‘Blackwashing’ and the Israel lobby

ActivismIsrael/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
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Ethnic Cleansing / Land Theft & Destruction / Apartheid

Israeli settlement waste ‘poisoning Palestinians’
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Sewage from Israeli settlements near Salfit in the northern West Bank is flowing into nearby Palestinian communities and causing serious disease, a health ministry official said Tuesday. Speaking at an environmental conference in Salfit, the head of Salfit’s ministry of health office said the situation had become “intolerable” for communities affected by disease from the sewage, including cases of cholera.

Israel Legalises Settlement Outpost in West Bank
Shvut Rachel, one of the oldest and largest settler outposts in the West Bank, was recently legalised by Israel. This move was strongly criticised by both Palestinian and Israeli activists ahead of talks scheduled for Monday between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and American President Barack Obama.

Report: Israel to dissect W. Bank with rail network reaching 1948 occupied land
The land research center said the IOA plans to annex vast tracts of Palestinian land in the West Bank to construct a railroad extending from its West Bank settlements to the 1948 occupied territory.

IOA planning to turn Islamic museum into synagogue
The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) is planning to turn an Islamic museum adjacent to the Aqsa mosque in occupied Jerusalem into a Jewish synagogue.

Buildup of Israeli forces, new surveillance cameras
A heavy buildup of Israeli armed forces has been reported in recent days throughout Silwan, particularly at the entrances to its neighborhoods. A number of new surveillance cameras have also been set up near Silwan Club, adjacent to the Israeli settlement in Ras al-Amoud district. The settlement has been attempting to take over the nearby Palestinian family home of Jadallah, in what is viewed by residents as moves to expand the reaches of the settlement apparatus in Ras al-Amoud. 

West Bank Becoming “Settler State”
Last week, one of the West Bank’s oldest and largest settler outposts, Shvut Rachel, received legal status from the Israeli government. Under Israeli law, outposts – unlike settlements – have no legal status and are illegally built. According to Shvut Rachel’s acting mayor, Yaakov Moshe Levi, the Israeli government provided retroactive legal approval to Shvut Rachel’s 115 apartments and authorized the building of 500 more. Shvut Rachel was founded in 1991. According to the Associated Press, 95 families currently live in Shvut Rachel. The move was condemned by both Israelis and Palestinians.

The highway robbery of Palestinians in Area C
Akiva Eldar – Haaretz – Israel is responsible for all civil affairs in Area C, and to develop infrastructure for all residents – around 300,000 Jewish residents and 150,000 Palestinians. Here is an example of how this equality is carried out in practice.

Violence & Aggression

Medics: Blast kills 2 children near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Two children were killed Tuesday as a mortar left by Israeli forces exploded near Hebron, medics and police said. Hamza Zayed Jaradat, 12, and Zayed Juma Jaradat, 12, were killed in the blast in Wadi Reem, east of Hebron in the southern West Bank, medics told Ma’an. Hebron police chief Ramadan Awad said the boys were killed when an old Israeli mortar exploded. Natheer Juma Jaradat, 16, and, Yasser Muhammad Jaradat, 19 and Hisham Zayed Jaradat were injured in the explosion and taken to Hebron Governmental Hospital. The group had been playing in a field filled with scrap metal in the nearby village of Sier, Awad said. The Israeli military was investigating the report, a spokesman said.

IOF soldiers assault citizens in Jordan Valley for collecting wild plant
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) attacked a group of Palestinians while harvesting a favorite wild plant in the Jordan Valley on Monday.

Israeli policemen break into mosque in occupied Jerusalem
Israeli occupation police forces and intelligence officers broke into the Mohammed Al-Fateh mosque in Ras Al-Amod suburb in occupied Jerusalem on Monday evening.

B’Tselem: Suspicion: Soldiers attacked Akram Hanatsheh in the village of a-Tabaqa, south-west of Hebron, on February 3, 2012
Akram Hanatsheh, 19, from the village of a-Tabaqa south-west of Hebron complained to B’Tselem that he was severely beaten by Israeli soldiers and attacked by an army dog. According to his testimony, on Friday afternoon, February 3, 2012, Hanatsheh, left his home in order to collect his car from a garage near the village. As he was walking near the village cemetery, he came across a clash between village youth and soldiers. The youth were throwing rocks at the soldiers, who reacted by firing riot control weapons at them. In his testimony to B’Tselem, Hanatsheh stated that he attempted to leave the area, but an army dog chased him, bit his arm and wouldn’t let go. Then, with the dog’s teeth still in his arm, some soldiers came over to him. Hanatsheh recounted that two soldiers held him down and another began punching and kicking him. At that point, a resident of the village alerted Akram Hanatsheh’s father and he arrived at the scene within minutes. In his testimony to B’Tselem, the father described what he saw.

