Why doesn’t the world offer assistance when settlers set fire to West Bank land?

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And other news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing
Official: Settlers set fire to West Bank land
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers set fire to Palestinian-owned olive groves near the evacuated settlement of Homesh, near the West Bank city of Nablus Thursday, a Palestinian Authority official said.  Ghasan Daghlas, who is charged with monitoring settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an: “The settlers set fire in the area of Khahlet Awana, adjacent to evacuated settlement.”  He said Palestinians are banned from entering the area because of the presence of an Israeli military installation.  He said 10 dunums of land had caught fire.

Palestinian property destroyed as Israeli settlements grow
Israeli bulldozers and armed soldiers implemented a swath of demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures for more than a week in multiple areas across the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley.

A dry bone of contention
After almost half a century of Israeli occupation its Palestinian population has shrunk from over 200,000 to fewer than 60,000. … A fortnight ago 15 young Israelis in T-shirts came down from Maskiyot, a hilltop settlement, took possession of a Bedouin tent, put up a fence to keep out the family and its goats, and sang Hebrew chants. An Israeli army jeep idled by, briefly surveyed the rumpus, and drove on. The local Palestinian governor, whose headquarters is in the Arab town of Tubas, paid a call, before also hurrying away. “From experience, we’ve learnt that, if we protest, the settlers will resort to violence and demand that the state confiscate the land to protect them,” explains a Palestinian activist who advises the Bedouin. On a nearby wall, someone had daubed in Hebrew: “Bless God for not making me a gentile.

Palestinians turn a profit on the occupation
Some Palestinians living in Hebron make a living providing “tours” of the occupation, elements of which are easy to see in a city divided between Palestinians and Jewish settlers.

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Military Court to Hear Appeal in Bil’in’s Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s Case on Monday
[Popular Struggle] The court will hear the Military prosecution’s appeal to harshen Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s sentence. Abu Rahmah was supposed to be released on November 18th, but was kept in detention to the military prosecution’s request, despite having finished serving his term.

Today in Bil’in, Hamde Abu Rahme
This Friday’s demonstration took place as a protest against the Wall, the settlements, and the Israeli practices of occupation, deportation and exclusion. A large group marched after Friday prayers from the center of the village toward the target areas of the Wall and settlements. The group consisted of dozens of Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists.

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Stephen Lendman
On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 181, the Palestine Partition Plan, granting 56% of historic Palestine to Jews (with one-third of the population), 42% to Palestinians, with Jerusalem designated an international city (a corpus separatum – separate body) under a UN Trusteeship Council. The area included all Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Beit Sahour, to encompass Christian holy sites.

South African Artists Against Apartheid
South Africa Artists Against Apartheid opening declaration Photo South Africa artist Thandiswa. As South African Artists and Cultural Workers who have lived under, survived, and in many cases resisted apartheid, we acknowledge the value of international solidarity in our own struggle.

The big fat national conversation could actually start w/ California divestment initiative
IDC is the acronym for California Divestment Initiative. To fully understand the importance of this initiative please hear me out.  The Israel Divestment Campaign (IDC) is the first citizens’ effort in the country to appeal directly to voters to hold Israel accountable for violations of international law and human rights.

Abuse of Palestinian Children
Children of the Gravel, Appeal to stop the targeting of unarmed children working near the border in Gaza – 16 cases documented.

Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement
Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (25 Nov. – 01 Dec. 2010)

Palestinians still need relief assistance: OCHA
Daily life for Palestinians living in Gaza remains a struggle despite the easing of blockade on Gaza by Israel, which allowed more consumer goods into the region, according to the United Nations.  Over 75 per cent of Palestinians in Gaza are dependent on relief assistance, which includes food, shelter as well as cash.

PLO official barred from leaving West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities barred PLO official Ziyad Salous from leaving the West Bank Thursday, Palestinian sources said.  Salous, the director of Public Relations for the organization, was detained at the Allenby Bridge border crossing for three hours before being denied entry to Jordan.  Salous was en route to a conference on Palestinian prisoners in Algeria.

Israel restricts Al-Aqsa access
Israeli forces closed most gates leading into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound Thursday morning, leaving only two open. All worshipers under 40 years old were barred by Israeli police from entering the compound, and prayed together in the streets adjacent to the Haram Ash-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) which houses the mosque.

Gaza crossings closed
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli officials announced the closure of all Gaza-Israel crossing terminals on Friday, a day ahead of the scheduled weekend, with passages remaining sealed on Saturday for the Jewish sabbath.  Palestinian crossings liaison official, Raed Fattouh told Ma’an that service would resume on Monday.

Gazan flowers headed to market in Holland because Israel won’t allow them in the West Bank
This week the Israeli Ministry of Defense announced the “beginning of the export season” in the Gaza Strip. “The export season” entails the continuation of a short-term program, sponsored – from planting through to distribution – by the Dutch government. The program allows a few farmers in Gaza to sell strawberries and flowers in European markets. So far this week, 7 trucks have left the Strip.

