Studies show that US coverage is Israeli-centric. The main bureaus for CNN, Associated Press, Time, etc. are located in Israel and often staffed by Israelis. The son of the NY Times bureau chief is in the Israeli army;"pundit" Jeffrey Goldberg served in the IDF; Wolf Blitzer worked for AIPAC. Because the U.S. gives Israel over $8 million/day - more than to any other nation - we feel it is essential that we be fully informed on this region. Below are news reports to augment mainstream coverage.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Israeli forces confiscates hundreds of Ramallah dunums

PIC- Israeli occupation forces (IOF) confiscated hundreds of Palestinian dunums surrounding the villages of Mazra’a Gharbiya and Janiya to the west of Ramallah city, citizens told the PIC on Tuesday.

Supplying the PIC with the published map, they said that IOF troops and settlers stormed the confiscated land on Monday and installed signs on it, adding that the settlers had survey maps and that engineers with necessary equipment worked on outlining the land.

They said that the IOF told the Red Cross, who was delegated by those citizens to inquire about the issue, that the land, rich with olive trees, was confiscated.

Israeli Court rules to evict 8 Arab families in Ramla

Wafa– An Israeli court Wednesday ruled to evict eight Arab families from their houses in Ramla city in Israel within a month, under the pretext of being ‘unprotected tenants.’

The owner of the houses, Abdel Razek El-Ajou, said that he bought a piece of land and a house from the Israel Lands Administration (ILA) in 1960, through a protected lease by the Israeli housing company, Amidar. He built new houses for his sons in line with the contract, where the house owners paid monthly rents to the company.

“Five years ago, Amidar stopped receiving the rents and filed a law suit against us in the court demanding to evict us. The company claimed that we are unprotected tenants. The court decided to uproot and evict us,” El-Ajou added.

Protected lease in Israel gives the tenants certain privileges such as their rent being regulated by the government and representing only 10-20 percent of the market price. They are also protected from eviction even after the rental contract has elapsed, and they are entitled to transfer their rights to other tenants and to receive substantial compensation in return.

Wikimedia conference 2011 sponsored by Israeli-Government company that illegally develops East Jerusalem

Alternative Information Center- Wikimania, the annual conference of the Wikimedia community to be held in the Israeli city of Haifa this August, is to be partially sponsored by the East Jerusalem Development Company (EJDC), an Israeli government-owned company responsible for “the development and operation of tourist sites in eastern and greater Jerusalem.”

EJDC projects, including settlements, conservation areas and new “heritage” sites, have been sprouting up steadily across East Jerusalem. Palestinian residents in Silwan, for example, are under direct threat from the excavation of the “City of David”, while the Jerusalem Municipality has issued plans to convert much of the Wadi Hilweh and Al-Bustan neighbourhoods into a settler-run archeological park. To support this plan, Palestinians are evacuated from their homes, denied building permits, and demolition orders are often issued through the municipality on tenuous licensing pretenses.

According to the UN, Israeli authorities have zoned only 13 per cent of occupied East Jerusalem for Palestinian construction. Since 1967 thousands of Palestinian-owned structures in East Jerusalem have been demolished, including an estimated 2,000 homes. OCHA (The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) calculates that at least 28 percent of all Palestinian homes in eastern Jerusalem are built without the required permit, putting 60,000 people at risk of having their homes demolished. The BADIL resource center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee rights estimates that the archeological park in the Bustan neighborhood of Silwan would demolish an additional 90 homes, displacing close to 1,500 Palestinians.

Britain submits to the Zionist lobby; arrests Israeli Palestinian leader

In arresting Sheikh Raed Salah, the UK authorities support the persecution of Arab citizens of Israel

Haneen Zoabi - The Guardian- The decision to ban the Palestinian leader Sheikh Raed Salah from entering Britain, and then to arrest him, was transparently not based on any serious examination of his political activities. It was an ugly kneejerk response to the growing hostility of the Israeli establishment and its supporters abroad towards anyone opposing its racist policies – and a rising tide of Islamophobia in Europe.

Salah is head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and three times elected mayor of the Palestinian town of Umm el-Fahm. He and I represent different political organisations and traditions. But there are no legal or legitimate reasons to pursue him. The Israeli persecution of him has recently intensified, as have its attacks on leaders of Palestinian citizens of Israel more generally.

So have its demands that those of us struggling for equality recognise Israel as an ethnically or religiously defined Jewish state. There is no other meaning to a "Jewish state" except the recognition of the legitimacy of granting privileges to Jews in Israel at the expense of Palestinian citizens, annulling the legitimacy of our struggle for real democracy.

Because I took part in the first freedom flotilla to break the illegal and inhuman siege of Gaza, the Israeli establishment has waged a propaganda campaign against me, accusing me of "terrorism", and demanding the withdrawal of my parliamentary immunity and citizenship. This will be difficult to implement, but it threatens my political legitimacy and defines me as a "risk".

Former CIA analyst report suggests violent repression of American flotilla passengers beneficial in garnering Jewish vote for Obama administration

Mark Halperin - The Distant Ocean- As I mentioned a few days ago, former CIA analyst and presidential briefer Ray McGovern reported that his administration sources have told him that "White House officials" were "perfectly willing to have the cold corpses of [Gaza flotilla] activists shown on American TV." On hearing this same report, former UK ambassador Craig Murray decided to look into it himself:

...I set my own diplomatic sources to work in Washington, without giving them any indication of Ray’s information. They came back with an independent report from a different source – close to Clinton rather than the White House – with exactly the same result of which Ray was warned. I was told that Obama will welcome an Israeli attack on the US ship, as giving him a chance to confirm his pro-Israeli credentials and improve his standing with AIPAC ahead of the Presidential election race. Fatalities would be "not a problem".

There was no information that the Obama regime has quietly given Netanyahu a green light to attack the ship. But I strongly expect they will; by deniable means, of course.

So there you have it: not only would Barack Obama be more than happy to let Israel kill a few US citizens, he's actually thinking it could "improve his standing with AIPAC" and help shore up his vulnerability with Jewish voters. Illustrating once again that no level of skepticism or cynicism is sufficient when it comes to this bloated bag of amoral ambition and self-regard.

Former US Ambassador to UN calls on US to attack Iran, follows Israeli Prime Minister's perception of threats in Middle East

Philip Giraldi - John Bolton, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, is again calling on the United States to attack Iran even though he acknowledged that doing so would likely ignite a much larger regional war. But, characteristically, he dismissed the costs as worth it, a phrase reminiscent of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s defense of the killing of half a million Iraqi children through sanctions. Bolton claimed, based on evidence that he did not reveal, that Iran could have enough enriched uranium to create a nuclear weapon in six weeks. He made his comments last Thursday before the House Foreign Affairs committee, which is chaired by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who shook his hand afterward and said “I really love John Bolton.”

Bolton, a leading neoconservative, has been calling for attacking Iran for a number of years. As part of his argument, he always maintains that Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon is imminent. He never explains why it hasn’t happened yet, making one suspect that his warnings are baseless and politically motivated. Even the United States intelligence community, in its recently concluded review of the National Intelligence Estimate of 2007, has stated its belief that there is no evidence that Iran has restarted the nuclear weapons program that it abandoned in 2003.

So what does Bolton base his claim on? Intelligence from the Israelis no doubt. Bolton has had a long relationship with the Israeli government and it is presumed also with its intelligence service Mossad. Ironically, the recently retired head of Mossad Meir Dagan, who presumably has seen all of the information that Bolton has access to, has publicly declared that to attack Iran is “irresponsible and reckless.” Bolton clearly believes that his personal access to the representations made by Israeli opinion shapers like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu represent something like the truth regarding what is taking place in the Middle East. On the contrary, Netanyahu presents a point of view that he would like people to believe, as was clearly evident when he addressed the US Congress on May 24. Netanyahu spoke for more than 40 minutes and lied repeatedly to support a narrative that he would like the American audience to embrace.

Instead of protecting Americans overseas, Secretary of State authorizes violence

Philip Giraldi - The American Conservative- It is difficult to imagine what might produce a longing for the good old days of George W. Bush, but the Obama Administration is certainly approaching that tip point. First there was National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair spelling out a policy of assassination of American citizens overseas based on suspicion and secret evidence and then there was last week’s revelation that the Justice Department guidelines for the FBI now permit relatively free searches of all sorts of personal information that once was regarded as private. The searches are without judicial oversight and there does not have to be any evidence that the suspect has committed a crime.

Now we have Hillary Clinton and company opening up the latest free fire zone against other American citizens who have done nothing wrong. The State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, who is married to one of the ubiquitous Kagans, announced that “Groups that seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that risk the safety of their passengers.” Please note: per Nuland/Clinton the passengers on the unarmed vessels in international waters, all of whom have signed a pledge of non-violence, are risking their own safety if they get shot by the Israeli military.

