Wadi Qana, occupied West Bank—About 30 residents of Deir Istiya gathered under an olive tree in the village’s Qana Valley farmland on Friday, 18 May 2012, for midday prayers. They were praying for a miracle. Last month, Israel’s Civil Administration (ICA)—the deceptive title allotted to the governing body running its occupation of the West Bank—handed nine of Deir Istiya’s farmers orders to uproot over 1,400 olive trees by May 1st or face the consequences. Nafiz Mansour, whose extended family owns most of the farmland in Wadi Qana, is rather despondent when looking towards the future. “What can we do? We are up against the one of the strongest militaries in the world – they can do whatever they want. We are living on 22% of historic Palestine and the are taking more every day.”
Occupation to confiscate 30 dunums of Palestinian land in Deir Estia
The Israeli occupation issued a military order to confiscate 30 dunums (1 dunum= 1000 square meters) of Palestinian land in the village of Deir Estia in the northern West Bank district of Salfit.
Jewish settlers wound Palestinian, set dozens of dunums on fire
A Palestinian youth was shot in his abdomen while hundreds of cultivated dunums of land were set on fire during Jewish settlers attacks on a number of villages to the south of Nablus on Saturday.
Arbitrary checkpoint in the middle of Silwan
In the late hours of Wednesday The Israeli forces located a sudden Arbitrary checkpoint in between Beer Ayoub’s and al Abassiya’s area near the protest tent in Silwan. The Israeli forces provoked the locals and it raised the tension in the area. 2 days ago a lot of confrontations happened as a result of the Israeli soldiers’ and the settlers’ guards provocations, The Israeli forces tried to invade a house through its roof in the Beer Ayoub area, and it lead to an angry reaction from the local youth that attacked the Forces using stones and molotov’s cocktails . During the confrontations the Israeli forces used robber bullets, sound and gas bombs, but it didn’t stop the people’s anger, the Forces tried to control the situation but couldn’t as a result of their provocations.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A group of Palestinians deported to Gaza after the Nativity Church siege in 2002 on Saturday disputed claims by a former economic adviser that they had signed an agreement to be exiled. The 26 deportees told Israeli forces during the siege that only Yasser Arafat could negotiate on their behalf, denying claims that they themselves gave their approval to be deported, a statement said.
UN Committee 2012 Session Concludes Israeli System Tantamount to Apartheid
Between mid-February and early March 2012, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held its 80th session, in which it evaluated the compliance of several states with the 1966 International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). Among these states was Israel, which became a party to the Convention in 1979. The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations are notable because they establish that Israel’s policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) are tantamount to Apartheid, and additionally determine that many state policies within Israel also violate the prohibition on Apartheid as enshrined in Article 3 of the Convention. ... Israel is a party to ICERD but has neither signed nor ratified the Apartheid Convention.
Discerning the likely direction of events in the Middle East and their impact on the Palestinian refugees is a speculative but important step in trying to avoid pitfalls and policy errors of the past. The challenge is particularly difficult at this moment of great change: a financial crisis of systemic proportions, the rise of China and India as global actors, the accelerating impact of climate change, and the start of the Obama presidency in the United States. This contribution briefly examines the current situation of Palestinian refugees before presenting an overview of wider trends in the world refugee populations under United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) jurisdiction with a particular focus on repatriation flows, resettlement, and local integration. It then focuses on possible scenarios in the resolution of the Middle East conflict, encompassing the continuation of the status quo of Israeli domination, the debate on bi-nationalism, and the two-state model for a peaceful solution. It concludes by examining these possible scenarios and applying them to specific options and programmes for the refugees and by arguing that demographic growth, the continuing preference of the international community for repatriation as a preferred option for refugees, and the results of climate change are the issues that will have the most significant impact on the future of the Palestinian refugees.
Did the State Department just create 5 million Palestinian refugees?
by the academic journal Refugee Survey Quarterly projected that if that definition remains intact, there will be 11 million Palestinian refugees by 2040 and 20 million by 2060.
Palestinians in the occupied territories, the diaspora and in refugee camps protested earlier this month on the 64th anniversary of the Nakba, commemorating the expulsion of a quarter million Palestinians by nascent Israeli forces. Palestinians were sending a message to the world that the right to return to their homes would not be forgotten, and that millions of refugees are awaiting a solution.
