and other news from Today in Palestine:
Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing
Israel to Destroy Electric Infrastructure Near Hebron
Israeli officials ordered destruction of electricity infrastructure, on Thursday, in two Palestinian villages in the southern area of Hebron, local sources said.
Barak: When I was PM we built much more in West Bank
During New York meeting, UN’s Ban expresses disappointment in Israel’s decision not to extend settlement moratorium, but Barak says construction not cause of stalemate in peace talks.
Photostory: Construction of the Wall in Bil’in
Construction of the « concrete » wall in Bil’in, October—November 2010. Photos by Hamde Abu Rahme and Oren Ziv (ActiveStills.org). See also : Two sides of the Wall in Bil’in by Hamde Abu Rahme
Suspicious real estate company distributes flyers in Silwan
Flyers have been distributed throughout Silwan encouraging residents to contact a previously unheard of real estate company, should they wish to sell their home. Residents state that the group, simply named “The Real Estate Company” is not known of in Silwan. Abu Radi, a Silwan native, expressed suspicion regarding the flyer and warned residents to be cautious in any dealings with The Real Estate Company. Abu Radi cited the long history of underhanded methods settler organizations operating in Silwan have employed to expropriate Palestinian property and expand the settlement enterprise in the region.
Defiant Jerusalem Palestinians say “we will remain here”
A huge Palestinian flag was carried up a steep hill in Issawiya on 3 December, passed hand-to-hand between the at least 200 Palestinians, Israelis and international activists taking part in the first-ever solidarity march and demonstration in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood.
Adnan Gaith, Secretary General of Fatah in Silwan
Israeli authorities have issued an injunction to Adnan Gaith, Secretary General of Fatah in Silwan, in an attempt to ban him from Jerusalem for a period of four months. The injunction was delivered by a high commander in the Israeli army, marking the first time that a military commander has issued such a decree to a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem. The order was issued on 28 November and, if successful, will allow Israeli forces to remove Gaith from Jerusalem and prevent him from re-entering the city of his work and residence for a four-month period. Gaith, known locally as Abu Odai, is a prominent figure in both Fatah and the Jerusalem community as a member of the Committee to Defend Silwan Lands. He champions the non-violent approach to resolving conflict and frequently acts as a mediator in community and societal disputes. While his work has earnt him much respect amongst Palestinians, it has made him a regular target of Israeli investigation. Israeli forces have carried out numerous raids on his family home in Silwan, severely impacting on the psychological wellbeing of his children. Gaith has served several lengthy sentences both in Israeli prisons and under house arrest.
Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Two year old child among those injured during the weekly anti wall protests in W.B. villages
Bethlehem – PNN – On Friday anti-wall protests took place in the southern West Bank village of al-Ma’ssara in addition to the villages of Bil’in, Nil’in and al Nabi Saleh, in the central West Bank. Israeli and international supporters joined villagers at all four locations, this week protests marked the international day for human rights. In the village of Nabi Saleh, in central West Bank, protesters headed towered lands taken from the village to built an illegal Israeli settlement, soldiers fired tear gas and forced people back to the village. Troops then stormed the village and fired tear gas at homes casing damage. Two-year-old Lara Ramimi and her mother Zinab were injured by tear gas, in addition to Khitam al Tamimi who was hit with a tear gas bomb in the back. Witnesses said that the Israeli officer in charge gave the orders to his troops to fire tear gas at villagers’ homes. The protest ended after clashes between local youth and soldiers erupted.
A Message from Israeli Military Prison on Internaitonal Human Rights Day
My imprisoned husband Abdullah Abu Rahmah passed the fallowing message through his lawyer
Disobedient: The leader of nonviolent protests in the West Bank—a potential Palestinian Gandhi—is in an Israeli jail
Abu Rahmah’s crime was organizing illegal demonstrations in a West Bank village where all demonstrations are by definition illegal. Abu Rahmah, 39, had long been involved in peaceful, multiethnic protests in the village of Bil’in, where Israel’s separation wall has cut Palestinians off from hundreds of acres of their land. Though barely covered in the American press, his conviction was protested by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Catherine Ashton, the foreign policy chief of the European Union, among others. “Israel’s attempt to crack down on this effective resistance movement by criminalizing peaceful protest is unacceptable and unjust,” said Desmond Tutu, one of Abu Rahmah’s supporters. American Jews often ask where the Palestinian Gandhi is. What few realize is that if such a man exists, he’s probably sitting in an Israeli military prison.
Bil’in Resident Urgently Needs Your Help, Joseph Dana
A tireless non-violent activist and resident of Bil’in, Rani Burnet, needs your help repairing his wheelchair. Rani was shot in the neck by IDF soldiers in 2000 and has since been in a wheelchair. I am posting a letter about his situation and hoping to raise money to fix his wheelchair problem. The non-violent joint struggle needs your help and this is a perfect place to start.