Nuland added that Gaza is governed by Hamas, “a designated foreign terrorist organization,” and that aiding such a group “could violate U.S. civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration.” This means that giving a loaf of bread to a child in Gaza is indictable as support of a terrorist organization, since the government is run by Hamas.

Once upon a time the Secretary of State was supposed to protect Americans overseas, particularly when the Americans are not doing anything illegal. But that was before Israel and its Lobby decided what American citizens can and cannot do. A good friend of mine Ray McGovern, who is on the American vessel, is a deeply religious former CIA senior analyst. He has friends on the National Security Council who informed him last week that the US government would let the Israelis do whatever they want to the flotilla and would, in fact, approve of any action taken. In the aftermath, the State Department would do nothing to help any US citizen killed, injured, or arrested. Except possibly have them arrested a second time.

However one feels about the Israel-imposed blockade of Gaza, it is important to remember that the Americans and others involved in the flotilla are doing nothing illegal under international law. Their ships have been inspected and have only relief supplies on board. No one is armed. Their objection is to the Israeli, and American, assumption that Tel Aviv somehow has the right to punish the Gazans in perpetuity and thereby create a continuous humanitarian crisis for the local people because they elected the “wrong” party back in 2006. The Americans and other foreigners on the flotilla have a perfect right to express that view peacefully without being excoriated by Hillary before being executed by an IDF goon.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Israel isolates oldest serving prisoner in the world

PIC- The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) isolated the oldest serving Palestinian and Arab prisoner in its jails Nael Al-Barghouthi for refusing to be strip searched.

The Palestinian prisoner’s association said on Tuesday that Barghouthi, who entered his 34th consecutive year in prison last April and is considered the oldest serving prisoner in the world, was moved to the isolation ward after refusing the prison administration’s humiliation of prisoners topped by strip search.

It charged the IOA with persisting in the policy of humiliation and torture of Palestinian prisoners, adding that the IOA went further into trying to impose a legal and political cover for that policy.

The association described the policy of strip search as “savage and indecent” in an “entity” that claims respect for human rights.

Detainee's mother dies without seeing son

Ma'an- The mother of a Palestinian detainee died Tuesday without seeing her son for many years, a rights group said.

A prisoners' association said the dying wish of 80-year-old Wadhah Daamsa was to see her son Yahya.

Yahya Daamsa, 40, is sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment plus 40 years.

Israeli forces detained him on April 7, 2002, and demolished his home in Duheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem.

He was accused of making explosive devices to be used in operations inside Israel and membership of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.

Israel detains prisoners' rights worker

Ma'an- Israeli forces on Tuesday detained a prisoners' rights worker and confiscated his cell phone and computer, a detainees' center said.

The center said Sami Hussein, an employee in the Bethlehem-based organization, was detained during a raid on his home.

Hussein has been detained several times and has spent 20 years in Israeli prisons, the center said, adding that he had three children.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said 11 Palestinians were detained across the West Bank overnight.

More than third of Palestinian prisoners denied visitation rights

PIC- Prisoner affairs expert Abdul-Nasser Farwana has said that more than a third of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons have been denied the right to family visits.

Prisoners from the Gaza Strip were denied visits as a “collective punishment” in mid-June of 2007 and others faced the same restrictions for security reasons, he said.

He added that the families of those allowed visits are harassed, searched, and treated with brutality ahead of visits, and at times they are even sexually harassed.

Farwana said that the restrictions on visits contravene international law, what calls for intervention by international organizations to pressure Israel into restoring visitation rights.

“Israel has neglected all international conventions and has ignored texts that contain those conventions and has continued to violate under various pretexts and has mastered the use of torture against prisoners and their families by depriving visitation and robbing them of this right. Visits have gone from a legal right to chips for bargaining, pressuring, and extorting, and to humane gestures or a favor offered to the prisoner or his family or to one of his family members whenever and however it pleases, and sporadically every few months sometimes every year or more.”

'Mohammed is dead' and Star of David sprayed on Palestinian home

Palestinian village of Beit Ilu sustains yet another attack by vandals in form of racist graffiti

Ynet News- Unknown persons sprayed racial slurs and a Star of David on a Palestinian home in the West Bank village of Beitilu. The vandals wrote among other things: Mohammed is dead. Police are searching for the culprits.

Mohammed Raduan, head of the village council, told Ynet that the graffiti was found Tuesday morning. He added that it was not the first time Beit Ilu had been targeted in such a fashion.

"They wrote, 'Mohammed is a pig' and 'Mohammed is dead', as well as 'Revenge' and 'Settlement 18'," he said. The latter may have been in reference to a recently evacuated settlement near Beit El.

US government moves to criminalize Palestine solidarity

The Electronic Intifada

In an op-ed published by Al Jazeera English today, I write about the US government’s attempts to criminalize the Palestine solidarity activists — including the State Department’s threats to prosecute activists involved with the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. I also appeared on Al Jazeera English’s The Stream today to discuss FBI raids and subpoenas targeting activists.

As I write in the op-ed, “I am a Palestine solidarity activist in the US, and one of 23 US citizens who have been issued with a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury as part of what the government has said is an investigation into violations of the laws banning material support to foreign ‘terrorist organisations.’”

This investigation takes place in the context of a new Supreme Court decision that greatly expanded what constitutes material support and has been widely criticized. It also takes place in a situation of even more relaxed restrictions on the FBI’s investigative powers — the FBI is planning to issue a revised edition of its operations manual that will give agents “significant new powers” to go through people’s trash and infiltrate groups even if they are not suspected of any wrongdoing.

The New York Times recently commented in an editorial entitled “Backward at the FBI” that “Instead of tightening the relaxed rules for FBI investigations — not just of terrorism suspects but of pretty much anyone — that were put in place in the Bush years, President Obama’s Justice Department is getting ready to push the proper bounds of privacy even further.”

The use of counterterrorism tools against social justice acts is nothing new. But it poses a special threat to the growing Palestine solidarity movement in the US, which is increasingly challenging the US government’s military aid to Israel and its diplomatic cover for Israeli war crimes and apartheid.

Palestinian village decides to build on land 'liberated' by successful anti-fence battles

Ynet News- Following the IDF's dismantling of a separation fence running through Bilin, residents of the West Bank village have decided to adopt a new battle.

Ynet learned Tuesday that the Popular Committee of Bilin will replace its weekly anti-fence protests, which take place Fridays, with the construction of new structures on the land added to the village when the fence was dismantled Sunday.

Around 170 acres of land were added to the village with the removal of the fence, 130 of which are privately owned Palestinian lands.

It is on this land that the residents plan to construct a new neighborhood, called West Bilin. Organizers of the protests against the fence are still fuming, however, at the fact that some 330 acres belonging to the village remain inaccessible, because they lie to the west of the wall that surrounds nearby Israeli towns such as Modi'in.

"The popular protest has decided to adopt a new strategy," announced Mohammed Khatib, the leader of the Popular Committee. "The idea is to set facts on the ground and begin building homes on our lands located between the dismantled fence and the wall."

Christian Peace Maker Team in Hebron reports increase in raids

IMEMC- Christian Peace Maker Team in Hebron have reported in increase in house raids with the arrival of a new brigade of Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city. The team have stated that night time raids have become a common occurrence in the city "as Palestinians try to live some semblance of a normal life and Israeli Defense Forces prepare for war".

The Team have reported two instances of night time raids on local Palestinian families they say is indicative of the increase in Israeli raids with the change of brigades. In one instance Israeli soldiers entered the home of a Palestinian family demanding to know where the men of the house were and waking three of the family's five children. In another example Israeli forces broke into a Palestinian home, waking the inhabitants, only to stand guard on their roofs for five minutes.

Hebron is home to some 700 illegal Israeli settlers. Palestinian movement has been severely restricted in the area to "protect settler security". Previously a Palestinian thorough fair, Shadada Street in the Old City has now been entirely closed down by the Israeli military.

Israeli soldiers destroy 300 Palestinian olive trees

PIC- Israeli occupation forces (IOF) bulldozed tens of Palestinian olive trees in Deir Estiya village west of Salfit city on Tuesday.

Nazmi Salman, the village’s mayor, said that the bulldozing took place west of the village and damaged trees that have been planted there for five years.

Noting that the land was in the proximity of Revava settlement, Salman said that the step is aimed at evicting the inhabitants then grab their land.

In another area, IOF soldiers started to bulldoze a land lot, which they seized from its owner, south of Al-Khalil city on Monday, local sources said, adding that the land was being prepared to serve as a landing pad for IOF military choppers.

In another incident, Local sources reported that IOF soldiers prevented land reclamation effort by Palestinian farmers in Aqraba village, near Nablus, and confiscated the tractor they were using in the process. The soldiers claimed that the land, south of the village, was state owned.

