Today in Palestine: Israelis prevent nonviolent activist Khatib from going to Spain for speaking engagements

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And other news from Today in Palestine:

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Foundation: Israel bulldozes 15 graves in Jerusalem cemetery
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage said Israeli bulldozers began razing 15 graves in the Muslim Mamillah cemetery in West Jerusalem on Wednesday.  The foundation, which is undertaking the graveyard’s maintenance and restoration, condemned the destruction caused by Israeli workers who started overturning the cemetery in the morning.

Wild boars damage farmland
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Wild boars destroyed crops in Ramallah’s Aboud village Thursday, the Agricultural Works’ Union reported.  The union called on the Palestinian Authority to rein in the animals, which "terrify farmers and prevent them from reaching their lands."

‘Village evacuation constitutes war against Bedouins’
Al-Arakib residents vow to rebuild structures demolished by Land Administration. MK El-Sana: Demolitions will lead to intifada in Negev.,7340,L-3930235,00.html

Impact of Israeli Military Order No 1650 on Palestinian`s Rights to Legally Reside in Their Own Country
CARIM Analytic and Synthetic Notes – The objective of this paper is to investigate how this new order fits within a legal system Israel has set up in the West Bank and Gaza Strip through hundreds of military declarations and orders. Three aspects will be analyzed: first, the way residency status is regulated determining which residents are legal and which illegal; second, the regulation for border crossings and the movement of Palestinians within the occupied Palestinian territory and abroad; third, family unification of Palestinians in the occupied territory.

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment
Israeli police use force against Bethlehem protest
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces used physical force and tear gas against what participants called a peaceful rally near the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Wednesday, demonstrators said.  Ten people were reported injured including one child, and 15 others were detained in Al-Walaja village, where Palestinian, Israeli, and international demonstrators attempted to halt the path of Israeli construction equipment installing the newest section of the country’s separation barrier.

Dozens mark first anniversary of double Sheikh Jarrah evictions
Dozens marched to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) headquarters in Jerusalem on Monday, August 2nd, to mark the first anniversary of the eviction of two Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

Mohammed Khatib of Bil’in’s Popular Committee prevented from going abroad despite an OK from court
(ISM Palestine), 4 August 2010 | Popular Struggle, The Shin Bet prevented Mohammed Khatib of the Bil’in Popular Committee to cross the Allenby Bridge on his way to Spain today. Khatib was band despite having a permit to leave the country from the Military court., Mohammed Khatib, a prominent member of the Bil’in Popular Committee, arrived at the Israeli-controlled Allenby Bridge between the West Bank and Jordan today, in order to fly to Spain from the Amman airport. He is scheduled to attend a number of meetings and has a few planned speaking engagements. At the crossing, Khatib was told he is not allowed to travel for “security reasons” and to “go back home”. Knowing that there is no security-driven cause to deny his right to travel, he refused to turn back, saying “If I am a security threat, arrest me now, otherwise, let me pass”. Currently, he is still waiting at the crossing, refusing to evacuate.

Restricting freedom of movement: an Israeli attempt to silence leaders of the popular struggle
On August 4, 2010 about 1 PM, Mohammed Khatib from Bil’in was denied exit to Jordan via King Hussein Bridge. Khatib was on his way to Spain via Amman when Israeli border officials prevented him from crossing the border to Jordan. Denying the leaders of the non-violent Popular Struggle to go abroad is clearly an attempt to silence Palestinians who speak about human rights violations committed by Israel.

Non-violent activist Qumsiyeh is ordered to appear ‘before a colonial officer’
Palestinian activist and scientist Mazin Qumsiyeh speaks about his detention for 12 hours at the Jordanian-Israeli-Palestinian border at Allenby Bridge last week before being allowed to enter. He says that he has been ordered to report to authorities at a West Bank settlement, Gush Etzion, on August 9, apparently because of his activities– the same day he is supposed to appear before another Israeli judge on a traffic violation. "I can appear before two colonial officers in one day, on August 9."

.Ex-Israeli warns another flotilla in works
Dror Feiler says additional flotilla will be bigger than first, will not agree to Israeli checks on board,7340,L-3930403,00.html


Palestinian Boycott National Committee (BNC) marks 5 years of BDS

On the fifth anniversary of the Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) warmly salutes all our local and international partners and supporters, individuals and organizations, who have contributed to the establishment and spectacular growth of what is now a truly global movement for accountability and upholding international law. After five years of BDS, the movement has proven, indisputably, to be the most effective and morally consistent form of solidarity with the people of Palestine in our struggle to end Israel’s occupation, apartheid, and persistent denial of the UN-sanctioned right of return for the Palestinian refugees.

Many Afghan demos in ‘09 were about… Israel
I’m poking around the Afghan war diaries from Wikileaks (inspired by Antony Loewenstein) and it looks like one element of our nationbuilding effort in Afghanistan is working: the people there have demonstrated a lot, and peacefully, against Israel.  Judging by the cable traffic, many of the demonstrations in Afghanistan in 2009 seem to have been against Israel’s attack on Gaza. Here’s a demo in northern Baghlan on January 1, 2009: 1000 people. The same day an Israeli flag is burned at a demo in Konduz City. The next day in Kabul, 2000 people demonstrate. A day later, another 400 people demonstrate against air strikes. More on January 8. Another on January 15. On January 25, a "peaceful and organized demonstration" near Kabul. No target mentioned for this demo; but you’d guess from the date that it involved Gaza.  (Oh, and here 350 university students conduct a protest in support of Palestinians, in 2007.)

