and other news from Today in Palestine:
Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing
UN official: Israel should extend freeze
NEW YORK – In a briefing to the Security Council at its meeting Tuesday morning on the Middle East, a senior United Nations official called on Israel to continue the partial moratorium on settlement construction beyond September 26 and to extend it to all settlement activity, as well as to construction in east Jerusalem. “We are nearing a turning point in the efforts to promote direct negotiations,” Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez- Taranco told the Security Council, in his briefing on the situation in the Middle East.
IOF erects new checkpoint in Nablus
Nablus, August 18, (Pal Telegraph) Israeli occupation forces erected today morning a new checkpoints at the entrance to municipality of “Awarta” village, south of Nablus in the northern West Bank. Witnesses said that the Israeli occupation forces arrested a number of Palestinian vehicles and checked the identity cards of its passengers. Witnesses said that Israeli soldiers detained public transportation vehicles after an argument with one of the suspected passengers. The towns of Nablus are subjected to continuous raids and arresting campaigns by the Israeli occupation forces and Israeli settlers.
Israel continues efforts to destroy Palestinian village in the Jordan Valley; Interview coming later today
From Jordan Valley Solidarity: Al Farisiya to be razed again. In the morning of Sunday 15th August 2010, the Israeli Civil Administration came to Al Farisiya yet again, with two warning documents stating that people have to leave this so-called ”closed area”. The two documents don’t state which family they target, which means that any family in the village can be targeted for home demolition, or confiscation of their vehicles or animals.
Two laws for two people in the same Place: Interview with Jordan Valley protest organizer Fathy Khdirat
Israeli court favores Israeli settlers over Jerusalemites
Jerusalem, August 18, (Pal Telegraph) The Israeli Court rejected A request filed by a family from East Jerusalem to order a precautionary evacuation of Israeli settlers out of their house which was occupied by Israeli settlers in Jerusalem, they lived in their house for more than forty years. The head of the Jerusalem unity in the Palestinian Authority, lawyer Ahmed Ruwaidy, said that the Israeli court refused evacuate the Israeli settlers from the home of a Jerusalemite family, and had given a period of 30 days to appeal the decision before the District Court of Jerusalem, and obliged to pay court fees and expenses amounting to 7500 shekels.
Video: Gilo Wall Removal; Half The Story Told
Ghassan Bannoura – PNN – Recently the Israeli military announced that they would be removing part of a security wall near Har Gilo settlement between West Bank city of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The military announcement was true, but told only half of the story.
Gaza: Protesters remove part of security fence
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Peace activists with the popular committee against the buffer zone removed part of the security fence in Beit Hanoun on Tuesday, officials said. Local committee coordinator Saber Az-Za’aneen said participants removed 10 meters of the fence as Israeli forces opened fire.
Jerusalem residents pray with exiled legislators in Red Cross tent
A number of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem have traveled to the Gaza-Israel border each day since Ramadan began last Wednesday, to break their daily Ramadan fast with legislators who have been threatened with deportation by the Israeli government.
Salena Tramel: Reimagining Israel’s Negev
Down south in the Negev desert, the sounds of jets fill wide-open spaces. Increasing militarization is constant –at least 80% of the land there is used for military training purposes, including weaponry development. The Negev also contains the largest petrochemical processing center in the Middle East and Israel’s nuclear facilities. Bedouin communities who call the remaining land home are routinely displaced. For the Bedouins, the sound of homes collapsing under bulldozers often drowns out the sounds of jets.
Amos Oz: Situation of Bedouin in Negev is ‘ticking time bomb’
Oz is the latest public figure to voice solidarity with the residents of Al-Arakib, torn down 4 times in last months for planting of forests.
Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment
Ahlam M. Mohsen, Woman Who Threw Pie In Carl Levin’s Face, Has Bond Set At $250,000
BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — An anti-war protester accused of hitting Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin in the face with an apple pie during a constituent meeting in northern Michigan is jailed on a $250,000 bond. Twenty-two-year-old Ahlam M. Mohsen of Coldwater was arraigned Tuesday on a felony count of stalking and other charges. A Mecosta County district judge set her bond at $250,000, requiring a cash payment of $25,000 for her to get out of jail. Mohsen has said she opposes U.S. military policy and its support for Israel. She was arrested last year for sitting in at Levin’s Lansing office. The attack happened Monday at the Michigan Democrat’s appearance at a restaurant in Big Rapids, 150 miles northwest of Detroit.