Israeli forces bulldoze land in Silwan

PIC- The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) bulldozers leveled land in Wadi Al-Rababa in Silwan near to Bustan suburb south of the Aqsa Mosque.

The spokesman for the committee to defend Silwan town, Fakhri Abu Diyab, said that the IOA bulldozers have been working since Monday morning, noting that landmarks in the area along with old trees were all being wiped out in preparation for opening a Talmudic garden and Judaizing the entire area.

Abu Diyab said that a number of IOA municipality workers installed fake Jewish tombs to appear as old Jewish relics.

The spokesman appealed to concerned parties to swiftly act to abort the IOA scheme, which might end up in Judaizing the entire area before moving on to Judaize the Bustan suburb.

First ships of Freedom Flotilla 2 set sail

IMEMC-Haaretz- The first of the Freedom Flotilla 2 ships have set sail for the rendezvous point in the Mediterranean Sea, where it will meet the rest of the ships participating in the flotilla, according to Haaretz. It is unclear when they will meet up with the other participating ships including the US, Canadian and the Greek/Norwegian/Swedish contingent given bureaucratic delays and suspected sabotage to the Greek ship.

The French and the Irish contingent of the Freedom Flotilla 2 have set sail for the meeting point in the Mediterranean Sea where they will await the arrival of the other flotilla participants before setting sail to Gaza in a repeat of last years attempt to break the Israeli siege on Gaza.

The French Boat "Dignity" and the Irish ship "Freedom" will join an expected 350 participants and set sail for Gaza in the coming days depending on delays.

French court dismisses lawsuit against contract to build Jerusalem light rail which will connect illegal settlements

The Electronic Intifada- Last month a French court dismissed a lawsuit filed by France-Palestine Solidarity Association regarding the Jerusalem light rail.

A French court ruling on the construction of a light rail network to service illegal Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem betrays a lack of understanding about how the project abets the Israeli occupation.

On 30 May, the High Court of Nanterre dismissed a petition by the France-Palestine Solidarity Association (known by the acronym AFPS) to nullify under French law contracts signed by French transport giants Veolia and Alstom for building a light rail system in Jerusalem. AFPS has until 30 June to appeal the decision.

In its petition, AFPS asserted that the Jerusalem light rail project will connect West Jerusalem with Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, normalizing the illegal situation on the ground.

Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the annexation of East Jerusalem are illegal under international law. Numerous UN resolutions and the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on Israel’s wall in the West Bank have confirmed this.

Israeli Parliament to vote on law forcing Palestinians to cover demolition costs of on homes

PIC- The Israeli Knesset’s Law Constitution and Justice Committee has passed a draft law forcing Palestinians to cover the costs of home demolitions issued against them without recourse to the courts.

Israeli Radio reported that the committee agreed not to empower the West Bank regional commander to apply the law there, in opposition to the government.

The draft will be brought to the Knesset for a second and third reading.

The Israeli B’Tselem rights group has recently issued a report marking a sharp increase in home demolitions against Palestinians in the West Bank this year, displacing hundreds of citizens.

According to the report, Israel’s Civil Administration carried out more demolitions so far this year than the entire year of 2010. Demolitions in Area C displaced 706 Palestinians, including 341 minors, the report said.

UNESCO censures Israel over excavation project which leads to al-Aqsa Mosque

World Heritage Committee calls on Israel to stop archeological excavations in Old City. Jerusalem 'shocked, furious' over Jordan's involvement

Itamar Eichner - Ynet News- UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee decided to accept a petition by Jordan and issued an official censure of Israel over the archeological excavations near the Mughrabi Gate in the Jerusalem's Old City.

UNESCO's censure calls for the immediate cessation of all renovation work done on the Mughrabi Gate bridge, which leads from the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem to the to the al-Aqsa Mosque and Temple Mount.

Israel and Jordan had previously agreed that the existing bridge must be razed for safety reasons. Israel plans to build a new bridge on the site.

Rabbi expected to be arrested for justifying the killing of non-Jews

IMEMC- After ignoring police summons, Rabbi Ya’akov Yosef faces arrest for a written endorsement of the Torat Hamelech, which justifies the killing of non-Jews, including babies, that pose a threat to the nation of Israel.

On Monday, the police detained the rabbi briefly for questioning. Right-wing activists were photographed carrying the rabbi after his release from the brief detention with the Israeli police.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Ya’akov said, “there is no reason for investigators to meddle in halachic issues, and besides – it’s not rabbis who take people out to war, rather the government and the army.”

Gaza flotilla ship 'sabotaged by divers'

Activists say Swedish ship due to join attempt to break Israel's blockade of Gaza has been damaged in Greek port.

Dahr Jamail - Al Jazeera- A Swedish ship due to join an upcoming Gaza-bound aid flotilla has been sabotaged in the Greek port of Piraeus, organisers say.

In a statement, they said "hostile divers had destroyed the propeller house and cut the propeller shaft" of the vessel Juliano on Monday.

The ship is part of the 10-vessel Freedom Flotilla II that is expected to set sail from Greece and elsewhere for the Gaza Strip in the coming days in a bid to break Israel's blockade of the Palestinian territory.

About 350 pro-Palestinian activists from 22 countries are likely to participate.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gaza children send messages to Sderot on kites

Ma'an- Children in Gaza released kites on Tuesday carrying messages to residents of Sderot across the border in Israel.

The kites carried messages urging Israel to end its siege of Gaza.

Fourteen-year-old Einas Naim told Ma'an she hoped residents of Sderot would understand the messages.

"I came to send messages to the residents of the neighboring Israeli towns telling them Palestinian children have the right to live in safety like others.

"We hope we can live safely and freely because it is our right to enjoy life free of missiles, bombardment and destruction.

"We fear to go to school in the morning because when we wake up we hear noise of tank shells and missiles fired by Israel forces whenever they want," she said.

Meanwhile in Nabi Saleh: Reflections on the physical and legal assault on nonviolent protesters

Rae Abileah - Mondoweiss- From the chambers of Congress to the shores of the Mediterranean, non-violent protesters are rising up against the Israeli occupation. And while the action I took to disrupt Netanyahu in Congress one month ago and the CODEPINK delegation preparing to sail to Gaza aboard The Audacity of Hope have received global media coverage, the small West Bank village of Nabi Saleh has been struggling without the attention it deserves.

The people of Nabi Saleh have been challenging the illegal theft of their land and natural spring by the settlement of Halamish since January 2010. Dozens of men and women gather every Friday to voice their opposition to the injustice they face. International and Israeli supporters of Nabi Saleh’s just cause join these weekly creative, non-violent actions.

The Flotilla is a test for Israel

It's not the test that Israel thinks it is. It's a test to see if the country can act in its own rational interest, and let the flotilla simply go.

Bradley Burston - Haaretz- Friends of Israel, countries and individuals that sincerely wish Israelis well, should send a message this week: Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Barak, for your sake, for Israel's sake, let the flotilla sail to Gaza.

Do the right thing this time. Let it go.

Many other challenges are vying for your attention. You have yet to forge a coherent policy regarding the September Palestinian UN initiative. Five years to the week that Hamas captured Gilad Shalit in Israel and brought him to Gaza, the terms of a possible exchange deal deserve close attention.

Protests in Syria and across the region have altered old alliances and spawned new overtures. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken his seat as the acknowledged new dealer of record at the Mideast poker table, a man whose hand could tip the balance regarding Damascus, Beirut and Tehran together.

This time, do the unexpected thing. Do Israel a favor. Let them go.

You know that the flotilla is a test for Israel. You believe that it's a test of your ability to stop the boats before they reach anchor in Gaza. You see it as a test of your ability to keep the siege of Gaza in place, and to fight against the delegitimization of Israel. It's a test of the siege, all right, but not at all the test you think it is.

Is Greece being blackmailed to put the brakes on Gaza Flotilla?

Medea Benjamin - Common Dreams- The 50 passengers and crew on the U.S. boat to Gaza have converged in Athens, Greece, ready to head out to sea to join an international fleet of ships that will challenge the Israeli-imposed naval blockade of Gaza. But on Thursday, June 23, when the boat was scheduled to leave its port outside Athens and move closer to an international meeting point, the boat’s owner was suddenly served with a complaint by an unknown individual that the boat was not seaworthy. The captain, convinced that the complaint was bogus, was nevertheless told by Greek authorities that he could not set sail until they did a thorough inspection.

Also on Thursday, Greek port authorities issued an unusual warning to all ship captains to steer clear of the coordinates that correspond with Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. The advisory said there will be continuous electronic surveillance of the region to “record the movements of ships that will possibly participate in such an action.”

