As 100s of other prisoners begin hunger strike,Thaer Halahla, 7 weeks without food, vomits blood

ActivismIsrael/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
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and other developments from the occupation:

Attack on Danish Activist / Suppression of Bike Tour

Religious cover to attack peace activists: Rabbis: Officer reacted to highly unusual circumstances
Prominent rabbis rally to aid of officer who assaulted foreign activist; slam military’s ‘rash decision’ to suspend him.,7340,L-4216577,00.html

Military support for violent attacker: Soldiers to IDF chief: Officer who beat activist ‘ethical’
Soldiers, officers who served under Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner ask that army take his ‘many achievements’ into account when disciplining him over beating of Danish pro-Palestinian activist.,7340,L-4216964,00.html

Israeli soldier suspended for gun-butt attack
Footage posted online showed officer striking pro-Palestinian activist in face during West Bank cycling rally.

The Lede Blog: Israel’s Anger at Foreign ‘Provocateurs’ Boils Over
Viral video of a senior Israeli Army officer striking a Danish man in the face with a rifle n the West Bank has drawn attention to an increasingly acrimonious struggle between the government of Israel and European rights activists who travel to the region.

There are never uproars for beaten Palestinians: Israeli beating of activist causes uproar
A senior Israeli military officer’s seemingly unprovoked assault against an unarmed pro-Palestinian activist drew sharp condemnations Monday, raising questions in Israel over whether the country’s heavy-handed approach to nonviolent protesters was exaggerated and causing damage to Israel’s image.

Activist beaten by IDF officer: Claim protesters were violent is ‘a complete lie’
Speaking with Haaretz, Danish national Andreas Ias says IDF’s claim that protesters were violent are untrue; President Peres ‘shocked’ by the incident, while the officer in question has been suspended.

Video: Senior IDF officer smashes peaceful activist in the face with his M-16, Henry Norr
Even Netanyahu has to pretend this is too much: Haaretz reports that the Israeli Prime Minister issued a statement condemning a senior IDF officer caught on video smashing a peaceful protester in the face with his rifle. Here’s the video of the commander, identified by Haaretz as Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner, and his men taking on the most recent existential threat to Israel. If you’re short on time, just watch the first 15 seconds.

Video: Soldiers assault cycling group in Jordan Valley
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces assaulted a group of cyclists who were participating in a West Bank tour on Saturday, official news agency Wafa reported. Footage appeared on Youtube which showed an Israeli commander hitting an international participant with the butt of his rifle, in an unprovoked attack. Israeli forces can be seen physically assaulting cyclists in the video.

Palestinians and internationals attacked during biking trip in Jordan Valley
Palestinian and international cyclists were brutally attacked by the Israeli occupation forces on Saturday as they attempted to bike up Route 90, the main North-South highway running through the Jordan Valley. The cyclists were demonstrating against Israeli apartheid policies in the Jordan Valley, which limit Palestinian access to roadways as part of an ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Bedouin communities of the Valley.

Israeli Soldiers Break Up Cycling Tour near Jericho. Apr. 14,2012

Israeli military shuts down youth bike tour in the Jordan Valley citing ‘security threat’, Alaa Milbes 
On Saturday, a group of Palestinians and internationals went to the Jordan Valley in what they hoped would be a fun-filled day with an event organized by Sharek Youth Forum. As we began riding, we noticed several settler cars heading back from what we assumed was a camping trip. A few minutes later, Israel army jeeps arrived to block the road. The crime? RIDING BIKES IN THE JORDAN VALLEY!

Hunger Striking Detainees

Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails to go on hunger strike
Around 1,600 prisoners expected to take part in protest against imprisonment without charge and solitary confinement. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are expected to embark on hunger strikes this week to draw attention to imprisonment without charge and solitary confinement. They will build on a protest that has resulted in deals to release two inmates who refused food for prolonged periods. At least 11 prisoners are already on hunger strike, three of whom have been transferred to hospital. One began refusing fluids last week, increasing concern about the rate of deterioration of his health.

Hunger striker Halahla vomits blood
Hunger striker in Israeli occupation jails Thaer Halahla has started to vomit blood after 49 days of hunger strike, his father told Quds Press on Sunday.

Health of hunger strikers sharply worsens
A human rights group has held the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) responsible for the life of two hunger strikers whose health condition had sharply deteriorated.

Jordanian prisoners join hunger strike
Oldest serving Jordanian prisoners in Israeli jails have announced they would join the Palestinian prisoners hunger strike scheduled to start on Tuesday.

Ethnic Cleansing / Land Theft & Destruction / Restriction of Movement

Army must evacuate the new settlement point in Hebron’s Old City

On 4 April 2012 the security services evacuated the new settlement and sealed the entrances. Since then, the army has placed a guard on the building. On 12 March 2012, dozens of settlers took over the third floor of a three-story building in the Old City of Hebron, some 100 meters south of the Cave of the Patriarchs in the Israeli-controlled H2 area. The Israeli army declared the area around the building a closed military zone and blocked off the courtyard in front of the building with roadblocks. In addition, the army did not allow anyone to visit the home of the al-Jabber family, Palestinians who live on the second floor, but permitted access to the building for settlers and their visitors. On 2 April 2012, the army issued an evacuation order instructing the settlers to leave by the next day.

Word and Picture Diary: South Hebron Hills Weekly Visit, April 5 2012, Assaf Oron
From the hill where the Umm al Kheir preschool is located, the young children can see the present and future prospects arranged for them by the Israeli Occupation regime. Heavy equipment is busy developing and expanding the new neighborhood at the nearby Jewish settlement Karmel (Carmel) – a development doubtlessly paid for by the Israeli and American taxpayer. Together with an additional neighborhood planned to emerge soon, the settlement will eventually surround the dwellings in this part of Umm al Kheir from three directions (north, west and south). This stranglehold is an integral part of the Occupation’s policy. The “Civil Administration”, that regime’s arm supposedly entrusted with providing services to Palestinians, has issued demolition orders on nearly all structures belonging to the Bedouin families living in this part of Umm Al Kheir – including outhouses, sheds etc. Many of these orders have already been carried out. We have written extensively here, both about Umm Al Kheir’s demolitions and about the vicious, discriminatory and fraudulent nature of the “Civil Administration” itself. Well-known literary translator and humanist Ilana Hammerman wrote a feature article about Umm Al Kheir and Karmel, with interviews of both Bedouin and settlers. The article was published a few months ago in Ha’aretz.

