Today in Palestine! ~ Headlines ~

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing
Erekat: Israel must extend settlement freeze
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israel must extend its temporary moratorium on construction in the occupied territories before Palestinians will engage in serious peace talks, the PLO's chief negotiator said Monday.  Saeb Erekat told reporters in Ramallah that Israel should renew the slowdown when it comes up for review on 26 September and include occupied East Jerusalem in its mandate in addition to the West Bank.

Abbas: End of settlement freeze would end direct peace talks
In letters to Obama, Medvedev and Ashton, PA president warns that newly-launched peace negotiations will fail if Israel does not extend settlement freeze, due to expire on September 26.

PA official: Settlers set fire to village land
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers set lit 20 dunums of farmland on fire south of Nablus on Sunday, a Palestinian Authority official said.  Ghassan Doughlas said dozens of residents of the illegal Ihya outpost torched the area of Sahel Khalet Abu Shreka, near Jalud village.  Doughlas accused settlers in the area of repeatedly provoking locals by expanding settlements, constructing outposts, and burning land.

Israeli Destroy 17 Palestinian-Owned House In Jerusalem In 2010
Al-Maqdese for Society Development released a report by the Data Bank concerning the statistics since the beginning of 2010 of “house demolitions, houses threatened of demolition and houses threatened to be seized by Jewish settlers in Jerusalem as follows

Hebron: Israeli Military and Policemen Shut Three Palestinian Shops
Every Saturday for the last several months, Youth Against the Settlements has led a nonviolent action – “Open Shuhada Street” – at the entrance to the Old City of Hebron. On Tuesday, 10 August 2010 the Israeli military and police forcibly welded shut three stores that stand directly behind the area of the weekly Saturday action and across from the gate of an Israeli military base.

Amira Hass / What West Bank road renovations say about the occupation
A response to critics appears in hints in the section on roads. The report's summary says: "In order to deal with Israeli control of Area C, the Palestinian Authority supported a number of enterprises to increase access to occupied Palestinian lands. Sixteen new roads were paved at a cost of $45 million, and 40 roads were upgraded at a cost of $12.9 million. These projects, in addition to their importance in increasing access, contribute to economic growth, the creation of jobs and job opportunities - and also continue to challenge the Israeli attempt to turn the West Bank into separate cantons."  Is this really a challenge to Israeli intentions? The improved roads in Areas A and B do shorten the time it takes to travel between various cities and towns, and create an illusion of geographic closeness. But people gradually forget that most of these improved roads are meant only to connect villages, and their asphalt cannot withstand the heavy load of traffic between Palestinian cities. Without wanting to, they forget that what's on the other side of these roads is out of bounds for them.  Not only the notorious Route 443, but all the other roads that Israel has paved as highways, in a massive expropriation of Palestinian lands, serve mainly or even solely the transportation-settlement needs of Israelis (Jews, by and large, by virtue of being identified with settlements ). In 2004, the (Israeli ) National Security Council revealed its plan to create two separate road infrastructures in the West Bank (a directly logical extension of the bypass roads of the 1980s and 1990s ). Representatives of donor countries and the World Bank were stunned by Israel's chuzpah: It requested that donors fund part of the project. Slick talk about "the desire to insure the fabric of Palestinian life with transportation contiguity" did not confuse them. They understood that this was another way to create facts on the ground. In complete agreement with the PA, they refused.

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment
Bethlehem district: anger against dispossession and humiliation
August 21st, 2010-- Al-Masara weekly protest started today under the slogan "together to unmask the crimes of the occupation and its soldiers abusing the Palestinians prisoners", while in al-Walajeh children had created a large paper mache Palestinian who could be seen climbing the Wall.

4 British activists acquitted in anti-Ahava action
A British court has found 4 activists not guity of 'aggravated trespass' for an action in which they shut down a store selling Israeli dead sea beauty products. The court ruled that the company in question, Ahava Beauty, was engaged in illegal activity by selling the products in violation of international law.

Norwegian gov’t divests from 2 companies that build settlements, Philip Weiss
This is big. The Norwegian government has divested its pension fund of two Leviev companies that build settlements in the occupied West Bank on the grounds that the international community regards territory east of the '67 line as occupied. (No singling out: the Norwegians also divested a third company, a Malaysian forestry company)

Aid ship Mariam now looks to set sail from Greece
TRIPOLI: A Lebanese aid ship for Gaza was postponed on Sunday to await a green light from a third country as a transit point for the mission to the Israeli-blockaded Palestinian territory.

Algerian aid ship to set sail for Gaza next month
ALGIERS, (PIC)-- An Algerian aid ship is currently being prepared to be sent to the Gaza Strip early next month, Ahmed Latifi, the deputy speaker of the Algerian parliament speaker, revealed on Sunday.

Support builds for boycotts against Israel, activists say
WASHINGTON — In May, rock legend Elvis Costello canceled his gig in Israel. Then, in June, a group of unionized dock workers in San Francisco refused to unload an Israeli ship. In August, a food co-op in Washington state removed Israeli products from its shelves.  The so-called “boycott, divestment, and sanctions’’ movement aimed at pressuring Israel to withdraw from land claimed by Palestinians has long been considered a fringe effort inside the United States, with no hope of garnering mainstream support enjoyed by the anti-apartheid campaign against South Africa of the 1980s.