Symbols of Nakba, Visions of Return: Al Majdal Special Issue on the Nakba and Resistance
For peoples engaged in struggle, the potency of symbolism is undeniable. In the Palestinian case, the symbols of struggle cover the world throughout which we have been dispersed, and exhibit the depth of a century-old quest for freedom. Among the most potent of these symbols is the kufiyyeh, a headdress associated with 1936-1939 Rebellion against British occupation and Zionist colonization. Large metal keys have become emblazoned in the Palestinian collective memory because refugees carried the keys to their homes to which they were sure they would return. Other symbols include Naji al-Ali’s Handhala, a caricature character with the spiky hair of a hedgehog bearing witness to the bitter ironies of loss and victory; the map of a homeland resembling a sharp shard of glass carved out by European powers and gifted to the world’s most famous Diaspora, only to create today’s largest and longest standing refugee population; and a flag designed as part of a British colonial campaign against its rival Ottoman empire, later to become a banned symbol of resistance raised in acts of defiance by protesting youth throughout the 1980s.
Siege of Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Two young men in their 20s sustained injuries Saturday while they worked inside a smuggling tunnel in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Gaza medical official Adham Abu Salmiya said the two were evacuated to Abu Yousif al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah for medical treatment. Since Israel and Egypt imposed a crippling siege on the Gaza Strip in 2006, about 170 Palestinians were killed in accidents in smuggling tunnels Gazans have been depending on to bring all kinds of merchandise from Egypt. More than 700 were injured.
WHO adopts resolution slamming Israel's siege on Gaza
The general assembly of the World Health Organization adopted unanimously a draft resolution submitted by Arab countries including Saudi Arabia condemning the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
Fear to CPDS: Short Documentaries Tell the Story, Talgha Bendie – Gaza
The Centre for Political and Development Studies (CPDS) had the privilege of having Harry Fear, a young independent film maker, present a lecture on the importance of short documentaries. Harry who is 23 hails from Oxford, England. He has made many short documentaries which highlight issues such as social injustices which take place around the world. Fear recently returned from South Africa where he shot some short documentaries on location. He is currently working in the Gaza Strip shooting short documentaries which have a running time of up to thirty minuets or less and hopes to show the world the reality of life in Gaza as opposed to the mainstream bias of the Palestinian/ Israeli conflict.
Power of Culture: PalFest Breaks the Siege of Gaza, Ayah Bashir - Gaza
Amid the focus on the economic hardships caused by Israel's ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, it has been easy for many to overlook the fact that the territory's 1.6 million people have been kept under a cultural siege as well. This is ironic because much international debate has emphasized the rights and wrongs of cultural boycott of Israel in the context of the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. For years, the Palestine Festival of Literature — PalFest — has been trying to break this siege.
Israeli Violence and Aggression / Attacks on Peaceful Protest
IOF troops open fire at southern Gaza
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened heavy machinegun fire at the eastern outskirts of Khan Younis, to the south of Gaza Strip, on Saturday morning, local sources said.
An Israeli settler shot and wounded a Palestinian man on Saturday in a clash that began when a group of settlers set fire to fields belonging to a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank, officials said. Residents said about 25 settlers, some of them carrying guns, set fire to wheat fields in the village of Orif, which is near the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
WATCH: Settlers set fire to Palestinian olive grove, man shot, Noam Sheizaf
Eyewitness report that a Palestinian who tried to put out a fire started by settlers in Urif was shot and injured. Throughout the day, there were reports of settlers from Yitzhar trying to set fire to Palestinian olive groves near the village of Urif, south of Nablus in the West Bank. The entire area is know for its frequent confrontations between settlers and local farmers. A team from B’Tselem who arrived at the spot caught one of the attacks on camera; Sarit Michaeli, spokesperson for B’Tselem who filmed the video, told me she had a very clear view of the settlers torching the field.
Jewish settler runs over Palestinian child
A six-year-old Palestinian child was rushed to hospital on Friday after a Jewish settler ran over him with his car near a Ramallah village.
Army Attacks Bil’in’s Weekly Nonviolent Protest
The Friends of Freedom and Justice Committee in Bil’in village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, reported Friday that dozens of residents and international supporters were treated for the effects of teargas inhalation after Israeli soldiers attacked the weekly nonviolent protest against the illegal Annexation Wall and Settlements.
IOF soldiers quell weekly village march in Beit Ummar
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) quelled on Saturday the weekly peaceful anti wall march in Beit Ummar village, to the north of Al-Khalil, local sources said.
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) persisted in attacking the weekly peaceful marches against the segregation wall and settlement expansion.
IOF soldiers arrest Palestinian child, Jerusalemites
IOF arrested on Saturday a child from the Dhohsheh refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, while other forces raided several towns in Al-Khalil on Friday night and set up roadblocks on their entrances.
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Prisoners in Israel's Huwwara detention center started a hunger strike Wednesday in protest of poor conditions, the Palestinian prisoners society said. The society's lawyer visited the jail Thursday and said prisoners were returning their meals. Prisoner Rida Khalid, of al-Ain refugee camp in Nablus, said detainees were demanding decent food, cleaning products to wash their clothes and cells and adequate breaks, the society said in a statement. Khalid said prisoners' demands were basic yet the administration refused to meet them. He said the hunger strike would continue until the demands were met.
