Poll says most Israeli Jews back rabbis’ anti-Arab letter, and Arab lawmakers say the letter originated in Knesset

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and other news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing
Two homes demolished in Sour Baher and Ras al-Amoud
Two Palestinian homes were demolished in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sour Baher and Ras al-Amoud yesterday. The demolitions were carried out by Jerusalem Municipality officers accompanied by a large force of Israeli soldiers and police. Further details to follow.

IOA razes Jerusalemite home, endorses construction of 24 Jewish housing units
The Israeli occupation authority bulldozed a Palestinian home in Ras Al-Amoud suburb in occupied Jerusalem, near Silwn town, on Tuesday at the usual pretext of lack of permit.

U.N. says IDF is demolishing water cisterns of Bedouin community near Hebron settlement
The latest report from the U.N. on house demolitions includes the following information:  The Jerusalem Municipality this morning carried out two demolitions in East Jerusalem, both of houses under construction. In Ras al Ahmud (on the old Betlehem road), the Municipality demolished a Palestinian house of around 300 SF. The house belongs to a family of 7 people, including 5 children. In Sur Baher, the Municipality demolished a one-floor Palestinian house of around 1800 SF.

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
On Adeeb Abu Rahmah’s release, Rebecca Vilkomerson
On a personal note, I remember very clearly the weekend that Adeeb was arrested. I was still living in Israel, and a friend from Anarchists Against the Wall was arrested with him.  This friend was detained for over 24 hours, blindfolded, etc.  This was fairly harsh treatment for a Jewish Israeli, and he told me all about it on our way to visit Tristan Anderson.  It’s still amazing to me to think that Adeeb spent a year and a half in jail for doing EXACTLY what an Israeli spent 24 hours in jail for. It’s so thrilling to see him at home, but so infuriating that he was there at all….

‘Hey AIPAC leave Iran alone!’ –Flashmob strikes AIPAC event in Oakland– 7 arrests
We don’t need AIPAC control… Hey AIPAC, Leave Iran alone! Hey AIPAC, Leave Congress alone!  One of the arrested is Rae Abileah, who heckled Netanyahu in New Orleans… Note the frankly realist poster: Put US Interests First!

86-year-old Holocaust survivor joins flashmob at Best Buy in St. Louis: ‘We don’t want your dirty [Motorola] phones’, Philip Weiss
More than 40 pro-Palestinian activists hit a Best Buy in St. Louis 10 days ago in a flashmob song-n-dance about boycotting Motorola. Video is just out. Truly inspired, lovely, funny, Christmas spirit. Hedy Epstein, 86, is at 3:10 or so. Says Anna Baltzer, another member of the troupe, “One of the participants got arrested at the end. Call the police in North St Louis and you’re lucky if someone shows up, but disrupt 3 minutes of Christmas shopping and you are busted!”

#BDS: CODEPINK Boston singing Ahava boycott carols at Lord & Taylor
This past Saturday, CODEPINK Boston sang Ahava boycott carols outside Lord & Taylor. You can check out the Stolen Beauty web site for a description of how to organize your own holiday caroling protest. You can download a song sheet and watch a video of a sample carol performed by the staff of Global Exchange. In response to the planned Ahava protest the American Jewish Committee of Boston organized an Ahava buycott, and claim to have “cleaned out the shelves” in Lord & Taylor. Way to go, AJC, in supporting occupation profiteering and the subsidy of two illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Activists protest Israeli army sergeant’s campus propaganda visit
On 2 December, the Western Massachusetts Coalition for Palestine organized a protest of an event entitled “Overcoming Terror: A True Story” which took place on the University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst.

Former EU leaders call to sanction and boycott Israel
According to letter: Israel, “like any other state,” should answer for “the consequences” and “a price tag” for construction of housing in West Bank. Twenty-six former European Union leaders, including the EU’s former top diplomat, Javier Solana, issued a letter last week calling for boycotts and sanctions targeting Israel due to settlement construction.

Israel boycotts now official NSW Greens policy
GREENS Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon has helped push through a policy to prevent trade between Australia and Israel, and stop Israeli sportspeople and performers coming to Australia.  At its state conference last weekend – held in the run-up to the NSW election in March – the NSW Greens passed a proposal by consensus for Australians and the Australian Government to “boycott Israeli goods, trading and military arrangements, and sporting, cultural and academic events as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation and colonisation of Palestinian territory, the siege of Gaza and imprisonment of 1.5 million people and Israel’s institution of a system of apartheid”.

#BDS: Arab actor: Boycott Israeli cinema
Director of ‘Jenin, Jenin’ Mohammad Bakri tells Turkish daily he’s being persecuted in Israel over his political opinions; says Ankara’s response to deadly flotilla raid was not harsh enough.

Freedom Flotilla 2 To Sail To Gaza Next Spring
Freedom Flotilla 2 solidarity ships will be sailing to the Gaza Strip next spring in order to challenge Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip by delivering much needed humanitarian and medical supplies.

BDS Update: “Besiege Your Siege!”
Last month Canada’s controversial Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper continued his campaign to support Israel through thick and thin at an international conference hosted by the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA), where he solemnly warned participants, “History shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israel mob tells us all too well, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are in the longer term a threat to all of us.”

