And other news from Today in Palestine:
Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing
Palestinian Negotiator Says New Settlement Building Would End Peace Talks
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said an anticipated new round of peace talks will fall apart if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t extend a freeze on West Bank settlement building. “If we launch the talks and then Mr. Netanyahu will choose to poke us in the eye by tendering and ending the moratorium, he will have killed the negotiations,” Erakat said in an interview today in his office in Jericho. He said the two sides were “very close” to restarting direct peace talks.
Peace Talks in the Shadow of Demolitions
While President Barack Obama pressures Palestinians to re-engage in direct peace talks, and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu loftily counsels President Mahmoud Abbas not to miss the opportunity, recent demolitions within the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel continue unabated and unaddressed. According to OCHA, July and August have marked the highest number of demolitions this year. As of the end of July, OCHA reports Israeli forces have destroyed over 230 structures effectively displacing and/or affecting over 1100 Palestinians, including 400 children since the beginning of 2010. Over 50% of said destruction has taken place in July alone. OCHA further comments that the Israeli Civil Administration will be stepping up demolitions in the West Bank per orders by the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
Human Rights Watch: New Peak in Arbitrary Razing of Palestinian Homes
(Jerusalem) – The Israeli government should immediately stop the arbitrary destruction of Palestinian homes and other property in the West Bank and compensate the people it has displaced, Human Rights Watch said today. Israeli authorities destroyed 141 Palestinian homes and other buildings in July 2010, the largest number in any month since at least 2005, and have already carried out dozens of demolitions in August.
Israel takes 10 per cent of West Bank for wall
Ramallah: Israel has confiscated a total of 583.5 kilometres, comprising 10.3 per cent of the total size of the West Bank for construction of the West Bank Wall which is being built within the Green Line, said a top Palestinian official. According to Maher Ghonaim, Palestinian State Minister for the Wall and Settlement Affairs, Israel has so far finished construction of 440km of the wall (58 per cent) which is expected to be 758km when complete. He added that a total of 696.5 kilometres of the wall when complete will be located in the West Bank itself and within the Green Line.
Desecration protest in Jerusalem
Dozens of demonstrators in West Jerusalem have protested against the demolition of tombstones in the city’s historic Muslim cemetery. The protesters say hundreds of graves were desecrated. But city officials say they simply did away with fake tombstones, placed there to deter developers. Nisreen El-Shamayleh has the story.
Al-Araqib residents fear fourth demolition
JERUSALEM (IPS) – On the eve of the start of Ramadan last week, Israeli police demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev desert. It was the third time within two weeks that the village had been razed. Unfazed, the Bedouin villagers immediately began rebuilding.
Fighting expulsion and Western hypocrisy in Jerusalem
Earlier this summer, Israel arrested Muhammad Abu Tir, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and Hamas. Israel also ordered two other PLC members, Muhammad Totah and Ahmad Attoun and the Palestinian Authority’s former minister of Jerusalem affairs Khaled Abu Arafeh to leave their home town of Jerusalem. Rahela Mizrahi writes for The Electronic Intifada.
Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment
Israeli media: Palestinians attempt to blow up the wall
Loud explosions and gun shots were been heard near the annexation wall near Qalandia refugee camp near Ramallah, Thursday near Midnight. Israeli media sources reported that Palestinians set some tires on fire and put a gas container in it near the wall causing an explosion near the wall which sustains some damage.
Awarta land reclamation attacked by armed settlers and military
August 20th, 2010– On Thursday morning, Palestinian farmers and international supporters were barred from irrigating the olive trees they had planted on Land Day (March 30) in the valley east of Awarta. For a month now, on every Thursday, people gather to reclaim the threatened lands.
Troops Fire Tear Gas At Anti Wall Protesters Near Bethlehem
Bethlehem – PNN – Israeli and international supporters joined the villagers of Al Ma’sara, near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem to protest the Israeli wall. Villagers and their supporters marched after the midday prayers on Friday and headed toward farmers’ lands Israel is planning to take over ot build the wall there. People carried the photos of the Israeli soldier who recently published her photos in facebook while abusing Palestinian detainees. Israeli soldiers stopped the protesters at the entrance of the village and used tear gas and sound bombs to force people back. A number of civilians were treated for tear gas inhalation. The protest ended shortly their after.
Anti Wall Protest Near Jerusalem Ends Peacefully
Jerusalem – PNN – Villagers of Al Walaja near Jerusalem protested on Friday the Israeli wall being built on their lands. Israeli and international supporters joined the villagers today. The protest started shortly after the midday prayers ended in the local mosque. People marched across the village then reached the finished part of the wall, organizers delivered number of speeches and ended the protest without any clashes with Israeli soldiers who kept their distance and did not interfere with the protest.
Those forced from their land need a common voice
It has been just over a year since Israeli settlers backed by the courts began evicting and taking over the homes of Palestinian families in the Sheik Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem. In response, neighbourhood residents have been joined by Israeli and international activists in weekly demonstrations, inspired by the protests against Israel’s Wall in the West Bank towns of Bi’lin and Ni’lin.