The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian and Human Rights/Restriction of Movement
Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 29 Jul – 04 Aug 2010

In Brief: “Impossible” to rebuild Gaza quickly, says top UN official
GAZA CITY Wednesday, August 04, 2010 (IRIN) – UN agencies have calculated that the Gaza Strip needs about 86,000 new housing units, mostly because of population growth but also to replace the thousands of homes destroyed or damaged as a result of Israeli military operations.

OPT: Gaza humanitarian timeline since 2005
GAZA CITY Sunday, August 01, 2010 (IRIN) – A four-year Israeli blockade, a 23-day military assault in 2009 and political infighting between Hamas and Fatah have created what a number of UN agencies and governments have described as a “humanitarian crisis” in the Gaza Strip.

OPT: Three different takes on aid priorities in Gaza
GAZA CITY Thursday, August 05, 2010 (IRIN) – IRIN asked three senior officials in the region – from the UN, the Israeli government and Hamas – what they considered to be the top five humanitarian needs of the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Strip.

Narratives Under Siege (5): There’s Something in the Water: The Poisoning of Life in the Gaza Strip

Gaza City, Palestine—The signs which dot the beach along the Gaza City waterfront are clear: "THIS BEACH IS POLLUTED," they read, and yet they seem to serve only as obstacles for children running to the sea rather than warnings to be heeded of the serious health risks associated with swimming here. For those who care to doubt the sign’s veracity, one need only to stroll north along the beach for a couple hundred meters to see raw sewage being pumped directly into the Mediterranean Sea from one of the sixteen discharge sites along the coast.[1] Yet thousands fill Gaza’s beaches and waters in spite of the clear dangers. For the 1.5 million Palestinians trapped in the Gaza Strip, deprived of their freedom of movement, worn down daily by the all-pervasive effects of the Israeli-imposed closure, the sea is one of the few sources of respite available in their lives, and for a people that have been denied their economic livelihood, it is the only such activity that is affordable and available. The sea plays an integral part in the lives of this coastal community: it is a place to fish, to play and to gather with family. The importance of the sea to the people of Gaza cannot be understated: "without the sea there is no Gaza," explains Abdel Haleem Abu Samra, Public Relations Officer of the Palestinian Center for Human Right’s Khan Younis Branch.

UNHRC concludes review of Israel’s rights record
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, issued its concluding observations on Israel on Thursday.  The committee found a number of violations of Israel’s obligations under international law, the Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights said in a statement. It voiced concerns about laws, policies and practices that constitute violations of the rights of Palestinians including torture and ill-treatment, the group said.  The UN rights body, which periodically reviews the conduct of UN member states, addressed issues brought forward by Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and Al-Mezan, the statement said.  The Gaza-based rights organization said it was unable to send a representative despite recently being designated consultant status at the UN, due to complications caused by Israel’s blockade of of the Gaza Strip.

American delegation of Christian and Jewish leaders visits Bethlehem
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Twenty men from the US representing Christian and Jewish groups, on Wednesday visited Bethlehem, where officials explained the situation of residents in the city.  Mayor Victor Batarseh and two municipal officials received the delegation, explaining the economic, psychological, and physical barrier that the wall around the city imposed.  "We are a nation that wants real peace based on justice and equality," Batarseh told the group.

Not making the mark in economic recovery
There is continued buzz this week over new commercial developments in Gaza. The shopping mall is a media favorite, as are reports of a new water park, a media center and new cafes and restaurants. Never mind that all these are housed in either existing buildings that were refurbished or were built anew with materials and money coming in via the tunnel economy; the mere existence of a few places of recreation would seem to point to the total absence of any problems with regard to freedom of movement. Not the case, as we reported last week. Unfortunately, a new mall and a few new humanitarian projects don’t point in the direction of the real reconstruction, recovery and development Gaza needs, especially in order for the economic market to absorb Gaza’s young people.

Throughout Israel, Palestinians are suffocated, Ben White

Despite the growing understanding of the struggles of Palistinian communities, we still need to move beyond the framework of "occupation".  Shortly after I had arrived in Palestine last month, I visited the devastated community in the Jordan Valley where the Israeli army had just days before demolished around 70 "illegal" structures. The same week, I visited Dahmash, an "unrecognised" village between Ramla and Lod inside Israel, where Palestinian citizens face pending demolition orders. Finally, just days later, I woke up to the news that the "unrecognised" Palestinian Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev had been destroyed in a raid involving 1,300 armed police (and cheering volunteers).

Calling Gaza a prison camp is an understatement | Laila El-Haddad
There may be some semblance of civil life and stability in Gaza, but it is our freedoms that are under siege. It’s three years since I’ve been back to Gaza. Much has happened since my last visit. Fatah waged a failed coup and now rules only the West Bank, while Hamas is in charge of Gaza. Israel launched its deadly Cast Lead assault. Fuel shortages. Electricity crises. And so on.
I needed to regain perspective. So I walked and I talked and I listened. I went to the beach where women – skinny jeans and all – were smoking water pipes, swimming and generally having a good time, irrespective of the purported Hamas ban on women smoking sheesha.