#BDS: An Open letter from Besieged Gaza to Brothers for Brotherhood: No Brotherhood with Apartheid
We are writing to you from the Besieged Gaza Strip to express what your decision to perform in Israel means to us Palestinians, the victims of Israel’s racist segregation and war on our civilian population across the Middle East. To begin with, two weeks from now marks the second anniversary of the 22-day Israeli genocidal war against the Palestinians in Gaza. These 22-days of intensive, indiscriminate land, sea and air bombardment by Apache helicopters, F16s, F15s, F35s, Merkava tanks, naval gunboats, and illegal White Phosphorous, resulted in the killing of 1434 civilians including 434 children and left around 5,300 injured, some permanently.
Let the government know what you think about the criminalization of peace activism, Daniel Kaplan
Over the course of this fall, being on the side of peace and justice has gradually meant living in a state of fear. Since September, the FBI has subpoenaed and raided the homes of 19 activists seeking and end to violence in Palestine and Columbia This rash of raids stems from a court ruling this summer that redefines the charge of “material witness to terrorism”. Before, material witness meant supplying support in the form of finances, weaponry, intelligence, or combat training to political bodies defined by the state department as “terrorist organizations”. Now “material witness to terrorism” includes vocal support for such organizations or even advocating open communication with them. For activists in my community, this means that anyone who advocates negotiations with the government in Gaza could be charged with “material witness to terrorism”, because Gaza is currently governed by Hamas. Essentially, it is now a crime to promote direct reconciliation between Palestinian/Gaza organizations and Israel/the United States. The government has criminalized opinions that are not in line with our government’s foreign policy, and it is for this reason that peace activists in Chicago, Minneapolis, and across the US have become targets of the FBI.
Abu Sha’ar slams General Electric for supporting settlement expansion
Palestinian minister of religious affairs Dr. Taleb Abu Sha’ar strongly denounced the American company General Electric for supporting and participating in a settlement project in Abu Ghunaim Mount.
Pro-Israel activists launch all-out war against Helen Thomas and American Arabs
It is all out war between Jews and Arabs. Make no mistake about it. American Jewish organizations have launched a vicious campaign to silence Helen Thomas, the 91 year old, 80 pound champion of Palestinian and Arab rights who fearlessly has chosen to take on one of the most powerful organizations in America.
Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement
PCHR Weekly Report: Two resistance fighters killed; 6 civilians wounded this week
In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for the week of 02 – 08 December 2010, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that two Palestinian resistance were killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip. Another resistance fighter was wounded by Israeli forces in the central Gaza Strip.
Gaza blockade over? Not according to the UN
The UN’s top representative in Gaza says building projects are being delayed because Israel is not allowing the free flow of construction materials into the territory.
Gaza facing ‘new electricity crisis’
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Energy Authority in Gaza blamed the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah for a reduction in fuel supplied to the Gaza power plant. The authority said only 5,950 cubic meters of industrial grade fuel were delivered to the plant in November. Only one week this month did the plant operate with two generators. In its statement, the authority held PA government in Ramallah “fully responsible for the suffering of Gaza residents for their falling short behind meeting residents electricity needs.” “We are approaching a new crisis that began to appear with dropping temperatures and the increasingly cold weather which will the coming increase the demand for energy.”
Gaza crossings closed for weekend
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Gaza’s crossing points used for delivering products and raw materials will be closed on Friday and Saturday. Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattuh said Israeli authorities informed him that the crossing will reopen Sunday.
Hebron child drowns in wastewater pool
HEBRON (Ma’an) — A one-year-old girl named Bara Sami Makhamreh drowned in a pool of wastewater in the town of Yatta, south of Hebron Thursday, according to police. Police told Ma’an the girl was dead when she arrived at a medical center in Yatta. She drowned while playing in the yard of her grandfather’s home, police also said. The body was handed over to girl’s family for burial.
They call them martyrs
They call them martyrs, their fallen soldiers, their sons, brothers and fathers. Engraved on the walls of the refugee camp are their names and messages from their loved ones. Their faces painted on the alleyways, their eyes dark and alive.
And what will Santa bring the kiddies of Gaza?, Stuart Littlewood
So what sort of Christmas is in store for their little ones this year while the criminals who inflicted such savagery and torment, and continue to deny them their human rights, have their snouts in the Yuletide trough and enjoy a warm bed? The UN says that imports are only at 36 per cent of pre-siege levels, thanks to Cameron’s friends, and exports are still not allowed (except a few strawberries), so the hardship must still be unimaginable.
Racism and Discrimination
Jaffa: Neighborly noise dispute turns nasty
Hundreds of Jaffa Muslims, Christians to protest against complaints from neighbors over noisy churches and mosques. ‘It’s an integral part of city, these complaints reek of racism,’ protesters say.
