A Palestinian’s field of vegetables destroyed by settlers at night, and other news from

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Today in Palestine:

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Jerusalem report documents wave of demolitions
Jerusalem – Ma’an – The Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights released a report on Thursday, documenting the demolition of several greenhouses, a car wash and a grocery in the town of Hizma during the two previous days.  On Tuesday and Wednesday of the same week, the report said, demolitions were carried out on homes and agricultural buildings, many of which were paying fines for or were in the process of appeals around charges of illegal construction in the area northeast of Jerusalem.


UN envoy says acts in Jerusalem ‘provocative’
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Robert Serry, the UN special envoy to the Middle East peace process, condemned the takeover by armed settlers of a building in occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday.  Two Jewish families, protected by Israeli police, entered the building, home to nine Palestinian families, with documents claiming that they owned the property. Israeli National Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said police were examining the documents “to determine whether they are accurate or not."


Israeli police working with settlers to occupy Palestinian home in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City, Amanda Klonsky
Yonatan Shapira has sent me the following account of events unfolding at the Kirresh family home in the Muslim Quarter in Jerusalem. Settlers from the fanatical group Ateret Cohanim, have taken over the home of a Palestinian family of more than 50 people. The settlers are being protected by Israeli police, who guard the door while the Kirresh family sits outside in the street with no protection.


More than 200 demonstrate against the buffer-zone near Gaza’s Nahal Oz crossing
Five International Solidarity Movement volunteers participated in a demonstration against the bufferzone near Nahal Oz border crossing, east of Gaza City on Wednesday (July 28th).  The march had a big turn out of over 200 people and was organised by the Popular Campaign for the Security in the Buffer Zone, an umbrella group which includes organisations representing farmers and local people living near the border. Members of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF), a grass-roots organisation heavily involved in the protests against the buffer-zone, waved prominent large white flags.

Facing annexation, the West Bank village of al-Walaja looks to ‘Budrus’ for inspiration, Joseph Dana
In the cool summer evening air of the Jerusalem hills last Tuesday evening, hundreds of Palestinians and Israelis descended on the small village of al-Walaja for a screening of the critically acclaimed documentary Budrus. The screening was jointly organized by Israelis and Palestinians who are working to non-violently resist the construction of Israel’s separation barrier on the village’s land.The screening bore special significance for the people of al-Walaja as the film follows the story of a West Bank village’s unarmed struggle against the construction of Israel’s separation barrier on its farmland and its subsequent success in having the route of the wall changed.

‘a bad country’, Philip Weiss
Adam posted this video last night. It’s the most important thing on this site, and it’s only 2-1/2 minutes long. What else is there to say, besides, Please watch it. And look at the soldiers’ Centurionlike shields, and their black getup…

Interview with Khalil Alamour, organizer of protest at demolished village


The Silence of The Bedouins

|The road to al-Hadidiya village in the northeastern West Bank district of Tubas is dotted with boulders etched with a warning in Hebrew, Arabic and English: “Danger – Open Fire Area”.  The boulders arrived about six months ago, and are positioned at the entrance to Palestinian villages, indicating that chunks of the Jordan Valley have become a closed military zone claimed by the Israeli army. They signal a further squeeze on the Bedouin communities here. Shepherd Abdul Rahim Bsharat, 59, and his family have lived and farmed in al-Hadidiya since the 1960s. At that time, he said, there were 400-500 families there. Now, there are 17, who stay on despite having no access to water or electricity. Every building in the village has an Israeli demolition order on it.  On 21 June, the Israeli military gave Bsharat notice that his house and animal shelters could be destroyed at any time. When Bsharat’s house was previously demolished in 2002, his water tank was confiscated too. “If they destroy my property again, I’ll come back and rebuild it again. This is my land,” he said.

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment
Three Injured 2 Arrested As Troops Attack Wall Protests In The West Bank
Ghassan Bannoura – PNN – Israeli troops attacked on Friday anti wall protests that were organized at a number of locations in the West Bank.  Israeli and international supporters joined Palestinian villagers in Bil’in, Nil’in an Nabi Saleh in the central West Bank in addition to Ertass and Al Ma’ssra in the southern West Bank. Israeli troops used tear gas, sound grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets to suppress the protests at several locations.  At all four locations protests kicked- off shortly after the midday prayers on Friday and headed towards the Israeli separation wall.


Hundreds to protest razing of Arab village
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Residents and supporters of the Al-Araqib village, where 35 homes were demolished on Tuesday, were preparing for demonstrators on Friday, following calls for a mass protest against the demolitions.  Residents say 250 men, women and children were left homeless by the move, when Israeli tractors accompanied by an estimated 1,500 police officers entered the Bedouin village and destroyed homes it said were built illegally.


