Senate fight today over the number of Palestinian refugees

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Senate fight today over Palestinian ‘refugees’
Thirty U.S. senators will vote today over whether there really are 5 million Palestinian “refugees” or just around 30,000 — a hot-button issue that has already become the subject of a vigorous international debate involving Israel and its Arab neighbors. When the Senate Appropriations Committee takes up the fiscal 2013 State Department and foreign operations appropriations bill today, senators will vote on an amendment crafted by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) that would require the State Department to report on how many of the millions of people currently supported by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) are actually people who were physically displaced from their homes in Israel or the occupied territories, and how many are descendants of original refugees.
http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/05/24/senate_fight_today_over_palestinian_refugees

Eliminating 4,970,000 Palestinian refugees: Status Update
With the stroke of a pen, a new bill in Congress could slash the number of Palestinian refugees — and open a world of controversy.

UK: Israel’s Settlements Harm its International Standing
The WAFA News Agency reported today a UK Foreign Office statement issued on Wednesday. British Foreign Secretary William Hague told his visiting Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman that Israel’s settlement expansion in Jerusalem and the West Bank harms its international standing.
http://www.imemc.org/article/63570

IOF troops tear down six tents for Palestinian Bedouins
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) tore down six tents for Palestinian Bedouins near Yatta town to the south of Al-Khalil city.
 
Jewish settlers close main West Bank road
Jewish settlers from Tikwa and nearby settlements to the east of Bethlehem attacked Palestinian commuters and closed the main road linking north of the West Bank to its southern areas.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO%2bi1s7XKYGY04XljuGX3hsmd89QxfHqntAdABLotIKbrJJ9QHfQlIK7tUSofbfgeIMAP%2bCFjUVgNdyWklvqQFUlLpcBdKDU2AQ1kyTw1gVqICqEWQ%3d
Latest Attempt at Legalization of Ulpana Settlement Neighborhood
Despite an Israeli High Court ruling that the Ulpana settlement neighborhood must be vacated and demolished because it is illegal, a Knesset bill that had been proposed to circumvent the court’s ruling has been stalled to allow more time for the government to settle the issue. Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed his own Defense Minister to disobey the High Court and stall any demolitions.
http://www.imemc.org/article/63563
 
Palestinian Hotel Occupation in First Quarter Decreases
The WAFA News Agency reported a press release by the Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) today that hotel occupancy in the Palestinian areas decreased by 16% in the first quarter of this year compared to the previous quarter, and by 13% when compared to first quarter 2011.
 

Senate fight today over Palestinian ‘refugees’
Thirty U.S. senators will vote today over whether there really are 5 million Palestinian “refugees” or just around 30,000 — a hot-button issue that has already become the subject of a vigorous international debate involving Israel and its Arab neighbors. When the Senate Appropriations Committee takes up the fiscal 2013 State Department and foreign operations appropriations bill today, senators will vote on an amendment crafted by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) that would require the State Department to report on how many of the millions of people currently supported by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) are actually people who were physically displaced from their homes in Israel or the occupied territories, and how many are descendants of original refugees.
http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/05/24/senate_fight_today_over_palestinian_refugees

Eliminating 4,970,000 Palestinian refugees: Status Update
With the stroke of a pen, a new bill in Congress could slash the number of Palestinian refugees — and open a world of controversy.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/05/21/status_update#.T7wKvPxTUho.blogger 

 
Siege on Gaza
 

Health ministery: Gaza hospitals still threatened by the power and fuel crisis
The health ministry warned that the medical work in Gaza hospitals is still endangered by the power crisis and there is no sufficient fuel even to operate their generators in the coming days.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO%2bi1s7nOdO8gJaeIu9VAHm60FqBKXLiZ6hF%2fK56aAd%2bBKHTFMAZgPChLEQZYMEBraRpc8nseyMFRK9DGbujkwOy7u2Ff3m0B%2fAoOVH9XMbJ4euZ%2fc%3d

Israeli Companies Win Bids For Gaza Reconstruction
The Palestinian Contractors Union stated that two Israeli companies won bids for reconstructing water distilling stations destroyed by Israel during the war on Gaza December 2008 – January 2009), the Palestine Press News Agency reported (Palpress).

 
Israeli Violence / Aggression / Raids
 
Annual report for 2012 says Israel killed 55 civilians in the West Bank and Gaza, including 11 children.
 

In the second such incident in three days, IDF soldiers are idle as settlers exert force and damage property on local Palestinian population in the West Bank. 

 

2012, settlers firing at Palestinians in the presence of soldiers
On Saturday, 19.5.2012, settlers descended on the eastern outskirts of the village ‘Asira al-Qibliya, from the settlement Yitzhar. B’Tselem volunteer photographers filmed the events. The video shows the settlers throwing stones at Palestinian homes. Palestinian youths from the village soon arrived and threw stones at the settlers. The video later shows settlers aiming their weapons at the Palestinians and firing in the presence of soldiers. The firing injured village resident, Fathi ‘Asayira, 24, in the head.

http://www.btselem.org/video/20120520_asira_al_qibilia_settlers
 

Ta’ayush video: A settler attacked a B’Tselem field researcher and broke his camera in the South Hebron Hills. Soldiers present did not intervene.
B’Tselem submitted a complaint to the Judea and Samaria district police against a settler who smashed a camera grabbed from one of its field researchers earlier this week in the South Hebron Hills. The incident was caught on video by a Ta’ayush activist.

http://www.btselem.org/settler_violence/20120522_south_hebron_assault
 
HEBRON (Ma’an) — An 18-year-old stabbed by Israeli soldiers near Bethlehem on Sunday is in a stable condition after surgery, the Palestinian prisoners society said Wednesday. Salah al-Zghayar underwent surgery at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center after he was stabbed in the abdomen at Gush Etzion junction, prisoners society lawyer Mofeed al-Haj said in a statement. Al-Zghayar, from Hebron, told the lawyer he was attacked by several soldiers who were guarded by police.

http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=488499 

 

Confrontations and large forces surround Hosh Ouda
The last few days witnessed many violent confrontations, the biggest one happened yesterday around Beer Ayoub’s area in Silwan. A few angry young men threw Molotov’s cocktails towards the settler’s guned guards Jeep, an incident that happened repeatedly, and the Israeli forces tried to invade Hosh Ouda  through the alleys of Al- Bustan that is attached to it.   The confrontations began when extremist Israelis celebrated  the so-called  ”United Jerusalem Day” in some streets in Silwan.  The Israeli forces invaded the area, so the local youth stood up against them by shutting the streets through stones and barricades, tens of young men participated in the confrontations, many locals said it was the most violent day for the last few weeks.   Tension was all over the area, especially after the Israeli forces blocked the entrances and allowed the settlers to drive freely while the Palestinians were not allowed to use thier streets.  

 

Israeli judge to issue verdict in Rachel Corrie case, Allison Deger
Nearly a decade after the Israeli military killed Rachel Corrie, 23, with a weaponized Caterpillar D9 tractor, the civil suit filed by her family will finally close. The verdict will be announced on August 28, 2012 by a Haifa District judge. In attendance will be Rachel Corrie’s parents, Cindy and Craig, and sister Sarah Corrie Simpson.

 
Detainees
 
Press freedom watchdogs have called on the Israeli military to release the director of a Palestinian TV station who was detained last Thursday (17 May). Israeli soldiers arrested Baha Khairi Moussa, who runs the Palestine Prisoner Channel, a satellite broadcaster based in the West Bank. They also confiscated the station’s equipment. But the reason for his arrest remains a mystery, as do his whereabouts. Both the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) have called for his release.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2012/may/24/press-freedom-israel
 

IOF kidnap six Palestinians in raids on W. Bank homes
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) Thursday kidnapped six Palestinians in Al-Khalil, Bethlehem and Jenin cities and raided many other West Bank areas.

http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO%2bi1s79VV5R1VhffOQ1XTYofnq0aam0qc63pxxCmXzU5SZ1vYTspf9no4wVGemCXkmCrC3gN0Lv%2fLsSIiREOm%2bPHI3cRm9%2bRYRQTrgiofg%2fcH0L%2bs%3d
 

Israeli Forces Abduct Palestinians From Across the West Bank, Take Them to Unknown Destinations
The Palestinian News Network, PNN, and Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, reported that Israeli forces invaded several areas of the West Bank on Tuesday, and abducted seven Palestinians. The Israeli Army transferred the detainees to unknown destinations to investigate allegations that they are wanted by the army.

 

Palestinian teen, two children rounded up in Qalqilia village
A Palestinian teen and two others under 18 years old were detained in Azzun village, east of Qalqilia city, in a pre-dawn raid on Wednesday by Israeli occupation forces.