4 Palestinians to be tried for violating settlement boycott
Merchants may face prison sentences; meanwhile, Hamas says PA not tough enough with Israel.
A million dollar festival will not rescue Israel’s image as an apartheid state
Once again, the Brand-Israel machine is in high gear, this time organizing a million-dollar international youth extravaganza in Eilat in September 2010 called “Funjoya.” This unabashed propaganda exercise is sponsored by the Israel Ministry of Tourism and the Israeli Student Union, among other official and semi-official bodies. The Ministry of Tourism explains one of the aims of the festival: “branding Israel as an attractive tourism destination for students, an improvement in Israel’s image among this target group and facilitating multi-cultural encounters for students from Israel and European countries.”
The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian and Human Rights/Restriction of Movement
TIMELINE-Gaza since the end of a truce with Israel
Arabs face increased discrimination at Tel Aviv University
Measures designed to benefit Jewish school-leavers applying for places in Israeli higher education at the cost of their Palestinian Arab counterparts have been criticized by lawyers and human rights groups.
Israeli Ex-Soldier Defends Her Facebook Snapshots, ROBERT MACKEY
In an interview with Israeli Army radio on Tuesday, a former Israeli soldier said, “I still don’t understand what’s wrong” with photographs she posted on Facebook of herself posing next to blindfolded Palestinian detainees. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Eden Abergil, who posted the images in an album dedicated to her time in the military — called “The Army… the most beautiful time of my life :)” — said that the “pictures were taken in good will, there was no statement in them.” She added that they were not intended to humiliate the prisoners but merely to document her “military experience,” and that she had no idea they “would be problematic.”
Facebook scandal escalates as group posts new photos
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli human rights group has released pictures of Israeli soldiers and border guards alongside blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian detainees — some of them dead. Breaking the Silence set up a group on Facebook entitled "the norm denied by Avi Benayahu," an Israeli military spokesman who described the recent release of photographs by an ex-soldier next to detainees as exceptional.
Gaza NGO says security forces shut down clinic
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A medical relief NGO said Wednesday that Hamas-affiliated security forces shut down its clinic in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, and confiscated equipment. Help Doctors said that at 10:30 a.m., four men in civilian clothes including an employee with the Interior Ministry entered the medical dispensary for the care of chronic patients and seized three chairs, a telephone, office equipment, and administrative records. "They have clearly announced their intention to return. They have left no receipt nor presented any official documents authorizing them to do what they have done," the NGO said in a statement.
PA police detain 6 for smoking during Ramadan
SALFIT (Ma’an) — Police in the northern West Bank governorate of Salfit detained and charged six men on Wednesday for smoking in public during fasting hours of the month of Ramadan. Police charged the men with "violating the sanctity of Ramadan." Officers said that during a regular patrol of the area, they found the men smoking in the street, detaining them and transferring the files to the local prosecutor. Officers said the men would be charged under article 274 of the Penal Code, which forbids eating or smoking in public during the month of Ramadan. The charge carries a one-month term in jail or a fine.
Violence: Past and Present/Provocations
Israel carries out air strikes in Gaza
GAZA, Aug 17 (Reuters) – Israel carried out air strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday after two soldiers were wounded in a mortar bomb attack by militants, the Hamas Islamist group and Palestinian witnesses said. They said the air strikes targeted smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip and an open field in the southern town of Khan Younis used by militants to fire rockets at Israel.
Israeli warplanes strike targets in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli warplanes bombed two sites in southern Gaza overnight Tuesday, hitting what residents said was a smuggling tunnel and an open area causing no injuries. A statement released by the Israeli military Wednesday said the targets included a "weapons manufacturing site in the central Gaza Strip, two weapons-smuggling tunnels and a terror tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip." According to witnesses, the tunnel was in Rafah’s Al-Jaradat neighborhood. Director of ambulance and emergency services in Gaza Muawiya Hassanein said medics headed to the area following reports of a strike and there were no injured.
Israeli troops invade southern Gaza; Palestinian fighters fire 5 shells
Following a cross-border skirmish between Palestinian fighters and Israeli forces in which one Palestinian was killed on Monday, Israeli forces invaded southern Gaza twice in a 24-hour period.