West Bank boycott campaign impacting settlement economy
Grassroots Palestinian boycott campaigns across the occupied West Bank to take Israeli settlement products off the shelves of local stores have made an impact on the Israeli settlement economy, to the unease of the Israeli government, noted the Israeli daily Haaretz this week.
Successful outcome in Swedish peace activist’s legal appeal against Israeli sentence banning him from Palestine
On Thursday 12 August 2010 Swedish peace activist Marcus Regnander’s legal battle with the Police Department of Hebron ended successfully. His appeal against a sentence which banned him from the West Bank for six months, after being convicted – despite the absence of any evidence – of assaulting a soldier, was filed at the District Court in Jerusalem.
Cyprus bans Gaza-bound ship from its waters
Organizers of Lebanese ship carrying female activists say it will set sail Sunday despite warning.
The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement
Gaza: Homeless families move into government building
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Families who lost their homes in Israel’s Operation Cast Lead offensive appealed to the Gaza government Thursday not to evict them from a ministry-owned building. During the war, 73 homes in As-Salam neighborhood, east of Jabalia in northern Gaza, were destroyed. Some families moved into tents and make-shift homes with corrugated iron ceilings, while others took over a residential building owned by Gaza’s Ministry of Housing.
In Palestine, Barriers Rise Between Ramadan Gatherings, Mel Frykberg
AZZUN ATMA, Northern West Bank – For seven years Majda Abdul Qader Sheikh, 38, has not been allowed to visit the home of her parents, just a few hundred meters from her house. "I tried to get a special visitor’s permit for a quick visit during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan but I was refused," says Sheikh, mother of seven children. "I have had no problems with the Israeli authorities, nor am I considered a security threat," she added.
Gaza crossings closed
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Gaza crossings will be shut until Sunday following an announcement by Israeli officials on Friday morning that the terminal would be shut down for the day. With Saturday a regularly scheduled closure day for the terminals, the Strip will go two days with no commercial or humanitarian aid deliveries, as UN reports continue to stress that the "impact of easings remains limited."
IDF soldiers arrested over alleged mistreatment of Palestinian detainees
5 Nahal Haredi soldiers suspected of taking their photographs alongside bound detainees, as well as two cases of drug use.
Eden Abergil responds to critics: ‘I can’t afford Arab-lovers to ruin the perfect life I live! I’ve got no remorse and no regrets.’
Eden Abergil: I’m for a Zionist Jewish state! I’m protecting what was mine since forever!! I won’t get with you into religious statements etc but I’m declared and defined as a proud Jew and as a proud Jew it’s my duty to fight for everything that belongs to me there’s a picture of me they published that says it all in my opinion “if it wasn’t for her they’d murder your mother” and I’m not talking just about me but about all the soldiers guarding and protecting us!!! There are no laws in war!! I hate Arabs and wish them all the worst and it would be fun for me to kill them or even massacre them you can’t forget what they’re doing nevermind the reason I’m just on the side of the Jewish people!!! And this will last forever.
Anshel Pfeffer / It’s all too easy for Israeli rights groups to call the IDF’s bluff
Forty-three years of ruling another people have produced generations of Israelis incapable of seeing their neighbors as human beings.
J’lem train company asks passengers: ‘Do you mind traveling with Arabs?’
With capital light rail raring to go, operator surveys residents’ attitudes.
Early morning settler attack on Palestinian family in Hebron area
Atta Jabr is a farmer who lives with his family on a hill, near Road 60. They live in the Bakav Valley, around Hebron. They live close to Harsina settlement and an illegal outpost. At around 5:00am on Wednesday morning, 18 August 2010, Atta and his family were awoken by the sound of a shofar – a horn used in Jewish religious rituals. Six settlers came down from the rocks where they were sitting, on land which is the property of the Jabr family. Atta and his pre-teen daughter came out to see what was going on. The settlers then ran down the hill and attacked them. Atta and his daughter were pushed around violently, but thankfully they managed to get inside the house and close the door. The settlers then began yelling a slew of insults and threats. They said that the land belonged to them and therefore they should own Atta’s house too. They screamed that they wanted to “f—“ everyone in the house and that they wanted to “f—-“ Atta’s daughter. One of Atta’s relatives, Jaoud, came running out of his house to see what was going on. When the settlers saw him they fled.
Provocations continue: settler rally in Al Buwayra
About 4 pm on 18 August 2010, a group of international activists witnessed an large number of Israeli settlers walking in groups up to “Hill 18” in Al Buwayra, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Hebron. Settlers there had made an outpost in the very heart of the village, and over the years they have repeatedly harassed and attacked the Palestinians living here. Said outpost was recently been demolished by the Israeli army, sparking settlers riots and vindictive attacks on people, property and farmland. The day after the demolition settlers began to rebuild the outpost, and this process is ongoing.
Witnesses: Armed settler threatens farmers
NABLUS (Ma’an) — An armed settler accompanied by settlement security guards prevented Palestinian farmers and peace activists from irrigating their land near Nablus on Thursday morning, witnesses said. A resident of the illegal Itamar settlement, carrying a rifle and traveling in an armored vehicle with guards, approached farmers en route to water their recently planted olive trees. Witnesses said the settler threatened to shoot the farmers, from Awarta village, if they did not leave the area.
