Category Archives:
Middle East

‘We don’t know where our friends are,’ says Women’s Boat to Gaza after Israel’s navy commandeers ship

Allison Deger on
(Photo: Kia Ora Gaza)

An all-women crew sailing toward the shores of occupied Gaza were taken into Israeli naval custody this afternoon, ending their month-long sea voyage to “break the siege on Gaza.” The Israeli military said the vessel was still in international waters at the time of the “uneventful” interception, around 35-nautical miles from the Israeli port of Ashdod.

The secret location for a debriefing on Palestinian art at the Guggenheim

Mariam C Said on
The artist Samia Halaby

Mariam Said registered up for a one-on-one debriefing on Palestinian art before 1948 at the Guggenheim Museum and was told it would take place “at a secret location within the museum.” The presentation was given by an Israeli man who shared no video or slides or any visual piece of art except for three pieces he showed on his cell phone. Said left feeling that she had been taken on a ride, and since has been asking what all this was about.

Palestine, ‘safety’ and the UC Berkeley affair

Juliana Farha on
"Palestine: A settler-colonial analysis" course poster. (Image via Palestine Legal)

The initial decision for Berkeley to cancel the course ‘Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis’ was located within the transparently self-serving but now widespread claim that any discussion of Palestinian human rights or Israeli violations of international law constitutes a threat to the ‘safety’ of Jewish students. In reality, Juliana Farha writes, this shoddy affair and similar incidents make clear that for university administrators, legislators and others, it is Palestinian students and defenders of Palestinian rights that should have no expectation of safety.

Abbas and Levy issue calls to end Nakba denial

Philip Weiss on
Photo from Haifa, May 12, 1948, showing Hagana soldiers forcing Palestinians to leave the city with their belongings. It appeared with Gideon Levy's column in Haaretz yesterday.

“Nakba denial beats denial of the Holocaust,” Gideon Levy says, while Mahmoud Abbas calls on the world to acknowledge the expulsion 68 years later. But American denial of the Nakba remains as strong as ever.

In a world of conflict, peace is celebrated only one day out of the year

Dakota Rakestraw on
A logo for the International Day of Peace

Today, September 21st, is International Day of Peace. In a world of conflict, we have quarantined its solution to a single day, a day of peace. As Americans, peace is something we volunteer to achieve in our spare time, but for a Palestinian, peace is the only hope of a future life.

ADL throws Netanyahu under the bus to try to make new friends

Yakov Hirsch on
Jonathan Greenblatt

The new head of the ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt, seized the opportunity to throw Netanyahu under the bus for his “Ethnic cleansing” video, in an effort to reach out to young American progressives. It won’t work. Young progressives don’t like Israel, and the ADL does.

‘There’s no occupation’

Jonathan Ofir on
David Ben-Gurion, after leaving office in 1953

Israel is not an occupier, says Israel’s former ambassador to Canada, Peter Baker. But the history of Israeli expansion since 1948 could not be clearer: it seeks more and more land with as few Arabs on it as possible, and destroys not just the villages but the memory of those places.

Paralympic medalist Hossam Azzum on his comeback journey from Gaza to Rio

Mohammed Asad on
Hossam Azzum trains at the Al Jazeera Club in southern Gaza, practicing in a small sandlot. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Gaza’s Hossam Azzum is competing in his fourth Paralympics Games in Rio on September 14, 2016. In the 2000 Sydney Games Azzum won a bronze medal becoming the first Palestinian medalist among disabled and non-disabled competitors. But six years ago Azzum took a break from competing after his wife died during childbirth. Then, in 2014, his house was destroyed by the Israeli military during the 51-day war on Gaza. Now, Azzum plans his comeback in Rio.

Israeli government projects ‘ethnic cleansing’ on Palestinians

Jonathan Ofir on
Netanyahu's speech after killing of Jewish settler girl, June 30

Twice in the last ten days, the Netanyahu government has adopted a new spin-strategy: taking the term “ethnic cleansing”, which the world has increasingly become aware that Israel enacts, and turning it against its Palestinian victims.

