Today in Palestine! ~ Headlines ~

Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing
Mayor Barkat stages Silwan visit in opposition to Palestinian protest
Jerusalem mayor Nir Barakat made an unannounced visit to the Israeli settlement projects of Wadi Hilweh district of Silwan today, where he met with the projects’ leader David Beeri. Eyewitnesses report that Barakat took a tour of the settlements with Beeri. The sudden visit coincides with today’s protest march in Silwan in honour of International Human Rights Day, attended by many Palestinian residents of the village in opposition to Israel’s human rights violations. Isolated clashes are still taking place in Silwan between Israeli forces and demonstrators.

Israeli forces close Wadi Hilweh entrance to Silwan
As of 12am, Saturday 11 December, Israeli forces have closed off the northern entrance to Wadi Hilweh neighborhood in Silwan, adjacent to the “City of David” visitors center. Israeli troops cite security concerns, stating that a “suspicious object” was found close to the “Givati” parkinglot contorlled by the Elad settlement association. It was later discovered that the object in question was a small refrigerator. Israeli police and settler guards have become a permanent fixture in the region, creating a state of perpetual tension and frequently erupting in to violence. Such incidents include an attack on Wadi Hilweh Popular Committee member Ahmed Qaraeen, who was injured in front of the visitors center by a settler visiting the “City of David” on 11 September 2009. The perpetrator then went on to shoot a Palestinian child, Ameer Froukh, causing a spate of clashes between Palestinian residents and Israeli forces. Several attacks by armed settler guards and “City of David” visitors on Palestinian children and their mothers have been documented in Silwan. Israeli police checkpoints have become a regular fixture each Friday in the village, seriously disrupting traffic on the Muslim holy day, while large areas are closed down on Saturdays to mark the Jewish holiday of shabbat.

Tibi: Banishing MP Abu Tir falls in line with Judaization of OJ
Arab member of the Israeli Knesset Ahmed Al-Tibi has charged that the Israeli authority's eviction of MP Mohammed Abu Tir from occupied Jerusalem was a further violation of the international law.

GOD TV and the Jewish National Fund plant the Forest Of Hate, Max Blumenthal
In August, I witnessed the third demolition of the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al-Arakib in Israel’s Negev desert. It was a harrowing scene that I will never forget. And it has been repeated five times since then, forcing the residents to sleep in the open air while rebuilding their homes over and over. I knew at the time that the Jewish National Fund, a quasi-governmental organization that plants trees all around Israel, especially over destroyed Palestinian villages, planned to establish a forest on the land that Al-Arakib stood. But I didn’t know at the time that the financing for the forest came from an extreme dominionist evangelical broadcasting network called GOD TV, or that the forest, which already represented an insane plan since it was going to fill an arid desert with non-native trees, would be called “GOD TV Forest.”

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Non-Violent Bil’in Protest Leader Freed from Israeli Military Prison,Joseph Dana
A Palestinian Gandhi is free from Israeli jail! Bil’in’s Adeeb Abu Rahmah, a non-violent protest leader sentenced to over 18 months in Israeli military prison, is a free man. Detailed report on his release and welcome ceremony in Bil’in will be posted tomorrow.

Adeeb Abu Rahma, a leader of nonviolent protest, is freed after 17 months in prison,  Philip Weiss
What a beautiful smile! A Gandhi of nonviolent protest, Adeeb Abu Rahma, has been released by the Israelis after two years in detention. You can see Joseph Dana's picture of Abu Rahma holding his daughter as he leaves prison here. And Hamdi Abu Rahma, who took the picture at left, reports: Bil'in - Ramallah: Released by the Israeli Occupation Forces today from Ofer Prison is central activist Adeeb Abo Rahma (age 40) who is from the village of Bil'in, after being incarcerated for 18 months, and was suspending from participating in any political activity for a period of four years. Should Abo Rahma be caught within this period, he will be fined 6,000 NIS on charges of incitement and obstructing the work of the army as well as conducting peaceful demonstrations against the Wall in Bil'in.  MUST WATCH VIDEO.

Today in Bil’in, Hamde Abu Rahme

Silwan demonstration marks International Day of Human Rights
A protest march was held in Silwan today to mark International Human Rights Day. Residents marched in protest to Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian rights such as land confiscation, arrests and targeting of minors, home demolitions and bureaucratic discrimination preventing Palestinian residents from building on their land. The demonstration also focused strongly on political “exile” punishments against Palestinians in Jerusalem, such as that of Adnan Gaith, Secretary General of Fatah in Silwan, who was recently issued an order banning him from Jerusalem for 4 months. Said one demonstrator to Silwanic: “The Israeli authorities are trying to enforce a policy of banishment from Jerusalem against Palestinians in Silwan. This is not only happening to prominent figures such as Adnan Gaith, but also used against dozens of detainees, both children and adults, who are sentenced to house arrest outside their homes in Silwan village.” A higher number of Israeli troops were stationed in Silwan since the morning. Clashes erupted between troops and Palestinian residents following the march, concentrated in the areas of Wadi Rababa, Ein Silwan and the entrance to Wadi Hilweh.