The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement
Industrial Fuel – Needs Vs. Supply – July 25 – Aug 21

Goods – Needs Vs. Supply – July 25 – Aug 21

23 August 2010: Water supplied in Gaza unfit for drinking; Israel prevents entry of materials needed to repair system
Almost 95 percent of the water pumped in the Gaza Strip is polluted and unfit for drinking. This warning was recently issued by the UN Environment Programme, the Palestinian Water Authority, the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, and international aid organizations. They estimate it will take at least 20 years to rehabilitate Gaza’s underground water system, and any delay in dealing with the problem will lead to additional deterioration in the situation and thus might extend the rehabilitation process for hundreds of years. Since it began its siege on the Gaza Strip, in June 2007, Israel has forbidden the entry of equipment and materials needed to rehabilitate the water and wastewater-treatment systems there. The prohibition has remained despite the recent easing of the siege.

Strangling Gaza
The United Nations and the World Food Programme released on Friday a study of Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip. A condemnation of Israel's conduct, it describes a burgeoning catastrophe mutating dangerously and mercilessly.  “This regime has exacerbated the assault on human dignity triggered by the blockade imposed by Israel since June 2007,” stated the report titled Between the Fence and a Hard Place.  Under Israel's thumb, the occupation is ruining Gaza's land, sea, and mental and physical health.

Broken dreams, broken pledges in Gaza (AFP)
AFP - Dana Chetrit, her husband Alain and their two young children in August 2005 reluctantly left their home in the northern Gaza settlement of Elei Sinai, never to return.

Donors Sending Expired Medicine to Gaza, Nicole Johnston
Men use their bare hands to push boxes of medicine off the back of a truck, into the dump. The stench is disgusting and flies are everywhere. Not only are donors sending expired medicine, the Health Ministry says most of the aid they receive is unsuitable, poor quality, and the wrong types of drugs.

Palestinians face movement restrictions during Ramadan
AZZUN ATMA, occupied northern West Bank (IPS) - For seven years Majda Abdul Qader Sheikh, 38, has not been allowed to visit the home of her parents, just a few hundred meters from her house. "I tried to get a special visitor's permit for a quick visit during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan but I was refused," says Sheikh, mother of seven children. "I have had no problems with the Israeli authorities, nor am I considered a security threat," she added.

OPT: Children Coping with Trauma through Music Therapy in Nablus
While living under occupation in the West Bank, young children are often exposed to violence that can have severe adverse affects on their psychological well-being. With the limited availability of professional healthcare clinics that treat psychological disorders, many of these children go untreated and become more detached from their emotions following exposure to traumatic events. This has become a growing concern, particularly in the Northern West Bank area of Nablus Governorate.

Israel mulls deporting migrant kids
Hundreds of children of migrant workers in Israel are facing deportation, as part of a government effort to preserve the Jewish character of the state. Under a stringent set of criteria approved by Israel's cabinet, children must have studied in an Israeli school in the past year, and their parents must have entered Israel with a legal visa or permit for them to be allowed to stay. But many Israelis have criticised the rules, arguing that any civilized democracy should give rights and protection to children born in its territory. Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland reports from Tel Aviv. [23 Aug 10]

"I'm not afraid to go to hell because hell cannot be worse than Gaza." George, a Gaza citizen.  Jamila is worth ten men, affirm her friends. She is 55. Her husband died 15 years ago. Afterwards she sent her only two sons to study abroad. They got married and remained there.  Jamila is generous and hospitable. She always smiles despite the difficulties. She lives alone like a number of women in Gaza. She suffers from some ailments and the table of her kitchen seems a mini pharmacy.  "Have you written about the daily power cuts? Why you don't write about it? You should write that we are without electricity in Gaza!

Hamas aims to make former Gaza settlements 'bloom'

AL-MUHARARA, Gaza Strip: Dozens of coffee shops and tiny eateries have popped up along this stretch of Gaza’s southern coastline which was once a popular swimming beach for the Jewish settlers of Gush Katif.  Once upon a time, this beach and the surrounding area was totally off-limits to the 1.5-million Palestinians now living in Gaza – and reserved exclusively for their Jewish neighbors.

Human Rights/Racism
Officials slam 'racist' Jerusalem light rail survey
Transport Ministry, J'lem municipal officials say company building light rail system had no right to ask city residents whether it would bother them if Palestinians were to use the system under various conditions.

Israel tells schools not to teach nakba,  Jonathan Cook, Foreign Correspondent
NAZARETH // Government officials warned Israeli teachers last week not to cooperate with a civic group that seeks to educate Israelis about how the Palestinians view the loss of their homeland and the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.  Israel’s education ministry issued the advisory after Zochrot – a Jewish group that seeks to raise awareness among Israeli Jews of the events of 1948, referred to as the “nakba” by Palestinians – organised a workshop for primary school teachers.  The ministry said the course had not been approved and told teachers not to participate in Zochrot-sponsored activities during the coming school year.

War Criminals
Israel's new army chief led Gaza war
Israel named a new army chief yesterday, choosing a general who led troops in its Gaza war to face future challenges that could include a nuclear Iran and missile threats from Islamist militants.