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers assaulted a 10-year-old Palestinian girl on Sunday evening and an Israeli military jeep struck an 8-year-old boy in Hebron, witnesses said. Inas Mazen Qaaqour was beaten by residents of the illegal Tel Rumeida settlement and treated at the Hebron Government Hospital where medics said she was bruised all over her body.
Gaza medics retrieve body of man shot by Israeli forces
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Medics retrieved the corpse of a Palestinian man Tuesday shot dead by Israeli forces a day earlier near the border east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip. Gaza medical services spokesman Adham Abu Salima said Bassam Barham Ad-Daghma’s body was transferred to the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.
An American woman seeks justice for Palestinian husband
Israeli police say they shot Ziad Jilani after he sideswiped three officers with his car in a ‘terror attack.’ His family says it was an accident. Wife Moira vows to ‘push this until the day I die.’ Get the girls ready, Ziad Jilani’s wife recalls him saying as he rushed out the door, and when I’m back from prayers we’ll have a day at the beach. With temperatures soaring and school in recess, the Jilani family was looking forward to a little fun and relaxation.
Slain Palestinian girl’s family pushes trial for soldiers (AFP)
AFP – The family of a 10-year-old Palestinian girl shot dead by Israeli troops in 2007 vowed on Tuesday to bring the soldiers to trial after an Israeli court blamed the military for her death.
Bassam Aramin’s search for justice
On a hot August afternoon exactly three years ago Bassam Aramin was adamant that he did not want revenge for the death of his ten-year-old daughter, Abir, but justice. At the time, he added quietly: "I have to prove my daughter was killed: that is my problem."
Remember the little boy that begged the IOF not to take his father? ‘I do not want to see something green on your fields. I want to see everything yellow.’, Adam Horowitz
Gideon Levy has interviewed the Jabari family featured in the video above. The article only seems to be available on Haaretz’s Hebrew language website, but Noam Sheizaf translated the following excerpt. Sheizaf also adds that Fadel and Wadee Jabari, whose arrest was shown in the video, are still in Israeli prison, awaiting trial…
Zionist war on Palestinian children
Palestinian minors suspected of perpetrating even minor crimes against settlers are subject to extreme pressure during detention and interrogation in an effort to extract a confession, the Palestinian branch of Defense for Children International claims. The group, which represents hundreds of minors in Israeli military courts every year, cites as an example the case of two 16-year-olds from Assira al-Qibalya, near Nablus, who were suspected of setting fire to a field near the settlement of Yitzhar. They were each detained for a total of three weeks, including 10 days in a Shin Bet security service facility in Petah Tikva. Six of those 10 days were spent in isolation. In the end, they were released without charge. The fire near Yitzhar started on June 2. At 2 A.M. on June 10, the army raided the boys’ homes and arrested them.
Israeli army detains 3 Palestinians overnight
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Israeli army detained three Palestinians overnight Tuesday including two from East Jerusalem, an Israeli official said. An Israeli military spokeswoman said two Palestinians were seized from Abu Dis and Dura, a village in the southern West Bank district of Hebron.
Israel detains Palestinian in Hebron
Hebron, August 18, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained today Palestinian citizen from Dora in the city of Hebron in the West Bank. Local sources said that Israeli occupation forces detained Hasan Abu Obaid after raiding his house. Obaid is from Tulkarem and lives in Dora. Besides, they search the houses of Ibrahim Al-Masri and Abed Al-Ftah Al-Masri. In Al-Zahria town, IOF searched the houses of Ali Al-Batat and Fathi Al-Batat. Besides, IOF broke into Yata, Al-Samou, Al-Rihia and Al-Shjajna valley near Dora, no more detentions were reported. IOF erected two military checkpoints at Halhoul Bridge and another at Al-Fawar crossroad where they verified the ID cards of the citizens. Israeli forces raids the West Bank on a daily basis under the pretext of searching for what they call “wanted Palestinians”.