Israeli forces destroy Hebron structures, settlers erect tent
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Monday demolished irrigation pools and terracing walls, leveling agricultural lands in the southern West Bank, residents told Ma’an. Settlers also erected a tent near an illegal settlement south of Hebron, which locals fear is the first step to a new outpost in the area. Dura resident Kamal Amr told Ma’an Israeli forces bulldozed a field of 2,000 square meters planted with broad beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and cauliflowers. The land belongs to Talab Abdul-Majid Amr and his brothers Abdul-Aziz, Hasan and Hussein, he said.

Testimony: ISA prevents young man with rare disease from traveling to East Jerusalem for treatment
I live with my parents and my ten brothers and sisters in an apartment in the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. In 2002 my hands began to swell. The swelling spread throughout my body, including my head. Discolorations began appearing on my face and body. With my father, I visited a neurologist who did some tests and referred me to a dermatologist. The dermatologist also did some tests and explained that this was not a skin problem. Subsequently we visited a different neurologist for more tests. The doctor explained that my problem was not neurological but an internal medicine problem. We went to the chief of internal medicine at a-Shifaa Hospital, who tested me and said that this illness was from God and nothing can be done. I didn’t believe that, so we went to numerous other hospitals and all kinds of other specialists but none of them could tell us what disease I had.

Law that deprives Lebanon’s children of their nationality
Ghada Kaakani glances over with a smile as her husband recounts their first meeting in a Lebanese mountain village more than 40 years ago. Bassam Al Hidiq was a Palestinian refugee in his twenties. His family settled in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon after fleeing their home in Acre when Israel was created in 1948. After what Mr Al Hidiq described simply as a “love story”, they married and went on to have four children. Both say they were unaware of the challenges they would face as a family where the wife is Lebanese married to a foreign man. “We were naive,” says Mr Al Hidiq, now 67, as his wife nods in agreement, interjecting: “We didn’t think of the practical things.”

Siege of Gaza

‘Gazans suffer worst lack of medicine’
Hamas Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra says patients in the blockaded Gaza Strip are suffering from the worst shortage of medicines since 2006, Press TV reports.

Gaza Industrial Sector Savaged By The Fuel Crisis
GAZA (, agencies)– Where the Israeli siege could not completely destroy the Gaza industrial sector, the recent fuel crisis almost succeeded. The combined consequences over the last month have devastated the industrial sector, with over 1500 producers closing down production, and some 700 remaining on reduced hours. The two biggest export sectors in Gaza industry prior to the imposition of the Israeli siege five years ago were textiles and furniture, the textile sector alone employing more than 29,000 workers. These sectors exported to Israel, which then marketed the products in Europe and North America.

Under siege and suspense, the youth of Gaza perform
Last week was the culmination of the Edward Said National Conservatory’s annual Palestinian music competition. The program was broadcasted live from Ramallah and included performances from some of the Arab worlds’ finest musicians. Awards were given to the top three musicians of each instrumental category and the top singers Beginning on March 16th, the competition brought judges from all over the world to Jerusalem to evaluate students from all over Palestine. Each day a different instrument was focused on: piano, guitar, trumpet, woodwinds, strings, voice, kanoun, oud, and flute. Students performed in both Western and Eastern classical music. This is an account from March 22nd, the day of the piano competition, of students from Gaza who participated in the competition.

Human Rights Violations / Violence & Aggression / Rape / Raids

B’Tselem’s 2011 annual report on human rights in the Occupied Territories
There was a sharp increase in the number of uninvolved Palestinians killed by the Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip in 2011. There was also an increase in the number of Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians, compared to 2010. The casualty figures appear in the annual report of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, published today (Wed. 21.3.2012). Note: The data does not include recent events in the Gaza Strip. The annual report surveys the broad spectrum of issues regarding the Israeli authorities’ human rights record in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the past year, the 44th year of the Israeli occupation. An interactive version of the report is available online and distributed through social media.

Soldiers Suspected of Lengthy Abuse of Palestinian from Hebron
On Sunday morning, 11 March 2012, Ishaq Maharmeh and his son Muhammad were at home in the Old City of Hebron. According to testimony given to B’Tselem, at about 11:00 AM they heard noises from the direction of their roof and then saw several soldiers standing there. They went up to the roof and the soldiers asked them if they had thrown stones. Ishaq Maharmeh, 50, a father of nine children, replied that they had not. He told them that they should not have come into the house from the roof, but should have used the front door instead. During the ensuing argument, one of the soldiers struck Ishaq in the head with his weapon.

Three Settler Attacks in Hebron District on Friday
Eight setters from Kiryat Arba attacked a Palestinian farmer and his son as they were working their fields. Israeli soldiers on the scene did nothing. The farmer was taken to the Hebron Hospital with injuries to his face and hands.

Injured inmate in Israeli jail claims he was raped, denied treatment
Ramallah Othman Ebrahim Assad Younus, a Palestinian prisoner serving four life sentences in Jalboue Prison in Israel says he was raped by two of his jailors while in solitary confinement. Younus has yet to receive any treatment for injuries he sustained after being arrested by Israeli Special Forces. His family said he needs braces for his legs and arms and he needs psychological therapy following his brutal experience. In 1993, Younus became involved in the armed resistance against Israel after his father was killed when an Israeli colonist ran him over with his car, along with his sister and pregnant niece. 

Other Detainees / Political Arrests

IOF soldiers arrest 7 Palestinians
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested seven Palestinian citizens in various West Bank areas at dawn Sunday, Israeli press said.