Hamas "morality" campaign restricts civil liberties in Gaza
RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) – Gazans are caught between a rock and a hard place. While Israel continues to apply a crippling siege on the coastal territory, Gaza’s Hamas government is cracking down on civil and political liberties in what appears to be a campaign to slowly Islamicize Gaza.

Violence and Aggression
Israeli Soldiers Hit Children With Their Rifles in al-Walaja, Joseph Dana
The village of al-Walaja continued its unarmed resistance to the creation of the Separation Wall on its lands today. Villagers along with Israeli and international supporters non-violently stopped construction of the wall for one hour and half today. Israeli armed forced responded by arresting 12 protesters and using pepper spray on a majority of the non-violent group.

Price Tag:  Settlers riot after structures razed
Four Jews arrested during riot that erupted as Civil Administration workers demolished illegal outpost near Kiryat Arba. Settlers respond by torching Palestinian fields.,7340,L-3930624,00.html

Police Attacks Residents, Arab Members of Knesset, in the Negev
Salem Abu Mdeighim, field researcher of the Adalah center, stated that a large Israeli police force attacked on Wednesday the residents of al-Araqeeb village in the Negev, and demolished their homes for the second time this week.

Personal angle: World Cup quarter-final
A B’Tselem data coordinator describes what the Barakat family underwent as they hurried home from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to watch the Argentina–Germany match, on 3 July ‘1

Israel army escorts 300 settlers into Nablus
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Residents of Nablus were told to stay indoors by Israeli troops patrolling the area just after midnight Thursday, ahead of a mass visit of Jewish worshipers to a tomb in the area.  Witnesses in the Balata refugee camp said 12 Israeli military vehicles entered the area on patrol, clearing the streets of residents. The troops reportedly entered the area from the east at the Beit Furik checkpoint.

Israel detains 5 Palestinians in Nablus
Nablus, August 5, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli occupation forces detained today five Palestinians in Asira Al-Shmalia town in Nablus.  The mayor of the town, Abed Al-Kareem Saied, said that Israeli occupation forces raided the town and number of houses.  Besides, they destroyed the furniture of a three-floor building belonging to Mohammed Yassin.  He added that they detained five citizens after raiding their house. The detainees are: Mohammed Yassin, Anas Hmdana, Rami Yassin, Mohammed Swalha and Fakher Berawi.  Israeli forces raid the West Bank on a daily basis under the pretext of searching for what they call “wanted Palestinians”.

PLC member calls for release of professors
TULKAREM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Legislative Council member Hassan Khreisha has appealed to the Ramallah government to release two An-Najah University professors detained on Tuesday.  Khreisha said that he appealed to President Abbas to release these two professors and to work to end political arrests, whether in the West Bank or in Gaza, so that all resources will be available to resist the occupation.

`Sinai rocket launch had Egyptian help`
Al-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) — Monday’s deadly rocket attack on Jordan and Israel was launched by a Palestinian faction with the help of Egyptian operatives, security officials in the Sinai believe.  An Egyptian security source told Ma’an that the faction launched seven Grad-grade rockets toward the Red Sea resort cities of Eilat and Aqaba.

Hamas officials decry Egypt rocket accusations
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Egypt’s accusations that Hamas was involved in Monday’s rocket attack are "unprofessional and absolutely untrue," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Wednesday.  Speaking with Ma’an radio, Abu Zuhri said Egyptian officials were not credible, pointing out their immediate denials that Monday’s attack had been launched from within Egyptian territory.

Egypt searches for trucks linked to rocket attacks (AFP)
AFP – Egyptian police searched the southern Sinai on Thursday for trucks they believe could have been used to fire rockets on Israeli and Jordanian resort towns this week, officials said.*

Egypt declares northern border an ’emergency’ zone
AL-ARISH (Ma’an) — Egyptian security deployed several hundred extra forces on its northern border on Thursday, declaring the area under "extreme emergency" following what officials said was the launch of rockets from the area earlier in the week.  Top-level security forces were sent to the northern Sinai, security officials said, to begin investigations into the presence of Palestinian factions who allegedly fired seven grad-grade rockets toward the Jordanian and Israeli port towns of Aqaba and Eilat on Monday, killing one Jordanian man.

Political/Other Developments
Abbas sets conditions for direct talks with Israel
Palestinian president demands complete halt to settlement building in exchange for return to face-to-face peace negotiations.

Jailed Fatah leader: Talks harm Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Talks with Israel have reached an impasse and their continuation harms Palestinian national interests, jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi said Wednesday.  Speaking with lawyer Elias Sabbagh at the Hadarim detention center where Barghouthi is serving several life terms, the Fatah leader slammed what he described as a trend which suggests talks are the alternative to “fruitless negotiations.”