Head of Israel’s anti-settlement Peace Now reports death threats
The head of Israel’s prominent anti-settlement group Peace Now filed a police complaint on Tuesday after an anonymous caller left a message on his phone apparently threatening to kill him.

Hana Shalabi & Other Hunger Strike News

Palestinian woman Hana Shalabi has been on hunger strike since 16 February 2012 in protest against her detention without charge or trial by the Israeli authorities. They have not yet responded to her lawyer’s request to transfer her to a hospital for medical treatment, even though she is said to be increasingly weak.


20 Days On, Hana Shalabi is Still Steadfast
Photos by Dylan Collins and Silvia Boarini   Hana Shalabi is on her 20th day of a hunger strike, protesting against the grossly unfair practice of administrative detention through which Israel holds Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial.


Hana al-Shalabi’s health worsens after 19 days hunger strike against no-charge detention by Israel, Ali Abunimah
Amnesty International has expressed concern over the worsening health of Hana al-Shalabi, a Palestinian woman who has been on hunger strike since 16 February against her detention without charge or trial by Israeli occupation authorities.

Four administrative detainees join Shalabi’s hunger strike
Four Palestinians held in Israeli administrative custody have joined the hunger strike that was started by detainee Hana’a Shalabi 18 days ago, the prisoners’ studies center said in a statement.

‘Support Al-Shalabi on Intl. Women’s Day’
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and various other groups have called for this year’s International Women’s Day to be declared a day of solidarity with imprisoned Palestinian activist Hana Al-Shalabi. 

Other Detainee & Prisoner News

IOF soldiers round up 13 Palestinians in West Bank
Israeli occupation forces rounded up 13 Palestinians in various West Bank areas on Tuesday in line with its routine arrests of Palestinian civilians alleging they were planning resistance attacks.

Soldiers detain 20 across West Bank
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained 20 people across the West Bank on Monday night, locals and security officials said. Seven people were detained in the southern city of Hebron in the evening, after they clashed with troops in the Johar mountain area. Locals named six of those detained as Munjed Yaraqan, Muhammad Al-Rajabi, Rafiq Az-Zarou, Wahid and Farid Abu Qweider and Munjed Al-Rajabi.

Report: Forces seize 2 near Nablus settlement
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Israeli troops detained two Palestinians carrying knives near an Israeli settlement in the northern West Bank on Monday, Israeli media reported. The pair, from Balata refugee camp in Nablus, fled from Elon Moreh settlement to Palestinian village Azmut, but were turned over to forces, Israeli news site Ynet reported.

Report: “Army Kidnaps Palestinians For Training Purposes”
The International Solidarity Institution for Human Rights reported that Israeli soldiers have been recently invading Palestinians area, breaking into homes at night and kidnapping Palestinian youths, in order to train new army recruits.


Israel extends administrative detention of MP Abu Tir
An Israeli military court on Monday renewed the administrative detention of Palestinian lawmaker Mohamed Abu Tir, who was exiled by force from his native city Jerusalem to Ramallah city.


IOA renews administrative detention of PLC secretary MP Ramahi
The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has renewed the administrative detention of Dr. Mahmoud Al-Ramahi, secretary of the Palestinian legislative council (PLC).

IOA blackouts prisoners’ cells in Ofer
The Israeli administration of Ofer jail shut down power at the Palestinian prisoners’ rooms on Saturday despite the freezing weather.



Thousands of workers to lose their jobs due to power outage
The general syndicate of workshop owners in Gaza Strip has warned that thousands of workers would lose their jobs in the event the electricity crisis persisted in the enclave.


Oxfam: Over 300 Gaza families affected by storm flooding
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — More than 300 families were affected by flood damage in the Gaza Strip last week, an international aid group said Tuesday. Severe storms and heavy rainfall destroyed the homes of seven families and 15 families were evacuated in northern Gaza town Beit Lahiya, Oxfam said. Several families refused to move into temporary housing for fear their homes would not be repaired if they vacated, the aid group added. Gaza authorities have set up telephone line for families in need of help.