Stop the Wall Campaign receives Human Rights Defenders Award to mark Human Rights Day
Dec 12, 2010-- This week celebrated the 62nd anniversary of the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To mark it, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), along with An Najah University and the Independent Commission of Human Rights, organised an event entitled ‘Speak Up! Stop Discrimination’

A BDS Debate at Princeton, with J Street, JVP, and Max Blumenthal (this Wednesday)

This Wednesday (December 15) I will debate/discuss the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign with Jewish Voices for Peace Executive Director Rebecca Vilkormerson and J Street U Director Daniel May at Princeton University. Princeton’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter recently attempted to pressure the school into offering an alternative in the cafeteria to Sabra Hummus, an Israeli product made by the Strauss Group, which has sponsored the IDF’s Givati Brigade (see heartwarming Givati t-shirts here). They failed to get the votes they needed, (I don’t know why more students didn’t vote for an alternative solely on health grounds, since Sabra contains the carcinogenic, extremely unhealthy preservative sodium benzoate), but in my opinion the SJP kids won by forcing the community to debate the occupation and discriminatory nature of the Israeli state. The debate I will participate in on the 15th represents, in my opinion, the role BDS has played in fostering a more open discussion about the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Following local pressure, Adidas reconsiders sponsorship of Jerusalem marathon
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat decides to hold the first Jerusalem International Marathon in March 2011. He gets Adidas to sponsor the event. An Israeli runner registers and then discovers that the route runs through some of the most egregious examples of discrimination and dispossession in East Jerusalem: Sheikh Jarrah, Issawiya, the Shufat Refugee Camp, Jabel Mukaber and Sur Baher (see map on right.)

Abuse of Palestinian Children
B'Tselem:  Caution: Children Ahead - The Illegal Behavior of the Police toward Minors in Silwan Suspected of Stone Throwing
An investigation conducted by B'Tselem shows that, during the past year (November 2009 to October 2010), at least 81 minors from Silwan have been arrested or detained for questioning, the vast majority on suspicion of stone throwing. The arrests and detentions followed confrontations between Palestinians and settlers in the neighborhood, where there is great tension resulting from the taking of control of houses and archeological sites by settlers.

Israel attacked for arrests of hundreds of children, Jonathan Cook
JERUSALEM // Israeli police have been criticised over their treatment of hundreds of Palestinian children, some as young as seven, arrested and interrogated on suspicion of stone-throwing in East Jerusalem. In the past year, criminal investigations have been opened against more than 1,200 Palestinian minors in Jerusalem suspected of hurling rocks at Israeli soldiers or Jewish settlers, according to police statistics gathered by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). That was nearly twice the number of children arrested last year in the much larger Palestinian territory of the West Bank.

Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement
Specialists: The siege on Gaza imposes harsh psychological effect on people
Local and international psychologists and human rights activists have urged Thursday the international community to pressure the Zionist entity into lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip.

Forced Evictions - Assessing the Impact on Palestinian Women in East Jerusalem
WCLAC has issued a report highlighting the gender-specific impact that Israeli policies in East Jerusalem have on the lives of Palestinian women. The report calls upon Israel to end forced evictions and home demolitions and makes recommendations to the international community and other actors to alleviate the situation of affected Palestinians.

U.S. State Department Recognizes Palestinian Rights on Human Rights Day
Washington, DC) December 10—In response to a question posed by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation at today's Human Rights Day Town Hall held by the State Department, the Obama Administration acknowledged that Israel should be held to the same human rights standards as every other country, and that Palestinians are entitled to their full human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Human Rights Mean Nothing in Bil'in
International Human Rights Day became a savage irony yesterday in Palestine as peaceful protestors were tear-gassed, shot with rubber-coated steel bullets and arrested for their efforts.

TJP Liberty Report from Gaza 'Story of Areej' - Ken O'Keefe Dec. 7, 2010
Areej is a 4 year old girl from Sabra in Gaza. She is an orphan whose father was a killed by an Israeli bomb. She has a skin condition that is undiagnosed but worsened severely during the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2008-2009. Although it is inconclusive, Areej's neighborhood was one of the worst hit by white phosphorus bombs, a blatant war crime as yet unpunished. At the end of the video there is information about how to make donations directly to her family and help her with possible medical attention in Europe or elsewhere.

Stormy weather adds to plight of Gaza's refugees
GAZA (Ma’an) – Homes of Palestinian refugees living in camps in Gaza have suffered serious damage from the stormy weather which hit the region over the past two days, civil defense officials said.  Heavy rain cracked the densely populated homes built of bricks and asbestos by UNRWA after the expulsion of 1948.