Groups urge Clinton to intervene in case of jailed rights defender
Madame Secretary, we respectfully request that your office investigate the arrest, unlawful treatment, and detention of Mr. Makhoul and use its considerable diplomatic influence to bring an end to his arbitrary detention and to ensure that Israel, a leading recipient of US military and economic aid, comply with its commitment under US law and international legal norms.

We can’t turn a blind eye to Israeli human rights abuses
When we talk about the Israel/Palestine conflict, we cannot talk about it in the third person. It is our conflict, as it is our taxpayer dollars that supply Israel’s weapons of war and our diplomatic cover that allows war crimes and human rights abuses to thrive.

Jubilation and a symbolic act of resistance to the siege: the Gaza boat race
“I call to the whole world to treat us like everybody else, to break the blockade of the sea and of the whole Gaza Strip, so that people will be able to make a living from the sea again”, states the happy winner of the first Gaza boat race, Jamal Baker. On the 26th July 2010, the race took place near the port of Gaza city, with ten boats participating. The boats sped through three laps, always staying near the coastline from where a cheering crowd followed the action.

Violence and Aggression
Israeli soldiers shoot at 2 Palestinians, injure 1, near checkpoint
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Undercover Israeli soldiers shot at two Palestinians, injuring one, north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, witnesses said.  According to the witnesses, the undercover forces blocked a car near Atarah checkpoint, shot at two young Palestinian men, and then arrested them.


Report: Settler violence continues in south Hebron hills
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli settlers destroyed a field of vegetables in a Bedouin village in the southern West Bank on Wednesday night, international peace groups reported.  During the night, a report said, a Palestinian farmer from Um Al-Kher village in the south Hebron hills heard noises from his garden, and thought there were animals inside. On inspection, he saw settlers walking through his field, but did not approach them for fear they were armed, he told Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove, who maintain a presence in the area.


Shocked by the story behind the headline
Bethlehem – Ma’an – "It was not at all rational, the way it’s written in the news; it was chaos," a member of Ma’an’s TV crew said after being caught up in the middle of Tuesday’s settler violence near Nablus.  "With the settlers, you just don’t know what they’re going to do, who they’ll target," she said.  A Ma’an van was en route to Nablus to film an episode of a quiz show and had just passed a checkpoint when those inside were introduced firsthand to the unpredictable violence in the northern West Bank.

Ashkelon Struck By Missile Fire
Qatar’s al-Jazeera network are reporting that a missile fired from the Gaza Strip has struck the south of the Israeli city of Ashkelon.


The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian and Human Rights/Restriction of Movement
Two Palestinians injured in a Gaza tunnel
Two Palestinian tunnel workers were injured on Friday during their work inside the tunnel to smuggle essential goods for the besieged Gaza Strip.


U.N. rights body tells Israel to end Gaza blockade
GENEVA (Reuters) – Israel must lift its military blockade of the Gaza Strip and invite an independent, fact-finding mission to investigate its raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, a United Nations rights body said on Friday.

Israel’s Barak, UN chief to discuss Gaza, settlements (AFP)
AFP – Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will meet UN chief Ban Ki-moon here Friday to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip and Israel’s settlement policy, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said Thursday.

Palestinian refugee appeals to Abbas from Jordan
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Palestinian refugee in Jordan in need of heart surgery asked Palestinian leaders to help.  Manar Issa Eid wrote to Ma’an from the Al-Hussein Hospital in Amman, where he is waiting for financial support for surgery, appealing to President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the health minister to intervene to save his life.


Israel allows new cars into Gaza
After holding Gaza under siege for more than three years, Israel has said it will finally allow new cars and spare parts into the strip. Residents were relieved, because they have had to buy damaged cars and parts from tunnel smugglers. But a month after the announcement, nothing has arrived because of a dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Some car dealers are also angry because they could be stuck with over-priced inventory brought to Gaza through smuggling which they will not be able to sell. Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reports from Gaza.

War Crimes
Qana…Where Jesus’s 1st Miracle Turns Bloody
30/07/2010 “We have lived through hell,” Qana resident, Fawzeya Atwi cried. “The people were chopped into pieces by the Israeli bombs. They bleed these people. You should have seen the heads.”  “Do you know what the dogs did at night after the killings? They were hungry and I saw them in the ruins eating fingers and pieces of our people,” Atwi said about the Qana massacre during the July 2006 Israeli War on Lebanon.  Head of the Red Cross in Tyre Sami Yazbak, who was helping to pull bodies from the ruins, told The Guardian that the first call about the bombing was received at 7 a.m., 6 hours after the bombing took place. He said that previous shelling on the road to Qana had delayed the arrival of Red Cross personnel.  Yazbak said that “many of the children who were sleeping inside were handicapped.”


