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Total number of comments: 849 (since 2010-06-15 22:42:15)

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  • Massacre in Gaza: At least 60 killed in Shuja'iyeh, over 60,000 in UN shelters
  • Israeli strike kills four Palestinian children playing soccer on Gaza beach
    • PLEASE NOTE:

      Tweet by @gilirei from 45 min ago in Hebrew translates (roughly) as follows:

      "Just now on [Israel's] Channel 10 Tzvika Yehzkaeli has just said 'all in all 50 {Palestinian} children were killed in this Operation; that's not a lot."

      PLEASE MAKE THIS GO VIRAL.

  • Chris Matthews and David Corn defend Israel against 'slander' of apartheid
    • For those who are interested, here is an excellent study on the question of whether Israel is an apartheid state, a colonial state, or an occupation.

      Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid?: A re-assessment of Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law Virginia Tilley, Ed. Link: link to plutobooks.com

      EI review of the book here: link to electronicintifada.net.

      Excerpt:

      Regarding apartheid, the team found that Israel’s laws and policies in the OPT fit the definition of apartheid in the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. Israeli law conveys privileges to Jewish settlers and disadvantages Palestinians in the same territory on the basis of their respective identities, which function in this case as racialized identities in the sense provided by international law. Israel’s practices are corollary to five of the six “inhuman acts” listed by the Convention. A policy of apartheid is especially indicated by Israel’s demarcation of geographic “reserves” in the West Bank, to which Palestinian residence is confined and which Palestinians cannot leave without a permit. The system is very similar to the policy of “Grand Apartheid” in Apartheid South Africa, in which black South Africans were confined to black Homelands delineated by the South African government, while white South Africans enjoyed freedom of movement and full civil rights in the rest of the country.

      Quoting from the Executive Summary of the report, project leader Dr. Virginia Tilley explained that the three pillars of apartheid in South Africa are all practiced by Israel in the OPT. In South Africa, the first pillar was to demarcate the population of South Africa into racial groups, and to accord superior rights, privileges and services to the white racial group. The second pillar was to segregate the population into different geographic areas, which were allocated by law to different racial groups, and restrict passage by members of any group into the area allocated to other groups. And the third pillar was “a matrix of draconian ‘security’ laws and policies that were employed to suppress any opposition to the regime and to reinforce the system of racial domination, by providing for administrative detention, torture, censorship, banning, and assassination.”

      The Report finds that Israeli practices in the OPT exhibit the same three “pillars” of apartheid:

      The first pillar “derives from Israeli laws and policies that establish Jewish identity for purposes of law and afford a preferential legal status and material benefits to Jews over non-Jews.”

      The second pillar is reflected in “Israel’s ‘grand’ policy to fragment the OPT [and] ensure that Palestinians remain confined to the reserves designated for them while Israeli Jews are prohibited from entering those reserves but enjoy freedom of movement throughout the rest of the Palestinian territory. This policy is evidenced by Israel’s extensive appropriation of Palestinian land, which continues to shrink the territorial space available to Palestinians; the hermetic closure and isolation of the Gaza Strip from the rest of the OPT; the deliberate severing of East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank; and the appropriation and construction policies serving to carve up the West Bank into an intricate and well-serviced network of connected settlements for Jewish-Israelis and an archipelago of besieged and non-contiguous enclaves for Palestinians.”

      The third pillar is “Israel’s invocation of ‘security’ to validate sweeping restrictions on Palestinian freedom of opinion, expression, assembly, association and movement [to] mask a true underlying intent to suppress dissent to its system of domination and thereby maintain control over Palestinians as a group.”

      The research team included scholars and international lawyers based at the HSRC, the School for Oriental and African Studies (London), the British Institute for International and Comparative Law, the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (Durban), the Adalah/Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and al-Haq/West Bank Affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists. Consultation on the study’s theory and method was provided by eminent jurists from South Africa, Israel and Europe.

      The HSRC serves as the national social science council for South Africa. The Middle East Project of the HSRC is an independent two-year project to conduct analysis of Middle East politics relevant to South African foreign policy, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Government of South Africa. The analysis in this report is entirely independent of the views or foreign policy of the Government of South Africa and does not represent an official position of the HSRC. It is intended purely as a scholarly resource for the South African government and civil society and the concerned international community.

  • To Teta, the Queen of Oranges
    • Nadya, thank you for this haunting and evocative piece. It is seared in my memory.

      Walid, who wrote that essay on the Jaffa orange? I couldn't find an author.

      Both of you and everyone: There is an excellent film on the theft of the Jaffa orange and its symbolism by Eyal Sevan: Jaffa, the Orange's Clockwork. You can read about it and see the trailer here: link to trabelsiproductions.com It is excellent, with lots of archival footage. You might be able to view or download it here: link to archive.org.

  • When the going gets tough, Roger Cohen gets going
    • Cohen's analysis completely ignores the deeply corrosive effect that the untramelled power to humiliate and abuse other human beings has on the oppressors' society. Israeli society is paying a very heavy price for this abhorrent situation that will one day come to be appreciated. Abusing others can cause lasting trauma to both parties. It is despicable and unconscionable that he should take the stance that the situation in Palestine is sustainable and bearable, even just from the POV of Israeli society (if that is all that apparently matters to him).

      The cost of Israeli apartheid to humanity and future generations of humanity in that part of the world is incalculable ON BOTH SIDES, not only the Palestinian one (where it obviously goes without saying).

  • U. Mich student government move to table divestment resolution sparks uproar
  • Gaining the 'valuable hatred of their enemies,' boycott movement is educating others
    • Thinking of this as "compelling Israel to withdraw from the West Bank" misses the point and the historic moment entirely. BDS is forcing Israel to look in the mirror and face the fact that its chosen system of government is so oppressive as to constitute sociocide at a minimum, and also genocide within its legal definition. It is this SYSTEM, or perhaps just this ideology, across ALL OF PALESTINE and outside it that privileges one people over another, thereby enslaving them both in a kind of codependent horror show, that must be brought to an end.

      BDS is a movement FOR PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS, not for withdrawal from a specific territory. And therein lies its greatest strength and Israel's greatest fear. The tired, old, fraying fig leaf of "security" is hanging by a thread. The true underface of colonialism and sociocide are coming more and more into focus by the day.

      This movement is on the side of justice and history will go with it. Kerry's framework will be tossed aside to the dustbin of history as fast as he can present it. It does not provide justice or dismantle a structure of outrageous privilege.

      The irony is that at a certain point, which Israel passed long, long ago, as noted in the historic quotations above, such structures of oppression rob and destroy and devastate even those who wield the power. At what cost in human life, Palestinian and Jewish and other, is it worth to maintain this privilege and this ghettoized exclusivity? What is Israel losing in terms of its potential for growth and vibrancy because of it?

      Israel must transform and Zionism must be finally acknowledged for what it is - an unmitigated disaster that has caused incalculable human loss and trauma across the region -- even and including for those whom it purports to liberate.

  • SodaStream flap educates Americans about the illegal settlement project
  • Scarlett and Oxfam chat over Palestinian land loss
    • neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.

      Wow, rarely have I read anything more delusional. She really has no idea what she is talking about now does she???

      Here, maybe she should read this for starters.

  • When you watch football, you are complicit in violent assault
  • Cary Nelson, the AAUP, and the privilege of bestowing academic freedom
    • Nelson's deepest fear, if turned on its head, is exactly what Israel is doing to the Palestinians. See my little re-write:

      The fundamental goal of the boycott movement Israel is not the peaceful coexistence of two states, one Jewish and one Palestinian, but rather the elimination of Israel Palestine. One nation called Palestine Israel would rule from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Those Jews Palestinians not exiled or killed in the transition to an Arab Jewish-dominated nation would live as second-class citizens without fundamental rights.

  • 'NYT' says that AIPAC is pushing the 'march toward war'
    • That is insanely vile language. Preposterous! What "laws" are they referring to that "require" us to go to war on behalf of a small obnoxious foreign power?

      What hubris.... really, our great country has sunk so low.

  • Sharon's vision for 2 states was Palestinians' 'total surrender' to a fortress state -- Shehadeh
    • the Palestinians' idea of a just outcome is one in which there is no more Israel and the Jews are driven into the sea.

      Oh really? Have you ever spoken to a Palestinian? Even one? No? I thought so.

      This view sounds to me like a projection. This is exactly what Israel did to Jaffa in 1948.

      I suggest you stick to characterizing what Israel wants and leave the assertions of what Palestinians actually want to them.

  • Chilean soccer team puts Palestine front and center
  • Swarthmore Hillel attendance spikes because of decision to invite anti-Zionists
    • Anti Zionism does not mean the destruction of Israel as a state/polity. It means the destruction of the system of PRIVILEGE within that polity that grants one people all the rights and power and deprives another people living within its borders of same. A good starting point would be these simple and well-known words:

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
      --American Declaration of Independence

      In the case of Israel, it is an even more grave injustice that needs to be remedied, insofar as Israel confers this privilege on people living all over the world who claim to be Jewish by religion and strips this privilege from those who happen not to be Jewish but were born and raised within its ambiguously defined borders.

      Therefore, anti-Zionism means the destruction of a form of government that is by definition profoundly and unequivocably unjust, and its replacement with one that restores justice to the land of historic Palestine.

  • Netanyahu's greatest fear: Linkage
    • My reading on what Netanyahu seeks is that he seeks more time to consolidate the greatest amount of land possible as a Jewish state without any possibility of compromise for another national entity to arise. And the more chaos he can wreak on Israel's regional rivals, the better. War with Iran is a smokescreen for gobbling Palestine on Israel's sole terms and continuing with the ethnic cleansing project of Palestinians. For Israel it is a race against time because demography in historical Palestine is really not in their favor. If a major regional war broke out with threat of nuclear attack and it could provide cover for actual mass expulsions, that would suit Netanyahu more than fine.

  • Palestinian-American student denied entry to Israel after being told, 'there is no such thing as Palestine'
    • Someone or more than one someone should take this case to a legal route. Can she try suing Israel in an American court for denigrating and distorting her citizenship? I am not a lawyer but it really seems as if there should be a legal avenue to redress this somewhere. She is an American citizen -- American-born, right? and Israel is treating her as if her American citizenship simply doesn't matter, doesn't exist. "No, you will NOT enjoy the privileges of American citizenship, sorry."

      It feels to me as if political pressure is worthless with this Congress, but a loud, very public, and successful law suit - preferably some kind of collective "class" law suit -- might make Israel sit up and take notice.

      This is an outrage on so many different levels....

  • Netanyahu says Palestinians must recognize 'the Jewish state' for peace (and then says even that isn't enough)
    • Peace requires coming to terms with what Israel has done to the Palestinians. Internally. Really facing it.

      Doesn't it? Is it any wonder that they panic every time peace seems even remotely possible?

  • Backlash against Netanyahu: He gets 2-1/2 hours with Obama during shutdown, trying to thwart Iran opening
    • Great reporting Phil.

      I hope we can use this thread to keep tracking these kinds of responses as they come out.

  • How fair is Martin Indyk, who says he was motivated by 'my... connection to Israel'?
  • Kerry's 3 a.m. diplomacy is greeted with skepticism, scorn, ridicule
    • What is happening on the ground is not 1S1P1V at all.

      What is happening on the ground is colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and sociocide. Don't delude yourself that anything good will come out of it without some serious shocks being exerted on the status quo system.

  • 'Times' ad rebrands Israel as western country without occupation
    • It's high time we recognize that "occupation" is far too benign a term for Israel's grand design. It should be retired and replaced with "colonization," for starters. Even that, however, might not suffice.