Please Help the Enrichment Learning Program at the Cave Dwellers Village Umm-Fakra
Dear Friends,  We are appealing to you to ask your assistance in operating a learning enrichment program for the children of the cave-dwellers’ community of Umm-Fakra.  For the last two years we have assisted in conducting an enrichment programs for children in the Bedouin communities of Umm El-Kheir, bordering on the settlement of Carmel.  In light of the positive experience with such programs, and in response to a local initiative – we would like to assist in opening yet another center of learning enrichment programs for children in South Mount Hebron, this time in the locality Umm-Fakra. The annual cost for the first pilot year is estimated at only $4,000 or 3,000 Euro. The Villages Group is able to offer tax-deductible donation via partners in the US and UK (see our donation link for details).

Gaza’s Green Roofs of Herbs and Vegetables
According to the BBC, Israel has for many years restricted entry to and exit from Gaza, but it intensified its blockade of Gaza in June 2007 when Hamas took over, causing severe shortages. The dire situation in Gaza has already pushed the population towards more resilient energy supplies such as solar energy for electricity, solar ovens and electric cars. At is stands, the majority live in severe poverty and 80 percent are food-aid dependent.  “We grow on our roof because we are farmers but have no land now,” says Moatassan Hamad, 21, from Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip in an IPS article. “Our family is large and thankfully what we grow feeds us. Cabbage and eggplants in winter, and endochriyya [a plant used for making soup] and chili and garlic and onions in summer. And other things that we can sell, like flowers and palm tree seedlings.”

Photography - Tilde De Wandel

Racism and Discrimination
Public invited to inform on those renting to Arabs
In step supporting rabbis' letter on halachic ruling against renting to Arabs, initiative gives number so public can give names for 'list of disgrace.,7340,L-3998121,00.html

Israeli Chief Rabbi Orders Shop Owners Who Employ Jewish Girls Not to Hire Arabs
I couldn’t have made this up myself if I’d tried: the rabbis of the largely Yemenite city of Rosh Ha-Ayin (English), including the chief rabbi, declared a ban on hiring Arabs at stores which employ Jewish girls.  I swear to you, it’s true.  If you’d told me this story came out of Pakistan or Kandahar I might’ve believed you, but no, it’s from Israel’s Rosh Ha-Ayin.

Racism clouds Israel student poll
Arab students of Israel's Haifa University have stepped up complaints of discrimination on student body election day. The minority group says they are under-represented in the college's student union and do not have the same rights as their Jewish peers. Sherine Tadros reports from Haifa University. Sherine Tadros reports from Haifa University. [December 10, 2010]

Family of Israeli patient insults Palestinian paramedic on duty
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) – A Palestinian paramedic said he was verbally abused by relatives of an Israeli patient from Beit Fagan, a neighborhood of west Jerusalem.  Fadi Badarna, who holds an Israeli ID card, works for the Red Star of David ambulance service and in the intensive care unit of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.  He told Ma'an he was trying to resuscitate a patient who had lost consciousness when the man's relatives surrounded him and told him "You are a dirty Arab, and you are not authorized to make decisions."

IOF troops assault old woman, arrest her son
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed a Palestinian home in Doura village, south of Al-Khalil, and detained a young man after battering his mother and injuring her.

Detainees (held by Israelis and the PA)
27 detained at Allenby crossing
JERICHO (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority police said officers stationed at the Allenby crossing between the West Bank and Jordan detained 27 Palestinians wanted for fraud and other crimes, according to a weekly round-up of activity at the crossing.  The 27 were detained from 8,221 who traveled into Jordan during the week, including 86 foreign nationals and 30 Israeli ID card holders. Ambulances transported 29 patients to Jordan for medical treatment.

Relatives say PA torturing Jihad detainee
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An Islamic Jihad supporter detained by the Palestinian Authority was hospitalized as a result of torture, his family said Sunday.  Relatives of Muhammad Jamal Sa'di said he was detained 12 days ago by PA preventative security forces in Jenin, and that he has been tortured by interrogators every day, a statement from the movement said.

Knesset Approves New Law Preventing Detainees From Meeting Lawyers For Six Month
The Legal Committee of the Israeli Knesset decided on Monday to approve a new draft submitted by the Israeli Interior Minister, Yitzhak Aharanovitch, in which he demanded that Palestinian detainees, imprisoned on nationalistic/political grounds, should not be allowed to meet their lawyers up to six months after their arrest, the Maan News Agency reported.

Strong winds uproot tent housing detainees at Negev prison
Strong winds uprooted and tore up a tent housing detainees at the Negev prison, prisoners there said, adding that other sections of tents in the prison are under threat of similar incidence.