It appears that the Greek government is bowing to intense pressure from the Israelis—and possibly the U.S. government—to try to block the flotilla. The American passengers on the U.S. boat, called The Audacity of Hope, are pushing the Greek government to do a quick inspection, as they are convinced the ship would pass muster. “The boat we are leasing for this journey has been worked on for months by qualified technicians and is ready to sail,” said organizer and passenger Ann Wright. “We do not believe it needs to be re-inspected, but we are open to the Greek authorities doing this quickly so that there will be no further delays.”

German activists hold 'solidarity flotilla' in Berlin canals

IMEMC- As the 'Freedom Flotilla II: Stay Human' prepares to sail to Gaza with ten ships and 500 supporters from 20 countries on Tuesday, supporters from around the world have launched various actions in solidarity. At one such action, in Germany, several dozen activists sailed down Berlin's canals with banner-covered boats, waving Palestinian flags in support of the Freedom Flotilla.

The boats were draped with banners saying, “Fishing Under Fire”, “No Occupation”, and “Free Palestine”. One fishing boat was made to look like a Palestinian fishing boat, the type used by Palestinian fishermen for their livelihood. These boats are frequently attacked by Israeli naval vessels stationed just off the coast of Gaza, and dozens of fishermen have been killed and wounded, and their boats confiscated, by the Israeli navy.

Israeli army kidnaps several Palestinians including legislator, journalist, human rights activist

IMEMC- Israeli soldiers kidnapped on Tuesday at dawn a Palestinian legislator, the head of a center that defends the rights of Palestinian detainees and human rights and a Journalist. 11 Palestinians were kidnapped across the occupied West Bank.

In Salfit, in the central part of the West Bank, soldiers broke into the home of Dr. Nasser Abdul-Jawad, 46, of the Hamas Change and Reform Parliamentarian Bloc, and kidnapped the elected officials.

The wife of Abdul-Jawad stated that soldiers broke into their home in Dir Ballout village, near Salfit, and kidnapped the legislator after surrounding and searching the property causing excessive damage.

Abdul-Jawad was repeatedly kidnapped by Israel and spent a total of fifteen years in Israeli interrogation and detention facilities.

Flotilla participants have signed declarations of non-violence

IMEMC- Organisers of the Freedom Flotilla 2 have refuted claims made by the Isralei military on Monday that participants in the flotilla plan to use violence in resisting Israeli military plans to board the vessels. The organisers say that the passengers of the flotilla, due to leave this week, have signed declarations of non violence in advance of the journey, according to Haaretz.

Organisers of the upcoming Freedom Flotilla 2 "Stay Human" have rejected claims made by Israeli military officials on Monday that participants in the flotilla were storing chemical substances such as sulphur in anticipation of violent clashes with the Israeli military. Organisers said that any information the Israeli military had regards individual passengers should be passed on to them.

Israeli military sources claim that members of the Turkish organisation that recently pulled out of the flotilla, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), will instead sail on other participating ships and intend on creating violence.

Israeli government openly threatens journalists planning to sail with Gaza Flotilla

Wafa- Reporters Without Borders Monday in a press release condemned the Israeli government’s attempts to intimidate journalists who plan to travel with a flotilla of ships that will set sail in the next few days in an attempt to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

In a message sent to journalists yesterday, Israeli Government Press Office Director, Oren Helman, said media personnel sailing with the flotilla would be deliberately violating Israeli law and could be denied entry to Israel for 10 years. Their equipment could also be impounded and they might be subject to “additional sanctions,” he added.

“The threats made by the Israeli authorities are unacceptable,” Reporters Without Borders said. “They deny the rights to impart and receive news and information, rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Israeli constitution.

Israeli soldiers uproot 300 olive trees in Salfit

Wafa– Israeli soldiers Tuesday razed a large area of land and uprooted 300 olive trees in Deir Istiya, a village in Salfit north of the West Bank, according to the village mayor, Nathmi Salman.

Salman said the land belongs to Kamal Abdul-Rahman, a middle-aged Palestinian suffering from heart disease. Israeli soldiers assaulted Abdul-Rahman and prevented him from reaching his land, which necessitated bringing a doctor immediately to treat him.

Israeli army detains Palestinian High School students after exam

Wafa– Israeli army Tuesday detained a number of Palestinian high school students after they finished Tuesday’s session of the Tawjihi exam, the final general secondary examination, in Al Khader, a town south of Bethlehem.

Director of Education in Bethlehem governorate, Abdullah Shakarneh, told WAFA that Israeli soldiers stopped the students on their way home after leaving the exam halls and searched them.

Shakarneh considered this arbitrary action “a part of the attack on the educational process.”

Monday, June 27, 2011

Merril Lynch reports Israeli millionaires' net assets rose from $43 billion to $52 billion in 2010

Theater of the absurd

Mazin Qumsiyeh- The theater of the criminal and absurd continue. Merril Lynch reported that Israeli millionaires' net assets rose from $43 billion to $52 billion in 2010. Apartheid Prime minister Netanyahu announced that he will strip Political prisoners held by Israel of basic rights like the right to continue their education. It is believed this announcement came in response to his unwillingness to exchange prisoners with Hamas (sad note: leaked documents showed that Abbas authorities lobbied hard against any release of prisoners in exchange for a captured apartheid soldier). Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) also invaded several Palestinian communities in the past few days including setting up flying checkpoints in the middle of area A (Palestinian "security forces" withdrew upon orders from Israeli commanders). This also happened in my village of Beit Sahour (one young man was kidnapped by the invading IOF criminals) the same day that our mayor had departed town to Jordan. Syrian troops killed 15 demonstrators Friday. Bil'in residents tried to bring down the apartheid wall separating them from their land. NATO forces killed a Palestinian family in their raids in Libya "Palestinian ambassador to Libya Atif Udah told Ma'an radio the family was in a three-story building targeted by a NATO air attack. He identified the victims as Abdullah Muhammad Ash-Shihab, his wife Karima and his 6-month-old twins Khalid and Jumanah." And Fatah and Hamas seem to have backed down on their promises to the Palestinian people about forming a technocrat government and to allow for a representative PNC of the PLO.

6 members of Congress call on Clinton to help "ensure the safety of the U.S. citizens on board" the U.S. Boat to Gaza

Kate Gould-Just Foreign Policy- Six members of Congress signed on to a letter, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, that calls on Secretary Clinton to "work with the Israeli government to ensure the safety of the U.S. citizens on board" the U.S. Boat to Gaza, the Audacity of Hope.

The letter was sent to Secretary Clinton on Friday, June 24th. In addition to Rep. Kucinich, the letter was signed by: Rep. William Lacy Clay, Sam Farr, Bob Filner, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Barbara Lee.

Just Foreign Policy applauds these members of Congress for speaking out for the safety of the U.S. passengers on the Audacity of Hope. Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy Robert Naiman will be a passenger on the U.S. Boat to Gaza. In a press statement released today, Naiman noted, "State Department officials have an obligation to speak out against threats to attack us. It is deeply disappointing that they have so far failed to do so.” Read more

U.S. Boat to Gaza responds to State Dept. Warning

State Department Officials Have an Obligation to Speak Out Against Israeli Threats to Attack U.S. Boat to Gaza

Athens, June 24, 2011 - U.S. peace activists preparing to set sail on the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, expressed profound disappointment over a statement issued by the U.S. State Department on Wednesday, June 22, 2011. Instead of calling on the Israeli government to let a flotilla of unarmed civilians sail to Gaza, the United States government is pressuring its own citizens to refrain from legal acts.

On Wednesday, the State Department sent out a "travel advisory" urging Americans not to participate in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. According to the statement, U.S. citizens are advised against traveling to Gaza by any means, including via sea, noting that previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea "have been stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of U.S. citizens."

"Apparently, the State Department subscribes to the view that Israel's anticipated violence against unarmed protesters is an immutable act of nature," said Hagit Borer, a professor of Linguistics at the University of Southern California and a passenger on the U.S. boat. "This is a remarkable attitude, coming from a government that provides the Israeli government with billions of dollars in military aid and routinely uses its veto to protect the Israeli government from censure of its occupation policies by the UN Security Council."

Passengers on the boat noted that the U.S. State Department has a legal obligation to act to protect U.S. citizens when they are traveling abroad. "So far, U.S. government officials have failed to use their influence to discourage Israeli authorities from ordering a physical assault on us," said Just Foreign Policy policy director Robert Naiman, another passenger on the U.S. boat. "Of course, State Department officials have an obligation to speak out against threats to attack us. It is deeply disappointing that they have so far failed to do so."

Below is a copy of a letter the passengers of The Audacity of Hope sent of June 14, 2011 to President Obama, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and other high-ranking government officials. There has yet to be a response to the letter.

Rights group wants inquiry into Palestinian detainee's death

Ma'an-PCHR- The Palestinian Center for Human Rights has called upon the government in Gaza to seriously investigate the death of Ibrahim Akram al-Aa’raj, 45, who died Saturday in police custody.