Israel’s Arab Helpers and Friends
Egyptian police shoot Eritrean migrant at border
ISMAILIA Egypt, July 29 (Reuters) – Egyptian police shot dead an Eritrean migrant as he tried to cross the Egyptian-Israeli border, medical and security sources said on Thursday.  In the second killing this week, the 28-year-old migrant was shot twice in the chest after he ignored orders to stop and fled towards Israel along the central Sinai border, the sources said.


Egyptian security says arms store seized
Al-Arish – Ma’an – Egyptian security forces said officers located a weapons storehouse in the northern Sinai south of Al-Arish on Friday, and said they believed the goods were destined for the Gaza Strip.  Police uncovered what a report described as a three-meter deep hole near a small warehouse, and said the hole was filled with munitions and weaponry.  The store was found in the Beir Lahfan area in the northern Sinai, which police said was being searched as a routine action, as the area is known as a smuggling hotbed.

MESS Report / From lynch to escort – cooperating with the PA is bearing fruit
Radical change in level of security coordination between Israel and the PA in the West Bank has allowed the government to make more confidence-building gestures tot he Palestinians.

Jordan Trade Unions Slam Visit of “Criminal” Netanyahu
28/07/2010 Jordan’s trade unions on Wednesday strongly condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Jordan, describing him as a "criminal."  "At a time when the Zionist enemy is killing our people in Palestine and destroying their homes, as well as planning schemes against Jordan’s security, officials receive Netanyahu the criminal in Amman," head of the unions’ council Ahmad Armuti said in a statement.  "The trade unions completely reject this visit and hold the government responsible for its political and public responsibilities, in line with the constitution."  Netanyahu held a two-hour meeting with King Abdullah II on a surprise visit to Jordan on Tuesday in a bid to convince Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to upgrade Middle East peace talks.

Political/Other Developments
Hamas slams Arab backing for Israel talks (AFP)
AFP – Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal slammed Arab leaders for endorsing the resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, in comments published by Al-Jazeera on Friday.


‘Abbas to give negotiations green light by September’
Western diplomats estimate Palestinian president to reverse position, agree to direct talks within month. ‘What he says in public is not necessarily what he says in private,’ official source states.

Abbas resists US pressure for immediate talks with Israel
Arab nations yesterday backed the Palestinian President’s refusal to immediately restart direct talks with Israel despite heavy US pressure.

US ‘encouraged’ by Arab support for Mideast talks (AFP)
AFP – The United States said Thursday it was "encouraged" by signs of Arab support for the resumption of direct Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations.


Arab League wants US guarantees
The Arab League has declined to endorse an immediate resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, saying it needs further guarantees from the United States before approving talks.  Arab foreign ministers said at a meeting in Cairo on Thursday that they agreed in principle to the direct talks, but only subject to certain "measures and conditions".  "There is agreement, but [it is] agreement over the principles of what will be discussed and the manner of the direct negotiations," said Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, the Qatari foreign minister.  Amr Moussa, the Arab League secretary-general, said that direct negotiations should be preceded by "written guarantees" from the United States, particularly on the subject of Israeli settlements.


Clinton “burning up phone lines” to Middle East
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been “burning up the phone lines” the past five days to try and lay the groundwork for a transition from indirect to direct Israel-Palestinian peace talks, aides say.  Clinton’s phone calls with Arab and Israeli leaders come in advance of a meeting Thursday of Arab foreign ministers to decide if they will give their blessing to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for direct talks with the Israelis, rather than U.S.-mediated proximity talks.

Mash’al: International parties against conciliation
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas prefers not to bow to international pressure, it will remain steadfast and work to change the rules of the game, the party’s politburo chief in Damascus Khalid Mash’al told reporters in Qatar on Thursday.  Accusing "international parties" of being opposed to Palestinian unity, Mash’al brushed off the Arab League’s decision to support direct peace talks between the Fatah-lead government in the West Bank and Israel, saying it was a move to boost the standing of the league in the west.


Other News
Blair’s undisclosed business dealings conflict with Quartet role
Tony Blair’s relationship with one of the world’s richest men poses a clear and significant conflict of interest with his duties as Quartet envoy. Adri Nieuwhof reports.


East Jerusalem’s perfect spot for secret spy meetings
Considered one of the best boutique hotels in the Middle East, the American Colony has served for decades as a meeting place for politicians, journalists, diplomats and spies.

Gaza children set new kite flying world record
7,202 children fly as many kites to enter Guinness Book of World Records as part of UN-run summer camp.


Hip-hop, breakdancing and parkour: Gaza’s underground youth culture
Creativity is blooming, sometimes clashing with traditional Gaza social codes or Hamas’ standards of acceptable behavior.


If they were Muslim, the New York Times would cover these items
Anti-gay protesters: Sick perverts – get out of Jerusalem
Eighth Jerusalem Gay Pride parade marches amid growing tensions with rightist protesters.


Sokolow’s niece ‘not Jewish enough’ to marry here
After being told she needed to prove the Jewishness of her maternal lineage for four generations, Hillary Rubin is questioning her decision to move to Israel.