Solidarity / Activism / BDS

Introducing Bil’in: The ritual of resistance and oppression
Today we went to Bil’in, a small village 17 km from Ramallah. For decades it has been harassed by the Israeli army. When the Apartheid Wall was constructed, it separated the farmers from their land. Seven years ago, the villagers succeeded in moving the wall a bit towards the settlements again and gained back a few meters of the land where their great grandparents already lived. Every Friday after that, there where demonstrations organized. For my friend and I, this was our  first demonstration in the West Bank. Luckily we had a bit of an idea about what to expect because the others told us about the situation. When we arrived in Bil’in we gathered together with the villagers and went together to the place where the demonstration was held. One of the villagers we met there had been already arrested 3 times. Still that doesn’t stop him for going on with fighting for his land and his people.

Young activist disrupts AIPAC panel about ‘Israel on Campus’,  Adam Horowitz
Liza Behrendt, 22 year old member of Young Jewish and Proud, the youth wing of Jewish Voice for Peace, stood up during a breakout session called “The Struggle to Secure Israel on Campus” to call attention to the silencing of Palestinians— and young Jews who support them — on U.S. campuses.  Liza stood on stage and unfurled a banner that read, “Settlements Betray Jewish Values” and “Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof,” the Jewish text from Deuteronomy meaning “Justice, Justice, You Shall Pursue.”

Protesters disrupt conference of Israeli lobby group in Washington DC
The annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, held this weekend in Washington DC, was attended by US President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who both pledged unwavering support for the state of Israel. But the conference also faced a large group of protesters who gathered both outside and inside the conference itself to challenge US aid to Israel.

Washington, D.C.–Iran, Iran, Iran. Tensions between Israel and Iran over Iranian nuclear energy is dominating this year’s AIPAC conference. President Barack Obama’s speech yesterday to the annual conference was mostly devoted to Iran, and “announced no new initiatives” on the Israel/Palestine front, as Inter Press Service’s Mitchell Plitnick reports. Similarly, as we reported, Jeffrey Goldberg spent 45 minutes interviewing Obama, and not one of the questions were about Palestine.

Report Denounces Weapons to Israel as AIPAC Assembles
Washington, DC (Monday, March 5) — As members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) prepare to lobby tomorrow on Capitol Hill for more U.S. weapons for Israel, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation will launch its first policy paper, which calls for the United States to end military aid to Israel. The report release comes after President Barack Obama stated yesterday at AIPAC’s policy conference that “Despite a tough budget environment, our security assistance [to Israel] has increased every single year.”

Why won’t the ADL trust Jewish students and community media?, Ali Abunimah
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) loudly condemned Israeli Apartheid Week events, and last weekend’s One State Conference at Harvard. With its latest smears, it is trying to conceal the fact that its fearmongering is failing to intimidate students, including Jewish students who attended and participated with open minds.

Maradona: `I am the number one fan of the Palestinian people`
NET2 News – “I am the number one fan of the Palestinian people. I respect them and sympathize with them. They need that we all stand by them,” said embattled Argentine superstar Diego Maradona in Dubai, where he coaches the al-Wasl football team. “I grew up on struggle and standing against injustice” he said.

Knesset to consider parliamentary committee to investigate activities of Arab members
Israel’s Hebrew-language Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said yesterday that the country’s parliament, the Knesset, is to look into an unprecedented proposal submitted by extreme right-wing parliamentarian Danny Danon. The Likud MK wants the Knesset to establish a parliamentary committee to investigate the activities of its elected members who belong to Arab parties because of what he claims are “extremist activities”. The move is also intended to investigate the overseas trips made by Arab MKs to neighbouring countries, as well as their various comments and the decisions of Israeli courts not to file complaints or indictments against them.
The Stream – ‘Blackwashing’ and the Israel lobby 
Are pro-Israel groups recruiting minority students to thwart human rights critics? In this episode of The Stream, we speak with journalist and author Max Blumenthal and Ben Shapiro, editor-at-large of Breitbart.com

Political Developments & Other News

Hamas rules out military support for Iran in any war with Israel
Senior figures say Gaza-based Islamic militants would not launch rockets into Israel at request of Tehran, a key sponsor. Hamas will not do Iran’s bidding in any war with Israel, according to senior figures within the militant Islamic group. “If there is a war between two powers, Hamas will not be part of such a war,” Salah Bardawil, a member of the organisation’s political bureau in Gaza City, told the Guardian. He denied the group would launch rockets into Israel at Tehran’s request in response to a strike on its nuclear sites. “Hamas is not part of military alliances in the region,” said Bardawil. “Our strategy is to defend our rights”

Gas pipeline explosion in Egypt
The main gas pipeline sending supplies from Egypt to Jordan and Israel is attacked, causing a large explosion, officials say.

