes, but I felt cowardly not saying anything to these nationalist hooligans, so I started telling them in Hebrew, "What are these people doing?" The woman who wanted them thrown in the garbage said, "They're hurting us!" I said, "They're talking," and the little mob turned on me, a couple of the men raised their fists. The woman told me, "Go back home, get out of here." I said, "I live here." The cops mistook me for a demonstrator, put me in the police van, but when I showed them my press card, they let me go.

Let me repeat - the police started off arresting the demonstrators, but very shortly their main task was to keep them from being assaulted. They had to hold back the herd = and that's what these people were, a herd incited by the idea that these protesters, non-violent protesters trying to get to the West Bank, were a menace, an immediate threat to their security.

And I do not buy the idea that these people are helpless pawns being manipulated by the government, the media, the right-wing politicians. Most Israelis, even if they wouldn't join a mob like the one at the airport, want to hear the belligerent rhetoric the opinion-makers are feeding them. They hate anybody who says anything bad about Israel, and take their words automatically as "blood libels." The opinion-makers know this, and the ones who are popular and want to stay that way tell the people what they want to hear.

Who's manipulating whom is a chicken-and-egg question.

Watching my enraged countrymen at Ben-Gurion, I imagined the daily headlines having been distilled into a kind of political methadrine and mainlined into their veins. Few Israelis would join them in physically going after people chanting slogans. But in their insistence that protesters like these be silenced because their words are acts of violence, of war, of terrorism, they represent the majority. They are an authentic expression of the national will. Theirs is the loudest voice in the land, it's joined by the voice of Netanyahu, the government, the settlers and most of the media. All competing voices are drowned out.

Which is why these foreign activists on these flotillas, whatever I or anybody else thinks of the totality of their politics, are absolutely vital not only to the Palestinians, but to Israel. They're bringing oxygen to a suffocating nation.


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At her book launch, Olson's Indian ancestry gives hasbara-ist opening to use U.S. ethnic-cleansing excuse
Jul 09, 2011 08:00 am | Scott McConnell

On Thursday night, I went to the book launch event for Pamela Olson's memoir Fast Times in Palestine at the New School. For quite a while now, I've thought Pamela was going to become a star—young, smart, and cool and self-confident with a microphone in her hands. And for the issue of the Mideast, an exotically-unusual background: small town girl from Oklahoma, who would find herself spending several years in Israeli-occupied Palestine in the years after 9/11. The small town girl confronting big worldly, potentially dangerous experience-–whether in the city, or abroad, is one of the most classic of American literary themes—even as there are fewer small towns to come from. One large question would seem to be who will play Olson in the movie version?

But here the subject matter is Israel/Palestine so the usual bets are off. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) the book didn't get a large publisher, though this is likely far less important with the publishing industry in upheaval. 

The launch drew about a hundred people. Olson read and answered questions posed by a Palestinian-American woman whose name I didn't get (having arrived a few minutes late.) The book, which has been excerpted here, is a nuanced account of unique experience, and seems perhaps most of all testament to the Palestinian people's remarkable capacity to endure and struggle against a sophisticated system designed to squeeze the life out of them.

A few interesting points came up in the audience question period. Olson had mentioned her great-grandmother who is an American Indian, and was talking a bit about Oklahoma, and the culture of Christian Zionism. And then a guy in the audience, young, American accent, mentioned that he was from Oklahoma too, and talked of the culture of land grabbing and settlement.

That gave an opening for a hasbara guy, who raised his hand to say that when Americans forcibly dislocated the Cherokees in the 1820's, Jews had nothing whatever to do with it. He then went to praise Israel's settlement of post-1948 Jewish refugees from Arab countries (an exodus which Israel hardly discouraged, seeking to bring as many Jews as possible into the country as a national goal) and added that Olson had not said anything the King Hussein's war against the Palestinians in the Black September period, and why was that? Why hadn't she written a pro-Israel book after her years on the West Bank? 