  • Update: Assaf in victory: 'Today I represent Palestine and I'm fighting for a cause'
    • Omar Barghouti nails it:

      "He did not win because of sympathy, he won because of solidarity, because of support, and because of amazement by many people across the Arab world by his talent; and I think another aspect of Mohammed Assaf that stands out is that he transcended being a victim. Yes he is a victim, like most of our people; 69 percent of the Palestinian people are refugees … but he transcended that, reminding the world that we are not mere victims, we are actors, we resist colonisation, apartheid, ethnic cleansing … Mohammed Assaf is a new face of Palestinian cultural resistance, and I would dare say he is a kind of a new Palestinian phoenix rising from the ashes of the Nakba of 1948."

      Yup.

      From an interview here: link to aljazeera.com

  • UPDATE: Mohammed Assaf IS Arab Idol!!!
  • Update: 'Raise your keffiyeh, raise it,' Mohammed Assaf sings, and there is jubilation in Palestine
    • Annie, I would love to know more about his life. He is from Khan Younis, but what came before that? What is his family's story vis a vis the Nakba? Where are they from originally in Palestine? And how did he start to sing and what training has he had to reach this glorious and amazing potential? The story of how that was possible to achieve even in besieged, phosphorous-bombed, raped, and abandoned Gaza is the story of how the human spirit will never be defeated. I haven't seen this written up anywhere yet, although I haven't scoured as thoroughly as you have...

    • Wow Annie, color me impressed. Awesome work!!!
      Thanks so much.

    • The song recorded in 2008 - is that also a young Mohammed Assaf?

  • The horror: 'Breaking the Silence' releases women's frightful testimonies of occupation
    • You have your facts wrong, I am sorry.

      Closure first reared its ugly head in Gaza in 1989, and in the West Bank/Jerusalem in 1991. The policies were not as visible initially, but the infrastructure was indisputably being laid in place.

      Here is a source: link to btselem.org

      Closure is about containing and breaking the colonized, rendering their lives unlivable so they will either submit on the colonizer's terms or emigrate. Violence provides the convenient pretext for justifying this limitation on the basic human rights of an entire people. The driving force is the desire for land without people -- or, without those people.

  • Memo to the world: Israel is never leaving the West Bank
    • It sits in the heart of Samaria in which we have ancestral roots

      So if 'ancestral roots' are 9/10ths of possession, surely you cannot deny the Palestinian refugees the Right of Return whenever they choose to exercise it from now to the next 2000 years. Correct?

  • Glenn Greenwald brings facts and reason to 'Real Time', ruins Bill Maher's night
    • Glenn Greenwald is a national treasure. He should get a Presidential medal for his copious writings on American constitutional rights (and the steady evisceration thereof since 9/11).

  • 'Get me to the checkpoint on time!'
  • Jacir's Palestinian personal ads in 'Village Voice' are featured in Lebanon newspaper
  • California TV station features lengthy report on occupied village in Oscar-nominated film
  • Letter to my people in the village of Bab al-Shams
  • 'Onion' 'joke'-- Israel vows to use constitutional veto power over Hagel
    • It feels like we are approaching that moment in The Wizard of Oz where the curtain is drawn back to expose the little, mundane wizard ...

  • Neocon smear of Hagel ricochets around web before 'Atlantic' article strikes it down
  • Elliott Abrams calls Chuck Hagel an anti-Semite
    • Here is a great comment from the NPR site:

      Eliot Abrams is 100% correct. How dare Hagel say he is a US senator, not an Israeli senator? That is anti-Semitic.

      Sure, Eliot Abrams was involved with selling US arms to Iran, and lied to Congress about US-sponsored death squads in Central America, but the important thing is that Chuck Hagel doesn't want to bomb Iran back to the Stone Age, so that's both anti-Semitic and imprudent.

      More like this please!

  • 'We will make sure every American knows he is an anti-Semite' -- anonymous neocon threat to Hagel
  • 'You have to demolish them while they're small' -- Israel's chief justice approves destruction of mosque
  • One day later: B'nai Jeshurun leaders regret voicing support for Palestine UN bid
  • Gazans are 'ho-hum' about the deaths of relatives -- NYT's Rudoren
    • Anyone with even the most rudimentary knowledge of psychology should be able to grasp that the enormity of the trauma of Cast Lead would cause dissociation, a natural human response to unbearable life-extinguishing experiences. Here is a relevant passage:

      Our instinctive reactions to an assault are fight or flight. However, neither works when children are abused by sadistic adults [or civilians by armies that bomb them in penned in areas - Ed.]. The only option left is to freeze, and take flight through the mind. A common initial coping mechanism is to escape the body. It is the beginning of clinical (amnestic) dissociation, which allows a shutting out of an unbearable reality. It is held unassimilated---in effect, frozen in time. A dissociated experience can be split up to store the emotions separate from bodily sensations, and the sensations separate from the knowledge of an event. In dissociating an experience, children split off a part of their self to hold the trauma. In some cases the dissociated aspects of self, immediately or over time, form their own and separate sense of self.

      A dissociated identity, like a dissociated experience, can hold the entire event or parts of it. Alters may hold only a bodily feeling, only an emotion, or only the knowledge. One hundred abusive/traumatic incidents may be held by one identity or by one hundred or more identities....

      link to hiddenhurt.co.uk

      The lack of responsiveness, if indeed her observations were correct and not seen through some Orientalist lens, most likely means they are more traumatized, not less.

  • In leaked e-mail exchange, FBI official says NYPD intelligence activities are 'felonious'
  • The blatancy of apartheid
    • Thank you for saying what so desperately needs to be said. Please don't stop. This writing is so powerful, so deep, and so true.

      It is a 'scorched-earth' system created through invisible bureaucracy, intentionally designed to maximally humiliate and leave no chance for a dignified human existence for people of certain undesired ethnicities. I believe it is worse than apartheid. Apartheid did not attempt to ethnically cleanse, only to separate. This system, if you truly examine it closely, seems designed to make collective existence completely unsustainable to the point where the demographic balance will inevitably change.

  • 'NYT' describes ethnic cleansing by another name
  • 'New York Review of Books' calls it 'apartheid' and prepares Americans for the end of the Jewish state
    • gracie fr: YES. There are many ominous signs that this could be the real plan.

    • Many South Africans who have been to the unholy land have said the situation is far worse than apartheid.

    • Page: 8
  • Jerusalem's 'center of life' policy imprisons Palestinians
  • What '60 Minutes' & Bob Simon got right and wrong
    • Bob also omitted any direct contextual mention of Israel's rampant and explicit policy of judaization of Jerusalem. It is the demographically driven policies around residency, birth, death, and existence that have been the primary factor in the Christian exodus. Inserting even the possibility of a "rampant Islamicization" was a really cheap shot that is not worthy of good journalism. All he needed to do was search through some back archives of Israeli TV news for some real choice quotes in Hebrew from politicians about the imperative of maintaining the demographic balance there in the magic mandated ratio of 78% to 28% (if memory serves me correctly) to make the point. He also could have shown some current maps. He also should have explained better how the wall was demographically positioned to keep Jews in the city limits and Arabs out... and all the policies to strip Arabs of their residency.

      However, all things considered, this was a massive improvement on what one usually gets. My favorite moment was when Oren tried to call the report "anti-Semitic" and even he nearly choked on the words, they were so blatantly and egregiously false.

  • '60 Minutes' profiles Palestinian Christians, Michael Oren falls on his face
    • Oh my gosh - did you guys catch the very very end?

      "See what the last Christian village in the holy land looks like today. Sponsored by Pfizer."

      Guys, this is HUGE - a watershed moment. The mainstreaming of the Real Story and it can even be "sponsored by Pfizer!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

      Game changer.... big time.

  • Israeli celebrity says she enjoyed video of IDF attacking Danish activist because he looked like a Nazi
  • Gilad Shalit's father says, 'If I were Palestinian I'd kidnap soldiers'
    • talknic, I do not agree that the demand is just posturing. At every level within Israel today you can find clear evidence that Israel is hellbent on moving to consolidate and operationalize this self-definition, with all the ominous implications entailed.

    • What does it really mean for Israel to be a 'Jewish State' when 20% of its citizens are non-Jews? Just think about that long and hard for a moment.
      Israel wants its non-Jewish cititizens to formally recognize and acquiesce in the principle that the state quite literally belongs to Debbie Wasserman and the like in Florida, but not to them, whose ancestors had lived and farmed and loved there for hundreds of years.

      What I fail to understand is how this preposterous idea ever gained any traction in the first place. It should have been laughed away at the outset. If someone told you you had to recognize the US as a Hispanic state, and that citizens of Spain and Portugal had more rights to it than you do--up to and including the right to disown you of all your property--would you ever acquiesce? Just give that a moment of thought. Seriously.

      Beyond which is the fact that a "Jewish State" conflates church and state and creates another theocracy in the world, and that generally doesn't seem to end so well.

      This is an entirely different matter from creating a state where Jews can have a place of national dignity and safety - among the other peoples who happen to be living there, ideally in dignity and safety also.

      The former construct reaps insecurity; the latter, security. Because dignity is not divisible. You cannot have dignity and security if you are continually inflicting humiliation and insecurity on others. Hurting others returns hurt to you. Karma is a bitch.

      Tragically, the original concept of "national homeland for the Jews" seems to have morphed into this "Jewish state" that can only continue to survive by destroying--destroying any viable non-Jewish collective existence within its borders, destroying any of the myriad regional external supports for that collective life (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Hamas, etc), and garrisoning itself off behind towering walls and under huge iron domes to live in perpetual hyperalert, watching and watching and waiting for the inevitable retribution that it knows, one day, will come.

      "Israel as a Jewish state" must foment fear and continue on its path of destruction to survive within that self-definition. That is the sad reality that we are facing today. "Garrison state" does not even begin to describe the reality that is happening before our very eyes. Perhaps "sociocidal ghetto state" might approximate it.

      The bottom line is that just because one group of people wants something to be true, it does not give them the right to impose it on an entire region at a staggering and inestimable cost in collective human life. Wanting alone, even collective yearning, does not entitle one to having--at the expense of everything else in one's adjacent environment.

  • The myth of Israel's favorable treatment of Palestinian Christians
  • Israeli construction in E1 is slap in the face to US
  • The lobby blinks! Democratic insiders throw Josh Block under the bus
  • Israel isn't good for the Jews anymore
    • “We need $3 billion to save the Post Office and we give $3 billion a year to Israel? Did you know that?”

      Whoah - quick - someone please make a NATIONAL CAMPAIGN and put this statement on every billboard across the land.... It's brilliant.

      But seriously, folks, if the postman is saying this when delivering the mail, does't it speak volumes???

  • The last koffiyeh factory in Palestine
  • Arab Sources: Bishara on Palestine's UN bid
    • Whether you are for or against the Palestinians' UN gambit, there is one aspect of it that is undeniably refreshing: Palestinians at long last have discovered that they, too, have agency. They can act on their own behalf to drive the dynamic forward in different ways. Up until now, for 60 years, it has felt as if they were passively waiting for Godot -- waiting for the right circumstances to align and for their people to be "saved" by some deus ex machina.

      Thanks to a perfect storm of circumstances over the past year including the Palestine papers, Wikileaks, the Arab Spring, the incredible arrogance and blindness of Israel, the US's clear one-sidedness, and more, it seems that the Palestinians have discovered how to act rather than just react. And that, more than anything, is what has the US and Israel up in arms with hysteria.