War Criminals
Israel’s serious concerns about legal action due to flotilla massacre, Yaniv Reich
Israel has tried hard to justify its violent overtaking of the humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza last spring.  In particular, it has turned to convoluted, somewhat tortured interpretations of international law, which it claims provides legal cover for the brutal mission.  Israel was just enforcing a blockade according to maritime law, or so the argument goes, when its Gandhi-like commandos were mercilessly attacked by Muslim extremists.  This mantra has been accepted uncritically by the Israeli public

Political Developments
Supreme Court annuls PA decision to postpone local elections
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Supreme Court in Ramallah on Monday annulled a decision by the Palestinian Authority cabinet to postpone local elections.  On June 10, the PA indefinitely postponed municipal elections scheduled for July 17 following a closed-door cabinet meeting, a move condemned by Palestinian factions and civil society groups as undemocratic and illegal.

Supreme Court's decision as a democratic victory
The Palestinian National Initiative praised the decision of the Supreme Court judge who declared that the government's decision to postpone local elections was invalid.  The main priority is to now determine a new date for local elections and that is to take place not only in the West Bank, but also in the Gaza Strip.  Dr. Barghouthi, the Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative stated that this marks an important day in Palestine and for the restoration of democratic life.

PA: Clinton should have blamed Israel
Officials in Ramallah disappointed Israel not held accountable for stalemate in peace process. Ashrawi: How can we believe Americans if they couldn't get Israel to restrain settlement building.,7340,L-3997481,00.html

Palestine turns to UN in battle for statehood
Is recognition the road to a republic? With direct talks derailed, Palestinians are looking to the UN as a means to establish statehood. Brazil and Argentina announced this month that they recognise Palestine as an independent state, and other Latin American countries have signalled they will follow suite in the coming months. Now Palestinian leaders are looking to the United Nations for an official declaration recognising Palestine along its 1967 borders. But as Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey reports from New York, the victory of official statehood could be largely symbolic.

Israel: Settlements not an obstacle
Despite talks with Palestinians being deadlocked over issue, Israel's envoy to US says building is not blocking peace.

Israel: PA must change school curriculum
Israel declared Sunday that it does not expect a final settlement with the Palestinian Authority (PA) until the Ramallah-based administration completely changes the Palestinian educational curriculum.  Minister of National Infrastructure Uzi Landau made statements to the Hebrew Israeli radio that his state cannot ignore current Palestinian curricula "because they promote violence against Israel and do not help Palestinians accept the existence of the Jewish State."

Israel PM welcomes US back-down on settlement curb (AP)
AP - Israel's prime minister on Monday welcomed Washington's decision to abandon its call for an Israeli freeze on settlement construction, saying the United States now understands Israel and the Palestinians must instead address the major issues that divide them.

Visiting U.S. envoy Mitchell to push Israel for stance on core Mideast issues
Obama administration expects Netanyahu to take a position on core issues such as borders and refugees in coming weeks; Mitchell also due to hold talks with PA President Abbas.

Jordan to U.S.: Find new formula for restarting Mideast peace talks
Australian FM during visit to Jordan: Israeli settlement activity must cease because it undermines the effectiveness of the peace process.

Germany: Media reports on Palestinians 'false' (AP)
AP - The German government says reports are false that Germany proposed a resolution for the EU to recognize an independent Palestinian state within a year if no peace agreement is reached by then.

Jordan appeals to Iran to improve relations  [Post wiki PR]
Jordan's King Abdullah urges European Union to take a greater role in ensuring the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Other News
US House Approves Large Increase in Military Aid to Israel
Despite freezing funding for most aspects of the US government at 2010 levels, the US House agreed Wednesday evening to increase military aid to Israel substantially.

Israel denies Vanunu travel permission
Israel has prevented a former nuclear whistleblower from receiving an international prize in Germany for work towards promoting disarmament.  Mordechai Vanunu, who revealed details of Israel's secret weapons program 24 years ago, was to be awarded the Carl von Ossietsky Prize in Berlin on Sunday.  According to a spokesman for the International League for Human Rights, the group has now decided to cancel the ceremony and hold a protest rally on behalf of the former nuclear technician instead, AFP reported.

As Israel's water crisis worsens, push for desalination gains strength
Instead of reinstating the controversial drought tax, the cabinet decided to allow consumers to use more water, above which the price will rise.

Suspected Israeli neo-Nazi arrested in Kyrgyzstan
After extradition to Israel, 'first neo-Nazi in Israel' to be tried like other members of his neo-Nazi gang - Patrol 36 - which terrorized Tel Aviv.

Nixon blasts Jews as 'obnoxious' in tapes
Newly-released White House audio tapes reveal former US president made disparaging remarks about Jews, Irish, Italians and black Africans; Kissinger said it was no concern of US if Soviet Jews were gassed.,7340,L-3997596,00.html

Palestinians are planning to make Netanyahu sweat [Political Theater]
Right now it appears that the Palestinians have the White House sympathy market cornered and returning to the indirect talks will help them get even more.