Young men and kids from the Siwaneh were arrested and a brutal attack on the Tamimi family
The Israeli police extended the arrest of 5 youth from the Siwaneh near Mount of Olives in  Jerusalem  for 24 hours so they can transfer them to court. The young Palestinians and kids are being suspected in throwing stones at the Israeli forces, the arrested youth and kids  are Raja’i and Kayed al Tamimi, Abu al Elmi and Yussef Musha’sha’ and Ahmad Abu Armile. According to the locals of Siwaneh the police attacked and beaten the Tamimi family using clubs, tasers and pepper spray. Jad al Kadmani, Lawyer from the prisoner’s club visited the arrested youth in the  Police Station in Salah Eddin street and said that Kayed and Rajai al Tamimi were beaten by clubs and attacked by tasers, and there are clear marks on their bodies to prove that. Jad al Kadmani: “The police are charging them of attacking the Israeli forces, and of causing a menace to the system” They were held for 24 hours so they can be taken to court, Jad adds that other 3 youth from the same place were held for 24 hours during the raids in the area, and during the raids the Israeli forces ran over Akram Totah with their car and broke his leg.The Israeli forces also broke into the civilian Rajaei al Tamimi and arrested his son Kifah, during the arrest they attacked by clubs and tasers the 58 years old Rajai that suffers from diabetes, high pressure and heart problems, when his nephew Kayed tried to protect him he was sprayed by pepper spray and electricity shots by the tasers.Es’hak al Tamimi, who attended the incident said that the forces broke into the house and attacked all of the family members in a brutal way then arrested his father and his cousin Kayed and took them to the Police Station. Same time, youth from Al Tour area threw stones towards settlers’ cars after clashes broke out between settlers and Palestinians.

 
On Wednesday, May 23, 2012, Israeli forces entered Beit Ommar and arrested seven people during a night raid, the second one in two nights. We expect many more night raids before the end of the month, as the Israeli military rounds up those who participated in demonstrations on Nakba Day and in solidarity with the Palestinian hunger strikers earlier this month.
 

IOF soldiers arrest three Palestinians in Al-Khalil village
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested three Palestinians in Beit Ummar village, to the north of Al-Khalil, at dawn Wednesday, local sources said.

 
Prisoner News
 

An Appeal to save the life of Mahmoud Sarsak
Our brother and son, Mahmoud Sarsak, is a 25 years old professional footballer from Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, today entering his 67th day of hunger strike. We ask you to support Mahmoud and his demand for fair treatment. Your voice can contribute to saving his life and to a little victory against injustice.

http://www.stopthewall.org/2012/05/24/appeal-save-life-mahmoud-sarsak
 
Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Huwarra
Ma’an news agency reported earlier today that prisoners in Huwarra prison have taken part in an open hunger strike for the second day to protest to the inhumane treatment of the prisoners.
http://www.imemc.org/article/63569
 

An Hour Before Release, Prisoner Transferred to Administrative Detention
In a PNN report today, the Al-Ahrar Centre for Prisoners’ Studies and Human Rights stated that on Wednesday, May 23rd, prisoner Sameh Elaiwe, 50, was transferred from Nablus city to Administrative Detention one hour before his scheduled release date.

http://www.imemc.org/article/63568
 
Prisoner Lubada suffering serious health deterioration
Ahrar Center warned that time is running out to save the life of administrative detainee Lubada who entered an extremely dangerous stage in light of the prison service’s indifference.

 
BDS / Solidarity
 
BDS roundup: South Africa and Denmark to correctly label Israeli settlement products
South Africa and Denmark make historic rulings to correctly label Israeli settlement products; and international Quaker churches fully divest from the Caterpillar corporation.

But Davies, 64, who was made a minister by South African president Jacob Zuma as a “favor” to the trade union movement and the Left, is an old-style ANC Marxist (some say “Stalinist”) in the Joe Slovo mold. He completed his Ph.D. (in “political studies”) at the-then radical redbrick university, Sussex, in 1977 and joined the ANC in 1978 (in Mozambique) and the South African Communist party in 1989.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/in-south-africa-storm-over-west-bank-products-is-spiraling-into-a-hurricane-1.431977?localLinksEnabled=false 

 
Alternattiva Demokratika is asking the Maltese government to ban the incorrect labelling of products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank as ‘Made in Israel’. Prof. Arnold Cassola, Alternattiva Demokratika spokesperson on EU and International Affairs, said Maltese and EU consumers should be provided with correct information on product labels. “A product produced in a settlement on the West Bank, clearly not recognised as a legal settlement by the international community, should not be described as ‘Made in Israel’.
 

Palestinian heritage event draws thousands
Kristin Szremski is a member of the US Campaign Steering Committee, an independent journalist and the director of media and communications at American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). The Chicago chapter of AMP recently held their second annual Palestine Parade to commemorate the Nakba. Kristen put together the following piece for CNN iReport about the entire day’s events. 

http://blog.endtheoccupation.org/2012/05/palestinian-heritage-event-draws.html

 
Israeli Racism and Discrimination against African Migrants
 

Violent Tel Aviv demo, African migrants attacked
Violence broke out as several hundred people demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night against the sizeable community of African immigrants in the city, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

 
Following up on Noam’s report on what’s developing into a night of unprecedented violence against African asylum seekers in Tel Aviv, here is a testimony uploaded onto Facebook after yesterday’s protest, by one of the many community activists who walked home a group of African children to make sure they weren’t attacked.
 
Video: Israeli mob demands all African refugees be deported from the country (and anyone who disagrees deserves to be raped), Adam Horowitz

At a demonstration in south Tel Aviv demanding the immediately expulsion of all non-Jewish African asylum-seekers, a lone Israeli woman who does not agree with the rest of the crowd is shouted down with ferocity and told that she deserves to be raped
 
Far-right activists organize march through Tel Aviv, call for expulsion of Sudanese and other Africans from Israel.
 

Africans attacked in Tel Aviv protest; MKs: ‘infiltrators’ are cancer, Noam Sheizaf
Coalition MKs incited the crowd against the refugees and asylum seekers during a protest in south Tel Aviv, which was followed by attacks on African immigrants and confrontations with police. A Likud MK called for the prosecution of Israelis giving shelter to Africans.

 

Israel will collapse unless Africans and Palestinians are expelled, fenced, says legal advocate, Ali Abunimah
“The separation fence must be closed and sealed. The Egyptian border fence must be closed and sealed. We must build a fence on the Jordanian border immediately, no one gets in or out! Jews who live in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] may come in and out – Arabs may not come in and out.”

 

How mainstream Israeli politicians sparked the Tel Aviv race riot, Noam Sheizaf
Israeli governments have neglected the poor neighborhoods of Tel Aviv for decades. Today, Knesset members use the asylum seekers to channel the anger of local residents and score easy political points.

http://972mag.com/how-mainstream-israeli-politicians-sparked-the-tel-aviv-race-riot/46649/
 

How I survived a Tel Aviv mob attack, Haggai Matar
Last night I had to flee a raging mob not too far from my home in south Tel Aviv. After long speeches of incitement by right-wing parliamentarians, the masses stormed after me and a fellow journalist, and thenturned on African asylum seekers, their businesses and their homes. This is how it happened.

http://972mag.com/how-i-survived-a-tel-aviv-mob-attack/46587/
 

Is there a link between Israeli profits, anti-African incitement?, Mya Guarnieri
As Interior Minister Eli Yishai incites against African asylum seekers–leading to outbreaks of violence against Africans–his ministry issues visas to foreigners who pay tremendous amounts of money to come to Israel.

http://972mag.com/is-there-a-link-between-israeli-profits-and-yishais-incitement-against-africans/46589/
 
Israeli pogromist, dragging on a fag, proclaims ‘Death to Sudanese.’ Today, Israel moved one step closer to Nazi Germany circa 1938.  In Berlin, Nazis walked the streets terrorizing Jews, smashing windows, burning books and synagogues.  Today, in Tel Aviv’s poor Hatikva neighborhood, the cream of Israel’s political Übermenschen, Kahanists Michael Ben Ari, Itamar Ben Gvir and Baruch Marzel terrorized foreign workers who live there with mass violence and nothing less than a pogrom
 
Israeli Racism and Discrimination against Palestinians
 
Not All Israeli Citizens Are Equal, YOUSEF MUNAYYER
I’M a Palestinian who was born in the Israeli town of Lod, and thus I am an Israeli citizen. My wife is not; she is a Palestinian from Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Despite our towns being just 30 miles apart, we met almost 6,000 miles away in Massachusetts, where we attended neighboring colleges. A series of walls, checkpoints, settlements and soldiers fill the 30-mile gap between our hometowns, making it more likely for us to have met on the other side of the planet than in our own backyard. Never is this reality more profound than on our trips home from our current residence outside Washington.
 