Israel's Arab Helpers
Migrant shot at border dies
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An African migrant died Sunday from gunshot wounds sustained Friday when Egyptian forces shot him as he attempted to illegally cross into Israel.  Medical reports released by the Al-Arish Hospital identified the deceased as an Eritrean national, aged 25.  Meanwhile, an Egyptian security source said forces thwarted separate attempts by 19 migrants to enter Israel via Rafah in the south and the central Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt seizes 3 smuggling tunnels
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Egyptian forces took control of three smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border and confiscated goods prepared for transfer into the Strip on Sunday, a security source told Ma'an.  The source said Egyptian forces were carrying out a tunnel reconnaissance campaign in the Ad-Dehnia area south of the Rafah crossing, seizing a tunnel used to smuggle cars. The source added that this was the 13th tunnel used for car smuggling discovered by Egyptian forces in since July.

Complaints filed against army and police for sexual assault
[23 August 2010] - On 15 August 2010, DCI-Palestine and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) submitted complaints against the Israeli army and police interrogators for the ill-treatment and sexual assault of a 15-year-old Palestinian boy.  At around 1:30am, on 25 May 2010, units of the Israeli army entered the Palestinian village of Beit Ummar, half-way between Bethlehem and Hebron, and arrested A., on suspicion of having thrown stones at some unspecified time (Voices from the Occupation and Ha'aretz Newspaper). A.'s hands were tied behind his back and he was blindfolded, before being placed on the floor of a military vehicle and transferred to the Etzion Interrogation and Detention Centre, inside the Israeli settlement of Gush Etzion, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. During his subsequent interrogation, A. reports that his interrogator attached a pair of car battery jump leads to his genitals and threatened to electrify the cable. Shortly after this occurred, A. confessed to throwing stones on two occasions. A. was later brought before an Israeli military court and released on bail on 1 June 2010.

Muezzin 'attacked' in Jerusalem village
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli citizen allegedly assaulted a muezzin, the mosque official responsible for calling Muslims to prayer, before announcing the end of fasting for the day on Saturday evening.  Witnesses said more than a dozen Israelis entered the mosque in the Jerusalem village of An-Nabi Samwil minutes before the evening prayer call signaling the end of the day's fast and attacked muezzin Barakat Mithqal.

UN Gets over 100 Complaints of Israeli Abuse of W. Bank Teenagers This Year
20/08/2010 The way the Israeli army and police treat Palestinian minors arrested in the occupied West Bank is the focus of complaints filed recently with both Israeli legal authorities and the United Nations.  The Palestinian branch of Defense for Children International (DCI ) has taken affidavits from dozens of minors who have been arrested. According to DCI-Palestine Section, the minors' testimonies describe a policy of routine and painful abuse, involving various forms of physical and psychological pressure, in order to extract confessions from minors in custody.  The Association for Civil Rights in the Zionist entity and Yesh Din, two Israeli rights groups, say the provisions of the relevant military laws play a major role in the abuse perpetrated on imprisoned Palestinian minors. Both groups sent a letter to Military Advocate General Avichai Mendelblit in June with recommendations for changes in this law.

Documentary Film Maker Arrested in Bil’in for Filming the Demonstration
David Reeb, a long time documentary film maker who joins various weekly protests through the West Bank was arrested yesterday in Bil’in as he was filming the non violent protest.  Despite the intense heat and high temperature, on the second Friday in Ramadan, a sizable march organized by the Popular Committee commenced from the center of the village right after the Friday prayers.   The protesters, consisting of many Palestinians and dozens of International and Israeli activists, called for the prosecution of the Israeli soldiers behind the recent Facebook scandal. Not only did one of the soldiers pose with bound and gagged prisoners, Eden Abergil, stated that she would “gladly kill Arabs – even slaughter them.”

Soldiers Kidnap 12 Palestinians In the West Bank
Israeli soldiers kidnapped on Monday at dawn 12 Palestinians in different areas of the occupied West Bank, and transferred them to a number of interrogation centers. In Gaza, army bulldozers uprooted farmlands.

Syrian prisoners leader in Israeli jail vows not to give up strife
DAMASCUS, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The leader of Syrian prisoners in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Sidqi al-Maqt said on Sunday he will not give up strife against the occupation, the Syrian official SANA news agency reported.  Al Maqt was detained by the Israeli forces 25 years ago, for involvement in the fighting against the occupation, the report said.  Last week, the Israeli defense forces wrapped up a live- ammunition training in the occupied Golan Heights.

Political/Flotilla Developments
Fatah official: PA clinging to Quartet statement
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority is basing its hopes on the Mideast Quartet statement, issued Friday, rather than anything said by American officials, Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad said Sunday.  Quartet members the US, UN, EU and Russia issued the statement after US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas to restart direct talks on 2 September in Washington.

Leftist factions reject invite for direct talks
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Two leftist Palestinian factions rejected Saturday calls by the Quartet and US to relaunch direct talks with Israel, a day after the PLO endorsed the resumption of negotiations.  The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian Peoples' Party released separate communiques slamming the Quartet's statement, which called for Palestinian and Israeli leaders to resume talks.

Former Fatah splinter group says talks a 'subjugation'
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas-leaning splinter group Al-Ahrar issued a statement Saturday calling the decision to return to talks a "subjugation to American decisions."  The group said it would not be "committed to any of the outcomes" of the talks, and called for "Palestinian organizations to announce their rejection of these talks," adding that they believed the process would "bring more settlements and the judization of Palestinain lands."

Dejected Palestinians see no hope in peace talks
RAMALLAH, West Bank, Aug 21 (Reuters) - A resumption of Middle East peace talks inspires little hope among Palestinians who say the prospect of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel seems no more than a dream. "There has been a lot of talk of peace, but we have seen no results. We no longer have hope," said 30-year old Luay Kabbah, who was still at school when Palestinian and Israeli leaders first began talking peace nearly two decades ago.