Rabbi clashes with Israeli embassy in Washington over Western Wall arrest
Modern Orthodox rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld enraged by Israeli silence over arrest of woman whose crime was holding a Torah scroll.


Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest
Don’t deny our rights: open letter to Mahmoud Abbas
No Palestinian institution or leader has ever accepted an exclusive Jewish claim to Palestine, which is irreconcilable with the internationally recognized rights of the Palestinian people. Our rights inhere in us as a people; they are not yours to do with as you please.


Gaza — only appeals
Managing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the failure of peace negotiations topped the agenda in Cairo this week. Dina Ezzat assesses prospects for movement on either track


What’s in a name? In a racist society, everything
A young Jewish Israeli woman and a young Palestinian Jerusalemite had consensual sex. Afterwards, the Jewish woman discovered that her partner was in fact not Jewish at all, but horror of horror, a Palestinian. But there was more, the Palestinian had called himself "Dudu," his nickname, but one most often used by Israeli Jews, and from this the young woman concluded she had been deliberately deceived and in fact raped. Richard Irvine comments for The Electronic Intifada.

A barely tolerated minority
All Palestinian political activity more radical than a Cub Scout meeting is illegal in East Jerusalem.

Some Israelis celebrate what Bernadotte’s murder achieved, Philip Weiss
Larry Derfner has a great piece in the JPost laying out the hypocrisy of Israel’s extolling terrorists while condemning Palestinians when they do the same. It’s a wonderful argument, but for me what leaped out was the Bernadotte bit. Consider, that Count Bernadotte, who saved Jews from the Nazis during the war, wanted to internationalize Jerusalem, as Herzl had promised it would be, and get the Palestinian refugees back to their homes, and more equitably divide historical Palestine than the division created by the armistice. Well Bernadotte was killed; and as you can see in this piece, some Israelis love it that he was killed. And of course we are still dealing with the injustice of the resulting arrangement.

The rich tapestry of Israeli apartheid, Jonathan Cook
The recent announcement that Palestinian communities in Israel will be provided with a bus service for the first time since Israel’s founding – that is, in 62 years – surprised observers who had not realised second-class citizenship also extends to being deprived of a bus line.  People often object to the comparison of Israel within the Green Line to apartheid South Africa. After all, there are no segregated park benches or buses (apart from those kosher lines that the Haredi vigilantes patrol). True enough, but who needs to segregate buses on an ethnic basis if they are simply not provided to Palestinian communities in the first place?  A couple of interesting elements to this story, however, have been missed in the telling.


In ‘FT,’ Oxford chancellor calls on EU to step in before strangulation of Palestine leads to ‘further disaster’, Philip Weiss
Lord Chris Patten, chancellor of Oxford University, president of Medical Aid for Palestinians, has an important piece in the Financial Times describing the cruel reality built by the peace process. Patten is consummate British establishment: Britain’s former EU commissioner, the last governor-general of Hong Kong. And a Tory. A real indication of the deep shift underway in global opinion. There’s a firewall/registration at the FT. I’ve excerpted a lot of the piece below.


Not a Palestinian to be seen in W. Post piece on Occupied West Bank,  Philip Weiss
You want two states? You get a gold star! But it’s one state right now, folks. A Washington Post piece on a baptismal site for Christians in the Jordan River in the Occupied West Bank quotes only Israelis, Gidon Bromberg, and Eli Dror of "Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority", who treat the site as part of Israel.

Fida Qishta’s film about Gaza, Philip Weiss
An essential part of breaking the siege on Gaza, Gelman went on, is allowing Palestinians to tell us the Gaza story, and then she introduced a young Gazan named Fida Qishta, and her film about the attack on Gaza of 08-09 called "Where Should the Birds Fly."


Twilight Zone / Taybeh revisited, Gideon Levy
The Taybeh American Association holds its annual convention in the West Bank, with hundreds of Palestinian-Americans exploring their roots in the Christian village. Taybeh looks very small, they say, compared to Los Angeles

I’m going back to Gaza, Susan Johnson
The night before my group departed from Gaza in June 2009, I talked about not being ready to leave. And I wasn’t.  It took me another two months after I got back to pull out of my "Gaza Haze" and begin to function again. I met with my Congressman’s Director of Outreach, and he advised me to talk, talk, talk about my experience in Gaza. A year ago I put together a presentation and began speaking before groups.  I thought about Gaza numerous times throughout the day, and still do. The devastation in Gaza was a shock. I wasn’t prepared for how total the destruction was. I continue to wonder how the people of Gaza manage with so much loss: jobs, homes, farms, schools, hospitals, fire stations, police stations, play grounds, stores…and most difficult loss of all, people– family, friends, neighbors.