PCHR Concludes Training Course on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in Jabalia
In the context of the International Campaign for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which started on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until 10 December 2010, the Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Training Unit and Women’s Rights Unit of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) concluded a training course on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women on Thursday, 2 December 2010. The 18-hour course was held in cooperation with Palestine Call Society in the main office of the society in Jabalia, northern Gaza Strip, during the period 28 November – 2 December 2010. The course was administered to 19 participants representing five institutions working in the field of women.

Racism and Discrimination
“New Discriminatory Laws and Bills in Israel”
New report by Adalah detailing 20 main new laws and currently-tabled bills in the Knesset that discriminate against the Palestinian minority in Israel and threaten their rights as citizens of the state. Some of the legislation is specifically designed to preempt, circumvent or overturn Supreme Court decisions providing protection for these rights.

Evening clashes in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Clashes erupted in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Al-Isawiya on Thursday evening, between residents and Israeli forces conducting patrols on the area northeast of the Old City.  Eight residents were treated for tear-gas inhalation, head of the Union of Arab Medics Mohammad Al-Gharabli told Ma’n.

Israeli Forces Raid Refugee Camps Near Jenin
Israeli troops entered the refugee camps of Barqin and Aqaba, in the proximity of Jenin, on Friday morning, PNN claimed.

Palestinian shot in An-Nabi Saleh
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli soldiers shot a Palestinian in the leg during an incursion Thursday in the West Bank town of An-Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, local sources said.  Palestinians in the village said Omer Saleh At-Tamimi was shot with live ammunition while demonstrators confronted the Israeli soldiers, throwing stones.

88th worker shot in northern Gaza ‘no go zone’
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Gaza man was shot in the foot Friday morning, medics in the coastal enclave confirmed saying the wound was inflicted by Israeli sniper fire targeting a man collecting gravel particles in the northern border area.  The injured man was evacuated to the Kamal Udwan Hospital in Jabaliya and identified only as 20-year-old “AB.” Medics said his injuries were moderate.

Gaza citizen wounded by IOF bullets
IOF troops fired at a Palestinian man on Friday while he was collecting scrap in the northern Gaza Strip wounding him in the foot, according to Palestinian medical sources.

Army Shells Khan Younis
Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip reported that Israeli soldiers shelled on Thursday evening a number of homes east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Female Detainees Safely Moved Out Of Al Damoun Prison
Amin Shooman, head of the Higher Committee for West Bank Detainees imprisoned by Israel, stated that all female detainees imprisoned at the Al Damoun Israeli prison were evacuated to the Hasharon prison due to raging fires in the north.

Gaza man released after 18 years in Israeli prison
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Detainees center in Gaza City said it was preparing to receive 42-year-old Walid Shaath upon his release from Israeli prison, expected to come on Thursday.  The Khan Younis native was detained on 2 May 1993, charged with affiliation to the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the armed wing of Fatah.  Widowed when he was in prison, relatives said a delegation would receive Shaath at the Erez crossing upon his release.  One day earlier, Israeli authorities released Usama Matar from the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza after 6 years of incarceration.  Usama was affiliated to the Al-Qassam brigades and was detained in March 2005 as he returned home via the Rafah border crossing.

Arab Helpers
Those that did not lift a finger to help Palestinians during the savage war on Gaza: PA lends firefighters a hand
Palestinian official says authority decided to help because blaze in north is ‘human catastrophe’.

Hamas: PA must release prisoners
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Hamas official in Gaza called on the rival Fatah movement in the West Bank to release alleged political prisoners from Palestinian Authority prisoners Thursday.  Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri reiterated accusations that the PA has tortured Hamas members in prison. “These acts against our brothers and sisters are unpatriotic,” he said.  “The number of prisoners in the PA jails had reached 2,822 prisoners during the year 2010 including 75 prisoners released from Israeli jails,” he said at a news conference.

Hamas: PA continues to detain affiliates
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas accused PA forces of arresting five of its members in the West Bank, a statement issued by regional leaders said on Friday.  Those detained were from Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem and Salfit, the statement said.

Islamic bloc says An-Najah students, teachers detained by PA
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — An-Najah National University’s student union party affiliated with the Islamic bloc issued a statement on Thursday saying Palestinian Authority security forces had detained 40 members during the month of November.  Most of the 40 students remain in detention, the statement said, adding that the student bloc believed that the arrests were politically motivated.

Fatah’s armed wing demands release of member
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Fatah’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, called on the Gaza government Friday to release one of its members.  Amir Ash-Shareef was detained one month earlier by internal security forces from the Hamas-led government, the brigades said in a statement. Ash-Shareef is listed as “wanted” by the Israeli army, and his house was destroyed in Israel’s December 2008 attack on the Strip, the statement said.  Fatah’s military wing said Ash-Shareef is suffering from health problems and that his continued detention is not in the interest of Palestinians.  The group called on all resistance factions to intervene to secure his release.

Political Developments

Gulf governments and Israel
“Contrary to the condemnatory rhetoric opposing Israel in public, Arab diplomats behind the scenes have asked Israel to carry messages to the U.S. government and urged tougher action on Iran.”

Leaked US cable: Qatar seen as unlikely to break strong Hamas ties
Qatar almost certainly will not be willing to break off ties or dialogue with Hamas. If asked to do so, we think HBJ will explain that the Amir gave his word to both Hamas and Fatah that he would financially support the winner of democratic elections in Palestine. Hamas won those elections, which the Bush Administration pressed the Amir to support actively. The Amir believes that it would be
dishonorable to isolate Hamas after he convinced its leaders to participate in elections that were backed by the United States.

