Egypt and Israel, all is not well

ActivismIsrael/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
on 35 Comments

Egypt to boycott ‘pro-Israel’ Adidas kit manufacturer
Egypt Football Association (EFA) president Anwar Saleh has confirmed that Egypt will boycott the Adidas sportswear company to comply with the decision of the Arab Youth and Sports Ministers.
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/6/52/39674/Sports/National-Teams/Egypt-to-boycott-proIsrael-Adidas-kit-manufacturer.aspx

Sinai Bedouin factions demand Egypt amend peace accord with Israel
Demands come as Israel Counterterrorism Bureau calls on Israelis to leave Sinai, citing immediate threats.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/sinai-bedouin-factions-demand-egypt-amend-peace-accord-with-israel-1.425661?localLinksEnabled=false 

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Israel’s counter-terrorism bureau on Saturday warned all Israelis to leave Egypt’s Sinai peninsula immediately, citing imminent attacks by groups in the neighboring Gaza Strip, Israeli media reported.  ”Based on information in our possession, terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip are continuing to work energetically to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli targets on Sinai’s beaches in the immediate term,” Israeli daily Haaretz quoted a statement from the bureau saying.


Ethnic Cleansing / Land & Resource Theft / Refugees

Israel To Build New 217 Units In Jerusalem
The Civil Coalition for Palestinian Rights In Jerusalem reported that the Israeli government decided to expand the illegal Nof Zion settlement outpost in Jabal Al-Mokabber, in occupied East Jerusalem, buy approving the construction of additional 217 units.
http://www.imemc.org/article/63352

‘Strong men wanted to legally evacuate Arab squatters’, Allison Deger 
After months of harassment from settlers and the police, on Wednesday morning the police came and evicted the 14 members Natcheh family from their home, with all their belongings (we have a picture and a report on our ICAHD website). Several members of the family were arrested, but we don’t know why as yet. Rather than demolish the home, however, which is usually the case, the police escorted a group of settlers into the home, where they took possession. Aryeh King’s lawyer even made a statement to the press that its good that Jews are retaking their properties and announced plans to build 60 homes for Jews (only, of course), in the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina.

 
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Israel’s vice prime minister said Saturday that the government could fall apart if it follows through with plans to remove a neighborhood in Beit El settlement, Israeli daily Haaretz reported. ”We have said that we must not remove the neighborhood,” Moshe Yaalon was quoted as saying by Haaretz at a meeting in Beersheba. ”If that happens, the government will fall apart,” he added. 
 

Court Orders Removal Of Settlers From Hebron Home
The Israeli District Court ordered the removal of extremist Israeli settlers from a Palestinian home they illegally occupied several years ago in Tal Romedia neighborhood, in the occupied southern West Bank city of Hebron.

http://www.imemc.org/article/63350

 

EU in Jerusalem condemns eviction of Arab family
JERUSALEM – (AP) — The European Union has condemned an Israeli eviction of an Arab family ineast Jerusalem. Israeli police evicted a family from a home in the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina Wednesday. Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said the property belonged to Jewish owners. The European Union missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a joint statement Saturday announcing they “are deeply concerned by the plans to build a new settlement in the midst of this traditional Palestinian neighborhood.”

 

A new settlement in Beit Hanina
“There’s an Eviction in Beit Hanina” said a text message on my phone last Wednesday (18/4/12). I knew it could happen, already since February last year, when the Palestinians lost the court case, but I didn’t know when and whether the police would assist the settlers with evicting the Palestinian families from their homes. Later in the day, when I got to the place, the locksmith was putting a new lock on the door. Few Palestinians, women and children, were talking to the Jerusalem policemen watching their home being taken for the benefit of the Israeli settlers.

 
This is a photo of a little girl doing her homework. She is living in a tent in the Jordan Valley. Her home in El Hama was demolished a few weeks ago on March 26th. She is the daughter of Khabis Sawaftah. I first read about the demolition of the Sawaftah family’s home by way of Amira Hass’s article From Yamit to the Jordan Valley, the IDF continues to force Arabs from their homes.
 
SALFIT (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities bulldozed around 500 olives trees near Salfit on Friday afternoon, locals told Ma’an. Israeli authorities claimed the al-Daher area is state land, but Salfit residents Ahmad Theeb Alkam and Samir Al-Masri say they own the land.
 