Why Academic Boycott?
Last week I thoroughly dealt with the not-so-scholarly and o-so-fallacious Nobel Laureates’ statement on BDS.  In almost pure cosmic irony I just got a link from a friend to a Prime Minister’s Office “non-tender”: Request for information about improving Israel’s image on U.S.A campuses.  Now that those talkback-esque arguments are out of the way, let’s get into the direct cynical use the Israeli government makes of the academia, in order to further its propaganda.

US credit card companies
“Visa, Mastercard and PayPal all enable donations to be made to US-registered groups funding illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank in defiance of international law.  It appears at least one of the major credit cards also enables donations to an extremist Jewish group that has placed a bounty on the lives of Palestinians.   All three have in the last week ceased enabling donations to WikiLeaks. Neither Mastercard nor Visa have   explained the basis for their decision to do so.”   ”At this stage WikiLeaks has breached no international law and no laws of any country, but Mastercard, Visa and PayPal have all blacklisted it. Yet all three continue to enable the support of settlements that are in breach of international law, in some cases of Israeli law, and in defiance of US policy on settlements under successive Republican and Democrat administrations.”

#BDS: Strauss reposts IDF-support commitment on website

The Strauss Group, one of the country’s foremost food and beverage companies, has returned its website banner in support of the IDF after it was removed following pressure and boycott threats in the US. Three weeks ago the Post reported that the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement in Philadelphia had initiated a campaign against Sabra and Tribe humous, produced by Strauss under its American logo, the Sabra Dipping Company, purportedly in protest of the company’s public support for the IDF.  BDS activists held demonstrations in supermarkets and called on them to stop selling Strauss’s products.

Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement
Living conditions of Palestinian refugees worse than believed – study
BEIRUT: Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are two times more likely to live in poverty than other Lebanese people, preliminary report findings released Tuesday have shown. The “Socio-Economic Survey of Palestine Refugees in Lebanon” is the first comprehensive evaluation of its kind.

Lebanon Storms Crush Palestinian Settlement
After months of drought, storms pounded Lebanon during the weekend, destroying or damaging most of the 60 homes in Jal al-Bahr, one of Lebanon’s poorest communities of Palestinian refugees.  On the shores of the Mediterranean in southern Lebanon, water laps onto the walls of the tin and concrete houses still standing in this tiny Palestinian community. Residents say waves, between six- and nine-meters high, crushed or permanently damaged most of the homes in this community.

Civil rights for Palestinian refugees
As the Palestine Civil Rights Movement launches ‘Round Two’ of the struggle to secure civil rights for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, international community involvement is essential, beginning with education among the European Union countries of the squalid conditions in Lebanon’s camps and EU solidarity with encouraging Lebanon’s parliament to fulfill its obligations and avoid a growing demand for international sanctions against Lebanon. Among actions being organized is the pending lawsuit in Washington DC to cut off all US aid to Lebanon as required under the 1961 US Foreign Assistance Act to countries, such as Lebanon, who engage in a pattern of denying civil rights to refugees.

Gulf delegation led by Saudi prince arrives in Gaza [Saudi post Wiki PR]
A gulf delegation led by Saudi prince Turki Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz arrives in Gaza Strip on Wednesday accompanying two plane-loads of relief material to the Palestinian people in the Strip.

Israel Now Builds Separation Wall With Africa
CAIRO, Dec 15, 2010 (IPS) – After the separation barrier against Palestinian territories, Israel has begun to build a new wall, this one to keep migrants from Africa out. The new wall is coming up on the Egyptian border, and with Egyptian support.

Wishing Qalandiya Away, Joharah Baker for MIFTAH
My eight-year old summed up her three “genie wishes” the other day in a way that made me want to cry and laugh all at once. The first wish, she said, was to have her grandfather cancer-free “forever”. The second wish, she said, was that the “checkpoint” – she was referring to the Qalandiya crossing between Ramallah and Jerusalem – would disappear, again “forever”. Eight year olds tend to speak in absolute terms where “forever” is basically as long as she is around to remember it. The third wish was the only one with any hint of childish desires. “I wish we would all grow wings,” she said very matter of fact. Satisfied, she looked at her older brother, who only had one very specific wish. “I wish I had loads of money.”

Inside the moral corruption of Israeli society, Joseph Dana
After being arrested in a Palestinian demonstration near Hebron some time ago, I was handcuffed and blindfolded then sat in the direct sun along with another Israeli activist. After some time, an IDF commander arrived on the scene and asked one of his soldiers, “why are those two in the sun?” The soldier reported that he just put us next to some Palestinians that were arrested in the same demonstration. The commander, clearly upset with his young soldier, ordered that we be moved to the shade because ‘they are Jews.” Then he personally inspected the zip-tie handcuffs of the Palestinians, making sure that they were as excruciatingly tight as possible. This was one of my first concrete experiences in the West Bank in which I was able to see just how soldiers viewed Palestinians. It was as if they were not fully human or at least, not as human as Jews.

What does occupation mean?
What does occupation mean for the daily lives of Palestinians?