DFLP says cobbling together unified Gaza resistance
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Gaza’s National Resistance Brigades said its fighters launched two mortar shells toward the Ashkol military post east of Khan Younis on Wednesday night.  The group, the armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said in a statement to Ma’an that the launch was conducted at 10:45 p.m.  The move came as a retaliation to the Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, the statement said, and marked the start of an intensified effort to form a unified resistance front.  An Israeli military spokesman said there were no reports of projectile fire in the area overnight.

Member of IDF panel probing Gaza flotilla raid: Army to blame, not government
Brig. Gen. Aviv Kochavi reportedly tells Knesset committee that the IDF did not present worst-case scenarios to senior government officials during preparations for interception of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May.

Turkey summons US envoy over UN flotilla probe (AFP)
AFP – Turkey summoned a top US diplomat to complain about what it saw as an attempt to define the mandate of a UN probe on Israel’s deadly raid on Gaza-bound aid ships, officials said on Wednesday.*

Israel to hand over Gaza aid flotilla ships to Turkey
Turkish towing ships to arrive in Israel on Thursday and receive 3 vessels along with the personal equipment that was aboard them.

Other News
Suspected Mossad agent loses extradition fight over Dubai hit
Poland to extradite Uri Brodsky to Germany within 10 days to face charge of forging passport used in assassination of Hamas leader.

Israel charges three Arab ‘spies’
Israel charges three Arab men with spying, saying they passed intelligence to Syria and plotted to kidnap a Syrian pilot who had defected to Israel.

Civic watchdog: Jews get better legal aid services than Arabs
An absence of forms in Arabic and a shortage of Arabic-speaking staff are among some of the gaps noted in Sikkuy study.

Shin Bet: Suspected Jewish terrorist Pearlman didn’t work alone
Security officials believe Chaim Pearlman had accomplices in the alleged murders of 4 Palestinians.

Customs Department Officers Close Nablus TV Channel and Attack Staff Members
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the recent raid on a Nablus TV channel, which included the beating of three journalists working for the channel and the confiscation of filmed material by officers from the Palestinian Customs Department, who also closed the channel.

Media center: Serious deterioration in press freedom
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms reported a "serious deterioration" in press freedom across the occupied Palestinian territories in July, a recent report said.  The violations cataloged by the center were perpetrated by Israeli, Palestinian Authority and Gaza forces, a statement read.   MADA also noted an increase in attacks against journalists by Israeli settlers in the West Bank and called on Israel for unhindered access to journalists The center further condemned the raiding of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate office in Gaza, expressing "its concern at the increasing incidents of raiding the headquarters of NGOs in the Gaza Strip."

Ramallah radio station: PA confiscated equipment
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) – PA customs agents confiscated and have refused to return a radio transmitter to Ramallah-based station Mazaq FM, an official at the station said Wednesday.  The equipment was reportedly taken during one of several raids by PA forces that targeted radio stations across the West Bank which had allegedly failed to pay a series of licensing fees.

Could Tourism Save The Jordan Valley?

Without major re-development work, the Jordan Valley will face “a catastrophe within the next decade”, according to economic expert Saeb Bamya of the AIX group. With 30% unemployment, just 4% of land cultivated, and settlements and military training zones absorbing more of the area, local Palestinians face an uncertain future. Radical solutions are needed.

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest
Petition to Mahmoud Abbas: We reject compromise on Palestinian Rights
WRITTEN BY ANTOINE RAFFOUL Israel does not need security. It needs democracy. It has the 4th largest army on the planet supported by the largest and most powerful nation on earth. All of this power poised against an occupied people. It is the Palestinians who yearn for security from attacks, protection from night raids, safety for their families, peaceful access to their farmland, the right to live in their homes just like any other people, and a democratic system run by democratically elected representatives to fight on their behalf for their dignity, their rights and for their freedom. That should have been the agenda at that dinner, Mr Abbas. For this, we ask you to retract your first statement about "Jewish Rights to the Land of Israel" and to support the right of return of all refugees from the Diaspora to their Palestine to rejoin their families and to enable them to live in peace and harmony with all other peoples who came into Palestine whether by day or by night. There is room for all of us.

Does the NY Times Factcheck Op-Eds?, Bogus evidence showing Arab apathy towards Palestinians
On August 2, the New York Times published an op-ed arguing that Arabs do not care much about Palestinians–and that this is a good thing, especially for Palestinians. But the argument relied on a "poll" of the Arab world that does not exist.    The piece, by historian Efraim Karsh, intended to show that the "conventional wisdom" about the Israel-Palestine conflict–that Arabs "are so passionate about the Palestine problem"–is wrong. His main evidence is this: "What, then, are we to make of a recent survey for the Al Arabiya television network finding that a staggering 71 percent of the Arabic respondents have no interest in the Palestinian/Israeli peace talks?"

More on Efraim Karsh’s ‘travesties’, Jerome Slater
More criticism of that Efraim Karsh piece of Zionist propaganda that appeared on the Times Op-Ed page saying that the Palestinians have been abandoned by the Arab world. Angry Arab says his poll #s were from  a website’s click-poll. And Jerry Slater asks the right question, why is the Times giving space to such "travesties." Slater gives the piece a realist factcheck

Why is Obama moving to fund Israel’s Iron Dome project?
On 16 July 2010, US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro laid out the Obama Administration’s policy on strategic cooperation, noting that earlier this year, President Obama "asked Congress to authorize $205 million to support the production of an Israeli-developed short range rocket defense system called Iron Dome." If approved, these funds would be "above and beyond the $3 billion in Foreign Military Financing that the Administration requested for Israel" for 2011. Jimmy Johnson comments for The Electronic Intifada.