Dark days in Al Buwayra: a week of settler attacks
Al Buwayra is a small village located on the outskirts of Hebron, with about 560 inhabitants. Most people are farmers, growing grapes and vegetables to support themselves. The situation in the village is critical, and villagers are repeatedly being attacked by settlers from the illegal Kyriat Arba and Harzina settlements which surround the village as well as several illegal outposts.
Settlers Attack as a Palestinian Villagers try to Secure Water in the South Hebron Hills, Joseph Dana
Israel and the West Bank are experiencing record temperature this week. The heat always brings the issue of water access to the forefront of Palestinian minds in the South West Bank. The issue of water in Area C of the South Hebron Hills in the West Bank is a major one. Because the area is under full Israeli military and civil control, the Israeli government at the request of the Israeli army often denies water infrastructure for Palestinians villages. The idea is slowly starve the villages in order to pressure the residents into moving to major city centers such as Yatta and Hebron. Dramatic images of a Palestinian child holding on to his father as he is arrested by Israeli soldiers for ‘stealing water’ surfaced some weeks ago made international news.
When Settlers Attack….Today (And Everyday) In The West Bank
I’ve spent the past few weeks trying to understand the phenomenon of settler violence in the West Bank. Where does it happen, how does it happen, who is most vulnerable and how can this most effectively be countered. It is easy to say that settler violence is a result of Israeli occupation and it’s illegal settlements. That’s because it is. But settler violence against Palestinian civilians is a daily event in the occupied West Bank and it deserves more acute attention.
Armed Gaza group claims clash with Israeli force
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, claimed to have confronted an Israeli force operating inside Gaza on Thursday morning. A statement from the group said the forces were operating inside Gaza near the Karni crossing, east of the Ash-Shaja’iyya neighborhood.
Rights group: 2 civilians injured as factions clash in Gaza
GAZA (Ma’an) –Two civilians were injured in clashes between rival factions in Gaza Tuesday night, a rights group said. Clashes erupted between militants from the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, the Al Quds Brigades, and the militant faction of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, known as the National Resistance Brigades, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said.
Remember the little boy that begged the IOF not to take his father? Father Charged With ‘Resisting Arrest’ Despite Video Evidence Disproving Charge
A man whose arrest was filmed and spread on Youtube, showing his child begging soldiers to leave his father, has been sentenced by an Israeli court to three months and a fine.
Obama to attend Mideast talks in Washington
World powers to invite Israelis and Palestinians to begin direct talks on September 2 in US capital, diplomatic source says. According to new draft, negotiations expected to conclude in 12 months.
World powers aim to open Mideast talks next month (Reuters)
Reuters – World powers facing a fateful deadline in the Middle East peace process will invite Israelis and Palestinians to begin direct talks on September 2 in Washington, a diplomatic source said on Thursday.
Israel, Palestinians to resume direct talks: report (AFP)
AFP – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to announce Friday that Israel and the Palestinians will resume direct peace talks for the first time in 20 months, the New York Times reported.
State Department on Mideast talks: "We’re very, very close to an agreement”
The Middle East Quartet is expected to release its long-awaited statement on direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians Friday, as negotiations at the U.N. continued into late Thursday afternoon. State Department officials had been sure that the statement, a formal invitation for both parties to enter direct negotiations, would be released earlier this week. But last-minute objections from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides forced new rounds of discussions, culminating in what Reuters reported was a conference call between Quartet members Thursday afternoon to discuss the latest draft.
Haniyeh calls on Fatah to meet in Gaza for talks
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Two Fatah officials in Gaza offering condolences to the recently deceased former PA intelligence chief should remain in Gaza and talk about Palestinian unity, Hamas government Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Thursday. On a visit to the mourning house of Amin Al-Hindi, who died in Jordan on Wednesday, Haniyeh met with Fatah Central Committee members Zakarieyah Al-Agha and Abdallh Al-Ifranji, both Gaza natives, and called on them to re-open the unity file.
Fatah accepts Haniyeh unity invite
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Fatah officials, in Gaza to offer condolences to family members of a former PA intelligence chief, will begin meetings with Hamas officials to discuss Palestinian unity, sources confirmed Friday. Fatah Central Committee member Sakher Besisu said details of an immanent meeting were being arranged ahead of an expected Saturday sit down with Fatah party leaders Zakarieyah Al-Agha and Abdallh Al-Ifranji, both Gaza natives.
Hamas prison leader says peace talks dangerous
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — "Direct talks would lead to a massive failure of the Palestinain National Project" a letter smuggled out of an Israeli prison from a Hamas leader read. The letter, delivered to a Hamas office in Ramallah earlier in the week, contained a warning from Abdul Khalek Al-Natsheh, calling for Palestinian factions to reject negotiations and to "stop the waterfall of concessions" from Palestinians to Israel. "Israel and American encourage these talks because they know it will harm the Palestinian interest," the letter read, "Israel is the only beneficiary."