Racism and Discrimination
Poll: 55% back rabbis’ anti-Arab ruling
Survey shows 41% of secular Israelis support municipal religious leaders’ call not to rent apartments to non-Jews, as do 64% and 88% of Israel’s traditional and haredi Jews, respectively.

Arab lawmakers: Rabbis’ letter originated in Knesset
Knesset discusses rabbis’ petition calling not to rent apartments to Arab residents. ‘Publish photos of these anti-Semite racists around world, they are no better than Bin Laden,’ says MK El-Sana.

Law to Keep Jews and Arabs Apart, Jonathan Cook
The pretty two-storey home with a red-tiled roof built by Adel and Iman Kaadan looks no different from the rows of other houses in Katzir, a small hilltop community in northern Israel close to the West Bank.  But, unlike the other residents of Katzir, the Kaadans moved into their dream home this month only after a 12-year battle through the Israeli courts.  The small victory for the Kaadans, who belong to Israel’s Palestinian Arab minority, dealt a big blow to a state policy that for decades has reserved most of the country’s land for Jews.

Repatriated Sudanese kids didn’t get chance to say goodbye
Advocates worry about 150 asylum seekers sent back; children’s school principal fails to understand why secrecy was necessary.

Two Palestinian workers wounded in IOF shooting
Two Palestinian citizens were wounded in northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning when Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened machinegun fire at them.

IOF troops storm house of MP Halaika
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed the house of MP Samira Al-Halaika in Shuyukh town, Al-Khalil district, at noon Tuesday, the MP said.

Israeli MKs call for assassinating Bishara, expelling Arab MKs from Knesset
Deputies in the Israeli Knesset (parliament) have called for assassinating former Arab MP Azmi Bishara, describing him as “terrorist”.

Detainees (held by Israelis and the PA)
Israeli army detains 7 Palestinians in WB
West Bank, December 15, (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained Wednesday seven Palestinians from different cities in the West Bank.  Local sources reported that huge forces of the Israeli army raided Hebron, Tolkarem, Jenin and Ramallah where they broke into number of  houses and detained seven citizens who were transferred to unknown place.  In addition to, IOF erected military checkpoints at the entrance of Bait Fjar town and other near Al-Khader town in south of Bethlehem, the sources said.  Israeli forces roamed Takoua town, no detention reported there, the sources added.

Seven Arrested in Overnight West Bank Raids; Troops Photograph Mosque
Ramallah – PNN – In a series of Israeli military raids in and near the cities of Tulkarm, Tubas, Jenin, and Ramallah, seven Palestinians were arrested before Wednesday morning.  In the village of Tamoun, near the northern West Bank city of Tubas, 22-year-old Abdul Sitar Khaled Nebi Awda was taken away after his home was searched and military checkpoints were set up outside his village.

Hamas: PA security detained 23 supporters
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas officials in the West Bank accused the Palestinian Authority of detaining 23 of its supporters from areas across the West Bank, a statement said on Wednesday.  The alleged arrests, which could not be confirmed by Ma’an, were carried out in the northern districts of Nablus, Salfit, and Qalqiliya as well as southern districts of Hebron and Bethlehem.

Prisoner Khalifa exposed to torture by PA interrogators
Islamic Jihad said that prisoner Faisal Khalifa is being exposed to excruciating torture at the hands of interrogators from the Palestinian authority in Tulkarem city.

IOA isolates prisoner for persisting in hunger strike
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said that the Israeli occupation authorities had isolated prisoner Linan Abu Ghulma in Hasharon jail.

Family committee: The six hungers strikers may die any moment
The family committee of Palestinian detainees in West Bank jails said that the six hunger strikers in PA jails could die any moment after their critical health conditions reached a deadly level.

War/Occupation Crimes
What’s really wrong with the Goldstone Report, Jerome Slater
The usual rightwing “pro-Israel” circles are gleeful over the reported resignation of Christian Tomuschat, a German jurist who has been heading the UN committee charged with implementing the Goldstone Report. For example, B’nai B’rith International welcomed the resignation, commenting that it would further undermine the credibility of the “odious claim” that Israel deliberately attacked civilians in its attack on Gaza (“Operation Cast Lead”) two years ago. Similarly, Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post chortles (quoting “a friend”) that “the biased UN probe now has no leader, and is in disarray.”

The Corrie Trial in Israel: Seeking Answers And Accountability
Transparent. Credible. Thorough. These were the words used by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2003 when setting forth the terms under which the investigation into the killing of Rachel Corrie would be conducted to George W. Bush, one day after Rachel was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer. Both the scene at the courtroom in Haifa, where the Corrie family’s civil case is proceeding against the state of Israel, and the testimony of the bulldozer driver who killed Rachel, expose the hollowness of those words.

Political Developments
Hamas holds massive Gaza rally
Resistance group throws 23rd anniversary rally, as tight Israeli siege makes Gaza’s Hamas rulers increasingly unpopular.

Fatah members, in their own divided words
An excerpt from an online study shows supporters of Abbas’s faction to be ambivalent, at best, about peace.