Hamas administrative detainees threaten to resume hunger strike
Administrative detainees from Hamas said they are seriously mulling over going on gradual hunger strike if the Israeli prison authority violated its agreement with them and extended their detention.
Ashkar: Prisoners from Gaza to receive family visits next month
The IPS told prisoners from Gaza that it will allow their relatives to visit them starting next June, under the recent agreement signed between the prisoners' leadership and the IPS.
Palestinian Youth statement thanks football ultras group in Scotland for their solidarity
On the 13th of May, as the ‘deal’ to end the mass Palestinian hunger strike was about to emerge from the rumour-mill, far away from Palestine in Scotland’s biggest city Glasgow, a display of solidarity with the Palestinian hunger strikers was done supporters of Celtic Football Club. This was the final game of the season when Celtic were given the league trophy and crowned Scottish Football Champions and amid all the displays, colour, noise and party atmosphere a flurry of Palestine flags and a banner reading “Dignity is more precious than food” appeared in one particular corner section of the stadium.
link to weareallhanashalabi.wordpress.com
Sheikh Ekrema Sabri renews rejection of visits to Jerusalem
Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, the higher Islamic authority chairman, has renewed his rejection of Arab and Islamic visits to occupied Jerusalem in solidarity with Al-Aqsa mosque.
We are South Africans artists who have recently learned that in the course of your upcoming international tour (which will include Bulgaria, Greece, Lebanon and Turkey) the Red Hot Chili Peppers are also planning to perform in Israel in September. We appeal to you to heed the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel. As you may know, the boycott enjoys the support of the overwhelming amount of Palestinian civil society (including artists and artist groups) and an increasing number of progressive Israelis. You might wonder what purpose refusing to perform in Israel might serve? As a people whose parents and grandparents suffered under (and resisted) Apartheid in South Africa, our history is testament to the value and legitimacy that the international boycott had in bringing an end to the Apartheid regime in our country. When artists and sportspeople began refusing to perform in South Africa, the world’s eyes turned to the injustices that were happening here. This then created a wave of pressure on politicians and world leaders representing their constituencies, to insist on a regime-change - this contributed to a free, democratic and non-racial South Africa. The same is not only possible for Palestine-Israel, but inevitable. The question is: on which side of history do you want to be? Performing in Apartheid South Africa during the 80s, or in Israel today, is choosing to be on the wrong side of history.
Why South Africa’s Decision to Rebrand Some Israeli Imports Packs a Punch, Karl Vick
The international effort to boycott products made in Israeli settlements got a boost recently from a formidable quarter. South Africa announced it would label imports from the West Bank not “Made in Israel” but perhaps “Made in Occupied Palestine.” It seems a small thing. The new regulation stops well short of calling for a boycott on Ahava beauty products and other exports manufactured or grown by Israeli companies on Palestinian land occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
link to globalspin.blogs.time.com
One of South Africa’s largest tertiary institutions, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in Durban, is a site of multiple controversies, but a near-disaster on Monday deserves more reflection because it points us in a positive direction: away from allying with the Israeli state and its apartheid policies during a time of heightened racism. A representative of Israel had been invited to speak but was then disinvited, after the university was called on by staff and students to respect the “academic boycott” of Israel.
It’s not every day you get the chance to grill a high-ranking representative of Lockheed Martin over its role in arming Israel. So I jumped at the opportunity to confront Chad Fulgham, a vice president of the corporation, with some unpalatable truths during his visit to Brussels today. After Fulgham had addressed a conference dealing with the future of NATO, I responded to an invitation for questions from the floor. “Mr Fulgham, in an advertisement published in the program of this event, Lockheed Martin says it is ‘proud to have contributed to smart defense with products such as the F-35’ fighter jets,” I said, looking directly at him. “Are you proud that in 2010, your company signed a contract to supply 20 of these fighter jets to the State of Israel?
Acting as "censor," New York's 14th Street Y abruptly cancels Jewish youth event on Israel boycott, Ali Abunimah
The 14th St Y in New York City abruptly canceled a Jewish youth educational event about boycotting of Israel in what organizers are calling an attempt to “censor” them.
Israel’s UK embassy plans Twitter campaign against boycott of Tel Aviv theater group, Ben White
The Israeli embassy in London, along with pro-Israel bodies in Britain, is coordinating a planned effort to counter the call for a boycott of drama group Habima, it has been revealed.