New Book Assembles Eyewitness Accounts from Mavi Marmara
A growing number of activists is contradicting the claims of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) regarding the Gaza Freedom Flotilla debacle in May, including a large faction of both Israeli and U.S. Jews. This faction was evidenced by the distinguished array of Jewish scholars, journalists and professionals who contributed to Moustafa Bayoumi’s new book, Midnight on the Mavi Marmara: The Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and How It Changed the Course of the Israel/Palestine Conflict. Amongst a host of "who’s who" of the literary world, the well-loved Jewish scholars and journalists who contributed included Noam Chomsky, Marsha B. Cohen, Norman Finkelstein, Glenn Greenwald, and Gideon Levy, to name a few.
Report: Israeli navy returns to Dead Sea
TEL AVIV (Ma’an) — Until the early 1980s, the Israeli navy was active in the Dead Sea and ready for infiltration by Palestinian groups across the body of water, which separates Israel and the West Bank from Jordan. After 30 years the army is back in the Dead Sea for patrolling and equipped with modern patrol vessels, which they say is to fight smuggling between the Jordanian territory and the Palestinian side.
Ireland considered recalling passports after Dubai hit
Report submitted to Dublin government reveals eight Irish passports used in killing of senior Hamas figure ‘were manufactured or acquired by an agency of the State of Israel.’ Department of Foreign Affairs rules against reissuing over 2.5 million passports on basis that it would cost more than €40 million.
Palestinian women broadcast revolution
Vision of Palestinian state materializing as female presence becomes increasingly significant in all areas of life: One-fifth of ministers in Fayyad government are women, woman commands most important district in West Bank, and sounds of first feminine radio are emerging from Ramallah. How will men react?
Al Mezan slams murder of woman accused of witchcraft
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights condemned the murder of a 62-year-old woman, accused by locals of witchcraft, in Gaza City Tuesday. An investigation by the rights group confirmed earlier reports that unidentified men fired at Jabriyeh Abu Kanas as she sat in front of her house with her 75-year-old husband. She was pronounced dead on arrival at Ash-Shifa hospital.
Out of custody, suspected Jewish terrorist alleges Shin Bet abuses
Pearlman, suspected of stabbing and killing at least three Palestinians over a decade ago, was released to house arrest last week. On Tuesday, he gave a series of press interviews.
Focus U.S.A. / The ongoing saga of the U.S. Navy swastika building
In the 1960’s a building was built in U.S. Naval Amphibious Base in San Diego which looked from satellite images like a swastika; it still stands.
Declassified Senate Investigation Files Reveal Clandestine Israeli PR Campaign in America
The subpoenaed documents reveal Israel’s clandestine programs for "cultivation of editors," the "stimulation and placement of suitable articles in the major consumer magazines" as well as U.S. reporting about sensitive subjects such as the Dimona nuclear weapons facility.
Declassified: Massive Israeli manipulation of US media exposed
Alison Weir: How American News Media Works In Favor Of Israel
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZw7dBZFCVM&feature=player_embedded
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kHN0oPwBtk&feature=player_embedded
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqNXENvpChk&feature=player_embedded
The Israel Lobby
For many years now the American foreign policy has been characterized by the strong tie between the United States and Israel. Does the United States in fact keep Israel on its feet? And how long will it continue to do so? In March 2006 the American political scientists John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) and Steve Walt (Harvard) published the controversial article ‘The Israel Lobby and US foreign policy’. In it they state that it is not, or no longer, expedient for the US to support and protect present-day Israel. The documentary sheds light on both parties involved in the discussion: those who wish to maintain the strong tie between the US and Israel, and those who were critical of it and not infrequently became ‘victims’ of the lobby. The question arises to what extend the pro-Israel lobby ultimately determines the military and political importance of Israel itself. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (Colin Powell’s former chief-of-staff) explains how the lobby’s influence affects the decision-making structure in the White House. With political scientist John Mearsheimer, neocon Richard Perle, lobby organization AIPAC, televangelist John Hagee, historian Tony Judt, Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth, colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Democrat Earl Hilliard, Israeli peace negotiator Daniel Levy and investigative journalist Michael Massing.
Hamas Must Re-brand, Stuart Littlewood – London
In the five years since I became interested in the conflict in Palestine, only two things of positive note have happened in the Occupied Territories. The Palestinians held full and fair elections in 2006 to establish themselves as a democracy… and much good it did them.
And in Gaza these amazing people have resolutely survived a vicious land and sea blockade imposed by Israel and aided and abetted by the western powers as soon as those elections put Hamas into government. They have resisted almost daily air strikes and armed intrusions for four years and courageously withstood the cowardly Israeli blitzkrieg of 20 months ago.
