Today in Palestine! ~ Headlines ~

Land theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing /  Settlers / Apartheid

More than 150 right-wing activists from the Binyamin region began building a new outpost east of Ateret. "Despite the building freeze issued by the government against the settlements, and the construction of the new Palestinian city of Rawabi, the people of Israel will continue to build and expand in the entire country," said the activists.

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, -- Head of Shari’a court of appeal in 1948 occupied Palestinian land Ahmed Natour affirmed that 90 percent of the Islamic Waqf (endowment) lands were confiscated by Israel at the pretext of the absentee property law enacted in 1950s and were used for different purposes. Judge Natour added that the rest of the Islamic holy sites and Waqf lands were exposed to different violations by official parties such turning the Palestinian graveyards into commercial projects.

A group of fundamentalist settlers torched on Saturday several farmlands in Wad Al Maleh in the northern plains of the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank. The torched lands were planted with wheat and barley. Eyewitnesses reported that the Palestinian firefighters arrived at the scene and prevented a bigger disaster. The Popular Campaign in the Northern Plains reported that Israeli soldiers are aiding the settlers in their attacks instead of stopping them, and that the army obstructs firefighters and civil defense teams from reaching their destination.

Hundreds participated in a march on Friday to protest the ongoing construction of a new Palestinian city – Rawabi, by the Palestinian Authority, on land slated by the government for nearby settlements, north-east of Ramallah. The protesters, mostly settlers from the Binyamin region, stressed that their protest was directed at government policy. "This is not a local problem, this is about the tacit agreement and acquiescence of the Israeli government to the laying of foundations for a Palestinian state," the demonstration organizers from the Binyamin Citizens' Committee said.

They may not have water or electricity, but several West Bank outposts have gone wireless, and have started Facebook groups to disseminate their messages.

The IDF will open Route 443 to Palestinians this week as it puts the finishing touches on a new set of security measures along the key highway. Under orders from the High Court of Justice, the road, which links Jerusalem with Modi’in and Tel Aviv, will officially open to Palestinian traffic on Friday, after almost eight years of being used solely by Israeli drivers ... In recent weeks, the army has erected a barbed-wire fence along the road and surrounding the Givat Ze’ev settlement. It has also built a new checkpoint at the entrance to the road that leads to Beit Ghur a-Fawka, where Palestinian cars will be checked before being allowed onto the highway. Another checkpoint is being set up at the entrance to the side road that leads to Beit Sirya.

...Most Palestinians are interested in using highway 443 for one reason: to get to Ramallah. Ramallah is where the jobs are, and the road would cut their commute to a fraction of what it is now. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that this is the first benefit cited when asked about the ruling ... "To drive to Ramallah it takes me two hours. Now it’s going to take me two minutes," says Muhammed Dais, who works as a day laborer to help construct the same barbed-wire fence that is meant to keep him out of certain parts of the West Bank.
But Ankawi, Dais and Ankari won’t be getting to Ramallah on highway 443 because the army plans to keep access to the city cut off. In fact, according to the current army plan, full access to the highway – that is, both an on ramp and an off ramp – will only be permitted near the villages of Beit Sira and Beit Ur al-Fauka, west of Ramallah, and exit-only ramps will open near Khirbeth al-Misbah – also west of Ramallah – and A-Tira. The rest of the road will thus remain off-limits ... "The change for the Palestinians is so minor that it hardly exists."

Activism / Solidarity

22 May - The hub of the Popular Struggle is winning friends and influencing people from Galway to Genoa. Yesterday’s protest was typically cosmopolitan. Report includes details of other West Bank protests. "Every day now, not just Friday, we host foreign visitors," says Iyad Burnat, head of the Popular Committee in Bi'lin, "we explain the situation and history. We have a permanent apartment for foreign visitors and several students are completing their masters degrees on the subject of our struggle."

Injuries, tear gas in Nabi Saleh, record crowd in Sheikh Jarrah - personal notes from Friday's demonstrations / Noam Sheizaf
...The soldiers are shooting the gas cans directly at the protesters, and not in an arch, like I remember we were taught to do it in the army (you can see this in a these videos from a previous demonstration). Later, a Palestinian is injured after suffering a direct hit in his face ... As Lisa Goldman notes, after Nabi Saleh, Jerusalem seems like a peaceful afternoon get-together. But for me it’s just as important, and I feel more at home here. Supporting the protest in the West Bank villages is crucial, but I find it emotionally hard to bear. After the last time I took part in it, it took me a full month to mount the strength to come again. To have soldiers point guns at me and fire tear gas is not only scary, but extremely strange. There is something in this experience that shakes my world. After all, I’m still an Israeli, and a reserve captain in the IDF for that matter!