Israeli / Zionist Racism and Discrimination
During a class on Sabbath halacha relating to religious physicians, the spiritual leader of Shas said that while doctors are expected to do everything in their power – even if it requires violating the Sabbath – in order to save Jews whose lives are in danger, the same does not apply for gentiles. "If a gentile were to get injured in a car accident during Sabbath, and he is brought to the hospital – Israel must not treat him," he said.
Following Wednesday's violent protest against African migrants in Tel Aviv, Likud MK Danny Dannon called to remove African asylum seekers from population centers in Israel. Speaking to Haaretz, Dannon said that the immediate solution for calming the situation and for putting a stop to the violence requires the evacuation of the African migrants from south Tel Aviv. "The infiltrators must be distanced immediately," he said. "We must expedite the construction of temporary detention facilities and remove Africans from population centers." MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union), who makes regular appearances at protests against the migrant population of Tel Aviv, nonetheless said he was “very upset by the violence.” Ben Ari pointed out, however, that “there are things that are outside of my control, that’s the reality.” Ben Ari expressed satisfaction that his campaign to remove the migrant population from Tel Aviv has begun to gain momentum. “Suddenly we see MK’s from Likud and Kadima showing up at protests. Suddenly I hear the Interior Minister saying things I’ve said myself,” said Ben Ari.
Mob against migrants: How far can the violence go?, Dahlia Scheindlin
The rioting last night in south Tel Aviv against African migrants – some of them asylum seekers – was another one of those moments that paralyzed me with a mixture of disbelief, horror and sorrow. The photos of smashed windows were reflexively associated in many Jewish minds with Kristallnacht, as many people on social networks pointed out. One photo of Likud MK Danny Danon standing on a platform exhorting the masses to expel the strangers in their midst was reflexively associated in my mind with Benjamin Netanyahu “on the balcony” circa 1994 or 1995.
There is a disturbing connection to be made between Baron Cohen’s Zionist politics and his willingness to exploit real communities and to bastardize ethnic imagery. Zionism, an ideology that can accommodate liberal and humanistic discourses, cannot be practiced without a concomitant abrogation of the rights of those who are not Jewish, a reality that becomes even more severe when we consider that the vast majority of Palestine’s indigenous inhabitants are Muslim and Christian.
Other News and Developments
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the US State Dept.'s annual report on human rights Thursday, criticizing Palestinian security forces for abusing detainees and restricting civil liberties. The 2011 report's sharpest criticism was leveled at the Hamas government which controls Gaza, but it also noted alleged violations by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and Israeli occupation in the West Bank. It said the three most egregious violations across the occupied territories were arbitrary arrest and associated torture and abuse, restrictions on civil liberties, and government impunity in Gaza.
Analysis / Op-ed
The Electronic Intifada Weekly Podcast - 24 May 2012
This week’s podcast includes several reports of home and property demolitions by Israeli forces against West Bank Palestinians as well as Palestinians with Israeli citizenship; an interview with BDS organizer and activist Nada Elia; and more!
In recent years, the one-state solution has claimed a large proportion of the Palestine/Israel bandwidth. For many people, interest in the issue arose out of necessity. The two-state solution lay still-born or smoldering – and apartheid was as untenable as ever. Others – like me – have never believed in a partition plan for Palestine. Liberalism and equal rights hold their own special appeal. That’s something no amount of moralistic or historical gymnastics can obviate. It was with a focus on the future that several of us at Harvard began to work toward a one-state conference. The main idea, however, was grounded in the present. Our goal – which built on the work done by many before us – was to begin exploring what a shared state could look like. We also wanted to encourage others to begin thinking seriously about alternatives to the two-state model. I alluded to the reason for that above: the two-state solution is over. Completely. Unequivocally. It’s worth briefly reviewing why.
Shiri Krebs is a PhD student at Stanford University law school. She was an international law advisor to Israeli Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch and a researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute. She published a paper
(for Hebrew readers, Haaretz offers this story
) this month in the Vanderbilt Journal of Transitional Law about the rubber stamp offered by the Israel’s highest court to the security services in cases of administrative detention. She pointedly argues against the reputation the Court enjoys for being “interventionist” in protecting the rights of security detainees and offering a robust defense of democratic rights.
German aid to Israel’s war machine is an invitation to abuse human rights, Annette Groth
Israel is constantly increasing its military expenditure. Recently published data indicate that Israel’s spending on “defense” rose by almost 7 percent in 2011, compared to the previous year. The business opportunities provided by a brutal occupation have helped three Israeli companies secure a place on the list of the world’s top arms dealers (“Business as usual for top arms producers despite slowdown in arms sales, says SIPRI,” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 27 February 2012). All three of these firms — Elbit, Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael — happen to be recipients of scientific research grants from the European Union European Union. This reflects how the EU has been eager to nurture both its relationship with Israel and the international market in “security goods.”
