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Here are the headlines from Mondoweiss for 05/21/2013:

Israeli report on al-Dura case is vengeful and ‘surreal,’ says Haaretz — but ‘NYT’ treats it as gospel
May 20, 2013 02:46 pm | Philip Weiss

Al Dura family at his grave
From a al-Dura family, including Jamal (l), at Mohammed al-Dura's grave

Famously, 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura was killed in the second intifada, during a shootout in Gaza in September 2000; haunting footage of the boy's cowering with his father, first broadcast on French public television, became a symbol of the brutality of the occupation. But this weekend the Israeli government produced a report asserting that the boy and his father may well have escaped the shootout unscathed.

The Guardian emphasizes the political stakes for Israel in making this assertion:

Yuval Steinitz, the minister of strategic affairs, who presented the report, described the affair as "a modern-day blood libel against the state of Israel … The France 2 report was utterly baseless."

But the French reporter who first broadcast the footage on France2, says that Israel didn't even interview the boy's father, Jamal, and that witnesses to the killing are willing to undergo polygraph tests. Charles Enderlin:

Aucune autorité israélienne n'a contacté France 2, Jamal al Dura, Talal Abou Rahmeh le cameraman à des fins d'enquête ou d'autres protagonistes.

Barak Ravid in Haaretz says the report is "surreal" because it comes out 13 years after the event, then he goes on to describe it as vengeful and :

The report also appears to be a campaign of revenge launched by the State of Israel against a single French journalist, Charles Enderlin, who first reported Mohammed al-Dura's death. Committee members tried to saddle Enderlin, an Israeli Jew who has been living here for over 30 years, with all of Israel's problems and those of the Jewish people.

The committee went even further and hinted at Enderlin’s responsibility for the massacre of Jewish schoolchildren in Toulouse. “His report inspired many terrorists and contributed to the demonization of Israel and to the rise of anti-Semitism in Muslim and Western countries”, wrote committee members. “In some cases, the implications were deadly”.

The damage done by this report could be greater than any doubtful utility. Its publication, accompanied by an international public relations campaign only threatens to awaken sleeping dogs, for if the international press picks up on the report, it could lead to a renewed discussion on Palestinian children getting hurt during IDF operations.


Now let's turn to the stenographic New York Times. Its account by Isabel Kershner treats the Israeli government report as absolutely credible--it hints that the shootout was staged and even says the boy in the footage "was identified as Muhammad al-Dura," as if there's even dispute over who he was:

[T]he facts behind the images have been disputed almost from the start, and on Sunday, the Israeli government asserted that there was no evidence for the original account of the event, which was that the boy was hit by Israeli bullets — and that it was even possible that neither the boy nor his father had been struck by any bullets at all....

The Israeli government review suggested, as other critics have, that the France 2 footage might have been staged. It noted anomalies like the apparent lack of blood in appropriate places at the scene, and said that raw footage from the seconds after the boy’s apparent death seem to show him raising his arm.

“Contrary to the report’s claim that the boy is killed, the committee’s review of the raw footage showed that in the final scenes, which were not broadcast by France 2, the boy is seen to be alive,” the review said.

It's not until paragraph 8 that Kershner reports on disagreements with the Israeli report. She leaves till the last paragraph Enderlin's assertion that the Israelis never interviewed Jamal al-Dura or other witnesses.

Here are a couple of English tweets from Enderlin raising questions about the Israeli government report:

The Israeli report: Jamal al dura was not injured.. Did the King of Jordan knew it when he visited him in hospital in Amman?

the Israeli report: jamal al dura was not injured so, the Jordanian surgeons who operated him 48h later are they liars?

A friend points out:

The New York Times has a reporter, Fares Akram, in Gaza City. Jamal al-Durah lives in Bureij refugee camp, 40 minutes from Gaza City. The Israeli report suggests Jamal was not even wounded in the shooting, much less his son injured or killed.