Isolate Israelis and let them pay for their endless aggression, Ghada Karmi
Can Israel survive its recent battering in public opinion? Many believe that this may be a defining moment in a long history of Israeli impunity. Hitherto, Israel’s record of recovery from international censure has been impressive. A string of past misdeeds – the 1982 Lebanon invasion and siege of West Beirut, the Sabra and Shatila massacres, the 2006 Lebanon war, the interminable occupation of Arab land, even the 2008-2009 war on Gaza that should have been decisive – failed to tarnish Israel’s reputation irreparably. Despite strong international condemnation each time, Israel was always able to shrug off its critics.
Israel Can’t Win a War against Itself, Greg Felton
If the sign of a healthy, living organism is its ability to develop and mature in harmony with its surroundings, then Israel must be declared dead, or at least terminally moribund. Its politicians, generals and armies of hasbarats regurgitate the same tired boilerplate to justify Israel’s strangulation of Palestine, and are still obsessed with sabotaging discussion of the Holocaust® and the dispossession of Palestinians in 1947–1948 that led to the creation of the Zionist entity.
Last sultan gets a modern makeover
Arab scholars, shedding light on Sultan Abdulhamid II’s refusal to sell land in Palestine to Zionists, are changing their minds about the last absolute monarch of the Ottoman Empire. In soap operas too he is no longer portrayed as the evil despot in Istanbul, but as a charming and dedicated Muslim nationalist. This must please Turkey and its prime minister. – Sami Moubayed
Hezbollah: Questioning False Witnesses Essential to Reach Truth
20/08/2010 Hezbollah hailed on Friday the decision of the Lebanese government to charge Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar with the issue of the false witnesses, calling to launch investigations with the false witnesses in order to reach the truth. In this context, Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan said that justice won’t be reached in investigations with false witnesses did not start. “Everyone concerned wants to know the truth and apply justice, just as Hezbollah and the resistance stand by the Future Movement in uncovering the truth without bidding,” Hajj Hasan added. Speaking during the Islamic Resistance Support Association’s annual fast breaking ceremony in Alay, the Hezbollah MP wondered about the reasons pushing some Lebanese to doubt the evidence presented by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah against the Israeli enemy “while no one did anything after false evidences were presented against Syria.”
Hariri: We Will Stick to Truth and Justice Calmly
20/08/2010 Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri vowed to stick to his demands for truth and justice in the assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, calmly and quietly. "Truth and justice are all that we want … We demand the truth and we don’t want it to be politicized but we want truth and justice. We will stick to these two demands calmly and quietly," Hariri told an Iftar banquet in Qoreitem in honor of Beirut families. "All issues could be resolved through good word and calmness, which constitute the basis of any dialogue in the country," he added. The Prime Minister said Thursday’s national dialogue session at Beiteddine palace was successful and calm prevailed over the talks.
Justice minister stresses STL will not be politicized
BEIRUT: Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar vowed to work professionally in order to provide the government with all the answers concerning false witnesses in former prime minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination. The Cabinet had tasked Najjar one day earlier with following up on the issue of false witnesses in the case of the assassination of Hariri. Hizbullah ministers had demanded the formation of a Lebanese committee to probe false witnesses, but the parliamentary majority did not show enthusiasm for the request.
Lebanon to ratify cluster bombs treaty
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Lebanon agreed Tuesday to ratify the international ban on cluster munitions. In a move welcomed by UN officials, Lebanon’s parliament approved the ratification of the international convention prohibiting the manufacture, use, and stockpiling of the device. The convention has been ratified by 39 states and signed by 108 since its inception two years ago. The treaty entered into force this month.
‘Hizbullah should join Lebanese Army’
Hizbullah forces should accept Lebanese Army command, Lebanese Forces party chief Samir Geagea proposed yesterday during high level defense strategy talks between Beirut officials, Lebanese media reported on Friday. …The head of the pro-Hizbullah party Loyalty to Resistance MP Mohammed Raad rejected Geagea’s proposal out of hand as an attempt to marginalize Hizbullah’s power base. "The aim of Geagea’s proposal is not to defend Lebanon, but rather to get rid of Hizbullah and its arms," Raad was quoted by Lebanese newspaper An Nahar as saying.
Cabinet: Energy shortages date back to Civil War
BEIRUT: Angry Lebanese continued to protest against severe power cuts, as the heat wave hitting the country makes rationing more unbearable, with the Cabinet remaining helpless in addressing the country’s long running electricity crisis.
Lebanon puts Palestinians underground to keep them from phoning home
Earlier this year in Lebanon, I paid a visit to Roumieh prison outside Beirut to see a Palestinian friend who had ended up there thanks to a business endeavor involving a series of fake checks and a fake ambassador of Somalia.
Lebanon Braces for a Turbulent Fall, RANNIE AMIRI
August has not seen a week without Lebanon making headlines. And mounting domestic and foreign pressures indicate the same may hold true in September. The need for an unprecedented joint visit by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Beirut to stem nascent sectarian tensions; the outbreak of violence along the Lebanese-Israeli border; the killing of the leader of Fatah al-Islam—an al-Qaeda-inspired group operating in the shadows of the country’s Palestinian refugee camps; evidence presented by Hezbollah chief Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah backing claims that Israel was behind the February 2005 assassination of late Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri after elements in his group are now expected to be indicted for the murder; all point to the precarious situation the country finds itself.