This week a sobering and highly informative closed door seminar was held on the plight of Palestinian Prisoners in the elegant surroundings of London’s Westminster Central Hall, a stone’s throw away from the Houses of Parliament and the 11th century Westminster Abbey, the all affirmation of stability and continuity — in starkest contrast to testimony at the proceedings of the meeting. The seminar, hosted by Middle East Monitor
, had been planned and organized at the height of the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike. Although most prisoners are reported to have ended their desperation-driven fasts following a deal with the Israeli authorities, the issues surrounding their shocking treatment and imprisonment are unchanged.
What are Israeli sweets doing in Sidon? How did they reach the heart of the Ein Al-Hilweh refugee camp? According to newspaper reports, this candy was distributed to shops with wrappers indicating that they were “made in Syria and Turkey.” When this packaging was removed, the original wrapper appeared with Hebrew writing. This is not the first time that Israeli products have intruded into our daily lives. For example, those who work in shops importing American or European clothes know very well that some of the famous names are made in enemy factories in occupied Palestine and their labels clearly say “made in Israel.” Moreover, their bosses make them pick out the clothes and remove the labels, threatening to fire them if they told anyone.
Last month, students at universities in the Israeli-occupied West Bank cast their votes for student governments. Unlike their popularity-contest equivalents at universities throughout the world, Palestinian student elections have long been the subject of national attention. In particular, Birzeit University, located in the town of Birzeit outside Ramallah, is seen as a forerunner of developments within the broader Palestinian political scene. Despite another year of electoral marginality, the student Left at Birzeit is confident that it will overcome the trials that confront it.
Being compared to Caroline Glick or the AIPAC crowd is never nice. I understand the superficial case for drawing direct comparisons—and I understand why it’s important for Peter Beinart to make the argument. But it’s not a good one. It is true that both Glick and I recognize that the two-state outcome is a “fable,” and we both offer prescriptions for what to do about it. But that’s it for the commonalities. Beinart and Glick however, may have some uncomfortable things in common.
Published on May 26, 2012 by shoutfordignity
: The Poem is called "Draw a Moustache on Antar's Face". Antar is a folk Arab warrior, he was a black slave and he grew up to be the hero of his tribe. He was in love with Abla and wrote many poems about his love for Abla. The poem likens Palestinian children to Antar in his childhood. The images are drawings from Palestinian children mostly from Gaza. - art was part of their therapy in the aftermath of Cast Lead. The poem calls on them to draw a moustache for Anter as he has grown into a warrior and draw for Abla, his beloved, a beautiful smile and laughter that sounds like bells chiming. The clip matches some of the drawings from the Palestinian children and real life images that inspired them.
JERUSALEM – As a result of the diplomatic momentum geared to disarm international suspicions over the explosive issue of Iran’s nuclear program, the one country not directly party to the two-track negotiation process feels more isolated than Iran. Following the putative breakthrough reached by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, according to which Iran would permit the nuclear watchdog to inspect secret Iranian military sites (including the Parchin base where nuclear weapons’ testing was apparently conducted in 2003), Israel fears the international community will lower its guard.
The Elevation of Jeffrey Feltman
On one issue Feltman is remarkably consistent. When it comes to the Middle East, Feltman has been outspoken about the threats posed by Iran in the region. Whether in Beirut or Manama, he has publically denounced Iranian “interference” outside its own boundaries. At the same time, Feltman has generously offered US assistance to these same regimes. In other words, US interference is quite acceptable, but Iranian interference is utterly unacceptable. This might be adequate behavior for the diplomat of a country, but it is hardly the temperament for a senior UN official. It raises doubts about Feltman’s ability to be even-handed in his deliberations as a steward of the world’s political dilemmas.
A gripping, deeply informative account of the plunder, hypocrisy, and mass violence of plutocracy and empire; insightful, historically grounded and highly relevant to the events of today. This documentary is about the foreign policy of the United States. It demonstrates the importance of the political economy, the Mafia principle, propaganda, ideology, violence and force. It documents and explains how the policy is based on the interest of major corporations and a tiny elite to increase profits and the United States governments own interests in maintaining and expanding it’s imperialistic influence. Inside the United States this has been made possible with a propaganda of fear for the horrible enemies like the Soviet Union, Communists and so on and a love for “free markets”, “democracy”, “freedom” and so on. Externally (and increasingly internally) this has caused massive poverty and suffering, genocide, war, coups, crushed unions and popular movements and environmental destruction.
On 20 May a Bahraini court granted bail to the prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab. However the charges of ‘insulting a national institution’ have not been dropped and, despite paying the bail amount, he remains in detention awaiting another court hearing on a separate charge. This hearing is scheduled for 28 May.