Syria: Israel-Palestinian talks useless
Official press in Damascus warns that resumption of direct US-brokered negotiations would prove waste of time unless Washington puts pressure on Jerusalem. 'What's the point of resuming negotiations that will end either with failure or with an agreement worse than Oslo?' government daily asks.,7340,L-3941581,00.html

DFLP: Direct talks violate national consensus
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said Monday his party rejected the resumption of direct talks with Israel without a full halt in settlement activity, a clear reference and international resolutions.  Saleh Zidan told reporters at the Media Freedom Center in Gaza City that the PLO's decision to accept a US invitation to relaunch negotiations without preconditions "violates the national consensus position determined by the PLO's Executive Committee, the Central Council, and other Palestinian politicians."

Hamas: Palestinians will gain nothing from direct peace talks with Israel
Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh praises Gaza's steadfastness in the face of Israel's blockade, says Palestinians should place their trust in God.

White House: Direct talks are the best way to combat Hamas
Of the many questions hanging over the new direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians announced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday morning, one of the thorniest is what to do about the militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is not a party to the negotiations.  White House officials addressed that topic directly Friday afternoon on a private conference call with Jewish community groups, saying that the talks would build legitimacy for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his struggle against Hamas and that a peace agreement would convince the Palestinian people to abandon Hamas and its violent methods.

Maariv: Emanuel told Dermer “don’t fuck with me” [expletive not deleted]
In this Friday’s Maariv, senior diplomatic columnist Ben Caspit speculates on where the diplomatic process, and US-Israeli relations, are headed [full translation of section at bottom of post].

Israeli Soldiers Sell Gaza Flotilla Passengers’ Computers and Steal Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Cash
Despite appeals from 750 passengers on the Gaza flotilla to their governments to pressure the Israeli government to protect and return their personal belongings that were taken by Israeli commandos on May 31, 2010, when they forcefully boarded the six ships of the flotilla, the Israeli government has left millions of dollars of computers, cameras and cell phones and hundreds of thousands of cash unsecured and un-inventoried.

Other News
In photos: Haniyeh breaks fast with Gaza family
Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh joins a family in Gaza City for Iftar, the meal that breaks the Ramadan fast, on 20 August 2010.  The eight-member family lives in a home less than twenty square meters in size with no ventilation or windows. The parents sleep in the same room with their six children.  Following the meal, prepared by the family, aides said Haniyeh instructed them to provide emergency aid to the family, including a fan for the home, food for the family and supplies for the younger children.

New IAEA chief visits Israel in bid to improve relations
Director General Ukia Amano's visit to Israel so soon after taking up his post at the nuclear energy agency is markedly different from his predecessor, who visited just twice in 12 years.

Israel police: Former PM Olmert should stand trial (AP)
AP - Israeli police have recommended that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stand trial on corruption charges for his role in a real estate deal during his time as Jerusalem mayor a decade ago.

Jerusalem light rail may have segregated men-only / women-only cars
CEO of company developing light rail project supports providing 'kosher' cars for city's ultra-Orthodox population.

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest
Israel, Big Money and Obama
One of Lester Crown’s children, James Crown, personally bundled $500,000 in campaign contributions for Obama  and served as chairman of the Illinois fund raising effort. Lester Crown and his wife Renee hosted a fundraiser for Obama in 2007 at their home. The event invitation made it clear; their support for Obama was due to his support of Israel, its “right to exist“ and his willingness to strike militarily against Iran.

The "Peace Process" is Still Going Nowhere, Stephen M. Walt
If you think today's announcement that the Israelis and Palestinians are going to resume "direct talks" is a significant breakthrough, you haven't been paying attention for the past two decades (at least). I wish I could be more optimistic about this latest development, but I see little evidence that a meaningful deal is in the offing.  Why do I say this? Three reasons.

Firas Al-Atraqchi: The Farce of Middle East Peace Talks
For those with a keen interest in contemporary Middle East history, there's a new spectacle coming to a conflict zone near you.  On September 2nd, the production company that brought you Oslo, Wye River, Camp David and Annapolis will release a brand new blockbuster sequel to the so-called Middle East Peace Talks.  Simply titled Resumption of Direct Negotiations, the production boasts a star-studded cast including Benjamin Netanyahu in the role of king, Mahmoud Abbas as the pauper, George Mitchell as the court jester, King Abdullah II as the novice, Tony Blair as the fool savant, Barak Obama as the compassionate Jedi negotiator, and Hosni Mubarak as the comic relief.

A hidden witness to the Brown Shirts now prepares to go to Gaza, Lillian Rosengarten
As I wait to join a boat to Gaza with a group of European Jews, I am asked why? Trust me I say, I have to go, there is no choice. But why so adamant, what drives me? I have long pondered this question.  I was 18 months old on November 13, 1936 when I emigrated from Nazi Germany in the arms of my mother to sail on the SS Bremen to New York.  Because of the ingenuity of my father, family money and contacts we were able to leave. You see, the United States had a strict quota system for refugees and before he was able to secure our visas, my father was required to have a sponsor who would provide him with a job. One was also required to have a place to live. When we came to America, my parents, near penniless, were severed from their beloved Germany, friends, family and affluence. Settling in New York with their little daughter, they found themselves at sea in a stranger’s land, unmoored from their station in life and terribly unhappy. They brought with them a darkness that became for me a personal symbol of the nightmare of Hitler’s Germany.