This is the film-makers description: Today, the villagers of Nabi Salah suffered another severe visitation of Israeli Occupation Forces violence where one protestor, Kamal al-Rimawi, was hit in the face with a tear gas projectile breaking one of his facial bones and some teeth necessitating his hospitalization in Rafidia Hospital, Nablus, where he is presently recovering. Village houses were commandeered and tear gas projectiles were fired through the windows into three causing fire damage to the curtains, scorch marks to the walls...

23 May - The northern West Bank village of Iraq Burin demonstrated against the Israeli annexation of their farmlands today, resulting in the injury of one local protester by a tear gas projectile. Tear gas canisters landing on dry grass sparked bushfires in the hot climate, causing further damage to the contested farmland that villagers struggle to reach ... It was last year that the people of Iraq Burin began gathering to defend their village each Saturday due to the violent attacks instigated by settlers of Bracha each week, during the Jewish holiday of Shabbat. Now, with the village’s pro-active – and non-violent – resistance to the aggression, no settlers have been sighted on the land of Iraq Burin for over five Saturdays now. The result is clear evidence of popular resistance in action, and what successes it can achieve in Palestinian communities living under occupation.

A nine-member team of doctors from the US arrived in the West Bank city of Hebron last Saturday for a week of plastic and reconstruction surgery on children with cleft lip and palate deformities, a statement read. 

Freedom Flotilla

[Istanbul, Turkey – 22 May, 2010] Amid cheers and waving of Turkish and Palestinian flags, the second ship to join the Freedom Flotilla left Istanbul this afternoon. Sponsored by the Turkish humanitarian organization, Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), the ship will carry 600 passengers to Gaza as part of the 'blockade busting’ flotilla. It joins eight other boats coming from three other countries carrying 10,000 tons of supplies to the Palestinian people, supplies that have been denied to them by Israel.

ALGIERS: A freighter ship set off from Algiers port yesterday for Turkey in an act of solidarity with the Palestinians and to join the 4th Life Line Convoy that will head towards Gaza a few days later. The vessel carried more than 44,000 tons of aid for Gazans collected through a solidarity drive in which several institutions, businesspeople and Algerian citizens pitched in, the coordinator of the 4th Life Line initiative in Algeria Ahmed Ibrahimi said at a press conference yesterday.

The biggest attempt by international aid groups to break the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip has gotten underway. Nine ships under the banner, Freedom Flotilla, began their journey to Gaza on Saturday, despite warnings from Israel that they will be stopped for "breaching Israeli law". The biggest of the nine ships set off from Istanbul, Turkey, heading to the south western city of Antalya where two other Turkish ships will be waiting to join the convoy. The three ships will then travel to the waters off Athens and Crete to rendezvous with the other six, before making the four-day journey to Gaza.

23 May - Dozens of vessels sailed yesterday from the Herzliya marina to the beach near Tel Yona, west of Rishon Letzion, in a fleet organizers said was a response to ships that set sail yesterday from Turkey, bound for the Gaza Strip. "This is a civil initiative and is not connected to any political group," one of the organizers, Mati Freiman, said ... Defense Minister Ehud Barak signed an order closing off the zone 20 nautical miles from the Gaza shoreline. The defense establishment said the navy would prevent the fleet from arriving at the Gaza port, but added that for operational reasons they would not say where the ships would be intercepted.
Were I the commodore of the flotilla of eight or nine vessels preparing to head straight from Cypress to the Gaza coast near the end of May, I’d want Joe Meadors next to me on the bridge. He’s joining the flotilla. Joe’s one of the survivors of the brutal Israeli attack on the U.S.S. Liberty, for which Joe’s previous skipper won the Congressional Medal of Honor. Joe says "It’ll be like old home week."