Arabs on rabbis’ letter: We are losing our humanity
Arab local council members in towns where Jews and Arab live side by side refuse to remain silent over ‘racist letter’ signed by dozens of municipal rabbis, demand criminal inquiry. ‘Rabbis receive salary from state’ they said and called for apology or dismissal.
Amid uproar, two rabbis pull their names from letter forbidding rental of homes to Arabs
Rabbis remove their signatures after ultra-Orthodox leader denounces the religious ruling.
Israel’s legal establishment to examine rabbis’ letter forbidding rental of homes to Arabs
In response to a petition against the signatories of the rabbis’ letter, attorney general’s office says rabbis’ statements were ‘inappropriate for public officials.’
Report: Two Gaza teens killed playing with leftover IDF artillery
The two 16-year-olds were playing with the artillery east of Gaza City when it exploded.
Two Palestinians wounded by IOF bullets in northern Gaza
Two Palestinians were wounded Friday morning to the north of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip when IOF troops opened fire towards cultivated lands in the area.
Israel Expects Next ‘Big’ War on Gaza
Israeli army chief has proclaimed that the next Israel’s offensive on Gaza will be ‘extensive’, a Press TV report said.
Detainees (held by Israelis and the PA)
IOF kidnap 9 Palestinians in W. Bank
The Hebrew radio said that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped at dawn Thursday nine Palestinian citizens from different West Bank areas at the pretext they were wanted.
Police: Israeli army detains 5 in Dura
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli soldiers seized five Palestinians from their homes during a raid in the West Bank town of Dura Friday, Palestinian Authority police said. Police said soldiers entered dura firing tear gas and stun grenades. The soldiers burst into the homes of several residents, including the houses of Mariam Rajoub, Mahmoud Roub, and Ahmad Amer Jad Allah. Soldiers detained Majdi and Mohammad Rajoub, Nasser Al-Awawdah, Raefet Rajoub, and Amir Rajoub after searching their homes, police said.
Witnesses: Israeli troops raid Kifl Hares, detain 1
SALFIT (Ma’an) — Israeli forces raided the village of Kifl Hares, east of Salfit and detained a Palestinian man, witnesses said. During house-to-house searches in the village, soldiers seized Jalal Abu Yacoub and took him to an unknown location, witnesses added. Residents also said Israeli soldiers secured the village for a visit by a group of settlers, who went to a local religious site.
Abbas’s militia kidnaps 28 Hamas supporters
PA security militia loyal to de facto president Mahmoud Abbas rounded up 28 Hamas supporters in the past 24 hours in the districts of Al-Khalil, Nablus, Bethlehem, Tulkarem, Salfit, and Jenin.
Hamas: PA detains 12 supporters
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority security forces arrested 12 Hamas affiliates in the West Bank Hamas movement said in a statement Friday. The statement said the arrests took place in Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem, Tulkarem, Qalqilia and Jenin.
Israeli occupation releases prisoner four months after end of his sentence
Israeli occupation released on Thursday a Palestinian prisoner from the Gaza Strip four months after the end of his seven-year sentence.
Sheikh Raed Salah to be released Sunday
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Sheikh Leader, a leader of the Palestinian community inside Israel, will be released from prison on Sunday after serving five months for allegedly assaulting a police officer, a charge he denies. Salah’s attorney Zahi Nijiadat said a celebration will be held in the city of Umm Al-Fahm in honor of the release of the Islamic Movement in Israel.
Officials: No change to prisoner swap list
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Sources in the Palestinian armed factions holding an Israeli soldier captive denied rumors Friday that the factions had drawn up a new list of Hamas members to be freed in a potential prisoner exchange. Officials in the factions said there was no change to the list of prisoners the captors are demanding released in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Rumors of a change to the list were spreading among Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, Ma’an learned. Seeking confirmation of the reports, prisoners have been attempting to contact officials from Hamas and other factions on the phone, or through their lawyers and family members in recent days.
“PA to Cancel all Security Commitments to Israel”
10/12/2010 “The Palestinian Authority will stop coordinating its security with Israel, in response to the US’s official announcement that peace talks have failed,” Al Quds al-Arabi reported on Friday. Khana Amira, a PLO official, told the UK newspaper that the PA is also considering canceling its other commitments to Israel, including the Oslo Accords and the Road Map, which demand that resistance organizations will stop. Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official and an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly plans to convene a meeting with the PLO and Fatah central committees on Friday afternoon, in order to make a new plan for the Palestinians. Palestinian officials told Al Quds al-Arabi that they expect US President Barack Obama to attempt to restart “peace talks” between Israel and the Palestinians. “Maybe the meeting will give the American government another chance,” an official told the paper. The Palestinians are also considering seeking the UN Security Council’s recognition of a Palestinian state on all the Palestinian territories that were occupied by Israel in 1967.