IDF doesn’t want Eden Abergil to become a poster child, Philip Weiss
Eden Abergil's puckish smile, as she humiliates Palestinian prisoners, is of course everywhere. Not in Haaretz. There her face has been blurred. Apparently this is the military censor's work. Jerry Haber says the IDF censor has insisted on it.  It can't be to protect Abergil. She put up the shocking photos herself, under the title "IDF-The Best Time of My Life." Everyone has seen that oval face. Is the IDF proving that it has the power to censor Haaretz? Or more likely, to prevent her image from becoming iconic, at least in Israel. Whatever the reason, they're airbrushing the first draft of history.

Onward, Christian Zionists;  Deep-rooted Christian tradition has put its mark on British, US policies in Mideast, James Carroll
FUNDAMENTALISM IS the problem: that assertion defines the diagnostic mantra of Middle East conflict. The Jewish settlers’ “Bloc of the Faith’’ movement (Gush Emunim), with the agenda of restoring biblical Israel, is discussed as one instance of fundamentalism. Religious jihadists, aiming to re-establish the lost Caliphate of Islam, are discussed as another. Wacky Christians are sometimes spoken of, like the mentally unbalanced Australian who set fire to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in 1969.

New York Times vs. direct negotiations, David Bromwich
The New York Times published two articles yesterday about the resumption of direct talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Both address a reader who already knows what happened, yet neither opens with a sentence carrying the basic information: “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday announced that direct negotiations would resume,” and so on. Instead, a clause which contains that central fact has been embedded in the second paragraph of the second story, by Helene Cooper and Mark Landler, titled “Palestinians Resuming Talks Under Pressure.” It runs on page 6. This accident of omission and displacement betrays an editorial trouble of mind that is visible elsewhere.

George Will’s Irrepressible Conflict With Facts, Max Blumenthal 
Conservative columnist George Will was recently in Israel. His trip resulted in a series of laughably error-laden columns revealing not only a crude view of the Israel-Palestine conflict and obsequious admiration for Bibi Netanyahu, but a lack of knowledge about major historical events in his own country.

Current peace talks are threatened by Zionism, Samuel Lustgarten
The mere thought of theocratic extremists at the helm of nuclear warheads leaves me diffident and uncharacteristically speechless.  Iran is less than 30 days from having a working nuclear reactor that enriches Uranium to about 3.5 percent. That’s a far cry from the 90 percent needed to create a warhead, but it’s a start. And in this hyperbolic, 24-hour news cycle, my heart skips a beat.  It’s not Iran that actually worries me – it’s Israel.

Direct Negotiations and the Challenge Ahead, John V. Whitbeck
The U.S. government has now announced that direct Israeli-Palestinian will resume after a September 2 launch ceremony at the White House. In making this announcement, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stated that this new round of negotiations should be "without preconditions", as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has insisted they should be. However, she also stated that both Mr. Netanyahu and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas have agreed that the negotiations should be subject to a one-year time limit, which was not Mr. Netanyahu's preference.

God approves of ADC, by Ikhras
American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC) is excited that the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) has opened up a new channel of income for it: “sadaka” (sic). On July 19, 2010 FCNA issued a fatwa (religious opinion) that ADC is eligible to receive this form of Islamic charity.  This fatwa is problematic and offensive to Islamic sensibilities on many levels. First, the ADC does not deserve Muslims’ money. The ADC has consistently undermined the struggle for Muslim rights both in the US and abroad. It has invited war criminals who have Muslims’ blood on their hands, most notably Bill Clinton and Colin Powell.

One on One - Yossi Beilin
Yossi Beilin discusses the milestones and challenges of his longtime career in Israeli politics, business and peace activism.

Iran to supply Lebanon with anti-missile system: report
Iran is expected to make the offer to Lebanon during Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's upcoming visit to Beirut shortly after the holy month of Ramadan. Iran would also offer to supply some other weapons during his visit, said the report.

'Riyadh plans to sabotage Hezbollah'
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah is spending $500 million to implicate Hezbollah in the murder of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri, a report says.

60% of Lebanese Say STL Politicized, Unfair
23/08/2010 The "international for information" center at the Lebanese daily As-safir conducted a survey for the Lebanese public opinion over their stance of the International probe into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, their opinion concerning the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) and the documents submitted by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah. The poll also asked about the side behind the assassination.  The survey, published on Monday, showed that 60% of Lebanese believe the international probe politicized, unfair and non-neutral, while 43% supported an amendment in the method and the style of the investigation to be more impartial and neutral. 17% called for a complete abolition of the STL.

US Official: Evidence Implicating Hezbollah to Emerge within Days
21/08/2010 Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai quoted on Saturday an American official as claiming that “evidence of Hezbollah’s involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri may appear in the upcoming days.”  The US official went on to claim that Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s latest press conference, during which he said that Israel may be behind the crime, “as an attempt to mislead the investigation and buy some time.”  The Kuwaiti daily said that only three individuals in the US administration are following up on the issue of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and matters related to it.