PA boycott of settlements

Ramallah - A few jars of spicy Yemenite sauce and a couple of boxes of date spread – that's what the Palestinian Finance Ministry inspectors managed to find during a raid last Thursday on supermarkets in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Inspectors held over 200 raids in Ramallah alone, in an effort to enforce a new law that prohibits the sale of products manufactured in the Jewish settlements.

Ramallah - All Palestinian women currently working in Israeli settlements should consult the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Social Affairs in their districts to fill applications for alternative employment with Palestinian institutions, the minister said Saturday. Majida Al-Masri told the Ma’an radio network that an application form was designed and distributed to all the ministry’s branches and women can commence the process of finding new work on Sunday.

RAMALLAH - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Saturday urged Palestinians to boycott products from Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but said this did not apply to items made elsewhere in Israel. "It is not necessary, under any circumstances, for us to consume goods originating from settlements that were established on our territory," he said in Ramallah, where he met members of the movement that organised the boycott.

ONCE a nucleus for suicide bombers, the West Bank city of Jenin is now the focus of a Palestinian campaign to boycott goods produced by Jewish settlers in the occupied territories. ''We are sick of wrestling with the Israelis, now we are here to play chess,'' says Qadoura Mousa, the Governor of Jenin. ''We have had enough.'' ''The boycott is an important measure of the will and the patience of the Palestinian people,'' Mr Mousa told The Age. ''It must succeed. We have to show the Israelis that they cannot continue to occupy our land illegally without consequences.''

The Land of Israel Lobby has called on Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz to close air and sea ports to Palestinian goods following a boycott on products from settlements issued by the Palestinian Authority.

Detainees / Deportees

The Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs on Sunday approved a bill aimed at aggravating the conditions of Hamas prisoners jailed in Israel in a bid to pressure the Palestinian organization to advance the talks for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's release  ... The bill will now be brought to the Knesset for a preliminary reading with the coalition's support. The exact changes in the prisoners' conditions will be determined later on.

..."The occupation will not succeed in obtaining its goals – just the opposite. This decision will only cause Hamas to add to its conditions, not to relinquish them. The decision reflects the occupation's inhumane conduct towards Palestinian prisoners," he said. He added that Israel had retreated from previous agreements and thus caused the negotiations over kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit to fail.

The report, compiled by Abdul Nasser Farawana, said the detainees include two Fatah Palestine Legislative Council members, ten Hamas lawmakers, and the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine ... Under all legal precedents, lawmakers are immune while sitting in office. Israel has violated this legal norm both by jailing Palestinian PLC members in the West Bank and passing laws within the Israeli Knesset removing Palestinian-Israeli members' immunity under the pretense of spying for an enemy state.

Assad Ursan, 58, joined Palestinian Fatah's Algeria branch and recruited Israeli Arabs in Europe to carry out attacks in Israel ... None of the attacks he was involved in ended with Israeli casualties. Ursan decided to return to Israel in 2008 and was detained for questioning upon his arrival in the country. Shortly after police investigation he was charged with the alleged crimes.

Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, released in 2004 after 18 years in prison for leaking Israeli nuclear secrets, began serving an additional 3-month sentence on Sunday for refusing to carry out court-mandated community service.

Nativity Church deportees exiled to Gaza said the Palestinian Authority had failed to pay their rent for the fifth consecutive month on Sunday. Deportees' spokesman Fahmi Kan'an said he was appealing for the third time to President Mahmoud Abbas to give directives on the rent's payment.

Violence / Aggression

A young Palestinian worker sustained gunshot wound injuries on Sunday, after Israeli forces reportedly opened fire at a group of workers in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip. Witnesses said Muhammad Sa'dallah, 19, was hit by Israeli machine-gun fire, as workers collected stones and rocks for construction, left behind by Israel forces following the evacuation of illegal Gaza settlements in 2005.

An Israel Defense Forces soldier was moderately wounded Friday by Palestinian sniper fire in the northwestern Negev, near the border with the Gaza Strip. The soldier, a tracker in the Givati Brigade, was transported to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva for treatment. He was shot while securing a road near Kibbutz Nirim, where two Palestinians from the Strip had infiltrated the border earlier in the day. Troops killed the two Palestinians, who apparently intended to carry out terror attacks in Israel ... Before dawn on Friday, Israel Air Force fighter jets bombed targets across the Gaza Strip in what the IDF said was a response to the launching of a Qassam rocket earlier in the week. The Israeli warplanes, according to the IDF Spokesman's Office, struck two tunnels in Gaza's south as well one in the north. Gaza militants fired a Qassam rocket into Israel Wednesday, causing no casualties or damage.