Al-Aa’raj died at the Abu Oraiban police station in Nussairat camp, the rights group said noting that it was concerned he was subjected to torture and cruel treatment during his detention over two days.

Limited goods to be allowed into Gaza

Ma’an- Israeli authorities will allow limited deliveries of goods and humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip on Monday, Palestinian officials said.

Liaison officer Raed Fattouh told Ma’an that Israeli officials notified the Palestinian side they will allow entry of 260 truckloads of supplies into Gaza through the southernmost Kerem Shalom crossing.

Fattouh said 8 trucks would bring building materials for a project funded by the German Development Agency, while ten trucks would bring cement for water authorities’ projects. Meanwhile, 50 trucks would bring gravel for UN-funded projects.

Limited quantities of domestic-use gas will also be pumped into the Gaza Strip, Fattouh added.

Gaza union thanks Australian surgeons for volunteer work

Ma'an- The Union of Health Work Committees on Saturday thanked an Australian medical delegation for performing surgeries in the Gaza Strip.

Union chairman Dr Yousef Awadallah said the Australian doctors had seen hundreds of patients needing specialized treatment and performed 45 operations during their visit.

"This marvelous work and great efforts of the our Australian friends, will not be forgotten, and we wish, one day to welcome all our friends in free Palestine.

"This is our dream and we will fight with support of people like you, to make our dream come true," Awadallah said during a speech at a scientific conference in Gaza City.

The gathering was organized by the union and the Democratic Medical Assembly and attended by the Australian delegation and local doctors.

Analysis: Shalit compared to 6,000 Palestinian prisoners

Ma'an- As Israel marks the fifth anniversary of Gilad Shalit's detention, analysts say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to compare the soldier to 6,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Netanyahu announced Thursday that he had instructed Israel's prison service to toughen conditions for Palestinian detainees to pressure Hamas to release Shalit, who was captured by Gaza militants in a 2006 cross-border raid.

"I'm not going to detail the measures, but I can tell you the party's over," the prime minister said.

Analysts say the crackdown is an attempt to distract attention from the government's failure to free the soldier, and that Netanyahu is comparing Shalit to over 6,000 Palestinians prisoners, some of whom have been in Israeli custody for over 30 years.

Prime Minister in Gaza says national reconciliation is essential

Ma’an- Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh said Saturday that reconciliation is irreversible and a national necessity we well as a strategic option to unify the Palestinians.

While checking in with students studying for their exams, Haniyeh said an agreement is posing some obstacles and challenges but this does not mean that unity is over; rather, it is essential.

He urged Fatah "to commit to all that was signed and to form a Palestinian government that is not affiliated with any party but it has a vision and agenda that was agreed on."

President Mahmoud Abbas vowed Friday to press ahead with efforts for a unity government.

Israeli soldiers order Palestinian farmers to stop work

Ma'an- Israeli forces on Monday stopped Palestinian farmers working on their land in villages in the northern West Bank, a local agricultural committee said.

Farmers were working in Jurish and Aqraba villages as part of a land reclamation project but soldiers said the farmland had been confiscated and now belonged to Israel, committee coordinator Yousif Deiriyya said.

Deiriyya added that forces confiscated a backhoe.

The committee for the union of agricultural workers said Friday that Israeli forces confiscated a vehicle from farmers and ordered them to stop work in the same area.

Land reclamation projects aim to improve the source of income for families which rely on agriculture and also serve to protect vulnerable land from Israeli confiscation.

The project is carried out by the committee for the union of agricultural workers in partnership with Palestinian non-governmental organizations under the management of agricultural relief committees. It is funded by the Dutch government.

Israel said to be clamping down on Hamas prisoners

Ma'an-AFP- Israel has moved several of its Hamas prisoners to solitary confinement, media reported on Sunday three days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to make their conditions harsher.

Internet news site Ynet said that "at least seven senior Hamas operatives" had been transferred.

Netanyahu said on Thursday that as the Palestinian Islamist movement refused to allow Red Cross visits to Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier it has held for five years, he would cut privileges of Hamas militants in Israeli jails, such as external university courses.

"There will be no more master's degrees in murder or doctors of terrorism," he told an international seminar in Jerusalem. "This party is over."

Israeli public radio on Sunday said Hamas prisoners planned to hold a one-day hunger strike on Monday in protest.

A spokeswoman for the Israel Prisons Service refused to comment on the reports.

On Sunday, a day after Israel marked five years since Gaza-based militants seized his son in a cross-border raid, Shalit's father said that Netanyahu's failure to secure his release amounted to a death sentence.

Exploding the myths: UNRWA, UNHCR and Palestine refugees

Ma'an- As Palestinian leaders prepare to seek UN recognition of statehood in September, there is increasing talk in the US, Israel and elsewhere of disbanding the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, the UN Relief and Works Agency, and handing responsibility for Palestinian refugees to the UN High Commission for Refugees.

Some argue UNHCR would resettle the refugees, robbing them of their right to return to their homes.

But are these ideas based on a sound understanding of international law and refugee practice? Are they based on a real grasp of the mandates of UNRWA and UNHCR?

To set the record straight, Ma'an turned to UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness.

It is argued that if UNRWA was disbanded and responsibility for Palestinian refugees handed over to UNHCR they would be resettled out of Israel and give up the right of return. Is this the case and if not, what would UNHCR’s role be?

Gunness: This is not the case. Palestine refugees are entitled to a just and lasting solution to their plight. This solution would optimally be achieved by the parties and political actors in the context of a negotiated conclusion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and must be in accordance with UN resolutions and international law.

It should also be voluntary which means consulting the refugees. There is no merit to claims that the Palestine refugee issue can be addressed by transferring responsibility for Palestine refugees from UNRWA to another agency.

Please note two important caveats. First, UNRWA and UNHCR work to distinct mandates, operational and legal definitions, areas of operation, operational realities and constitutive instruments. My responses are consistent with these distinctions and should not be read to assume or imply direct correspondence between the two agencies or their refugee definitions. Rather, I should be understood to draw on the shared premises and common concepts that underpin the precepts applied by UNRWA and UNHCR in their efforts to assist and protect refugees in their respective areas of responsibility.

Israel approves plan to repel flotilla

Ma'an-AFP- Israel's security cabinet on Monday ordered the navy to stop an international aid flotilla from breaching a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, but also to avoid clashes with activists on board.

"Members of the [security] cabinet decided today following a debate on the flotilla that the state of Israel will be determined in stopping the flotilla's arrival in Gaza," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

But forces would be ordered to do so "with minimal confrontation, as far as possible, with those on board the ships," it said without giving further details.

Also on Monday, Netanyahu said a threat to punish foreign journalists in the convoy by barring them from entering Israel for up to 10 years would not be carried out.

Senior Israeli rabbi arrested following his support of book which justifies killing of non-Jews

Ha'aretz – Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior, one of the senior figures of religious Zionism, was arrested Monday after he refused to appear for questioning for his endorsement of the controversial book, “Torat Hamelech,” which justifies killing non-Jews.

Following the publication of the book, police opened an investigation on grounds of incitement. The author of the book, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, was detained, questioned and released. Rabbi Lior was also released on Monday, after being questioned by police.

Rabbi Dov Lior

Rabbi Dov Lior

An endorsement written by three rabbis was added to the book, following a standard practice in books pertaining to the Torah when a junior rabbi ask for approval from a rabbi senior to him. Rabbi Yosef Ginsburg, one of the approvers, was investigated a year ago. Two other rabbis, Dov Lior and Ya’akov Yosef, were summoned for questioning but refused to attend.

The police arrested Rabbi Lior on Monday afternoon, who has said in the past that the Torah is above the law, and that it is unacceptable for a rabbi to be investigated for publishing Torah-related work.

National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari said in response that the “Public Security Minister should be fired,” claiming that the police always treat Arab leaders carefully and here they are disparaging a great figure in Israel.

In February , Knesset members of the National Union party, Shas and Agudath Israel proposed a “Dov Lior Law” that would grant immunity for rabbis regarding halachic material they publish, or concerning opinions they have given in relation to “The Torah of Israel.”

Related video:

Related Article:

Rabbinic Text or Call to Terror?
Forward, Daniel Estrin

Jerusalem — The marble-patterned, hardcover book embossed with gold Hebrew letters looks like any other religious commentary you’d find in an Orthodox Judaica bookstore — but reads like a rabbinic instruction manual outlining acceptable scenarios for killing non-Jewish babies, children and adults.
On the Shelf: The Pomeranz Bookseller in Jerusalem is among the bookstores that are selling copies of ‘The King’s Torah.’