Aoun: STL is an 'international plot' that does not seek justice
BEIRUT: Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader MP Michel Aoun said on Sunday that the UN-backed tribunal was an international plot aimed against Lebanon rather than a court seeking justice in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Hizbullah 'evidence' to delay STL indictments
BEIRUT: Evidence provided by Hizbullah regarding the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri will delay an impending indictment by the UN-backed tribunal probing the murder, a well-informed judicial source told The Daily Star Sunday.  The source said documents provided by Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in a recent news conference would be thoroughly examined by Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) prosecutor Daniel Bellemare, who is probing the Hariri case. Such a process, according to the source,  would at least delay the issuance of the indictment by around two months, after earlier reports said the indictment would be released in September.

Nahr al-Bared families urge hasty compensation
BEIRUT: A representative of Lebanese families living in the northern Nahr al-Bared refugee camp and its surrounding urged officials to accelerate the payment of financial compensation to enable families to renovate their homes.

LF presses for solution to Palestinian housing issue
BEIRUT: The Lebanese Forces (LF) urged the government on Saturday to find a solution to Palestinian refugees who occupied homes owned by Lebanese in villages east of the southern coastal city of Sidon.

Beware of radicalism in Lebanese prisons
Most of Lebanon's prisons are old, under-staffed, and ill-equipped. That is why, for someone interested in blocking the spread of militant Islamic ideology, the Lebanese prison system has become a hazard due to over-population by violent Islamist inmates and lack of a reform program to rehabilitate and de-radicalize these individuals.

Sunday: 1 US Soldier, 4 Iraqis Killed; 43 Iraqis Wounded
The first U.S. soldier to die since the withdrawal of combat troops this week was killed in during a rocket attack in Basra today. At least four Iraqis were killed and 43 more were wounded in other attacks.

Sixteen wounded in Iraq electricity demo (AFP)
AFP - Dozens of Iraqis violently protested in the southern city of Nasiriyah to demand better power supplies, wounding 16 people including 10 policemen, witnesses and officials said on Sunday.

Two killed in Baghdad
Two civilans were killed and eight others injured when a bomb exploded in a public market in Al-Museeb area, placed in an electronic store.

Iraqi force says capable to defend country from terrorist threat after U.S. pullout
BAGHDAD, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- "I guess we are 70 percent ready to defend our country, it will be better after the U.S. troops leave," said a Iraqi army official, who, as usual, patrols at a checkpoint in central Baghdad in a summer, just days ahead of the full withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq.  In an interview with Xinhua, the official, who was called Captain Sabah by his colleagues, said he is optimistic about the future of Iraq after the U.S. soldiers leave and he is confident that the Iraqi forces could handle the terrorist threat independently.

'US ready to resume Iraq combat'
Army commander in Iraq says failure of security may mean resumption of US operations.

Allawi, Iraqi Shiite cleric to visit Damascus
DAMASCUS, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Head of the Iraqia List Ayad Allawi and the Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr will pay a visit to Damascus soon, Iraqia List's official Fattah al Sheikh told Xinhua over the phone on Sunday.  Al Sheikh noted that the two Iraqi leaders will discuss with the Syrian side the latest developments regarding the forming of the Iraqi government, stressing that Syria is a "key player" in the Iraqi issue.  On Thursday, Al-Sadr contacted Allawi to voice him support over appointing his party to form the new government. The Iraqia List bloc refused internationalization of the issue of the formation of a new Iraqi government last month, confirming that the solution to the issue must be an Iraqi one.

Iraqi bishop says U.S. betrayed country, Christians suffer most
The Americans leave behind “an Iraq worse off than the one they found seven years ago,” said Warduni, who’s widely regarded as the most charismatic voice among the Iraqi bishops.

Scared women are packing pistols in Iraq
As growing insecurity spreads through Baghdad, women are turning to firearms and armed guards to protect themselves.

Iraq admits Briton's killer escaped
Iraqi officials confirm mastermind of Margaret Hassan's murder was sprung from prison.

Combat brigades in Iraq under different name

"As the final convoy of the Army’s 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Lewis, Wash., entered Kuwait early Thursday, a different Stryker brigade remained in Iraq.  Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division are deployed in Iraq as members of an Advise and Assist Brigade, the Army’s designation for brigades selected to conduct security force assistance.  So while the “last full U.S. combat brigade” have left Iraq, just under 50,000 soldiers from specially trained heavy, infantry and Stryker brigades will stay, as well as two combat aviation brigades."

Inside Iraq - The future of Iraq
Iraqis have endured invasion, economic stagnation, wars, sanctions and internal conflict for decades. Today, in the aftermath of the 7-year war in Iraq, citizens lack even the most basic services, leaving many of them feeling helpless, desperate and in utter disbelief that their homeland is still in a state of chaos. The UN, however, is promising to create a better future for the people of Iraq. But will it be able to achieve this and, if so, how?

Riz Khan - The last US combat forces in Iraq
US combat forces have left Iraq, but who should be held accountable for the invasion and occupation that has left hundreds of thousands dead? Veteran investigative journalist John Pilger joins the show to discuss.

Inside Story - Filling Iraq's security void
Thousands of US combat troops have started pulling out of Iraq, but hundreds of private security firms look set to fill the void. Since the US-led invasion in 2003, security contractors in Iraq have often been accused of operating above the law. Most controversially, In 2007, guards from what was then known as Blackwater Worldwide shot and killed 14 Iraqi civilians. These charges were dismissed in a US court. But as the US begins its year long withdrawal from Iraq, the message from the state department has been clear - more security contractors will be moved in to replace the US military. This, they say, is the most practical way to "fill the security gap" left by the departing American troops. There have been promises that contractors will not enjoy immunity from prosecution and will be governed by the laws of Iraq, but is this enough to quell concerns about the continuing presence of the security firms?