Confrontations broke out Sunday morning between young Palestinians and Israeli forces in the northern West Bank city of Qalqiliya, entering in a three-vehicle military convoy, locals said. Witnesses said the military vehicles entered the city from the north, stopping shortly near the Al-Quds Open University campus, where young Palestinians gathered and pelted them with stones, attempting to force the convoy out.

Twenty Palestinians hurled stones at the fence surrounding the settlement of Karmei Tzur, south of Bethlehem. IDF forces and security guards fired teargas and dispersed the gathering. In a separate incident, some 30 Palestinians gathered near the West Bank village of Burin and hurled stones at IDF soldiers posted in the area. The soldiers responded with teargas. No injuries or damage were reported in either incident.

Woman sustains mild injuries when Palestinians throw stones at taxi travelling near Qalqilya; her husband fires several shots at nearby olive grove

Blockade / Gaza 

Israeli authorities are expected to open only one crossing into Gaza to permit the transfer of aid and food on Sunday, a Palestinian liaison official said. Authorities told the official, Raed Fattouh, that the southern Kerem Shalom crossing could see between 104 to 144 truckloads of humanitarian aid and commercial goods, in addition to limited quantities of domestic-use gas and industrial diesel, needed to power Gaza's sole power station.

A U.N. agency says about three-quarters of the damage inflicted by Israel's war on Gaza more than a year ago has not been repaired or rebuilt. Israel continues to bar construction material from entering Hamas-ruled Gaza as part of an overall blockade of the territory. The U.N. Development Program said in a report Sunday that Gazans have carried out small-scale repairs worth $173 million with recycled rubble or material smuggled through border tunnels. The report says the international community has been largely sidelined in the reconstruction effort. The U.N. can do little because it refrains from buying smuggled goods.

Religious extremism 1: Gunmen attack UN Gaza summer camp
About 20 men, some carrying assault rifles, tear up large plastic tents and burn storage facilities two days after unknown group accuses UN of promoting immorality in religiously conservative enclave. Hamas government condemns attack ... Two days earlier, a previously unknown militant group, "The Free of the Homeland," issued a statement criticizing the camp's organizer, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), for, "teaching schoolgirls fitness, dancing and immorality."

3 May - In a place where war now claims many more civilian victims than military, it's about time that the unarmed decided to fight back. To my friends in Gaza, with admiration: God bless the Palestinian who, armed with nothing more than courage, plants a flag. The Gazan who, week after week, marches to the front line and without a shred of cover, stands in the face of soldiers, gas guns, machine guns, threats and helmets, warning shots and shots to kill – armed only with conviction and a rectangle of cloth on a stick. And who, in so doing, plants the seed of an idea. God bless this new armed struggle. We have declared a 300 meter wide swath of your land near our fences and walls, a No-Man's Land. You, your flag, the reaction of our soldiers, all of it teaches us that the war between us has turned all of the Holy Land into no man's land.

Political developments / Diplomacy

Netanyahu denies Wall Street Journal report that Palestinian negotiators offered to match, and even double the amount of West Bank land Abbas was willing to relinquish during talks with Olmert's administration in 2008 -- Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday accused the Palestinian Authority of embarking on the ongoing proximity talks with Israel without any intention of actually reaching direct peace negotiations.

In an in-depth interview with the Los Angeles Times, Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi criticized Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, saying that as opposed to late Austrian extremist Jorg Haider, who was "an indigenous politician who was racist against foreigners," Lieberman is an "immigrant politician [Lieberman was born in Moldova] who is racist against the indigenous [Palestinian] people...."

PA President stresses that Palestinians are still committed to the positions they presented in response to Olmert's offer in 2008 ... Olmert had proposed to Abbas that Israel would annex 6.5 percent of the West Bank, in return for 5.8 percent on the Israeli side of the Green Line as well as a corridor linking the West Bank with the Gaza Strip. In expressing his views on the borders of a future Palestinian state, Abbas told the U.S. envoy that the territory must be identical to that of the 1967 borders - 6,200 square kilometers. Abbas also noted that the Palestinians were willing to accept border adjustments in which Israel would annex no more than 1.9 percent of the West Bank territory, in exchange for similar territory inside Israel.