Thursday: 11 Iraqis Killed, 17 Wounded
Updated at 8:10 p.m. Aug. 19, 2010 At least 11 Iraqis were killed and 17 more were wounded in light attacks that concentrated on security personnel. A day after U.S. combat forces left Iraq, Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza said that Iraqi forces are capable of keeping security but selecting the new government would help. About 56,000 troops will remain to assist the Iraqis; however, the final withdrawal of Americans could be as late as 2020 depending on conditions.
Iraq arrests 27 wanted
Iraq violence cast the life of four people in the last hours and wounded more than 15 others including soldiers, policemen and Peshmerga forces. 27 wanted were arrested on the other hand while two bombs were disabled.
Feature: Many Iraqi children biased to violent acts after 7-year war: analysts
BAGHDAD, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) — In a dilapidated street in Baghdad ‘s Karadah district that has witnessed many deadly terrorist attacks in the past years, Mohammed and his friends usually pretended to be insurgents and police and fought each other with cap guns in their hands. "We play like this almost every day and we love it," Mohammed, a 6-year-old boy, told Xinhua with smile on his little face. "We go out of our home and take up weapons, we are all prepared to fight and attack," said Mohammed.
Iraqis react to US troop withdrawal
A "new dawn" has come to Iraq, the US military said, after the last US combat brigade was pulled out of the country on Thursday – more than seven years after the invasion. It was widely thought the departure, which happened two weeks ahead of schedule, would be met by a jubilant response from many Iraqis. However, there is growing uncertainty as to whether the country is ready to stand on its own two feet amid its political instability. Rawya Rageh reports from Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, on the public’s reaction to the US withdrawal. [August 19, 2010]
Obama Admin Claims End to Combat Operations in Iraq, But Iraqis See Same War Under a Different Name
The Obama administration says the last combat brigades have left Iraq. Is this the end of the Iraq war or just a rebranding of the US occupation? More than 50,000 troops remain in Iraq as well as 4,500 special operations forces and tens of thousands of private contractors. The US embassy in Baghdad is the largest in the world–the size of 80 football fields. We get a perspective on the so-called withdrawal rarely heard in the US media: that of two Iraqis, Raed Jarrar of Peace Action and Yanar Mohammed of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq.
Iraq War Vet Camilo Mejia: U.S. Withdrawal Plan Marks "Privatization of Military Occupation"
Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia, the first US combat veteran to publicly resist the war, joins us to give his reaction to the so-called U.S. withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq. Mejia served six months in Iraq in 2003 with the Florida National Guard. While on a two-week leave in the United States, he decided never to return. In May 2004, a military jury convicted him of desertion and he was sentenced to one year in prison. He served nine months behind bars prompting Amnesty International to declare him a prisoner of conscience.
Robert Fisk: US troops say goodbye to Iraq: Torture. Corruption. Civil war. America has certainly left its mark
When you invade someone else’s country, there has to be a first soldier – just as there has to be a last. The first man in front of the first unit of the first column of the invading American army to reach Fardous Square in the centre of Baghdad in 2003 was Corporal David Breeze of the 3rd Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment. For that reason, of course, he pointed out to me that he wasn’t a soldier at all. Marines are not soldiers. They are Marines. But he hadn’t talked to his mom for two months and so – equally inevitably – I offered him my satellite phone to call his home in Michigan. Every journalist knows you’ll get a good story if you lend your phone to a soldier in a war.
Not the End
What about the 50,000 troops who are staying behind? They didn’t exactly send their M-16s and sidearms out with that Stryker brigade. And they’re not going to transform themselves into the Peace Corps overnight. In truth, the last combat unit leaving Iraq is really a nonevent.
US exit from Iraq is a phoney withdrawal | Ranj Alaaldin
The combat troops may have left, but with 50,000 armed US soldiers staying in Iraq this ‘withdrawal’ is an empty PR stunt. The last US combat brigade in Iraq has left the country, seven years after the US-led invasion. Martin Chulov was there to witness the process for the Guardian and he describes the marked difference between the "shock and awe" US entry into Iraq with its silent, somewhat depressive, trickle out.
Dying Art of Karbala’s Shroud-Makers
Razzaq Mustafa al-Katib inscribes holy verses on shrouds for Shia Muslims, dressing the dead for the life beyond. Though he has done this work for decades, he says it still fills him with dread. To steady his nerves, he recites prayers from the Koran – the source for the verses he copies. “I look at the shroud as a suit of armour that will protect the body in the grave, defending it from the worms,” he said. Katib learnt his trade from his father, following a tradition dating back centuries in the shrine city of Karbala, south of Baghdad.
Steinitz demands ultimatum for Iran: Raising the stakes
Finance minister says America must warn Tehran of military strike within weeks; ‘Time has come for whole world, under US leadership, to present Iran with unequivocal ultimatum,’ he says.
Russia: Iran entitled to peaceful nuclear energy
Russian nuclear chief: When Iran’s Bushehr reactor goes live it will prove Russia honors its obligations.