The Israel Land Administration (ILA), the powerhouse behind Jewish territorial expansion, is being challenged in Israel’s high court over race and gender discrimination. Yesterday a judge gave the government agency and steward over state-owned lands 60 days to come up with an explanation as to why women and Palestinians should not be appointed to their high council.
 

Jerusalem Day rife with racism

“See, these are the Arabs who want to throw rocks at us, but the police are taking them down one by one like this.” She made the hand gesture as the father, wearing a gun on his belt, agreed with a smile. Israeli youth gathered at the fence with only the width of the street separating them from the Palestinian youth and yelled racist slurs at them. Both sides were screaming “This is our land!”  It was disconcerting to see young Israelis, who used their larger number to scream racist slogans at Palestinians with such hatred, such as “Death to the Arabs!” and “Muhammad is dead!”
 
Other News and Developments
 
Four officers accused of ordering the raid on the Mavi Marmara, in which nine Turks were killed.
 
Report: Turkey seeks 10 life sentences for Israeli commanders
Turkish prosecutor prepares indictments against four top IDF commanders involved in Marmara raid, Sabah newspaper reports. Gabi Ashkenazi, three others to be charged with first degree murder. 
 
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A group of students protesting political detentions by the Palestinian Authority went on hunger strike Thursday in Birzeit University. The students, who are Hamas supporters, have been sleeping inside the university since May 5. They fear the Fatah-led PA’s security forces will arrest them if they leave campus. In a statement, the students said they would remain on campus until the issue was resolved with the PA, adding that they would escalate the strike if political detentions did not stop.
 
The Minister of Public Works and Housing, Dr. Youssef Al Mansi, condemned the Zionist government’s approval for the law encouraging settlements, stressing that it is a racist law.
 
BEIRUT (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that Palestinians in Lebanon should not arm themselves, as they are under the protection of the Lebanese state and its military, local media reported. “The weapons of Palestinians in Lebanon are illegitimate. We do not want them inside or outside camps. We respect the law and we are [under] the protection of the Lebanese state and army,” Abbas was quoted as saying. 

In response to decision by Press Complaints Commission, London’s Foreign office says Israel’s claim that that Jerusalem is its capital is not recognized by the U.K.
 
Fear mongering about missiles while Arabs and Iranians are in range of Israeli nukes: IDF: Israel in range of nearly 65,000 Hezbollah, Iran, Syria missiles
Hezbollah has some 60,000 rockets and missiles and is developing drones and sea-to-air missiles, IDF top brass tells Knesset committee.
 
Laurette Onkelinx posts ‘My hands are clean!” on her official Facebook page, adding only an Iranian refused to shake hands with her before.
 
Police suspect Moti Malka raped woman in his chambers, sexually assaulted another, in addition to raping municipal worker.
 
Analysis / Op-ed
 

‘Obama will only go as far on Iran as AIPAC permits him to go’, Philip Weiss
The other day the Senate unanimously passed an Iran sanctions act upping the pressure in an effort to preempt the talks now going on between world powers and Iran.

http://mondoweiss.net/2012/05/obama-will-only-go-as-far-on-iran-as-aipac-permits-him-to-go.html

Honest broker? Israeli consulate sponsors Obama’s former Middle East peace adviser at Stanford talk!, Philip Weiss
Dennis Ross worked for Obama for several years on Middle East peace. And before that he worked for Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush too. But he was always accused of bias toward Israel. Aaron David Miller called him Israel’s lawyer. Abe Foxman celebrated him as Israel’s advocate. But Obama’s spox Jay Carney said Ross was a fair dealer when he left a year back…
 
Ambassador Michael Oren’s recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal is timely – and appropriate. Israel is less popular among young Americans than ever before. And it will only grow more unpopular as more facts about the occupation make their way into the American mainstream. It is hard to know what Shalom Eisner — an Israeli army officer — was thinking when he brutalized a Danish bike protester several weeks ago. Probably his thoughts tracked what he was doing — which is to say they weren’t anything out of the ordinary. The Israeli officer was acting normally, on a normal day, in the normalized context of Israeli occupation. The only exceptional thing about the episode was the reaction it elicited.
 
Bio shows why Leila Khaled remains an icon of resistance, Asa Winstanley
Leila Khaled, an icon of the Palestinian resistance struggle, is the subject of a recommended new biography.

Israel – Self-made Global Pariah, Vacy Vlazna
Every time Israel bans Palestinians from leaving Israel’s West Bank-Gaza Prison, and every time a well-meaning foreigner is refused entry to give humanitarian assistance to Palestinian
s, Israel is consolidating its reputation as a global pariah, now, according to the BBC poll, on par with North Korea for having the highest negative influence on the global stage.

Redefining the ‘Arab Spring’: Is Chaos Overtaking Revolution?, Ramzy Baroud
The age of revolutionary romance is over. Various Arab countries are now facing hard truths. Millions of Arabs merely want to live with a semblance of dignity, free from tyranny and continuous anxiety over the future. This unromantic reality also includes outside ‘players’, whose presence is of no positive value to genuine revolutionary movements, whether in Egypt, Syria, or anywhere else.
http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=19311

Love in the Time of Cassettes
Ahmad Ghossein’s My Father Is Still a Communist uses audio messages his mother recorded for his father who was away for work, Ghossein draws a picture of a social, economic and political landscape where people might not be heroes, but are so in the eyes of their children.
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/love-time-cassettes?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AlAkhbarEnglish+%28Al+Akhbar+English%29

 
Bahrain
 
GENEVA (AP) — Bahrain has agreed to consider recommendations to release political prisoners, outlaw torture and join the International Criminal Court, a move that could open it to international prosecutions of alleged abuses, the U.N.’s top human rights body said Wednesday.
In its highly anticipated review of the Gulf kingdom’s record, the U.N. Human Rights Council said Bahrain will consider 176 recommendations submitted by other nations. The council’s report, part of a process that all 193 U.N. members are required to undergo every four years, reflects international concern about the 15-month Bahraini uprising by majority Shiites against the ruling Sunni monarchy.
 

Bahraini female activist jailed over protest
A Bahraini court jailed on Thursday opposition activist Zainab al-Khawaja for one month after convicting her of attacking a policewoman and taking part in an illegal rally, witnesses said.

http://news.yahoo.com/bahraini-female-activist-jailed-over-protest-094437508.html
 
If I get released, every village I pass through will shout the names of countless prisoners of conscience. All the walls will show me their faces. Around me, I will see their grief-stricken mothers and fathers, their wives, their children crying for her children as I write. I am not Zainab only, I am Jaffar and Hassan, I am Ahmed and Abbas, I am Masooma and Mansoor. My case is the case of hundreds of innocent political prisoners in Bahrain, my release, without them, means nothing to me.  I will not be attending my trials, no matter how many they are. Freedom, and not my release, is what I want and dream of. I will sit in my prison cell, I will listen to its walls reciting the poetry of another political prison Sadeq Al-Ghasra, reminding me that our struggle for liberty shall continue not only from inside this prison but even from under the soil. All my admiration, for my imprisoned brothers and sisters. Whose determination and patience give me hope. –Zainab Alkhawaja Isa Town Prison 19th May 2012 
 
Human Rights in Bahrain, a Casualty of Obama’s Double-Standard
Both the president of Syria and the King of Bahrain have worked hard this past year to portray their respective countries as stable and safe, hoping to distract from the popular uprisings they have brutally crushed. Both regimes have systematically tortured members of the opposition, killed and detained children, and banned journalists from entering the country to report, all the while alleging these popular movements are driven by “foreign terrorists.”
 
The huge wave of protests for democracy and human rights sweeping across the Middle East over the last year has seen hundreds of thousands of previously politically inactive young people become dedicated revolutionaries. In Egypt they call them “first time activists,” people whose first taste of protest came in the early months of 2011.
Throughout the region, the demonstrations and subsequent violent government reactions have transformed a generation into a new political force using social media and other tools to fuel revolutions. In Bahrain in early 2011 a young woman was pursuing her hobby of photography, “taking mostly photos of flowers or landscapes. I wasn’t that interested in shooting pictures of people to be honest,” she said.  Then, on her way home from work on February 14 2011, everything changed. “It was around 6pm, I was passing the Pearl Roundabout with this huge crowed and Bahrain flags everywhere, I was like ’OMG It’s happening!’ I found myself parking on the flyover and stepping out of my car to have a look.”  She started taking pictures of the crowds and has been documenting the revolution ever since.