Bahrain to quit Arabsat to protest Iran channels
Bahrain will stop broadcasting its channels on satellite operator Arabsat to protest an Iran-led "hostile" media campaign, the state news agency BNA reported on Saturday.
Last month in Bahrain’s capital of Manama, the police, supported by armored vehicles and troops, fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters to ensure a Formula 1 race would be showcased as scheduled. Inside the stadium, spectators like BBC's Dan Roan described the atmosphere as “relaxed”—like any other F-1 race. But across the city, burning tires set ablaze by pro-democracy protesters sent clouds of black smoke into the horizon as part of the opposition's “three days of rage.” Now, the furor of the international media that surrounded the race has unfortunately already moved on, returning to ignoring the repression of the country's democracy movement. Until the F-1 race, Bahrain’s uprisings had been largely passed over by the international media. It took a Grand Prix to swing the spotlight onto a crisis that’s been neglected and downplayed by the western media and politicians in the past year. The fact that much of the media focus fell on the “recklessness” of the F-1 organizers raises the question: Why did it take the media circus of a Grand Prix to shine light on the ongoing repression in Bahrain?
Fueled by a desire for liberty and dignity, the region’s various uprisings continue unabated. While each uprising faces its own set of challenges and obstacles, various interests have worked to ensure that a semblance of the previous geo-political status quo survives this staggering onslaught of people power. Amid the regional upheaval, world attention has predominately focused on events in Syria while Bahrain has teetered on the edge, with the repressive Al-Khalifa regime maintaining power with the help and encouragement of its Western and regional allies. Unlike the Assad regime, the Al-Khalifa’s have been given a free hand to repress their own people thanks in large part to their close alliance with Saudi Arabia and Western powers. Despite attempts to silence the persistent intifada in Bahrain, whether by framing the dispute as sectarian or whitewashing the regime’s repression, the fight for the future of Bahrain, and the region as a whole, remains unclear.
Cairo's poor hope new president will help them
As Egyptians took part in the country's first free presidential election, residents of one of Cairo's poorest quarters expressed hope that a new leader would help them with a simple request — finding a new home.
Hamdeen Sabbahi will file a lawsuit calling for the suspension of Egypt's presidential election because of alleged voting irregularities and a pending case over the right of former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq to stand, Sabbahi's lawyer said Saturday. Sabbahi is a leftist presidential candidate who did not make it into the run-offs by a very small margin. "We will present an appeal on behalf of candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi ... to the Presidential Elections Commission, citing a series of irregularities ... that have affected the outcome of the first round," lawyer Essam El-Islamboly told Reuters.
A revolutionary activist group in Mansoura has accused the Ahmed Shafiq campaign of buying votes and threatening voters with violence at the polls. Shafiq took first place in the governorate, with 450,000 votes, but in a statement from the “Catch the Feloul” group, the organization said Shafiq had obtained many of these votes either by purchasing them or threatening voters with violence. “Catch the Feloul” is an activist group which works to expose members of the former regime and educate people about them.
Independent polls are pointing to a second round run-off between Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammad Mursi, and a man vowing to bring back security, Ahmad Shafik. These results, if they hold true, would come as a surprise with pre-voting indicators suggesting former foreign minister Amr Moussa and Islamist candidate Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh were the frontrunners heading into the count. The second round is sure to intensify a showdown between the powerful Muslim Brotherhood – the largest bloc in parliament – and the ruling military, who are no doubt hoping for a Shafik victory to ensure the army retains its power in Egyptian politics.
link to english.al-akhbar.com
Egypt Election: Muslim Brotherhood Candidate Could Face Mubarak's Ex-Prime Minister in Runoff
Preliminary results from Egypt’s first-ever competitive presidential election indicate there may be a runoff between Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, and Ahmed Shafik, the former prime minister under ousted president Hosni Mubarak. The elections appear to have been relatively free and fair, with voter turnout estimated at around 40 percent. While official results will not be announced until Tuesday, Morsi appears to be in the lead. The two candidates competing for second place are Shafik, the anti-revolutionary former prime minister, and Hamdeen Sabahi, a longtime protester of the Mubarak regime. We get an update from Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous in Cairo.
ALEXANDRIA - Praying for the best, Mabrooka Hassan Ali sat with her husband under the shade beside their voting station on the Mediterranean coastline. Ali, in her mid-60s, said she had just finished casting her vote for Hamdeen Sabbahi, Egypt’s secular, nationalist candidate. “I did it for the martyrs,” said Ali, who is from downtown Alexandria, the governorate’s most densely populated district. “I did it because we’re tired of being slapped around, youth have no jobs and we want to live.” Alexandria is the home of Khaled Said, a young man who was beaten to death in broad daylight by police in June 2010 and is considered the first martyr of the revolution. It is also considered a stronghold for Islamists, with thousands of Salafi followers and Muslim Brothers. Over the past few weeks, however, Alexandria has proven to be full of surprises.