Israeli military court sentences Palestinian journalist
The Israeli military court in Ofer passed a four-month imprisonment term against Suhaib Al-Asa, 26, along with 3000 shekels fine.


Zoabi: “Israel Violates Freedoms At A Global Level”
Arab member of Knesset, Hanin Zoabi, stated that Israeli pressures and threats against nonviolent solidarity activists, the Welcome To Palestine campaign, in addition to the German and British cancellation of airline tickets that belong to several activists due to Israeli pressure, are clear indications that Israel considers itself above the law, and gives itself the right to violate international freedoms.

470 Of Passengers Marked As Activists, Had Nothing To Do With “Welcome To Palestine”
Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that 470 of the 1200 persons that Israel labeled as “pro-Palestinian”, part of the Welcome To Palestinian Flytilla, were not activists, two of them were a French diplomat and his wife.

Israel blocks entry of 80 foreign solidarity activists
The Israeli authorities blocked the entry of 80 foreign solidarity activists, who were supposed to visit the West Bank in solidarity with the Palestinian people, on Monday.

JERUSALEM (IPS) – As 60 percent of the international activists set to land at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday had their plane tickets cancelled, organizers of the Welcome to Palestine “fly-in” campaign condemned what they say is European complicity in Israel’s illegal restrictions on their right to travel freely. “It’s a sign of capitulation and obedience to illegal orders from the Israeli government since European regulations state that people have the right to travel,” Nicolas Shahshahani, an organizer with a French delegation of approximately 500 persons originally planning to arrive in Tel Aviv on Sunday, 15 April, said.

Pro-Palestinian ‘fly-in’ activist: Israel and Europe treated us like terrorists
Two protesters, of French and Italian citizenship, succeed in making it past Israeli security and into Bethlehem; 43 activists denied entry into Israel at Ben-Gurion Airport.

Israel dismisses ‘flytilla’ protest, pointing to human rights abuses in Syria, Iran
Israel denied entry and deported several dozen pro-Palestinian activists who flew into Tel Aviv’s airport on Sunday, arguing they are missing the bigger regional issues.

Hundreds stopped from leaving Europe for Israel
Major airlines including Air France, Lufthansa, and Swiss Air are being criticised for refusing to let pro-Palestinian activists board flights to Israel. Al Jazeera’s Simon McGregor-Wood reports.

Flytilla participants protest cancellation of tickets by airlines
Israel bans ‘flytilla’ activists but hundreds left in Europe … Israel on Sunday barred 43 pro-Palestinian activists who had flown in for a “Welcome to Palestine” campaign as hundreds more would-be protesters were stranded at airports across Europe.

Sights that the ‘flytilla’ activists weren’t allowed to see, Akiva Eldar
To distance certain sights from the eyes of the world, the Israeli government has turned its international airport into a military outpost. 

Barhoum: Arrest of foreign activists reflects Israeli crisis
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, has described as shameful the Israeli authorities’ arrest of foreign activists on their arrival at Ben Gurion airport.

Welcome to Palestine, report from Bethlehem
Bethlehem, 15 April 2012 – Hundreds of the expected 1500 activist joining the Welcome to Palestine initiative today were stopped before boarding in the European airports. At least 43 were refused entry upon arrival at the Tel Aviv airport. The latest news reported four international and nine further arrests among the Israeli activists waiting at the Arrival Terminal of Ben Gurion Airport. A dozen did manage to pass the passport control and arrived in Bethlehem, were the few were expected by the coordinators of the initiative, at a Press Conference at the Peace Center.

Second year of hysterical Israeli reaction to Welcome to Palestine

The Israeli government has responded with laughable hysteria for the second year in a row to the Welcome to Palestine Initiative, in which hundreds of international activists openly declare their intention to visit Palestine when landing in Tel Aviv.

Exclusive: ‘Political contract’ required to enter Israel?
Dimi Reider – +972 – A Swedish tourist trying to enter Israel was made to sign a “contract” promising she won’t get in touch with “pro-Palestinian” organisations, and acknowledging she’ll get deported if she “gets caught doing even one of these things.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister’s Office released a letter that will be handed to deported Flytilla activists: Go to Syria.

Israel Criminalizes Travel, Stephen Lendman
Israel systematically wages war on rule of law principles, truth, equity, justice, and other democratic values. Even Jews aren’t safe. Anyone challenging Netanyahu’s regime and earlier ones becomes vulnerable. Travelers beware. Israel criminalized entry earlier. Rogue officials are at it again. At issue are so-called “flytilla” activists. Reports suggest about 1,500 planned West Bank trips. Their purpose is peacefully challenging Israel’s illegal occupation and bonding with Palestinians they support.

BDS / Activism / Solidarity 

Thousands rally ahead of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day
Thousands of Palestinians rallied in the West Bank village of Arraba on Monday, on the eve of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.

OTTAWA — An Israeli politician appears to have contravened a controversial law in his home country by calling on Canadians to boycott companies and products linked to Israeli towns built in the West Bank and other occupied Palestinian territory. Ahmad Tibi, an Arab-Israeli who is also deputy speaker of Israel’s parliament, said he does not know what penalty he will face for breaking the Boycott Law, which came into force in July and allows a civil suit against those who encourage such a boycott.

Palestinians Ban Sale of Israeli Produce
Authorities say move is aimed at protecting Palestinian potato growers. The Palestinian Authority (PA) started to block the sale of Israeli potatoes as part of a new policy to support local farmers and remove foreign produce in the marketplace, agriculture officials told The Media Line. “We are doing this to protect the farmers because they can’t sell their potatoes due to the cheaper ones the Israelis are unloading on us,” said Zakaria Salawdeh, a deputy director of the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry, saying that the ban wasn’t directed against Israel for political reasons.

CNN Interviews Author Frank Romano During Global March to Jerusalem
(SALEM) – Upon being sent this video clip by a dear friend of, Dr. Frank Romano in Palestine, I had to write back and say to Frank, “I always hate watching my friends get shot at over there” and I only wish it were the first time. There is a common theme, these friends never back up; they always either hold their ground or advance against the hostile Israeli forces. In this case, the weapon used by Israeli Defence Forces against the unarmed demonstrators appears to be a tear gas canister.