Poll: 69% Support Signing Peace Treaty with Israel
Ramallah – PNN – The results of a recent poll conducted by Near East Consulting show a rise in the popularity of Fatah, a corresponding fall in the popularity of Hamas, and that a majority 69% of Palestinians support signing a peace treaty.  The poll was conducted between December 5 and 7, with 850 Palestinian respondents from around the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem. The margin of error was 3.4%.  The results are largely the same as they were in November 2010 (68%) and higher than during July (59%).  Sixty-two percent support a change in Hamas’ position to allow Israel to exist, while 38% support holding that position.

Palestinians to Mitchell: U.S. must demand talks based on 1967 borders
U.S. envoy meets with Abbas, who says Palestinians have already submitted their stance on core issues and that the U.S. must now turn to Netanyahu with demands.

Report: Mitchell presented Abbas with offers
Al-Hayat says US envoy offered Palestinians a debate on Jerusalem, but no return to 1967 borders.

Netanyahu agrees to discuss core issues in indirect talks with Palestinians
UN Mideast envoy: Credibility of countries sponsoring Israeli-Palestinian peace process is at stake.

US Congress Warns PA on Revived Peace Negotiations
The US Congress mounted pressure on the Palestinian Authority to resume peace talks, warning against a unilateral declaration of statehood, media sources reported.

Report: Dennis Ross in Israel for secret talks
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Veteran US diplomat Dennis Ross arrived in Israel Tuesday evening and is scheduled to hold talks with Israeli security officials, Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday.  Ross, a prominent US policy maker, was allegedly sent by US president Barak Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to check out what security coordination would be necessary if a final peace agreement was reached in the region.

Israel redefines the definition of Chutzpah, Joseph Dana
After failing to take an incentive package from the United States in exchange for a freeze on settlement activity, Israel is asking for the incentive package anyway. Israel was reportedly offered 20 advanced war planes from the United States in exchange for a settlement freeze which would lead the way to renewed peace talks. However, Israel refused the idea of freezing settlement construction and Bloomberg is reporting today that Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, is still expecting to receive the war planes.

Other News
Hamas launches a public relations offensive
Many people say Hamas’s transition into a political party has reduced its appeal. Now the group has also taken its image campaign into the streets and classrooms. Nicole Johnston reports now on Hamas’s efforts to bolster its image.

A farmer named Suha Arafat?
WikiLeaks documents reveal American diplomats were puzzled by request for Tunisian citizenship made by former Palestinian Authority chairman’s widow in 2006. One of benefits – owning agricultural land – did not seem very attractive as ‘Mrs. Arafat is not known to be an aspiring farmer’.

Jordan will not receive deported Palestinians: official
The Jordanian government refused Monday receiving any Palestinians deported by Israel from the Occupied Territories under the pretext that they do not have legal residence permits.  A top Jordanian official stressed that Jordan neither received nor will receive Palestinians deported from Palestinian lands occupied by Israel, according to the Jordanian independent newspaper al-Arab al-Yawm.

Fire scandal: Israel dismissed firefighting aircraft
Massive firefighting plane was offered to Israel on blaze’s first day but rejected, company rep says

Picasso to Ramallah
A joint initiative between Ramallah’s International Art Academy Palestine and the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, Netherlands, is trying to bring an original masterpiece by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso to Ramallah to be placed at the academy, for public viewing.

Josh Ruebner: Settlement Reversal Threatens Obama’s Israeli-Palestinian Peace Efforts
The United States missed a major opportunity to reassess its unrealistic strategy to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace when Hillary Clinton addressed the invitation-only crowd assembled at the Brookings Institution last Friday.

A long Palestinian struggle has ended Partition, maybe?, Philip Weiss
I keep wanting to do a big post on how the Palestinians have won and Partition is over. I need to collect my string first, I might be wrong. Hillary Clinton would say that the Palestinians are big losers if Partition is over, Tom Friedman also says that the Palestinians need Partition; but who is he to speak for the Palestinians, a man who was lecturing his classmates in high school on the greatness of the Israeli victory of ’67? But if you look at this issue with historical sweep, the Palestinians did not want Zionism, didn’t want immigration, didn’t want a Jewish state, didn’t want the armistice line, and have been resisting these facts forever, etc. People in the west call this attitude rejectionist, but really would we have done any differently? Would anyone?

Instead of befriending neo-fascists, Israel should make peace
True, the scope of settlement construction was four times larger during the premiership of Ehud Barak; but remember, that’s also why negotiations with the Palestinians ended.

New language for Middle East peace
The recent passage by Israel’s Knesset of a law requiring either a two-thirds Knesset majority or approval by an unprecedented national referendum before Israel can “cede” any land in expanded East Jerusalem to a Palestinian state has been widely recognized as making any “two-state solution” even more inconceivable than before.

Israel, Obama and the Bomb, CONN HALLINAN
This past July, a nuclear-armed nation, in violation of an international treaty, clandestinely agreed to supply uranium to a known proliferator of nuclear weapons.  China and North Korea? No, the United States and Israel.  In a July 8 article entitled “Report: Secret Document Affirms U.S. Israeli Nuclear Partnership,” the Israeli daily Haaretz revealed that the Obama Administration will begin transferring nuclear fuel to Israel in order to build up Tel Aviv’s nuclear stockpile.  There is profound irony in the fact that while the U.S. and some of its allies are threatening military action against Iran for enriching uranium, Washington is bypassing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) while aiding Israel’s nuclear weapons program, the only country in the world that has actually helped another nation construct and test a nuclear device.