US' mixed signals in brokering Middle East peace talks
The United States cannot bring peace to the Middle East on its own, was the message from Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, saying it was up to the Israelis and Palestinians to forge a deal. While Barack Obama, the US president, promised to outline a way forward, Clinton highlighted a plan to revert to indirect talks, sending out mixed signals on how the US plans to break the deadlock in negotiations. Early this week the US dropped a bid to persuade Israel on a new freeze on settlements in the West Bank, and increased military aid to Israel in its recent budget. Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane reports. (Dec 11, 2010)

Al-Asha’l: Oslo’s PA only serves occupation
Dr. Abdullah Al-Asha’l said that the dissolution of the PA should become a Palestinian national demand, so that the confrontation can return to its natural state.

Friedman seeks to blame Palestinians for breakdown of talks, Philip Weiss
When Camp David went down in 2000, Arafat was blamed, famously. Well the failure of the Obama peace talks are clearly in Israel's lap this time. Tom Friedman is trying to change the optics by blaming both sides, over and over, in a form of rhetorical bludgeoning...

Thomas Friedman, barometer of a biased mainstream middle, Yaniv Reich
My dear aunt (of letter fame) loves to think of me as biased.  I have devoted a decade or two to the patient explanation of why this opinion of me is false, and demonstrably so.  But in her mind, my stubborn focus on human and civil rights means that I care more about Palestinians than Jews, simply because objective reality is characterized by many times more violations of Palestinian rights by Israelis than the reverse.  Today, she sent me Thomas Friedman’s latest op-ed in the NY Times as an example of an unbiased article, which is tough on both the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships and therefore, somehow, more respectable in her eyes.  This striking assertion—that Friedman of all people is unbiased—provides a perfect “teaching moment” because it exposes how normative claims to “moderate” and “unbiased” operate.

671 ‘New York Times’ readers recommend letter calling Israel a ‘fascist state’ that is dragging us down, Philip Weiss
One of those signs that is sure to send a chill through the Israel lobby.  A couple of days ago Roger Cohen did an anguished Op-Ed for the New York Times about the American Jewish community's intolerance of criticism of Israel, even as Israeli leadership is destroying "the Zionist dream." The column brought an outpouring of comments, about 238 so far.

The Jewish community begins to embrace… the Goldstone Report!,  Philip Weiss
I went to the Rabbis for Human Rights conference in New York this week, and my chief impression was that the Jewish community is warming up to the Goldstone Report 15 months late. Maybe this is the effect of the boycott movement, which is a bridge too far for the J Street Jews who dominated the conference-- but what I saw was a growing awareness that Israel has exhibited contempt for others' judgment of its actions and that the community effort to shut down the Goldstone Report a year ago only enhanced Israel's isolation from all norms of conduct (filling the sails of the boycott movement).

The unholy alliance between Israel`s Right and Europe`s anti-Semites
Adar Primor--Oy Europe! Its official arm, brave and mighty, was extended to us in the form of the dozens of firefighters and firefighting aircraft dispatched to battle the Carmel blaze. Its other arm - the outcast, disobedient one - came to ignite fires whose damages cannot be predicted. These took the form of the very unholy alliance between figures on Israel`s right and extreme nationalists and even anti-Semites in Europe that is gaining momentum in the Holy Land.

Desperately seeking a U.S. plan for peace
Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad tried and succeeded in neutralizing Hamas, reining in terror and imposing law and order in the West Bank while accelerating economic development despite all the obstacles.

Obama’s Failure Prompts Media Discussion of One-State Solution, Alex Kane
President Barack Obama’s failure to secure another 90 day settlement “freeze” from Israel could prove to be a clarifying moment.  It has immediately prompted media discussion of the disintegration of the two-state solution and the reality that Israel could become an apartheid state (leaving aside the fact that Israel is already one).

When Japan and Lebanon Go Crazy For Palestine
On May 8, 1972, members of the Palestinian Black September Movement called William Nassar’s group (two guys and two girls) hijacked a Sabina airliner during its flight from Brussels to Tel Aviv. Upon landing, the hijackers demanded the release of 100 Palestinian revolutionary fighters thrown in Israeli dungeons, in exchange for the 100 passengers on-board. The Red Cross requested an extension for the ten-hour deadline, and to allow them to provide food and water to the passengers until the hijackers’ demands were met. The requests were granted, and the cost was their demise. The Red Cross had knowingly sent the food with Israeli commandos disguised as airport ground staff. The shooting led to the injury of some passengers, the death of the two Palestinian men and unknown number of Israeli commandos, and the injury and arrest of the two Palestinian girls (given life sentences).