      To that I would say: Hell yeah!

  • Derfner's next assignment
    • Hopefully the stage phase of Derfner's growth will see him courageous and honest enough to revise his argument thus:

      What’s needed very badly … is for Israelis to realize that the occupation Zionism is hurting the Palestinians terribly, that it’s driving them to try to kill us, that we are compelling them to engage in terrorism, that the blood of Israeli victims is ultimately on our hands, and that it’s up to us to stop provoking our own people’s murder by ending the occupation Zionism.

      If he could truly arrive at this insight, he would have begun to understand the reality for Palestinians everywhere, in Israel and outside it.

  • American Zionist org supports new limits on free speech in the 'human rights loving democracy'
  • Emboldened by success of anti-BDS bill, right-wing parties push 'political inquisition'
    • Another winning piece of legislation:
      "Slavery Law" - passed in May

      An amendment to the Israel Entry Law – infamously known as the “Slavery Law” –passed its final vote in Knesset on Monday, 16 May 2011, in a 26-6 vote, despite wide opposition from human rights organizations and leading legal experts. The law was passed on the very first day of the Knesset’s Summer Session.

      The new law severely harms fundamental human rights of approximately 55,000 migrant workers in the nursing professions in Israel, the majority of which are women. The law enables the Minister of Interior to restrict the number of times a migrant caregiver can change employers, to limit workers to specific geographical areas, and to confine them to specific subsections of the nursing services. The amendment constitutes an attempt to circumvent the High Court of Justice and to restore an earlier “binding arrangement” of migrant workers to their employers, which the High Court has already criticized in 2006 for “creating a modern form of slavery” following a petition by five human rights organizations.

      During the Knesset’s recess in the past month, ACRI and other organizations have worked together and generated some public discussion regarding this pending bill – having initiated a powerful letter by Israeli jurists, followed by a support letter by American-Jewish counterparts (organized by the New Israel Fund) and a subsequent letter from Israeli public opinion leaders – all condemning the bill for severely violating basic human rights, and urging decision-makers to stop it.

      Attorney Oded Feller, Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI): “Almost 150 years after the United States has abolished slavery, the State of Israel is about to adopt it in its legislation. A law that binds migrant workers to their employers and makes it harder for them to leave an employer will turn migrant workers into slaves with no rights. The result will be abuse of migrant workers and the creation of a legal system that is an open invitation for exploitation.”

      Attorney Reut Michaeli, Hotline for Migrant Workers: “Just this week we got a complaint from a Filipina caretaker, who discovered that her employer planted a hidden camera in her bedroom. Because of this new law, this worker and many others like her will find it difficult to leave employers and will have to give in to even the most demeaning employment conditions.”

  • Boycott debate-- in which a young, cosmopolitan, liberal-leaning Jewish man twists and writhes under the weight of half-truths and wispy contradictions
    • So how exactly does he plan to affect change

      He doesn't need to plan to effect change - he already has made a massive impact through BDS.

      And I think I got it wrong - he has completed that degree from TAU already.

    • Elections? Eee what are you talking about? Omar Barghouti is a student at Tel Aviv University. He is working towards his (second) Masters degree in Philosophy. (His first MA was in Electrical Engineering.) He is an independent cultural analyst, researcher, and human rights activist, not a politician. As far as I know he has no plans to run for elected office.

  • A Pipeline of Injustice: Greek consular official admits that natural gas pipeline drives complicity in Gaza siege
    • Well unless you are really a conspiracy thinker, in which case you might believe that the US and Israel allowed the elections to go forward knowing that Hamas would win, and this would provide the perfect pretext to sever the West Bank politically from Gaza.

      We do know that they engineered the coup in Gaza. It could have been as you say a failed coup, or perhaps, alternatively -- a success -- providing the justification for the siege, and for the war that followed.

      This makes perfect sense when you consider Israel's way of thinking, in which demography trumps all. As Max Blumenthal reported earlier this year:

      ....Another academic with close ties to the Israeli military-intelligence apparatus, Professor Arnon “the Arab Counter” Soffer of Haifa University, urged the army to massacre Palestinian civilians after the withdrawal from the illegal settlement of Gush Katif in Gaza. Soffer, who devised the separation wall policy in order to confine the Palestinians of the West Bank to what he called “three sausages,” reasoned that mass murder was the only way to maintain the security of the Southern Israeli perimeter communities while avoiding political concessions to the Palestinians of Gaza.

      “When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe,” Soffer argued. “Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.” And that is exactly what Israel did when it followed Soffer’s logic in Operation Cast Lead. (Note the use of the word “animal” in Soffer’s language and in the language of Israelis responding to the murders in Itamar; the word is essentially a signal to kill Palestinians indiscriminately).

      Severing Gaza from the West Bank, and emptying it of its non-Jewish population by whatever means, destroying their institutions and any possible basis for collective communal existence, turning them into totally desperate, hungy, hapless individuals who require "humanitarian" assistance only -- that has been the driving goal of US/Israeli/British policy for some time now. And the US is fully complicit. Let's not delude ourselves into thinking otherwise.

    • It goes way way back much farther than this As we are reminded in a recent article by Mya Guarnieri, the Gaza closure policy started way back before Hamas, in 1991.

      And Israel has just recently requested to start using this gas THIS MONTH:

      Tel Aviv - PNN - The Israeli Ministry of Infrastructure has demanded permission from the gas company Nobel Energy to start working in developing the natural gas field that was found off the Gaza Strip shoreline, under the pretext that Israel fears gas shortages in the coming year.

      Gaza City coast lineIn a press statement on Monday, the Israeli Ministry of Infrastructre said that it officially requested permission from Nobel Energy to submit a work programme to dig and develop gas fields by July.

      The ministry explained that the reason official permission has been sought before digging the oil is because the field is close to the territorial waters of the Gaza Strip.

      Israel gets natural gas from Egypt through an agreement in which Israel pays less than internationally recognised prices to Egypt. After the Egyptian uprising and the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian people demanded that the channeling of gas to Israel would be stopped until a new agreement could be reached, so that the Egyptian people could benefit first from their natural resources.

      A large concentration of natural gas was found off the Gaza shoreline, and the British Gas group along with Lebanese partners were given the right to dig there and sell the gas during an agreement wthat was signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

      The British company had already set up two gas wells called Gaza Marine 1 and Gaza Marine 2. According to the British Gas group, the natural reservoir offf the Gaza shore is estimated at 1.5 trillion cubic meters, at a net worth of around $4 billion US dollars.

      However, Chossudovsky, a Canadian economist, estimated that the amount of gas in Palestine is much more, adding that it could make the future Palestinian state as rich as Kuwait, due to the average population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

      Nobel Energy is a US based company based in New York that digs oil and natural gas internationally.

      Dmitry Dliani, Fatah top official, commented on the Israeli Ministry of Infrastructure decision as a license to steal the Gaza gas, as part of Israeli attacks on Palestinian rights. Dliani demanded international protection for the Palestinian natural gas reservoir off the Gaza shore.

      I don't have time right now to report on this further, but if someone else can, it would be appreciated.

      Why else would some little civilian boats have the power to throw all the world powers into concerted hysteria?

    • This is the real story that should be exposed - a very very important piece. The siege of Gaza is all about a natural gas grab. The 1.5 million Palestinian residents are condemned to an open air prison indefinitely in order for Israel and the US and Europe to retain control of the natural gas off Gaza's shores. Never mind that even larger gas resources have since been discovered off of Israel's northern shores - Israel is determined to have it all.

      Even if Hamas were to recognize Israel and lay down all threats and come to the Knesset with flower garlands in hand tomorrow, the siege would not be lifted. That is all pretext.

      Israel is hellbent on preserving Gaza as a "humanitarian problem" because the minute they allow Palestinians any sovereignty over the Gaza Strip, they lose their claim to the natural gas.

      Hence the 3-mile fishing restriction; hence the absurd proposal floated some weeks back to build an "island" off the coast of Gaza; hence the determination to batter the Strip back to the Stone Age during Cast Lead, so they would become and remain forever a humanitarian problem.

      Hence, too, their hysteric reaction over Palestinian unity - this is the worst possible development since it re-justifies a Palestinian claim to sovereignty over Gaza.

  • Operation Mozart: A 'musical intifada' at the Qalandia checkpoint
    • Reclaiming humanity, dignity, and freedom in a space designed for humiliation, degradation, and complete control. What an amazing story. What a brilliant triumph.

  • Help Mondoweiss stay afloat with a voluntary subscription
    • Alec,

      You don't know the first thing about me or what Phil and Adam's effort means to me, and if you did I think you would eat your words.

      I suggest you tone down the "in your face" nature of your attacks on loyal supporters. This comment is completely off the mark and highly unappreciated.

      An apology would be the right thing to do.

      Thank you.

    • Thank you Adam. I would like to do more for this site than I currently do, but without any need for the public recognition system. Honestly it surprises me that it elicited such a strong reaction from me, but it did, and I wanted to let you know.

      Thanks for listening.

    • OK this is my last argument against the star system before I go into lurking.

      I predict that others will feel as I do and drop off posting because of stars. This will result in a self-selective process whereby eventually it will seem that every posterhas a star. Ultimately that will further discourage newcomers who are either reticent or indigent or just opposed to juvenile rewards systems from joining and contributing. End result will be an impoverishment of views shared on the site, which would be a real shame.

      Lest I be misunderstood: I support everything Mondoweiss does and I want to support and contribute. But the star system in fact is fast becoming an OBSTACLE to my doing that. This is just my perspective.

      Over and out....

    • I am not disagreeing, all I am saying is that it would be fairer to call him out for that on comments when he expresses that directly, rather than about something totally unrelated.

    • Also ferchrissakes, why'd ya go and make the stars YELLOW (OK, goldish, but still too close for comfort).... I'm wondering if a casual visitor would think "good god, they're distinguishing the Jewish from the non-Jewish commenters on that terribly anti-Semitic site..." 5 vs 6 points for the star is a more subtle nuance that may not occur to those who would jump to such conclusions.

      If it HAS to stay (and I seriously hope not), it should be much smaller and the same color gray as the date and time. The same size and color as the date and time.

      And how about instead of a star something else, like a small "vs" for "voluntary subscriber?"

    • LOL Citizen!

    • Woody, that was over-the-top nasty. Sorry. I think we should be able to keep our disagreements at the level of basic respect. He was talking about how he feels relative to this site, and he was being honest.

      Give the guy a break.

    • I really, really really wish you would reconsider this stars thing next to each comment, each reply...

      It's dreadful, and it makes me not want to even read here anymore. I find that all I am looking at or thinking about is the star. I scroll through comments and all that jumps out at me is the star. I don't see the comments any more.

      Also a newcomer here won't have a clue what it means and will find it baffling.

      The concept of recognizing contributors is great. But the means you chose is detrimental to the overall participation on the site. I also feel now ashamed to comment because I don't have a star yet. In all honestly, I will probably recede to the background because of this policy. And I would be happy to contribute anonymously but I resent the star so much that it makes me not want to contribute just because of it.

      Just being honest...

    • Stars are the wrong approach because they will be an ever-present reminder of distinction vs not. And as Kathleen pointed out, they fail to recognize those who contribute in other non-financial ways.

      I suggest instead that you add a separate page to name and recognize contributors of all kinds -- without any distinction between those who gave $5 or those who gave $1000, and include those who make significant contributions in time, content or some other way. Although that is problematic too because some folks don't want to be identified by their real names...