Bidding Farewell to the Two-State Solution, Rania Zabaneh
As the US administration abandons its efforts to persuade Israel reinstate a partial settlement freeze in the occupied Palestinian territory, the ailing Middle East peace process suffers another setback.  Israel made its choice clear, Palestinians say — in spite of a generous incentives package from Washington, the Netanyahu government chose settlements over resurrecting the peace process based on the two-state solution.

Restructure the mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Sam Bahour
Now that Palestinian-Israeli talks appear to be stalled, the United States is at a crossroads in its mediation of Middle East peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. The Obama administration can no longer walk on the Israeli side of the line – which is exactly where the US has been since Israel’s creation – while continuing to pay lip service to the illusion of walking on the thin line.

If Yaffa saw me–really saw me–wouldn’t it at least love me a little?, Tala Abu Rahmeh
“Habibi don’t see me” –Suheir Hammad. I went to Yaffa on Friday night. I have a permit that expires next month, so my friends are taking me all over the place to milk it before I become illegal. It’s almost funny that my ability to drive 20 minutes outside of Ramallah in the direction of Jerusalem will actually expire on a specific date.  I have always avoided Yaffa, I never had a relationship with the city aside from my family’s stories of being uprooted from their homes and the smell of the sea, but every time I go there I feel incredibly rejected, like nothing I will ever be or say will ever make me worthy of this city. It is obviously an unhealthy relationship.  After we approached a row of stunning lights shining from Ben Gurion Airport, our car slowly began sinking into Yaffa’s streets that were dimmed in anticipation of Saturday. There was something incredibly sad about such an ordinary ritual, like a child being forced to sleep and go to a terrible school in the morning.

Schnabel says ‘Miral’ was delayed because ‘the world’ isn’t ready for its message, Philip Weiss

Last night at Alwan for the Arts in New York they staged a cultural event that might even be historic it was so important in subtle/oozing ways. Julian Schnabel read passages from the novel Miral, by the Palestinian-Italian journalist Rula Jebreal, and the two answered questions, Jebreal about her childhood in occupied East Jerusalem and Schnabel aobut his film based on Jebreal’s book. The importance of the evening was literal and symbolic. A leading Jew in the arts and an Arab stood together in an Arab-American space, to give life to the Palestinian story. They did so in ways that punctured the Israeli story (Deir Yassin, ethnic cleansing, Gaza onslaught were all touchstones) but also actually honored a Jewish cultural understanding. There was a sense that Jebreal could only tell her Arab woman’s story outside the Middle East, and that in the U.S. a Jewish artist could help in facilitating its expression.

Fear and loathing in Long Island
Tonight the UJA-Federation of New York will be hosting a Jewish community-wide event in a Nassau County (Long Island) suburb. In this season of peace and goodwill, what might this event have as its focus? One might think it would center around learning about and assisting those who are spiritually and/or financially needy. Others might think that the community might get together to learn more about Judaism, the real meaning of Hanukkah, and the concept of being a true “light among nations”. Maybe some might believe that they would learn about the state of religious pluralism in Israel. Unfortunately, all of these assumptions would be wrong.

Listening to Palestinians, Nancy Kanwisher
Now that the Obama administration’s efforts to reach an agreement between Israel and Palestine are finally moribund, it is worth stepping back to ask what is really going on in this troubled part of the world. Understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires not only a grasp of cold facts and statistics, but an understanding of the daily experience of the real people who live on each side. American news media heavily emphasize Israeli perspectives, but provide few opportunities to hear directly from Palestinians. To help counter this imbalance, I am posting video clips of some of the Palestinians I spoke with on a recent trip.

Book review: Humanity and warmth in “Letters from Palestine”
Western publishers have too often neglected the perspective of Palestinians and other Arabs when it comes to books on Israel and the Palestinians. Letters from Palestine, a new collection of Palestinian writing edited by Kenneth Ring and Ghassan Abdullah, is thus a welcome initiative.

Aslan: Everything they are saying about Muslims they said about Jews and Catholics before them
Get ready for the diverse future or get out of the way. Arnie Cooper of Miller-McCune talks to Reza Aslan:

Hussein Ibish Troubled With Anti-Israel Activism By Students
Hussein Ibish
sounds deeply troubled by authentic pro-Palestine activism on US campuses.  He is admonishing pro-Palestine students to not be “anti-Israel.”  He may now start reaching out and cooperating with Daniel Pipes and Campus Watch.  “You’ve got both models out there — confrontation and cooperation,” said Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, a Washington-based organization that favors two states for two peoples. “It’s crucial for pro-Palestinian activists to be pro-Palestinian rather than anti-Israel,”

Ziad Asali Praising The “Servant of the Two Holy Mosques”
The relationship between members of the “Arab Lobby” in Washington and pro-US tyrannical regimes in the Arab world remains strong.  Ziad Asali, the President of The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), the public relations firm for Israeli-sponsored, Western-funded, American-supervised, collaborationist authority in occupied Ramallah, was interviewed by one of the Saudi family newspapers.  The paper described this empty black-tie-tuxedo who signs his name to articles Hussein Ibish writes for him as someone “with a strong presence on the political scene.”