PLO, Fatah meet on Israel talks
RAMALLAH (AFP) — Top Palestinian officials in the West Bank met on Friday about ways to revive stalled peace negotiations with Israel, officials said. The meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Executive Committee and senior leaders of the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas comes after Washington failed to get Israel to stop building settlements.
No clear successor should Abbas leave the stage (AP)
AP – Washington’s Mideast peace efforts are in trouble as it is, but an additional complication is often overlooked: Should 76-year-old Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a heavy smoker prone to threats of resignation, leave office, there’s no designated successor and no agreement on how to choose one.
Is Israeli Decision to Have PA Supervise Exports Out of Gaza First Step in Plan Revealed by WikiLeaks?, Alex Kane
Israel yesterday announced an expansion of exports out of the blockaded Gaza Strip, a small but welcome step in the ongoing efforts to break the crippling blockade. But perhaps that’s not the most important news to come out of the announcement. What could have more significance is that Palestinian Authority (PA) “inspectors will begin to work in the Kerem Shalom crossing, and oversee the collection of import taxes and the export of goods from Gaza to the West Bank,” according to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz. “This would mark the first return of Palestinian Authority officials to the Gaza Strip since the Hamas takeover in June 2007.”
U.S. to push indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks following Mideast peace stalemate
Direct talks failed in late September after Netanyahu refused to discuss core final-status issues, particularly borders of future Palestinian state.
Democratic congressman slams Obama’s ME policy
Ackerman: Shift away from settlements creates an opportunity to focus on Iran’s proliferation threat.
US lawmaker hits move to recognize Palestinian state (AFP)
AFP – A senior US lawmaker on Thursday sharply condemned moves by Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay to recognize an independent Palestinian state as “horrible” but ruled out diplomatic retaliation.
Former European leaders call to confront Israel over settlement building
26 former top EU officials, including ex EU chief Solana and former German President Richard von Weizsacker, urge world powers to sanction Jerusalem for its refusal to obey international law.
Assad blames ‘Israeli intransigence’ for failed peace talks
In Paris, Syrian leader says American initiative ‘has not worked,’ but adds, ‘Before we blame the sponsor, we should blame the sides themselves’.
Barak: Palestinians didn’t mind settlement construction during past peace talks
Speaking after meeting with UN chief Ban, Defense Minister claims settlement activity was 4 time what it is today during negotiations with former PA President Arafat.
Israel says it’s urgent to resume Mideast talks (AP)
AP – Israel’s defense minister says “it’s an urgent necessity” for his country and the Palestinians to find a way to resume negotiations on core issues leading to a peace deal.
Turkey lauds ‘new page’ in ties with Israel, but still demands apology for Gaza flotilla raid
Deputy FM Ayalon says Israel must not apologize for killing 9 citizens during Gaza flotilla raid, as this would invite international lawsuits.
Poll: Majority of Americans favor U.S. role in resolving Mideast dispute
Politico – A poll to be released Thursday at the Brookings Institution shows that two-thirds of Americans polled believe that the Arab-Israeli issue is among the top five American interests in the world, while one quarter believe it is one of top three American interests. The findings “are really striking,” the poll’s coordinator, Shibley Telhami told POLITICO on Wednesday. “The American public thinks this is a big-time issue.”
New Poll Underlines Gloom Shrouding ‘Peace Process’
Hope among both Jewish and Palestinian Israelis that a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians can ever be achieved appears to be fading, according to two major new polls released here Thursday. A solid majority of 63 percent of Palestinian Israelis and a plurality of 47 percent of Jewish Israelis say they don’t believe that peace between the two peoples “will ever happen”, according to the surveys, which were conducted separately in October and November.
Poll: Half of Israeli Jews hold negative views of Obama
German Chancellor Angela Merkel the world leader most admired by Israeli Jews, according to a poll released by Saban Center for Middle East Policy.
Israel’s unwanted citizens
Palestinian citizens of Israel are complaining about a string of policies, which they say are designed to drive them out of Israel. First, a bill requiring them to pledge allegiance to a Jewish state was passed by the Israeli cabinet. Now the Knesset is debating whether to stop Arab Israelis living in cities where there’s a Jewish majority. So who are Palestinian-Israelis and how did they become citizens of a State that doesn’t want them? Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports.
Poll: Israel’s Arabs don’t want to be part of Palestinian state
Saban Center survey shows 58% of Israeli-Arabs against annexation of Arab cities to future Palestinian state as part of territorial exchanges; 47% of Israel’s Jews believe peace will never be achieved.