Why Did Sabbahi - 'One of Us' - Do So Well?
During revolutionary times, remarkable social, cultural and economic changes occur. Each phase potentially carries new surprises as a reflection of these emerging changes. The emergence of Nasserist candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi in third place, so far, behind the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, Mohamed Mursi and Mubarak-era Ahmed Shafiq reveals the significant portion of Egyptians thirsty for social justice. After Islamists – the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists – successfully campaigned for a 'yes' vote in a referendum on the constitutional declaration in March 2011, and then swept the parliamentary elections later in the year, the Islamists managed to win only on average forty-two percent of votes in the presidential elections.
For years we have heard pro-Israeli supporters talk about how Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, well, that argument is no longer valid with the recent historical elections taking place in Neighboring Egypt. Pro-Israeli groups have often sought to legitimize themselves with this argument, that by virtue of being a democracy, Israel should be supported, and that since Israel is a democracy, it shows that they are somehow better than the Arabs.
Straight after P5 +1 talks over Iran's nuclear program in Baghdad, the head of the U.S. negotiating team, Wendy Sherman, traveled to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his advisers on Friday. Sherman will update Israeli officials on the talks in Baghdad, and on preparations for the third round of talks in Moscow on June 18 and 19. Sherman, who is undersecretary of state for political affairs, will also discuss broader bilateral and regional issues with senior Israeli officials during her visit, the State Department said in a statement on Thursday. Sherman will also "reaffirm our unshakable commitment to Israel's security," the statement said without mentioning the just-concluded Iran talks in Baghdad.
WASHINGTON, May 25, 2012 (IPS) - Negotiations between Iran and the United States and other members of the P5+1 group in Baghdad ended in fundamental disagreement Thursday over the position of the P5+1 offering no relief from sanctions against Iran.
Just as the "world powers" – as they’re eerily referred to in news accounts – were rejecting Tehran’s proposal to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent in exchange for lifting the draconian sanctions against Iran, an American cargo ship sent out a distress call near the Strait of Hormuz: pirates were attacking them.
President Jalal Talabani posted on his website a plea for Iraqi's leaders to end the political dispute that threatens to break apar the Coalition government, and perhaps Iraq itself. Meanwhile, at least nine Iraqis were killed and 14 more were wounded.
Baghdad mortar attack kills one, wounds six
A mortar attack in Baghdad killed one person and wounded six others Thursday, in the second attack in Iraq's capital during key talks on Iran's nuclear programme, security and medical officials said.
link to news.yahoo.com
Kidnapped Lebanese Shiite pilgrims 'not in Turkey'
A group of Lebanese Shiite pilgrims kidnapped in Syria and said by Lebanese authorities to have reached Turkey are not in the country after all, a Turkish diplomatic source said on Saturday.
Hezbollah chief Nasrallah: No fence will protect Israel
Speaking in televised address on anniversary of Israeli pullout from south Lebanon, leader of militant group warns Hezbollah has missiles that can reach any point in Israel. In some of his harshest words against Israel in several months, Nasrallah delivered a similar speech two weeks ago, in which he said that Hezbollah was capable of striking any target in Israel. He also stressed that "the days when we fled and they did not are over."
May 25: South Lebanon Returns Home
On 25 May 2000, the Israeli army was forced out of the Lebanese territory it had occupied for 22 years. 12 years later, Lebanon celebrates its liberated lands which continue to be under threat from Israels military. Israeli fighter jets violate Lebanese airspace on a daily basis. In summer of 2006, Israel launched a war to destroy the Lebanese resistance.
With the expulsion of Israeli troops from South Lebanon in May 2000, hundreds of Lebanese collaborators and their families fled with the occupiers. Many have since returned and faced reduced prison sentences, others remain behind the wall that Israel is erecting to block the view of a land where it once roamed.
Mohammad Safa is a veteran of Ansar detention center set up by Israel during its 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Since his stint at Ansar, he has become one of the most prominent advocates for prisoners, detainees and the missing in Lebanon.
Lebanon is always on the verge of civil war, but this status does not always mean that civil war is necessarily around the corner. It may happen tomorrow, or Lebanese may find a way to postpone its eruption, but civil war is inevitable. Something is in the air in Lebanon and it reminds people of my generation of the atmosphere that preceded the civil war of 1975. But there are some differences.
War Against Activists: Turning Saudi Arabia Into A Big Prison
In a secret session on 10 April 2012, the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh sentenced Mohammed Saleh Al-Bajady, who was denied legal representation, to four years in prison followed by a five-year travel ban
. A day later, the same court sentenced Dr. Yousif Al Ahmad
, dean of the law faculty of Imam Mohamed Bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, to five years in prison, a five-year travel ban, and a 27,500-dollar fine. The sentence of both Saudi political activists demonstrates a recent shift in the legal proceedings of Saudi prisoners of conscience.