Egypt tightens security in and around gas export facilities in Sinai
The Egyptian authorities have tightened security measures in and around gas export facilities in northern Sinai Peninsula to ward off future threats.

Hamas: Ending political arrests in W. Bank vital for the national reconciliation
Hamas said one of the most important steps for the success of the inter-Palestinian reconciliation is to end the political arrest of citizens carried out by its Fatah rival in the West Bank.

Peres says discussed Pollard pardon with Obama
Israeli president tells convicted spy’s wife he pleaded with American counterpart to free her husband; Netanyahu also expected to raise issue during White House meeting.

Analysis  / Op-ed

Debate: Attacking Iran, AIPAC, Israel-Palestine and Obama with Rashid Khalidi and Jonathan Tobin
President Obama addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Sunday, assuring the pro-Israel lobbying group he will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran and reiterating his unwavering support for Israel. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Obama at the White House today, we host a debate between Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University and Commentary magazine’s Jonathan Tobin. “It is true [Iran does not] have the weapon now, the question is are we going to wait until … they are one screwdriver away from doing it or not,” says Tobin. “[Iran’s] policy has been to forthrightly proclaim it wishes to destroy Israel — to wipe it off the map. Letting it have nuclear weapons is a threat to the entire region.” But Khalidi argues that war with Iran “would guarantee that no responsible Iranian leadership in the future would allow Iran to be without a nuclear weapon after it had been attacked in an unprovoked fashion either by the U.S. or Israel.” Khalidi adds, “It will be a disaster that would make Iraq and Afghanistan look like tea parties.” Tobin and Khalidi also debate the relationship between Iran and Syria.

The Hunger Strike Defeated the Secret Evidence: The Case of Khader Adnan
With a hunger strike lasting 66 days, Khader Adnan, a Palestinian baker from the village of Arabeh in the West Bank, successfully undermined the seemingly incontestable system of administrative detention in Israel and revealed the injustice of secret evidence. Administrative detention, a form of punishment in which a person can be detained on the basis of secret evidence and held in prison without charge, is based on three sources of law: Military Order No. 1591 Regarding Administrative Detention – 2007 that applies in the West Bank; the Emergency Powers (Detention) Law – 1979 that applies in Israel; and the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law – 2002. Most administrative detentions are imposed in accordance with Order No. 1591, which authorizes any military commander to incarcerate Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) for a period of six months, which can then be extended for additional periods of time by the military courts.

California congresswoman: ‘Some would call that apartheid’, Philip Weiss
People are talking about Linda Gradstein’s report at JTA on a delegation of six congresswomen brought to the occupied territories by J Street. Piece is notable for Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco) likening the prospective political situation in the territories to apartheid (it’s there already, if only reporters would say what they see…). And by a settler telling the politicians to forget about the two state solution. And by Rep Eddie Bernice Johnson saying the situation is a powder keg.

Audio: Ali Abunimah and Ilan Pappe keynote speeches at Harvard One State Conference, Ali Abunimah
On March 3 and 4 many speakers gave presentations and took part in discussions at the Harvard One State Conference. The two keynote speeches, by Ali Abunimah and Ilan Pappe, were captured by participants.

Movie Review: The Law in These Parts
To anyone with a history of the Israeli occupation of Palestinians, the mainstay concept that Israel so proudly applauds itself on being a democratic state is met with derision and refutations, especially to the Palestinians who are still living under the military system that has entered its 45th year. The Law in These Parts is an innovative award-winning film by Israel director Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, a momentous factual work of art that talks about a subject whose mechanisms are relatively esoteric to the general public. The documentary does not seek to explain the history of Israel’s ethnic cleansing and colonialism of the indigenous population of Palestine, but rather sheds an important and much needed light on the foundations of the Israeli military legal system that continues to govern the 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to this day.