Israel spies on Lebanon telecom network
Along the Lebanese southern border one comes across a large number of transmission poles.
Some officials and experts say they have been set up by Israel for the purpose of infiltrating Lebanon’s telecommunications system and spying on the movement of civilians and even of the united nations interim forces stationed there.  They further say such poles enable Israeli intelligence officers to communicate with agents they have in southern Lebanon, the stronghold of Israel’s arch rival, Hezbollah.

Michel Sulayman is implicated–yes
“Almost as damaging, Murr’s testimony directly implicates the Lebanese president Michel Sleiman. In March 2008, at the time of the conversation, the Lebanese president was army chief of staff. And Murr told his American friends that he had already instructed Sleiman that the Lebanese army should not get involved ‘when Israel comes.’

Israel: Next Lebanon strike will eclipse 2006
BEIRUT: Israel has warned it will strike Lebanon with “10 times” the force of its 2006 onslaught in the event of provocation by Hizbullah. In an interview which was published Tuesday by Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronot, an unidentified senior Israeli Army northern command officer also alleged that Hizbullah had continued to receive “all kinds of rockets” from neighboring Syria.

I find Cohen to be least unreasonable of the New York Times’ crowd
“Dahiye, the Hezbollah-controlled southern Beirut suburb flattened by Israel in 2006, now bustles with construction and commerce, including state-of-the-art juice bars and risqué lingerie stores. It feels about as threatening as New York’s Canal Street.”  I notice that not a single white journalist who passes through Lebanon, does not get invited for a meal with Walid Jumblat.  That guy really–I mean, really–loves the company of the White Man–even if it was Jeffrey Feltman, for potato’s sake.  Of course, I don’t attack Jumblat just because he called me “crazy” in a published interview.  I did not like him during his “progressive” phase, and I liked him less during this “imperialist” phase.  And I like him now even less during his detour.

More on the reporting of Ruthie Ackerman from her “fixer” in Lebanon
I told Moe Ali Nayel (whose fed-up letter I posted under the headline of an angry Arab fixer) that many Western journalists go to Lebanon claiming that they want to study potatoes when they really want to write about other matters.  He wrote me this:  ”To tell you the truth now that you pointed out the fact that some come to Lebanon pretending they are doing fluff stories like she tried to do, I remember that when I first met her she started asking about HA and how they use the internet to mobilize people and then later in the conversation when I was explaining that people use internet cafes a lot in Lebanon, she asked me if we could go to HA areas, villages etc and talk to people in internet cafes, I refused. Another day when we met she said that she heard HA has many hackers and would it be possible to talk to them. I was surprised and said it’s impossible to do such things. I had a weird feeling about her after she kept insisting on doing things in HA areas, that’s the term she kept using, and I decided that I was going to keep her away from doing any story about HA. She kept insisting until I finally gave her the number for…Honestly, sometimes I meet journalists who come to Lebanon and are only interested in HA, and their insistence makes me suspicious and I might be wrong but I just avoid them and let them go. [continued]

Iran/Iraq refugees die in Australia boat tragedy (AFP)
AFP – At least 27 refugees, believed to be from Iraq and Iran, died Wednesday after their wooden boat shattered in violent seas off Australia before horrified witnesses, with fears as many as 50 could have perished.

Tuesday: 7 Iraqis Killed, 69 Wounded
At first, it seemed the religious holiday of Ashuraa would result in fewer reports of violence, but several large attacks have occurred in the last few days, today included. At least seven Iraqis were killed and 69 more were killed across the country in the latest brutalities. The holiday culminates on Thursday and, incidentally, highlights the schism between Sunnis and the Shi’ites who are marking the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali. Shi’ite processions and trips to Karbala make these pilgrims easy targets for violence.

Iraqi forces face key security test over Ashura ceremonies
KARBALA, Iraq: Iraqi forces will provide security for Ashura ceremonies this week in Karbala with no active support from US forces, in a key test of their capabilities ahead of an American pullout in a year.Heavy security is being deployed in the Shiite Muslim shrine city for Ashura, which marks the slaying of the revered Imam Hussein by the armies of the Caliph Yazid in 680.

Shiites pour into Iraqi shrine city for Ashura (AFP)
AFP – Shiites in their hundreds of thousands were descending on Iraq’s holy city of Karbala on Wednesday ahead of the climax of Ashura ceremonies, surrounded by heavy security over fears of attacks.

Iraq seizes Iranian truck bomb
An Iranian truck carrying explosives was found in the parking lot of Basra International Fair which is due to open in a few days hosting a number of foreign companies, Basra Police Command said.  5 suspects involved in this incident were arrested including two Iranians thought to have taken turns in driving the truck through, the Police Command said.  The truck arrived on Tuesday to Basra from Iran through Al Shalamja border passage, Basra Police Chief Brigadier Adel Dham told Alsumaria News. A box filled with explosives was found inside the truck, he added.  First reports say that the truck was going to be used to bomb Basra International Fair.