The Jewish Agency, a quasi-official arm of the Israel government that encourages settlement in Palestine, and the Israeli government itself, are taking advantage of US and UK charity laws to raise tax-exempt donations specifically to place settlers in Syria’s occupied Golan Heights, all in violation of international law.
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israel-agency-raises-tax-exempt-us-uk-funds-put-settlers-occupied-golan-heights
 

Israel Using Oslo Accords to Steal West Bank Land, Stephen Lendman
In 1993, Edward Said minced no words denouncing the Oslo Accords and Declaration of Principles, explaining: ”the fashion-show vulgarities of the White House ceremony, the degrading spectacle of Yasser Arafat thanking everyone for the suspension of most of his people’s rights, and the fatuous solemnity of Bill Clinton’s performance, like a 20th century Roman emperor shepherding two vassal kings through rituals of reconciliation and obeisance, (and) the truly astonishing proportions of the Palestinian capitulation.”

 

Palestinian right of return or nothing
At the centre of the Palestinian question stands the question of refugees and not sovereignty,  and at the centre of a solution – return of the refugees.

http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/topics/opinion/4332-palestinian-right-of-return-or-nothing-.html
 
Siege on Gaza
 
Thousands are forced to seek emergency care in Egypt and Israel after Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip as healthcare system in crisis.
 
To accompany the fishermen of Gaza on their boats, as human shields to protect them, it provides not only an account of human rights violations by Israel, but also the feeling of what it means to live under siege in the Gaza Strip. Since January 2009 Israel has unilaterally imposed a travel limit of three miles inside the waters of Gaza, which , according to the Jericho Accords, should extend up to 20 nautical miles from the coast. A 3 miles limit is actually illegal.
 

Gaza: The march for prisoners within a prison
April 17th is Palestinain Prisoners Day.  All over Palestine demonstrations were held in solidarity with the approximately 5,000 prisoners still held in the occupations jails.  Bait Hanoun was no exception, this week the weekly demonstration against the occupation and the no go zones were in support of the prisoners.  The residents of the prison that is Gaza demonstrated in solidarity with the residents of the other Israeli prisons.

 
El-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) — A delegation of German medics will arrive in the Gaza Strip on Saturday to perform complex medical operations, a security official at the Rafah crossing from Egypt said. The 16 doctors will bring medical aid into Gaza and carry out operations in the blockaded coastal strip over several days, the official said.
 
There is not much to smile about when subjected to siege, impoverishment, and a daily dose of depressing realities. But smiles appear readily on the faces of the female employees of the “studio” next door to the Palestinian interior ministry headquarters in Gaza, which makes its living by taking photos and copying documents for people who need to get official paperwork done.

Israeli Terrorism / Raids / Violent Suppression of Peaceful Protest
 

Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened artillery fire at Beit Hanun town to the north of the Gaza Strip on Friday, local sources said.

 
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Five Palestinians were injured Sunday morning after their van collided with an Israeli military jeep near Hebron, medics said. One man was critically wounded and taken by ambulance to a hospital in Israel, Palestinian Red Crescent officials told Ma’an. Medics said four others suffered light to moderate injuries and were taken to Al-Mezan and Al-Ahli hospitals in Hebron. The men were traveling to work in the Israeli settlement Nahal Negohot, near the southern West Bank town Beit Awwa, at the time of the crash, Red Crescent officials said.
 
IOF soldiers fire teargas at schoolchildren
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) fired sound bombs and teargas canisters at schoolchildren in Yabad village, southwest of Jenin, while on their way back home from school on Thursday.

Israeli gunfire wounds Palestinian shepherd
An 18-year-old Palestinian shepherd was seriously wounded by Israeli gunfire in the northern West Bank, Palestinian security sources said on Friday. Yasser Kaabneh, 18, was tending his sheep north of Tubas in the Jordan Valley on Thursday night when he received a bullet wound to the chest, the sources said. It was unclear whether Israeli troops deliberately shot the shepherd. Indigenous Palestinians are routinely harassed in the occupied lands. Kaabneh was in serious condition and transported to a hospital in Nablus, they added.

Israeli settlers assault UN delegation in al-Khalil

Jewish settlers threw stones and rubbish on a number of foreign law professors, participating in a conference at al-Khalil University, while they were touring the old city.

 

Foreign activists hurt in IOF quelling of peaceful marches
Dozens of Palestinian and foreign activists were treated for breathing difficulty when Israeli occupation forces (IOF) fired tear gas canisters at them in West Bank villages on Friday.

 

IOF soldiers quell Beit Ummar weekly anti-wall march, wound 10
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) used brutal force to quell a peaceful weekly march organized by Beit Ummar village inhabitants on Saturday to protest the separation wall and the settlement activity.

 

IOF soldiers suppress peaceful march in Yatta, arrest five
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) violently quelled a peaceful march in Yatta village on Saturday in which foreign activists and locals were protesting blocking farmers from reaching their land.