We shall be as dreamers, Yossi Sarid
Haaretz "The Palestinians` starting position is better than ours: They have fulfilled most of their obligations under the road map peace plan, while we have not removed even one of the illegal outposts we were supposed to dismantle."

DAM: between bombs and beats
We are living in Palestine. Our history, our culture, our everything is Palestinian. — Mahmoud Jreri of DAM,  “I see myself as a fisherman,” says Suhell Nafar, a member of DAM, the leading Palestinian hip-hop group. “Today, I fished a few fish who didn’t know anything and now know a little thing. Maybe now when they see the TV news, they will think differently about it. Maybe they will go on the Internet and learn about it.”  Suhell was speaking at last weekend’s WOMAD music festival, minutes after DAM had given a passionate performance in front of a big crowd. “There were thousands of people at the concert screaming ‘Free Palestine’. Most of them have never heard about Palestine, and now they know something.”

The press baron who’s making news in Israel
It is the brash upstart on the Israeli media scene with money to burn and already with a reputation it’s trying to shed. Israel Hayom, a free newspaper that for the first time has stormed to the front of Israel’s circulation battle, is such a strong backer of the prime minister that its critics call it "Bibiton" – a play on the nickname of Benjamin Netanyahu. In addition to the editorial line, the impression is compounded by the fact that founder and financier, the US Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson, is one of the premier’s close friends.

Thursday: 34 Iraqis Killed, 60 Wounded
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said he is wagering that sectarian violence will not surge after a massive reduction of U.S. combat troops next month. Ahead of that withdrawal, the violence continues. At least 34 Iraqis were killed and 60 more were wounded across the country. Security forces were targeted in several cities.


Vying for top government post delays formation of new Iraqi government
Disagreements on who should be the next prime minister are delaying the formation of the new Iraqi government.  The winners and losers of the last general elections held four months ago want to have the post of the prime minister, according to Addnan al-Shamkhani, a senior leader of the State of Law Coalition.  The State of Law which includes the party of the current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki lost the elections with a slight majority.  But his rival, Ayad Allawi, leader of the Iraqi list bloc, has failed to win the two thirds parliamentary majority necessary for forming the new government.

Iraqi Insurgents Plant Their Flag in Baghdad
The group, which has claimed a series of attacks, raised its flag after attacks on police Thursday.

Ambition and Anxiety as Najaf Readies for Limelight
Iraqi city’s nomination as Islamic cultural capital provokes pride – and questions over preparations.


The Suffering of Fallujah, Robert Koehler
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Fallujah . . .  And so it turns out that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, though not until we arrived and started using them.  Along with whatever else we did to Fallujah – exacted collective punishment on a defiant city (a war crime) in November 2004, killed thousands of civilians, shattered the infrastructure (nearly six years later, the sewage system hasn’t been repaired and waste flows in the streets) — we also, apparently, nuked the city, leaving a legacy of cancer, leukemia, infant mortality, and genetic abnormality.  Freedom isn’t free. Remember when that was the go-to phrase of the citizen war zealots among us, their all-purpose rebuttal when those of us appalled by this insane war cited civilian casualty stats? Discussion over. Thought stops here.


Iraq’s Garden of Eden, Restoring the Paradise that Saddam Destroyed
Saddam Hussein drained the unique wetlands of southern Iraq as a punishment to the region’s Marsh Arabs who had backed an uprising. Two decades later, one courageous US Iraqi is leading efforts to restore the marshes. Not even exploding bombs can deter him from his dream.

Iraq’s union crackdown is a return to days of Saddam | Dave Anderson
Following the ban on trade unions in the electricity sector, it is time to mobilise support for Iraq’s once-proud labour movement.  The position of trade unions has deteriorated significantly in Iraq. Unions in the electricity sector have been banned in a move that echoes Saddam Hussein’s old ways. The Iraqi police raided and shut down trade union offices following a draconian ministerial decree.  The order, issued on 20 July, "prohibits all trade union activities at the [electricity] ministry and its departments and sites". It orders the police "to close all trade union offices and bases and to take control of the union’s assets, properties and documents, furniture and computers". It also instructs the ministry to take legal action against trade union officials under anti-terrorism laws.

Inside Iraq – The future of Iraq’s football
Iraq is plagued by sectarian tension but one thing that is almost guaranteed to unite all Iraqis is their passion for football. Iraq’s Asian Cup victory in 2007 spread jubilation across the nation, but Iraqis rarely have an opportunity to celebrate events like those, because the politics inside the Iraq football association bizarrely mimic the political picture at national level.