Sniegoski: The Sanitized Version of Neoconservatism

Veterans Today

Neoconservatism and American Foreign Policy: A Critical Analysis (New York: Routledge, 2011), by Danny Cooper

Reviewed by Stephen Sniegosk

Anumber of books have come out recently dealing with the neoconservatives, which have been published by mainstream presses. It is significant that these works acknowledge some obvious truths that were denied and even largely taboo some time ago.

They admit, for example, that neoconservatives not only exist (something that was denied a few years ago, most especially by the neocons themselves), but that they have been influential in shaping American policy in the Middle East, a view that continues to be rejected even by many critics of American foreign policy—e.g., Noam Chomsky and his acolytes, who see American foreign policy shaped only by all-powerful corporate interests. What these books still conceal, however, is the fact that the neocons are motivated by their Jewish ethnicity and the interests of the state of Israel. Instead the neocons are made to appear as an ideological group loyal solely to what they believe is good for the US. Consequently, this approach, despite allowing for some elements of truth, distorts the overall picture in a serious way.

Neoconservatism: The Biography of a Movement (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010), by Justin Vaïsse, which I have reviewed last August, reflects this partial truth approach. The current essay will focus on another recent work of this genre, Neoconservatism and American Foreign Policy: A Critical Analysis (New York: Routledge, 2011), authored by Danny Cooper, who is a lecturer at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. [A subsequent review will be of Neoconservatism and the New American Century by Maria Ryan (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010)]

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Yale announces Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism [no plans for program to study anti-Christianism, Islamophobia, anti-Hinduism]

[Previous program reportedly featured Islamophobic speakers]

YaleDailyNews – The Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism is being billed as the replacement for the outgoing Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism.

On Sunday Provost Peter Salovey announced in an email that Maurice Samuels, the Director of Graduate Studies in the French department and an expert on Jews in France, would be director of the new Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism. The new program, YPSA, will hope to attract more interest by focusing more on scholarship and teaching, and less on advocacy. Meanwhile, YIISA executive director and founder Charles Small said in an email that Yale's administration had not liked the Initiative's willingness to be controversial.

“I am hopeful that this program will produce major scholarship on the vitally important subject of antisemitism,” Salovey wrote.

Yale decided to discontinue the Yale Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism earlier this month after an internal review found that it was failing to attract Yale faculty and students or publish papers. This decision sparked criticism of Yale from Jewish groups including the Anti-Defamation League, which termed the closing of the center a victory for antisemitic forces.

"As we all know, there was a loud outpouring of reaction on the part of students, faculty and alumni around the world," said Slifka Center Rabbi James Ponet ’68 in an email Friday evening. Ponet's email promised a "reconceived YIISA."

Charles Small, Executive Director and Founder of YIISA, sent an email criticizing the Yale Administration’s “precipitous” decision to close YIISA Monday. He blamed differing visions of how to study antisemitism.

“It became evident that YIISA and Yale University have different visions and approaches to the study of antisemitism,” Small wrote. Both Yale and YIISA believe in publishing high quality work in academic journals, Small said. In his view, this was something YIISA scholars were doing at a rapid pace, but A lack of articles produced by YIISA was cited by the administration in its decision to close the initiative.

The real difference of opinion between Yale and YIISA, Small said, is that YIISA believes its mission is to speak out against contemporary antisemitism, not just study it.

This mission can be “controversial,” Small said. He described the purpose of a true scholar as being to "shed light where there is darkness."

Small went on to mention the controversial conference hosted by YIISA last August. This conference, "Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity," was criticized by several op-eds in the News for being Islamophobic [motivated by a pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian agenda] (read more: here, here and here).

Israel: “Journalists Onboard Freedom Flotilla Will Not Be Allowed Into Israel”

IMEMC – In another escalation against the Freedom Flotilla, heading to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government stated Sunday that journalists, who are on board the Freedom Flotilla 2 will be denied entry into Israel up to ten years.

Israeli paper, Maariv, reported Sunday that the Israeli Government Press Office issued a release stating that all foreign reporters who are part of the Flotilla “are violating the Israeli law”, [even though the flotillas does not intend to enter Israeli territory] and could be denied entry to “Israel” for up to ten years, in addition to other sanctions and penalties.

Israeli troops attack non-violent protest in Beit Ommar; abduct three

IMEMC – On Saturday June 25, about 50 Palestinian, Israeli and international activists gathered in Beit Ommar to demonstrate against the Israeli Karmei Tsur settlement, which has annexed hundreds of dunams of Palestinian land.

As demonstrators attempted to enter land belonging to Beit Ommar farmers, Israeli soldiers announced that the area was a closed military zone and said they would not allow anyone to pass. Several Palestinians and internationals then attempted to circumvent the military blockade.

At this point, at least 6 soldiers assaulted Mohammed G., a 22 year old Palestinian man from Surif. During attempts to rescue him from the attacks, two international activists were also arrested. A sound grenade was thrown by the soldiers into the midst of the demonstrators attempting to rush to his aid.

When the smoke and dust cleared from the scene, Mohammed laid motionless on his back surrounded by soldiers, his shirt torn to shreds. He was arrested and taken to a police station in Kiryat Arba. He remains in custody as of 5 pm the next day.

Karmei Tsur is an Israeli settlement built in the 1990s, primarily on land privately owned by residents of Beit Ommar. A secondary fence was recently constructed around the already existing primary fence of the settlement, confiscating an additional several hundred meter circumference of Palestinian farmland in Beit Ommar.

Israeli army kidnaps three Palestinian teens In Hebron

IMEMC – Israeli soldiers kidnapped on Sunday at dawn three Palestinian children in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, and took them to unknown destinations.

Local sources reported that soldiers invaded Al Arroub Refugee Camp, in Hebron, broke into and searched several homes before kidnapping Ibrahim Khaled Al Balaty, 16, and Mohammad Salama Al Jundy, 16.

Troops also invaded Sair town, east of Hebron, and kidnapped Mohammad Bajes Jaradat, 16, and took him to an unknown destination.

In related news, soldiers invaded Yasouf village, east of the central West Bank city of Salfit, and took pictures of an Islamic site that dates back to the Mamlouk Era.

On Sunday evening, soldiers installed a roadblock on a road linking between Qabatia and Al Zababda, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, stopped and searched dozens of vehicles while interrogating the residents, including students of the Arab-American University in Jenin. category

Six Members of Congress Call on Clinton to help "ensure the safety of the U.S. citizens on board" the U.S. Boat to Gaza

JustForeignPolicy – Six members of Congress signed on to a letter, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, that calls on Secretary Clinton to "work with the Israeli government to ensure the safety of the U.S. citizens on board" the U.S. Boat to Gaza, the Audacity of Hope.

The letter was sent to Secretary Clinton on Friday, June 24th. In addition to Rep. Kucinich, the letter was signed by: Rep. William Lacy Clay, Sam Farr, Bob Filner, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Barbara Lee.

Giraldi: Something rotten this way Comes – Israel firsters dominate America, Philip Giraldi

Iron Dome was largely developed with US funding but the sales would all go to Israel. Ka-ching!, just listen to that cash register opening up. Kirk would also like to have NATO buy the system to protect against somebody somewhere at some time who might be considering something bad. Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

The issue of Israel is of critical importance to the antiwar movement, as frequenters of this website are surely aware. This is because Israel and its lobby in the United States have succeeded in so intertwining their interests with those of the United States that whenever Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sneezes four hundred congressmen say “Gesundheit!” What Israel does has consequences for every American citizen, and not only because Tel Aviv is the largest recipient of US economic and military assistance. It is indisputable that Israel and its friends in the White House and Defense Department played a major role in creating the lies and generating the momentum in the drive to war against Iraq in 2002, a conflict that continues to claim American casualties and which has left Iraq in ruins.

Israel lobby group outlines manipulation and dirty tricks against campus Palestine activists

EI, Ali Abunimah – What is the best way to smear Palestinians and Palestine solidarity activists and get away with it?

That is the question David Bernstein, Executive Director of the pro-Israel propaganda group, The David Project, asks in a surprisingly frank article titled “How to ‘Name-And-Shame’ Without Looking Like a Jerk” posted on Israel Campus Beat, a website sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Bernstein writes:

One of the more controversial tactics in a growing effort to counter the delegitimization of Israel is to “name-and-shame” - to go after those who actively delegitimize Israel and seek to delegitimize them.

There are even those, such as British journalist Melanie Phillips, who argue that our entire strategy should be to relentlessly attack the other side and to cease “defending” Israel.

While name-and-shame tactics can be put to positive effect, they can also easily backfire and do more harm than good. We need to learn the art of being disagreeable in the most agreeable possible fashion.