Over 10,000 march for human rights in Tel Aviv
TEL AVIV, December 10, 2010 (AFP) – Around 10,000 people demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Friday to protest against the rising tide of extremist sentiment in Israel that they warn is posing a growing threat to Israeli democracy. The march, which organisers said included almost 1,000 refugees and asylum-seekers from Sudan, Somalia and other parts of Africa, was timed to coincide with International Human Rights Day.
Speed guns replace AK-47s on the pacified streets of Jenin
Blue-shirted Palestinian police officers with a German-supplied radar gun were busy last week on a road in the northern city of Jenin. Until three years ago, when a law and order campaign was launched, Jenin was the most lawless city in the West Bank and no one then imagined it could become a venue for speed traps.
Obama’s Middle East Policy ‘Marked by Ridiculous Zigzagging’
The Middle East peace process has been left floundering after Washington admitted its efforts to get the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table have failed. German editorialists take a dim view of President Obama’s approach.
The Netanyahu government got Obama to buckle on the settlements freeze. And now, Israel can look forward to a future of mounting isolation with no prospect for peace
Yasher Koach, Bibi, it looks like the White House has finally given up. For close to two years now, they’ve been hectoring you about a Palestinian state. First, they tried sticks: They worked to undermine you politically by letting Israelis know you didn’t have the president’s trust. Then they tried carrots: offering to double Israel’s stock of advanced jet fighters, veto any critical resolutions at the U.N. and give you carte blanche to build in the West Bank if only you’d freeze settlements for another three months and use that time to talk seriously about the borders of a Palestinian state. But you held your ground. You made it clear that you’d pocket the planes and conduct a three-month filibuster. No way were you going to be bullied into the kind of final-status negotiations undertaken by Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert. And so the Americans caved. They’ve dropped their demands for a settlement freeze. They’ve stopped trying to orchestrate direct talks. They’ve gone into a fetal position. Am Yisrael Chai!
Remembering to Forget Israel’s Nonexistent Settlement Freeze, Peter Hart
The big news in the U.S.-guided Israel/Palestine talks is that a renewal of a so-called “settlement freeze” in the West Bank is basically dead. Ethan Bronner has a post-mortem of sorts in the New York Times (12/9/10), where he describes the backdrop for the previous round of negotiations:
Jim Crow journalism, now in the LA Times, Philip Weiss
This is my new hobby horse, Jim Crow journalism. Journalists never call American Palestinians or Arabs, they call Jews. Paul Richter in the LA Times does a piece on the collapse of the Obama initiative in the Middle East and quotes: Jeremy Ben-Ami, David Makovsky. No Palestinians or Arab-Americans or maybe even non-Zionist Jews. [end]
U of Miami to host conference on Walt and Mearsheimer to which the authors are not invited, Philip Weiss
Proving once again that the Walt-Mearsheimer LRB paper/book was one of the most important ideas of the last ten years in the United States. But it couldn’t be published in the United States. Only $250 to register! Only Afrikaners allowed!
CWP Report: “All out War: Israel against democracy”
CWP published a new report today, titled “All-Out War: Israel Against Democracy.” This comprehensive report documents the increasing political persecution of peace and human rights organizations and activists, and describes the connections between the assaults led by Israeli government officials, security forces, courts, journalists, and extreme-right organizations in this well-orchestrated offensive on democracy.
The Mythical Power of the “Arab Lobby”, Stephen M. Walt
Keeping up with Jeffrey Goldberg’s errors is like trying to dam the Gulf Stream, and responding to his repeated smears is a mug’s game. I suppose I could quote a bunch of snarky comments about him too, and we could have a nasty blogosopheric food fight for the entertainment of our readers. But I prefer to focus on the issues, instead of the name-calling that is J.G.’s stock-in-trade.
The returning issue of Palestine’s refugees | Saeb Erekat
It’s 62 years since the UN passed a resolution on the rights of Palestinian refugees – rights Israel must recognise for peace. Before his murder in 1948, Lord Folke Bernadotte, the first UN mediator to the Arab-Israeli conflict, stated: “It would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent [Palestinian] victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes, while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine.” Lord Bernadotte paid for his candour with his life as Jewish militants assassinated him under the direction of Yitzhak Shamir, the man who would later become prime minister of Israel.
Fearing end of ‘Zionist dream,’ Cohen says donors shut down debate inside Jewish community, Philip Weiss
Things are changing in the Jewish community. At Rabbis for Human Rights conference the other day, Rabbi Brian Walt spoke to me about what an amazing moment was the heckling of Netanyahu by young Jews at the Jewish Federation meeting in New Orleans. “Electrifying,” he said– and the message had gone out to Jews across the country. Roger Cohen in the New York Times has gotten the news, and says the young people were starting an “important” conversation. Here’s his careful piece on the politics of Jewish identity and the end of the Zionist dream. He mentions the New Orleans hecklers, also a young man Ira Stup, 24, who has visited the occupation and come home disillusioned. You will see that Cohen understands the Jewish identity role in the Israel lobby, and talks about “donors.”