‘Washington Post’’s new blogger promptly calls for force against Iran, Philip Weiss
The Washington Post has replaced the American Enterprise Institute as the primary hub of neoconservative arguments for U.S. aggression in the Middle East. AEI operated during a Republican administration, the Post operates in a Democratic one. Old wine in a new bottle. Jennifer Rubin, the latest hire, fresh from Commentary magazine:  we should begin to make the case and agree on a feasible plan for the use of force. When there is a credible threat of force -- not occupation or invasion, but strikes sufficient to hobble Iran's nuclear program, military and Revolutionary Guard -- the decision-making calculus may change. What of the notion that the nation will rally around the flag if attacked?

Should Bob Woodward be arrested? (updated), Stephen M. Walt
BEIRUT: The cyber attacks on Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar after it published WikiLeaks documents were condemned Friday by Hizbullah and the Journalists Union. A statement by Hizbullah said the party expressed its solidarity with the publication and considered the hacking of its website “an attack on freedom of opinion and expression,” and called on the government to take measures to prevent such cyberattacks from recurring  Al-Akhbar has published leaked US diplomatic cables connected to a number of Arab countries, and has speculated that individuals in Israel or Arab countries might be behind the attacks. Separately, the attacks were also condemned by the Journalists Union and the group Media Against Violence.

One on One - Zbigniew Brzezinski
The former US national security adviser and geostrategist shares his experiences and views with Riz Khan.

Hariri to call for Cabinet session, 'false witnesses' on agenda
BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Saad Hariri agreed Friday to call for a Cabinet session for next Wednesday in a move aimed at ending the month-long government paralysis, political sources told The Daily Star. A political source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that invitations will be sent to the ministers Saturday.

Hizbullah official: Tribunal akin to Middle Ages court
BEIRUT: A high-ranking Hizbullah official said Friday the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) was comparable to a court established during the Middle Ages and added that those wagering on the UN-backed tribunal to deal a blow to the resistance were deluding themselves.

Tribunal spokesperson latest to resign
BEIRUT: Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) spokesperson Fatima al-Issawi announced Sunday her resignation from the Netherlands-based court, citing "professional reasons." "I announce my resignation as a spokesperson for the STL for professional reasons," Issawi said in a statement delivered to the state-run National News Agency.

If War Comes; Israel vs Hezbollah and Its Allies
13/12/2010 "In all probability, it would be a major conflict, one fought over extensive areas of Lebanon, Israel, and probably Syria, featuring large military forces executing complex operations and resulting in substantial casualties (military and civilian) as well as major infrastructure damage in all of the countries involved.”  This is how Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) veteran, Jeffrey White, pictures the coming war between Israel and Hezbollah and its allies in his new book, If War Comes : Israel vs. Hezbollah and Its Allies, published by the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Affairs, September 2010.  In this 60-page focus, White offers “a meticulously calculated forecast of the future war” that will “bear little resemblance to the 2006” Israeli aggression on Lebanon. Instead, he continues, this conflict is likely to be broader and much more intense; certainly Israel’s most serious war since 1973, and one that the IDF would have to win, with the potential to transform the wider region both militarily and politically.”

Ain al-Hilweh residents mark 194 anniversary
SIDON: Residents of the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp marked Friday the anniversary of the 1948 UN General Assembly resolution that called on Israel to allow the return of refugees to their homeland. Participants in the sit-ins said Israel, backed by the West and the implicit collaboration of Arab regimes, had ignored the implementation of international resolutions, which could only be brought about by resistance movements. Some residents said Hizbullah’s weapons were a guarantee to the implementation of Resolution 194. “Hizbullah’s arms will prevent the settlement of Palestinian refugees and their case will remain open as long as a peace deal is not signed with Israel with the enduring resistance in Palestine keeping our hopes alive,” said Hassan Awad, who took part in Friday’s protest.

Suicide bomber kills 2 Shiite pilgrims in Iraq (AP)
AP - An Iraqi official says a suicide bomber has killed two Shiite pilgrims north of Baghdad during an important religious ritual for the Muslim sect.

Women, elderly among 17 slain in Iraq suicide blast
BAGHDAD: A suicide bomber blew up his car Sunday outside government offices west of the Iraqi capital, killing 17 people, including women and elderly people waiting to collect welfare checks, officials said. Six police officers were among the dead in the latest strike on the provincial council compound in the Anbar province capital of Ramadi.

Arab, Kurdish women kidnapped in Iraq city
KIRKUK: Two groups of kidnappers seized female relatives of a top Kurdish policeman and an Arab tribal chief within hours in and around the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, police said yesterday. Kirkuk's provincial police chief blamed the kidnappings in the ethnically-mixed city on the release from jail nearly two months ago of five women linked to Al-Qaeda that he admitted had been a "mistake.