Hiding vilification behind a veneer of “civility”

Bernstein offers advice on how to be as insincere as possible in order to undermine Palestine solidarity work, especially on college campuses:

  • Start every critique with supportive words for peace or free discourse or both.
  • Don’t accuse anti-Israel forces of anti-Semitism unless they openly vilify Jews; accuse them of being anti-peace for opposing Israel’s right to exist.
  • On campuses and other places where anti-Israel groups act in a disruptive manner, write and promulgate civility petitions calling on all parties to engage in a respectful discussion. If the anti-Israel groups sign it, then they constrain their future actions; if they don’t, they can be accused of being uncivil.
  • In taking on an anti-Israel professor on campus, don’t focus on the substantive arguments they make. That will make you look like you’re trying to stifle discourse. Instead, accuse them, in the words of Professor Gil Troy, of “academic malpractice” for propagandizing the classroom.
  • When someone on campus justifies Hamas or Hezbollah, call them out by asking a question: Do you really support the Hamas charter’s call for killing Jews? Can that ever be justified?
  • Avoid indictments against all Muslims or Islam; preface any criticism of a Muslim radical group with an acknowledgement of peaceful Muslims.

No one should be fooled by the mask of civility - Bernstein makes clear that the goal is to “delegitimize” and marginalize, not to actually engage in “civil” debate.

The David Project’s dirty tricks

The David Project has a long history of dirty tricks. Indeed, the group was a key actor in the slander and fabrication campaign against Columbia University Professor Joseph Massad, part of the unsuccessful effort to deny him tenure (Massad explains the background in a statement on his website after his list of publications).

More broadly, the effort to “name and shame” Palestine solidarity activists is part of the major “anti-delegitimization” efforts underway by American Zionist organizations at the suggestion of The Reut Institute, an Israeli think-tank which in 2010 called for a campaign of “sabotage and attack” on activists and organizations.

In October 2010, the Jewish Federations of North America - an umbrella for 157 major pro-Israel organisations – and the Jewish Council on Public Affairs launched a $6 million initiative called the “Israel Action Network” to fight “delegitimization” – a strategy that will undoubtedly include “name and shame.”

As I wrote for last December in “Defending Palestinian solidarity”:

I got a foretaste of what the Israel Action Network’s tactics will likely be when Sam Sokolove, the head of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico, launched a failed effort to get academic departments at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque to withdraw their support for a lecture I gave in November. Sokolove’s campaign involved publicly vilifying me in the media, likening me to a member of the Ku Klux Klan. It is probably because of the publicity the Jewish Federation gave me that hundreds of people attended my talk.

We can thank Bernstein for his honesty in explaining to us what Israel lobby tactics amount to: personal vilification hiding behind a thin veneer of calls for “civility.” It’s a further sign of the bankruptcy of so much “pro-Israel activism.” It is not so much “pro-Israel” as anti-Palestinian. It has no positive message to offer whatsoever, certainly not one of peace.

Melanie Phillips named and shamed

One final note of irony. In his piece, Bernstein cites Melanie Phillips, a very prominent pro-Israel advocate in the UK who has routinely attacked and vilified many people who have spoken up for Palestinian rights.

Last week, Phillips left her position at The Spectator under a cloud: the publication was forced to make several high profile apologies for Phillips’ totally false attacks against several people and organizations for alleged anti-Semitism or criticism of Israel. Phillips has been particularly virulent in her Islamophobic attacks on British Muslims, as Mehdi Hasan of The New Statesman reports.

Senators & Zionist Organization of America urge suspending aid to PA, ignore aid to Israel

JTA – Republican senators urged President Obama to suspend U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority unless Hamas recognizes Israel and renounces terrorism. [They did not ask for Israel, which receives of $3 billion annually, to recognize Palestine.]

Republican Sens. John Boozman (Ark.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.), in association with the Zionist Organization of America, organized a letter to the president signed by 16 U.S. senators.

"It is clear Hamas is not committed to peace," the letter said. "As long as Hamas remains involved in the PA, we cannot imagine how such a coalition can meet the most basic requirements of U.S. law or the Quartet conditions. We therefore urge you to immediately suspend U.S. taxpayer assistance to the PA unless and until it can be certified that a new government and all its ministers recognize the Jewish State of Israel's right to exist in peace and security, accept and adhere to all previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements, and renounce all forms of terrorism and anti-Israel violence."

The Palestinian Authority receives more than $500 million a year in U.S. aid.

ZOA National President Morton Klein commended the senators' "forthright repudiation of the outrageous notion that a Fatah/Hamas PA government is one that the U.S. could fund."

Twenty-nine Democratic senators sent a similar ZOA-associated letter to Obama in May.

In addition to Boozman and Moran, senators who signed the letter included Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss).

Israeli ambassador to Vatican pressured to back off admission that Pope Pius XII saved Jews during WWII

JTA – An Israeli official who praised Pope Pius XII for saving Jews during World War II retreated from his comments amid a hail of criticism.

Israel's ambassador to the Vatican, Mordechay Lewy, said his comments were "premature."

"Given the fact that this context is still under the subject of ongoing and future research, passing my personal historical judgment on it was premature," Levy said in a statement issued Sunday.

Levy said, during a ceremony June 24 honoring an Italian priest that helped save Jews from the Nazis, that Catholic institutions in Rome helped save Jews when the Nazis came to Rome's Ghetto. "It would be a mistake to say that the Catholic Church, the Vatican and the pope himself opposed actions to save the Jews. To the contrary, the opposite is true," he said.

US Lawmakers launch Latino-Jewish Congressional Caucus to influence foreign policy on Israel

JTA – U.S. House members formally launched the Latino-Jewish Congressional Caucus.

The bipartisan group started Tuesday recognizes the developing ties between the two communities.

The four caucus co-chairs each spoke during the opening ceremony of the shared interests and values held by the Latino and Jewish communities. The leaders -- Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) -- said they hoped the caucus can foster progress on joint issues of concern.

"The Latino community and the Jewish community have been through, in a parallel way, so many similarities in terms of discrimination, in terms of the plight, in terms of our history of immigration to this country and trying to make our way through a combination of assimilating in the appropriate way and also preserving our rich traditional heritage," said Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee. "It just makes sense that we recognize and bless the importance of our two communities building an ever-stronger relationship."

Ros-Lehtinen and Engel both referenced foreign policy in their remarks, amid the international tensions with Israel.

"We all are very concerned about the Iranian regime and its proxies like Hezbollah and Hamas, and they are increasing their influence lamentably in countries in our own hemisphere," Ros-Lehtinen said. "These developments are negative for the U.S., they're negative for Israel and they're negative for freedom-loving people who live in Latin American countries."

Israeli prisoner Gilad Shalit compared to 6,000 Palestinian prisoners

Ma'an – As Israel marks the fifth anniversary of Gilad Shalit's detention, analysts say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to compare the soldier to 6,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Netanyahu announced Thursday that he had instructed Israel's prison service to toughen conditions for Palestinian detainees to pressure Hamas to release Shalit, who was captured by Gaza militants in a 2006 cross-border raid.

[Related: Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) introduced resolution about Shalit but ignored 6,000 Palestinnian prisoners.]

"I'm not going to detail the measures, but I can tell you the party's over," the prime minister said.

Analysts say the crackdown is an attempt to distract attention from the government's failure to free the soldier, and that Netanyahu is comparing Shalit to over 6,000 Palestinians prisoners, some of whom have been in Israeli custody for over 30 years.

Israel's Hebrew-language newspaper Maariv reported Sunday that Netanyahu's comments drew swift reactions in Israel at official levels and popular levels.

Officials and organizers of campaigns to free Shalit were comparing the soldier's conditions to those of Palestinian prisoners, highlighting that Shalit's whereabouts were not known, Maariv reported.

Ma'an's Israel affairs analyst Nasser Atiyeh said the Shalit family "should pray that Gilad's place is not known to Israeli authorities. This is what keeps him alive. Israel's security echelon has been trying to reveal where Shalit is detained in order to carry out a major military operation which leaves his life on thin ice."

Atiyeh noted that Israel refused to treat Palestinian detainees as prisoners of war, but insisted that Shalit should be treated as such.

Israel also ignored the fact that during the last 44 years Palestinians went on hunger strike and some died in the struggle to achieve better conditions in custody, which could not be considered privileges, Atiyeh said.

Speaking to Ma'ariv, Israel's prison commander Aharon Franco said the prison service had studied the conditions of Palestinian detainees.

Franco said media reports that Palestinian prisoners were living in hotel-like conditions were exaggerated. He added that it was possible to arrange dishes served to 10 prisoners to look like a restaurant, but that in reality each detainee had a space of two square meters to spend days and nights.

The commander said prisons in Israel were no different from those in most countries.

The Palestinian Authority says 6,000 Palestinians are being detained in Israeli prisons, including 219 in Administrative Detention who are held without charge.