Sunni-backed politician to join Iraqi government (AP)
AP – The head of a Sunni-backed political party will join the Shiite-led government being assembled by his top rival, a spokeswoman said Tuesday, clearing a final hurdle to end months of tortuous, postelection dealmaking.

The dirty footprints of Chalabi via Wikileaks
The role of Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi has fascinated me for years. The corporate press used him as a key source over Iraq’s alleged WMDs. Oops.

FEATURE-Iraq business elite flourish in Jordan safe haven
ZARQA, Jordan (Reuters) – In the luxury of his smart office in a Jordanian duty free zone, Iraqi entrepreneur Sahib Al-Haddad takes orders for his new milk powder factory from merchants in Baghdad.  Visitors are met by a painting of Iraq’s once mighty Tigris river and lush palm trees, hundreds of miles from Al-Haddad’s factory in the dusty Jordanian re-export zone.

Iraqi shoe thrower signs his first book in Beirut (AP)
AP – The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former President George W. Bush said Tuesday he is suing Iraq’s prime minister for his detention and alleged torture during the nine months he spent in custody.

Is free Iraq becoming a more Islamic state? (Reuters)
Reuters – A group of men recently ordered Siham al-Zubaidi to close down her Baghdad hair salon for two months for Shi’ite religious festivities. She had no idea who they were but complied because she feared for her life.

Wikileaks/U.S. and other world news
WikiLeaks founder bail challenged
Swedish prosecutors have opted to appeal a British court’s decision to grant WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange bail.

Jailed Assange awaits Sweden appeal
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spends at least one more night in jail while Swedish authorities challenge his bail.

Swedish Prosecutor Raises Possible Extradition of WikiLeaks Founder to U.S.
The Swedish prosecutor who asked British authorities to detain Mr. Assange and send him to Sweden for questioning about possible sex crimes, discussed the possibility of sending him to the United States in a statement posted on the Swedish Prosecution Authority’s Web site on Tuesday.

Attorney: Swedish Case is a “Holding Charge” to Get Julian Assange Extradited to U.S.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange remains in a London prison after Swedish authorities challenged the court’s decision to release him on bail with conditions. Assange’s attorney Mark Stephens joins us to discuss his possible extradition to Sweden for questioning on alleged sexual crimes amidst rumors the Obama administration has convened a grand jury to indict Assange in the United States.

John Pilger: Global Support for WikiLeaks is “Rebellion” Against U.S. Militarism, Secrecy
The award-winning investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger is one of many high-profile public supporters of Julian Assange and his organization WikiLeaks. Pilger has attended Assange’s court proceedings in London and has offered to contribute funds for his more than $300,000 bail. Pilger’s latest film, The War You Don’t See, includes interviews with Assange. Pilger says that WikiLeaks is revolutionizing journalism and galvanizing public opinion to stand up to global elites.

Gillard may get me killed: Assange
WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange says Prime Minister Julia Gillard has put his life and freedom at risk by publicly pre-judging his actions as “criminal”.

We Support WikiLeaks
Stand with Daniel Ellsberg, Barbara Ehrenreich, Arundhati Roy, Noam Chomsky and others– add your name at the bottom of the page!

WikiLeaks Protests: Julian Assange Supporters Demonstrate Outside London Courthouse
Dozens of demonstrators descended upon the City of Westminster Magistrate’s Court in London Tuesday, jostling for room as they protested in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who currently faces sexual assault charges.  As the BBC is reporting, about 100 supporters took over the sidewalk outside of the courtroom, carrying banners which read “Justice for Julian,” and “show trial,” a reference to a statement reportedly used by Assange’s attorney to describe the direction he felt legal proceedings were taking. Others chanted statements like, “free Julian now!” and “don’t shoot the messenger.”

Video: Sydney Wikileaks Protest

USAF blocks media sites over Leaks
United States Air Force has barred access to news websites containing material from WikiLeaks’ disclosure of US files.

Restored WikiLeaks.org Hosted by US Web Host
The newly restored WikiLeaks.org site does not contain any of the controversial leaked cables or content that it previously had prior to being shut down.

WikiLeaks Exposes Pakistan’s Rhetoric
The cables show that contrary to what was said in public the military leadership, including General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, approved drone strikes against Al Qaeda targets and approved US Special Forces being embedded within the Pakistani army fighting in the north-west.

CNN: Is Julian Assange a ‘journalist or terrorist’?
It’s one thing to maintain neutrality while reporting on a controversial topic. It’s another to adopt over-the-top rhetoric as if it’s serious or real.  In its coverage of the so-called “Cablegate” scandal, CNN appears to be attempting both.  During a Dec. 12 broadcast, the network compared Assange and his supporters to old-west bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde, among others, suggesting the outcry over the WikiLeaks founder’s imprisonment is much like the flurry of support for other famous criminals.  “[Julian Assange] may be the Robin Hood of data or information,” Greg McCrary, an FBI profiler, told the network.