EXCLUSIVE…Emily Henochowicz Speaks Out: Art Student Who Lost Her Eye After Being Shot by Israeli Tear Gas Canister in West Bank Protest Discusses Her Life, Her Art, and Why She Plans to Return
Today, a Democracy Now global broadcast exclusive interview with Emily Henochowicz. She’s the 21 year-old American art student who lost her eye in May after being shot in the face by an Israeli tear gas canister at a protest against Israel’s attack on the Gaza flotilla that left nine people dead. "I’m not ashamed of the fact that I lost my eye. I’m proud of who I am. I believed in the cause and that’s why I came to that demonstration on that day," Henochowicz says. "I’m not going to be the same person that I was before this happened."

The Legitimacy of Boycotting as a Tactic, Kim Petersen
Progressivism values solidarity, and within that solidarity there is respect for diversity. It is expected that there will be differences of opinion on the causes of injustices and solutions to the injustice. What best captures the essence of progressivism is its adherence to principles. It seems obvious to declare the right to non-violently resist an occupier/oppressor must be one of those principles. There appears, however, a schism on this principle within the progressivist movement.

Palestine waiting for Wikileaks, Bouthaina Shaaban
In an age they claim to be the age of the “free world,” people wait for real news from wikileaks which has leaked documents telling the real story of the conditions in Afghanistan and the enormous problems NATO and US forces are encountering in Afghanistan in facing Taliban’s scaled up attacks, which is the opposite of what we read in the “free” press.  It also reports the despair Afghanis feel regarding attempts by NATO armies to reach a solution, while these armies have brought nothing but destruction and killing to Afghani civilians. Instead of treating the documents as new indicators which merit serious consideration and maybe an unfamiliar and unexpected response to save what can be saved, most political and media interest focused on how the leak was made, the individuals involved and the objectives behind it in an attempt to frame everyone resisting the American military approach as suspect and possibly a terrorist.

A Country in Fragments: The Subjective Atlas of Palestine, Roger Sheety
A light yet enlightening book on a heavy subject, The Subjective Atlas of Palestine is a beautiful, award-winning art book edited by Dutch designer Annelys de Vet and features both individual and collaborative contributions from over thirty different Palestinian artists, photographers and writers who were asked to “map their country as they see it.”  If there is just one theme running through its compact 160 pages it would be the search for normalcy and unity under brutal and endless Israeli occupation, ethnic cleansing and land theft.  “There is a lot of melancholy hanging in the air, a sense of black humour and even boredom,” writes Hassan Khader in the introductory notes.  “The map is formed and deformed, joyfully or sarcastically; daily activities are cherished as precious proofs of resilience.”  It isn’t a question of “How can I normalize my life?” says Khader but rather “How can I keep time-tested means of normalcy functioning and oiled” while living under occupation?

Wawro’s ‘Quicksand’ and the costs of the ‘special relationship’
Military historian Geoffrey Wawro has made a valuable new contribution to the scholarship on the US relationship with the Arab/Muslim world. Quicksand: America’s Pursuit of Power in the Middle East is a must read. (I’ll be reviewing it for MondoWeiss shortly.) Wawro makes extensive use of British and American archival sources to show what would be obvious to any serious student of the subject: that with few exception, US leaders have always seen Israel as a strategic liability but short term domestic electoral imperatives — aka, the lobby — have forced policy makers into uncritically supporting the Zionist entity despite their better judgment. The costs of this relationship have been staggering. Though it is common for critics to point out the nearly $140 billion that the United States has given Israel in direct aid, the late Harvard economist Thomas Stauffer placed the real costs of US alliance with Israel at over $1.6 trillion between 1973-2002 alone! But the costs to the US economy have been even bigger. Between 1985-2008 alone, the US-Israel Free Trade Agreement — which was opposed by nearly all major US corporations as well as the AFL-CIO, but backed by AIPAC — has resulted in a trade deficit of over $70 billion.

Nuclear-Free Mideast, George S. Hishmeh – Washington, D.C.
Americans of all walks of life have lately been mesmerized by the drama launched by WikiLeaks, an anti-secrecy group, which published on its website a major portion of  92,000 classified and embarrassing U.S. documents said to be in its possession, on the Afghan war, now in its ninth year, the longest American military intervention.

Lebanon detains Israel spy suspect
Senior member of Free Patriotic Movement detained on suspicion of spying for Israel.

South holds funerals for Adaysseh fatalities
BEIRUT: South Lebanon bid farewell Wednesday to three of its men who died in Tuesday’s clashes that erupted between Israeli and Lebanese troops in the south of the country. The bodies of Lebanese Army sergeants Robert al-Ashi and Abdallah Tufayli were laid to rest in their southern hometowns of Darb al-Sim and Deir al-Zahrani.