The Islamic Jihad movement said Sunday that it would not ratify the Egyptian-sponsored unity document, poised to end inter-factional rivalry, even if Hamas were to ratify the deal.

The Hamas government's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmad Yousef called for face-to-face dialogue with the American government and the people of the United States. Coming on the heels of news that the Hams government had sent letters to the Obama administration outlining its official policy on Israel, resistance and borders, the move came as a landmark in the de facto government position vis-a-vis the United States. 

American lawmakers have overwhelmingly backed a proposal to provide Israel with $205m (£142m) to speed up the deployment of a short-range anti-missile system. The US House of Representatives voted 401-4 in favour of President Barack Obama's plan to fund Israel's Iron Dome project, designed to protect the country from rocket and artillery shell attacks ... The anti-missile system is designed to thwart attacks by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip and Hizbollah in Lebanon by blowing up rockets in mid-air.

Other news

An interministerial committee is set to recommend this week that Interior Minister Eli Yishai grant permanent resident status to children of foreign workers who have been living in Israel for more than five years, who came to Israel before the age of 13, and who are in the school system. The committee's recommendation, which was in preparation for a year, will affect 1,200 families of foreign workers.

The Interior Ministry's ad campaign against employing illegal foreign workers while Israelis are left without jobs is misleading, according to the head of the Israel Hotels Association. In a letter written last week to Sharon Kedmi, director general of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, IHA head Shmuel Zurel protested the campaign ... "For a long time we have been desperate for some 4,500 workers in hotels in Israel," Zurel wrote.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is making dreams come true for hundreds of Bedouin children in the framework of "Cycling in Fellowship in the Desert." Some 120 teenagers from the Abu Basma Regional Council were among the many Israelis that took part as equals in the challenging cycling event on Saturday, May 15, using the bikes they received as gifts on Passover.

Waterways remain sullied due to failing sewage systems and waste from Palestinian cities. They also need a fresh dose of water after years of poor rainfall ... The report decries the fact that separate water-treatment associations for Jewish and Arab communities are currently in charge of stream cleanup

Religious extremism 2: Woman assaulted for tefillin imprint
A Jewish woman was assaulted in Beersheba after an ultra-Orthodox man spotted imprint lines from a tefillin on her arms ... Raz was asked by the man two times if the imprints that he noticed on her arms were from tefillin. When she answered that they were, he attacked her, kicking and strangling her. He also screamed “women are an abomination.”

Israeli archaeologists say workers have uncovered an ancient pagan altar while clearing ground for construction of a hotly disputed hospital emergency room in Ashkelon. They say the discovery proves an ancient cemetery at the site that has been at the center of protests by ultra-Orthodox Jews does not contain the graves of Jews.

Analysis / Opinion / Human interest

Let us imagine the dream-country of most Israelis - without criticism, neither from within nor from without. It speaks in one voice and is eternally united, with devotion and cohesion; all-Jewish, that goes without saying. It stands unanimously behind its government, every government, and also, of course, behind its army, the Shin Bet security service and the Mossad espionage agency - Israel's heroes. There is not even a single "snitch," no human rights organizations or peace movements, no nonprofit associations and no critical reports that are published here, or, heaven forbid, abroad. Its press never criticizes, never exposes, never investigates, publishing nothing but praise and admiration for the government and the state. But now let's answer truthfully. Is that really the country we wound want to live in? Moreover, would the world that is always-against-us appreciate and like Israel better if that was how we looked and spoke, uniform and devoid of all self-criticism?

Ahmad Tibi, a member of Israel's parliament, talks about why he thinks democracy in Israel applies only to Jewish citizens, why he'll never accept Israel as a Jewish state and why he'll never leave. ...In what way don't Jewish and Arab citizens have equal rights? There is discrimination in every field of life except one. There is one man, one vote. In elections, all are equal. But in budget allocation, industry, education, land, religious places, employment there are huge gaps between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority.