Leaked US cable: Army officials tell Qatar to condition Hamas aid
ASD Vershbow raised Qatar’s ties with Hamas, and told the COS that Hamas needs to be encouraged to rejoin the Palestinian Authority and the Peace Process. He added that there should be “no blank checks, no checks at all,” for Hamas. ASD suggested that Qatar was in a position to influence Hamas; if Qatar helped bring about a change in Hamas’s behavior, it could enhance the U.S.-Qatar strategic relationship. COS undertook to relay that message to the Amir and Crown Prince. While the COS underscored that Qatar wants a good relationship with the U.S., he noted there were times when USG decisions sent a different signal, such as the USG’s decision on LAIRCM. COS al-Attiyah rhetorically asked, “Are we friends or not?”

Leaked US cable: Qatar leader says Hamas would accept 1967 borders
According to the Amir, Hamas will accept the 1967 border with Israel, but will not say it publicly so as to lose popular Palestinian support.

Israel wants Arabs to support Abbas
“When questioned what Israel would most like to see from Morocco, Shlein-Michael immediately responded that the GOI wants the GOM to support the Palestinian Authority (PA). Morocco “does less than anyone,” she complained, commenting that smaller states like the UAE and Oman were far more visible in lending support to Abbas. We want Abbas to succeed, Shlein-Michael continued, and we want Arab governments to visit him in the West Bank, publicly declare their support for him, and show the Palestinians that he has international legitimacy and influence.”

Who Can Save Mahmoud Abbas?, Nadia Hijab
According to one cable in the latest WikiLeaks batch, the powerful Israeli security official Amos Gilad believes Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas won’t survive politically beyond 2011.  Abbas is certainly at a crossroads. Will he go down in history as the great liberator or a big loser? The United States appears intent on making him a loser, pushing him to restart direct talks with Israel even though there is no indication that this time would be any different than the past 19 years.

Zionist Kouchner on Abbas
“The cable says Kouchner told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that “Abbas is lost. You tried, we tried but nothing has happened.”  ”Kouchner said that he had met with Abu Mazen three days prior and found him completely isolated,” the cable, which divulges the minutes of Clinton and Kouchner’s meeting, says.

Israel: disgrace unto the nations
This is a state that has every dirty weapon and every WMD there is and it dares to feign outrage at Iran’s nuclear effort.  You think that the Arab public is with Saudi Arabia on this? If you do, you should be one of the Middle East experts at the US Department of State’s Feltman team who have been trying to cultivate alternatives to Hizbullah among Lebanon’s Shi`ites.  ”The Reagan administration developed but never deployed the weapons in the 1980s. France, Israel and the Soviet Union were believed to have added versions of the bomb to their arsenals.”

Jordan to U.S.: The way to stop Iran’s ‘octopus’ is to address Palestinian suffering, Philip Weiss
Now that our media are trumpeting the WikiLeaks cables as demonstrating Arab support for attacking Iran, let’s have a look at this 2008 cable from the State Department in Amman, Jordan. The cable shows a much fuller spectrum of realist/monarchical Arab leadership opinion than what’s been on the news. Note that Iran is referred to as an octopus; and that there’s one way to chill the octopus, work on the Palestinian issue. Note the deep concern about the radicalization of the conflict and the Islamicization of the conflict. I find this troubling/grim; and a reminder of something that John Mearsheimer has said, This situation is going to get worse before it gets better. And a reminder of the fact that the Arab League was behind a solution to the conflict since 2002 that Israel and the U.S. have essentially ignored.

WikiLeaks revelations serve Israel, says Turkish minister
ANKARA: A senior Turkish minister said Thursday Israel seemed to be “benefitting” from the impact of US cables disclosed so far by the WikiLeaks website as he questioned whose interests the leaks served.”One should analyze why this happened, who did it and why, who is benefitting and who is being harmed,” Interior Minister Besir Atalay said.

US ‘intensively’ working on Mideast peace: Clinton (AFP)
AFP – The United States is working “intensively” to secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted on Friday, a day after Palestinians said US efforts have failed.

Ex-CIA official: Obama’s only peace process is to ‘hope for a miracle’, Adam Horowitz
Robert Grenier, CIA’s chief of station in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 1999 to 2002 and director of the CIA’s counter-terrorism center, writes in disbelief at the current Obama administration strategy with the peace process (which he considers long dead). He comments on the Al Jazeera English website about the rumored bundle of incentives the White House is offering Israel for a 90-day extension of the partial settlement freeze.

Other News
Israeli army unveils secretive cyber unit
JERUSALEM, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) — You have to give the Israeli army credit for a fine sense of timing, irony and even a bit of hutzpah. On the same day that a local telco’s glitch dropped service for its 1.3 million cellphone users, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) unit that keeps the army and nation connected by phone, radio and internet in wartime, decided to strut its stuff before the world media

UN seeks 575 million dollars for Palestinians (AFP)
AFP – Millions of Palestinians are living in precarious conditions and need help to survive, the United Nations said Thursday, as it sought 575 million dollars for them in 2011.