Iraqis go wild over exotic pets
Due to the upheaval of recent years, Iraqis have not had many entertainment options within their country. This left many desperate for a means of escape from their boredom and depression. But with the security situation slowly improving, many people now are venturing out to the movies, parks and even exotic pet shops. Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh visits one wild animal shop that attracts big crowds in capital Baghdad. [July 30, 2010]

Israel violates Lebanese airspace again
The Lebanese Army says two Israeli surveillance aircraft have violated the country’s airspace, with one of them staying around for about 11 hours.  One reconnaissance plane entered the airspace at 6:30 a.m. (local time) on Wednesday, Press TV’s correspondent in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, Ali Rizk reported on Thursday, citing an Army statement. It flew over south Lebanon and the western Bekaa region before leaving at 5:20 p.m.  Another surveillance aircraft violated the Lebanese airspace on 6:25 p.m. and roamed over southern and eastern areas.  Israel carries out such violations on an almost daily basis, claiming it has to maintain surveillance.


Lebanese, U.S. armies discuss cooperation
BEIRUT, July 29 (Xinhua) — Lebanon and the United States discussed Thursday cooperation between armies of the two countries, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported.  According to the report, Lebanese army commander General Jean Kahwaji met with U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Michael Vickers, the two sides discussed cooperation between the two countries’ armies.  Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri received on Monday the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow.  During their meeting, they discussed the recent developments and the resuming of the U.S. aid program to the Lebanese army.  According to a statement released by the U.S. embassy in Lebanon, Vershbow visited Beirut to reaffirm U.S. commitment to providing security assistance to Lebanon and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).  Washington also expressed its willingness to train and equip the LAF, said the statement.  The U.S. embassy in Beirut had announced earlier that Washington will supply Lebanon with 12 Raven unmanned aircraft.

Second Alpha employee charged with spying
BEIRUT: A Lebanese prosecutor on Wednesday charged an employee at state-owned mobile phone firm Alfa with spying for Israel and referred him to military court, judicial sources said. They added that if Tareq Rabaa was convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Hezbollah Warns of Sedition Attempts through STL Verdict
29/07/2010 Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem warned on Thursday that the expected verdict of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon that accuses Hezbollah of being involved in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was part of a scheme to create sedition in Lebanon.  Sheikh Qassem said that the expected findings of STL were part of the attempts to weaken and target the Resistance in Lebanon, wondering whether self-defense became forbidden. "Let everyone knows: Hezbollah is not weak and it can’t be a gateway for the Zionist schemes, schemes that will be destroyed."

Hezbollah’s Naim Qassem: "…a change of government might become an issue if Hezbollah members were the target of indictments
"…Assad and Abdullah are alarmed by the political ferment set off by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah this month when he said Hariri had told him the tribunal would indict "rogue" members of the Shi’ite guerrilla group for his father’s killing. Nasrallah insists the government, which in principle supports the tribunal should reject any such indictments — setting the scene for a paralyzing government crisis and revived Sunni-Shi’ite tensions, if not bloodshed as in 2008. Lebanese media quoted Hezbollah’s deputy chief Naim Kassem as saying a change of government might become an issue if Hezbollah members were the target of indictments which he called "a project of strife, concocted by those who accuse us." The Hague-based tribunal says talk of indictments is speculation and the prosecutor will file them when he is ready.Hariri, then leading a broad anti-Syrian coalition, at first accused Damascus of killing his father. Syria denies this. Since he became prime minister last year, Hariri has dropped his anti-Syrian rhetoric and has visited Damascus several times to forge a rapprochement with Assad that matched a prior Syrian-Saudi reconciliation…"

Saudi King and Syrian president on landmark visit to Lebanon
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Bashir Al Assad, Syria’s president, have arrived in Lebanon in a bid to ease tensions in the country. A UN investigation into the assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafiq Hariri is likely to implicate Hezbollah members for playing a role in the 2005 murder. Hezbollah strongly opposes indictments against its members, and Hassan Nasrallah, the group’s leader, has warned that such a move could plunge Lebanon back into chaos. Saudi Arabia and Syria have traditionally supported opposing factions in Lebanon and the combined visit by both leaders is meant as a show of support for stability in the country. Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin reports.


Lebanon hosts rare Arab leader summit (AFP)
AFP – Lebanon on Friday hosts a rare summit of regional leaders aimed at defusing tensions over reports of an impending indictment against Hezbollah members for the murder of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.

Israel Threatens Lebanon, The Existential Threat Facing Lebanon Today, Rannie Amiri
Beirut will be abuzz with diplomatic activity this weekend as Saudi Arabia ’s King Abdullah makes his first official visit to Lebanon since assuming the throne. Reports are that President Bashar Assad of Syria will accompany him as the two aim to diffuse mounting tension over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon ’s (STL) anticipated indictment of “rogue” Hezbollah elements allegedly involved in the 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.  King Abdullah comes to Lebanon in support of the ruling March 14 Coalition, led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his Future Movement. Assad, on the other hand, represents the interests of the opposition March 8 Coalition, led by (Shia) Hezbollah and the (Christian) Free Patriotic Movement of General Michel Aoun.  Together they hope to preempt any sectarian discord that might ensue after the STL issues its report in the coming months.