Remaining Christians in Iraq’s Mosul living under constant fear
Many Iraqi Christians in the northern city of Mosul have fled mounting violence there, but those remaining say they fear for their lives.  There are no exact figures on those who have stayed behind, but most of them are low-income Christians who simply cannot afford to emigrate.  Many Christians have been killed, several churches bombed and houses blown up in the past few months. The main source of fear for the remaining ones is that they have no idea of who is fueling the anti-Christian violence in the violent city.\2010-12-11\kurd.htm

Iraq National Alliance gets 16 ministries
Iraqi political parties agreed to allocate 16 ministries including two sovereign ministries to the National Alliance, an informed source told Alsumaria News. Al Iraqiya List is expected to get nine ministries while Kurdistan Parties Coalition will get four ministries, the source said.

Kurdish 'self-determination' call sparks Iraqi ire (AFP)
AFP - Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani's recent call for self-determination for his people has drawn the ire of the country's Sunni and Shiite Arab leaders, who argue that it presages a break-up of Iraq.

Ali Hilli, founder of Iraqi LGBT
Video: Ali Hilli, founder of Iraqi LGBT, talks about the threat facing minorities in post-war Iraq.

Iraqi Contemporary Art Influenced By War And Exile
Driven out of war-torn Iraq and dispersed around the globe, Iraqi contemporary artists - struggling to maintain a unique presence from under the umbrella of "Middle Eastern art" - are regrouping in Dubai and exhibiting art that reflects the complex relationships they have with their homeland.

WikiLeaks cables: Pope wanted Muslim Turkey kept out of EU
Vatican diplomats also lobbied against Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and wanted 'Christian roots' enshrined in EU constitution

Cable: Syria told Iran it would not join war with Israel
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Syria's government told Iran that it would not join the Islamic Republic or its proxy Hezbollah in a war with Israel, according to a leaked U.S. diplomatic cable. The Dec. 22, 2009 cable, among thousands published by WikiLeaks in recent weeks, covers the visit at the time to Syria of four high-level Iranian officials and the signing of a defense memorandum of understanding, ostensibly a show of solidarity as the West closed ranks to isolate Iran because of its suspected nuclear weapons program.  "Syria reportedly resisted Iranian entreaties to commit to joining Iran if fighting broke out between Iran and Israel or Hezbollah and Israel," said the cable, signed off by Chuck Hunter, the charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Syria, and quoting a redacted source. "XXXXXXXXXXXX said Iranian officials were in Syria 'to round up allies' in anticipation of an Israeli military strike. 'It (an Israeli strike on Iran) is not a matter of if, but when,' XXXXXXXXXXXX said, reporting what Syrian officials had heard from their Iranian counterparts.

CIA’s honeypot Wikileaks mirror readily reveals it was set up by CIA
Looks like the CIA created a “honeypot” wikileaks mirror at, presumably to see who is downloading the leaks—but they screwed up the anonymization.

Assange lawyer says US spying indictment imminent
Update: Assange attorney says he's not been allowed to meet with his client London lawyer, Mark Stephens, told Voice of Russia, the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service, that British officials will not allow him to meet with Julian Assange until the day before a Dec. 14 court hearing.

Ron Paul defends Assange, blasts neoconservatives
Common sense rarely breaches the ideological cushion that insulates the US congress from reason. Here is a rare instance.

Ron Paul Defends WikiLeaks On House Floor (VIDEO)
In the wake of the recent WikiLeaks document dump, Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), the self-styled libertarian crusader who's spent the past half-decade building up a massive grassroots following, has emerged as a principal voice in support of the transparency that WikiLeaks has provided. In a speech on the House floor yesterday, Paul held forth at length on the controversy.

Retired CIA Officer Defends Julian Assange
Retired CIA officer Ray McGovern (who came out in defense of Julian Assange back in August)

Swiss bank investigated after freezing WikiLeaks account
GENEVA — Swiss authorities are investigating if the banking arm of Swiss Post violated secrecy rules by divulging that it had closed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's account, media reported on Sunday.  "We are investigating if, in relation to the Postfinance press statement, there has been punishable action," Hermann Wenger, examining magistrate of the Bern-Mittelland region, told SonntagsZeitung.

US Poll: People Behind WikiLeaks Should be Prosecuted
The survey found that 70 percent of Americans think the leaks are doing more harm than good by allowing America's enemies to see confidential and secret information about U.S. foreign policy.

Assange's prosecutor denies ulterior motive
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is still in custody in a British jail while his legal team prepares to fight his extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for alleged sexual misconduct against two women. Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri has travelled to Stockholm to speak to Claes Borgstrom, a lawyer for the two women, who denied any political motivations behind the allegations. Borgstrom said the high-profile case is actually pouring much unwanted attention on his clients. [December 10, 2010]

US Assange indictment `unconstitutional'
A lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says any prosecution of the whistleblowing website in the United States for espionage would be unconstitutional. But Jennifer Robinson denied reports that Assange's legal team believe a US indictment over WikiLeaks' release of thousands of classified US diplomatic cables is imminent.