Center treats Palestinians tortured by Israel, a case study

IMEMC, Alessandra Bajec – The idea of having an organization designed to offer appropriate and comprehensive assistance to victims of torture in the Palestinian territories is crucially necessary in the context of the ongoing violations committed by Israel under the Occupation. This is particularly true where torture, organized violence, and other human rights abuses are perpetrated amid a widespread culture of impunity throughout Palestine.

The Treatment and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture (TRC) strives to alleviate the traumatic physical and psychological effects of torture and politically motivated violence while giving victims a place to go and discuss their problems. The Center delivers its unique work by reaching out to the Palestinian community at all levels and applying its treatment and rehabilitation services to the individual, family and community.

Through its Treatment and Rehabilitation Program, the TRC provides comprehensive medical, psychiatric, and psychosocial care to torture survivors and their families. Its treatment activities target ex-detainees and their families, victims of organised violence as well as survivors of house demolitions, sieges, raids, curfews, and bombing.

Suad Mitwalli Badran, Director of the Treatment and Rehabilitation Department, introduced the TRC’s approach to the target group of ex-detainees and outlined the main types of psychological consequences of torture and violence commonly encountered among them. She explained that the TRC’s team initially intervene to assess the psychological effects on their clients once they are discharged from prison, since it is very difficult to reach them during their detention. The only circumstance in which the TRC can gain access to the detainees, in coordination with human rights organizations, Israeli medical associations or other groups, is when they need psychological or medical support. After their release, the prisoners clearly manifest various psychological consequences and this is when the TRC’s specialized staff can look into these negative effects left by torture and other violence.

Badran said the psychological effects typically shown by former prisoners can be categorized into short and long-term effects. In the immediate to short run, lack of appetite, sleeplessness or sleep disrupted by nightmares (bringing back images from time spent in prison), anger, nervousness, anxiety, stress and increased heavy smoking are the most common symptoms manifested. In general, ex-detainees display bad behaviour against their wives, children and other family members as these are the most directly exposed subjects in the daily life.

To Construct “Museum of Tolerance”, Israel Bulldozes Muslim historic cemetery In Jerusalem

IMEMC – Israeli bulldozers started on Saturday at night the destruction of the Ma'man Allah ancient Muslim cemetery, in occupied Jerusalem, as part of the Israeli plan to construct the so-called “Museum of Tolerance” on the cemetery ruins.

The Al Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Foundation reported that the attack was initiated at 11 PM on Saturday at night when three huge bulldozers and two smaller ones, and twenty municipality workers, started the destruction of nearly 100 graves in the three remaining areas of the graveyard.

The destruction targeted the eastern side, the western side and the pool of Ma'man Allah, and aims at including the graveyard area, after its destruction, to be part of the so-called “Tolerance Museum” Israel is planning to build.

The work continued until dawn hours; the graves and the stones were loaded in trucks and were taken away.

The cemetery is in West Jerusalem and is considered one of the largest cemeteries in Jerusalem as it stands on an area of 200 Dunams (nearly 90 acres).

Representatives of the Al Aqsa Foundation went to the graveyard and documented the Israeli violation.

Several month ago, the Israeli District Court in Jerusalem, rejected an appeal filed by the foundation against the destruction of the graves.

In August of last year, Israel bulldozed nearly 300 graves after the foundation renovated nearly 1000 graves that were repeated attacked by extremist settlers.

Why is Israel conducting unprecedented drills?

Ma'an, Nasser Laham – Israel continues to implement a plan set up in 2004 by Ariel Sharon, to change the Israeli army from huge and heavily armed to a smaller and smarter one.

Sharon had learned lessons from the third Gulf war when the US army, thanks to long-range missiles, managed to destroy a huge Iraqi army counting up to five million soldiers in a blink of the eye.

Since that time, Israel has been seeking to completely outdo armies of the Arab countries, or “to remain the strongest country military wise 10 kilometers from Jerusalem as the crow flies,” to quote Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak.

Suspected Israeli agents try to sabotage Freedom Flotilla II ship’s engine

PIC – A group suspected of being linked with the Israeli foreign intelligence agency the Mossad was reported to have tried to thwart the sailing of a Greek ship slated to join the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla II due to set sail sometime next week.

The elements tried to sabotage the ship’s engine, but a crew discovered the men while checking the equipment, Quds Press said, quoting sources from the flotilla’s organizing body, on Saturday. The sources added that the men fled the scene.

Since the incident, participants have been taking turns watching guard in anticipation of another shot at foiling the mission to deliver much needed humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Complaint by unknown person claiming US Boat to Gaza is unseaworthy could delay or prevent departure

Ma'an – Organizers of the second Freedom Flotilla say that an administrative complaint has been filed against the US Boat to Gaza, claiming that the vessel is not seaworthy.

This could delay or altogether prevent the "Audacity of Hope" from leaving Athens.

The harbor master received notification of the complaint Thursday afternoon, two days after a group of suspicious persons showed up at the ship and began asking questions of the crew members, at one point offering money for the members to leave the ship unattended.

The complainant is unknown and a Greek lawyer representing the flotilla is working to obtain more details.

Israel has been open about its intentions to stop the flotilla using any means possible -- including diplomatic avenues, lawsuits, and a media smear campaign.

Also Thursday, Greek port authorities made the unusual move of advising ship captains to steer clear of the coordinates that correspond with Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.

The advisory included the warning, “Continuous electronic surveillance of the region of East Mediterranean will also take place in order to record, wherever possible, the movements of ships that will possibly participate in such an action.”

Both moves came in the wake of a US Department of State travel warning, issued Wednesday, which appeared designed to dissuade American activists from challenging Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What's Really Going On at the Israeli Institute for Biological Research: Exposing Israel's Most Dangerous Secret

CounterPunch, Saleh El-Naami – Drivers will only dart a glance at that mammoth structure nestled in the dunes south of Rishon Litsion southeast of Tel Aviv as they speed on their way. It is forbidden to turn off the Tel Aviv-Rishon Litsion highway onto the side road leading up to that building, which is barricaded by cement walls equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and warning systems developed by Israel's military industries.

That fortress-like structure is the Israeli Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) where Israel develops its biological and chemical weapons and prepares for any eventuality of biological or chemical warfare. It is the most top-secret military installation in Israel. So tightly is it guarded by military censorship that the Israeli press has to turn to Western sources for scraps of information made available to them, very intermittently, by special contacts inside the institute.

Only once has the Israeli press been given leeway to discuss what goes on behind those high security walls. That was last month when Avisha Klein filed a suit against the IIBR administration for harassment and emotional abuse. A long-term employee at the institute, Klein has served in various positions, one of which was as part of a team to develop an ointment to protect the skin from mustard gas. But this is only one of the many details that have come to light in the course of the proceedings, which have shed considerable light on the nature and scope of the institute's work.

The IIBR is staffed by some 300 scientists and technicians employed in one or more of its many departments, each of which specialises in a specific area of chemical or biological research generally aimed at the production of chemical or biological weaponry. One of these departments, for example, is reported to have developed the poison that was used by the notorious Mossad assassination unit, Kidon, in its botched attempt to eliminate Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal in 1997. Nevertheless, if there remains some question over the accuracy of this information, which was reported in Haaretz, no one disputes that the first time the institute's products were used in an assassination operation was in late 1977 when then prime minister Menachem Begin ordered Mossad to eliminate Wadie Haddad.

A leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Haddad was accused by Israel of responsibility for several terrorist operations, the last of which was the hijacking of an Israeli passenger plane en route to Entebbe in 1976. According to a recently published book by the Israeli journalist Aharon Klein, Haddad had a great fondness for Belgian chocolates. Mossad obtained some of these special chocolates, coated them with a slow-acting poison, and had them delivered to Haddad, who was then living in Baghdad, by an Iraqi official who was a Mossad agent and who had struck up a friendship with Haddad. Klein relates that the deadly substance was first developed in the IIBR and that its slow-acting and undetectable properties ensured that the agent and the instrument of death would not be discovered.

And indeed, following a gradual but severe deterioration in his health, Haddad was flown to a hospital in East Germany where he was diagnosed with leukaemia and eventually died on 28 March 1978. It was not until 32 years later that the truth came to light: that the real cause of death was a poison produced by IIBR.

It is not unlikely that Mossad conducted many assassination operations in this way, so as not to leave its fingerprints. In other words, the seemingly accidental deaths of many individuals that Israel regarded as a threat may have actually been caused by substances produced by IIBR. Most likely, the poison that Mossad agents injected into Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai in February 2010 came from IIBR.

Palestinian village council leader returns home after Israel held him two years without trial

Ma'an – Israel on Monday released Qibya village council leader Abdul Hafeth Gheithan after detaining him for almost two years without a trial, a detainees' center reported.

Israel's Ofer military court had refused to release the local official since his detention in 2010. He was never charged with any offense, the center added.

Gheithan has spent a total of six years in Israeli prisons.