Not only has the imposition of travel bans as a form of punishment been alarmingly increased; peaceful political activists are also being tried in a court whose mandate is to prosecute terrorist and security-related offenses. Where the Ministry of Interior was once the sole institution that issued such punishments, today it is using the courts to give the arbitrary travel bans a legitimate façade. The ministry’s ability to render arbitrary travel bans and overstep the judicial branch are, however, still intact. In light of increasing political activism and mobilization across the Kingdom in the last year, the ministry has resorted to unwarranted travel bans and the special court to suppress freedom of speech and to give a distorted legal legitimacy to its orchestrated attack on dissent.
Ban-Ki moon blames the regime for 'unacceptable' violence as activists say 50 civilians killed in Homs.
Kuwaiti rally condemns Syria 'massacre'
Hundreds of Kuwaitis including several MPs rallied outside the Syrian embassy on Saturday to condemn a reported massacre in the Syrian town of Houla and to demand the arming of the rebel Free Syrian Army.
Washington is an inch from starting shipping arms to the opposition in Syria, anonymous US officials say. The biggest hitch is that it wants to be sure American guns will be pointed in the right direction and won’t end up in the hands of Al Qaeda.
American banks are refusing to let Syria’s United Nations delegation open a bank account, its ambassador said Thursday blaming sanctions imposed over the conflict in his country. Syria’s U.N. envoy Bashar Jaafari said the refusal by U.S. banks was a “flagrant violation” of the U.N. charter. Syria was among a group of countries that lost their bank accounts when a major U.S. institution closed its branch at the United Nations last year. With U.S. banks applying tougher rules against all diplomatic missions because of fears over terrorist financing regulations, Syria’s U.N. mission was only able to find a new account in Washington. “This new bank has now closed our accounts unexpectedly,” Jaafari told a U.N. General Assembly committee.
Tucked away in the underground garage of a nondescript apartment building in northern Jordan, the door to “the warehouse” is easy to miss. It looks like it should be a janitor’s closet or a boiler room. In fact, the tiny basement apartment is a way station for smugglers moving a vital product.
The United States is reportedly developing
a plan to vet members of the Free Syrian Army before Arab nations transfer arms to them. It hopes to avoid arming muhahideen who turn against America should they succeed in bringing down the Assad regime. The US does not want another al-Qaida on its hands. The race to arm Syria is heating up as Saudi arms shipments are said to be getting through now. Russia reportedly also has an arms shipment en route to Syria.
The UN is asking both sides not to send arms to Syria, but in vain. A new U.N. report blamed
both sides for human rights violations, but explains that the Syrian army is still killing more people than the opposition.
Since the Washington Post’s May 16 report on an influx of arms to Syrian opposition forces, the Obama administration’s plans for a proxy war against Syria have become clearer still. The Post wrote of “significantly more and better weapons” reaching oppositionists, “paid for by Persian Gulf nations [Saudi Arabia and Qatar] and coordinated in part by the United States,” based upon a perspective that “an expanding military confrontation is inevitable.” Saudi Arabia and Qatar were sending weapons with approval from Washington, which has “expanded contacts with opposition forces to provide the gulf nations with assessments of rebel credibility and command-and-control infrastructure.”
U.S. and Other World News
At least 10 people were killed and several others sustained injuries when unmanned US predator drone targeted a mosque in Mir Ali area of North Waziristan Agency on Thursday.
32 Britons could be killed in drone strikes, claims lawyer
“I understand that there are 32 people who British intelligence are concerned about and may provide intelligence to the US that could result in them being killed,” he said.
IT was James, a thickset American interrogator nicknamed “the Elephant,” who first told Lakhdar Boumediene that investigators were certain of his innocence, that two years of questioning had shown he was no terrorist, but that it did not matter, Mr. Boumediene says. The interrogations would continue through what ended up being seven years, three months, three weeks and four days at the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. An aid worker handling orphans in Sarajevo, Mr. Boumediene (pronounced boom-eh-DIEN) found himself swept up in the panic that followed Sept. 11, 2001. He likens himself to a caged cat, toyed with and tormented by fate and circumstance. “I learned patience,” Mr. Boumediene, 46, said. He is a private man, trim and square-jawed and meticulously kempt, his eyes set in deep gray hollows. “There is no other choice but patience.”
Propaganda firm owner admits attacks on journalists
The co-owner of a major Pentagon propaganda contractor publicly admitted Thursday that he was behind a series of websites used in an attempt to discredit two USA TODAY journalists who had reported on the contractor.