Egypt
 
Egyptians go back to polls to elect president
Egypt resumes its first free presidential election after voting passed off calmly on the first day.
http://www.aljazeera.com//news/middleeast/2012/05/201252425137153237.html

 

Egypt Votes: Sharif Abdel Kouddous Reports From Cairo on Historic Post-Mubarak Election
A historic election is underway as Egyptians head to the polls for the first presidential election since their ouster of Hosni Mubarak. For the first time in the country’s history, the winner is not a foregone conclusion. We go to Cairo for an update from Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous. Despite predictions of a high turnout, Kouddous says concerns remain over the role of Egypt’s military rulers: “Many say we cannot have a president without a constitution. The president is essentially being elected without knowing exactly [his] authorities vis a vis the military, the cabinet, the parliament. Many of these young revolutionaries say any president that comes will be a puppet for the Supreme Council and will not have any real power, and the real struggle will continue to be in the streets.”
http://www.democracynow.org/2012/5/23/egypt_votes_sharif_abdel_kouddous_reports

 
Egyptian Voters on the Promise, and Limits, of Historic Election: Sharif Kouddous Reports From Cairo
Voters are heading to the polls for the second day in Egypt’s first competitive presidential election following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak 15 months ago. The first day of voting saw numerous reports of minor violations, but was largely hailed as free of fraud and violence. Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak’s last prime minister and now a leading candidate, was swarmed by protesters outside his polling station who hurled shoes and debris at him. Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous and videographer Hany Massoud spent the day traveling to polling stations around Cairo speaking to voters about their choices for president and their concerns in the election.
http://www.democracynow.org/2012/5/24/egyptian_voters_on_the_promise_and
Former Hamas minister arrives in Ismailia to cast his vote
Mahmoud al-Zahar, the former foreign minister in the Hamas government, has arrived in Ismailia to cast his vote in the Egyptian presidential elections. The Hamas official, who lost his son in the 2008 Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, has recently obtained the Egyptian citizenship through his Egyptian mother. An estimated 11,000 Palestinian nationals hold Egyptian citizenship and have the right to vote in the elections. “Now I can, for the first time, exercise my rights as an Egyptian citizen,” he said. He declined to disclose the polling station he is registered at. “I do not want the media to know,” he said.
http://www.egyptindependent.com/node/858801

Egypt Votes!
For the first time in its presidential era, Egypt heads to the ballot boxes on Wednesday without knowing the name of the winner ahead of time. With many undecided voters narrowing down their choices to candidates from contradictory camps, the lines on that map are not that clear; they overlap and crisscross and are infused with other factors: mainly the economic and security elements in the candidates’ platforms, or at least their perceived ability to improve people’s daily lives.
http://english.al-akhbar.com/photoblogs/egypt-votes?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AlAkhbarEnglish+%28Al+Akhbar+English%29
 

Egypt viewpoint: Democracy under military boots, Gigi Ibrahim
As Egyptians prepare to head to the polls to vote for a new president, the BBC News website asked Egyptians of contrasting political persuasions to write about their hopes and fears for the country’s future. Gigi Ibrahim is a journalist, blogger, activist and socialist.

In Search of Egypt’s Fifth President: Hamdeen Sabahi
Longtime Nasserist activist and former MP Hamdeen Sabahi’s stock was on the rise in the last month before the elections. But will it be enough to make this candidate of humble origins the next president of Egypt?
Former foreign minister under Mubarak, Amr Moussa is confident of his chances of winning the presidential race. Al-Akhbar asks its fifth interviewee what he would achieve should he succeed.
In the last of Al-Akhbar’s series of interviews with Egypt’s presidential candidates, Abdel Rahman Youssef quizzes the former Muslim Brotherhood luminary who broke with the group to run as an independent.
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/search-egypt%E2%80%99s-fifth-president-abdel-moneim-abul-fotouh?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AlAkhbarEnglish+%28Al+Akhbar+English%29

In Search of Egypt’s Fifth President: Hamdeen Sabahi
Longtime Nasserist activist and former MP Hamdeen Sabahi’s stock was on the rise in the last month before the elections. But will it be enough to make this candidate of humble origins the next president of Egypt?
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/search-egypt%E2%80%99s-fifth-president-hamdeen-sabahi?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AlAkhbarEnglish+%28Al+Akhbar+English%29
 

Egyptian Presidential Elections: The Undecided Decide
For the first time in its presidential era, Egypt heads to the ballot boxes on Wednesday without knowing the name of the winner ahead of time.
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/egyptian-presidential-elections-undecided-decide?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AlAkhbarEnglish+%28Al+Akhbar+English%29

Presidential Elections: Egypt’s Left Behind
As Day 1 of voting closes, the strife among the candidates of the Left in the Egyptian presidential elections demonstrates the inability of this political current to unite in order to grasp this revolutionary moment.
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/presidential-elections-egypt%E2%80%99s-left-behind?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AlAkhbarEnglish+%28Al+Akhbar+English%29

Inside Story – What kind of leader do Egyptians want?
Egyptians are preparing to elect a new president, and for the first time they have a real choice. But the conservatives are split over which candidate to support and votes are also likely to be divided in the liberal camp. So what kind of leader do the people want, and what kind of power will the winner have? Guests: Dina Zakaria, Mohammed Waked, Abdullah al Arian.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aICWow0tdic&feature=youtube_gdata

The role of religion in Egypt’s election
Two of the main contenders for Egypt’s presidential election are or were affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports from the group’s stronghold of Beni Suef, to find out what impact religion is likely to have on the vote.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmM5Wc3SQRc&feature=youtube_gdata

Al Jazeera World – The Brotherhood and Mubarak
For years the Muslim Brotherhood was officially banned by Egypt’s government, but following the 2011 revolution, the fall of Hosni Mubarak and the country’s first free parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood – with its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party – has emerged as Egypt’s most powerful political force.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwBEzxXs0cI&feature=youtube_gdata

Can Egypt Have a President Without a Constitution?
Everyone is awaiting the outcome of Egypt’s first post-Mubarak presidential election with baited breath. For many, the election of a new president will restore the stability Egyptians have been longing for since Mubarak’s ouster early last year. For others, a new president means the end of the military’s involvement in politics. For others still, the victory of their favorite candidate will usher in a new age of freedom and social justice.
http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/5656/can-egypt-have-a-president-without-a-constitution

The Presidential Race: A Game of Egyptian Roulette
Before going to bed, I decided I was going to write an article on the presidential election first thing in the morning. I closed my eyes and before falling into a deep sleep I wondered if there was any use to add to the unbearably noisy pool of voices debating the elections. A group of huge, dark and hairy mountain rats with glittering eyes invaded my house like locusts. Only minutes later, a new group of rats came pouring into the house from every window and all balconies, moving as if following the orders of some remote leader. I was thrown into a panic as I watched them move like trained dogs in a Russian circus. I realized they were indeed moving according to a plan to occupy the entire house. I tried to reach my office room but a number of these rats were able to stop me from getting near the door. Suddenly, I remembered that my daughter is sleeping in the other room, so I ran to her — only to find that a group of rats had devoured her bare arms. With that horrible scene, I woke up.
http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/5659/the-presidential-race_a-game-of-egyptian-roulette

Civil-Military Relations: a Potential Fault-line in Egypt’s Democracy, Hasan Afif El-Hasan
Arab people are demanding democracy after living for decades under authoritarian regimes suffering systematic violations of their natural rights where injustice, impunity, police torture, battering and excessive use of deadly force  were the norm. Ramzy Baroud put it this way: ‘Arabs merely want to live with a semblance of dignity, free from tyranny and continuous anxiety over the future.’ Those who succeeded in toppling their tyrants have already found there is more to a meaningfully democratic society than regime change and voting, although these are necessary. Because authoritarian political culture has been prevalent in the Arab countries, transition to democracy is a big challenge. Democracy as a normative system of legitimate government strengthens the realm of liberty, personal political responsibility, deals with social and economic equity, and civil control of the armed forces.
http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=19313
 

Egypt’s Working Class and the Question of Organization, Hossam El-Hamalawy
“Who is the labor candidate in this presidential election?” This is a question I have been asked frequently in the past few days. My answer is “no one.” Despite the presence of left wing candidates in the race, including labor lawyer Khaled Ali, who by all accounts is the most experienced in labor organizing among his counterparts (even when he repeatedly denies the accusation of being a “socialist,” and advocates a “strong private sector” working hand in hand with a state-run public sector), neither Ali nor any other candidates can claim to speak for Egypt’s working class, simply because the working class does not have yet formal entities, organizations, parties, and unions that can claim their representation. 

 

Post-January 25 Iranian-Egyptian Relations: A New Dawn?