 
Israeli terrorist embedded within the army in Nabi Saleh, Abir Kopty
Last Friday, the Israeli army adopted, for the first time in the village of Nabi saleh, the well known US military communication tactic of embedded journalism during its was on Iraq. This is probably another desperate attempt by the Israeli Hasbara, that is failing to keep dominating, distorting or hiding facts. Embedded foreign and Israeli journalists arrived with military jeeps to Nabi Saleh village’s weekly protest, including Hagai Segal, who was a member of the “Jewish Underground”, a terrorist organization that was active in the 1980s. Two Israeli activists, who attend the weekly protests of Nabi Saleh, recognized Segal and confirmed it was him.

http://abirkopty.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/israeli-terrorist-embedded-within-the-army-in-nabi-saleh/
 
Detainees / Political Arrests
 
In a quick and clean opperation, the Israeli Occupation Military managed to arrest 10 young men in two hours, forever altering  the next few months or even  the next years of their life in one swift swoop. At 2 AM on 18 April, around 200 soldiers entered the village of Burin, south of Nablus and dispersed into teams of 20-30. Soldiers then proceeded to enter the homes of ten families and took away who they wanted. There wer
 
NABLUS (Ma’an) — The Israeli army seized two Palestinian teenagers at an Israeli checkpoint near Nablus on Saturday, and said they were found in possession of weapons. The two 17-year-olds from Nablus’ Balata refugee camp arrived at Tappuah junction by taxi, and were apprehended by border police walking towards the checkpoint, an Israeli army spokesman said.
 

3 students arrested after violent clashes between students and occupation forces
Violent clashes broke out on Thursday in Beit Ummar town north of Al-Khalil when stones were thrown at settlers’ vehicles near the town and ended up with the abduction of three youths.

 

IOF soldiers arrest 5 Palestinians in Al-Khalil
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested five Palestinian citizens in Al-Khalil province on Friday night including two brothers, local sources said.

 
Hunger Strikes & Other Prisoner News
 

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners join the hunger strike
Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails of Megiddo and Hadarim are expected to join the hunger strike that started in other jails five days ago, the Tadamun foundation said on Saturday.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO%2bi1s7U9dg0UP1vVUZajvQi%2faYTmIzvRiag%2fBv7UgFpFY6HMAoP8MigbCxeMORagjGE7hRnvfxZ0Qr1h2MJ3zJj686mhcQ9AkDY6Tc8Ne%2bw3SKe%2bk%3d

 

Administrative detainee Zuhair Lubada suffering serious health deterioration
The family of the administrative detainee Zuhair Rashid Lubada asserted that his health has seriously deteriorated and was carried to a hospital in Tel Aviv.

PA pressures Fatah prisoners to not participate in the hunger strike
Sources from occupation prisons told PIC on Thursday that the PA in Ramallah pressured Fatah prisoners to not participate in the Hunger strike, which was launched three days ago.

 

Israeli jailors storm prison cells, confiscate prisoners’ belongings
Israeli jailors stormed the wards of Palestinian prisoners in Askalan and confiscated their belongings on the first day of their hunger strike, the Palestinian prisoners’ association said on Saturday.

 

Sawaf: Ramallah Festival disregards the prisoners’ suffering
Mustafa Sawaf, the undersecretary of Ministry of Culture in Gaza, condemned, in a press statement on Saturday, the dancing festivals in Ramallah that coincided with the Prisoners’ hunger strike.

 
BDS / Anti Palestinian / Anti Human Rights / Anti Solidarity / Pro Normalization
 
Pharaohs to boycott kit manufacturer Adidas due to company’s sponsorship of Jerusalem marathon, despite potential 1.7 million euros per year financial impact.

The Arab Organization for Human Rights has revealed that the Netherlands had blocked the official issuance of a European report condemning Jewish settlers’ violations against Palestinian civilians.
 

California Scholars for Academic Freedom’ challenges UCLA on censure of prof who linked to BDS website, Adam Horowitz 
The organization California Scholars for Academic Freedom sent the following letter in response to the UCLA faculty Senate’s action against Professor David Delgado Shorter for linking to a website advocating for the culture boycott of Israel on an online syllabus.
http://mondoweiss.net/2012/04/california-scholars-for-academic-freedom-challenges-ucla-on-censure-of-prof-who-linked-to-bds-website.html

 
Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign loses lawsuit against state, Sylvia Schwarz
Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign (MN BBC) is part of the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It is a statewide campaign to break Minnesota’s economic ties with Israel, and along with its legislative and educational work, it had filed a lawsuit against the State Board of Investment (SBI), charging that the SBI had illegally invested Minnesota’s taxpayer money in Israel bonds. The three counts of the lawsuit charged that the investments are illegal because 1) Minnesota statutes Section 11A.24, specifically prohibit investments in non-Canadian foreign government securities, 2) by investing in projects that violate the Fourth Geneva Convention Minnesota violates its own and the US Constitution, which says that all treaties ratified by the federal government are the law of the land, and 3) the investments expose Minnesota taxpayers and pensioners to potential lawsuits by individuals who have been harmed by those illegal and abusive practices. (Read the full text of the lawsuit here [PDF].)
1200 rabbis threaten an end to interfaith harmony if Methodists support divestment, Philip Weiss
Next week at their conference in Tampa, the Methodists will consider divesting from Israel companies profiting off the occupation , and people are gearing up for the big struggle. Here is an amazing stroke that demonstrates the overwhelming support for Zionism inside the Jewish community, a letter reported in JTA from 1200 rabbis to Christian churches, appealing to them not to divest from Israel.