A shoe flies, a leader ducks ... a trend is born? (AP)
AP - For a few days, he was famous the world over — an Iraqi TV journalist who became an instant hero for millions when he hurled his shoes at President George W. Bush's head and called him a dog.

In porn, a story of Iraq's politics (AP)
AP - The nude women on the DVD cover in a Baghdad street stall say it all: Change, whether you like it or not, is afoot in Iraq.

A Syrian Taif for Iraq
Fears that the US troop withdrawal in Iraq will only intensify the destabilizing power vacuum have reportedly led to plans for a conference similar to the 1989 meeting that ended the Lebanese civil war, to be held in Syria. If a ''Syrian Taif'' does materialize, it would be under pressure to produce an absolute mandate for the Iraqi government, disarm militias from all communities and find a new prime minister. - Sami Moubayed

What You Will Not Hear About Iraq
Iraq has between 25 and 50 percent unemployment, a dysfunctional parliament, rampant disease, an epidemic of mental illness, and sprawling slums. The killing of innocent people has become part of daily life. What a havoc the United States has wreaked in Iraq.

Iran hopes Russia's next step be delivery of S-300 missiles system: MP
Iranian lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi hailed Russia's move on Bushehr nuclear plant fuelling and expressed hope Russia's next step would be the delivery of S-300 missile system to Iran, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Saturday.

The Reality Of Iran's Nuclear Program, Scott Horton On Russia Today

Iran working against Iraqi democracy: US general (AFP)
AFP - Iran is funding extremist groups in Iraq out of fear of a strong democracy as a neighbor, the commander of US forces in Iraq said Sunday.

Countdown to Zero – or to War on Iran?
“If I was president Ahmadinejad’s national security adviser, and he asked me what to do, I would tell him to acquire a nuclear deterrent.” - Professor John J. Mearsheimer, July 7, 2010 John Mearsheimer’s imagined advice to Ahmadinejad leads to a simple and obvious conclusion.

U.S. and Other World News
Poll: Majority say history will deem Iraq war a failure
More than half the country thinks history will judge the Iraq War to have been a mistake, according to the results of a survey released Friday.  Fifty-three percent of respondents said the conflict will be deemed either a "total failure" or "mostly a failure" — roughly the same as the 51 percent of respondents who answered that way in 2006, pollsters at Gallup reported.  That compares to 42 percent of Americans who think the war will be judged a success — also consistent with the 2006 figure, which was 43 percent, Gallup found.

Wikileaks Lawyer Says Pentagon Given Access To Unpublished Secret Documents
A U.S. lawyer representing the whistleblowing web site Wikileaks says U.S. government officials have been given codes and passwords granting them online access to official U.S. government documents that Wikileaks so far has not published.  Timothy Matusheski, a lawyer from Hattiesburg, Miss., who says he represents whistleblowers and has been in touch with both Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and at least one government official involved in investigations of Wikileaks, said Wikileaks had set up a "secure channel" through which authorized users could access the unpublished material. He said credentials for using this Web site had been forwarded to representatives of the U.S. government whom he did not identify. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Hamid Karzai: U.S. Taxpayer-Funded Private Contractors Engaging In Terrorist, Mafia-Like Activity
Afghanistan's embattled president Hamid Karzai said on Sunday that U.S. taxpayers were indirectly funding "mafia-like groups" and terrorist activities with the American government's support of private contractors inside his country.  In a rare U.S. media appearance, Karzai continued to press for the removal of the vast majority of U.S. private contractors by the end of this year. He argued that their continued presence inside Afghanistan was "an obstruction and impediment" to the country's growth, a massive waste of money, and a catalyst for corruption among Afghan officials.

Crime (Sex) and Punishment (Stoning), ROBERT F. WORTH
Stoning is not practiced only among Muslims, nor did it begin with Islam. Human rights groups say a young girl was stoned to death in 2007 in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Yazidi community, which practices an ancient Kurdish religion. The Old Testament includes an episode in which Moses arranges for a man who violated the Sabbath to be stoned, and stoning probably took place among Jewish communities in the ancient Near East. Rabbinic law, which was composed starting in the first century A.D., specifies stoning as the penalty for a variety of crimes, with elaborate instructions for how it should be carried out.

Wikileaks’ Assange: Pentagon may be behind rape claims
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said in an interview published on Sunday that he believes the Pentagon could be behind a rape accusation against him that was later dropped by Swedish prosecutors.  The country's prosecution service meanwhile justified the chaotic situation when authorities first issued an arrest warrant for the Australian whistleblower late on Friday night but then withdrew it the following day.

S.Arabia not mulling paralysis penalty for attacker
* Court wants paralysis victim to take compensation
* Governor sending envoys to mediate with victim

At Least 150 Women Raped in Weekend Raid in Congo
Officials said that the attack was unusual because of the large number of victims and the fact that they were raped by more than one attacker simultaneously.

Bahrain's Shiite leader condemns continued arrests, reversing 10 years of sectarian progress
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahrain's top Shiite politician said a crackdown on Shiite protesters by Sunni rulers has destroyed a decade of stable sectarian relations as the tiny Gulf state heads into parliamentary elections scheduled for October.