Iranian-Egyptian relations have been an often-overlooked aspect of Middle Eastern and international politics over the last thirty years, due in no small part to the almost complete lack of ties between the two states following Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979.  Whilst these two great Middle Eastern powers have been linked over thousands of years of history, the last thirty years have been characterized by a distinct lack of inter-state relations, and considerable enmity and distrust. However, with the fall of the Hosni Mubarak regime following the momentous events of 25 January 2011, will Iranian-Egyptian relations encounter a “new dawn”, characterized by friendship and amity? Or are Iran and Egypt doomed to the continuing enmity and distrust which has poisoned relations between these two great regional powers for the last thirty years? 
http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/5647/post-january-25-iranian-egyptian-relations_a-new-d

Iran

Ahmadinejad says atomic weapons ‘against Islam’
Islam forbids atomic weapons and other arms of mass destruction, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted on Wednesday ahead of his country’s nuclear talks with world powers in Baghdad.
http://news.yahoo.com/ahmadinejad-says-atomic-weapons-against-islam-101113868.html

Iran is offered new plans to ease nuclear concerns
Diplomats from six world powers offered Iran new proposals Wednesday to ease international concerns about its nuclear program, but appeared to reject Tehran’s appeals to ease economic sanctions to help move along talks.
http://news.yahoo.com/iran-offered-plans-ease-nuclear-concerns-122151778.html

Israel inches closer to compromise on Iran
“…Though Israel has been expressing zero flexibility regarding a possible deal with Iran, Defense Minister Ehud Barak a few weeks ago issued a written statement that Israel would consent to Iran’s continuing enrichment of uranium to a low level of 3.5 percent, as well as to allowing a few hundred kilograms of 3.5-percent enriched uranium to remain in that country…… A senior Israeli source said that Barak’s remarks, which were shared in private conversations with U.S. officials, contradict the tough line being presented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
http://friday-lunch-club.blogspot.com/2012/05/israel-inches-closer-to-compromise-on.html

 
Bullish allies resist Iran’s call for end to nuclear sanctions
World powers meeting in Baghdad yesterday produced new proposals aimed at limiting the levels of uranium enrichment in Iran’s nuclear programme and edging towards a deal they hope could lift the threat of a Middle East war.
Activists Worry that Sanctions May Undermine Chances for Future Democracy
Since the story of the Syrian and Iranian opposition is similar in many ways and since both Damascus and Tehran are facing foreign sanctions and regime-change policies, a friend wrote to share this news of an encounter between Iranian opposition figures and State Department officials during a recent conference on Iran.
http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=14698&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Syriacomment+%28Syria+Comment%29

War With Iran Has Already Begun
On Friday, 93% of the U.S. House of Representatives affirmed a resolution escalating America’s already aggressive position on Iran, from “crippling” sanctions to a zero-tolerance policy on nuclear weapons.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/23/war-with-iran-has-already-begun/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=war-with-iran-has-already-begun

Israel’s Strategic Analyst: Attack Iran, Propose Mideast Peace Deal, Richard Silverstein
Israel’s premier strategic analyst, Yehezkel Dror, has produced a new study for the Begin-Sadat Center which advocates a military attack on Iran accompanied by an Israeli proposal for a comprehensive peace deal.  Essentially, this paper is a blueprint for Bibi Netanyahu in his march toward war.  It outlines the major issues he faces in persuading the Israeli public and world opinion that his decision is just.  It warns him of the pitfalls that naysayers will suggest and offers him arguments against the nabobs of negativism.
http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2012/05/23/israels-strategic-analyst-attack-iran-propose-mideast-peace-deal/

 
The meeting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) with Iran in Baghdad is apparently producing a lot of detailed proposals for resolving the crisis. Apparently the one place there could be a breakthrough, if not at Baghdad then later this summer, is with regard to Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 19.75% (this is still low-enriched uranium or LEU) for the production of medical isotopes at its medical reactor. A stock of 19.75%- enriched LEU is much closer to the 95% enriched uranium typically needed to construct a nuclear warhead than the 3.5%-enriched uranium used to fuel ordinary electricity-generating reactors. The UNSC and Germany want to find a way to have Iran supplied with the fuel for the medical reactor from the outside, so that they do not have to make their own.

http://www.juancole.com/2012/05/iran-unsc-talks-have-the-effect-of-averting-war.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+juancole%2Fymbn+%28Informed+Comment%29 

Iraq 

14 Iraqis Killed As National Alliance Is Asked To Select A Replacement PM
A formal letter has been sent to the National Alliance, asking the bloc to select a replacement for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. At least 14 Iraqis were killed and 11 more were wounded in new violence.
http://original.antiwar.com/updates/2012/05/22/14-iraqis-killed-as-national-alliance-is-asked-to-select-a-replacement-pm/

Iraq attacks kill eight
Attacks in Iraq killed eight people and wounded 33 on Wednesday, security officials said, as Baghdad hosted key nuclear talks in its latest effort to emerge from decades of isolation.
http://news.yahoo.com/iraq-attacks-kill-eight-151605079.html

Three killed in Iraq attacks as world powers meet
Three people were killed and 18 others wounded in attacks in Iraq on Wednesday, security officials said, as Baghdad hosted key nuclear talks in its latest effort to emerge from decades of isolation. Three people were killed and 14 others wounded in a shooting and three roadside bombings in Baquba, the capital of Diyala province, a police lieutenant colonel and Dr Ahmed Ibrahim of Baquba General Hospital said.
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/three-killed-iraq-attacks-world-powers-meet?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AlAkhbarEnglish+%28Al+Akhbar+English%29

Jordan

Jordanian worker dies after setting himself ablaze
A Jordanian man died after setting himself on fire on Thursday morning in apparent despair over having been fired from his job last week, police and a colleague said. 

http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/05/24/216200.html
Jordan bank fires Christian woman for refusing to wear headscarf
The Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank on Wednesday fired a Christian employee because she refused to wear a scarf to cover her hair as part of uniform for female staff, its spokeswoman said. “
http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/05/23/215997.html

Washington’s Bahrain in the Levant
Despite sharing some of the socio-economic and political problems that propelled uprisings in other Arab countries, Jordan remains an exception to the trend. And if it can be kept that way, much of the world inside the Beltway will celebrate.
http://www.merip.org/washingtons-bahrain-levant

Unearthing Jordan’s Soviet Cinema
A collection of decades-old films uncover some forgotten truths about Jordan’s dalliance with socialism. In 2008, Ali Maher, a commissioner for Jordan’s Royal Film Commission, received a phone call from a Russian friend. She was in the process of clearing out the old Amman headquarters of the Jordan-Russian (once Soviet) Friendship Society. The society had moved offices about 20 years prior, but had left behind piles of what appeared to be arcane junk. She thought that Maher might be interested in taking a look around, to see if there was anything worth salvaging.
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/unearthing-jordan%E2%80%99s-soviet-cinema?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AlAkhbarEnglish+%28Al+Akhbar+English%29

 
Lebanon
 

Killed Gunman in Karakass Related to Hariri’s Assassination Group
Security sources told Al-Manar that Shanti was among Al-Qaeda’s group of 13 people who had claimed the responsibility behind Rafik Hariri’s assassination.

http://www.almanar.com.lb/english/adetails.php?eid=56689&cid=23&fromval=1

Fresh clashes broke out in Lebanon’s capital Beirut on Wednesday evening, with grenades thrown and gunfire heard near the Hamra area of the city. At least two grenades exploded in the late evening in the Caracas district of the city, which is next to the popular tourist destination of Hamra. Following the initial explosion there was a number of incidents of gunfire before Lebanese security forces intervened. It was not immediately clear who the groups involved were. A witness on the scene said the clashes started at around 10.30pm but things had gone quiet by 12.30am. He added that two grenades had exploded during the early part of the evening, followed by automatic gunfire.
 
At least two men were killed and seven soldiers wounded in fresh clashes throughout Wednesday evening in the Caracas district of Beirut, the Lebanese army and an Al-Akhbar correspondent confirmed. An army statement said one militant was killed and another injured during the storming of the apartment at roughly 6.15am, while an officer and three soldiers were wounded in the final stoush.
 

Lebanese pilgrims blown up in Iraq
A roadside bomb exploded near a bus carrying Lebanese Shia pilgrims in a Sunni area of western Iraq on Wednesday, killing three and wounding at least 10 others, police and medics said. “A roadside bomb exploded in the Khamsat Kilo area as a bus carrying Lebanese pilgrims… passed on the highway, killing three of them and wounding 10,” a first lieutenant in the Anbar provincial police said, referring to an area west of the provincial capital Ramadi.
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/lebanese-pilgrims-blown-iraq?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AlAkhbarEnglish+%28Al+Akhbar+English%29

Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped in Syria

Abduction of several men in Aleppo, allegedly by Syrian rebels, prompts army raids, and protests in Beirut suburbs.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/05/2012522163849867118.html

Released female Lebanese tell of kidnapping
Syrian rebels deny role in abduction of Shia pilgrims as violence in Syria heightens sectarian tensions in Lebanon.