Beautiful Resistance
I arrived on my first trip to Ramallah well prepared. The checkpoints; the separation wall; the crumbling, half-constructed buildings; the fatigue-clad and heavily armed kids checking IDs; the freshly paved settler roads; the ever-expanding Jewish settlements rising from hilltops laying siege to Palestinian villages below—I’d seen it all before in books, articles, on YouTube, though now it was real, tangible, elbowing my heart, burning my eyes.


Major Bay Area arts org worked closely with Israeli consul general to counter protests, Philip Weiss
Here is a fascinating look inside the front lines of the Israel lobby. According to leaked emails, a major Bay Area arts organization worked behind the scenes with the Israeli consulate and the Jewish Federation to counter protests of Israeli films over the last two years. The emails involve Frameline, a 35-year-old LGBT film festival that has become an institution in the Bay Area. Frameline has often shown Israeli films, and accepted sponsorship from the Israeli Consulate–and as a result it has faced boycott calls and protests in recent years.The emails show that at a time when Frameline’s executive director K.C. Price was telling the press he was “nonpartisan,” he was urging Israeli consul general Akiva Tor as well as officials at the Jewish Federation to take action against the protests.Price was also trying to get the Municipal Transportation Agency to censor ads critical of the festival. And he was sharing his thoughts about which Israeli movies he was planning to screen, with an Israel lobbyist– months before those film decisions were announced.

Israeli Racism

A lack of vision is making Israel a short-term state 

Last week I joined the pilgrims to Hebron on Passover eve. In the bus, one of them, using a derogatory term for Arabs, said loudly: “All the Arabushim should be sent to the stone crushers straight from the hospital, as soon as they’re born.” The whole bus roared with laughter. Some passengers muttered at us, a reporter and a photographer, the only secular people on the bus: “Collaborators, there are collaborators on the bus.” Nobody protested, naturally.

Interior Minister: Israel must deport illegal immigrants, even if it costs money
According to Eli Yishai, foreigners’ attempts to breach the borders will increase in the months to come.

Political Developments / Other News

Russians draw parallels between Syria and Gaza
Staffers present at Washington diplomatic meeting say Russians justified support for Assad by citing US support for Israel. Russian diplomats in Washington, trying to justify Moscow’s support of Syrian President Bashar Assad to Senate staffers earlier this month, compared what Assad is doing in Syria to Israel’s policies in Gaza. According to information from staffers who were at the meeting, the central theme of the briefing – aimed at giving an overview of Russia’s Syrian policy – was that there was no reason for Moscow to stop supporting Assad because both the government and the opposition had committed “crimes.” The Russian diplomats, dispatched to Capitol Hill for the meeting by the Russian embassy in Washington, said it was preferential to keeping Assad in power – with the “necessary adjustments” – because that would be better for regional stability. When the US staffers pushed back against the Russian argument, the Russian diplomats – according to participants in the meeting – replied that the US had no right complaining against Moscow’s support for Assad. Washington supported Israel, they said, which takes similar actions against the Palestinians in Gaza. Israeli Foreign Ministry officials declined to comment on the matter Monday.

Israel TV programme suggests need to investigate Algeria’s “nuclear weapons”
Reports in Algeria claim that Israeli television has suggested the need to investigate the North African state’s “nuclear weapons”. In a programme entitled, “Are Algerians making nuclear weapons?” produced by Matti Zohar, the political analyst apparently shed light on Algeria’s nuclear capability and its impact on the region’s stability.  According to daily newspaper Al Shorouk, Zohar stressed that Algeria has been working on developing a secret nuclear project since 1996, with assistance from China and Argentina. Following the end of agreements with the South Americans, Algeria allegedly signed a nuclear cooperation treaty with South Africa in 2010, with a view to develop a third nuclear reactor with a capacity of 100 megawatts.

Palestinians to deliver Netanyahu ultimatum on talks
(Reuters) – The Palestinian prime minister plans to use a rare meeting set for Tuesday with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu to deliver a letter detailing Palestinian grievances on stalled peace talks.

Palestinian Authority has lost its ‘raison d’etre,’ Abbas to tell Netanyahu
Israel’s actions have stripped the Palestinian Authority (PA) of its “raison d’etre” creating a reality which cannot continue, Mahmoud Abbas will say in a letter to Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

PA takes its marching orders from the GCC: Senior PA official: Iran is provoking region
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The secretary-general of the Palestinian Authority on Monday accused Iran of provoking regional strife by violating the sovereignty of the UAE. Tayyeb Abdul Rahim condemned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent visit to Abu Musa, one of three Gulf islands claimed by both the UAE and Iran. The PA rejects Iranian threats to the Gulf states “as we reject the Israeli occupation and resist it,” the secretary-general said in a statement. He said Ahmadinejad’s visit was intended to create problems in the Palestinian arena, in the Gulf areas and in general across the Arab world.

Hamas delivered thousands of dollars to prisoners released in Shalit swap, Israel police charges
Palestinian man charged over deliveries; believed to be part of wider web of couriers.

Controversial film series on British-controlled Palestine comes to Tel Aviv
British director Peter Kosminsky’s ‘The Promise’ comes to the Tel Aviv Cinemateque, where its inaccurate portrayal of Israel is sure to offend.

Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard returns to prison in U.S.
President Peres sent a letter to U.S. President Obama last week urging him to consider granting clemency to Pollard based on his ill-health last week; the U.S. rejected the appeal.

Analysis / Op-ed

Does Israel Interfere in US Elections?
Israel’s ambassador to the US, former American citizen Michael Oren, (at right) trotted out a classic Zionist strategy when he sent a letter to the New York Times denying that Israel is “interfering” in the American presidential campaign. Oren’s letter was reported in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz on April 12, under the headline: “Israeli ambassador to New York Times: Netanyahu does not interfere in U.S. elections” This Ha’aretz headline was followed by a sub headline, stating: Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador in Washington, submits letter to the editor to NYT, complaining about  an article detailing the close relationship between Netanyahu and likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The problem with Oren’s attack is that the Times story did not use the term “interfering”.