Al Mezan Meets the UN Committee of Experts in Context of Following-up Goldstone’s Report
A delegation from the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights met at 8pm on Sunday 15 August 2010 the UN Committee of Experts in the Gaza City. The Committee visit to Gaza comes in the context of monitoring and assessing the compliance of the parties of their obligation to investigate violations of international law during Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009 in line with the recommendations of the Goldstone Report. Al Mezan’s delegation included its director Mr. Issam Younis, Mr. Mahmoud Abu Rahma, coordinator of communication and international relations and Mr. Samir Zaqout, coordinator of the field work unit. The Committee included Professor Christian Tomuschat from Germany (chairperson), Mr. Param Cumaraswamy from Malaysia and Justice Mary McGowan Davis from the USA. The Committee was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, pursuant to Resolution A/HRC/Res/13/9. It will report to the Council in its fifteenth session in September 2010.
Genuinely Unwilling: An Update. The Failure of Israel’s Investigative and Judicial System to Comply with the Requirements of International Law, with particular regard to the Crimes Committed during the Offensive on the Gaza Strip (27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009)
At approximately 11:25 am on Saturday, 27 December 2008 Israeli forces began to attack the Gaza Strip. The offensive, codenamed ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ lasted for 23 days. In total, 1,419 Palestinians were killed. 1,182 of the dead – the overwhelming majority – were civilians, the ‘protected persons’ of international humanitarian law. A further 5,300 individuals were injured, and public and private property throughout the Gaza Strip was extensively and systematically targeted and destroyed.
Last-minute hitch before Palestinians, Israelis launch direct talks
JERUSALEM, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) — A statement is anticipated any day now to announce the commencement of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks. However, the news initially expected as early as Sunday has been put on ice as the parties continue to argue about the terms of reference.
Egypt FM: Cairo won`t host peace talks
CAIRO (Ma’an) — Egypt is not likely to host direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, a foreign ministry official was quoted as saying by the Cairo-based newspaper Al-Ahram on Wednesday. Ministry spokesman Husam Zaki cautioned that it was too early to talk about who would host direct talks, as no agreement has yet been made by negotiating parties. He assured, however, that it would not be Egypt.
Israel and Greece seek to expand military ties
* Netanyahu is the first Israeli PM to visit Greece
* Expanding military ties during at high-level talks
Gunman holes up in Turkish embassy
“According to the Palestinian man’s lawyer, who has kept in contact with the suspect by cellphone while he is in the embassy, the man is armed with a pistol and a knife. He claims that he is being pursued by the Israeli and Palestinian intelligence services because he has information that could “bring down several senior Palestinian Authority officials.”
Embassy ‘hostage taker’ is ex-Israeli informer: lawyer (AFP)
AFP – The Palestinian who broke into the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv and tried to take hostages was a former Israeli informer who was seeking political asylum, his lawyer claimed on Wednesday.
PCHR: Minister’s son opens fire at Gaza police station
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The son of a Gaza government minister opened fire at a police station in Gaza last Friday, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said. Suhayb Al-Kurd, a security officer and son of Social Affairs Minister Ahmad Al-Kurd, opened fire toward the police station in Deir Al-Balah with a Kalashnikov as a result an altercation, PCHR said. Al-Kurd, along with his brother who was with him at the time, were arrested on site, the center added.
4 Arabs suspected of selling weapons to Palestinians
Undercover police investigation leads to four Israeli Arabs who allegedly deal in weapons, sold them to Palestinian criminals.
Former PA intelligence commander dies at 70
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Former Palestinain Intelligence Commander General Amin Al-Hindi died at the age of 70 in Jordan on Tuesday. Officials in Ramallah said his body would be transferred from Jordan to the West Bank on Wednesday for burial in the de facto capital. A mourning house will open in the evening at the municipal building. Born in Gaza in 1940, Al-Hindi was infamous for his role in the planning of the slaying of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Rabbi Yosef: No to 3rd generation phones
Haredi-Sephardic rabbis urge yeshiva students to stay away from cellular devices with internet browsing, movies. ‘In one instant a man can stumble and fall, heaven forbid, to bottom of pit,’ one of them warns.
Israeli settlers expand campaign to manipulate entries on Wikipedia
The internet’s open-source, user-edited encyclopedia called ‘Wikipedia’ has been targeted by Israeli governmental and non-governmental partisans since its inception, who have attempted to manipulate its contents to promote a Zionist agenda. This week, Israeli settlers launched a course for right-wing Israelis interested in helping to manipulate the contents of entries on the online encyclopedia.