 
Members of United Methodist Church have responded forcefully to an attack from Rabbi A. James Rudin, the “senior interreligious adviser” of the American Jewish Committee, just as the Church’s upcoming national conference is to vote on a major initiative to divest from companies profiting from Israeli occupation and human rights abuses against Palestinians.
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/methodist-church-divestment-group-forcefully-rejects-american-jewish-committee
 

Israel deports last 10 foreign activists
The Israeli authorities deported the last ten foreign solidarity activists who arrived in Lod airport as part of the “Welcome to Palestine” event.

 

Israeli radio: Grand Mufti’s visit to Jerusalem was in coordination with the IOF
Egypt’s Grand Mufti Dr. Ali Gomaa’s visit to Jerusalem, on Wednesday 18 April, has been coordinated with the IOF and not as it was announced by the Mufti’s advisers, according to Israeli radio.

http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO%2bi1s7nqDdPfb%2fQ%2bOCbrRusXd%2fZDa%2buiKDNm1H4stSicAaZs%2fh3WY9F3m0Xk5%2f2ECjFCz1ubdkuMyNR03xZg0ha20e88atHHpvRwcrYiwruW6yCHI%3d

 
Political Developments & Other News
 
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The United States would spend an additional $680 million through 2015 to strengthen Israel’s short-range rocket shield under a plan crafted by House of Representatives’ Republicans, two congressional staff members disclosed on Friday. The figure could put election-year pressure on President Barack Obama’s administration to spell out what it deems suitable support for the “Iron Dome,” which has played an increasingly important role in Israeli security.
 

Hamas leader: no peace with Israel
A Hamas leader has reiterated that if the party came to power in a future Palestinian state, it would not abide by any previous Palestinian peace deals with Israel. Moussa Abu Marzouk, the Islamic group’s number two figure, said any potential deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, even if ratified in a Palestinian referendum, would be considered only as a temporary truce.

 
DOHA, Qatar (Ma’an) — Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal on Saturday met Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Doha, Turkish state media reported. The officials discussed the reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah and the Israeli occupation, the Anadolu Agency said. Qatar hosted the last round of reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah in February, and party leaders renewed their pledge to form a unity government to prepare for elections. The administration is yet to be formed and the parties still lead rival governments in the West Bank and Gaza. The factions continue to trade blame for the impasse.
 
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Dozens of residents in Nablus demonstrated outside municipal offices on Saturday to demand that the local council remove a rubbish dump which they say is a health hazard. Protesters called for the Palestinian Authority to intervene in removing the dump, which they say contaminates ground water in the area and emits a foul smell. Dr Jawad Beitar, head of a local committee in Nablus, told Ma’an that the rubbish site, situated in the al-Badhan area, posed a threat to the health of residents.
Mourid Barghouti’s I Was Born There, I Was Born Here is for anyone in your life who needs to understand the pain, the absurdity, the injustice, and the devastatingly predictable unpredictability of life for ordinary Palestinians.

 

Your tax dollars fund ‘violent crackdowns on dissent’, Allison Deger 
Earlier this week on “Tax Day” Tuesday, Anna Lekas Miller for Alternet covered the business of U.S. foreign aid used to purchase less-than-lethal weapons for the Israeli military. Lekas Miller focused on extended-range tear gas canisters manufactured by Combined Systems Inc. in Jamestown, PA. These canisters and others produced by different U.S. manufacturers are responsible for dozens of deaths in Bahrain over the past year, and five in Palestine over the past decade. 

 
Stephen Pollard, editor of the UK’s Jewish Chronicle has levelled his first volley against journalists and bloggers who criticized the newspaper for hosting a blog by Carlos Cortiglia, a white supremacist leader of the British National Party.  He’s threatened Jews for Justice for Palestinians with “remedial action” for republishing Hugh Muir’s Guardian story and my own first blog post about the controversy…
http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2012/04/21/jewish-chronicle-editor-threatens-lawsuits-over-white-supremacist-blog-it-hosted/

Gaza, April 19, I have been silent for a while but I guess its time I break my silence and let everything out. I am exhausted of being a Palestinian who is living in Gaza. I live with two contradicting attractions inside of me that represent an inner struggle, I belong to this land but I feel like a stranger at the same time. I refuse to lose my entity to blend in. Yet, being who I am and living in Gaza is very exhausting. I see Palestine as a woman who is being raped by many people and many countries, all wishing to take control of this steadfastness that is represented by an authentic soil that has an indestructible soul. Some (I am being polite here, I really wanted to write many instead of some) Palestinians inside Palestine, in the Diaspora and pro-Palestinians use Palestine in one way or another.
 