Israeli prison guards killed in ‘worst ever’ forest fires
Dozens of Israeli prison guards perished yesterday after their bus caught fire and overturned as the deadliest blaze in Israel’s history ravaged the north of the country.

Israeli Emergency Services
Yesterday’s catastrophe is just an example of the powerlessness that Israel’s emergency services suffer from,” said top-selling Israeli daily, Yedioth Ahronoth.  ”What would we have done if faced with dozens and hundreds of missiles that might have ignited fires in several areas, including urban areas with multi-story buildings?

Turkey offers Israel help in controlling fire despite tense relations
Officials in Turkish embassy in U.S. say Israel accepted two firefighting aircraft, say Turkey was one of the first governments to offer help.

Fault Lines – Canada-Israel: The other special relationship
Seen as an honest-broker in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Canada has become one of Israel’s most fervent supporters. Avi Lewis investigates.

today in Palestine: hypocrisy watch, Max Ajl
This kibbutz is reportedly over 2km from Gaza’s border. Were the militants “laying explosives” near the fence, or “trying to infiltrate”? Does it matter, or is this verbatim an IDF press release written by someone who knows his confusions and contradictions will never be dissected in the first place? Who “lays explosives” to break through a barbed wire fence that can be cut apart with wire-cutters? And if indeed they were planting explosives, how come “militants” planting explosives on their own land which is repeatedly subject to incursions from Merkava tanks that blow apart homes and kill children can be murdered by the occupying army while the Western commentariat twaddles about Wikileaks, while when militants–no quotation marks–kill paramilitary settlers illegally residing in or near Hebron we’re witness to a paroxysm of self-righteous fury and endless hand-wringing from the liberal-left? You want an Israel Lobby? Look at the intellectually corrupt discourse that pervades the chattering classes, creating the “necessary illusions” to keep the conflict cruising along ruinously while the body-count–at least on one side–piles higher and higher day-by-day.

WikiLeaks: Arab Collaborators With Israel Galore, Alex Kane
The WikiLeaks State Department cables have to be giving some Arab leaders who quietly support Israeli aggression headaches. Cables published by WikiLeaks on November 28 have clearly shown that Israel collaborates and is pleased with the Palestinian Authority, the junior partner in the occupation of the West Bank.

Arab Media and Wikileaks
“Assad Abukhalil, professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus, who has appeared numerous times on Al Jazeera, strongly criticized the network on the radio show Democracy Now.  During the interview, he said: “I think the extent to which the Saudi government—and all Arab governments in the Gulf—are embarrassed by these leaks is evidenced by the clampdown that is being exhibited throughout the Saudi-controlled Arab media. And even the so-called ‘independent’ Al Jazeera— which, contrary to its reputation here in the West, is the most serious news organization—is also trying to cover up the embarrassing revelations about the way Arab governments operate vis-à-vis the United States.”

Arab public and Wikileaks
“I think the Arab public today woke up wiser than before, more cynical than before, and certainly more critical of the government,” said As’ad Abu Khalil, a professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus who runs the “Angry Arab News Service” blog. “You see all these governments competing, trying to bring up the issue of Iranian nuclear weapons. Not a single Arab leader in those discussions brought up the issue of the massive Israeli WMD program that has been going on for decades.”

“Wikileaks and the Arabs”, Shibley Telhami
One of the highlights of the most recent Wikileaks release has been the focus on Arab attitudes toward Iran. The headlines suggest Arab unanimity in support of a U.S. or Israeli military attack on the Islamic Republic, as long as Arab governments are allowed to keep their heads low to the ground. There was much evidence, and many colorful quotations, to make the case, especially from Saudi, Bahraini, and United Arab Emirates’ leaders. And although some of the quotations were jaw-dropping, in truth it was all a bunch of stuff we’ve heard before. But analysis by the media that followed, and the sweeping conclusion that “Arabs support attacking Iran,” is misplaced and ignores significant differences among Arab governments about how to deal with Iran—and especially missed the boat on true attitudes of the Arab public.

Studio House of Saud
On the TV program, House of Saud (hosted by the most obnoxious Lebanese, Gizelle Khuri), they made a reference to Wikileaks.  The only reference they made was that Iran used an aid agency to sneak aid to Hizbullah. That was the only Wikileak reference of the week, they said.  I kid you not. It was on Al-Arabiyyah TV (the station of King Fahd’s brother-in-law).

Some random thoughts on Wikileaks, Julian Assange and the American Right
I just finished reading Wikipedia’s entry about Julian Assange and I was quite surprised by its length.  For somebody which the corporate media describes as “mysterious” or a person “about which very little is known”, Assange’s entry in Wikipedia has a lot of information indeed.  The second thing which surprised me that it turns out that Assange has for many years been a developer of free software with a clear interest in developing applications which could be used in the defense of human rights and civil rights.  Lastly, I had no idea that the guy had received some pretty high profile and prestigious rewards.  All in all, I see no reason to doubt that Assange is exactly what he claims to be – a guy motivated by a desire to change the way the world operates.  Sure, a simple gut feeling is hardly the proof of anything, but to me he sure does not look like somebody’s nefarious mole.