The United States of Innocence — the worldview of Major Todd Pierce (retired), Part 2

Philip Weiss on
Todd Pierce in his home in Roseville, MN

Read part two of a lengthy interview with Guantanamo defense lawyer Major Todd Pierce (Retired) in which he relates his beliefs about American society today: that our wars in the Middle East have been fostered by propaganda and falsehood, including claims about radical Islam, and that the elites have fallen in line in a way that they did not do during Vietnam, and these developments threaten our democracy.

Marc Lynch warns against the U.S. escalation in Syria

(((James North))) on
Marc Lynch's new book, The New Arab Wars

Advocates for U.S. escalation in Syria will make a bad situation worse, warns George Washington University Professor Marc Lynch; and President Obama’s resistance to increased intervention may be reversed by his successor.

Syrian death tolls and the kinder gentler jihadists

Donald Johnson on
File photo of shelling from inside of Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, April 2015. (Photo: Jafra Foundation for Youth Development and Relief)

The answer to a failed intervention is, more intervention. And to justify such a policy, the interventionist media cite low civilian casualty figures in the Iraq war, and now appears to be grossly undercounting civilian deaths caused by rebels in Syria.

‘Everything that we have done since 9/11 is wrong’ — the worldview of Major Todd Pierce (Retired)

Philip Weiss on
Todd Pierce, in Roseville, MN

Guantanamo defense lawyer Todd Pierce was an army computer technician when he witnessed the U.S. implant itself in Saudi Arabia in 1990, and an Army lawyer when he saw the hysteria following 9/11. He says Americans have no idea why Arabs and Muslims hate us, and meantime we are losing our historic legitimacy by conducting drone warfare on civilians and sacrificing our tradition of civil rights.

‘Democracy’ and ‘terrorism’ and the parameters of thinkable thought

Thomas S. Harrington on
Freedom fighters: Nelson Mandela greeted by Yasser Arafat in Gaza. Reuters photo.

As long as we accept the blithe use of terms like “terrorist” to refer to Palestinians fighting for basic dignity or accept the matter-of-fact description of Israel as a “democracy”, we lose the game. Those terms have been carefully designed to leave no room for a true dialogue of ideas. We need to stop expending our energies on arguments within their parameters of thinkable thought.

France’s burkini ban is a dangerous, Islamophobic assault on feminist values

Alex Shams on
One of several viral photos showing a woman removing her tunic while surrounded by police on a beach in Nice. (Photo: ABDUL AZIM/TWITTER)

French police on Tuesday forced a woman to take off her clothes on a beach in Nice because she was wearing a “burkini,” a bathing suit recently criminalized in 15 French cities. Apparently, telling women what to wear – or in this case, what not to wear – is now considered good nationalism and good feminism among a large proportion of French society. These incidents should be shocking to all of us.

The Palestine-Israel language trap

Avigail Abarbanel on
Mahmoud Zawahra, from Oxford Palestine Solidarity Campaign

By using words like ‘occupation’, ‘conflict’ and ‘peace’ we play within the rules and the traps that Israel has created for us, writes Avigail Abarbanel. The real issue is ‘settler colonialism’ (and Jewish exceptionalism tries to explain that away).

Druze Arabs in the occupied Golan Heights discuss borders, identity, colonialism and war

Aaron Cantú on
Mine fields containing thousands of land mines are strewn around the Golan Heights, limiting the movement of its growing Arab population. (Photo: Aaron Cantú)

Aaron Cantú visits Majdal Shams in the occupied Golan Heights and interviews Wael Tarabieh, who led a cultural center that became a center of local support for the Syrian revolution in 2011, and Kamara Abu Saleh, who works at the anti-occupation human rights group Al-Marsad. They discuss the changing understandings of Druze identity in Israel and the impact of the Syrian civil war on the Golan Heights.

Boycott, from within and without

Jonathan Ofir on
Stav Shafir, Labor member of Knesset, faults the Israeli government for not opposing the BDS movement years ago

The United States applies pressure on countries all over the world, including sanctions on Iraq that killed 500,000 children. Yet any boycott of Israel is treated as terrorism or an inappropriate attempt to impose a solution from outside. Even some Israeli Jews are calling for boycott.