With worldwide Palestine solidarity and the BDS movement growing in strength, Israeli propaganda efforts intended to counter the 'peace with justice' call have also come under the spotlight. We've seen Reut's 'delegitimization' report, crass campus hasbara, and a host of other initiatives (both 'engagement' and 'offensive'). With that in mind, a new article in The Jerusalem Post makes for interesting reading: "In 2001, IDC Herzliya students Gur Braslavi and Ariel Halevi won the Oxford Union Debating Competition for teams from foreign countries. Nine years later, their joint company, Debate Ltd., was chosen to carry out the Israeli government’s new public diplomacy initiative. The company recently took on a contract to conduct 200 workshops in which its instructors teach regular Israelis the arts of rhetoric and persuasion. If the pilot proves successful, it will likely be extended and multiplied. By creating an army of amateur ambassadors, Israel hopes to counter negative media portrayals and improve its image abroad ... Where the ministry is really focusing its attention, though, is on filling the ranks of Israel’s hasbara army. “We have created a cadre of 50 notable people, leaders in their field, who have taken upon themselves to help represent Israel proudly,” said Plot. The list includes professional athletes, actors, actresses, successful business executives, artists and other public figures." 

(EUGENE, Ore.) - Hypocrisy never is more obvious than when given a stage to look like something it isn't. That happened in mid-May in St. Louis, and it raised a question: Why is the world's longest ongoing persecution-- that of the Palestinian people-- ignored when the St. Louis Holocaust Museum chooses to recognize victims other than Jews? In its 15th anniversary year, the museum and its Learning Center have announced plans for an expanded permanent exhibit. It is to "shine its light," according to the Associated Press, on victims of other holocausts: Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia, Myanmar and the Congo. It is a surprising new approach for a group of people who for the past six decades have kept proprietary possession of the holocaust concept, reserving for only themselves horrors they suffered as victims of the Nazis in World War II. Now they seem ready to share-- but only partway. 

Yesterday Yudith Oppenheimer of Ir Amim (City of Nations) came to New York to try and correct Netanyahu’s garbage. She didn’t meet with AIPAC, she met with the New Israel Fund, then me and Jared Malsin (of Palestine Note) at the Metro Diner on the Upper West Side. She's on a cross-country tour. I don’t know why this passionate, articulate woman isn’t speaking at Jewish community centers and synagogues, but as I told her, it's just a matter of time. The Jewish community in the US is waking up to the horrors of the Israel project, maybe too late for anyone to do anything about it, but it is at last paying attention to Jews (Peter Beinart), as it ignored Jimmy Carter. “We would like to change the discourse about Jerusalem among the Jewish population," Oppenheimer said, and promptly smashed three "myths" about Jerusalem-- that it's above politics, that Israel has only been doing in Jerusalem what it's done there for 43 years, and that Muslims have equal access to the holy sites. They don't. They need blasted permits. They can't get into Jerusalem, most of them.

This article by US transplant Herb Keinon says it all. Israel is a domestic issue. Of course we never see a story that connects the dots so explicitly in the American press, for anyone to read: that Obama's arduous "charm offensive" on Israel (do you really want to have lunch with Elie Wiesel?) is all about domestic considerations, including Jewish money ... As one source that was on the receiving end of the Obama administration’s outreach put it, the administration has changed its tone because it is “worried about losing the Jews.”

By Ian Black. Two excellent new books describe some of the tricks and dilemmas of this trade. Hugh Pope left the field after nearly 30 years reporting for British and US news agencies and papers. Hello Everybody! Dutch journalist Joris Luyendijk tells the story of his five years in the region in a breezy but self-critical account of "one journalist's search for truth". Pope's book Dining with Al Qaeda is terrific on spice-scented bazaars, maddening border crossings, sinister secret policemen and sexual mores in unlikely places – as well as Islam, democracy and other staples.

In a world of synthetics and polyesters, third-generation J'lem merchant Bilal Abu-Khalaf sells hand-woven silks, cotton and gold-threaded cloths ... His fabrics are used to make robes for Christian priests, Muslim imams and haredi Jews ... Abu-Khalaf’s ancestors came from Kurdistan with Saladin, the Muslim warrior, during the Crusades. His grandfather opened his shop in 1936 and his father and uncles later took it over. 

Amazing photographs - Ms. Castelnuovo has been documenting the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis for more than 30 years, 17 of them as a contract photographer for The New York Times based in Jerusalem. 


Excerpt: At least three Iraqis were killed and nine more were wounded in light violence just a day after a significant bombing in Khalis. Also, two U.S. soldiers were killedin separate location in northern Iraq. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) said that four rebels were killed and five more were wounded during Turkish air strikes on northern Iraq.