 

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Hezbollah and Amal movement are following the kidnapping of the Lebanese men in Aleppo very seriously, calling on people not to cut off roads or exercise any violence because it does not serve the issue.

 
A Syrian Islamist cleric said on Thursday that he was mediating the release of 13 Lebanese Shia men kidnapped in Syria two days ago. ”They are well and safe, we are trying to secure their release, but the Syrian army shelling of the area has been blocking it so far,” Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zoaby, head of Free People of Syria group, told Reuters. Zoaby said the kidnappers would issue a video or recording of the kidnapped men soon to show they were being treated well. He said the kidnappers want to hand the men to Lebanese authorities.
 
Amal thugs attack Syrian workers

Comrade Ibrahim talks about a racist campaign by Amal thugs against Syrian workers.  (I predict that Human Rights Watch will cover this because the culprits are not their friends in March 14).  

 
Berri: Resistance and Liberation Day Opportunity to Support Army
Lebanese Speaker Nabih Berri congratulated the Lebanese people on the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, which falls on Friday, and reiterated his call for dialogue in Lebanon in order to prevent strife.
http://www.almanar.com.lb/english/adetails.php?eid=56579&cid=23&fromval=1

Aoun: Israel Has Ambitions in Lebanon, Some Forget it
Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun said on Wednesday that some Lebanese forget the Israeli threats around Lebanon and try to link Syrian events with Lebanese ones in order to spread chaos.
http://www.almanar.com.lb/english/adetails.php?eid=56599&cid=23&fromval=1 

Neil MacFarquhar justifies the kidnapping of innocent Lebanese, As’ad AbuKhalil

Look at this outrage:  ”Activists reached in the Aleppo area said the Lebanese were grabbed on suspicion that they were Hezbollah “shabiha,” or thugs, working for the Syrian government.”  Shame on Neil MacFarquhar.  In fact, the thugs are his contact in the armed Syrian opposition who are lying and justifying the kidnapping of innocent Lebanese.  Not even Saudi and Hariri media who are aligned with the Syrian opposition and Free Syrian Army have made this claim.  Not one Arab media have made those claims.  So now we know that the worst thugs are the contacts of Mr. MacFarquhar in Syria.  Some of the families are from the Amal movement and we know the names of the kidnapped and we know where they were in Iran and for what religious purpose.  Even the Free Syrian Army which earlier identified itself to the women who were released had to later lie and claim that they were not involved, when they were, because it was clear that those were civilians who were kidnapped to exchange them with prisoners in Syrian regime jail.

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2012/05/neil-macfarquhar-justifies-kidnapping.html

Phalangist and Hezbollah students clash at Beirut university
A brawl erupted at a major university in Beirut on Wednesday between student groups of rival political factions, prompting Lebanese security forces to intervene, local media reported. Supporters of Hezbollah clashed with pro-Phalangist and Lebanese Forces (LF) students at the University of Saint Joseph (USJ), before security forces broke up the fight. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Al-Jadeed TV network said Phalangist, LF and Hizballah student bodies were meeting to defuse the tension.
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/phalangist-and-hezbollah-students-clash-beirut-university?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AlAkhbarEnglish+%28Al+Akhbar+English%29
 

But the shooting in Beirut should not be diminished. Gunmen back on the streets of the capital produces a mixture of intense fear and weariness among the Lebanese. The fighting centred around the Berjawi family – Sheikh Shaker Berjawi, who was once pro-Palestinian and then pro-Mourabitoun, a particularly venal militia, and is now pro-Syrian, versus other members of his anti-Syrian extended family who support the Prime Minister Saad Hariri. But it spread from Tarek el-Jdeideh into the shopping district of Verdun and then moved towards the museum, the old civil war crossing point in Beirut.The problem is that Syria now dominates Lebanon as surely as it did in the days when tens of thousands of its troops occupied much of the country. You only have to count how many times the phrases “pro-Syrian” and “anti-Syrian” appear in reports about Lebanon to grasp that the division between the government – electorally pro-Syrian and very much supported by Hezbollah and pro-Syrian Christian parties and the Shia Muslims – and the anti-Syrian Sunnis and Druze and Phalangist Christians is presently incurable. But every time the Lebanese have been offered another civil war, they have turned it down. The young men and women educated outside Lebanon during the 1975-90 war do not want another conflict and are contemptuous of the sectarian politics, introduced by the French almost 100 years ago. And no one can forget who won the civil war: the one neighbouring power whose soldiers were stabled across the land, that rock-solid, secure dictatorship which would never suffer internal dissent, a nation called Syria.
 
During his last visit to Beirut on 3 May 2012, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman met with former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, former finance minister Mohamad Chatah, Future Movement leader Nader Hariri, and a number of Future Bloc MPs at Saad Hariri’s residence in Beirut’s city center.  The meeting included discussions on many issues, mostly regarding the way forward in Syria and Lebanon, among others. Al-Akhbar was able to obtain a partial transcript of the meeting’s minutes.
 

Jeffrey Feltman’s children: Al-Qa`idah in Lebanon, As’ad AbuKhalil

This is one of the most unreported story: how the US government has sponsored and cultivated (directly and indirectly through the Hariri camp in Lebanon under the umbrella of March 14 movement–dubbed “pro-Western” in the Western press) Sunni Salafite groups, including those with a Jihadi bent.  In their eagerness to prop up rivals and opponents to Hizbullah, the US has midwifed the rise of various Salafite groups in the country.  Some, of course, are parts of Al-Qa`idah.  Of course, this won’t be the first time the US has done such a thing: this movie has been shown many times before and the last time was in Libya, and not in Afghanistan in the 1980s.  So today, the Lebanese government under Saudi/Qatari/Hariri pressures released Shadi Al-Mawlawi who admitted his membership in Al-Qa`idah.  The US is now eager to support, arm, and finance any groups opposed to the Syrian regime, that they will be given birth to a monster in Syria (no, I am not making an argument for the preservation of the lousy Syrian regime which should be overthrown by its own people).

 
No sooner had Hassan Nasrallah ended his televized address, urging residents of Beirut’s southern suburbs to get off the streets and not to harm Syrian citizens in their areas, than groups of hoodlums responded by going on vile racist anti-Syrian rampages in various places. Most of these were members or followers of the Amal movement. In the Lebanon of the 1970s and 1980s, racist behavior against Syrians was a Christian monopoly. After 2005, the Sunnis and Druze joined in. Following the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, so did a considerable portion of the Shia, thus making the picture of Lebanese racism complete.
 
Pilgrimage Trips: The Dangerous Road to Faith
Three Lebanese women were killed and 14 others were injured when a road bomb exploded near their bus west of Baghdad, while on their way to visit holy sites in the Najaf and Karbala.
 
Syria
 
A UN panel said on Thursday that government forces are to blame for most rights abuses in the latest violence sweeping Syria, as a watchdog reported renewed shelling of a rebel bastion. Meanwhile, President Bashar Assad said Syria’s government was capable of finding a way out of the crisis gripping his country, as he met with a visiting minister from main regional ally Iran.
 
Amnesty sees possible crimes against humanity by Syria
The Syrian government may have committed crimes against humanity by using “lethal” force and “torturing” detainees in its crackdown on a 14-month uprising, Amnesty International said on Thursday.
 

Assad says Syria ‘able’ to get out of crisis
Meeting Iranian official, Syrian president says Syria “able to get out of this crisis” ahead of parliament address.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/05/2012524113941282101.html

Anti-government demonstration broken up violently by security forces in Aleppo, according to activist groups.
 