Judge seeks lifelong prison term over Sidon flyers [Yet, when people incite against the Shia, they get a political movement…]
BEIRUT: South Lebanon Investigative Magistrate Munif Barakat requested life imprisonment with hard labor for Mahmoud al-Bizri, who was charged with instigating sectarian strife, the the state-run National News Agency reported on Thursday.

Phalange urges broad solution to Palestinian refugee issue
BEIRUT: The Phalange Party is calling for addressing the needs of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon through a comprehensive approach, guaranteeing their human rights and right of return along with preventing their naturalization in Lebanon, An-Nahar reported Thursday.

The cedar retribution, Nicholas Noe
With the announcement from Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah this week that Hizbullah members may be indicted for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Raifk Hariri, one thing is now (publicly) clear, no matter what one may think about the integrity of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL): the militant Shiite party is both angry and concerned. Of course, this isn’t a wholly new development: the party has apparently been preparing for just such an eventuality at least since the summer of 2006 when the first media reports began circulating in this regard (interestingly, in Hizbullah’s analysis, these reports came just after Israel found itself unable to smash its bitter enemy in open battle during the July War).

Family feud could silence beloved Lebanese singer
BEIRUT — Across four decades, Fairouz’s songs of freedom, justice and love transfixed Arab audiences, moved millions to tears and gave hope to the Lebanese during the darkest days of their 15-year civil war.  At 75, the Lebanese singer still performed, seemingly impervious to age — until now, when a fight over royalties within the Arab world’s most famous musical family threatens to silence Lebanon’s most beloved diva.  The fans are outraged.

Turkey: Tehran declaration still valid
Under the May 17 deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey, Iran agreed to send 1,200 kg of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for fuel for the medical research reactor in Tehran. The US and its European allies snubbed the declaration and used their influence on the UN Security Council to impose a fourth round of sanctions against Iran.


Robert Dreyfuss : United States, Iran to Restart Talks
Talks on Iran’s nuclear program will resume in September, and despite the war bluster from neocons and the far right, the Obama administration seems prepared to try once again.

Iran Under Siege, ANTHONY DiMAGGIO
The European Union is imposing more severe sanctions on Iran, while U.S. leaders debate whether they should officially support an Israeli military attack.  The cavalier nature of “debates” concerning Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons development assume that it is the right of the U.S. and its allies to do whatever they want to Iran, whenever they want, however they want.  This is a recipe not only for criminal aggression, but devastation and imperial terror on a massive scale.


Rising Tensions in the Persian Gulf, BRIAN M. DOWNING
Once again US political and military figures are hinting at military attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Few looking back on US ventures in the Middle East will be struck by exceptional farsightedness or appropriate gauging of likely consequences.  Instead, many of those ventures were based on naive understandings of forces in the region and equally naive understandings of the utility of military force. Iran has numerous options to counter any US strike – many of them quite sobering.  Iran has considerable influence in Iraq, far more than does the US. Important political parties were set up in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war and ties have long endured. A sign of Iraqi leanings was offered after the recent elections when parties sent emissaries not to Washington, but to Tehran.

Neocon Nutballs Ramp Up Campaign, Bomb Iran?  GARETH PORTER
Reuel Marc Gerecht’s screed in the Weekly Standard seeking to justify an Israeli bombing attack on Iran coincides with the opening of the new Israel lobby campaign marked by the introduction of  House resolution 1553   expressing full support for such an Israeli attack.   What is important to understand about this campaign is that the aim of Gerecht and of the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu is to support an attack by Israel so that the United States can be drawn into direct, full-scale war with Iran.


U.S. and other World News
Soldier suspected in WikiLeaks case moved from Kuwait to Virginia military jail
The Army intelligence specialist charged with leaking U.S. military secrets to the WikiLeaks website has been moved from Kuwait to a military jail in Virginia.


WikiLeaks may have blood on its hands, U.S. says
* Leak may costs lives, damage trust with allies -Pentagon
* Army intelligence officer at center of leak probe
* Doubts growing over war, casualties rising

Graham: Prosecute WikiLeaks
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Wednesday called for the criminal prosecution of Wikileaks, the website that published classified military documents this week. “I’m willing to prosecute anybody who led to undermining the war effort,” Graham said during an appearance on Fox News.

FBI chief says agents assisting Pentagon on WikiLeaks investigation
FBI Director Robert Mueller says the bureau is assisting the Defense Department in its criminal investigation into the release of some 91,000 secret U.S. military documents on Afghanistan.


Leaked Files Indicate U.S. Pays Afghan Media to run Friendly Stories, John Cook
Buried among the 92,000 classified documents released Sunday by WikiLeaks is some intriguing evidence that the U.S. military in Afghanistan has adopted a PR strategy that got it into trouble in Iraq: paying local media outlets to run friendly stories.