Couldn't the NY Times have done the simple due diligence of interviewing him and asking if he says he was shot? Does anyone believe that after 13 years of this he would be hard to locate?

Ali Abunimah comments

NYT puts out any old conspiracy theory fed to it by Israel. Doesn’t speak to a single Palestinian of course

Unlike the Times, Harriet Sherwood in the Guardian gives  prominence to Enderlin's rebuttal of the report, and explains why the case is so important for Israel:

the committee's conclusions were rejected by France 2, the French public television channel that broadcast the report, its reporter Charles Enderlin, and the boy's father, Jamal al-Dura. All said they were ready to co-operate with an independent international investigation into the incident, and Enderlin and Dura added they were willing to undergo polygraph tests....
According to the Israeli government press release that accompanied the report, "the narrative spawned by the France 2 report has served as an inspiration and justification for terrorism, antisemitism, and the delegitimisation of Israel".
The committee, set up in 2012 by the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to examine the incident "in the light of the continued damage it has caused to Israel", concluded that IDF gunfire was not responsible for the death of Muhammad and injuries to his father. Its 36-page report said France 2's "central claims and accusations had no basis in the material which the station had in its possession at the time … There is no evidence that the IDF was in any way responsible for causing any of the alleged injuries to Jamal or the boy…"
After receiving the report, Netanyahu said the incident had "slandered Israel's reputation" and was a "manifestation of the ongoing, mendacious campaign to delegitimise Israel".
Yuval Steinitz, the minister of strategic affairs, who presented the report, described the affair as "a modern-day blood libel against the state of Israel … The France 2 report was utterly baseless."
My media-savvy friend continues:

It would seem that to believe Israel's version, you have to believe that in a chaotic situation an organized Palestinian conspiracy somehow may have staged this shooting and/or its aftermath (with active complicity from France2), putting the father and son up to it. In the best case Israel has claimed that Palestinians actually shot them-- not entirely impossible in a chaotic situation-- but in the worst case in this new report Israel asserts they may not even have been shot and raises doubts that the boy was ever really killed! Where does Israel claim the boy went? One has to have to have such a distorted view of Palestinians as fundamentally manipulative liars, willing to do absolutely anything in order to go along with the Israeli report's suggestions."

It is interesting that Times reporter Isabel Kershner's husband, Hirsh Goodman, working for Israel's Institute for National Security Studies, 3 years ago called on Israel to mount a "public diplomacy" offensive to get out its side of such stories: "in the context of post-Goldstone realities and the concerted campaign to besmirch Israel and de-legitimize the country, it is probably as important, if not more so, than the conventional battles Israel faces."

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Mohammed Assaf, singing sensation out of Gaza refugee camp, torches Arab Idol competition
May 20, 2013 01:43 pm | Annie Robbins

Lebanon's Arab Idol 2013 competition isn't over, but it's already made a star of 22-year-old finalist Mohammed Assaf, a Palestinian student from Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza, a sensation causing swooning hearts all across the Arab world with his renditions of love songs and patriotic Palestinian songs. Like "Song for Palestine, 'Oh you bird going back home" (above).

It's easy to understand why Palestinians are going crazy for him. Mohammed Assaf has drawn comparisons to the late Egyptian nightingale Abdel Halim Hafez, one of the Great Four of Arabic music; Mahmoud Abbas has called him to say he has made Palestine and the Arab world proud; his poster is hanging in homes, restaurants and stores all across Palestine; the international media say he's finally united Gaza and the West Bank, where one of my correspondents tells me people have set up "huge screens and watch him in the street and cheer for him." 

How did this happen? It's a thrilling story of overnight success, capped by Assaf's knockout rendition of "Zeina wore her anklet" from last Friday's top ten finalist competition (below).

Mohammed Assaf was a popular local Palestinian talent before he set off from his home in Khan Younis to begin his journey to the Arab Idol 2013 auditions in Cairo. According to my Gazan contacts, his first song recorded in 2008, is "really popular here. Everyone knows it." But the story of Mohammed Assaf's ascension reveals a tenacious, creative, determined and charming steadfastness, in a word, sumud.