What Is The Peres Center Up To?, Palestine Monitor
Last month the winners of the Danish “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” quiz show donated their winnings to the The Peres Center For Peace in Israel. On the surface they appear a worthy beneficiary, but is the Peres Centre as innocent as it seems? Clive Granger thinks not.
Daoud Kuttab: Now That the Carrot Has Not Worked Against Israel
If America joins the rest of the world in politically isolating Israel because of its refusal to adhere to international law, this will have a snowball effect that will most certainly lead to change in the Israeli political scene.
Hussein Ibish And The Good Old Days, Ikhras
Hussein Ibish took a moment and less than 140 characters to reminisce about his past. He didn’t want to concede he was thinking about a previous time when he was defending Palestinian rights so he mentioned it in reference to an article where his name appeared along with Ali Abunimah, writer, and founder of Electronic Intifada, and a pro-Palestine activist. That must have reminded Ibish of an earlier time and a different person than the one he now sees when he looks in the mirror. In an obvious attempt to redefine the earlier version of Ibish and the basis of his previous collaboration with Abunimah he tweeted those were the “good old, long-lost, days when Ali Abunimah and I used to call out anti-Semites.” Ibish has been reaching out to the pro-Israel lobby for a while and he now appears to have adopted the tactic of calling all anti-Zionist activists anti-Semites, which he clearly seems to be suggesting here. Ibish’ newest associates and partners haven’t told him the anti-Semitic card lost its currency long before they became friends.
Fmr Israel ambassador Lubrani says using force against Iran would be giant mistake, Scott McConnell
I’m a sucker for the wisdom of old diplomats – an establishment orientation I can never entirely shake. So from one of the Washington centers of the neocon power yesterday morning—the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies conference on tightening the screws on Iran– it was a pleasure to hear a discordant voice. It came from the former Israeli ambassador to Iran during the Shah’s reign, Uri Lubrani. He is old now, white hair, nearly translucent skin. In Israel, he is known as a sort of Mr. Iran. Later ambassador to Ethiopia, he helped to engineer the exodus airlift of Ethiopian Jews.
How many leaks does it take to become a threat to humanity? – By Stephen M. Walt
While the demonization of Julian Assange continues apace, the following thought occurred to me (it probably occurred to you already). Suppose a reporter like David Sanger of the New York Times or Helene Cooper of the Washington Post had been given a confidential diplomatic cable by a disgruntled government employee (or “unnamed senior official”). Suppose it was one of the juicier cables recently released by Wikileaks. Suppose further that Sanger or Cooper had written a story based on that leaked information, and then put the text of the cable up on the Times or WaPo website so that readers could see for themselves that the story was based on accurate information. Would anyone be condemning them? I doubt it. Whoever actually leaked the cable might be prosecuted or condemned, but the journalists who published the material would probably be praised, and their colleagues would just be jealous that somebody else got a juicy scoop.
John Pilger: Why are wars not being reported honestly?
The public needs to know the truth about wars. So why have journalists colluded with governments to hoodwink us? In the US Army manual on counterinsurgency, the American commander General David Petraeus describes Afghanistan as a “war of perception . . . conducted continuously using the news media”. What really matters is not so much the day-to-day battles against the Taliban as the way the adventure is sold in America where “the media directly influence the attitude of key audiences”. Reading this, I was reminded of the Venezuelan general who led a coup against the democratic government in 2002. “We had a secret weapon,” he boasted. “We had the media, especially TV. You got to have the media.”
FBI Spying on Muslims, WAJAHAT ALI
The recent arrest of the potential Christmas tree bomber is reflective of the FBI’s myopic strategy of using glitzy, expensive sting operations and dubious confidential informants to further erode Muslim American relations instead of concentrating on effective partnerships to combat radicalization. The FBI is promoting the arrest of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year-old Somali-born teenager accused of attempting to detonate a car bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, as a triumph of effective law enforcement. Instead, the operation reeks of gratuitous self-adulation, requiring 6 months of time and precious expenditures to “uncover” a dummy terrorist plot wholly scripted and concocted by the FBI in the first place.
Al-Akkhbar is now in control of the website. But the website will not be available until Saturday. An investigation is under way. You may read Al-Akhbar here
U.S. Defense Secretary: Gulf Arab states back Iran nuclear sanctions
Robert Gates says Iran’s neighbors are concerned about Teheran’s ‘aggressive behavior’ with respect to Hezbollah and Lebanon.
US diplomat accused France of succumbing to March 8 – cables
BEIRUT: The US blamed Paris for succumbing to “shameless fear-mongering” and empowering minority MPs during Lebanon’s 2007 presidential impasse, according to leaked diplomatic documents seen by The Daily Star.