The makers of 33 Days are not exaggerating when they describe their film as “the biggest cinema production on the July [2006] War.” The impressive cast includes Carmen Lebbos, Bassem Moughnieh, Youssef el-Khal, Nisreen Tafesh, Kinda Alloush, Pierre Dagher, Darine Hamze, Nicolas Mouawad, and Michel Odbashi. The production company, Rihanat Ghurub, cast Lebbos as southern Lebanese mother, Umm Abbas. Her character is supported by Khal and Moughnieh, whose casting has attracted a wide audience.
 

The Rest is Hasbara, Ramzy Baroud
“My Lords, I was in Gaza six weeks ago,” began Baroness Tonge, when she spoke at the House of Lords in January 2009. “Now, as a result of the impotence of the international community, not just in Gaza, but…over 40 years of occupation of Palestine by Israel, those institutions that I visited are rubble and many of the children with whom I played are dead.”

 
An Associated Press article by Diaa Hadid, filed from Tel Aviv and published Wednesday, warns of a potential increase in anti-Semitism and possible anti-Jewish violence in Europe if Israel carries out a military assault on Iran. The piece focuses on Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, speaking at Tel Aviv University “after the presentation of an annual report on worldwide anti-Semitic attacks” and in advance of Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Kantor said “he feared a minority of angry, extremist European Muslims who live in impoverished neighborhoods might use an Israeli attack [against Iran] as a pretext to hit local Jews, particularly in France and Great Britain.”
http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com/2012/04/old-news-of-new-anti-semitism.html
 
How odd.  The Jewish Chronicle is boasting that it has secured funding for Habima from the Israeli foreign ministry.  Well perhaps it’s not so odd for the State of Israel to be funding a hasbara effort.  The odd thing is that it seems like only yesterday (it was in fact yesterweek) that Ilan Ronen, Habima’s artistic director, was trying to distance the group from Israel’s policies.  Now if the appearance at the Globe has nothing to do with the policies of the State of Israel, why has Israel’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs decided to stump up the funding?
 

What Do Breivik and Netanyahu Have in Common?, Alan Hart
Let’s start with a glance at what they do not have in common. The man now on trial for killing 77 people in bomb and gun attacks in Norway last July has admitted, even boasted about, what he did. Netanyahu denies Zionism’s crimes. The main thing they have in common stems from the fact that they both live in fantasy worlds of their own creation and talk a lot of extreme rightwing nonsense. The nonsense Anders Breivik speaks is driven in general by his fears about the consequences for Norway of immigration and multiculturalism and, in particular, by his vision of an Islamic takeover.

 
Bahrain
 

Activist found dead in Bahrain
A man is found dead in Bahrain after overnight protests ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix – opposition activists say he was killed by the security forces.

 

Bahraini forces arrest Zainab Khawaja
Saudi-backed Bahraini security forces have arrested the daughter of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, the prominent jailed activist who has been on a hunger strike for more than two months.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/237429.html

Al-Khawaja’s Wife Criticizes F1 Supremo: He’s Ignoring Our Plight
The wife of jailed Bahraini activist who is on a hunger strike has accused Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone of ignoring her husband’s plight.

 

Thousands protest as Bahrain hunger striker nears death
Organizers say at least 50,000 people marched in Bahrain on Friday against this weekend’s Grand Prix, as a prominent jailed human rights activist on a hunger strike has told his family he may die within the next 24 hours.

 

Letter of Solidarity from Palestinian Prisoner Ameer Makhoul to the People of Bahrain
Your freedom is our freedom and our freedom is your freedom! Greetings to you, my brother, Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja, struggling in the face of tyranny and for freedom, freedom of the individual, the people and the nation, whether in Bahrain or in any/every corner of the Arab world. In past years I have stood in solidarity with you from Haifa, from the captive nation of Palestine, which surrounds the racist, colonial, Zionist project; and today I am in solidarity with you while in an Israeli jail, two years out of an unjust nine-year sentence — a high price imposed by the colonial system on Palestinian leaders of 48 to deter them from communication with the Arab people throughout the Arab world, and the price of our interaction with people’s movements and struggles for their freedom and the freedom of Palestine and its people.