I wonder what really motivates these hasbara outbursts. Is going to contending events and interrupting with irrelevant questions job training to acquire a paid position, or is something young right wing Zionists really enjoy doing? Or do they think it's persuasive? Anyway, he was given a polite answer and we moved on.

But the American Indian parallel is becoming a new anchor of Lkudnik argumentation: what right do you Americans have to lecture us about ethnic cleansing? You would assume that Israelis would recognize the weakness of an argument based on the premise that if evil was done in the past, it's then totally alright to do it again to someone else, but evidently not.

I had to leave Olson's event for a dinner before chatting with her, but quickly bought a book to give to my dining partners. I hope many do the same.


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Then after that I dropped the f-bomb on my husband for starting the Iraq war
Jul 09, 2011 07:59 am | Philip Weiss

Should we have known that Elliott Abrams, former White House adviser, had dear friends who were colonists in the occupied territories? I guess they all do. Here's a post from his wife, Rachel Abrams, at badrachel blog. I do believe the sister can write. Almost used her last line as the headline:

We spend Shabbat afternoon with beloved friends who live beyond the Green Line in the Judean hills [in the occupied West Bank]. They were in the first group of eighteen settlers to break ground here, to scrabble their desert plot into lovely terraced gardens... Their love for this place is in their bones, and aching.

[The couple returns in a car driven by Elliott Abrams]

we are lost on an unfamiliar road in a part of Jerusalem neither one of us recognizes. Uphill to our left is what looks like a techy office area; downhill to our right is the Zionist Racist Apartheid Wall. As we pass along at warp speed I say out loud to Mr. Leadfoot, the only person within earshot,  "F*** you, Arabs!" Then rant on in my head so as not to further irritate an already irritated driver who hates getting lost and almost never does so: "This partition was their choice. They could have had their state sixty-three years ago, if only they'd accepted the original partition instead of going to war against the Jews. Blah, blah, blah."...

[Yes like Americans would have accepted a colony under the English flag in the late 1700s in New York and New England and Pennsylvania and Virginia...]

[Sorry: now they are lost in an orthodox neighborhood, and the black hats start screaming at them for driving on Saturday]

"SHABBES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SHABBES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!SHABBES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" they shriek at us, as if we didnt already know it's Shabbes, as if we want to be there offending them We speed up and down streets as wide as pencils in our increasingly desperation-filled mini-car; I cower, waiting for the stoning to begin. I hear myself saying "F*** YOU" again

My husband has maneuvered us around a roadblock and back to the present. Escape! Zionism! The Jewish State! Air conditioning!...


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Israel used to brag about all the 'tourists' who come to occupied territories
Jul 09, 2011 07:11 am | Philip Weiss

Yesterday we did a post on the stunning fact that back in 1977 the Senate held hearings on the colonization of the West Bank by Israel! And two of the witnesses were strong critics of Israel. A friend was reading the transcript of the 1977 Senate hearings, and came upon a passage that is particularly relevant to this week's news, from pg. 43.

The witness is the pro-Israel witness, Yehuda Zvi Blum, then a professor at Hebrew University. And former Senator Jim Abourezk has just asked him about reports of the lack of rights in the occupied territories.

BLUM: When he speaks about political demonstrations and the like, then obviously we are shifting to a different sphere. We are shifting to the political rights which are invariably curtailed in occupied territories by the State that at least for the moment does not claim sovereignty and has not turned the population into its citizens. That was the situation in Germany between 1945 and 1949. That was the situation in Japan of MacArthur during the first years of American occupation in Japan.
I think Israel is no exception except perhaps for one important point. Israel has given a great amount of freedom of movement from the territories to the neighboring countries, back and forth. You will not find many other countries in the world where, before the conclusion of peace, you would find so many tourists coming to the occupied territories from enemy countries as you find in the case of Israel, in spite of all the security risks involved.
Senator ABOUREZK. I would like to ask you again if you approve or disapprove of the denial of legal rights and human rights of the people living in the West Bank?
Mr. BLUM. The way the question is phrased reminds me of the question "Have you stopped beating your wife?"


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