UK university launches new Palestinian research center
The launch of a new Palestinian study center in London has raised hopes for greater academic cooperation on Palestinian issues. The Center for Palestine Studies (CPS), part of the London-based School of Oriental and African Studies’ Middle East Institute, aims to focus on Palestinian politics, history, economics, law, and culture, according to the news agency WAFA. “Though we are just starting, my plan is to expand cooperation on Palestine studies,” the CPS’ inaugural chair Gilbert Ashcar said. Though structurally unrelated to existing centers at the universities of Exeter in the UK and Columbia in the US, Ashcar said they hoped to work with other organizations. Ilan Pappe, chair of the University of Exeter’s European Center for Palestine Studies, spoke at the CPS’ launch. Ashcar said he had high hopes the new center would help bring justice for Palestine.

Palestinians taken aback by Obama embrace of Israel, but expect little in US election year
RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinians say they are disappointed in President Barack Obama but not surprised by his especially warm embrace of Israel in an election year., Still, his weekend speech to the powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC was perceived in the West Bank as unprecedented in its show of support for Israel. It raised eyebrows even among hardened skeptics who have lost faith in Washington’s ability to serve as an honest Mideast broker.

Israel, Democracy and the Arabs
The prolongation of the Arab-Israeli conflict is all about the illegal occupation, expropriation, colonization, and annexation of Arab territory by Israel. And beneath the armor of the Israeli military machine is the systematic exclusion of the Other — the Arabs. Jewish Israelis are xenophobic towards Arabs not so much because they fear them as an existential military threat, as Likud and Labour are prone to repeat, but rather because of the intrinsic demographic threat they present to the national identity of a Jewish State.  The Balfour Declaration helped create Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people; it did not stipulate a Jewish state. The exclusive nature of Israel’s national identity would consolidate over the decades with contradictory implications for representative democracy.

AIPAC Works for the 1 Percent
Chris Hedges – Truthdig – AIPAC does not speak for Jews or for Israel. It is a mouthpiece for right-wing ideologues, some of whom hold power in Israel and some of whom hold power in Washington, whose loyalty, in the end, is not to the citizens of Israel or Palestine or the United States but the corporate elites, the defense contractors, those who make war a business. [Text of the speech, March 3, at the Occupy AIPAC protest of CODEPINK Women for Peace and other groups.

A figure, heavy in a thick black coat, lies prostrate in the middle of a clean, spacious sidewalk in a busy modern city. The angle of view shows his sneaker-shod feet, rather than his face, and a paper coffee cup is placed carefully next to him. A pair of legs — visible only from the knees down — rushes past his unseen head.  This unsettling image, captured on a Toronto street, is part of Palestinian poet Katie Ramadan’s debut photographic exhibition, In A Different Light. It has opened in Nazareth, Ramadan’s home town, and is due to move to Akka (Acre) and East Jerusalem before heading to London. Ramadan is also hoping the exhibition will tour in Europe and North America over the coming year.

In recent days, pro-Israel blogs have been published articles accusing me (guess what) of being a Holocaust denier. This happened because in 2006 I participated in the Holocaust Cartoon Contest that had been set up by the House of Cartoon in Tehran. This contest was a response to the Prophet Mohammed cartoons that had been published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and was intended to test the Western limits of the freedom of speech. This new smear campaign was launched by Zionist bloggers due to some cartoons I had made for the activist group Code Pink for use in theOccupy AIPAC protests. It was intended to pressure the group into not using the artworks which were made by me, a so-called “Holocaust denier”.


Tear gas kills another Bahraini infant
Another Bahraini infant has died from asphyxia after inhaling poisonous tear gas fired by Saudi-backed regime forces in the capital, Manama.

Bahraini woman killed by tear gas
Bahraini opposition activists say a 78-year-old woman has been killed after inhaling tear gas fired by the Manama regime forces during a demonstration in a village near the capital, Press TV reports.

Saudi flexes Gulf grip with Bahrain ‘union’ plans
AP – During a sermon last week at Bahrain’s Grand Mosque, the pro-government prayer leader offered sweeping praise for one of the Arab Spring’s counter-revolutions: Gulf rulers bonding together against dissent with powerful Saudi Arabia as their main guardian.


Iran ‘to allow military site inspection’
Tehran agrees to allow nuclear inspectors to visit Parchin complex, Iranian media says, after IAEA cites new concerns.