From CNN: 'Arab Idol's' first contestant from Gaza grabs spotlight:

It was no small task for Assaf to travel to Cairo to audition for the wildly popular show.

"He needed a visa (to cross the Gaza-Egypt border), but he didn't have one," his father, Jabar, told CNN from Khan Younis, a refugee camp in Gaza. Israel imposes a blockade on Gaza, leaving residents without access to an airport.

Palestinian officials had to make special arrangements for Assaf to leave Gaza, his mother, UmShadi, a math teacher, explained. By the time he arrived in Cairo, the doors to the venue where auditions were held had already closed.

"So he jumped the wall," she said. Security guards seized him and were going to escort him out when a Palestinian official with the show recognized Assaf from his performances in Gaza and gave him a candidate number, allowing him to compete.

When asked by judges on the show why it took him two days to travel the 250 miles from Gaza to Cairo, Assaf simply replied, "problems at the crossing and such."

Assaf is one of seven children. "We are refugees!" his father proclaimed. "We only dreamed he would get to this point and show the world his beautiful voice. Now we want him to win!"

"Palestinians are not the way (the world) see(s) them," he explained. "They like to be happy. They like to sing."...

"We aren't used to the fame," [his mother] said, "but we are very happy."

Mohammed Assaf's Wikipedia page tells a slightly different version of events: after Assaf jumped that Cairo fence, he sang for the guards, who then let him through. But then he couldn't get a number to audition and "sat hopelessly in the hall where other contestants were waiting for their turn. He started singing to the contestants.  A Palestinian man who was suppose to audition heard him and gave him his number and told him that I know I won't reach to the finals but you will."

Here are the lyrics to the song above, "Song for Palestine 'Oh you bird going back home.'" His rendition of this song now has over 4,500,000 hits on YouTube, and it includes an original mawwal inserted into the verses at :52 in the video above: 

Oh you bird going home
My eyes will watch over you and May God protect you

Oh you traveler, you make me jealous
Palestine is my beautiful country

Go to Safad and Tiberias
Send my love to Acre and Haifa

Don't forget the Arab Castle, Nazareth
Tell Bissan, its people are coming back


Oh Jerusalem, my tears are scattered
My people is, around the world, scattered

History is proud of us,
for my people have beared a lot

             (end of Mawwal)

Pass to Gaza, kiss its sands
Its people are brave and its men are strong

Jerusalem, the capital, and AlAqsa its center
May Allah unite us with its land.

It's no wonder Assaf is fast becoming a legend.  You can vote for him by following his Facebook stream and his official FB site.

And he seems to be getting better all the time. Last Friday he sang "Zeina wore her anklet" with stirring confidence:

(Rawan Yaghi contributed to this report)

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Activists call for a SodaStream boycott at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival
May 20, 2013 12:37 pm | Adam Horowitz

Learn more about the Interfaith Boycott Coalition here and sign the petition here. It reads:

We are thirsty for justice.

We are Christians, Muslims, Jews, and other people of conscience calling on all consumers and stores to stop buying and selling SodaStream carbonation devices or other products made by this company. SodaStream manufactures these machines within an Israeli settlement in occupied Palestinian territory. These settlements are illegal under international law and are obstacles to peace. We choose not to partake in supporting this unethical enterprise and ask consumers and stores to join us.