Something of Palestine Emerges, Naira Antoun
Each year, for the two weeks of the London Palestine Film Festival, there are a bunch of people whose social life for that fortnight becomes the festival. Others dip in and out, while still others see a Palestinian film or a film about Palestine perhaps for the first time. Each year the program is rich and eclectic, ranging from animations to documentaries to features, from conventional to experimental. Here I consider six films out of the more than fifty works to be screened at the 2012 festival. Each deserves its own review and singular exploration. But seeing a variety of films as part of a festival, a viewer makes different connections; viewing a number of films on Palestine together, different aspects, moods, and feelings of what Palestine is emerges.

The Miracle, and Christian Presence in the Holy Land, Maria C. Khoury
In the last few years during Great Lent, I have developed a pattern of promoting our Christian presence in the Holy Land with a book tour (using the book Christina Goes to the Holy Land) and returning to Palestine for Holy Week, to wait for the most marvelous miracle that is at the core of our Christian presence in the Holy Land: The Miracle of the Holy Fire. I have failed to do a book tour this year so I do not want to fail to be a witness for this magnificent miracle that everyone always asks me about and appeared for the first time during the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Free Speech vs. Israel, Mahmoud El-Yousseph 
On April 4, 2012, an 84-year-old German writer and Nobel literature prizewinner Gunter Grass published the poem: ‘What Must Be Said’ (‘Was gesagt werden muss’) in several European newspapers. In this poem Grass expressed concern that an Israeli military strike against Iran could ‘wipe out people of Iran’. In response, Israel declared him persona non grata. Not welcome to Israel.

Ba‘athism began as a conscious attempt to supercede the sectarian and regional divisions which plague the Arab world. That’s why many of its early ideologues were Christians or members of other minority groups. The Ba‘athist slogan umma arabiya wahida zat risala khalida – One Arab Nation Bearing an Eternal Message – employing the word for ‘nation’ which previously designated the international Muslim community, and the word for ‘message’ previously associated with the Prophet Muhammad’s divine message – suggests that this variety of Arabism actually intended to supercede religion itself, or to become a new religion.


Bahrain: Reforms risk appearing hollow as violations continue

The Bahraini government’s response to the findings of an international commission of inquiry has proved inadequate as human rights violations continue, Amnesty International said in a new report on Tuesday. The 58-page Flawed Reforms: Bahrain fails to achieve justice for protesters reveals that piecemeal reforms have failed to provide justice for victims of human rights violations, despite the government’s insistence that it will learn from the events of February and March 2011.  ”With the world’s eyes on Bahrain as it prepares to host the Grand Prix, no-one should be under any illusions that the country’s human rights crisis is over,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition Calls for Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja to be released to Denmark on humanitarian grounds
Isis International has endorsed the following letter of the Women Human Rights Defenders calling for the immediate release of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a well-known and highly respected human rights defender who has been a strong and peaceful advocate for the rights of women in Bahrain and throughout the Middle East; and the letter of Nazra for Feminist Studies, Egypt also calling for his release and for the Government of Bahrain to respect the human rights of his daughters, Maryam Al-Khawaja and Zainab Al-Khaw

Mohammed Abdul-Aziz, 15, was shot in the chest by security forces who fired at mourners of the martyr Ahmed Ismail on Friday 13th , April 2012. Security forces have widely used shotgun-internationally prohibited weapon- during the last few days in many areas of Bahrain, which resulted in a number of injuries amongst protesters. The pellets from the shotgun have pierced into different parts of Mohammed’s body but mainly his chest which sustained severe injury. His situation is very critical. He was taken to Salmaniya hospital where he received initial treatment. The doctor in Salmaniya recommended that he be transferred to Bahrain Defense hospital where he can be admitted for operation, but security forces refused under the pretext that there are no orders of such. He was later taken to intensive care unit.

American human rights activists arrested in Bahrain
The Bahraini police briefly detained two American human rights activists Sunday along with about 20 Bahraini citizens who were protesting ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix Formula One race scheduled for next weekend. Human Rights Watch Washington Director Tom Malinowski and Nadim Houry, the deputy director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa division, were picked up along with the Bahrainis when police raided a demonstration, HRW’s Joe Stork confirmed to The Cable Sunday evening. They were treated fine and were all released, including the Bahrainis, Stork said. The Americans arrived in Bahrain Saturday night to observe the protests surrounding the Grand Prix and to document the government’s response.

NSW parliament backs Bahrain uprising
The NSW Parliament passed a motion on April 4 in support of pro-democracy protests in Bahrain. The motion condemned the Bahrain government’s repression of protesters, attacks on doctors, killing of 60 protesters by security forces, destruction of 40 Shi’a mosques, expulsion of journalists, and widespread use of torture. Bahraini democracy supporters ― including a doctor abducted for treating pro-democracy protesters and a former opposition MP ― were present for the vote. A forum organised by the Bahrain Australian Youth Movement was held in the parliament’s theatrette later the same day. Doctor Nabeel Ali gave a moving account of going from health worker to tortured prisoner. “When the protests began we received patients flooding the hospital with gun wounds, with horrendous injuries we had never seen before,” Ali said. “We did our duty, the doctors tried to save several patients, unfortunately some we could not.

Bahraini activists climb embassy wall
Two Bahraini activists on hunger strike have climbed up the walls of Bahrain Embassy in London to demand the release of jailed opposition leaders.

Bahrain arrests protest leaders as Grand Prix nears
Bahraini forces are arresting protest leaders across the country and detaining them without charge in a bid to prevent disruption at the Formula One Grand Prix next weekend, senior human rights activists have said.

Bahrain activists set off Grand Prix protests
Hundreds march after opposition bloc calls for week of protests to coincide with racing event in Manama.