Murr: Try those who called me a traitor
BEIRUT: Defense Minister Elias Murr called Thursday for the trial of anyone who labeled him a traitor after he was implicated in WikiLeaks revelations. “Who will try those who are accusing other Lebanese of treason only because they hold a different opinion?”
The Story of Elias Murr, Saboteur, RANNIE AMIRI
When Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers crossed into southern Lebanon and were caught snooping around the village of Ayta al-Shab on July 12, 2006, it was the pretext needed for Israel to launch a vicious 34-day land, sea and aerial assault on the country. The offensive’s principal objective—the destruction of Hezbollah—was not achieved. Two years after the war’s end we now learn, thanks to WikiLeaks, that Lebanese Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Elias Murr gave Israel strategic military advice on how to finish the job.
He is fed up: An Arab fixer leaves his job and writes about his own experiences
This Arab fixer, Moe Ali Nayel, is mad as hell. He wrote to me about his experiences and allowed me to cite from his letter and to even use his name: “Last month I had a terrifying experience as journalism betrayed me for the first time in my four years of working as a fixer. When I first met freelance journalist Ruthie Ackerman in a cafe in Beirut in early September, I realized that she did not know anything about Lebanon. Ms. Ackerman had arrived in Beirut to do a story on social networking, but it quickly became apparent that this reporter had not done her homework. Ms. Ackerman did not know who Hassan Nassrallah was. Ms. Ackerman did not know that Saad Hariri was the name of the prime minister of the country who’s coffee she was then sipping. When, later, I took her to see a Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Beirut she asked, “Where are the tents?” Ruthie Ackerman’s ignorance of even the current status of a country she planned to write about was, in short, shameful.
Unknown gunmen kill 2 Iraqi policemen
Unknown gunmen opened fire on Friday morning on a police checkpoint in Al Zohour District, central Tikrit, killing two policemen and wounding two others. A bombing in Al Ialam District in Baghdad wounded a police recruit. Police found the body of an unknown gunman in Al Mahmudiya District.
Thursday: 6 Iraqis Killed, 6 Wounded
At least six Iraqis were killed and six more were wounded in light violence. Also, about 40 Christian families have reportedly left Basra for northern Iraq or Europe in the wake of anti-Christian attacks in Baghdad.
Iraq Christians mark 40 days since church carnage (AFP)
AFP – Dozens of Iraqi Christians overcame their fears and attended Baghdad’s Sayidat al-Nejat church on Thursday to begin prayers marking 40 days since Al-Qaeda militants carried out a deadly siege.
UN asks Iraq to abolish death penalty (AP)
AP – The top U.N. envoy in Iraq is calling on the country’s government to abolish the death penalty amid demands by Iraq’s interior minister for the swift execution of terror suspects.
U.S. and other world news
Senate hawks push Obama on Iran
Prominent American senators have warned President Barack Obama he must demand that Iran halt all uranium-enrichment activities as a pre-condition to a deal on its nuclear program, something Tehran will never accept. By drawing new lines in the sand, the senators reflect the diplomatic missteps that have dogged US-Iran relations for years.
Dems outraged as GOP blocks 9/11 responders’ health bill
May be end of the road for $7-billion aid package to heroes of 9/11 Senate Republicans on Thursday derailed a bill to aid people who got sick after exposure to dust from the World Trade Center’s collapse in the Sept. 11 attack.
Julian Assange Extradition Faces Hurdles
LONDON — Some of the WikiLeaks critics who cheered founder Julian Assange’s arrest may want to think again. The prospect of Assange being sent to Sweden in a sex-crimes inquiry may make it less likely that he’ll wind up before an American judge, something politicians and pundits including Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut have called for. That’s because Britain has one of the most U.S.-friendly extradition regimes in Europe. Sweden, with its tough media-protection laws, may not be so quick to hand the 39-year-old Australian over.
Fresh attacks in Wikileaks cyberwar
The cyber war between WikiLeaks supporters and companies refusing to do business with the whistle-blowing site intensified tonight, with fresh attacks threatened against Amazon and PayPal.
Letters: Support for Assange
We protest at the attacks on WikiLeaks and, in particular, on Julian Assange (Report, 9 December) The leaks have assisted democracy in revealing the real views of our governments over a range of issues which have been kept secret and are now irreversibly in the public domain. All we knew about the mass killing, torture and corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan has been confirmed. The world’s leaders can no longer hide the truth by simply lying to the public. The lies have been exposed. The actions of major corporations such as Amazon, the Swiss banks and the credit card companies in hindering WikiLeaks are shameful, bowing to US government pressure. The US government and its allies, and their friends in the media, have built up a campaign against Assange which now sees him in prison facing extradition on dubious charges, with the presumed eventual aim of ensuring his extradition to the US. We demand his immediate release, the dropping of all charges, and an end to the censorship of WikiLeaks.