Iran still selling oil to Spain
Iran is still selling crude oil to Spain, which imported some 15 percent of its crude from the Islamic republic before the European Union announced new sanctions, the Iranian ambassador to Madrid said on Tuesday. “Still we are selling oil to Spain now,” Morteza Saffari said on the sidelines of a news briefing. The EU banned all new contracts to import Iranian crude on January 23 to pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear program, which the Middle East country insists is for peaceful purposes.

Israeli state officials disappointed with Obama meeting
Senior officials claim US views Iranian issue in the context of 2012 election year; assert it’s now certain Washington will not strike Islamic Republic.

Republican Policies for Iran Differ Little From Obama’s
The Republican presidential candidates say President Obama has not done enough to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons, but it is not clear what they would do different.


Netanyahu: Nuclear-armed Iran must be stopped
Israeli prime minister says containment of Iran is not an option and warns world cannot wait much longer to take action.

President Barack Obama’s calibrated Aipac message, Jane Eisner
Ensuring the Aipac audience heard his strong support for Israel and firm policy on Iran, he adroitly minimised openings for critics. President Barack Obama was more than half way through his address Sunday before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) before he mentioned the issue of the hour: Iran. That may well be because public officials tend to leave the thorniest subjects to later in their speeches. But it struck me as an apt metaphor for American Jewish reaction to the president in this white-hot election year.

After meeting Obama, Netanyahu says world united over Iran
Following a three-hour meeting at the White House, Prime Minister Benajamin Netanyahu says Israel has managed to place Iran at top of global priority list.

Gulf jabs at Syrian regime also aimed at Iran
Around a gold-draped hall in Saudi Arabia, Gulf envoys listened to their host denounce the Syrian regime as an enemy of its people and the region. What they really heard were fresh salvos in the Arab Spring’s wider war: Saudi leaders and their Gulf partners hoping to deal crippling blows to Iran’s footholds in the Middle East. 
Obama assures Israeli PM of US support
Netanyahu tells US president at White House meeting his country reserves the right to act unilaterally against Iran.

Obama tells Netanyahu considering “all options” on Iran
US President Barack Obama and Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu held key talks on Monday about a potential attack on Iran, with each publicly seeking to stake out some common ground. Obama said he was considering “all options” against the Islamic Republic and encouraged Iran to reopen diplomatic channels. “Even as we continue on the diplomatic front, and we will continue to tighten pressure when it comes to sanctions, I reserve all options,” he said. “My policy here is not going to be one of containment, my policy is prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.” “However both the prime minister and I prefer to resolve this diplomatically,” he added. Netanyahu thanked Obama pledged to continue to support American interests in the Middle East but warned that Israel was willing to take action against Iran unilaterally, even without US backing.

Israel’s Iran Policy Doomed to Fail Whatever the Choice, Richard Silverstein
I was just reading Paul Pillar’s incisive essay in the Washington Monthly which puts the argument against war with Iran about as strongly as anyone can.  Pillar is a 28 year veteran of the CIA specializing in the Near East and South Asia, and currently is director of graduate studies at Georgetown.  The essay is so strong that even summarizing it would be a waste of time.  Just read it.


Al-Qaida kill 25 Iraqi police officers

Gang kidnap and execute two police commanders and then attack two checkpoints before hoisting al-Qaida flag in Haditha. A gang of gunmen wearing military-style uniforms has killed 25 police officers in a carefully planned early morning shooting spree in western Iraq, officials say. The killings began with the gang kidnapping two police commanders from their homes in the western Iraqi city of Haditha at around 2am on Monday. It ended with the gang raising the flag of al-Qaida at a police checkpoint in the latest bloody strike against Iraq’s security forces.

Saudi Arabia

Mossad Doing Business with Saudi Arabia: Stratfor Source
Stratfor emails released by WikiLeaks and obtained by Al-Akhbar claim that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad covertly assisted their Saudi counterparts with “intelligence collection and advice on Iran.” The emails, dated 2 May 2007, show discussions between Fred Burton, Stratfor’s vice-president of counter-terrorism, and analysts in regards to the alleged secret Saudi-Israeli intelligence alliance. The email exchange also shows that Stratfor execs considered pursuing their own business relationship with the Saudi monarchy or, as Burton called them, “sleezy arsehole ragheads.” Burton forwarded a short message to the general analyst email list which recounted HUMINT (human intelligence) on the alleged secret deal. The source claimed that Mossad offered covert assistance to the Saudis with “intelligence collection and advice on Iran.” The city of Nicosia in Cyprus was cited in the email “as a primary transit hub into Riyadh.” (doc-id 1227888)


Saudi man shot dead in Bangladesh
A Saudi Arabian diplomat has been shot dead in an upmarket district of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, police say.