‘Intl. law forbids attack on nuclear sites’
"According to Resolution 533 of the IAEA, attacking or threatening to attack operational or under-construction nuclear facilities is a blatant violation of the UN charter, IAEA statute and international regulations," Ali Asghar Soltanieh.
Exclusive: : Al Qaeda Plans Response for Israeli War on Iran
The terror group’s arm in Yemen is ordering jihadists across the region to ready themselves for a war "by the Jews against Iran" that will spread across the globe, according to a new audio message.
U.S. and Other World News
Saudi arms deal set for smooth US passage
One of the largest arms deals in US history, involving the sale of weaponry worth some $60bn to Saudi Arabia, is likely to go through Congress without significant objections. People knowledgeable about the deal say a big factor smoothing its passage is Israel’s relatively relaxed position.
U.S. still holds detainee Pentagon wanted freed in 2004
An emotionally ill detainee still being held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was first recommended for release by the Pentagon in 2004, according to a federal judge whose ruling ordering that the man be freed was made public this week.
ACLU sues over detention in United Arab Emirates
Rights group sues CIA, FBI over American citizen’s detention in United Arab Emirates American Civil Liberties Union lawyers filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the FBI, CIA and other federal intelligence agencies, accusing them of detaining and torturing an American citizen later convicted on terrorism charges in the United Arab Emirates.
US: First Muslim college plans grand opening
College founded by Muslim cleric to open in Berkley this year, seek accreditation amid ‘Ground Zero mosque’ debate.
Riz Khan – Women’s rights in Afghanistan
Has the plight of Afghan women improved and what will happen when the US leaves?
Australian court tells Muslim witness to remove veil
Perth District Court rules woman must take off niqab veil during her testimony, but judge stresses order should not be considered a national precedent.
Saudi Arabian judge asks hospitals to paralyse man
Country’s strict enforcement of sharia law sees ‘eye for an eye’ punishment sought for after cleaver attack. A Saudi judge has asked several hospitals whether they would punitively damage a man’s spinal cord after he was convicted of attacking another man with a cleaver and paralysing him, local newspapers reported today. Saudi Arabia enforces strict sharia law and occasionally metes out punishments based on the ancient code of an eye for an eye.
India employing Israeli oppression tactics in Kashmir
The 2010 summer in the disputed area of Jammu and Kashmir, administered by India, has been marked by popular protests by Kashmiris and crackdowns by India’s military. The stream of violence has left more than fifty dead, mostly young protestors. The situation in Kashmir has some parallels with Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, even borrowing the term intifada to describe the uprising. But the connection is more than analogy. Jimmy Johnson analyzes for The Electronic Intifada.
The Case of Omar Khadr, CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI
It’s a valuable lesson we’re being taught by the administration. We are learning that 15-year olds may be treated as adults when they misbehave if those pretending to be adults believe that is appropriate punishment for the children. We are learning that 15-year olds may be punished as adults even though they are not old enough to drive, drink, vote, or do any of the other fun things that adults get to do. And that’s not all we, and Omar Khadr, are learning.
Other countries probing Bush-era torture — Why aren’t we?
WASHINGTON — In June, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case of a Canadian man who contends that U.S. authorities mistook him for an al Qaida operative in 2002 and shipped him to a secret prison in Syria, where he was beaten with electrical cables and held in a grave-like cell for 10 months. Four years earlier, however, the Canadian government had concluded an exhaustive inquiry and found that the former prisoner, Maher Arar, was telling the truth. Canada cleared Arar of all ties to terrorism and paid him $10 million in damages, and his lawyers say he’s cooperating with an investigation into the role of U.S. and Syrian officials in his imprisonment and reported torture.
An ode to Arab love songs | Khaled Diab
Love is a universal theme in music, but the Arab world’s preoccupation with the theme may say a lot about its society. Love them or loathe them, love songs seem to be written into the DNA of just about every culture. One of the most private and personal of emotions is also, paradoxically, the most public. Despite the universality of love songs and certain common themes, each culture has its own peculiar way of going about it – and this can say a lot about the nature of the society behind the songs.
Islam Already Lives Near Ground Zero: AP FACT CHECK
WASHINGTON — A New York imam and his proposed mosque near ground zero are being demonized by political candidates – mostly Republicans – despite the fact that Islam is already very much a part of the World Trade Center neighborhood. And that Muslims pray inside the Pentagon, too, less than 80 feet from where terrorists attacked. And that the imam who’s being branded an extremist has been valued by both Republican and Democratic administrations as a moderate face of the faith.
Quran-Burning Church Vows To Proceed Without Fire Permit
(RNS) Fire officials in Gainesville, Fla., have denied a permit to a church that wants to burn Qurans on Sept. 11, but church officials said they’ll go ahead with the protest that has garnered worldwide attention. Leaders of the Dove World Outreach Center say "Islam is of the Devil" and plan to burn copies of the Islamic holy book on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Gene Prince, interim chief of Gainesville Fire Rescue, told The Gainesville Sun that he informed the church on Tuesday (Aug. 17) that the protest violates local fire-prevention laws, which include rules against burning corrugate cardboard or office paper, which includes books.