Bahrain Grand Prix: Keeping Eyes on the Track
The 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix, set for April 20-22, is branded under the slogan “Unif1ed: One Nation in Celebration” in an attempt to portray this sporting event as part of a national reconciliation process. However, the racing event has inescapably become part of a divisive, growing struggle between pro- and anti-government forces over the future of the tiny island nation since the onset of the Bahraini uprising.

Bahrain Grand Prix: Formula One demeans itself with this event
The kingdom of Bahrain is a repressive regime that has jailed and killed citizens who campaign for the reform of its monarchy. In Shia villages in the minority Sunni-led state, which was propped up by last year’s intervention by Saudi troops, protests continue daily. Only last week, Shia villages were attacked by supporters of the regime with knives and sticks. And while it is true that the country’s ruling family commissioned a critical report into the violence of last year, it is also a fact that despite promising reform the regime has reneged on most of its promises while the perpetrators of abuses in its security services have gone largely unpunished.

Crown prince wants Bahrain to emerge F1 winner
Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa said on Monday he wants Bahrain to emerge the victor of its controversial Formula One Grand Prix which is to go ahead despite opposition protests.

Bahraini forces raid homes in Sitra
Saudi-backed Bahraini security forces have raided the houses of anti-regime protesters in the northeastern town of Sitra, making dozens of arrests, Press TV reports.

The Crackdown in Bahrain
Double standards have notoriously marked Britain and America’s response to the Arab Spring. But nowhere is the hypocrisy more glaring than in their reactions to the uprisings in Bahrain and Syria, where both countries’ governments have used the full might of their security forces to crush peaceful protests and jail and torture their opponents. When it comes to Syria, Barack Obama and David Cameron express shock at the government’s repression and are voluble in their demands for regime change. Until recently, military intervention was not being ruled out. Contrast this with the words of President Obama’s spokesman after clashes between protesters and security forces in Bahrain last week. The best he could do was a purportedly even-handed condemnation of violence “directed against police and government institutions” and “excessive force and indiscriminate use of tear gas against protesters” by the Bahrain security forces. Imagine what an uproar there would be if the White House had said the same about Libya or Syria.


Egypt parties meet military over constitution
Head of military council meets with 17 political parties and groups as 10 candidates are barred from presidential poll.

Egypt’s presidential front-runners appeal ban
Three of Egypt’s main presidential candidates have filed appeals after the election commission barred them from running in a shakeup of an already tumultuous race and political transition.

Egypt’s ad hoc transition plan
Leading Egyptian presidential candidates have been tossed out of the race, distrust of Egypt’s military rulers is rising, and the timeline for writing a new constitution has been tossed out the window.

Egypt’s military takes bigger role in constitution
Egypt’s ruling military has inserted a new element of confusion even as Egypt tries to sort out turmoil surrounding its upcoming presidential elections. The generals now insist a new constitution be written before a new president is seated, a rushed timeframe that some fear may prolong their hold on power.

In Egypt, the poor make a living off subsidized propane
In Cairo, crowds wait to fill cylinders with subsidized cooking gas, which they sell on the black market. The earnings help them scrape by amid rising prices.,0,2861768.story

Omar Suleiman: Up and Down, Asad AbuKhalil
The candidacy of Omar Suleiman was destined not to last for long. His very name evokes calls for trial and even execution. Comrade Hossam el-Hamalawy has been calling for the execution of Suleiman almost daily on his Twitter account. Some Egyptians offered a Hebrew version of his name, as Amir Shlomo Suleiman is seen by the Egyptian and Arab public as a mere agent of Israel and its interests in the region.

Of course Omar Suleiman’s office is entirely black
This photo, which ran with David Kirkpatrick’s story on Suleiman in the NYT, had the caption “Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s former intelligence chief, in his Cairo office.” So Omar Suleiman paints his office walls black. What else!? And is that shiny bit behind him the hyperbaric chamber he sleeps in? And on the right side, the mini-fridge where he keeps body parts and truth serums. Also confirms that really powerful people do not use computers. Kind of disappointed that there’s no picture of Hosni there. Where’s the love, Omar Pasha?

The Myth of Egypt’s Liberal Constitution
In the years leading up to January 2011, Egypt’s past often appeared as an admonishment to the present. While their invocations of history assumed many forms, critics of the Mubarak regime became particularly enthralled with the so-called “liberal era” that followed the revolution of 1919. Secularist liberals saw the interwar decades as a golden age of political freedom, religious tolerance and cultural efflorescence. Political conservatives reinvented the Egyptian monarchy as a model of strong leadership not marred by the moral decrepitude and corruption of Mubarak’s presidency. And even some Islamist groups recognized these years as their own moment of emergence before Nasser’s brutal crackdown. It is thanks in no small part to these rosy depictions that various political actors have in recent weeks pointed to the 1923 Constitution as a possible source of guidance for the current drafting process.

Paradoxes of “Religious Freedom” in Egypt
The place of religion in the political order is arguably the most contentious issue in post-Mubarak Egypt. With Islamist-oriented parties controlling over 70 percent of seats in the new People’s Assembly and the constitution-writing process about to begin, liberals and leftists are apprehensive about the implications for Egyptian law and society, including the rights of Egypt’s millions of Coptic Christians.


Salehi: Iran Won’t Give Up Its Right to Enrich Uranium
Salehi noted that the West has come to realize that Iran will continue its activities irrespective of the extent of pressures exerted on that country.

U.S. rules out easing Iran sanctions
WASHINGTON — The United States on Monday ruled out Iran’s call for a lifting of sanctions, saying that the Islamic republic must first address concerns over its nuclear program in “concrete” ways. Iran held talks with major powers on Sunday for the first time in 15 months. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi later said that the entire dispute could be quickly resolved if the West shows goodwill by easing sanctions. “No one’s talking about any sanctions being reversed or canceled at all,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in response.

Iran says nuclear dispute can be solved ‘quickly’
Iran is ready to resolve all of its nuclear disputes “quickly and easily” in a second round of talks with world powers planned for next month in Baghdad, the country’s foreign minister said Monday.