      Can't you just drop this whole approach? It's divisive and brings out the worst in everyone... and it feels kind of kindergartenish.

      Or maybe put the recognition into their name profile instead? And in words, not in stars? Such as "Site contributor" or "Major site contributor?"

  • Is Greece being blackmailed to put the brakes on Gaza flotilla?
    • The real question is, why is this flotilla perceived as being such a mortal threat to Israel and the US? Why has Israel gone so apeshit hysterical and why is the US totally in on this hysteria? Imagine being willing to use all the possible economic and diplomatic leverage at your disposal, including threatening to arrest your own citizens!!! All over a little boat carrying some letters? What the hell is going on? What is at stake here? Can someone please answer this question?

      What I mean is, what are Israel and the US so bloody terrified of?

  • Ethan Bronner's 'benign occupation'
    • Clearly he is on board the propaganda effort to torpedo the flotilla. This is so transparent that it's pathetically laughable. How can any self-respecting journalist be such a stooge?

      Not to mention that the notion of "construction boom" in Gaza is kafka-esque, given that Israel hadn't allowed any cement in until about last week, as far as I know. Perhaps the concept of "boom" is all relative... Relative to what? When everything has been smashed to smithereens, then the construction of one home after 2.5 years could conceivably be marketed as a "boom."

  • 6, count em 6, members of Congress sign letter to Clinton expressing concern for 'safety' of US citizens on flotilla
    • This is seriously, seriously, seriously disturbing. Our government no longer serves us even in the most basic ways. It's freaking unbelievable. When given a choice between the lives of 50 upstanding American citizens and Israel's illegal blockade, apparently it is a no-brainer for our government which matters more. They don't even care about pretending the American lives matter. There isn't even a false front to make the slightest show of it.

      Donald Trump, where are you when we need you to say You're FIRED!!

  • Our demands (designing placards for a demonstration)
    • Also I think there can be two distinct campaigns - one is to prevail upon Congress to act in a certain way - whether (a) to force Israel to shoulder the responsibilities of tax-paying Americans, or (b) to offer the American public the largesse afforded to Israelis by Congress.

      The other is to target the US public directly with messages demanding LIMITATIONS on fundamental rights to enshrine privilege. This campaign would serve to highlight what type of "democracy" Israel really is.

      Of course both campaigns would be directed at the voters, but there could be separate sets of "addressees," if you will.

    • I also recommend using the contruct "non-..." to define the "other" the way Israel does.

      "Checkpoints for non-Whites"
      "Demographic danger: Non-Whites reaching critical threshold of US population"

    • Land Swaps for Security:
      Southern Texas to Mexico in 2012.
      Americans for the Israeli Way.

    • No Representation without Taxation.
      Tax Israel Now!

    • This is brilliant. I would also suggest thinking about some kind of messaging that relates to "demographic danger." Israelis constantly think in these terms. A cursory google search will reveal plenty of statements by Israeli officials about "the growing Arab demographic threat" and "the cancer in the heart of the state."

  • Weiner's progressive defenders blind themselves to the rightwing views that may now ensure his survival
    • I think he is going down. There are too many photos, tweets, incriminating actions floating around out there in the world for him to save himself. I predict he does not survive politically, and once his wife senses he is going down, that she leaves as well. If she hasn't already. This morning I read she is headed out to the Middle East (Libya). She is far too savvy, classy, and sophisticated to stick by a psycho like him.

  • Palestinians once weren't smart and inventive, Walzer says, but now they are
  • America is fed up with the 'old man's commiseration club'
  • Netanyahu says 'all men are created equal' message on Lincoln Mem'l is a Jewish concept
  • Agnon and Joyce on the cruelty of community
  • Huh: On day of Gaza fundraiser in NY harbor, NY Coast Guard issues a 'special notice' on Gaza
  • We can only pray that Congress's supine conduct before a rightwing foreign leader will have political consequences
    • Calling all amateur video editors.... we need some serious video work to put these idiots to shame in their districts. Intersperse their sycophantic applause with footage of the gaza war and other 'Unholy Land' scenes...

    • America has been Zi-jacked. And I don't mean that lightly.

  • I'm fed up with criticism of Israel being shouted down as anti-Semitic
    • The notion that criticism of Israel = anti-Semitism is so logically flawed it's almost laughable.

      Is criticism of a government's policies or a state's policies a smear of its entire people? Of course not. If I am critical of American policy, that doesn't meant that I am anti-American.

      By the same token, those who are critical of Israeli state policy are not 'anti-Israeli.' Oops I forgot, there is no Israeli nation, so I must mean they are not anti-Jewish (except, um, 20% of the citizenry AREN'T Jewish). But wait, don't more Jews live outside Israel than live outside it? So what's up with that?

      Finally, isn't "anti-Jewish' the same as 'anti-Semitic?' Hmmm - but wait, the Arabs are Semites too!

      So I get it - those who are critical of Israeli government policy are anti-all Jews in Israel and outside it, as well as being anti all Arabs in Israel and outside it too!

      ***
      Frankly, the whole flawed notion that criticism of Israel = anti-Semitism is the fault of the state for defining itself as "the Jewish state" in the first place. You can't have it both ways - Judaism can't be both a worldwide religion and a geographically specific nationality at the same time. You elected nationality as the primary self-definition, so live with the consequences. People who are critical of the policies of the Jewish State are not smearing every person in the world who practices the Jewish faith.

  • An angry Obama warns the lobby that the 'world is moving too fast' (to preserve a Jewish state)
    • Bingo - Phil, thank you - I agree with you. This man is a master strategist and his heart IS in the right place.

  • Netanyahu has nothing to worry about
    • Clarification: The phrase "1967 borders" refers to the green line, which is the borders that constituted "Israel" before the 1967 war enabled it to invade and occupy the territories of the Gaza Strip (on the Egyptian side of the country) and the West Bank (on the Jordanian side of the country) including East Jerusalem -- two parts of Palestine that had not been included in Israel as it was established in 1948.

      Here is an Arab perspective on this - an analysis written in 2010 by Hasan Abu Nimah, who happens to be the father of Ali Abunimah, as well as being the former permanent representative of Jordan to the United Nations:

      When the United States abandoned its demand that Israel freeze settlement construction as a prelude to restarting stalled Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, the Obama administration urged both sides to move straight into discussions about a future Palestinian state “based on the 1967 borders.” ....

      All this is based on the common, but false notion that the 4 June 1967 demarcation line separating Israel from the West Bank (then administered as part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan), is the legitimate border of Israel and should therefore be the one along which the conflict is settled.

      This assumption is wrong; the 1967 border has no legitimacy and should not be taken for granted.

      UN General Assembly resolution 181 of 29 November 1947 called for the partition of Palestine into two entities: a state for the Jewish minority on 57 percent of the land, and a state for the overwhelming Arab majority on less than half the land. According to the 1947 partition, the population of the Jewish state would still have been 40 percent Arab. Jerusalem would have remained a separate international zone.

      Rather than “resolve” the question of Palestine, partition made it worse: Palestinians rejected a partition they viewed as fundamentally unjust in principle and in practice, and the Zionist movement grudgingly accepted it but as a first step in an ongoing program of expansion and colonization.

      Resolution 181, called for the two states to strictly guarantee equal rights for all their citizens, and to have a currency and customs union, joint railways and other aspects of shared sovereignty, and set out a specific mechanism for the states to come into being.

      The resolution was never implemented, however. Immediately after it was passed, Zionist militias began their campaign to conquer territory beyond that which was allocated by the partition plan. Vastly outgunned Palestinian militias resisted as best as they could, until the belated intervention of Arab armies some six months after the war began. By that time it was too late — as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had already been ethnically cleansed from their homes. Israel, contrary to myth, was not brought into being by the UN, but by war and conquest.

      The 1949 Rhodes Armistice agreement, which ended the first ever Arab-Israeli war left Israel in control of 78 percent of historic Palestine and established a ceasefire with its neighbors Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Until the second round — in June 1967 — Arabs had been calling for the abolition of the “illegal Zionist entity” planted by colonial powers like a dagger in the heart of the Arab nation. They also waitied for the United Nations to implement its many resolutions redressing the gross injustices inflicted hitherto. The UN never tried to enforce the law or to exert serious efforts to resolve the conflict, which kept escalating.

      Israel’s June 1967 blitzkrieg surprise attack on Egypt, Syria and Jordan led to the devastating Arab defeat and to Israel tripling the area of the land it controlled. The parts of Palestine still controlled by Arabs — the West Bank including eastern Jerusalem and Gaza — as well as Syria’s Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai fell into Israeli hands.

      Defeated, demoralized and humiliated, the Arab states involved in the “setback”, as Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser called it, accepted the painful compromise spelled out by Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967.

      It ruled that the 4 June 1967 border would have to be the recognized border of Israel provided the latter evacuated the Arab lands it had occupied that year. In other words if the Arabs wanted to recover their lands lost in that war they had to end the “state of belligerency” with Israel — a small step short of recognition — and accept Israel’s actual existence within the pre-June 1967 borders. This eventually became the so-called “land for peace” formula.

      Instead of withdrawing from land in exchange for recognition and peace, Israel proceeded to colonize all the newly occupied territories; it continues to do so 43 years later in the West Bank and Golan Heights. Meanwhile it has also become uncontested that Israel has a “right” to everything to the west of the 1967 border. The only question is how much more land will it get to keep to the east.

      Astonishingly, Palestinian leaders, Arab states and the so-called international community have all submitted to the lopsided concept that Israel should have this right unconditionally without evacuating the illegally occupied Arab lands. The legitimacy of the 1967 border was tightly linked to Israeli withdrawal and should remain so.

      An inherent contradiction in resolution 242 is that while it affirmed “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of the territory by war” it in fact legitimized Israel’s conquest of 1948, including the 21 percent of Palestine that was supposed to be part of the Arab state under the partition plan.

      In other words, the UN granted Israel legitimate title to its previous conquests if it would give up its later conquests. This has set a disastrous precedent that aggression can lead to irreversible facts. Encouraged by this, Israel began its settlement project with the express intention of “creating facts” that would make withdrawal impossible and force international recognition of Israeli claims to the land.

      It worked; in April 2004 the United States offered Israel a written guarantee that any peace agreement would have to recognize and accept the settlements as part of Israel. The rest of the “international community” as they always do, quietly followed the American line.

      The Palestinian submission to the common demand that the large settlement blocs be annexed to Israel against a fictitious land swap is another vindication of the Israeli belief that facts created are facts accepted.

      If and only if Israel adheres to all aspects of UN Security Council resolution 242 and others, could the 1967 line have any legitimacy. Until then, if Israel tells the Arabs that the West Bank settlements of Ariel and Maale Adumim are part of Israel, then the Arab position can be that Haifa, Jaffa and Acre are still part of Palestine.

    • libra, LOL!. I was trying to think of something funny to say about the fact that they both shared the same initials, but you far outdid whatever I could have come up with.

      Perhaps RW really stands for "rewind" - rewind the hasbara tape and replay, over and over and over. And the various RWs are all just vehicles for accomplishing that...

      Who knows? But it's terribly tiresome and counterproductive.

  • With one signal -- 1967-- Obama decides to take on Netanyahu on the Arab Spring
    • PS - I think the line "democracy depends not only upon elections, but but also strong and accountable institutions, and respect for the rights of minorities" is a virtually explicit dig at Israel. I hear this loud and clear as him saying, "It's not enough to proclaim yourself as a democracy if all you do is let the minority vote and then undercut them at every other turn." I'm actually sure of it - it's like a code phrase. What other country in the region would this apply to so aptly?