Jon Stewart on WikiLeaks: ‘One of the chief financial contributors to our enemy is us?’
Daily Show host Jon Stewart and Newsweek international editor Fareed Zakaria sparred off over the importance of WikiLeaks’ release of classified US documents. Stewart was outraged; Zakaria was unimpressed.

White House proposal would ease FBI access to records of Internet activity
The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual’s Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.

FBI defends guidelines for domestic surveillance
Under fire from civil liberties groups, the FBI is defending domestic surveillance guidelines that critics fear could unfairly target innocent Muslims in terrorism and other criminal investigations.


‘Worst Bush-era policies’ becoming the ‘new normal’: ACLU
From the point of view of civil libertarians, the Obama administration has been an exercise in frustration, with every hopeful sign followed by failures to live up to its own promises.  The ACLU has just issued a report (pdf), titled "Establishing a New Normal: National Security, Civil Liberties, and Human Rights Under the Obama Administration," which focuses on this pattern of inconsistency.  "The administration has displayed a decidedly mixed record," explains ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romaro, "resulting, on a range of issues, in the very real danger that the Obama administration will institutionalize some of the most troublesome policies of the previous administration — in essence, creating a troubling ‘new normal.’"

Poll: Nearly 6 in 10 Pakistanis view US as enemy
Despite billions in aid from Washington and a shared threat from extremists, Pakistanis have an overwhelmingly negative view of the United States, according to results of a Pew Research Center poll released Thursday.  The survey also found that Pakistanis have grown less fearful of extremists seizing control of their country, perhaps reflecting gains that government troops have made against militants since early 2009.

US accused of raising Afghan militias
Village chiefs in the Shindand district of Afghanistan’s Herat province say the "Village Stability Program" run by the United States is creating private militias, while the US says the scheme only provides limited training to volunteers. For the Taliban it’s simple, anyone "collaborating" with the enemy will pay the price. (Jul 29, ’10)


Obama seeks to expand arms exports by trimming approval process
WASHINGTON — The United States is currently the world biggest weapons supplier — holding 30 per cent of the market — but the Obama administration has begun modifying export control regulations in hopes of enlarging the U.S. market share, according to U.S. officials.  President Barack Obama already has taken the first steps by tucking new language into the Iran sanctions bill signed in early July. His aides are now compiling the "munitions list," which regulates the sale of military items.

Niqab debate unveils Syria’s secular past
A possible ban on the niqab at Syrian universities has reawakened a long-running tussle between conservatives and moderates that began during the country’s secular awakening early in the 20th century. Proponents of the ban point proudly to a modern history of female emancipation and say that the face veil is simply not Syrian, while opponents say it is the perfect form of Islamic dress. – Sami Moubayed (Jul 29, ’10)

The US, Israel, and the Failure of the Western Way of War, Andrew Bacevich

If you ever needed convincing that the world of American “national security” is well along the road to profligate lunacy, read the striking three-part “Top Secret America” series by Dana Priest and William Arkin that the Washington Post published last week.  When it comes to the expansion of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), which claims 17 major agencies and organizations, the figures are staggering.  Here’s just a taste: “Twenty-four [new intelligence] organizations were created by the end of 2001, including the Office of Homeland Security and the Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Task Force. In 2002, 37 more were created to track weapons of mass destruction, collect threat tips, and coordinate the new focus on counterterrorism. That was followed the next year by 36 new organizations; and 26 after that; and 31 more; and 32 more; and 20 or more each in 2007, 2008, and 2009. In all, at least 263 organizations have been created or reorganized as a response to 9/11.”


American Soldiers Brainwashed with "Positive Thinking", Bruce Levine
“As far as I can tell this is the largest, deliberate, psychological intervention in human history. . . . We don’t know when the global war on terrorism is going to end so we’re preparing to have to be engaged for a long period of time.”

"The Real Terrorist Was Me", Speech By War Vetran
Our real enemies are not those living in a distant land whose names or policies we don’t understand; The real enemy is a system that wages war when it’s profitable, the CEOs who lay us off our jobs when it’s profitable, the Insurance Companies who deny us Health care when it’s profitable, the Banks who take away our homes when it’s profitable. Our enemies are not several hundred thousands away. They are right here in front of us.

The Story of Evo Morales,  RON JACOBS
Although the rhetoric against the left-leaning governments in Latin America in the US media has calmed down since the Obama administration moved into the White House, it is safe to assume that the continuing popularity of these governments and their alliances with those Washington considers enemies concerns the foreign policy establishment. As Argentine journalist Martin Sivak’s biography  of Bolivian president Evo Morales makes clear, that concern is justified.  This book, titled Evo Morales: The Extraordinary Rise of the First Indigenous President of Bolivia, makes it clear that this new generation of leaders is intent on altering the historical relationship between Washington and its neighbors to the South.


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