Obama says more Iran sanctions coming if talks drag
CARTAGENA, Colombia (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said there would be more sanctions imposed on Iran if there is no breakthrough in nuclear talks with global powers in the coming months, responding to Israeli accusations that Tehran has been given a “freebie.” At a news conference in Cartagena, Colombia, where he was attending the Summit of the Americas, Obama said negotiations between Iran and six world powers that resumed on Saturday would not stretch on indefinitely and would require Iran to act. “We’re going to keep on seeing if we make progress.

Iran summons Saudi envoy over jail treatment
Iran’s foreign ministry on Monday summoned the Saudi ambassador to protest over Riyadh’s treatment of Iranian nationals jailed in the kingdom, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Israeli Minister Meridor Concedes Iran’s Leaders Have Never Called for Israel’s Destruction, Richard Silverstein
In an Al Jazeera interview, one of the more moderate ministers in the current government, Dan Meridor, conceded that a notorious phrase widely attributed to Iran’s leaders including Pres. Ahmadinejad, that Iran would wipe Israel from the map, is false.  Though Meridor, a senior cabinet member in the Netanyahu ruling coalition, believes that Iranian statements about Israel being a cancer in the region are equally distressing to Israel, he acknowledged that neither of Iran’s current leaders had ever called for destroying Israel.  That of course, didn’t prevent him from lapsing back into precisely the same claim not once, but twice later in the interview.  It seems that some tropes are so engraved in a nation’s consciousness that a politician can intellectually know they are false, publicly admit it, and then contradict himself.

Abu Musa
Why on earth would Ahmadinejad visit the island of Abu Musa? What is he trying to prove?  Also, the UAE foreign minister, `Abdullah bin Zayid, responded to the visit by saying that it was a breach of UAE sovereignty.  Sovereignty? You speak of sovereignty?  When the Mossad sent a team of 20 or so terrorists to Dubai to kill an unarmed Hamas figure, was that declared to be a violation of UAE sovereignty?  Westerners have been running your government since even before the UAE was founded and you have not noticed.

Gulf nations to meet over Iran island dispute
UAE summons Iranian ambassador over Ahmadinejad’s visit to Abu Musa, with Gulf states set to discuss sovereignty row.

VIDEO: University ban for Iran protesters
Iran’s minister for science, research and technology says those students who demonstrated after the disputed presidential elections in 2009 are not allowed to get university educations.

P5 +1 Iran nuclear talks went swimmingly! Netanyahu is fuming, Annie Robbins 
Diplomats met in Istanbul on Saturday for the first formal negotiation in over a year between Iran and P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, England, France, Germany, and the UK).  After 10 hours of intensive negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, it appears the outcome is being hailed favorably by all parties; “the most positive atmosphere in nearly a decade” ending with an agreement for diplomats to prepare “concrete proposals for resolving the impasse“.

A Chance for Peace With Iran, Justin Raimondo
With the price of gasoline rising, and President Barack Obama’s reelection prospects sinking, delaying a showdown with Iran and ratcheting down regional tensions has become a political necessity for this administration. The question is: can the Israel lobby scuttle revived negotiations?


Gunmen kill four Shi’ite farmers in Baghdad attack
(Reuters) – Gunmen killed four Shi’ite farmers in the northern outskirts of Baghdad on Monday, police and hospital sources said, in the latest attack to highlight underlying sectarian and ethnic tensions in Iraq. Violence in Iraq has declined since the height of sectarian conflict in 2006-07, but bombings and shootings still take place on a daily basis. Most attacks are blamed on Sunni Arab insurgents who have refused to lay down arms after the withdrawal of U.S. forces in December.

Iraqiya Seeks Confidence Withdrawal for Maliki
The Iraqiya bloc announced that it is seeking to form a national “consensus” to oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from office. Meanwhile, at least 19 Iraqis were killed and 13 more were wounded.

Divided Iraq hosts first post-Saddam arms fair
Iraq is hosting its first arms fair, replete with warplanes, tanks, missiles and telecommunications gear, since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein which saw the US completely dismantle the country’s military. Iraq is still rebuilding its security forces, which today they number some 900,000 people, including 650,000 employed by the interior ministry. The country is also internally divided, with sectarian violence ongoing and tensions between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan region at a high.


Israeli plane violates Lebanon airspace
An Israeli reconnaissance plane has entered Lebanese airspace in violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.

Lebanon’s March 8 Coalition: A Record of Setbacks and Failures
If supporters of the March 8 coalition, or of the resistance, were to look back at the years since 2005 and do a political appraisal of the stages which the struggle in Lebanon has gone through, the conclusion might shock them. The record of the political forces that are supposed to embrace the Lebanese resistance has been one of constant setbacks and failures.

Lebanon: US$40 Million Loan in Hands of Minister’s Wife
The corridors of the Lebanese Parliament recently witnessed discussions concerning a World Bank loan to the Ministry of Education that cannot be audited by the government. On 28 November 2011 the Council of Ministers referred a bill to the parliament allowing the government to conclude a US$40 billion agreement with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) to implement the Second Educational Development Project for Lebanon.

Lebanon’s Displaced Never Go Home Again
The war is over. The war is not over. The building was occupied. The building was evacuated. Did the residents return or did they just leave? Are the residents the original residents or do squatters with time become residents too? And where do squatters come from? They come out of nowhere and then they disappear.

Wanton Israeli attack led Shadid to rebuild his Lebanese grandparents’ home, Philip Weiss
A great piece about the late Anthony Shadid and his memoir, House of Stone, by Patricia Storace at The American Prospect. What is Oklahoma-born Shadid’s legacy? It is to intertwine American culture with Arab culture. It is explain our intimate connections with that world and to dignify that world, to show us the incredible richness and beauties of Arab culture. Shadid’s personal story, of commitment, free speech, bravery, honesty– it ennobles all of us by breaking down this clash of civilizations. Notice at the end of the Storace excerpt the limitations of journalism per Shadid; and he was right.