We will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream." (Amos 5:24)

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Video: Palestinian demonstrators break a hole in the wall during protest commemorating the Nakba
May 20, 2013 11:12 am | Kate

Palestinian youths make their way into Jerusalem through Israel's apartheid wall
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 18 May -- A group of Palestinian young men was able on Friday evening to knock down part of Israel's segregation wall near Abu Dis town to the east of occupied Jerusalem, particularly in the area known as Kabsa. The young men used pickaxes to make a hole in the wall and then entered Jerusalem carrying Palestinian flags in a step intended to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe). The Palestinian information center (PIC) reporter in Jerusalem said that the Israeli army immediately dispatched a unit of Israeli soldiers to the area to confront the young men.
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Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Restriction of movement

Negev demolitions 'war in the full sense'
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 19 May – "What I have seen was like post-war footage rather than home demolition as the Hebrew media misleadingly describe it," says the head of the Islamic movement in northern Israel Sheikh Raed Salah. Salah's remarks Sunday came during a visit to the Bedouin Negev village of Attir where Israeli municipal staff demolished 18 houses. "Demolishing 18 houses, uprooting 460 olive saplings, cutting down olive trees and sycamore fig trees, destroying roads, power generators and solar cells is war in the full sense of the term," Salah added. He urged all Palestinian residents of the Negev and across Israel to visit the demolished village to see the truth firsthand. Salah was accompanied by other members of the Islamic Movement in Israel. The delegation was welcomed by dignitaries from the Abu Al-Quian family whose houses were demolished.
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New road connects Israeli settlement with the Ibrahimi Mosque
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 18 May -- An Israeli team of civil engineers from Kiryat Arba settlement, built on Palestinian territories in al-Khalil, started land surveying of a road in Husain valley, in order to pave a new road connecting the settlement with the Ibrahimi Mosque. The so-called 'Hebron’s Council of Settlements' has surveyed the dirt road locating on Palestinians’ lands and lined signals on the street as a prelude to establish a new road linking between Kiryat Arba settlement and the Ibrahimi mosque, local sources told Al-Khalil Reconstruction Committee. Since more than a year the settlers have been trying to establish the road at the expense of the Palestinian lands in Husain valley, the sources added.
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Palestinians in West Bank's Area C suffer in limbo
MALEH, West Bank (LA Times) 18 May by Edmond Sanders -- Residents largely cut off from the Palestinian Authority say Israel is trying to drive them off the land by demolishing homes and withholding services  -- In remote Palestinian villages of the northern Jordan Valley, children read by gas lamp, and water must be purchased from miles away, even when electricity lines and water pipes to Israeli settlements run directly past their homes. Near Nablus, a Palestinian farmer whose home is nearly surrounded by Jewish communities says settlers frequently harass him, digging up crops, and once poisoning his cow. And in Khader, south of Jerusalem, a carjacker once escaped Palestinian police by simply crossing the street into a part of town under Israeli jurisdiction. These are snapshots of an increasingly difficult reality for the tens of thousands of Palestinians living in a part of the West Bank that remains under full Israeli control.
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Return to Iqrit: how one Palestinian village is being reborn
Guardian 15 May by Harriet Sherwood -- On a breezy hilltop in sight of the Lebanese border, a village last populated 65 years ago is being reclaimed from the dead for the living. Vegetables and herbs have been planted amid the rubble; a couple of donkeys graze on spring grass; traditional food is cooked and eaten in a makeshift structure next to the Church of Our Lady, where mass is celebrated for up to 200 worshippers on the first Saturday of every month. This is Iqrit, a Palestinian Christian village in northern Galilee, whose inhabitants left in the bitter war that followed the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948, and who have never been permitted to return to their land and razed homes. But in recent months, a group of young men, grandsons of Iqrit's original residents, have moved back in an attempt to reclaim and rebuild the village.