    • You have a point there. I noticed some of my friends who know nothing about this conflict raising questions such as "so tell me, what is such a big deal about the 1967 borders anyway?"

    • Perhaps this is Obama's larger strategy -- to force this issue out of the shadows directly into the light?

    • I would like to respectfully disagree with those who have lambasted this speech as being nothing. I think one should read the speech from an Israeli perspective and see what it did NOT say. We have to read between the lines. The message is implicit, not explicit, because US politics won't allow for an explicit statement. But the message was nonetheless loud and clear. Below is an abridged transcript in which I have bolded the phrases that particularly jumped out at me and made some observations in italics.

      The state department is a fitting venue to mark a new chapter in American diplomacy. For six months, we have witnessed an extraordinary change take place in the Middle East and North Africa. Square by square; town by town; country by country; the people have risen up to demand their basic human rights.

      Two leaders have stepped aside. More may follow. And though these countries may be a great distance from our shores, we know that our own future is bound to this region by the forces of economics and security; history and faith....

      Sometimes, in the course of history, the actions of ordinary citizens spark movements for change because they speak to a longing for freedom that has built up for years. In America, think of the defiance of those patriots in Boston who refused to pay taxes to a king, or the dignity of Rosa Parks as she sat courageously in her seat. So it was in Tunisia, as that vendor's act of desperation tapped into the frustration felt throughout the country.

      Hundreds of protesters took to the streets, then thousands. And in the face of batons and sometimes bullets, they refused to go home – day after day, week after week, until a dictator of more than two decades finally left power. [Here he is giving moral support and weight to the tactics used in Palestine as well. He is saying this is a legitimate and correct approach for a people who are denied their freedom.]

      The story of this revolution, and the ones that followed, should not have come as a surprise. The nations of the Middle East and North Africa won their independence long ago, but in too many places their people did not. In too many countries, power has been concentrated in the hands of the few. In too many countries, a citizen like that young vendor had nowhere to turn – no honest judiciary to hear his case; no independent media to give him voice; no credible political party to represent his views; no free and fair election where he could choose his leader. [This describes Palestine as well, implicitly.]

      This lack of self-determination – the chance to make of your life what you will – has applied to the region's economy as well. Yes, some nations are blessed with wealth in oil and gas, and that has led to pockets of prosperity. But in a global economy based on knowledge and innovation, no development strategy can be based solely upon what comes out of the ground. Nor can people reach their potential when you cannot start a business without paying a bribe.

      In the face of these challenges, too many leaders in the region tried to direct their people's grievances elsewhere. The west was blamed as the source of all ills, a half-century after the end of colonialism. Antagonism toward Israel became the only acceptable outlet for political expression. Divisions of tribe, ethnicity and religious sect were manipulated as a means of holding on to power, or taking it away from somebody else. [This applies to Israel as well. ]

      But the events of the past six months show us that strategies of repression and diversion won't work any more. [Message: Israel, are you listening?] Satellite television and the internet provide a window into the wider world – a world of astonishing progress in places like India, Indonesia and Brazil. Cellphones and social networks allow young people to connect and organise like never before. A new generation has emerged. And their voices tell us that change cannot be denied.

      In Cairo, we heard the voice of the young mother who said: "It's like I can finally breathe fresh air for the first time." In Sanaa, we heard the students who chanted: "The night must come to an end." In Benghazi, we heard the engineer who said: "Our words are free now. It's a feeling you can't explain." In Damascus, we heard the young man who said: "After the first yelling, the first shout, you feel dignity."

      Those shouts of human dignity are being heard across the region [Implicit: In Israel/Palestine as well.] And through the moral force of non-violence, the people of the region have achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in decades.

      Of course, change of this magnitude does not come easily. In our day and age – a time of 24-hour news cycles and constant communication – people expect the transformation of the region to be resolved in a matter of weeks. But it will be years before this story reaches its end. Along the way, there will be good days, and bad days. In some places, change will be swift; in others, gradual. And as we have seen, calls for change may give way to fierce contests for power.

      The question before us is what role America will play as this story unfolds. For decades, the United States has pursued a set of core interests in the region: countering terrorism and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons; securing the free flow of commerce, and safe-guarding the security of the region; standing up for Israel's security and pursuing Arab-Israeli peace.

      We will continue to do these things, with the firm belief that America's interests are not hostile to people's hopes; they are essential to them. [Implicit message: Our genuine national interests are aligned with those who struggle for freedom, not those who oppress them.] We believe that no-one benefits from a nuclear arms race in the region, or al-Qaeda's brutal attacks. People everywhere would see their economies crippled by a cut-off in energy supplies. As we did in the Gulf War, we will not tolerate aggression across borders, and we will keep our commitments to friends and partners.

      Yet we must acknowledge that a strategy based solely upon the narrow pursuit of these interests will not fill an empty stomach or allow someone to speak their mind. Moreover, failure to speak to the broader aspirations of ordinary people will only feed the suspicion that has festered for years that the United States pursues our own interests at their expense. Given that this mistrust runs both ways – as Americans have been seared by hostage-taking, violent rhetoric, and terrorist attacks that have killed thousands of our citizens – a failure to change our approach threatens a deepening spiral of division between the United States and Muslim communities.

      That's why, two years ago in Cairo, I began to broaden our engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. I believed then – and I believe now – that we have a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self-determination of individuals. The status quo is not sustainable. [Israel: Listen up - this means you as well.]

      Societies held together by fear and repression may offer the illusion of stability for a time, but they are built upon fault lines that will eventually tear asunder. [I read this as a DIRECT message to Israel. Implicit, yes, but pretty clear.]

      So we face an historic opportunity. We have embraced the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator. There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity. Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be. [Again, this is a very threatening statement for an Israeli leader to hear.]

      As we do, we must proceed with a sense of humility. It is not America that put people into the streets of Tunis and Cairo – it was the people themselves who launched these movements, and must determine their outcome. Not every country will follow our particular form of representative democracy, and there will be times when our short term interests do not align perfectly with our long term vision of the region. But we can – and will – speak out for a set of core principles – principles that have guided our response to the events over the past six months:

      The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region. We support a set of universal rights. Those rights include free speech; the freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of religion; equality for men and women under the rule of law; and the right to choose your own leaders – whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus; Sanaa or Tehran. [OR PALESTINE - again, implicit, not explicit, but still undeniably clear.]

      And finally, we support political and economic reform in the Middle East and North Africa that can meet the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people throughout the region.

      Our support for these principles is not a secondary interest- today I am making it clear that it is a top priority that must be translated into concrete actions, and supported by all of the diplomatic, economic and strategic tools at our disposal.

      Let me be specific. First, it will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy. [Everywhere, without exception]

      That effort begins in Egypt and Tunisia, where the stakes are high – as Tunisia was at the vanguard of this democratic wave, and Egypt is both a longstanding partner and the Arab World's largest nation. Both nations can set a strong example through free and fair elections; a vibrant civil society; accountable and effective democratic institutions; and responsible regional leadership. But our support must also extend to nations where transitions have yet to take place.....

      The Syrian people have shown their courage in demanding a transition to democracy. President Assad now has a choice: he can lead that transition, or get out of the way. The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests; release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests; allow human rights monitors to have access to cities like Daraa; and start a serious dialogue to advance a democratic transition. Otherwise, President Assad and his regime will continue to be challenged from within and isolated abroad. [These words transfer directly to Israel as well. Implicit, but unmistakeable.]....

      Our opposition to Iran's intolerance – as well as its illicit nuclear program, and its sponsorship of terror – is well known. But if America is to be credible, we must acknowledge that our friends in the region have not all reacted to the demands for change consistent with the principles that I have outlined today. [MAJOR implied reference to Israel/Palestine - implicit, not explicit -- but it speaks volumes.] That is true in Yemen, where President Saleh needs to follow through on his commitment to transfer power. And that is true, today, in Bahrain.

      Indeed, one of the broader lessons to be drawn from this period is that sectarian divides need not lead to conflict. In Iraq, we see the promise of a multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian democracy. [Another oblique stab at Israel.] ...

      So, in the months ahead, America must use all our influence to encourage reform in the region. Even as we acknowledge that each country is different, we will need to speak honestly about the principles that we believe in, with friend and foe alike. Our message is simple: if you take the risks that reform entails, you will have the full support of the United States. [Again - what does he IMPLY but not say? "If you do NOT take these risks, you will NOT have our full support. I read this as a veiled warning to Israel.] We must also build on our efforts to broaden our engagement beyond elites, so that we reach the people who will shape the future – particularly young people.

      We will continue to make good on the commitments that I made in Cairo – to build networks of entrepreneurs, and expand exchanges in education; to foster co-operation in science and technology, and combat disease. Across the region, we intend to provide assistance to civil society, including those that may not be officially sanctioned, and who speak uncomfortable truths. And we will use the technology to connect with – and listen to – the voices of the people.

      In fact, real reform will not come at the ballot box alone. Through our efforts we must support those basic rights to speak your mind and access information. We will support open access to the internet, and the right of journalists to be heard – whether it's a big news organisation or a blogger. In the 21st Century, information is power; the truth cannot be hidden; and the legitimacy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens. [This is again an implicit arrow fired across the bow at those who would suppress public discourse that is critical of Israel here and elsewhere.]

      Such open discourse is important even if what is said does not square with our world view. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard, even if we disagree with them. We look forward to working with all who embrace genuine and inclusive democracy. What we will oppose is an attempt by any group to restrict the rights of others, and to hold power through coercion – not consent. [MAJOR MAJOR veiled warning to Israel.] Because democracy depends not only on elections, but also strong and accountable institutions, and respect for the rights of minorities.

      Such tolerance is particularly important when it comes to religion. In Tahrir Square, we heard Egyptians from all walks of life chant, "Muslims, Christians, we are one." America will work to see that this spirit prevails – that all faiths are respected, and that bridges are built among them. In a region that was the birthplace of three world religions, intolerance can lead only to suffering and stagnation. And for this season of change to succeed, Coptic Christians must have the right to worship freely in Cairo, just as Shia must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain....

      Prosperity also requires tearing down walls that stand in the way of progress – the corruption of elites who steal from their people; the red tape that stops an idea from becoming a business; the patronage that distributes wealth based on tribe or sect. We will help governments meet international obligations, and invest efforts anti-corruption; by working with parliamentarians who are developing reforms, and activists who use technology to hold government accountable.

      For the American people, the scenes of upheaval in the region may be unsettling, but the forces driving it are not unfamiliar. Our own nation was founded through a rebellion against an empire. Our people fought a painful civil war that extended freedom and dignity to those who were enslaved. [This places America squarely on the side of those fighting for freedom, including Palestinians, rather than those who would deny it.]

      And I would not be standing here today unless past generations turned to the moral force of non-violence as a way to perfect our union – organising, marching, and protesting peacefully together to make real those words that declared our nation: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal."

      Those words must guide our response to the change that is transforming the Middle East and North Africa – words which tell us that repression will fail, that tyrants will fall, and that every man and woman is endowed with certain inalienable rights. It will not be easy. There is no straight line to progress, and hardship always accompanies a season of hope. But the United States of America was founded on the belief that people should govern themselves.

      Now, we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable, and more just.

      Sometimes diplomacy can be more in what you DON'T say than in what you do; in how you frame things to leave an implication hanging in the air without denying it.

      Granted he referred to a "Jewish state" in the latter half of the speech, which is in direct contradiction to all this -- but isn't the contradiction even perhaps part of the message he was trying in a veiled way to get across? Sure, he can pay lip service to this concept - but if he really is serious about holding America to all these core values, the concept is unsustainable.