Jordan mediating between Israel, Lebanon
Jordanian PM contacts states after border incident. ‘No point in escalating tensions,’ he says.,7340,L-3930414,00.html

Kuwait, UAE, Yemen condemn Israeli ‘aggression’ in south

DUBAI: Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday slammed Israel for its “aggression” on Lebanon, a day after a border clash between Lebanese and Israeli soldiers in which four people were killed.  The UAE condemned “Israel’s aggression on the Lebanese Army in south Lebanon as a flagrant infringement and blatant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701,” which ended the 2006 summer war that Israel launched against Lebanon, the official news agency WAM said.

Hezbollah says it will strike heart of Israel if Lebanon hit (AFP)

AFP – Hezbollah is ready to strike the heart of Israel in the event of new aggression on Lebanon, the party’s deputy chief said on Wednesday, a day after deadly clashes between Lebanese and Israeli troops.*

Qassem stresses Hizbullah’s right to retaliate
BEIRUT: Hizbullah is ready to strike the heart of Israel in the event of new aggression on Lebanon, the party’s deputy chief said on Wednesday, a day after deadly clashes between Lebanese and Israeli troops.  “Israel must understand that any aggression on Lebanon, no matter how small, gives us the complete right to retaliate when and how we find appropriate and in line with Lebanon’s political interests,” Sheikh Naim Qassem told AFP in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.  “Hizbullah chooses when to be patient and when to retaliate,” he added.

Israeli soldiers redeploy along Lebanon border
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Tension prevailed on both sides of the border after Israeli forces resumed routine activity in the area where deadly clashes took place Tuesday between Israeli and Lebanese soldiers.  The Israeli forces managed to cut down the tree which ignited the skirmishes, Israel’s Army Radio reported. The army said it had the right to remove trees if they hinder visibility and make Israeli forces vulnerable to attacks.

Israel Cuts down Lebanon Trees under UNIFIL Eyes
04/08/2010 Israeli occupation troops on Wednesday uprooted trees along the Lebanese-Palestinian border, completing yesterday’s aggression that ended up with the martyrdom of three Lebanese, two army soldier and Al-Akhbar newspaper journalist Assaf Bou Rahhal. A senior Israeli officer was also killed.  AFP reported that the occupation troops were seen using a crane that reached over a fence in the border area near the village of Odeisseh and uprooting trees that were then thrown inside occupied Palestinian territory.  The Israelis apparently proceeded with the operation as the trees allegedly blocked their view into Lebanon.  UNIFIL called an extraordinary meeting with senior representatives of the Lebanese and Israeli armies later Wednesday at the U.N. Position at Ras Al Naqoura, said UNIFIL Deputy Spokesperson Andrea Tenenti. He said the tripartite meeting was called by UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas.  OTV reported that Lebanese Army Forces (LAF) commander General Jean Kahwaji was on his way to Odeisseh.  Israel’s security cabinet meanwhile was meeting in occupied Jerusalem on Wednesday to discuss the Tuesday’s skirmish, the worst clash on the border since 2006 July war.

Israel threatens harsh response to any attacks (Reuters)
Reuters – Israel holds Lebanon and Hamas responsible for separate attacks on its territory this week and will continue to respond forcefully to violence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.*

US: Lebanese fire unjustified, deliberate
State Department spokesman condemns incident of Lebanese fire on IDF troops clearing tree from border, in which Israeli officer was killed. Meanwhile officer wounded in incident praises troops for fighting bravely.,7340,L-3930467,00.html

Congress may pull Lebanon military aid
Rep. Klein: Border shooting will "certainly come up in conversations."  WASHINGTON – Some members of Congress are threatening to reassess US aid to the Lebanese military following its border clash with Israel on Tuesday.  “To start shooting as they did – one person killed, one seriously injured – is a very serious move by the Lebanese army,” said Florida Rep. Ron Klein, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in response to a question from The Jerusalem Post.

UN: Israel did not cross border
Head of UN peacekeeping says Israeli troops did not cross Blue Line during border skirmish.

Clashes between Lebanon and Israel since 2006 war
BEIRUT: Lebanese and Israeli troops traded fire Tuesday along their tense border, leaving several dead, in the fiercest clashes since the war four years ago between Israel and Hizbullah. Here are the main incidents between the two sides since 2006.

Only we’re allowed, Gideon Levy
After Tuesday’s border clash, Israel will continue to ignore UNIFIL and the Lebanese army.  Those bastards, the Lebanese, changed the rules. Scandalous. Word is, they have a brigade commander who’s determined to protect his country’s sovereignty. Scandalous.
The explanation here was that he’s "indoctrinating his troops" – only we’re allowed to do that, of course – and that this was "the spirit of the commander" and that he’s "close to Hezbollah." The nerve. [end]

Spies for Israel, As`ad Abukhalil
The biggest story here is the arrest of senior Tayyar (the movement of Gen. `Awn) leader, Gen. Fayiz Karam for suspicions of spying for Israel. As-Safir is reporting that he may have started back in the 1980s. The man was suspected back in the 1990s of being responsible for a network of terrorists who threw bombs around the city. My suspicion is this, as I was swimming my 2 km this morning I thought, that he may not be running an espionage network for Israel, but that he may have been running a terrorist network on behalf of Israel. Don’t be surprised if he is found to be tied to the assassination of former president Rene Mu`awwad. Israel’s work in Lebanon is being increasingly undermined. I never thought i would live to find that the Lebanese police–Lebanese police for potato’s sake–is smarter than the Mossad. hahahaha hehehehe. [end]