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Twilight Zone: 'If the settlement of Elon Moreh wasn't here, we'd be living in paradise'
Haaretz 17 May by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac -- Unknown individuals - probably settlers from the nearby settlement - have started working land that belongs to Azmout, a Palestinian village near Nablus. A protest has been launched -- ... Several tractors of mysterious origin had begun to plow the village’s 120-dunam (1 dunam = .25 acre
) tract of land in Bloc 1, in the region of Habis al-Sharka, three kilometers away, as the crow flies. The village council decided to set up a popular committee and to launch a protest. Last Friday, the villagers, accompanied by Israeli and international volunteers, went to the site, prostrated themselves on the ground and prayed. Afterward, they used stones to block the dirt trail that descends from the Jewish settlement of Elon Moreh to the field, on which the tractors probably traveled. They vowed that if the trespassers were to dare to plant seeds as well, they would uproot the field and defend their land. The villagers lost about 1,000 dunams of their land when Elon Moreh was established. They are determined not to lose this plot as well...
This is an ancient Canaanite village -- people here believe it might be 3,000 years old -- whose name, deriving from the Arab words for boldness and death, is meant to attest to the inhabitants’ resilience. The village takes pride in the fact that some 50 of its residents have obtained advanced academic degrees, including 10 physicians. No one here is ostentatiously rich and no one is dirt poor.
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Israel's only real state secret.  No, it's not an atom bomb
A Special Place in Hell 16 May by Bradley Burston -- In a country where everyone knows everything, there is only one genuine state secret. And it has nothing to do with nuclear weapons. This week, headlines hinted obliquely at it, but several steps removed. There were finely detailed acres of newsprint devoted to the challenges of apocalyptic security concerns and to dangerous poverty in Israel, as well as the austerity measures which may make both more difficult to endure. Sure enough, the only state secret that remains securely kept was conspicuous in its absence. So here it is: No one knows how much money is poured into the settlements. No one. No one ever has. No one can know, because the money is hidden in plain sight, camouflaged and subsumed in the budgets of every conceivable ministry, as well as the unfathomable, undifferentiated, bottomless slush budget of the Prime Minister's Office.
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Group: Israel to return seized land to Palestinian owners
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 May -- Palestinian land appropriated over thirty years ago to build an illegal settlement is set to be returned to its owners, an Israeli rights group said Sunday. The Israeli state informed the High Court of Justice last week that the land near Jenin, formally the site of Homesh settlement, will be returned to its Palestinian owners after Yesh Din submitted a petition on behalf of villagers from Burqa. "Thirty-five years have passed since the land was usurped from its lawful owners," Yesh Din lawyer Shlomi Zachary said. "It is regrettable that it has taken so many years for the state to decide to observe the law and to return the usurped land to its owners. Our main concern now is to ensure that the landowners will actually be able to reach their land." The land was seized in 1978 by Israel's military on the pretext of security needs, with the Homesh settlement subsequently built in the area. Homesh was evacuated in 2005 as part of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan, but the land remained a closed military zone and the original seizure orders were not nullified.
Settlers regularly return to the site and try to re-establish the settlement, locals say, with some attacking Palestinian vehicles and homes.
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Ministry: 27 minors from Jerusalem are under house arrest
RAMALLAH, May 18, 2013 (WAFA) – A total of 27 minors from East Jerusalem are under house arrest, the Ministry of Prisoners said Saturday. It said Israel has recently intensified using this punishment against young Palestinians from the occupied city who it claims were involved in anti-occupation activities, including throwing rocks at police and participating in protests. The ministry said the minors - the youngest is 14 years and the oldest 19 - have to stay home all the time and are not allowed to even go to school.