Is WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange A Hero? Glenn Greenwald Debates Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News
WikiLeaks is coming under attack from all sides. The U.S. government and embassies around the world are criticizing the whistleblowing group for releasing a massive trove of secret state department cables.The WikiLeaks website is struggling to stay at home just days after Amazon pulled the site from its servers following political pressure. The State Department has blocked all its employees from accessing the site and is warning all government employees not to read the cables, even at home. “These attacks will not stop our mission, but should be setting off alarm bells about the rule of law in the United States,” said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. We host a debate between Steven Aftergood, a leading transparency advocate who has become a leading critic of WikiLeaks and Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for Salon.com.

How the US Media is Dumping on WikiLeaks, Roy Greenslade
The Times story said the newspaper had made the decision not to publish ‘at the request of the Obama administration’.

The Moral Standards of WikiLeaks Critics, Glenn Greenwald
The ringleaders of this hate ritual are advocates of — and in some cases directly responsible for — the world’s deadliest and most lawless actions of the last decade.

Are the Palestinians the last Zionists?
It would seem so. The situation of Israel has become surreal. Just as we Israelis are making a stupendous effort to ensure the dissolution of the Jewish state, envisioned by Theodor Herzl in 1896, by hanging onto the occupied territories, the Palestinians, led by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, are working to ensure the survival of the Zionist enterprise by striving to establish a Palestinian ministate in the West Bank and Gaza.  Let us be very clear on just what is happening here: the Palestinians are doing their best to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza on a mere 22 percent of British Mandate for Palestine, which would afford us Zionist Jews a predominantly Jewish state on the remaining 78 percent. This is surely more than we could ever have envisaged when we set out to create a Jewish state and guarantees the survival of the state of Israel. Against this, we Israelis are fighting to keep the West Bank, which will soon result in an Arab majority and the end of a Jewish majority state.

The endgame for the peace process
Future historians will no doubt argue over the precise moment when the Arab-Israeli peace process died, when the last glimmer of hope for a two-state solution was irrevocably extinguished. When all is said and done, and the forensics have been completed, I am sure they will conclude that the last realistic prospect for an agreement expired quite some time before now, even if all the players do not quite realise it yet: anger and denial are always the first stages in the grieving process; acceptance of reality only comes later.

Obama’s Israel Policy: Speak Softly and Carry a Very Big Carrot, Maidhc Ó Cathail
Even those familiar with the long and shameful history of America’s appeasement of Israel were taken aback by the Obama administration’s extraordinary offer to Netanyahu.  In exchange for a paltry one-off 90 day freeze on illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), Israel will get 20 F-35 stealth fighter jets worth $3 billion and a slew of other goodies. Yet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly gave up to eight hours with Netanyahu trying to persuade him to accept “one of the most generous bribes ever bestowed by the United States on any foreign power.” Praising the Israeli Prime Minister for eventually agreeing to put the offer to his security cabinet, President Obama took it as “a signal that he is serious.”

New Language for Middle East Peace, John V. Whitbeck
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 or any land in the Golan Heights to Syria has been widely recognized as making any “two-state solution”, as well as any Israeli-Syrian peace, even more inconceivable than was previously the case. It also highlights the need for a concerted effort by politicians, negotiators and commentators to adopt a new “language of peace”. 

Outsourcing Airport Security to the Shin Bet?, Belen Fernandez
Perhaps I am out of the loop, but is it normal in mainstream U.S. media these days to suggest that domestic airport security be outsourced to the Israeli Shin Bet?  At first glance, you might not guess that this is the gist of Caroline Baum’s Nov. 28 Bloomberg article “My Breasts Pass Unchecked by Airport Screeners”, which begins with Baum admitting she was jealous to learn that an Orlando passenger had been subjected to additional airport screening due to the size of her breasts.

Watching The Pianist in Gaza, Mohammed Rabah Suliman
The Pianist is a movie that tells the disheartening story of a Jewish pianist,  Władysław Szpilman, who struggles to survive during the holocaust along with his family in Warsaw. Although it is primarily the story of one man, the movie instilled in me the notion of the universality of human suffering. Szpilman is Jewish, which especially leads me reflect on it. How did I feel watching it? I cannot really remember, but certainly an avalanche of conflicting feelings surged through my chest. I thought of every possible indictment that could be directed toward a Muslim who declared himself to be Jewish, even for brief moments. Thoughts like these invaded my mind especially as the movie drew near its end: a shabby racked Szpilman adeptly runs his feeble fingers over an abandoned piano playing before a Nazi officer who rescues his life later. I desperately wanted Szpilman to survive. For a moment, I was Jewish.

Thoughts on Germany and Palestine, Mazin Qumsiyeh
The conference in Stuttgart about Palestine was themed “Separated in the past, together in the future”, was sold-out, and had some high powered speakers and lots of energy [1].  We listened, spoke, networked, bought each others’ books, ate, hugged, cried, and laughed.  I mostly spent lots of time in thinking; maybe because waiting at airports or because such conferences give us opportunity to reflect or whatever.  Thoughts are a mixed blessing.  In that labyrinth of neurons firing sometimes uncontrollably, we are transported to the past, to the present, to the future, whipsawed by images and stories and sounds and smells.  The one minute I am thinking of my delay of three hours at the bridge to Jordan while Israeli Shin Bet agents scurry around trying to figure out what to do about me.  I reflect on my angered indignation verbalized twice to a young white clean-cut guy (maybe Russian?).  Did I challenge him too much or was it too little?