The mood in Lebanon, As`ad Abukhalil

There is a mood of anxiety in Lebanon. People are really concerned about the prospects of an Arab-Israeli war. A friend called me from South Lebanon yesterday because his wife was freaking out being there and wanted assurances from me that there is no war. I tell people who ask me daily that there is no war coming here, but that it is hard to prove. I had a long argument/discussion with Norman Finkelstein last week about this issue: he thinks that war is coming and I don’t. Don’t get me wrong: all sides are preparing but Israel does not have any more tricks up its dirty sleeves against Hizbullah. They tried all that they had and got humiliated back in 2006. Why would killing more Lebanese civilians and destroying many more buildings advance the Israeli cause, you would as. Israel ran out of options against Hizbullah a few years ago. The uncovering of wide network of Israeli spies in Lebanon is the biggest espionage story in the history of the Middle East conflict. Israel "uncovers" one Arab spy in Israel and it becomes a sensational international headline. Lebanon and its police–Lebanon for potato’s sake–are producing Israeli spies at the rate of one a week–and the international press is barely taking notice. This is big. This will set back all Israeli criminal espionage decades backwards. That is what Hasan Nasrallah meant about the "blind elephant." Gulf tourists did not show up in large numbers this summer: partly due to anxieties about war and partly because the Gulf tourists now prefer Syria and Egypt because the people there don’t cheat them like the Lebanese do. A Lebanese can’t see a Saudi without seeing dollar signs over his/her head. It is pathetic. One should say more about Saudi Arabia: the ruling elite is fragmented more than ever. Every prince is practically running his own media and his own foreign policy.

The Lebanese Army finally acts to protect Lebanon’s sovereignty
Israel has violated the ceasefire with Lebanon over 7,000 times since the end of the 2006 war on Lebanon.
These violations include:  Dropping poisonous balloons over Southern Lebanon causing 8 people to be rushed to the hospital after inhaling toxic fumes.  Crossing into Lebanese territory and shooting at shepherds.  Consistently violating Lebanese airspace, the most recent incident being on May 26th of this year.  Crossing into Lebanese territory in an attempt to change the demarcation line between both countries.  Consistently crossing into Lebanese territory and kidnapping random civilians and livestock.

Belén Fernàndez – Terror attack by Lebanese army thwarts Israeli landscaping effort
In the latest Israeli inversion of cause and effect relationships, the clash near the Lebanese border village of Adaisseh yesterday between Israeli and Lebanese soldiers—which resulted in the deaths of one of the former nationality and three of the latter—was characterized by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak as a “planned provocation”, by Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz as a “planned terror attack”, and by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as something for which the Lebanese government was “directly responsible”. It is not clear how anyone in Lebanon is responsible for the Israeli decision to have its army uproot a tree lying outside the confines of Israel’s border fence in order to obtain a more unobstructed view of the area, especially given Israeli possession of numerous unmanned aerial vehicles for which single trees do not constitute an obstacle.

Inside Story – Blue Line tensions
Trouble is brewing at the Israel-Lebanon border. At least five people were killed and several others wounded. The Lebanese army has confirmed that it opened fire on Israeli forces for reportedly crossing the border fence and cutting trees in its territory. So, in this tense situation in a highly volatile region, could a new war be averted?

Gunmen attack Iraq policeman house
Gunmen attacked a policeman’s house in Abu Ghraib District killing him, his wife and another person. Unknown gunmen attacked the house of policeman Qassem Awad Attieh and killed him, his wife and their guest, a police source told Alsumaria News.

Gunmen storm Baghdad money exchange, kill 3 (AP)
AP – Gunmen stormed a Baghdad money exchange and killed three people Thursday, the latest in recent brash daylight attacks on banks, financial and trade centers in the Iraqi capital, many of which have been blamed on insurgents.*

Wednesday: 1 Iraqi Killed, 2 Wounded
Only one Iraqi was killed and two more were injured in unusually light violence. Meanwhile, during a speech to the Security Council, U.N. envoy to Iraq, Ad Melkert, warned that the political deadlock is harming infrastructure and services in the fragile country.

U.N. council calls on Iraq to form government soon (Reuters)

Reuters – The Security Council called on Iraq on Wednesday to form a new government quickly after a U.N. envoy said delays were hurting its infrastructure and services and adding to uncertainty about its future.*

Iraq election victor boosted as Shiite parties bicker (AFP)
AFP – The secular coalition that narrowly won Iraq’s general election is edging closer to power after a bitter row over who becomes prime minister left a rival Shiite alliance on the brink of collapse.*

Tired of war, thousands of Iraqis want to go to U.S. (Reuters)
Reuters – Ahmed is desperate to get out of Baghdad, after Islamists threatened to kill him or his children because he worked for Western media after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.*

Iraqi ‘teenager’ faces UK eviction
An Iraqi refugee is preparing to be evicted from the children’s home where he has lived in Britain for the past 12 months. Rabar Hamad may now face deportation because the authorities claim he is older than he says he is. When he arrived in the UK hidden in the wheel arch of a lorry in 2008, Rabar told officials he was 14. However, two separate social workers have now assessed him and ruled that he is a 20-year-old man. Tania Page reports from Wigan in northern England.