Lebanese Jews in New York: Longing for Home
As her brother drove her through the streets of downtown Beirut on a balmy January day, 76-year-old Suzette Sasson felt like a stranger in her own city. Captivated by the new places and unfamiliar faces, she failed to notice they had reached Wadi Abou Jamil, the neighborhood she had longed to return to for years. But when her brother stopped the car and pointed to a four-story building, Sasson was shaken out of her limbo. She stared, drowning in silence.


More than 11,100 killed in Syria in 13 months: NGO
More than 11,100 people have been killed in 13 months of unrest in Syria, including 55 since a UN-backed ceasefire took effect four days ago, a monitoring group said on Monday.

Syrians not allowed to visit for Umrah
Umrah performers from all over the world have started to arrive in Jeddah, but Syrian people are banned from doing Umrah this year due to the cancellation of all flights and bus trips, according to a member of the Haj and Umrah committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI).

6 U.N. observers arrive in Syria
The team is to begin monitoring a cease-fire Monday morning, but as of Sunday, violence continued in Homs and other areas.,0,4238013.story

Fierce clashes as observers begin work in Syria
Syrian forces were locked in fierce gunfights with rebels in one city and shelled another on Monday, hours after UN peacekeepers arrived to oversee a truce aimed at ending a year of bloodshed.

42 Syrians held over parliament demo: lawyer
A Syrian rights activist expressed alarm on Monday after the arrest of 42 protesters among 500 people holding a candle-lit vigil outside parliament last week to demand an end to killings.

Syrian FM ‘to visit China for peace plan talks’
Syria’s foreign minister will arrive in Beijing on Monday to brief Chinese officials about a United Nations-brokered ceasefire for the conflict-torn country, China’s state Xinhua news agency said.

Syrian activists to rebels: Give us our revolution back
Many of the activists who began the uprising in Syria more than a year ago feel their peaceful push for change has been hijacked by the rebel Free Syrian Army. They’re meeting in Cairo today.

Syrian activists hack Lebanese photography website
The website of a leading Lebanese photographers association was hacked by anti-Assad forces on Sunday night, with the site still down on Monday. The Lebanese Photojournalists’ Association’s website was taken down and replaced by a message from the hackers which read “this website was hacked for the Syrian revolution”

Temptingly close to home, Syria rebels pick outlaw life
NORTHERN SYRIA (Reuters) – Syrian rebels like Said and Ayman lurk in a shady pine grove just minutes from their village, but it has been months since they saw home. They are sticking to a cause that has battered everything but their resolve to battle on. Frontier fighters in the year-long revolt against President Bashar Assad are quietly securing posts on Syria’s border with Turkey, where they can pass supplies and also fight Syrian troops who get too close to home. Underfed and under-armed against a massive army, their biggest comfort — that home is so near — is also their main source of suffering.

Listening Post – Ali Ferzat: Breaking the barrier of fear
The Syrian cartoonist paid the price of mocking the government with satirical drawings, but he has not given up hope. Listening Post’s Richard Gizbert sat down with Ali Ferzat to discuss the power of political satire and the Syrian uprising.

Six Questions for Asli Bali and Aziz Rana, Chris Toensing
The world is closely — and, for the most part, skeptically — watching the progress of a ceasefire brokered by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Syria. More than 9,000 Syrians are dead since the start of the uprising against the regime headed by Bashar al-Asad. Amidst a general sense of despair over this grim situation, there are mounting calls for more robust outside intervention to aid the Syrian opposition in its quest to topple the regime. Such views are hardly a consensus, but neither are they marginal, as they once were. In the April 11 New York Times, law professors Asli Bali and Aziz Rana published a very different prescription for ameliorating the crisis, one based on direct political engagement with the regime. Below are their responses to my questions about their piece.

Other Mideast / World News

Jordan king orders release of jailed activists
Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Sunday ordered the release of 19 political activists charged with insulting him during pro-reform demonstrations last month, a palace official said.

Jordanian parliament moves to ban Muslim Brotherhood party
In a Lower House session, Jordanian lawmakers voted to add an item in the country’s draft political parties law forbidding the establishment of any political party on a ‘religious basis.’

‘For Saudi Arabia, Israel is turning from foe to friend’
“Saudi Defense Minister, Prince Salman, was the guest last week of his American counterpart Leon Panetta and, in an unusual step, was also hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama. On the agenda: Iran and the unrest in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia’s neighbor and the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, the American naval power in the Persian Gulf.The number 3 man in the Saudi ruling house could soon move to the top. He is young and healthy – everything is relative – compared to his half-brother, King Abdullah, 89, and Crown Prince Nayef, 79. The Americans have been working hard for many years to foster ties with the Saudi security forces. The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, headed from 2001 to 2003 a delegation of advisors to the Saudi National Guard. A thin veneer of stability purchased with oil money covers a well that threatens to swallow a thousand wealthy princes. In a population of 27 million people, 5.5 million do not have Saudi citizenship. The unemployment rate among young people in the kingdom is 30 percent and the literacy rate is only 80 percent.That is the background to the interesting message directed at Israel through an article published by a Saudi general in the American military magazine Joint Force Quarterly. Since a senior officer, a brigadier general in the royal family, does not pretend not to have the authority to reflect the conservative stand of the regime and does not publish for his own amusement statements and conclusions with diplomatic significance, it seems that Saudi Arabia is thus hesitatingly and conditionally courting Israel.

IOC to keep pressure on ‘no women’ Saudis
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge is pictured in 2011International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge said on Sunday he will keep up the pressure on Saudi Arabia, who have once again refused to send a women’s team to the Olympic Games.

Karzai: NATO intelligence failed to prevent Taliban attack
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said NATO’s intelligence had failed to spot the threat posed by the Taliban, after coordinated attacks by the insurgents in the capital Kabul left nearly 50 people dead on Sunday. Government forces regained control of the city on Monday after an 18-hour assault mounted by Taliban militants – some disguised as women in burqas – in the biggest attack on the capital in a decade of war.

Germany Koran Giveaway Worries Officials
There is nothing illegal about distributing a religious book in Germany — it is a frequent practice of Scientologists and Hare Krishnas — but officials are worried about who is doing the distributing.


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