Censorship Rife at Riyadh Book Fair
The International Book Fair in Riyadh, which kicked off Wednesday, appears to be surrounded by a wall of censorship from both the state and the Salafis, who waged a campaign to ban it. The absence of Syrian publishing houses was conspicuous this year after the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information banned them from the book fair in a typically political move.


Relief supplies delivered to Syria’s Homs
Red Cross aid reaches besieged city but not its worst-hit areas amid reports of shelling and violence across the nation.

SYRIA: Towards better coordination of aid response
CAIRO 05 March 2012 (IRIN) – Aid agencies should use Syrian civil society and the private sector to deliver medical and food aid to communities in need inside Syria, humanitarian agencies from the Arab and Muslim world said at an operational/technical meeting in Cairo on 4 March.

Senator John McCain called on Monday for the United States to lead airstrikes against Syria’s armed forces to protect the rebels and civilians there.

Chinese envoy to urge Syria ceasefire
China said today that it will send another envoy to Syria in a bid to convince President Bashar Assad’s regime of the need for a ceasefire, and to emphasise that it remains opposed to outside intervention.


“Bashar Assad rapes children”: BBC propaganda, Asad AbuKhalil
Propaganda against the Syrian regime is not confined to the Saudi and Qatari Arab media. Western media have largely suspended their journalistic missions and have become willing transmitters of the claims, lies, rumors, fabrications, hoaxes, exaggerations, and stories of the Ikhwan-dominated Syrian opposition. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (and there are two organizations by that name) is the most oft cited source in Western media and no one knows how they collect their numbers.

In Syria, al Jazeera’s Credibility Implodes
Over the last couple days the Syrian army has moved into the Baba Amr district of Homs. The action is Syria’s Tiananmen. The Western shorthand for Tiananmen is “authoritarian regime reveals its true monstrous face to the world and its own citizens by trampling on helpless pro-democracy demonstrators.” Maybe so, but in the Chinese official political lexicon Tianenmen was “a demonstration of state power against a dissident group meant to illustrate the absolute authority of the state and the utter marginalization of the protesters.”

1948 Palestinians Torn Over Syria
Haifa – None of the past year’s events in the Arab world has preoccupied 1948 Palestinians as much as the crisis in Syria – specifically, what will happen and what position to take. No other issue has been as divisive as this one. The debate over Syria begins with loaded questions. “Are you with the regime in Syria, or with the conspiracy against it?” ask the regime’s backers. Supporters of the revolution ask back: “Are you with the people or the regime? Do you support the massacres?” The dispute is far from abating and nobody has thus far conducted a survey to determine the proportion of “loyalists” and “opposition.” But Palestinians within the Green Line clearly do not stand united on the issue.

Containing Discontent in Syria One Year On

“One year ago, Damascus was busy. Now you hardly see people walking,” lamented my translator as we drove through the center of the Syrian capital during the weekend of the constitutional referendum. Traffic is not as bustling in Syria’s capital as it once was and less people frequent out. The revolt still evades central Damascus and life carries on as if Syria is not currently embroiled in a crisis that has taken center stage of world politics. But an air of fear and tension still existed. The army’s presence was overtly visible throughout the city. Checkpoints had been erected. Some of these had been built up with sandbags, while other were only made up of some plain clothes men carrying guns who waved down cars to check IDs and the contents of vehicles.


Obama administration to offer legal justification for targeted killings of Americans
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration on Monday plans to outline how U.S. laws empower the government to kill Americans overseas who engage in terrorism against their home country, a source familiar with the matter said, months after a drone strike killed a U.S.-born cleric who plotted attacks from Yemen. Civil liberties groups have been pressuring the administration to offer justification for what has been described as a top-secret “targeted kill” program in which Americans who have joined al Qaeda or other militants are deemed legitimate targets to be killed overseas.



One Response

  1. Bill in Maryland
    March 6, 2012, 2:56 pm

    The excellent Colorlines article on “blackwashing” by the Israel Lobby that Max Blumenthal cited can be found here.

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