Apart from over the dozen Lebanese pilgrims abducted by armed groups… Three Iranian Truck Drivers Abducted in Syria

Three Iranian truck drivers have been abducted by “armed opposition groups” in Syria, Iran’s charge d’affaires in Damascus was quoted by media sources Wednesday as saying.
http://www.almanar.com.lb/english/adetails.php?eid=56609&cid=23&fromval=1

Speculation over ‘killing’ of Assad brother-in-law
Speculation was rife on Wednesday among Syrian anti-regime activists over the alleged “killing” of President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law who is also Syria’s deputy defence minister.
http://news.yahoo.com/speculation-over-killing-assad-brother-law-170328148.html

 
The Assef Shawkat controversy continues to gain traction. Was he assassinated? Not since JR of Dallas fame, has murder been so mysterious and talked about. Chances are, however, that he is alive and kicking. Assef Shawkat’s town-folks deny that he is dead, according to the on-line news site, “Syria Politic.” When their journalist, called people in the town, townfolks laughed at the news, claiming that they don’t even have a tradition of raising a black flag for the dead. Opposition sources claimed that the people of Madhale had raised a black flag for him. The townsfolk interviewed by Syria Politic say the news about his death is bunkum. This doesn’t prove much, but it does suggest that opposition members who write about the assassination are making parts of the story up.

http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=14724&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Syriacomment+%28Syria+Comment%29 

Syria says sanctions have cost country $4 billion
Syria’s oil minister acknowledged the heavy toll international sanctions have taken on the country’s oil sector, saying Wednesday that they had sucked about $4 billion from the economy.
http://news.yahoo.com/syria-says-sanctions-cost-country-4-billion-121445646.html

Venezuela delivers oil to Syria
Syrian oil minister Sufian Alao said on Wednesday a Venezuelan oil tanker with 35,000 tonnes of diesel had docked in Syria a day earlier and another was being prepared. “A Venezuelan tanker carrying 35,000 tonnes of diesel docked in Syria yesterday and Venezuela is preparing another tanker which will come to Syria soon,” state news agency SANA quoted Alao as saying. Ship tracking data on Reuters shows that the Negra Hipolita, which is managed by state oil firm PDVSA, left Venezuela at the start of May and docked at the Syrian port of Banias this week.

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/venezuela-delivers-oil-syria?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AlAkhbarEnglish+%28Al+Akhbar+English%29

Turkey accuses Syria of harboring Kurdish rebels
Syria is allowing Kurdish rebels who are fighting Turkish forces to establish bases in Syrian territory, as ties between the two neighboring countries deteriorate, a Turkish minister said Wednesday. Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said Turkish intelligence indicates that Syria is allowing rebels to establish themselves in areas close to the Turkish border. Some Kurdistan Workers’ Party rebels have even taken charge of running small Syrian towns, Sahin claimed, describing the development as an apparent act of revenge against Turkey.
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/turkey-accuses-syria-harboring-kurdish-rebels?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AlAkhbarEnglish+%28Al+Akhbar+English%29
 

…The one positive observation, in the US assessment, is that despite sustaining heavy losses at the hands of the Syrian regular army, the FSA is in better shape and more eager to fight on, and that the terms of the confrontation have improved despite the splits in the opposition. Washington knows that Iran is well aware that its support for Syria puts it at loggerheads with the entire Arab world. Yet Tehran evidently views things differently, and sees the loss its closest Arab friend – and its conduit to Hezbollah – as a worse outcome than losing all the other Arabs. The US, for its part, has not kept secret an approach made to it by Saudi Arabia, to declare its willingness to supply the world market with any additional oil it needs via the Red Sea in the event of Israel directing a severe military blow to Iran.

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/us-no-longer-sees-assad%E2%80%99s-days-numbered?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AlAkhbarEnglish+%28Al+Akhbar+English%29

U.S. and Other News

Amnesty criticizes U.S. for ‘unlawful’ bin Laden raid
WASHINGTON — Amnesty International criticized the United States on Wednesday for its use of lethal force, particularly for the “unlawful” killing of Osama bin Laden in a clandestine US commando raid in Pakistan last May. “The US administration made clear that the operation had been conducted under the USA’s theory of a global armed conflict between the USA and Al-Qaeda in which the USA does not recognize the applicability of international human rights law,” it said in its annual report. “In the absence of further clarification from the US authorities, the killing of Osama bin Laden would appear to have been unlawful,” it said.

BAE signs £1.9bn Saudi jet deal
British defence giant BAE signs a £1.9bn ($3bn) deal with Saudi Arabia to supply Hawk trainer jets, safeguarding over 200 UK jobs.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-18173779#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Saudi university holds urgent meeting on use of ‘Persian Gulf’ in exam
The administration of King Khaled University in the Saudi province of Asir held an urgent meeting over an English exam that contained the term “Persian Gulf”, a phrase which has been a major bone of contention between Iran and Gulf nations. 

http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/05/24/216224.html
 
www.TheHeadlines.Org

27 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    May 24, 2012, 12:39 pm

    Thirty U.S. senators will vote today over whether there really are 5 million Palestinian “refugees” or just around 30,000

    like some guy from tennessee defines who’s a refugees. if this isn’t gross what is? our senate is meaningless sitting around all day pretending they are the knesset.

    i am so over this

  2. eljay
    May 24, 2012, 1:17 pm

    >> From “Eliminating 4,970,000 Palestinian refugees: Status Update”:
    >> The bill, slated for markup on May 22, would challenge the status of the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Palestinian refugees — a great many of whom claim to be refugees despite the fact that they were never personally displaced in the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars.

    The bill should also challenge the status of Jews who claim a right to “return” to a place from which either they nor their parents nor grandparents nor great-grandparents, etc., came from or have ever lived.

    >> As Kirk’s office explains, Congress will soon need to consider tough questions, like whether U.S. taxpayers should be footing the bill for welfare programs in the West Bank and Gaza …

    Perhaps Congress should consider tougher questions, like whether U.S. taxpayers should be footing the bill for an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist Jewish State.

    • Fredblogs
      May 24, 2012, 2:42 pm

      The law of return (not a right of return) is a law granting favorable immigration status. It is granted by the national laws of one country. Israel could just as easily change the law to not grant the right of return. Whether the Palestinian descendants are refugees has nothing to do with the law of return.

      • eljay
        May 24, 2012, 6:06 pm

        >> The law of return … is a law granting favorable immigration status. It is granted by the national laws of one country.

        Right. And since the country is Israel, the law should apply to all Israelis and their descendants, equally.

        >> Whether the Palestinian descendants are refugees has nothing to do with the law of return.

        The law of return has as its premise a right of “return” to the “Land of Israel” (LoI) for Jews who are descended from the refugees who were exiled from the LoI.
        – Categorize all Palestinians and their descendants as refugees from their lands since 1948.
        – Categorize all ancient Jews and their descendants as refugees from the LoI.
        – To both groups, apply the same criteria (# of generations removed from the land, etc.) for determining what constitutes a refugee.
        – Those who qualify as a refugee are entitled to return; those who do not qualify as a refugee are not entitled to return.

      • Fredblogs
        May 24, 2012, 9:19 pm

        No, since Israel is a sovereign country it should apply to whoever they want it to apply to. If they want a law of return that applies to red-headed, left-handed bald midgets with dandruff, they have the sovereign right to make such a law. As I said, it has nothing to do with refugee status of the Jews, or the Palestinians. I don’t consider myself a refugee and I can only move to Israel with the permission of the Israeli government. Fortunately for me they are gracious enough that they extend that privilege (not a right) to me. The issues of refugee status and law of return are completely separate.

      • Talkback
        May 25, 2012, 5:07 am

        Fredblogs: “No, since Israel is a sovereign country it should apply to whoever they want it to apply to.”

        Universal moralist Fredblogs’ lessons for today:
        Nazi Germay murdered or expelled its Jewish citizens and didn’t let them return. Because it was a a souvereign country it should have done whatever it wanted to do.

      • playforpalestine
        May 25, 2012, 7:45 am

        “Right. And since the country is Israel, the law should apply to all Israelis and their descendants, equally.”

        Why? That makes no sense, there are no Israeli refugees. Some of the Jews it allowed to emigrate were refugees from other countries. But the term “Right of Return” references an end to the ancient Jewish diaspora.

        “- Categorize all Palestinians and their descendants as refugees from their lands since 1948.
        – Categorize all ancient Jews and their descendants as refugees from the LoI.”

        You’re funny. Why would Israel want to rejigger their return law so as to neuter its key national objective while simultaneously fulfilling the goals of the Palestinians, (ie: the people Israel has essentially been at war with for the past 80 years.)

        Not to mention, most Palestinians aren’t even actually refugees from the land Israel now sits on. Why would ALL Palestinians be granted this status anyway?

        “And since the country is Israel, the law should apply to all Israelis and their descendants, equally.”

        It’s not really Israel though, it’s Palestine. A lot of these people were never refugees to begin with, they were internally displaced. At any rate, in East Jerusalem, where Palestinian residents are allowed to apply for citizenship, fewer than 5% chose to do so.

      • eljay
        May 25, 2012, 9:04 am

        >> No, since Israel is a sovereign country it should apply to whoever they want it to apply to. If they want a law of return that applies to red-headed, left-handed bald midgets with dandruff, they have the sovereign right to make such a law.

        And it would be as unjust as Israel’s current supremacist and discriminatory law of “return”. The only difference is that a hypocrite like you would be complaining that it now discriminated against you. :-(

      • talknic
        May 25, 2012, 11:44 am

        playforpalestine

        Uh huh… Problem… East Jerusalem isn’t in Israel. Try UNSC res 476

      • Fredblogs
        May 25, 2012, 1:36 pm

        @eljay
        Not at all. Countries have the right to invite or not invite people based on whatever criterion they choose.