If a minor leaves his home for any reason, his family will be punished and forced to pay a fine, said the ministry.
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Palestinians clash with Israeli forces in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 May – Clashes broke overnight Friday between young Palestinian men and Israeli forces in Jerusalem's Old City. Palestinian protesters threw stones and fireworks at Israeli forces in the neighborhoods of Hatta Gate, the Council Gate and al-Wad street. They also blocked roads with rocks and garbage skips, witnesses told Ma‘an. Earlier Friday, dozens of Palestinians in Jerusalem protested after Israel granted access to Israeli right-wingers at the al-Aqsa compound. Protesters raised Palestinian flags and chanted for the protection of al-Aqsa in a rally in the Old City.
Another protest was held in the Sheikh Jarrah area in Jerusalem with the participation of Palestinian and Israeli activists.
Separately, clashes continued into the night in Abu Dis and al-Eizariya in East Jerusalem, after protesters on Friday tore a hole in Israel's separation wall at a demonstration marking the Nakba anniversary
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Occupation cuts off eastern from central West Bank
RAMALLAH (PIC) 19 May -- The Israeli occupation forces on Saturday closed the main entrance to the village of Deir Jarir, east of Ramallah city, effectively cutting off villages in the eastern West Bank from the Central West Bank. Local sources said that IOF troops accompanied by military bulldozers raided at an early hour on Saturday the village of Deir Jarir and closed the road linking Ramallah to Jericho which passes through the village. The sources added that this road is the only one used by Deir Jarir and six other villages in the vicinity to reach Ramallah. Head of the Deir Jarir council, Imad Alawi, said that the occupation measure was most probably a punishment for the villagers who are involved in peaceful resistance
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Clashes as locals try to unblock road closed by Israel
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 May -- Israeli forces and Palestinians clashed on Sunday as locals tried to unblock a road near Ramallah which Israel's military closed a day earlier. Israeli forces on Saturday blocked a road between Ramallah and Deir Jarir with cement blocks. Locals tried to re-open the road with the help of a bulldozer, but were stopped by Israeli forces, who fired tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets, and water cannons. Locals briefly managed to unblock the road three times on Saturday, before Israeli forces closed it again. The closure followed frequent clashes in the area between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters. The mayor of Deir Jarir, Imad Ulwei, condemned the road's closure as collective punishment in response to peaceful protests. Locals said they will be forced to take a long and bumpy detour to Ramallah via Qalandia.
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Israel effectively barring tourists from West Bank by neglecting to explain mandatory permit
Haaretz 19 May by Amira Hass -- Since the beginning of 2013, Israel has forbidden tourists from the United States and other countries to enter the territories under Palestinian Authority control without a military entry permit – but it has not explained the application process to them. Haaretz has learned of a recent case where clerics from the United States had to sign a declaration at the Ben-Gurion International Airport, promising not to enter Area A without permits from the Coordinator of Activities in the Territories ... The American clerics, who spoke with Haaretz on condition of anonymity, were sent by their church to work with Christian communities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. As a result of the declaration they signed and their inability to decipher the procedure for obtaining the permit, they have been unable to meet with the members of Christian communities in West Bank cities or visit holy places, like the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. One of the signers, who turned to the United States Consulate in Jerusalem for help, told Haaretz that the consulate employees are unaware of the existence of the declaration. link to