 
Since the start of the Arab Spring, which has led to many new seasons of protest in turn, the media has often gravitated to individual activists who have become leading figures in mobilizing the public during these revolutions. Tawakul Karman in Yemen, Ahmed Maher in Egypt and Moncef Marzouki in Tunisia—these are just three names that have resonated in the media over the course of protests. Their specific stories of perseverance in the face of brute force have galvanized people around the world.
 
Bahrain, with a total population of approximately 1.3 million, is smaller than most metropolitan cities in the world. But, over the past week the country has made headlines across global media. The fact that the Formula One Grand Prix is going to be held in the capital Manama this weekend while a majority of the island is besieged by protests, clashes, and arrests has become an ethical quandary with multiple dimensions.
 
Huge demo as Bahrain prince insists F1 is on
Thousands of people protested in a Shiite suburb of Bahrain’s capital on Formula One practice day as the Gulf kingdom’s crown prince insisted Sunday’s race would go ahead to avoid “empowering extremists.”
 

Media groups slam Bahrain on Grand Prix reporting curbs
Media freedom groups have accused Bahrain of using this weekend’s Formula One motor race as a propaganda exercise to improve its international image, saying it wants to stop journalists reporting on pro-democracy protests. As police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse demonstrators on Thursday, Bahrain prevented a foreign reporter from entering the country after turning away a journalist working for a US news agency earlier in the week.

 

The Lede Blog: A Bahraini Activist Explains the Standoff Over Formula One
Ala’a Shehabi, a British-Bahraini activist, spoke to The Lede on Friday about the protests against the Formula One Grand Prix that began the same day.

 

Inside Story – Bahrain’s ‘days of rage’ 
Dozens of people were arrested as they voiced their opposition to the Formula One Grand Prix in Bahrain. But do protests, or indeed the race, make any difference?

 

Robert Fisk: This is politics not sport. If drivers can’t see that, they are the pits
When the Foreign Office urges British motor racing fans to stay away from Bahrain, this ain’t no sporting event, folks, it’s a political one. The Bahraini authorities prove it by welcoming sports reporters but refusing visas to other correspondents who want to tell the world what’s going on in this minority-run, Saudi-dominated kingdom.

 

Bahrain: Formula None
Bahrain’s royal family hopes you too will believe the 14-month uprising that began (or more properly stated,resumed) last February in the tiny Gulf nation, is now over. Order, peace, tranquility and the legitimacy of monarchal rule are what they desperately want the international community to think have been restored. The unrest that followed last year’s violent eviction of peaceful protestors encamped in Manama’s Pearl Roundabout by Bahrain’s imported security force and Saudi troops is a thing of the past. The majority’s demand for serious democratic reform, proportional representation, equality between Sunni and Shia, and an end to the policies of sectarian gerrymandering are issues best left for another day.

 

Bahrain Drain: Oppressive US Client State Sucks The Life Out Of Formula One
[UPDATE] Qualifying went off without much hitch this morning, at least inside the circuit. Outside the circuit, the body of a protester was found, dead after a night of clashes with government authorities and police. Inside the confines of the circuit, Sebastian Vettel regained qualifying form and took his first pole of the season, followed by Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber and Jenson Button. Schumacher didn’t even manage to get out of Q1. Unlike the desolate practice yesterday, there were at least some fans observable in the main grandstand for qualifying today. But the scene was still as bleak and lifeless as I have ever seen for a F1 Grand Prix. It remains an embarrassment for FIA and the teams (FOTA) to be in Bahrain. And, as I pointed out yesterday, the lie that FIA and Bernie Ecclestone comfort themselves with – that they are being non-political by going and not giving in to international political concerns – is absurd and outrageous. The oppressive Sunni minority and the ruling Khalifa clan are using the mere presence of F1 in Sakhir to paint the picture that everything is okay with the Shia majority in Bahrain. It is not, and F1 looks like a tool. – bmaz 10:30 am EST Sat Apr. 21

 
Al-Khalifa despots rule Bahrain repressively. Bahrainis want democratic change. In summer 2010, sporadic protests began. In mid-February last year, major ones erupted. They continue daily nonviolently. Courageous Bahrainis brave vicious security force attacks. Saudi troops are involved. In March 2011, they entered Bahrain guns blazing.  They remain. They’re terrorizing Bahraini men, women, children, doctors, other medical professionals, journalists, human rights activists, and foreign observers. So do state police.

Egypt
 
Demands come as Israel Counterterrorism Bureau calls on Israelis to leave Sinai, citing immediate threats.
 