Maher Arar: Enough Hypocrisy: WikiLeaks Is Filling a Vacuum
Instead of blaming WikiLeaks, governments should blame themselves. The solution is more transparency on their party. Only then will WikiLeaks be deprived of its audience.

Inside Story – Policing online content
WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange continue to be under fire.Who controls the flow of information on the internet? Who sets the rules and under what terms?

US Kills 4 People In Pakistan
Four persons were killed in a US drone attack on a vehicle in Miranshah tehsil in North Waziristan Agency on Tuesday.

U.S. intelligence reports cast doubt on war progress in Afghanistan
The assessments contradict defense officials’ optimistic outlook. They contend that large swaths of the country remain at risk of falling to the Taliban and that Pakistan is still supporting militants, officials say.  Two new assessments by the U.S. intelligence community present a gloomy picture of the Afghanistan war, contradicting a more upbeat view expressed by military officials as the White House prepares to release a progress report on the 9-year-old conflict.

Deadly bomb attack on Iran city
A bomb attack in the south-eastern Iranian city of Chabahar kills at least 38 people and injures many more, Iranian news sources say.

Mideast deal would free Arabs to focus on Iran: Rudd
An Israeli-Palestinian peace deal would free up the Arab world to “exclusively focus” on the problem of Iran’s nuclear program, Australia’s top diplomat said in remarks published on Wednesday.

Terrorist by Association: The Justice Department targets nonviolent solidarity activists
September 24 began like any other Friday for Joe Iosbaker and Stephanie Weiner. Then, at 7 a.m., FBI agents knocked on the door of the Chicago couple’s house in the city’s North Side.  Armed with a search warrant, more than 20 agents examined the couple’s home, photographing every room and combing through notebooks, family videos and books, even their children’s drawings. Some items were connected to their decades of anti-war and international solidarity activism, but others were not. “Folders were opened, letters were pulled out of envelopes,” says Weiner, an adult education professor at Wilbur Wright College. “They had rubber gloves and they went through every aspect of our home.” (See video interview with Weiner and Iosbaker below.)

Berkeley School SUED By U.S. After Denying Teacher Unpaid Leave For Muslim Pilgrimage
WASHINGTON — The federal government sued a suburban Chicago school district Monday for denying a Muslim middle school teacher unpaid leave to make a pilgrimage to Mecca that is a central part of her religion.  In a civil rights case, the department said the school district in Berkeley, Ill., denied the request of Safoorah Khan on grounds that her requested leave was unrelated to her professional duties and was not set forth in the contract between the school district and the teachers union. In doing so the school district violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to reasonably accommodate her religious practices, the government said.

1 small town’s battle for tolerance
SIDNEY CENTER, N.Y. – The cemetery lies beneath a grove of maples on a hill overlooking the farm. On a crisp November day in 2009, it received its first guest — a 28-year old stonemason killed in a car accident two days earlier.  Somberly, his Sufi Muslim brethren carried his coffin up the hill, their colorful turbans and baggy tunics a striking contrast to the rolling hills all around. Beneath a vibrant green headstone — the color of the Osmanli Naksibendi Hakkani order, which runs a 50-acre farm and mosque here — the shrouded body of Amir Celoski was lowered into the ground. Mourners bowed their heads and prayed: May he rest in peace.  But that was not to be.  Instead of peace, Celoski’s burial ignited a war — one that would erupt nine months later, hurling Sidney into the national spotlight, bitterly dividing some residents while transforming others who say their lives and their town will never be the same.

Sweden’s far-right wants Islamist debate
STOCKHOLM: The far-right Sweden Democrats demanded a debate in parliament on Islamic extremism Tuesday following the weekend’s twin blasts in Stockholm, probably designed to wreak carnage among Christmas shoppers. “The Sweden Democrats demand a current debate in parliament about violence-prone Islamic extremism.

Hundreds of refugees held captive in Egypt, report reveals
Smugglers imprison asylum seekers in steel containers, raping and torturing them while the relatives of the refugees are made to listen, until they pay thousands of dollars in ransom.

Sudan arrests women at rally against police whipping
KHARTOUM: Sudanese authorities arrested about 30 women who tried to hold a protest in Khartoum Tuesday against the brutal police whipping of a young woman shown in a video posted on YouTube and charged them with disrupting public order.An AFP journalist said the arrests took place in central Khartoum near the Justice Ministry where the demonstrators wanted to deliver a protest letter.

Media watchdogs condemn Kuwait for closing Al-Jazeera
KUWAIT CITY: International media watchdogs condemned Tuesday the Kuwaiti government’s closure of Al-Jazeera satellite television’s office in the emirate for covering police use of force at a public gathering. “Reporters Without Borders (RSF) firmly condemns the government’s closure of the Kuwait City bureau of the Doha-based satellite TV station Al-Jazeera.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Policy: Limits of Being Helpful
It was Saudi Arabian intelligence which helped prevent the explosion of bombs hidden in printer cartridges on aircraft in Britain and Dubai. Riyadh has recently been politically active in a number of conflicts in the wider Middle East, but will decline suggestions it should become a pivotal power in the region.


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