Gazan aims at Guinness record for largest Ramadan lamp (AFP)
AFP – In the latest Guinness world record bid aimed at highlighting the Palestinian struggle a Gaza resident on Tuesday unveiled the "world’s largest Ramadan lamp."
Israel gives Obama reason to worry
New evidence has emerged that senior figures in the Israeli intelligence and military oppose a strike against Iran and believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apocalyptic rhetoric against Tehran is self-defeating. Nevertheless, Washington still has to worry that Israel may strike unless it hardens its stance on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Is Canada passing information on its citizens to Israel?
As a national intelligence organization shrouded in secrecy, it is hard to know if the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) has been mandated to target Palestine solidarity activists. In the current political climate, however, it’s not surprising that CSIS officials view anyone defending Palestinian rights as a threat. Yves Engler analyzes for The Electronic Intifada.
Hamas: A Beginner’s Guide – Book Review
Israel, the United States and the European Union call Hamas a "terrorist organisation". Yet Hamas swept to victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections and stunned the world. It is now a democratically elected political party. All the election observers agreed that the elections were free, fair, and democratic. The Palestinian people showed their ability to establish a democratic state next to Israel. But Israel, the United States and the EU did not like this idea of a democratic Palestinian state besides Israel and the outcome of a democratic election. According to their opinion, the Palestinian people voted democratically, but for the wrong party. What is wrong with the Hamas movement? And why is it demonised by Israel, the US and the European Union? The reviewed book asks all relevant questions concerning Hamas and gives very balanced answers.
Israel, muscular and a perpetual victim
The capacity of Zionism and the leaders of Israel to be both heroic to the Jewish people and compulsive liars to the rest of the world is one of the great tragedies of our time – and it is on display again these days in the ongoing media campaign to prepare American public opinion for a possible Israeli military strike against Iran.
Gwynne Dyer: The Mavi Marmara Inquiry: Denying the Obvious
Just as Kent State destroyed US popular support for the Vietnam War and Bloody Sunday killed the myth of a benevolent British army protecting Catholics from Protestants in Northern Ireland, the events on the Mavi Marmara will ultimately end the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Al Jazeera Cartoon: "The Carrot and the Stick"
Two Lebanese sentenced to death for Mossad spying
BEIRUT // A Lebanese military court sentenced two citizens to death on charges of spying for Israel’s Mossad, a judicial source said.
Lebanon charges colonel with spying for Israel
Lebanon’s military court on Wednesday charged a colonel with spying for Israel, a judicial source said, bringing to four the number of active duty soldiers arrested on charges of espionage. "Judge Sakr Sakr charged Colonel Antoine Abu Jaoudeh with spying for the (Israeli) enemy, meeting with Israeli Mossad agents abroad and providing them with information on the resistance (Hezbollah) and army in exchange for money from 2006 until his arrest" earlier this month, the source told AFP.
Cabinet to discuss three-year plan to equip Lebanese Army
BEIRUT: The Cabinet is to discuss Wednesday a three-year plan to equip the Lebanese Army, while ministers loyal to opposition groups would propose the formation of a Lebanese committee to probe false witnesses in the case of the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri.
Lebanese Army removes border trees
BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army in coordination with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) removed five trees on the border with Israel upon an Israeli request. The trees were planted as part of an Iran-funded project to improve the landscape of the southern borders.
Lebanon parliament passes offshore drilling law (AFP)
AFP – Lebanese MPs passed a law on Tuesday authorising exploration and drilling of offshore oil and gas fields which have fuelled tensions with Israel over maritime borders.
Lebanon law gives Palestinians few civil rights (Reuters)
Reuters – Lebanon’s parliament passed a law on Tuesday granting Palestinian refugees basic civil rights and rights campaigners said more needed to be done.
Leftists say new Lebanese law not enough
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A leftist Palestinian faction said Wednesday that Lebanon’s decision to grant Palestinian refugees work rights "does not represent the minimum." The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Gaza said in a statement that "this law is a beautification of the deprivation policy by the Lebanese state, despite several appeals to Lebanese officials." "The new law maintains discrimination by allowing work while ignoring the rights of the worker to enter any career … in addition to ignoring other rights such as owning property. This places the Palestinians in Lebanon under pressure."
Request for Ain al-Hilweh burials spurs fears of violence
BEIRUT: Fears of violence in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp have risen following reports that the funeral of two members of the Fatah al-Islam movement who were killed over the weekend by the army would be held in the camp.