Helen Thomas says US interests are against Arabs
Former White House correspondent Helen Thomas has defended remarks against Israel that caused her resignation and told a Detroit-area audience U.S. interests are controlled by Zionist “propagandists against the Arabs.”  The Detroit Free Press reports the 89-year-old said Thursday people cannot criticize Israel, “which has Jewish-only roads in the West Bank.” Thomas says no American would tolerate “white-only roads.”

Report: Lebanese court convicts Israeli collaborator
BEIRUT, Lebanon (Ma’an) — A Lebanese Military Court sentenced a citizen to 15 years of hard labor on charges of collaboration with Israel, the country’s National News Agency reported on Thursday.  The man, identified as Ziad Homsi was found guilty of providing Israeli intelligence agencies with classified information about military and civil sites.  Homsi was the latest in a string of convictions, with several of the accused working for telecom companies in Lebanon.

Hariri to convene Cabinet upon return to Beirut
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Thursday he would call for a Cabinet session immediately upon his return to Beirut to discuss the current political crisis over an impending indictment into the 2005 assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Wikileaks Shocker: Lebanese Defence Minister Reveals Plan to Stay out of Israel’s Way in Next War
If you haven’t yet seen them, be sure to check out the latest Wikileaks cables released to al-Akhbar, at least one of which is tremendously damning and could have major implications for the Lebanese political scene. (See here for the Lebanon-specific ones).  In the cable mentioned, the Lebanese Minister of Defense Elias al-Murr discusses with U.S. Embassy officials his preparations for an impending war with Israel, which involved sequestering the Lebanese Army in its bases until Hizbullah is destroyed. You should read the entire cable, but I’ll post the juiciest bits below.

Resignation of this Murr (an appointee of Syrian intelligence) should be top priority
“Perhaps the most scandalous report is the one that appeared in the Lebanese press today citing Elias Murr, Lebanese Defense Minister, telling US officials during the 2006 war that the Lebanese army will “stay out of the way” if Israel attacked Hezbollah. The reports quoted him as saying that Hezbollah is scared of its Israeli enemy. However, Murr denied these reports, dismissing them as “inaccurate”.””  It is not “Lebanese press.”   It is Al-Akhbar, damn it.

Wikileaks and the English language press in Lebanon
It is not that the English language media are ignoring Wikileaks but in some cases they are just making things up.  In Daily Star, they don’t exist.  In Naharnet, they refer to a French refusal to freeze the work of the Hariri tribunal when in fact in one document Chirac’s adviser brings up the issue with US officials.  So they lie–but that is typical of Nahar media.  In NowHariri, they have a writer from the Foundation for the Defense of Likud in Israel state that the only scandal in the Wikileaks is that the US ignored advice from its Arab polygamous allies that Syria should be ignored and that the Palestinian issue should be disregarded.

Elias Murr
There should be one political priority in Lebanon: the call for the resignation and trial of Al-Murr: who seems to give advice to Israel on how to beat Hizbullah and win support from the Lebanese population.  This corrupt politician was first appointed to office by Syrian intelligence and seems to have stayed in office with the support of other services.  Today, he said that his words were “partial”.  I am sure. He said worst things that were redacted.

US spy planes over Lebanon (it is getting real crowded in Lebanese skies)
“American officials swept aside British protests about secret US spy flights taking place from the UK’s Cyprus airbase, the leaked diplomatic cables reveal.  Labour ministers said they feared making the UK an unwitting accomplice to torture, and were upset about rendition flights going on behind their backs.  The use of RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus for American U2 spy plane missions over Hezbollah locations in Lebanon – missions that have never been disclosed until now – prompted an acrimonious series of exchanges between British officials and the US embassy in London, according to the cables released by WikiLeaks.

US spy flights over Lebanon searched for ‘terrorists’ – cable
BEIRUT: The United States has been operating secret spy flights over Lebanese territory in a bid to locate “terrorists,” according to the latest batch of intercepted diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. Details of exchanges between American and British officials suggest that the US – aided by the advice of current US Ambassador Maura Connelly.

British objections to spying flights were dismissed
US planes on missions to spy on Hizbollah positions in Lebanon and over northern Turkey and Iraq were given permission to fly from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus despite a series of complaints by British officials to the US embassy in London.

UN Representative in Lebanon is worried that Israel may be too lenient
“Williams and his UNSCOL colleagues assessed that Israel handled carefully the release of crew and passengers aboard the MV Tali, the “Brotherhood” ship that attempted to break the Israeli blockade and deliver humanitarian goods to Gaza February 5. However, they worried that the Israeli government would not be as “lenient” in the future should similar incidents occur, based on the statements of their Israeli interlocutors. Williams feared continued such incidents could spark provocation in Lebanon. He also noted Israel’s message to the GOL that Israel would take retaliatory measures in Lebanon if Hizballah took any action, anywhere in the world to commemorate the death of Imad Mughniyeh. ”

Wiki cables suggest U.S. worked with Lebanon for Israeli attack on Hezbollah
BEIRUT, Lebanon U.S. officials collaborated with the Lebanese minister of defense to spy on and allow Israel to attack Hezbollah in the weeks that preceded a violent May 2008 military confrontation in Beirut that consolidated the Iranian-backed Shiite militant group’s power in the country, leaked diplomatic cables suggest.  According to classified U.S. State Department dispatches provided to news organs by WikiLeaks, the U.S. military flew planes over Lebanon in 2008 to identify Hezbollah positions and provide the information to friendly elements within the Lebanese government, specifically the Ministry of Defense.