  • Ethnic dry cleaning
    • de-Zioning? Or de-Zionizing? I've generally seen it referred to as the latter.

    • "Ethnic dry cleaning" - a euphemistic whitewash that attempts to relieve the perps of burdensome guilt. In other words, bullsh*t.

  • Help me, James Madison. 'NYT' runs Zionist piece that hints at ethnic cleansing of West Bank
    • aha, I get it! The infamous "balance." The Danny Danon piece is the "balance" - the price the NYT has paid for publishing Abbas.

  • The '48 discussion is replacing the '67 discussion
    • Richard Witty, you are 100% wrong. True reconciliation can ONLY come about through a discussion -- and acknowledgment -- of what happened in 1948. This is the only way to redress such a collective trauma.

    • I agree with Avi, most especially because of the fact that the declaration will give Palestine the LEGAL recourse to hold Israel accountable, which is enormously important even if nothhing else comes out of it.

    • This is interesting as well:

      Netanyahu blasts Abbas's NYT op-ed

      Netanyahu took particular issue with the Palestinian president's description of the events of 1948, the war and the beginning of the Palestinian refugee problem. "This is a blatant distortion of well-known, documented historic facts," he wrote. "The Palestinians were the ones who declined the partition plan into two states, which was upheld by the Jewish yishuv. Arab armies aided by Palestinians were the ones who attacked the Jewish state in a bid to destroy it. None of this is mentioned in the op-ed. It is also possible to deduce from the article that the Palestinian leadership sees the establishment of a Palestinian state as a means to continue the conflict with Israel, rather than to end it.....

      Officials in Netanyahu's office went on to dissect the Abbas op-ed, pointing out various claims which they said were false. One point they stressed in particular was Abbas's assertion that Palestinian refugees were the cause, rather than the result, of the war. They said that in more than one location, it was the Palestinian leaders who urged Palestinians to get out of the way of the advancing Arab armies.

      Complete clash of narratives.... but I wonder, does b'yahoo really drink the Koolaid, or is he posturing about what really happened and hoping the world isn't too good at basic research?

    • That is another sign that the two-state option is done and gone, if ever it were viable (which I don't believe it was).

      We have moved into a new phase -- the phase in which Zionism is fully deconstructed, exposed, and laid to rest, and the groundwork for a secular state to emerge from the ashes is laid. That's what my interpretation of the meaning of the events of the past 6 or 8 months is. It ain't gonna be pretty or easy or fast, but that is the ground that is shifting beneath our feet.

  • Slap across the face
    • What happened to the notion that the police are there to protect the citizenry, eh? That was the original concept.... that's what society gives the government tax dollars FOR.

      Oh yeah, I forgot, in Israel non-Jews are also non-citizens.

    • She really should be grateful he didn't shoot her dead on the spot. That's only because she's a citizen you know, so she has rights...

    • Oh yes, and the fact that she was wielding a steel-studded machete and he was so restrained in only slapping her. After all, "purity of arms" and all that...

    • Annie, you neglected to mention (or perhaps you didn't know) that the man who did the slapping is Kobi Bachar, deputy commander of the Galilee District Police, and the woman he slapped is an Arab lawyer Attorney Maisa Arshid of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, who had the impertinence to ask why he was arresting protesters. A great take on this over at +972 mag:

      I totally understand Bachar. He’s not a hotheaded new recruit. He’s an experienced officer, he knows very well what he’s doing. I feel like I can read his mind:

      “That female lawyer had the nerve to ask me why I was detaining protesters, the ruler of the land? She even stood two feet away! How dare she?! If that’s not a provocation, I don’t know what is! Bam! Slap across the face! That’ll teach her. A good slap in the face. That’ll teach all them negroes to go back n’ stick to pickin’ cotton and….. oops… wait a minute…. where am I?”

      Sick, sick society. Makes me nauseous.

      By the way the video went viral, according to the article.

  • Israelis defy Nakba law on Independence Day
  • Israel admits to forcing 140,000 Palestinians from the West Bank using administrative trick
    • This practice did not stop in 1994 by a long shot.

      B'Tselem: The Quiet Deportation - April 1997

      The Independent, Patrick Cockburn reports, April 1997:

      In what a report by B'Tselem, the Israeli human-rights group, calls "a policy of quiet deportation of East Jerusalem's Palestinian residents", hundreds and perhaps thousands of people have already been forced to leave. Western consular officials in Jerusalem fear that as many as 120,000 out of 170,000, two thirds of the Palestinian population, could lose their right to live in the city.

      So far the regulations have been mainly enforced when a Palestinian needs to renew an identity card, but the Israeli Interior Ministry says that between June and August all identity cards must be renewed.

      As a result of the policy, which started early last year but which has been more harshly enforced since Benjamin Netanyahu became Prime Minister, many Palestinians born in Jerusalem have stopped registering their children. Su'ad Nimr, 32, who is the mother of three children, said: "I was born and raised in Jerusalem as was my husband. Four months ago they took away our identity cards. Now my husband cannot leave the house. We live in fear that he will be imprisoned."

      Eliahu Abrams, a civil-rights lawyer, said: "It is a true crisis in human rights: Israel is forcibly getting rid of Palestinians not by pulling them out by their hair, but by quiet, slow, sophisticated deportation." The essence of the new policy is to force all Palestinians to give documentary proof - often twelve different documents - showing that they have always lived in the city.

      Olga Matri Hana Yoaqim, 63, who has seven children, was born in Bethlehem but has lived in the city with her husband since 1952. "In September 1995 I went to replace my identity card at the Interior Ministry office in East Jerusalem," she said. The clerk cut up her old card and told her to come back in two weeks. When Mrs Yoaqim returned "the clerks told me: "You don't have an identity card. Go to the West Bank".

      Her husband went back to the ministry 20 times but was refused. Mrs Yoaqim said: "I suffer from diabetes and have kidney problems. When I go to a clinic or hospital, they want to see my identity card. Because I have none, I can't receive treatment."

      The Interior Ministry denies that it has a new policy, but says it is merely enforcing old regulations. Responding to the allegation that it has embarked on a policy of deportation, Tova Ellinson, the ministry spokesperson, said: "When permanent residents sever their connection with Israel - maintain their centre of life in another location... - their free choice causes the expiration of their permanent residency."

      In fact, it is only recently that Palestinians who live in a Jerusalem suburb such as Ram or Abu Dhis have found that their "centre of life" has moved from the city as much as if they had moved to Dundee. B'Tselem, in its report, The Quiet Deportation: Revocation of Residency of East Jerusalem Palestinians, says: "Some 18 months ago, the Interior Ministry began to revoke the residency status of persons who moved outside the municipal borders of Jerusalem."

      The change was retroactive and introduced without notice so it is only now that Palestinians are discovering if they have the right to live in the city where they were born.

      B'Tselem: Revocation of residency in East Jerusalem - new tactics

      Between December 1995 and March 2000, Israel used an additional method to attain its demographic objective. The Interior Ministry, which deals with the residency status of East Jerusalem's Palestinian residents, revoked residency from those who moved outside Jerusalem's municipal borders. Palestinians who were unable to prove that they had lived in Jerusalem in the past and continue to live there were compelled to leave their homes forever. They could not live or work in Israel and they and their families lost their social benefits. The Israeli authorities never announced this policy, and never warned Palestinians that by leaving Jerusalem they were jeopardizing their status and right to return to live in their homes in the city.

      The policies of the Israeli government and the Jerusalem Municipality in a variety of spheres led thousands of Palestinians to leave the city, many to reside in Jerusalem's suburbs, others in the West Bank and Jordan. Until 1995, moving outside the city limits did not affect their status as permanent residents in Israel. They maintained this status as long as they returned to Jerusalem to renew their exit permits at the Ministry of the Interior, which regularly renewed the permits. Only a continued stay of more than seven years outside Jerusalem without having renewed their exit permits was liable to lead to revocation of residency status. Palestinians who moved to Jerusalem's suburbs or elsewhere in the West Bank did not require exit permits and could live there for years without it affecting their status.

      In December 1995, without forewarning, the Ministry of the Interior changed its policy. The Ministry claimed that permanent residency, unlike citizenship, is a matter of the circumstances in which the individual lives, and when these circumstances change, the permit granting permanent residency expires. Thus, every Palestinian who lived outside the city for a number of years lost their right to live in the city, and the Ministry ordered them to leave their homes. The fact that they had returned to Jerusalem over the years and the Ministry regularly renewed their exit permits and granted them additional services was insignificant. The Ministry demanded proof that their "center of life" was in Jerusalem. The standard of proof was high, and the Ministry required that the individual provide numerous documents. According to official sources, permanent residency of more than 3,000 individuals "expired" since December 1995.

      In March 2000, the Minster of the Interior, Natan Sharansky, submitted an affidavit to the High Court of Justice in which he stated that the "quiet deportation" policy would cease. The affidavit stated that the Ministry would return to operating according to the pre- December 1995 policy: all residents of East Jerusalem who renewed their exit permits on time would maintain their permanent residency status, even if they live in Jordan or in another country. Also, permanent residency status would not be revoked from Jerusalem residents who moved to Jerusalem's suburbs or elsewhere in the West Bank and do not require exit permits. The Minister also stated in his affidavit that residency would be returned to those whose status had been revoked, provided that they lived in Jerusalem for at least two years.

      In addition, the Ministry reinstated the residency of hundreds of Palestinians whose residency had been revoked during the years that Israel implemented its revocation policy.

      However, in recent years, the Ministry has once again begun to revoke permanent-residency status of East Jerusalem Palestinians, raising the concern that, covertly and without warning, Israel has returned to the “quiet transfer” policy. According to official figures, in 2005, the Ministry revoked the residency of 222 Palestinians. In 2006, that number jumped to 1,363, an increase of more than 600 percent. In response to B'Tselem's inquiry, the Ministry stated that, in most of the cases, residency was revoked because the person had become a citizen or permanent resident of another country.

      B'TSelem: New military order defines tens of thousands of Palestinian "infiltrators" who may be expelled and imprisoned - April 2010

      On Tuesday, 13 April 2010, the Order Regarding the Prevention of Infiltration (Amendment No. 2) and the Order Regarding Defense Regulations (Amendment No. 112) came into force. The orders were signed by former OC Central Command Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni in October 2009. Under the orders, any Palestinian who enters the West Bank “unlawfully” and any person who is present there without an Israeli permit is deemed an “infiltrator” and may be deported from the West Bank by Israel. The definitions in the orders are vague: they do not determine, for example, what is considered a valid permit and whether a Palestinian identity card constitutes one.

      The new definition of “infiltrator” turns persons whom Israel previously classified as “persons staying illegally” in the West Bank into criminals, who are subject to seven years' imprisonment. Persons able to prove they entered the West Bank lawfully, but remained after their permit expired, are subject to up to three year's imprisonment.

      Given Israel's current policy, B'Tselem is concerned that the orders will be used primarily against Palestinians who have lived in the West Bank for many years and have established their lives there, but whose official address remains in the Gaza Strip because Israel refuses to change their address in the population registry. It is also feared that Israel will use the orders to deport spouses of residents of the West Bank when the spouse holds a foreign passport and Israel refuses to grant their application for family unification. It is estimated there are tens of thousands of persons in these categories.

      Jordan will not receive deported Palestinians - December 2010

      The Jordanian government refused Monday receiving any Palestinians deported by Israel from the Occupied Territories under the pretext that they do not have legal residence permits.