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Israel’s counter-terrorism bureau on Saturday warned all Israelis to leave Egypt’s Sinai peninsula immediately, citing imminent attacks by groups in the neighboring Gaza Strip, Israeli media reported.  ”Based on information in our possession, terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip are continuing to work energetically to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli targets on Sinai’s beaches in the immediate term,” Israeli daily Haaretz quoted a statement from the bureau saying.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood’s new presidential candidate, pitched into the race after its first choice was disqualified, promised on Saturday to govern in coalition and to steady Egypt after more than a year of political turmoil. Mohamed Mursi, 59, the head of the Brotherhood’s political party, said he would seek the votes of ultra-conservative Muslims after a popular hardline Salafi candidate was barred too, but he promised to be a president for all Egyptians.
 

Egypt court ‘cannot rule on poll ban for ex-regime leaders’
Egypt’s constitutional court refused on Saturday to rule on a parliamentary draft bill barring former regime figures from standing in next month’s presidential election, judicial sources said.

Tens of thousands of protesters flooded Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday to denounce the ruling military and remnants of former dictator Hosni Mubarak’s regime that still linger in positions of power. The protests, themed “Self-Determination Friday,” come ahead of the country’s first post-revolution presidential election scheduled in May. Liberals had organized the rally, but were joined by the Muslim Brotherhood following a growing rift between the powerful Islamist bloc and the ruling military over the upcoming elections.
 

Egypt demonstrators block main Cairo bridge
Hundreds of Egyptian demonstrators briefly blocked a main Cairo bridge over the Nile river Thursday to back their call for an end to military rule, a sign of growing concern that the generals might try to cling to power.

 
Iran
 

Iran says it is building copy of captured US drone
A senior Iranian commander says the country has reverse-engineered an American spy drone captured by Tehran’s armed forces last year and has begun building a copy.

http://news.yahoo.com/iran-says-building-copy-captured-us-drone-062546435.html

I’m told that MEMRI, which has its origins in Israeli military intelligence, has put out a statement doubting that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ever issued a fatwa forbidding nuclear weapons. (MEMRI claims to be a 501(c)3 non-profit but is actually an effort to cherry-pick Middle Eastern news to present the most negative face of the Arab world to Americans so as to prejudice them in favor of Israel; in this case it is just doing propaganda).
http://www.juancole.com/2012/04/yes-memri-there-is-a-fatwa-from-khamenei-forbidding-nukes.html
 
Video apparently recorded last week in Iran seems to offer a glimpse of Iran’s president’s being forced to engage in some retail politics.

 
Iraq
 

Iraq Carnage: 69 Killed, 176 Wounded
Iraq suffered significant bomb attacks in multiple cities today, leaving at least 69 dead and 176 more wounded.

 

13 Iraqis Killed, 40 Wounded in Random Violence
At least 13 Iraqis were killed and 40 more were wounded in the latest violence. These attacks come just two days after the Islamic State of Iraq staged a series of significant attacks against security personnel. Today’s bloodshed does not appear to be coordinated.

 

Roadside blasts in Baghdad kill three: Sources
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Two roadside bombs exploded in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Saturday, killing three people and wounding 15, police and hospital sources said, two days after several blasts killed 36 people across Iraq. The two blasts went off at the same time in the mainly Shi’ite al-Shuaala neighborhood. Three mortars were also fired at a police station wounding seven people in the town of Al-Musayyab near Hilla, 90 kms (55 miles) south of Baghdad, police sources said. Heightened tension between Shi’ites, Sunnis and Kurds in the coalition government since U.S.

 
Syria
 

Syria street protests met with force
On a day when U.N. monitors are missing, Syria government forces try to prevent demonstrations, firing on protesters in some cases, activists say. Continued shelling and at least 57 deaths are reported. BEIRUT — Large antigovernment demonstrations filled the streets of Syria on Friday despite reports of regime forces trying to prevent them from forming and, in other instances, shooting at protesters as an announced cease-fire continued to unravel.

 
Blast rocks Syria airbase: monitors
A huge explosion on Saturday rocked a Syrian military airport on the outskirts of the capital, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

 
18 security forces killed in Syria attacks: state media

A powerful blast killed 10 members of the security forces in the southern Syrian region of Quneitra on Friday, state television reported, blaming the explosion on “terrorists.”

 

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria’s state news agency said that an “armed terrorist” group blew up an oil pipeline in Syria’s eastern province of Deir al-Zor, near the border with Iraq, on Saturday. “An armed terrorist group detonated an improvised explosive device on a oil line near Abu Hammam, in the province of Deir al-Zor, which led to a fire,” SANA said, giving no more details. 

 

Syria’s Homs ‘calm’ amid UN monitors visit
Advance team’s entry comes ahead of UN Security Council vote on resolution that aims to raise observer strength to 300.

 

The Lede Blog: No Friday Patrols by U.N. Observers in Syria
The Moroccan colonel leading a small team of United Nations military observers dashed the hopes of opposition activists when he announced that his monitors planned to avoid working on Fridays.