Lebanon defense minister ‘offered invasion advice for Israel’
Elias Murr advised U.S. diplomats on how Israel could ‘clean out’ Hezbollah from southern Lebanon, WikiLeaks cable shows.

Lebanon at Stake: Turkey Must Reveal Its Cards, Ramzy Baroud
The timing of the Turkish Prime Minister’s two-day visit to Lebanon could not be more judicious. Lebanon’s enemies have been banging the drums of war louder than ever before. All the malevolent plans hatched following the assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri are about to converge for one formidable goal: to destabilize and weaken Lebanon, disarm Hezbollah and allow Israel to return, uncontested, and wreck havoc on the tiny country, the way it remorselessly did in 1982.

All Eyes on Lebanon, RANNIE AMIRI
While the world’s eyes are busy reading WikiLeaks cables, Middle Eastern eyes are focused squarely on Lebanon.  If the past week of frenzied diplomacy is any reflection of the region’s anxiety over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s (STL) upcoming indictment in the February 2005 assassination of the late premier Rafiq al-Hariri, imagine the mood in Beirut.  The Lebanese daily Ad-Diyar reported the country’s foreign ministry had received word via its ambassador to the Netherlands, Zaidan as-Saghir, that the STL’s verdict would be issued Dec. 2. Al-Manar TV said Dec. 4 or 5. Others say not until March. The date may be uncertain, but an imminent ruling is not.

Thursday: 8 Iraqis Killed, 18 Wounded
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the U.S. drawdown is making it harder for the U.N. to carry out it’s own operations. Meanwhile, the U.S. military is troubled by the porous Iranian border and lack of functioning security there, which allows for weapons and fighters to stream in. At least eight Iraqis were killed and 18 more were wounded in the latest violence.

Pilgrims killed in Iraq bus crash
At least 15 people, mostly Iranians, died after two buses collided near Najaf, an important holy site for Shia Muslims.

Iraqi Interior Minister condemned for demanding execution of al-Qai’da suspects
Jawad al-Bolani paraded the 39 men before journalists, handcuffed and clad in orange jumpsuits and called for their swift execution.  Amnesty International today strongly condemned a call by the Iraqi Interior Minister for the swift execution of 39 alleged al-Qai’da members as they were paraded before journalists, handcuffed and clad in orange jumpsuits. “For Jawad al-Bolani to abuse his position as Interior minister by parading these men publicly and calling for their execution before they have even gone to trial, flagrantly flaunting the requirement for defendants to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court, is absolutely outrageous,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Analysts: Cables between Sunnis, U.S. diplomats might push Iraq closer to Iran
BAGHDAD – Private conversations between Sunni Arab leaders in the Middle East and U.S. diplomats, leaked in confidential State Department documents this week, may push Iraq’s future Shiite-led government closer to Iran, analysts said.

Hundreds of Christian families on the move in Iraq
Hundreds of Iraqi Christians families have fled their hometowns in search for security.  Anti-Christian violence has escalated recently with several cities turning into bloody scenes in which innocent Christians have been killed or injured.  The attacks have in the past few days targeted Christian property with several houses blown up in both Baghdad and Mosul.  The fleeing Christians leave behind homes, furniture, jobs, professions, careers as well churches and monasteries some of which are more than 1000 years old.  The government has promised to help but the aid is peanuts. It offers every fleeing family 500,000 Iraqi dinars (about $400). The sum can hardly cover one-month rent in the relatively quiet Kurdish north, for instance.

Iraq PM calls on football fans to stop celebratory gunfire (AFP)
AFP – Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Thursday called for Iraqi football fans to stop firing celebratory gunfire when the national team plays well, as the practice has already left one person dead.

U.S. and other world news
WikiLeaks DOWN: Website Goes Offline Again
Trying to access WikiLeaks? It’s down at the moment, with no indication yet why it’s offline.  WikiLeaks’ was booted from Amazon servers on Dec. 1, causing a brief outage, and it seems to be down again. It had migrated to Swedish servers, per the AP.  BNO News President Michael Van Poppel made the observation on Twitter about 10 minutes before Midnight Eastern Time in the U.S.

Alternative Wikileaks URL #FUJoe
Try http://wikileaks.ch/ which points to the numerical URL or http://mirror.wikileaks.info/. The subject of the twitter hashtag #FUJoe, introduced by others, is US Senator Joe Lieberman. See also Daniel Ellberg’s open letter to Amazon and the notice posted by Amazon Web Services explaining their decision. Antiwar.com are ending their association with Amazon.