Report: Assange accuser flees to Middle East, may not be cooperating with police
Sweden withholding documentation on Assange probe: lawyer One of the two Swedish women who have filed sex complaints against the founder of WikiLeaks has reportedly left Sweden and may no longer be cooperating with the criminal investigation.
Assange accuser ‘postponed’ Palestine trip
YANOUN, West Bank (Ma’an) — One of two women whose sexual assault allegations led to the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange recently cancelled a trip to the occupied West Bank where she planned to volunteer for a Christian organization, members of the group said Friday. The woman was part of a group of five new volunteers slated to join the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) in the West Bank village of Yanoun, but instead postponed her plans, said Sue Beardon, who works with the group in the village.
Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg: Julian Assange is Not a Terrorist
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will remain in a London prison until a British court takes up a Swedish request for extradition for questioning on sexual crime allegations. An international group of former intelligence officers and ex-government officials have released a statement in support of Assange. We speak to one of the signatories, Daniel Ellsberg, the famous whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War in 1971. “If I released the Pentagon Papers today, I would be called a terrorist,” Ellsberg says. “Bradley Manning and Julian Assange are no more terrorists than I am, and I am not.”
Hackers rally to support WikiLeaks: Top 5 recent attacks
In an effort nicknamed “Operation Payback,” a loose association of hackers called “Anonymous” has been targeting the websites of companies and organizations that have cut ties with WikiLeaks by overwhelming their sites with traffic, prompting them to shut down. Twitter and Facebook have blocked accounts for Anonymous, citing the illegality of their attacks as a terms-of-service violation. WikiLeaks’ Facebook and Twitter accounts remain up and running.
UN human rights chief voices concern at reported ‘cyber war’ against WikiLeaks
The United Nations human rights chief voiced concern today over reported ‘cyber war’ pressure on private companies to sever links with the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, saying this could amount to attempted censorship in breach of international covenants. “If WikiLeaks has committed any recognizable illegal act, then this should be handled through the legal system, and not through pressure and intimidation, including on third parties,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said of the reported pressure on banks, credit card companies and internet service providers to stop hosting and close down donation credit lines to the website that has released thousands of secret United States documents.
Russia’s Putin raps U.S. over leaked cables
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attacked the United States on Thursday over secret U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, saying the West had no right to preach to Russia about democracy. When asked about cables which cast him as Russia’s “alpha-dog” ruler, Putin asked: “Do you think the American diplomatic service is a crystal clean source of information? Do you think so?” He then criticized the West over the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who turned himself in to authorities in Britain this week after a warrant by a Swedish prosecutor who wants to question him about sexual misconduct accusations.
US embassy cables: Mubarak: Egypt’s president-for-life
1. (S/NF) Introduction: President Mubarak last visited Washington in April 2004, breaking a twenty year tradition of annual visits to the White House. Egyptians view President Mubarak’s upcoming meeting with the President as a new beginning to the U.S.-Egyptian relationship that will restore a sense of mutual respect that they believe diminished in recent years. President Mubarak has been encouraged by his initial interactions with the President, the Secretary, and Special Envoy Mitchell, and understands that the Administration wants to restore the sense of warmth that has traditionally characterized the U.S.-Egyptian partnership. The Egyptians want the visit to demonstrate that Egypt remains America’s “indispensible Arab ally,” and that bilateral tensions have abated. President Mubarak is the proud leader of a proud nation. He draws heavily from his own long experience in regional politics and governance as he assesses new proposals and recommendations for change.
Saudi businessman and media mogul, Saleh Kamil on his links with Bin Laden
Pro-House of Saud, Saudi businessman Salih Kamil (who owns ART networks among other things) explicitly said on Al-Arabiyya TV (the station of King Fahd brother-in-law which is now run by Prince `Azzuz) that he has had “social and practical” relationship with Usamah Bin Ladin. Those are the House of Saud and their friends.
WikiLeaks Exposes US Attempt To Trade Sunken Gold for Nazi Loot
(Source: ARTINFO) MADRID– An underwater treasure. A looted Impressionist masterpiece. Diplomatic intrigue. Nazis. It all sounds like the plot of a Clive Cussler novel. But no, these are the components of the latest real-life revelation from the WikiLeaks cables. All these things collided in 2008, when diplomats were hunting for solutions to two very different cultural restitution cases and sought a clandestine compromise, according to the latest of the leaked dispatches highlighted by the Guardian.
Spanish town becomes first to ban face-covering veils
Lleida approves municipal ban on burqas, niqabs because they ‘attack equality between men and women and are against women’s dignity’.
Iran denies freeing condemned woman
Press TV denies reports that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death by stoning, has been freed by regime.