 
Nearly 22,000 Syrian refugees had fled the unrest in their country to Lebanon, according to a report issued on Saturday by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The UNHCR and its NGO partners are working in cooperation with Lebanese government, local authorities and international agencies “to aid more than 22,000 Syrian refugees across the country,” the report said. Around 9,940 Syrian refugees have already been registered in northern Lebanon, while procedures are still ongoing to register the rest. In Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli alone, there are around 3,000 Syrian refugees waiting to be registered, the report added.
 

Syria frees 30 detained over unrest: state media
Syria has released 30 people who were detained for their alleged role in an anti-regime uprising, but who have “no blood on their hands,” state media said on Saturday.

 
Panetta says US ready on Syria if required
U.S. military leaders clearly expressed reluctance about using American might to stop the unending violence in Syria, insisting that diplomacy remains the best option to force President Bashar Assad to end the brutal crackdown on his own people.

 

US calls for tough action against Syria
Secretary of State Clinton urges Security Council to adopt arms embargo, even as Syria agrees to terms for UN observers.

 

Hague hints at harder line if regime shuns Syria peace plan
Bashar al-Assad’s regime is flouting the Kofi Annan plan for ending the violence in Syria and punitive action can be taken if it is in breach of the United Nations resolution on the crisis, William Hague declared yesterday amid rising calls for intervention in the country.

 
France would join a campaign for war against its former colony Syria if endorsed by the United Nations, French presidential candidate Francois Hollande said on Friday, who leads his rival President Nicolas Sarkozy in current polls. ”If done within a UN framework, we would participate in such an intervention,” Hollande, the Socialist Party’s candidate, told Europe 1 radio when asked about possible UN military action in Syria.
 

Assads’ luxury lifestyle is target of new EU sanctions
The Assad couple’s lifestyle is the next target of EU sanctions on the Syrian regime, with the bloc ready to ban exports of luxury items, diplomats said Friday.

 

Assad supporters, opponents clash in northern Israel
Show of support for Syrian leader in Umm al-Fahm quickly turns violent as Assad opponents turn up.

 

Getting Serious About Syria
The Syrian conflict continued to boil — or boil over — when Syrian troops fired across the Turkish border on April 9, apparently killing either fleeing refugees or armed combatants. Then the UN team entered and began monitoring a shaky ceasefire – shaky because the Syrian National Council in exile and their backers in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Washington and western capitals don’t want the fighting to stop. They want to overthrow the Assad government by force and violence.

 

Covering Israel/Covering Syria, Asad AbuKhalil
It has been quite a show for students in journalism schools. Western media and Al Jazeera compromised the traditional standards of journalism in order to promote the Syria story from the standpoint of Western governments (the traditional enemies of the Syrian people and their interests who have taken to referring to themselves as the “friends of Syria”).

 

Pointing to Syria to divert attention from Israel’s crimes, Jamil Sbitan
The Israeli government and its supporters now feel justified in exploiting the Syrian people’s suffering and resistance in order to further their own political agenda, depicting Israel as a “vibrant democracy” in comparison to Syria.

 
The hard facts about the Syrian crisis today mean that the ouster of President Bashar Assad is contingent on his enemies’ ability to assassinate him. Barring that eventuality, everything remains hypothetical. The regime’s Syrian opponents are in no shape to draft a joint plan of action. The fact that their policies, funding, and operations are determined externally reflects a structural crisis in the Syrian opposition. There is no way out of their current situation other than to adopt policies which repudiate collaboration with the Arab and Western parties that do not want a strong Syria.
 
Other Mideast / World News
 
While protests have been muted, opposition is growing – and is more nuanced than the monarchy or its western backers realise. Jordan’s government has proposed a new election law that has dealt a further blow to those hoping for meaningful reform in the Hashemite kingdom. The law, which severely limits the number of seats that opposition parties can hold in parliament, was this week supplemented by a proposed ban on political parties established on a religious basis.
 
Two leading Lebanese political activists have been held in a military prison overnight after being detained for writing political graffiti. Khodor Salameh, author of the Jou3an (hungry) blog on Lebanese politics, and Ali Fakhry, a leading member of the Anti-Racism Movement in the country, were arrested on Friday around midnight by military forces in the Beshara Al-Khoury area in central Beirut. They were then taken to military prison and held overnight, contrary to Lebanese law, fellow activist Saad Kurdi said.
 

Talk to Al Jazeera – Why Arab women still ‘have no voice’ 
Amal al-Malki, a Qatari author, says the Arab Spring has so far failed women in their struggle for equality. She talks about women’s rights in the Arab world, political and social empowerment and Islamic feminism.

 
www.TheHeadlines.Org

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