Confessionalism continues to impact state procedures
BEIRUT: A Shiite Muslim in Lebanon’s diplomatic corps can forget about being appointed ambassador to Washington. The same goes for a posting in London for a Maronite Christian. And there’s absolutely nothing that can be done about it. “I was told there were no vacancies for Maronites, so I spent eight years waiting for one to open up,” one former envoy told AFP, requesting anonymity. She has since been posted overseas. Her plight reflects the omnipresence of political confessionalism in Lebanon, home to no fewer than 18 sects, and where religion may well outweigh merit in the workplace.
Three farmers killed in central Iraq attack (AFP)
AFP – Three farmers were killed and leaflets pinned to their bodies Wednesday warning against cooperation with American and Iraqi forces in a brutal act of intimidation as thousands of US troops leave.
Tuesday: 69 Iraqis Killed, 132 Wounded
At least 69 Iraqis were killed and 132 more were wounded. A large blast killed and wounded dozens at an army center in Baghdad, while at least two other attacks targeted judges.
Suicide bomber targets Iraqi army
At least 48 people have been killed and 129 injured in a suicide bomb attack at a military recruitment centre in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. The injured were rushed to hospitals nearby the military centre, which was the defense ministry under Saddam Hussein rule. This latest bombing comes a fortnight before the last US combat troops withdrawal. At least 300 people have been killed since the beginning of August. Al Jazeera’s Omar Al Saleh reports from Baghdad.
Iraq government is responsible for carnage
The ridiculous squabbling over who will lead a new government is not only allowing the terror networks to regroup and arm themselves — following a successful campaign by the government in recent years to dismantle some of these groups — but also threatens the territorial integrity of Iraq.
Iraq’s Allawi says to intensify talks with Sadrists
* Political vacuum stokes tensions
* Deadly attack targets Iraqi army recruits
US support in Iraq needed only ‘a few more years’: diplomat (AFP)
AFP – US financial support for Iraq will be needed for only a "few more years" until Iraq can tap its vast oil wealth and stand on its own feet, the departing US ambassador to Baghdad said Tuesday.
Suicide attack on Iraqi Army frustrates Iraqi hopes for security
A suicide attack at an Iraqi Army recruitment center killed more than 50 people and wounded more than 120. Shopkeepers in the neighborhood blamed lack of political progress and called promises of security ‘empty.’
In Iraq, cemetery is symbol of militia’s vow to fight if U.S. forces delay exit, Leila Fadel
NAJAF, IRAQ — The followers of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr call this plot of land on the edge of this Shiite holy city the Freedom Cemetery. It is barren, nondescript desert ground. The graves have not been excavated. But it is reserved for a purpose: the possibility that U.S. forces might stay beyond the Dec. 31, 2011, departure deadline mandated by a security agreement between the United States and Iraq.
Iraqi School Books Criticised for Sectarian Bias
I decided to write a story on Islamic classes in Iraqi schools after talking to kids in Baghdad who were confused by the messages in these courses – including a child who questioned whether he would one day need to kill his Christian friend.
Shadow over Iraq
The scheduled departure this month of the last United States combat soldiers in Iraq is a milestone, not a mark of success. While General David Petraeus’ surge strategy broke the cycle of violence and brought fragile stability to Iraq, it did not carve out a political solution or preclude a return of violence. A fundamental reality remains: Iran holds the key to the success of American strategy in Iraq. – George Friedman
Iraq Before and After
The early, heady days of the Iraq war, starting in 2003, were a time of American arrogance, jingoism and barely restrained violence. She demonstrates that time not through her own words, but through key statements by American official, then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the denizens of the establishment media. They present their systematic violence as necessary, justified and careful, while the images we see of bombings and shootings do not fit so closely.
Warmongering never gets tiresome for some… Bolton: Israel has few days to strike Iran
Former American envoy to UN says Israel must attack Bushehr plant before Russian shipment of nuclear fuel arrives; However, Bolton skeptical Israel will strike, says ‘I’m afraid that they’ve lost this opportunity’.