Giuliani: Only a ‘warrior’ imam would want mosque near WTC
NY political support grows for land swap of mosque near WTC site as imam tours Mideast. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani joined a growing number of politicians Thursday supporting a move of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near ground zero to state-owned land farther from the Sept. 11 attack site. Giuliani, who led New Yorkers through Sept. 11 and its aftermath and whose opinion on the mosque could carry considerable clout, made his comments as the imam leading plans for the community center toured the Middle East promoting religious tolerance.
Mean Gov. Dean, JOSHUA FRANK
There has been a bit of an uproar made over Howard Dean’s recent comments on the proposed cultural center to be built near Ground Zero. Joining Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Dean is the second high profile Democrat to oppose the building. If you missed it, here is what Howard Dean told WABC radio earlier this week, "We have to understand that it is a real affront to people who’ve lost their lives, including Muslims. That site doesn’t belong to any particular religion,” said Dean. “So I think a good reasonable compromise could be worked out without violating the principle that people ought to be able to worship as they see fit.”
America Has Disgraced Itself, Peter Beinart
Conservative fury over the “ground zero” mosque shows that when it comes to the battle for freedom and religious liberty, the U.S. has thrown in the towel. And why are Jews so thrilled to be in lockstep with the heirs of Pat Robertson?
Trapped at Ground Zero, Ramzy Baroud
The controversy over the right of Muslim Americans to build community center and mosque a short distance from the site of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is both strange and outright inappropriate. It should never be necessary for law-abiding Americans to justify exercising their right to freely practice their own religion. This right is in accordance to the First Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights that has constituted the foundation of American freedom for over 200 years.
The 9/11 holocaust and the ground zero mosque, Paul Woodward
Something can be sanctified by placing a barrier around it constructed from rigid taboos. The most extreme among those taboos dictates not only silence but also exclusion. In such a way, for many Americans, 9/11 has been sanctified. The sacred idea occupies a sacred space and only those willing to display sufficient awe and reverence can be allowed to enter. Yet there are limits on how high this sacred narrative can be raised. We do not, by and large, talk about the 9/11 holocaust — and rightfully so. To link a day on which 3,000 Americans died, to a period during which 6 million Jews were systematically slaughtered, would be absurd and obscene.
Anushay Hossain: Park 51: The Ground Zero Mosque Is Not a Mosque
I tried to stay quite and hoped that if I closed my eyes long enough, this whole "Ground-Zero Mosque" controversy would blow over. It hasn’t. In fact, all the fuss and controversy over this "mosque" has risen to such ridiculous and offensive levels that I can no longer endure this breed of Islamaphobia gone wild.
It’s Not About The "Mosque"!; It’s America’s War On "the Other."
This country has long had its Know-Nothings and its Birchers and its McCarthyites, but it never had gizmos like Fox News or Sarah Palin’s Twitter feed to fuel toxic ideas so far so fast. It’s time we admit these seemingly disconnected battles over "anchor babies, mosques, and a black man in the Oval Office are all part of the same war against "the Other," and that we are in the fight of a lifetime.
Bigot or colorful activist? Washington Post is neutral on Islamophobes, Alex Kane
Yesterday, the Washington Post profiled some of the "conservative writers and bloggers critical of Islam" that have been fueling the national uproar over the proposed Muslim community center that would sit two-and-a-half blocks away from Ground Zero. Michelle Boorstein looks at figures such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, and reports that "while some have dismissed them as bigoted attention-seekers, their attacks on the proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan have gained currency in recent weeks among some Republican leaders. And their influence appears to be growing." So are they bigots? The Post never says.
MJ Rosenberg: A Muslim Kid’s Pain
Growing up in a small town with few Jews, I was a sensitive about my minority status. The half-dozen Jews in my elementary school were not all friends but we were all very much aware that we had something in common. We were a tiny minority, and most of our classmates and friends had no idea what Jews were. There wasn’t much anti-Semitism but pretty much everyone reacted with horror when they discovered that we did not accept Jesus Christ as Lord. Of course, we Jews went out of our way to avoid the subject. To this day, I know more Christmas carols than most Christians I know. I never missed a tree trimming party and never, ever, wanted to stand out as different. (American kids invariably want to "fit in").
Is Ground Zero mosque part of culture war or symbol of tolerance?
The debate over the so-called Ground Zero mosque planned for lower Manhattan is bringing to the fore a debate over the meaning of America’s growing Muslim population.
Hurt Feelings and the Ground Zero Mosque, GARY LEUPP
Here is the order of events producing this bizarre “controversy.” 2009: A Muslim organization having arranged to purchase an abandoned Burlington Coat factory on Park Place in Lower Manhattan plans to build a 13-story Islamic community center. It will feature a culinary school, conference hall, basketball court, swimming pool, and place of worship among other things and while principally servicing the Muslim community be open to all. It is to be called the Cordoba House, an apparent allusion to Muslim Spain in which Islam flourished alongside Christianity and Judaism from the eighth century up to the “Reconquest.”