Assange is a 'political actor' - not journalist, US says
"He's not a journalist. He's not a whistleblower," State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said. "He is a political actor. He has a political agenda.",not-journalist-us-says.html

WikiLeaks Congressional Hearing Set for Dec. 16
The House Judiciary Committee will hold a Dec. 16 hearing on the potential application of U.S. espionage laws in relation to WikiLeaks, the committee announced on Friday, marking the first such hearing to address the website's recent release of classified U.S. diplomatic cables.

Assange is held in cell where they once held Oscar Wilde, Philip Weiss
. And Assange is as shocking to the old information order as Wilde was to the sexual order. It's amazing to me how many old-school journalists are trashing this guy, who has delivered more information about how the world operates than anyone, ever. The New Republic is filled with bitter condemnation, Todd Gitlin of the Columbia Journalism School is against Assange. This is one of those historical Which side are you on, moments. Glenn Greenwald has been carrying on the good fight at Salon-- "pure authoritarianism--" and Naomi Wolf has bravely called Assange's captors the dating police. It's true that the territory that Assange has discovered is a scary one, but it is bound to make civilization better. Think of it; the U.S. has lost its way, we are involved in two brutal occupations halfway around the world that are alienating all Muslims, three occupations if you count Israel's of Palestine, and journalists here are against learning more about it.

WikiRebels – the documentary
Exclusive rough-cut of first in-depth documentary on WikiLeaks and the people behind it! From summer 2010 until now, Swedish Television has been following the secretive media network WikiLeaks and its enigmatic Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange.

Beyond the leaks
Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, on the long-term effect of the US embassy files leak.

Inside Story - WikiLeaks and the craft of journalism
As Wikileaks continues to feed media outlets with thousands of classified US diplomatic cables, how serious is the threat by WikiLeaks to other media outlets? And how is WikiLeaks shaping the media industry?
Is it the beginning of a new media form?

WikiLeaks may make the powerful howl, but we are learning the truth
WikiLeaks has offered us glimpses of how the world works. And in most cases nothing but good can come of it.

Inside Story - WikiLeaks special: Assange: hero or villain?
Julian Assange and his whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks continue to make headlines - with daily revelations continuing, even though Assange is himself now behind bars. Is he a hero or a villain? Can he be held legally accountable? Are the revelations on his site endangering lives or are they simply embarrassing for the US government? And what of freedom of expression? Inside Story will be dealing with all these issues and more in a series of programmes over the coming week. We begin with the fundamental issue of freedom of speech and information.

Cables Reveal Background of Pro-Dictator U.S. Policy,  Ted Rall
NEW YORK--After the Soviet collapse in 1991 U.S. policy toward Central Asia was transparently cynical: support the dictators, screw the people.  As the U.S. stood by and watched, corrupt autocrats looted the former Soviet republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. Dissidents were jailed, massacred--even boiled.  Well, actually, the U.S. was anything but passive. They negotiated deals for oil and gas pipelines. They rented airbases after 9/11. They poured in tens of millions of American tax dollars--all of which wound up in secret bank accounts belonging to the dictators and their families. Meanwhile, average citizens lived in abject poverty.

U.S. and other world news
7 Afghan civilians killed by US-led airstrike in Paktia
The attack took place in Zarmat district in Paktia province on Saturday as a group of Afghan road construction workers were working on a project, a Press TV correspondent reported. Reports say local people have gathered at the site of the attack and there is extreme anger over the event.

Afghans hold anti-US rally
Hundreds of angry Afghans have taken to the streets of Gardez city to protest against the rising number of civilian casualties at the hands of US-led troops.

Drone attacks victims left helpless: CIVIC 
ISLAMABAD: At least 2100 civilians were killed and various others injured during 2009 in the ongoing war on terror, dronre attacks and activities against the terrorists, according to a report released by a US non-government organistation.  According to the report by Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), the bereaved families of these people have been left helpless without any proper succour provided to them.  The conflict in Pakistan has exacted an immense toll on civilians, but the US and Pakistani governments, aid agencies and even military officials pay little attention to their plight says a US pressure group which works for civilian victims caught in armed conflicts.

Egypt democracy advocate: Opposition will unite
Leading Egyptian democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei said he is pushing to unify the country's opposition groups to build enough numbers for pro-reform protests after parliamentary elections marred by widespread allegations of fraud.

Egypt's Mubarak says elections were fine
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Sunday that Egypt's recent parliamentary elections in which his party won a smashing victory were largely lawful despite a few irregularities.

'Ticking time-bomb' of UAE diabetes
The UAE has the second-highest rate of diabetes in the world.

Joshua Stanton: Muslims Become Integral to American Seminaries

Even as an institution that trains Muslim American clergy remains in discussion, Muslim students are now becoming valued as essential participants in divinity and seminary programs across the United States.
For further information contact Shadi Fadda

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