Islam in America
Emanuel warned Obama: Keep mum on NYC mosque
POLITICO reports White House chief told president that in publicly backing construction of Muslim cultural center near ground zero he would be 'handing Republicans a weapon to batter Democrats as weak-kneed on terrorism.' Emanuel: We all stand behind and support the president’s decision.,7340,L-3941827,00.html

New York mosque controversy worries Muslims overseas
Some can't understand the fuss over a house of worship and how a democracy promoting religious freedom could even be having such a debate. Others are offended at the conflation of the 9/11 attacks with all Muslims.  The heated debate across America over construction of the so-called ground zero mosque is reverberating across the globe, with the potential of creating a worldwide black eye for the United States.

New Yorkers rally over mosque plan
Hundreds of supporters and opponents of the proposed Islamic cultural centre near the World Trade Centre site in New York have staged rallies, kept apart by police and barricades.  Opponents in downtown Manhattan shouted "Enough is enough" on Sunday as supporters yelled "say no to racist fear".  No violence or arrests were reported.   Uniformed police and rows of barricades kept many in the crowds apart. Police officials said extra forces were deployed.  Opponents of the plan, to build a $100m Islamic center two blocks from the Ground Zero site where the September 11, 2001 attacks took place, appeared to outnumber supporters.

New Yorkers rally over mosque plan
In New York, the proposal to build an Islamic cultural centre near the site of the September 11 attacks continues to dominate US headlines. There has been two seperate rallies in the city - by both supporters and opponents. The dispute has taken on political significance, with opposition Republicans using the issue to attack US president Barack Obama ahead of legislative elections. Al Jazeera's John Terrett reports from the rallies.

Imam’s wife: Mosque opposition like ‘metastasized anti-Semitism’
Lower Manhattan mosque part of 'Americanization' of Islam, Daisy Khan says  The wife of the imam behind the Cordoba House Muslim community center in Manhattan says the opposition to its construction goes "beyond Islamophobia," likening it to a "metastasized anti-Semitism."  "We are deeply concerned, because this is like a metastasized anti-Semitism," Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, told ABC's Christiane Amanpour. "It's not even Islamophobia. It's beyond Islamophobia, it's hate of Muslims."  The interview took place as supporters and opponents of the mosque protested in lower Manhattan on Sunday, with police keeping the two groups blocks apart.  Khan was joined on ABC's This Week by Rabbi Joy Levitt, head of the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. Levitt said that "some part" of the opposition to the mosque "feels very familiar."

Fox host: Muslims should ‘give up their rights’ and not rely on the First Amendment
Fox News host and legal analyst Peter J. Johnson, Jr. says Muslims in New York should "give up their rights" and move the Park51 Islamic center in order to please opponents. In a Friday commentary on Fox & Friends, Johnson visited the site of the proposed Islamic center.

Pamela Geller, 'Queen Of Muslim Bashers,' At Center Of N.Y. 'Mosque' Debate
(RNS) By some accounts, the heated opposition to the so-called Ground Zero mosque has been drummed up by a telegenic blogger with a strong New York accent and even stronger opinions.  Pamela Geller, a Long Island native who writes the blog "AtlasvShrugs," said she was the "quintessential New York City career girl" before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.  Since then, she has co-founded groups dedicated to fighting the "Islamization" of America, sponsored anti-Muslim ads in several cities, and, more recently, become a near daily presence on television news programs.

Mosque Demagoguery Is Bipartisan, Rep. Ron Paul, August 23, 2010
Is the controversy over building a mosque near Ground Zero a grand distraction or a grand opportunity? Or is it, once again, grandiose demagoguery?  It has been said, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” Are we not overly preoccupied with this controversy, now being used in various ways by grandstanding politicians? It looks to me like the politicians are “fiddling while the economy burns.”  The debate should have provided the conservative defenders of property rights with a perfect example of how the right to own property also protects the 1st Amendment rights of assembly and religion by supporting the building of the mosque.

Report from ground zero, Zach Morris
At first, I thought it was just me. I'd witnessed dozens of far-right demonstrations over the years, but this was the first which literally sent chills down my spine.  I spoke to a few activists who'd effectively made attending, confronting, and exposing these sorts of things into their life's work, and had witnessed hundreds of events staged by all manner of racist groups, from the National Alliance and the Minutemen to the Teabaggers and the National Socialist Party.  "I've never seen anything like this before", one said, as another nodded his head in agreement. "The rhetoric, the music, everything... it was just... overwhelming. Did you see the effigies? I don't even know what to say."

The new anti-Semitism,  Adam Horowitz
Last week Daniel Luban had an important piece in the Tablet comparing the current wave of Islamophobia, spearheaded by the opposition to Park 51 in New York, with "many of the tropes of classic anti-Semitism." Luban notes the shameful, and given the comparison, ironic, role of Jews in this surge of hate.

The Money Behind the "Mosque"
In recent days, critics of the proposal to build a mosque and Islamic center near ground zero have linked the plan to everyone from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Islamist organizations Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. But the plan's real fundraising effort, thus far, is much more innocuous: a PayPal account with less than $9,000 in it, mostly from New Yorkers, raised by a group of Muslim moms in Manhattan whose original aim was to host a peace march.

NYC Mosque Draws Interfaith Support In California
LOS ANGELES — Dozens of Southern California religious leaders from many faiths are speaking out to support plans to build a mosque and community center two blocks from ground zero in New York City. The leaders held a press conference Friday at the Islamic Center of Southern California and issued a statement supporting the right to build the mosque.  The letter is signed by 71 Southern California religious leaders, including representatives from more than a dozen faiths.
For further information contact Shadi Fadda

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