Tehran to unveil array of new weapons, boats next week
TEHRAN: Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Tuesday that Iran will unveil next week an array of weapons, including missiles, speedboats and a long range drone, the ISNA news agency reported. Two missiles, Qiam (Rising) and the third generation Fateh 110 (Conqueror) would be tested next week when Iran marks the annual government week, Vahidi said in reference to the week beginning Saturday. Iran will also unveil the long-range drone, Karar, he said, using the nickname of revered Shiite Imam Ali.
US official in Beirut to pursue Tehran penalties
BEIRUT: A senior US official arrived in Beirut on Tuesday to follow up on financial penalty measures on Iran that are supposed to be adopted by many countries, including Lebanon. Stuart Levey, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the US Treasury Department, intends to meet officials from the Central Bank and Finance Ministry as well as from the banking sector. According to the United Nations Security Council, all member states should comply with the long list of economic and financial sanctions on Tehran, which refuses to cooperate in its nuclear program.
UAE keen to protect Iran trade despite sanctions
DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is keen to protect legitimate trade with Iran even though it is enforcing tough new sanctions against its neighbor across the Gulf, media reports said on Tuesday. Iran is a significant UAE trading partner, with trade volume between it and the emirate of Dubai alone estimated at about $10 billion a year, mostly imports from Iran. “I think it is extremely important to have that balance right, between our international commitments on the one hand and also between the fact that a lot of the transactions that we do have are legitimate,” Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, was quoted as saying in Gulf News.
The Israel Lobby Swims The Atlantic, Grant Smith
Jeffrey Goldberg’s current cover story in The Atlantic, “The Point of No Return,” achieved massive distribution across a broad spectrum of old and new media in the United States. Some observers – including Glenn Greenwald in “How Propagandists Function” – noted how well the methodology and message of Goldberg’s piece serves the Israeli government’s efforts to push U.S. military action against Iran. Gareth Porter views it as part of an overarching strategy to keep the U.S. from restoring productive relations with Iran. A huge trove of newly declassified documents subpoenaed during a Senate investigation reveals how Israel’s lobby pitched, promoted, and paid to have content placed in America’s top news magazines with overseas funding. The Atlantic (and others) received hefty rewards for trumpeting Israel’s most vital – but damaging – PR initiatives across America.
U.S. and Other World News
Afghan villagers protest night raid
Neighbours say raid near Jalalabad killed two civilians; Nato says men were "insurgents".
Poll: Opposition to Iraq, Afghanistan wars reach all time high
(CNN) – Two-thirds of Americans favor President Obama’s plan to remove combat troops from Iraq by the end of the month as opposition to the war in that country, as well as the one in Afghanistan, has climbed to new highs. According to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey, Obama’s withdrawal plan wins support not because Americans think the U.S. has achieved its goals in Iraq – only three in 10 feel that way – but because a majority believe that the U.S. will never achieve its goals in that country no matter how long troops remain there. That’s one reason why 69 percent oppose the war in Iraq – the highest amount of opposition in any CNN poll.Meanwhile, 65 percent favor Obama’s plan to remove most combat troops but keep 50,000 there for non-combat duties. Another 19 percent want the U.S. to remove all troops immediately; only 16 percent oppose Obama’s plan because they would like to see U.S. troops remain in Iraq indefinitely.
US confirms ‘interrogation tapes’
US officials confirm the existence of tapes of a 2002 interrogation of alleged 9/11 plotter Ramzi Binalshibh, reportedly at a secret jail.
Muslim Brotherhood: Secret of its success
Fareed Abdelkhalek is a living example of the Muslim Brotherhood’s tenacity and appeal. At 95, he is still a loyal member and – remarkably for a man of his age – has just finished a PhD thesis on "hisba", accountability in the Islamic system of government. Mr Abdelkhalek first met the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, in the 1940s. It was a meeting that changed his life, Mr Abdelkhalek says at his home in Cairo.
Bahrain arrests more Shi’ite activists as poll nears
MANAMA, Aug 18 (Reuters) – Bahraini authorities have detained four more Shi’ite activists on security grounds, raising the stakes in the run-up to parliamentary elections after earlier arrests were criticised by rights groups.
Egypt blames Israel for power blackouts
Government official says natural gas deal with Israel is the reason behind the country’s power cuts.
Hossam el-Hamalawy, "Power Blues: Mubarak’s Failed State"
This summer has been plagued by power cuts all across the country for long hours, instigating protests in some provinces and building up anger in others. This is coupled with water cuts: neighborhoods in every single province go without water for hours, and sometimes days.