US spokesman responds to spy claims
One of the hot potatoes in the WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables has been the revelation that the US state department ordered its staff to illegally obtain DNA from UN diplomats. One cable apparently instructs diplomatic staff to attempt to hack into people’s accounts at the UN. But PJ Crowley, the state department spokesman, tells Al Jazeera that the day-to-day activities of the US diplomats at the UN “were fully consistent with our values and our laws”.

Inside Story – Julian Assange and the ‘red notice’
The legal pressure on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks is mounting. We ask: How long can Julian Assange hide? And under what law can he be prosecuted?

Net closes on Assange: arrest by British police expected in days
Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, is expected to be arrested in the coming days after Swedish prosecutors filed a new warrant with British authorities.

Assange ‘facing death threats’
WikiLeaks founder takes part in question and answer session for UK newspaper as pressure mounts over Swedish warrant.

Lawyer: Sweden investigating Assange for sex without condom
A lawyer who recently represented Julian Assange says the Swedish sex assault investigation into the WikiLeaks founder is based on claims he didn’t use condoms during sex with two Swedish women.  James D. Catlin, a lawyer in Melbourne, Australia, says in an article published Thursday that Sweden’s justice system is destined to become “the laughingstock of the world” for investigating rape charges in two cases where women complained that Assange had had sex with them without using a condom.

This is how the New York Times tried to discredit Manning: shameful paper
“In August, the newspaper reported Manning’s relationship with “a self-described drag queen” and said that as a teenager “classmates made fun of him for being a geek . . . [and] for being gay.”

Cable: Abu Ghraib photos inspired hundreds of Saudis to jihad
The Bush administration’s torture program was a beacon for Islamic extremists seeking to recruit fellow fighters in the war against America and its allies, a leaked diplomatic cable has shown.

Cable reveals US behind airstrike that killed 21 children in Yemen
A diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks shows that the US military covered up the killing of dozens of civilians during a cruise missile strike in south Yemen in December 2009. The secret cable from January 2010 corroborated images released earlier this year by Amnesty International, implicating the US in the use of cluster bombs.

US diplomats took marching orders from CIA on UN spying
US officials continue to insist that its diplomats to the United Nations are not intelligence assets and do not engage in any form of spying.

CIA drew up ‘spy list’
A wish list of information that the US State Department was asked to find out about on Ban Ki-moon, the general secretary of the United Nations, and was described as a “spy’s shopping list” was drawn up by the CIA, it was claimed. Information demanded by the list included data such as credit card numbers.

At War: Wikileaks Fallout in Pakistan
The disclosures by WikiLeaks that top Pakistani army and civil officials had been extensively meeting with American diplomats shook the country.

Wikileaks and the El-Masri case: Innocent CIA Torture Victim More Than Just a Leaked Cable
El-Masri’s futile efforts at receiving justice in the U.S. are well-known, but cables recently leaked by Wikileaks reveal that the U.S. also warned German authorities not to allow a local investigation into his kidnapping.

WikiLeaks cable portrays IAEA chief as ‘in US court’ on Iran nuclear program
Iran could use the WikiLeaks revelation as another reason not to cooperate with the West on its nuclear program.

US’ best friends in the Middle East (from the Economist)

Nigeria to Charge Dick Cheney in Pipeline Bribery Case
Nigeria will file charges against former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and officials from five foreign companies including Halliburton Co. over a $180 million bribery scandal, a prosecutor at the anti-graft agency said.

Afghan president: NATO killed ex-local official
President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that coalition forces killed an innocent former local government official in southern Afghanistan, but NATO insisted the man was shot after threatening the troops with a grenade.

US soldier admits to sport killing of Afghan civilians
Staff Sergeant Robert Stevens, 25, an Army medic from the State of Oregon, was only sentenced to nine months in prison on Wednesday for killing Afghan civilians, after pleading guilty.

Afghan officials free top Taliban fighters
Afghan security forces are freeing captured senior Taliban for payment or political motives, with President Hamid Karzai and his powerful brother among those authorising and requesting releases.

Patrick Cockburn: What Afghans will do to get friends out of jail
Almost any method from straight bribery to family, political, or tribal influence is likely to be used.

Voters prevented from entering the polling place
Mubarak regime decides who can vote

Qatar wins right to host 2022 World Cup finals
Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup after Fifa, the world football governing body, announced in Zurich today that they have beaten bid rivals Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, confirmed the small Middle Eastern country’s successful bid following a vote by the governing body’s 22-man executive committee today. Qatar beat bids from Australia, the United States and 2004 World Cup co-hosts Japan and South Korea. The Fifa executive committees’ decision comes as a slight surprise after the US and Australia bids had been highly-fancied. Al Jazeera’s Nick Clark reports on the desert city’s plan to deliver a dream – a World Cup in 12 years time.

Qatar nutmegs Obama, John V. Whitbeck
One may fairly conclude that Barack Obama’s over-hyped alleged efforts to “reach out” to the Arab and Muslim worlds ended yesterday when he responded, with a breathtaking lack of grace, to Qatar’s defeat of the United States (as well as Australia, Japan and South Korea) in the competition to stage the 2022 World Cup by branding the decision by the FIFA executive committee a “bad decision”. 
It is not as though the vote was close. In the first round of voting, Qatar received 11 of the 22 votes (one short of the required absolute majority) … and the United States received three votes (one presumably cast by the American member).


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