        @talkback
        That’s a strawman argument. The right to decide who you let in is not a right to mass murder your own citizens.

      • eljay
        May 25, 2012, 1:44 pm

        >> Why would Israel want to rejigger their return law so as to neuter its key national objective …

        Exactly. Israel did not and does not have any interest in being a secular, democratic and egalitarian state of and for all Israelis, equally. It is interested only in being a religion-supremacist state for Jews.

  3. Fredblogs
    May 24, 2012, 2:38 pm

    Actually, are there any other people in the world where the descendants of refugees are considered refugees? IOW, are they trying to make the definition for the Palestinians the same as for everyone else, or different from everyone else?

    • Talkback
      May 25, 2012, 5:14 am

      Fredblogs: “Actually, are there any other people in the world where the descendants of refugees are considered refugees? IOW, are they trying to make the definition for the Palestinians the same as for everyone else, or different from everyone else?”

      You really have become an antizionist, don’t you Fredblogs? Zionism considers Jews to be descendants of ancient refugees and therefore have the right to “return” to their “historic” homeland. Are they trying to make the definition for Jews the same as for everyone else, or different from everyone else, especially from Palestinians?

    • Woody Tanaka
      May 25, 2012, 9:52 am

      “Actually, are there any other people in the world where the descendants of refugees are considered refugees?”

      Are there any states so evil as Israel to have perpetuated the crime creating the refugees and refused to permit them their right of return for so long as to create another generation of refugees?

      • playforpalestine
        May 25, 2012, 10:42 am

        Sure. The big difference is that nowhere else are there states so morally bankrupt as the Arab states who refuse to allow any Palestinian refugees to become citizens of any of their states (except for Jordan, which later reneged anyway).

        Not only that but they created a separate UN organization dedicated JUST to the Palestinians. So instead of focusing on the best interests of the Palestinian people like the normal UN refugee org would do, the UNRWA concerns itself primarily with politics. For example, it has refuse on many occasions prevented states like Israel from building modern brick structures in Gaza refugee camps to replace the horrible accommodations that existed with the rationale that it would give the refugees a sense of permanence when they should be focused on their goal of one day returning to their homes in Israel. (Despite the fact that those homes are long gone and there is no chance of them ever going back there.)

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 25, 2012, 11:25 am

        Why shoudl they become citizens of another state? Their not Jordanians or Lebonese or Syrians. They’re Palestinians. When the cancer of zionism is cut out or its metastasization into the West Bank staunched, they should return to Palestine. Why should anyone aid the criminal zionists in their crimes?

      • Talkback
        May 25, 2012, 12:19 pm

        playforpalestine: “The big difference is that nowhere else are there states so morally bankrupt as the Arab states who refuse to allow any Palestinian refugees to become citizens of any of their states …”

        Then imagine how morally bankrupt Israel is which made them refugees and denationalized them.

        “Not only that but they created a separate UN organization dedicated JUST to the Palestinians.”

        UNRWA was created for Arab AND Jewish Palestinian refugees.

      • talknic
        May 25, 2012, 12:23 pm

        playforpalestine May 25, 2012 at 10:42 am

        “The big difference is that nowhere else are there states so morally bankrupt as the Arab states who refuse to allow any Palestinian refugees to become citizens of any of their states”

        Palestinian refugees don’t want to become citizens of the Arab States. They’d rather maintain their RoR. Nor do the Arab States have any obligation to offer refugees citizenship if they don’t want it.

        ” (except for Jordan, which later reneged anyway)”

        Jordan offered limited citizenship to Palestinians when it was the Occupying Power over the West Bank in AGREEMENT with Israel under the 1949 Armistice AGREEMENT and; Jordan offered specifically limited citizenship to Palestine refugees in Jordanian refugee camps, without infringing on their RoR

        Israel is now the Occupying Power of the West Bank under the Israeli / Jordan Peace Treaty.

        “Not only that but they created a separate UN organization dedicated JUST to the Palestinians. “

        In fact it was for all refugees from Palestine. People can check. Pity you don’t. It doesn’t say “Palestinian” anywhere.

        “UNRWA concerns itself primarily with politics”

        Politics and final status are not within its mandate.

        “For example, it has refuse on many occasions prevented states like Israel from building modern brick structures in Gaza refugee camps”

        Quote the official offer … You’ll find it involved swapping Palestinian land for Palestinian land with the Palestinians, in order that Israel could get prime Palestinian land for illegal Israeli settlers.

      • playforpalestine
        May 30, 2012, 4:24 am

        “Then imagine how morally bankrupt Israel is which made them refugees and denationalized them.”

        Israel didn’t denationalize them. Read the UNRWA requirements. They refer to Palestine refugees. The fact that Palestine never came into existence is not Israel’s fault. According to Hostage, the Palestinians willingly joined forces with Jordan instead, making most of them Jordanian. Then it was Jordan who denationalized them in 1988.

        “UNRWA was created for Arab AND Jewish Palestinian refugees.”

        REALLY? So how much of their resources have gone to help Jewish refugees?

      • Talkback
        May 30, 2012, 8:13 am

        “Israel didn’t denationalize them. Read the UNRWA requirements.”

        Israel didn’t make them Israelis allthough required by international and human right law and resolution 181 chapter 3.1.

        “The fact that Palestine never came into existence is not Israel’s fault.”

        Jewish terrorism pre 1948 and Jewish occupation post 1967 prevented/prevents a Palestinian state.

        “So how much of their resources have gone to help Jewish refugees?”

        They became Israelis and lost refugee status.

      • playforpalestine
        May 30, 2012, 10:52 am

        “Israel didn’t make them Israelis allthough required by international and human right law and resolution 181 chapter 3.1.”

        What international law is that? And res 181 never went into effect on any count.

        “Jewish terrorism pre 1948 and Jewish occupation post 1967 prevented/prevents a Palestinian state.”

        Really? Well, Israel seemed able to accomplish it despite terrorism, international boycotts, trade embargoes, 2 back to back wars, an occupation, a ban on Jewish immigration and property sales to Jews, the Holocaust, and so on. Israel lost a full 1% of its entire population during their war of independence. Yet they managed to build a state.

        BTW, what was preventing the state from getting built during those 19 years between the 1948 war and the 1967 one?

        “They became Israelis and lost refugee status.”

        Yet somehow none of the Palestinians who gained Jordanian citizenship lost their refugee status.

      • playforpalestine
        May 31, 2012, 2:52 am

        “UNRWA was created for Arab AND Jewish Palestinian refugees.”

        No.

        Among the 21,555 persons of Palestinian citizenship properly speaking who are neither Jews or Arabs, there must be some Moslems and some Christians of various origins (Turkish, Greek, Armenian, etc.) of whom 7,902 are natives of Palestine. These persons, who at the time of the census were placed in the general category of “Others”, cannot be considered as refugees even if they left Palestinian territory after 29 November 1947. They should be covered by the provisions laid down on that date by the General Assembly concerning religious and minority rights in Israel. Moreover, the Arab States could not be required to accept in their territories refugees not of Arab origin.

        http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/418E7BC6931616B485256CAF00647CC7

      • Fredblogs
        May 25, 2012, 1:37 pm

        There were millions of refugees after WWII. Many of them never allowed to return home. Guess what, their descendants aren’t considered refugees.

    • talknic
      May 25, 2012, 12:30 pm

      Fredblogs May 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      “Actually, are there any other people in the world where the descendants of refugees are considered refugees?”

      Yes. German legislation grants RoR for Jewish folk and their lineal descendants, which is beyond the requirement.

      Yes. All lineal descendants of refugees who’re in a refugee camp are considered to be refugees.

      • Fredblogs
        May 25, 2012, 1:39 pm

        Sorry, talknic, but one country happening to allow preferred immigration status doesn’t make the Jews refugees. Show me any U.N. or other document that considers present descendants of Jewish Holocaust refugees to be refugees themselves.

        Also, if you mean that post about UNHCR 184, that said “dependents”, not “descendants”.

  4. Taxi
    May 24, 2012, 9:48 pm

    We all know that to be Palestinian is to be part of a global affluent elite – explains why so many millions of people are now Palestinian imposters eh!

    And while congress are at it, would they mind awfully if they reclassified and recounted the victims of Darfur, Rowanda, the holocaust etc.

    • Fredblogs
      May 25, 2012, 5:46 pm

      Since no checking is done, and the UNRWA refugee status pays what in most of the third world Middle Eastern countries is a pretty good living, there probably are a lot of impostors.

      Also, not funny about the Darfur, Rwanda and Holocaust victims.

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