War with Iran: Memorandum for President Obama,  Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
We write to alert you to the likelihood that Israel will attack Iran as early as this month. This would likely lead to a wider war. Israel’s leaders would calculate that once the battle is joined, it will be politically untenable for you to give anything less than unstinting support to Israel, no matter how the war started, and that U.S. troops and weaponry would flow freely. Wider war could eventually result in destruction of the state of Israel.  This can be stopped, but only if you move quickly to pre-empt an Israeli attack by publicly condemning such a move before it happens.

Iran questions Obama’s ‘change’
"The Americans want to relocate their soldiers to Afghanistan. What kind of a change in their military policy is this?" the president asked during a speech in the western Hamadan Province

Iran official: We have obtained the S-300 missile system
Fars news agency says Tehran signs deal with Belarus after Russia reportedly refused to provide Iran with the surface-to-air system over recent UN sanctions.

Russian company: US sanctions bar Iran plane deal
U.S. sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme are preventing a state-connected Russian company from delivering five passenger jets to Iran under a 2007 contract, the head of the company said on Tuesday.

Iran rejects Ahmadinejad attack reports
Iran’s presidential office has rejected as false reports of a grenade attack on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the western city of Hamedan.

Ahmadinejad attack ‘was firework’
A reported attack on the convoy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, was actually a teenager throwing a firework, officials and a witness say.

U.S. and Other World News
Canadian judge frees ‘al-Qaeda’ man
Canadian judge refuses US extradition request for Abdullah Khadr, releases him from jail.

Army probing McChrystal staff over Rolling Stone interview
The investigation comes as the Pentagon grapples with how much access the reporter who wrote the piece, Michael Hastings, should have to troops. Hastings was banned from a scheduled embed this September in Afghanistan for being untrustworthy.

Congressman says PFC Bradley Manning Should Face Death Penalty for Wikileaks Case
"If they don’t charge him with treason, they ought to charge him with murder."

US Corporate Media Downplays Pentagon’s Special Commando Assassination Unit
The New York Times, Washington Post, and most other newspapers in the US are censoring or under-reporting the WikiLeaks documents that show US Task Force 373 (TF 373) is an out-of-control assassination unit responsible for the deaths of many hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan.

Poll: Arab world opinion of Obama dims
A new poll of Arab public opinion finds a significant drop in Arab world views of President Obama from a year ago.The 2010 Arab Public Opinion poll will be released Thursday at the Brookings Institution by Shibley Telhami, of the University of Maryland and Brookings’ Saban Center for Middle East Policy. The annual survey, conducted in conjunction with Zogby International, polled 3,976 people in six countries — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates — in June and July. The most striking finding is that while early in the Obama administration, in April and May 2009, some 51 percent of those polled expressed optimism about American policy in the Middle East; in the 2010 poll, only 16 percent were hopeful, while a majority, 64 percent, were discouraged.

Pat Robertson’s group sues to stop mosque near NY’s ground zero
A conservative advocacy group founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson is suing to try to block a planned Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero.  The mosque proposal has become a fulcrum for balancing religious freedom and the legacy of the Sept. 11 attacks. It would be two blocks from ground zero.  The American Center for Law and Justice says it filed a petition Wednesday challenging a city panel’s decision to let developers tear down a building to make way for the mosque. The Washington-based group is representing a firefighter who survived the terrorist attacks.

Church to Burn Copies of Koran to Mark 9/11
"We will burn Korans because we think it’s time for Christians, for churches, for politicians to stand up and say no; Islam and Sharia law is not welcome in the U.S.

MJ Rosenberg: Weiner (With Muslim Wife) Won’t Say Mosque Is Okay
Greg Sargent, who writes terrific insider stuff for the Washington Post, has been writing about the silence of most Congressional Democrats on the controversy over the so-called Ground Zero mosque.  Naturally, Chuck Schumer has no comment. But I’m intrigued with Anthony Weiner who, in July, married a devout Muslim woman who has kept her Islamic faith. (He may have adopted Islam but she has not become Jewish).

Riz Khan – Eliminating nuclear weapons
The new documentary "Countdown to Zero" warns of an impending global nuclear disaster. The only way to avoid a global tragedy, according to the film, is to eliminate nuclear weapons altogether. How can the world collectively deal with the threat of a nuclear disaster?

Afghanistan: a War Correspondent’s Viewpoint, RON JACOBS
Anand Gopal is a correspondent who has been covering the war in Afghanistan for several years.  His current employer is The Wall Street Journal.  Prior to that, he worked for The Christian Science Monitor.  I met Gopal a couple of years ago and check in with him occasionally to get his viewpoint on the Washington-led occupation and war in South Asia.  Most recently, I sent him a few few questions via email. The exchange follows.
–Ron Jacobs

Lost in translation? American movies get dubbed in the Middle East
As the demand for American movies increases in the Middle East, films like ‘The Godfather’ are receiving a new voice.

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