At the Palestine Hotel in central Baghdad, Tahseen Salim is drawing a cutter along a pane of glass, trimming it down to size. He and his team of glaziers have been working here every day for four months now. On 25 January a massive car bomb detonated outside the Palestine.

Lebanon and Israel

Group's leader Hassan Nasrallah tells crowd via video link: One of our most important responsibilities is to foster the history of the resistance.

Israel began its yearly home-front security drill on Sunday, as Hezbollah began mobilizing along the Israel-Lebanon border in response to the exercise, various news agencies reported. The drill, named Turn Point 4, is expected to last five days across Israel

GOC Northern Command issues calming message to residents of north as Israel launches 5-day homefront defense drill to prepare for possible war.

Largest ever home front exercise begins Sunday to evaluate preparedness for various scenarios, including rocket attacks, planting of dirty bomb and hazardous material incident. 'Our enemies consider home front to be Israel's soft spot,' IDF source says

There should be no confusion between the threat and the exercise that is carried out every year in May, and a threat of immediate war in the north.

Other Mideast

South Lebanon went to the polls today with Hizbollah-backed candidates running uncontested in mainly Shiite areas, as the militant group’s archfoe Israel held a defence drill across the border. Areas under Hizbollah control settled the electoral race by consensus, with several candidates withdrawing to make way for others backed by Hizbollah and its fellow Shiite ally Amal.

Responding to reports that President Mahmoud Abbas would consider the deployment of NATO forces along a future Palestinian state's borders, Jordan denied suggestions that it would deploy troops in assistance, officials said Saturday evening.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman arrives in Damascus, apparently in light of Americans' dissatisfaction with Syria's conduct. According to American official, Kerry and Assad discussed 'regional issues'

Syrian President Bashar Assad said the West must realize that the Middle East has changed and the previously used language, policies and approaches toward the region are no longer acceptable on Sunday.

U.S. and other world news

"Clearly, and bluntly, the state law is racist and discriminatory against so-called 'illegal immigrants' crossing the borders from the South, namely from Mexico," said Simon Ortiz, a Native American studies professor at Arizona State University, in reference to SB 1070.  "Many of the border crossers are Indigenous peoples who are directly affected.  Without any doubt, the law is wrong-headed; it targets people who fit a certain profile." Indigenous and American Indian Studies scholars say that SB 1070 and the recent passage into law of HB 2281, which bans the teaching of ethnic studies in public schools, are violations of human rights. 

Few issues highlight Barack Obama's extreme hypocrisy the way that Bagram does ... Apparently, what Obama called "a legal black hole at Guantanamo" is a heinous injustice, but "a legal black hole at Bagram" is the Embodiment of Hope ... UPDATE II:  Guest-hosting for Rachel Maddow last night, Chris Hayes talked with Shayana Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights about the Bagram ruling and Obama's hypocrisy on these issues, and it was quite good, including a video clip of the 2006 Obama speech I excerpted above: 

Has the drone war in Pakistan’s rugged frontier finally come home? Was Faisal Shahzad, the bumbling Times Square bomb maker, a blowback from the Obama administration’s increased use of killer robots? David Sanger of The New York Times asks the question, and the New York Post says an "anonymous law enforcement" source claims Shahzad was driven to his act after witnessing drone attacks in Pakistan.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is in Israel for the weekend for a private visit. Emanuel is likely to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but a final date for their meeting has yet to be set.

CNN recently published an article entitled Study: Threat of Muslim-American terrorism in U.S. exaggerated; according to a study released by Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “the terrorist threat posed by radicalized Muslim-Americans has been exaggerated.” Yet, Americans continue to live in mortal fear of radical Islam, a fear propagated and inflamed by right wing Islamophobes ... The data simply does not support such a hasty conclusion.  On the FBI’s official website, there exists a chronological list of all terrorist attacks committed on U.S. soil from the year 1980 all the way to 2005.  That list can be accessed here (scroll down all the way to the bottom).  According to this data, there were more Jewish acts of terrorism within the United States than Islamic (7% vs 6%).  These radical Jews committed acts of terrorism in the name of their religion. 
For further information contact Shadi Fadda

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27 28 29 30      
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30 31          
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