Brutal Arab security forces offer hope | Nesrine Malik
Security forces’ tactics only prove the weakness of governments and show the people’s will has still not been suppressed. The Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) is carrying out "a brutal campaign of arbitrary detentions, torture and mental and physical intimidation against opponents and critics of the government", Amnesty International said in a report last month. For anyone who imagines that the amn (security forces) – who were a ubiquitous part of life in Khartoum in the years after the 1989 military coup – have been scaled down now that the government has established itself more firmly, this report, with its harrowing details of kidnappings and incarcerations in "ghost houses", comes as a stark reminder that the campaign of intimidation continues.
Afghan Women Have Already Been Abandoned
I know Bibi Aisha, the young Afghan woman pictured on the August 9 cover of Time, and I rejoice that her mutilated nose and ears are going to be surgically repaired. But the logic of those who use Aisha’s story to convince us that the US military must stay in Afghanistan escapes me.
Maybe the U.S. bears some responsibility for intolerance in Afghanistan, Philip Weiss
A week or so back Time Magazine ran that sensational cover of the Afghan woman whose nose and ears were cut off by her Taliban husband. The cover line was "What happens if we leave Afghanistan." Today in the Times there is a piece out of Afghanistan with the same message. It says that women’s rights have collapsed wherever the Taliban holds sway, and lately a provincial couple who fell in love and eloped, at 25 and 19, were lured back to their home town and stoned to death, some of the stones delivered by family members.
Inside Story – Barack Obama and US Muslims
Last week, Barack Obama, the US president, communicated his support for the building of a mosque two blocks away from Ground Zero in New York, saying: "Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country." This seemed harmless enough until he found out that over two-thirds of the US disagreed with him. Chastened, Obama went off-message to control the political damage, saying: "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque." On this episode of Inside Story we ask: How much of an impact are upcoming elections having on Obama and are Muslims in the US being treated fairly?
Park 51 Imam could discuss controversy on State Department Mideast tour
Imam Feisal Rauf, the man behind the Park 51 Muslim community center, a.k.a. the "Ground Zero Mosque," leaves this week for a three-nation Middle East tour on behalf of the State Department, on which he is expected to speak about the controversy surrounding his project. Rauf will leave New York and arrive in Manama, Bahrain Aug. 19, where he will stay until Aug. 23, a State Department official tells The Cable. On Aug. 24, Rauf will arrive in Doha, Qatar, where he will stay until Aug. 27. From Aug. 28 to Sept. 2, he will be in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, after which he will return to New York. The U.S. government is covering the costs of the trip but won’t disclose the amount.
What’s at Stake in the Cordoba House Debate, Stephen M. Walt
Apart from a brief post praising New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s forthright stance on the Muslim community center controversy, I haven’t said much about this issue. I had naively assumed that Bloomberg’s eloquent remarks defending the project — and reaffirming the indispensable principle of religious freedom — would pretty much end the controversy, but I underestimated willingness of various right-wing politicians to exploit our worst xenophobic instincts, and some key Democrats’ congenital inability to fight for the principles in which they claim to believe. Silly me.
Islamophobia in New York, Redux: We should have seen the ‘ground zero’ furor coming, Alex Kane
When the Islamophobic furor against the proposed Muslim community center two-and-a-half blocks away from Ground Zero began to peak in mid-late July, some people wondered why it was occurring now, nine years after the 9/11 attacks. As the New York Times recently noted, an article published in the paper “last December about the project drew little negative comment.” Daisy Khan, the wife of the imam who is spearheading the Cordoba House, told the Times that the possibility of their project being controversial “never occurred” to them.
Cordoba House: The Acid Test
It’s hard to believe that a national campaign led by lunatics has taken off with such momentum, but then again, it looks like we’re still living in Bizarro World, where the values we upheld before 9/11 have been hideously inverted. So what else can we expect?
Histrionics Over the Mosque: Symbolism Crowds Out Reality
The American media, and to a lesser extent the world media, focus on symbolism at the expense of underlying reality. And sometimes they can’t even make sense of the symbolism. The artificially generated controversy over a proposed mosque within about two blocks of the site of the 9/11 attacks is illustrative of this ignorance.
Keith Olbermann Special Comment: There Is No ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ – 08/16/10