      Munther Fahmi, bookseller to the stars at East Jerusalem's famous American Colony Hotel, facing deportation - April 2011

      HAMOKED - Center for the Defense of the Individual - Detailed information site about the history, timeline, legal particulars for these types of deportations

      And on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on....

  • They can never shut me up
    • You are a very gifted writer and a heroic and courageous person. This scene will be burned into our memories for a long, long time, especially the part about looking the soldier directly in the eye at the age of 5 (!!). Remember, "the pen is mightier than the sword!" Writing like this--first-person testimony--is an extremely powerful form of resistance. Although not, of course, nearly as powerful or brave as what you did when those soldiers were terrorizing your family -- you demonstrably held on to your humanity and your dignity and refused to submit or be humiliated, despite the fact that they literally held all your lives in their hands.

      Thank you Nai Barghouti, for sharing a searing, honest, insightful, and incredibly moving account of what it means to be a Palestinian living under Israeli occupation. I plan to share it far and wide and I hope others will too.

      Please keep writing; please make your voice heard here and everywhere.

  • Dare to struggle, dare to win, dare to live together and build a paradise
  • America's self-righteous celebration
    • This is not justice but rather a travesty of justice. In the America I thought I knew, even this man would have been given due process of law. Trial by jury, with detailed evidence, would have been the only real way to deliver justice and peace.

      Now we know nothing. Was Bin Laden really the mastermind of 9/11? If so, did he act alone or on another's behalf? Was he really the one killed yesterday? What is the evidence? Where are the photographs? Why was the body so quickly dumped to sea? Does his family not deserve his body back? What kind of nation behaves like this? Only a rogue nation.

      More importantly, the door is left wide open for the predictable "retaliatory strike" of which we are already warned. American outposts everywhere around the world are on "lockdown.... high alert..." Whose agenda is this serving? "Be afraid, be very very afraid..."

      This is not an act of which Americans should be proud and certainly not one in which to rejoice. And in my mind at least, the fact that Obama has gone on record saying that "justice has been served" removes him entirely from the realm of law-abiding leaders who deserve honor and respect and places him instead in the dustbin of history with George Bush. By this action, he has singlehandedly contributed to the further demise of the country of laws which he said he loved and would serve.

      In my eyes, this is a dark day for America.

  • Abbas: 'Hamas is a part of the Palestinian people'
    • Dudes, I hate to break it to you, but peace is generally made between enemies.

      Once the conflict is TRULY resolved in a way that meets the needs of all sides equivalently, then enemies are motivated to change their language, behavior, etc etc. NOT before.

      The catch is - you do have to consider the other side's needs and find ways to meet them in order for genuine reconciliation to be possible...

  • Arab spring: Fatah and Hamas reportedly reach deal for interim gov't, elections in a year
    • I 'fourth'! Your contributions here are invaluable and ever so much appreciated.

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      If we judge that you have broken one of these rules you will be banned. We will ban the IP address you are posting from and if you try to post from another IP address we will ban that as well.

      Moderators, please take note.

    • Abbas has made clear that he will not run again.

    • There is a Museum of Native American history in DC that is large, thoughtfully designed, and informative. It does not, however, engage the viewer's emotion by design in the way that Walid's post describes the Holocaust Museum doing.

    • Oh, this is sweet:

      RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- [In response to Netanyahu's ultimatum "peace with Israel or with Hamas - you choose] Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said Wednesday that an agreement between Fatah and Hamas “is an internal affair that has nothing to do with Israel, which is not a party to it.”

      "The agreement strengthens Palestinian unity and its just struggle to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital," he said in response to remarks by the Israeli prime minister in Jerusalem.

      Benjamin Netanyahu had demanded that President Abbas "choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas," saying such an agreement paved the way for Hamas to take control of the West Bank too.

      "The Palestinian Authority must choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There cannot be peace with both because Hamas strives to destroy the state of Israel and says so openly," Netanyahu said.

      "The very idea of reconciliation shows the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and creates the prospect that Hamas could retake control of Judea and Samaria just like it took control of the Gaza Strip," he said.

      Abu Rudeina responded by saying Netanyahu "must choose between peace and settlements."

      The spokesman also noted that "the Palestine Liberation Organization, as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, is committed to the peace process and its terms of reference."

      The agreement in Cairo "strengthens this choice and the national position because it puts an end to the Israeli claim that the PLO does not represent the Palestinian people, due to the division.”

      If anyone has to make a choice, he continued, it is “Netanyahu who must choose between a just and comprehensive peace with the Palestinian people and its representatives -- or the settlements.”

      The United States, meanwhile, said it supported Palestinian reconciliation on terms "which promote the cause of peace." Hamas, however, "is a terrorist organization,” said spokesman Tommy Vietor.

      “To play a constructive role in achieving peace, any Palestinian government must accept the Quartet principles and renounce violence, abide by past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist,” he said.

      That US spokesperson quote at the end sounds like the whine of annoying mosquito... the US no longer has the power to dictate what the Palestinian government "must do."

    • None of that really matters - the tides sweeping the region will brush all these twigs out of the way in the path of the tornado of change.

      My reading on what has happened is that the Palestinians learned the very, very hard way that independence can only be earned through unity and strength. For an entire generation they deeply, deeply believed that if only all the stars aligned right and they just got the US's ear and played by all the rules, the US would bring Israel along. And that all played right out the past year to an utter and total dead end. And the Palestinian leadership, aided by the humiliating exposure from the "Palestine Papers" episode and wikileaks, realized that they were groveling to Uncle Sam for absolutely nothing -- it was all a charade, a ruse, the ever-receding chimeric bar that somehow kept inching higher, higher, higher. Then along came Tunisia and Egypt and BAM, the Palestinians seem to have all suddenly grasped the power they held all along but never realized -- the power of unity of popular will, of moral justice, and of demography.

      Add to that the possible uncertainty Hamas now feels with all that may or may not happen in Syria, and the fact that the Egyptian leadership is genuinely interested in Palestinian unity rather than disunity, and the fact that the US Congress has completely handcuffed its nation from doing anything meaningful whatsoever, and you have the magic potion -- a realigning of all the cards in the region in just a few short months.

    • Oh I am quite certain that Egypt -- specifically the tireless "go-between" Suleiman -- was instrumental in ensuring that this agreement was always just out of reach. In accordance with the directives from his partners in crime, Israel and the US.

    • LOL Shingo

    • acceptable agreements? what are those? Israel has always been about agreements that are solely on its terms and that are shoved down a groveling, begging Palestinian enemy's throat (with a boot at the throat all the while).

    • Seafoid, I think that Israel must be happier than a pig in shit about this.

      Walid, on this point you are sadly mistaken. This is Israel's worst nightmare. The division was their long-term strategy and now it has failed. This, combined with the New Egypt and the UN vote, will have the Israelis shitting in their pants. And they don't have any Plan B.

      The tides have turned and now for once, for once, Israel is on the defensive and NOT in the driver's seat.

  • Medical centres in Bahrain raided & more news from the Arab spring and Saudi counter revolutions
  • Vittorio knew the risks, and accepted them
  • 'Mathilde Redmatn' and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza
    • Most likely, this is part and parcel of this initiative reported in today's Haaretz:

      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed his inner cabinet on Wednesday to continue diplomatic [between the lines: "and propaganda"] efforts to thwart an upcoming Gaza aid flotilla, a statement said on Wednesday, adding that the premier also instructed Israel's security forces to prepare for the flotilla's possible arrival.

      The flotilla, which was expected to set sail in May, will now probably only embark in mid-June, its organizers preferring to wait for the outcome of the election to the Turkish parliament.

      Following a meeting of Netanyahu's inner cabinet, or Forum of Seven, on Wednesday, a statement by the Prime Minister's Office said that the premier had "instructed the Foreign Minister to continue diplomatic efforts geared at stopping the flotilla."

      The statement also indicated that the Israel Defense Forces and security officials to continue the "necessary preparations to ensure the enforcement of the naval blockade on Gaza." ...

    • If you now google "international red cross humanitarian crisis gaza" you get endless instances of this statement which seems to have been spread like wildfire everywhere.

      This is probably another lame attempt at stopping the flotilla. "Guys, there's nothing to see here, no problems, and FYI you might get kidnapped and assassinated while trying to intervene in the non-crisis situation, so just go back to your regular programming and forget about Gaza."

    • You are right - the image is out there online. I haven't time to check each of these but you can have at it.

      Other instances of the photo

    • Phil, why don't you just call the woman up and ask her what she said and how it was or was not distorted? That would be true investigative journalism...

  • Can you imagine being forced to organize a 'humanitarian delegation' in order to simply visit your grandparents?
    • Lydda massacre and expulsions 1948

      Dr. Anthony McRoy, Islamic UN Human Rights Commission:

      People sometimes refer to 'Tel Aviv' Airport, yet 'Ben Gurion Airport' is actually in Lod - originally the Palestinian town of Lydda. Few people - even British Arabs or Muslims - know the dark history of this place. The city was conquered by Haganah and Irgun terrorists in 1948. On July 13, 1948, Zionist terrorists forced the entire population of as many as 70,000 men, women and children to flee their homes. The initial attack against Lydda and its twin city, Ramleh, was led by Lt. Col. Moshe Dayan, later Israeli defence and foreign minister. It is the complicity of senior Israeli officials like Dayan, Rabin, Allon and Ben Gurion in the massacre and ethnic cleansing of Lydda and Ramleh that mark the event as a definitive symbol of the nature of the Zionist regime's terrorist creation. The Zionist State was born in the blood of innocent Palestinians.

      Two US journalists witnessed the attack on Lydda. The article 'Blitz Tactics Won Lydda' by Keith Wheeler of the Chicago Sun Times wrote stated that 'practically everything in their way died. Riddled corpses lay by the roadside.' Kenneth Bilby of the New York Herald Tribune reported that he saw 'the corpses of Arab men, women and even children strewn about in the wake of the ruthlessly brilliant charge.'

      Accounts of the attack and what followed recall uncomfortable echoes of Srebenica. All men of military age were sent to camps. The residents of Lydda were promised that if they congregated in mosques and churches they would be safe. On July 12, a brief firefight broke out in Lydda between Zionist terrorists and a Jordanian reconnaissance team in which two Zionists were killed. The retaliation was terrible. The Zionist commander ordered his troops to kill anyone on the streets. The Zionist terrorists massacred 426 men, women, and children. Zionist terrorists then attacked the people sheltering in mosques and churches, killing 176 people in Dahmash mosque alone. This is important to remember. The massacre and ethnic cleansing of Lydda and Ramleh was not just racist, but also sectarian. Churches and mosques were desecrated, yet there has been a deafening silence on this issue from both Christian and Muslim leaders in the West.

      The same day Ben Gurion ordered the expulsion of all Palestinians from the towns. The order said: 'The residents of Lydda must be expelled quickly without attention to age.' It was signed by Lieutenant-Colonel Yitzhak Rabin, operations chief of the Lydda-Ramleh attack and later Israeli military chief of staff and Prime Minister. A similar order was issued about Ramleh. Out of the 19,000 people who formerly lived in Lydda, only 1,052 were permitted to remain. Israeli historian Benny Morris reported:

      'All the Israelis who witnessed the events agreed that the exodus, under a hot July sun, was an extended episode of suffering for the refugees, especially from Lydda. Some were stripped by soldiers of their valuables as they left town or at checkpoints along the way.... One Israeli soldier ... recorded vivid impressions of the thirst and hunger of the refugees on the roads, and of how 'children got lost' and of how a child fell into a well and drowned, ignored, as his fellow refugees fought each other to draw water. Another soldier described the spoor left by the slow-shuffling columns, 'to begin with [jettisoning] utensils and furniture and in the end, bodies of men, women and children, scattered along the way!' 'Quite a few refugees died-from exhaustion, dehydration and disease-along the roads eastwards, from Lydda and Ramleh, before reaching temporary rest near and in Ramallah. Nimr Khatib put the death toll among the Lydda refugees during the trek eastward at 335; Arab Legion commander John Glubb Pasha more carefully wrote that 'nobody will ever know how many children died.'

      Just as Bosnians were looted and plundered by the Serbs, and Jews looted by the Nazis, the same happened to the Palestinians of Lydda and Ramleh. Zionists terrorists searched Arabs to steal their possessions and indiscriminately murdered many. The Economist reported: 'The Arab refugees were systematically stripped of all their belongings before they were sent on their trek to the frontier. Household belongings, stores, clothing, all had to be left behind.' One youthful Palestinian survivor recalled: 'Two of my friends were killed in cold blood. One was carrying a box presumed to have money and the other a pillow which was believed to contain valuables. A friend of mine resisted and was killed in front of me. He had 400 Palestinian pounds in his pocket.'

      After the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, looting began in Lydda and Ramleh. Israeli historian Simha Flapan reported: 'With the population gone, the Israeli soldiers proceeded to loot the two towns in an outbreak of mass pillaging that the officers could neither prevent nor control .... Even the soldiers from the Palmach-most of whom came from or were preparing to join kibbutzim-took part, stealing mechanical and agricultural equipment. Israeli troops carted away 1,800 truck loads of Palestinian property, including a button factory, a sausage factory, a soft drinks plant, a macaroni factory, a textile mill, 7,000 retail shops, 1,000 warehouses and 500 workshops.' In the light of Jewish groups lobbying Swiss banks to restore Jewish property looted by the Nazis, should not the same happen in this case regarding Palestinian property?

      The interesting fact about Lydda and Ramleh is that it is the one massacre and ethnic cleansing that the Zionist regime has been forced to admit, if only because of the indiscretion of some of the perpetrators. Rabin referred to the Lydda massacre in his memoirs but the Israeli government censored the passage. He wrote in his diary soon after Lydda's and Ramleh's occupation:

      'After attacking Lydda and then Ramla... What would they do with the 50,000 civilians living in the two cities... Not even Ben-Gurion could offer a solution... and during the discussion at operation headquarters, he [Ben-Gurion] remained silent, as was his habit in such situations. Clearly, we could not leave [Lydda's] hostile and armed populace in our rear, where it could endangered the supply route [to the troops who were] advancing eastward.

      Ben-Gurion would repeat the question: What is to be done with the population?, waving his hand in a gesture which said: Drive them out!.' (Soldier of Peace, p. 140-141)

      350 people died of exhaustion and dehydration before reaching their final destination. Again, in echoes of Bosnia, the Zionist forces were guilty of rape against Palestinian women and girls. Aharon Cizling, Israeli Agriculture Minister, stated in July, 1948:

      '...It's been said that there were cases of rape in Ramla. I can forgive rape, but I will not forgive other acts which seem to me much worse. When they enter a town and forcibly remove rings from the fingers and jewellery from someone's neck, that's a very grave matter... Many are guilty of it.'(Tom Segev, 1949, The First Israelis, p. 71-72)

      It was clear that the massacre and ethnic cleansing was meant as a warning to other Arabs as to what would happen unless they fled. Yigal Allon stated in mid-July 1948 about the ethnic cleansing at Lydda and Ramleh:

      'Moreover, the phenomenon of the flight of tens of thousands will no doubt cause demoralisation in every Arab area [the refugees] reach... This victory will yet have great effect on other sectors. '(Benny Morris, p. 211 Israel: A History, p. 218)

      Currently, the people of Lydda and Ramleh and their descendants number around half a million, mainly residing in refugee camps around Amman and Ramallah. The very fact that the regime named the Airport after Ben Gurion - the man who ordered the ethnic cleansing - demonstrates that its very existence is a deliberate insult to the memory of the dead and deported.

      Lydda ongoing ethnic cleansing 2011

    • Please keep us posted on what happens... Godspeed in your travels. And perhaps one day you will share with us the story of how she came to be in Gaza and how your family came to be here.

      Best wishes!

    • Israeli High Court of Justice (Supreme Court) - March 2011:

      On March 3 2011, following ACRI’s appeal, the High Court of Justice has issued an Order Nisi requiring the Israeli authorities to explain why they will not check all airport passengers according to equal and relevant criteria. Currently, all Arab citizens of Israel are automatically categorized as a “security threat” for the purpose of airport security checks.

      On March 2, in a third hearing in ACRI’s appeal against the Airport Authority regarding the discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel during security checks in airports, the HCJ Justices criticized the sweeping categorization of Arab citizens of Israel as a “security threat.” During the hearing, President Beinisch stated that there is no doubt that the discrimination of Arab citizens during security checks is wrongful.

      According to Attorney Auni Banna, who represented ACRI in this hearing together with Attorney Dan Yakir: “After extensive efforts of the State Attorney to create a smoke screen and to lead the discussion on irrelevant paths, in this third hearing we finally got to discuss the essential issue: Should it be permitted to sweepingly declare a minority group of Israeli citizens as a security threat.”

      Attorney Dan Yakir, ACRI’s Chief Legal Counsel, mentioned that former GSS officials admitted that even after the High Court has forbidden them from using torture in interrogations, the state of Israel’s security has not been harmed. Yakir: “The security authorities have a variety of means and methods for security checks. A democratic country cannot consent to the humiliation of 20 percent of its citizens.”

      Despite the authorities’ promises regarding plans to improve the procedures and to decrease the feelings of humiliation, from the vague information that they have thus far submitted to the court, it is unclear what the planned changes are. However, ACRI states that since the appeal is on the question of the legality of the sweeping categorization of Arab citizens as “dangerous” – then even if planned changes will conceal some of the discrimination during security checks, the problem will not be solved. The very differentiation between Jewish and Arab citizens, and the categorizing of Arabs as a security threat, is humiliating and discriminating.

      ACRI has appealed to the High Court of Justice against the Airport Authority, the General Security Service, and the Ministry of Transportation (HCJ 4797/07), demanding that they cease using the Arab nationality as a criterion during security checks in airports. Arab passengers receive a discriminatory and humiliating treatment in airports, including a special and thorough search that extremely exceeds the usual security checks, only because the passenger is Arab and with no other concrete basis for suspicion. In this appeal, ACRI demands that the scope and level of security checks will be determined for all citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, according to equal and relevant criteria. This appeal is currently still discussed in the HCJ.

      Repeat: "....only because the passenger is Arab and with no other concrete basis for suspicion."

      Case closed.

    • Yeah, it's the "we live in a violent neighborhood" line of defense. Only this is even grander - "we live in a neighborhood that's been savagely violent since the dawn of recorded history...we're just 'keepin' up with the Joneses Abdulrahmans...'"

      So why did you move into this neighborhood in the first place, then?

    • And FYI, even if the last name is ambiguous, the security personnel have their "ways" to get to what they want to know. They ask about relatives' last names, relatives' origins, birthplaces, places you may have been, and - gasp - outright they ask about ethnicity of names. "What type of name is that?"

      And yes, they do this when they would have absolutely zero reason to otherwise "profile" that person. It's all about the categories. When one group is automatically "suspect" and another is not, the categorization is the key that unlocks everything that follows...

    • ROFLMAO, really... that has to rate as the lamest hasbara attempt EVER. If this is the best they can do, then Israel is really in trouble. Oh my.

    • Here is another one:
      Travel Warning for Israel, The West Bank, and Gaza

      The Government of Israel considers American citizens who also hold Israeli citizenship or have a claim to such dual nationality to be Israeli citizens for immigration and other legal purposes. For example, an American citizen child of an Israeli parent will be considered an Israeli citizen by Israeli immigration officials and Israeli law will apply to the child's travel to, and departure from, Israel.

      American citizens whom Israeli authorities suspect of being of Arab or Muslim origin are likely to face additional, often time-consuming, and probing questioning by immigration and border authorities, or may even be denied entry into Israel. If they are determined by Israeli authorities to have a claim to residency status in the West Bank or Gaza, or to have a claim to a Palestinian identification number, such American citizens may be required by the Government of Israel to use a Palestinian Authority travel document to transit Israel to enter the West Bank or Gaza. Such a determination could be made for American citizens if they or their immediate family members or grandparents were born in the West Bank or Gaza, currently reside there, or lived there for any appreciable amount of time.

      American citizens who hold a Palestinian Authority ID, as well as persons judged by the Israeli authorities to have claim to a Palestinian Authority ID, will be considered subject to Israeli law and to regulations that Israel applies to residents of the West Bank and Gaza, regardless of the fact that they hold U.S. citizenship. A Palestinian ID number might be active or inactive. If active, the Government of Israel may stamp the Palestinian Identification Number in the U.S. passport, and the American citizen may be required to obtain Palestinian Authority travel documents prior to departing Israel. In addition, American citizens having or eligible for a Palestinian Authority ID who entered Israel via Ben Gurion Airport might be required to depart via the Allenby Bridge to Jordan. Upon arrival, such persons may wish to consider asking Israeli immigration authorities from where they will be required to depart. Additionally, American citizens who have (or who are eligible to receive) a Palestinian Authority Identification Number are likely to be refused entry to Israel via Ben Gurion Airport and told that they must enter Israel from Jordan via the Allenby (also known as King Hussein) Bridge.

      In June 2009, the Israeli government began selectively limiting certain travelers to either the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza, or to Israel and Jerusalem. To date, the Israeli government has not provided information about which categories of travelers can expect to be subject to these restrictions. Nonetheless, Israeli border officials at Ben Gurion Airport began requiring certain travelers to sign a form that states s/he is not allowed to enter territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority unless s/he obtains advance authorization from the Israeli "Territory Actions Coordinator," and that violating this restriction may result in the traveler being deported from Israel and barred from entry for up to 10 years. At the Allenby Bridge crossing, as well as at Ben Gurion Airport, Israeli border officials also began using a new entry stamp for certain travelers that states "Palestinian Authority Only." Since travelers entering via the Allenby crossing must transit Israeli checkpoints and Israeli-controlled territory to reach Jerusalem or Gaza, this restriction effectively limits travelers who receive this stamp at Allenby to destinations in the West Bank only. This stamp has been known to be used even with travelers who have no Palestinian or other Arab ancestry, and who would not seem to have any claim to a Palestinian Authority ID.

      The United States Government seeks equal treatment for all American citizens regardless of national origin or ethnicity. American citizens who encounter difficulties are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv or the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem at the telephone numbers below.

      Is this enough evidence for you?

    • I was being facetious about her tax dollars building the airport, but you get my general drift.

    • As for Palestinians with American citizenship, unless they are 63 years or older, there is little chance that Israeli customs would know that they are Palestinian.

      Oh really? I guess you've never been through Ben-Gurion airport security with a Palestinian. The security agents there have it down to a science - by question 2, 3 maximum, they know. Believe me, they know.

      What is your father's/mother's/husband's/wife's name?

      What type of name is that?

      Where was he/she/blah blah born?

      What are these other stamps in your passport?

      Who are you visiting in the country?

      etc etc etc

      Don't delude yourself that they don't know. They make it their absolute business to know.

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