Groups say US visa waiver for Israelis should be reciprocal
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2013 (WAFA) – Over 50 American organizations signed a letter asking US senators to oppose the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act on the ground Israel mistreats US citizens travelling to its country, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation said in a press release on Friday. It said section nine of this legislation would include Israel in the Visa Waiver Program without requiring Israel extend reciprocal privileges to citizens and nationals of the United States through an exemption that allows Israel to arbitrarily deny entrance to US citizens under the rubric of national security. "Israel has a history of discriminating against Palestinian-, Arab-, and Muslim-American travelers and denying them entry," said the release.
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Violence / Attacks / Clashes / Raids / Arrests

Kibbutz residents attack Bedouin village in the Negev
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 May -- Israelis from a Negev kibbutz attacked a Bedouin village on Sunday, setting fire to a tent, a Ma'an reporter said. Residents from the Kibbutz of Retamim attacked the adjacent Bedouin village of Bir Hadaj and set fire to a tent belonging to Eid Abu Habbak, head of the local village council, Salman Ibin Hamid, told Ma‘an. Abu Habbak filed a complaint with Dimona police department. "The setters of Retamim are acting like they are in the West Bank," Ibn Hamid added. "These people have the mentality of the occupying settler to attack every Arab." Israeli police said that Bir Hadaj residents hurled stones at residents of Retamim, a claim which Ibn Hamid denied.
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Settlers attack West Bank farmer twice a week
ASIRA AL-QIBLIYA, West Bank (IPS) 17 May by Jillian Kestler-D'Amours -- Ibrahim Makhlouf reached for two wooden planks lying in the hallway and placed them expertly in an L-shape along the seams of his front door. "Open [the door]," he beckoned, knowing that doing so was nearly impossible. "Every night, we put this here," he said. "For the settlers." Makhlouf’s home sits on the outskirts of the West Bank village of Asira al-Qibliya, only 500 meters from the illegal Israeli settlement outpost of Shalhevet Farm, an offshoot of the equally illegal settlement of Yitzhar. Makhlouf said that his house was attacked by Israeli settlers at least two times per week and has been vandalized more than 100 times. The windows on Makhlouf’s two-story home all have bars on the outside to prevent them from shattering when settlers throw stones.
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UPDATE: Woman arrested in Hebron is accused of stone throwing by a settler
Hebron (ISM) 19 May by Team Khalil -- UPDATE: Zleikha was released from custody at around midnight, on the condition that she reports back to the police station today. During Zleikha’s interrogation, an Israeli settler was brought by the Police and asked, 'is this the woman who threw stones at you?' to which she replied 'yes'. This fundamentally flawed method of identification further illustrates how far removed the Israeli military is from any credible system of justice -- Israeli forces tonight,18th May, abducted 51 year old Zleikha Muhtaseb from her home on Shuhada Street, in the old city of Hebron. Zleikha was helping her son complete his homework when a squad of Israeli soldiers invaded her house and took her. She was subsequently taken to be interrogated at the police station in the illegal Israeli settlement of Givat Ha’avot. Israeli forces claim she was taken on suspicion of stone-throwing, although she was abducted from her home. Such unfounded allegations are regularly used in Hebron to justify arbitrary arrests and detention, of young and old alike ... It is more likely that Zleikha was arrested for her defence of human rights and resistance to Israeli Occupation. Zleikha Muhtaseb’s home is on Hebron’s Shuhada Street -- an area closed to Palestinian access by the israeli military. Because of these closures, she and her family can only access their home from a back entrance, experiencing the extreme restriction of movement imposed by the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian city of Hebron. Zleikha speaks out strongly about the injustices suffered by Palestinians in Hebron -- a more likely reason that she was arrested than throwing stones.
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Israel uses snipers against Palestinian protest
Ramallah (KUNA) 19 May -- Israeli Army used snipers to stop a Palestinian protest near Beit El settlement in the West bank town of Ramallah last week, Maariv newspaper said on Sunday. A group of Palestinians from Jalazoun refugee camp, which is separated from Beit El by only one street, protested against the Israeli-built West Bank fence, digging a hole in the wall, but the Israeli Army brought in snipers that used live ammunition, injuring five Palestinians. The newspaper said the Israeli Army soldiers followed their leaders' commands to open fire, claiming the protesters were approaching the settlement.
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3 injured as settlers attack Nablus villages
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 May -- Three Palestinians were injured in clashes in Urif village south of Nablus, a local official said. Settler monitoring official Ghassan Daghlas told Ma‘an that three people were injured with both live and rubber-coated steel bullets. They were taken to a nearby hospital. Dozens of settlers set fire to lands in the villages of Urif, Einabus, and Asira al-Qibliya south of Nablus. They assaulted citizens and threw burning tires at people’s homes, Daghlas added.
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Palestinian vehicle burned by settlers' Molotov
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 May -- Settlers from Beit El on Saturday evening threw a Molotov cocktail toward Palestinian vehicles on the Ramallah-Nablus road and near al-Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah. The settlers threw Molotovs toward more than one Palestinian car, and even toward passers-by. A Palestinian car completely burned due to a Molotov cocktail. No injuries were recorded. The driver of the car was able to escape without incident. Civil defense crews rushed to the area and extinguished the fire. [WAFA: the driver was a woman, Fida Safi]
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Updated with video: 13-year-old boy shot at by settlers, tortured by soldiers, denied medical attention
Qaryut (ISM) 19 May by Team Nablus -- UPDATED: The 13-year-old Qaryut boy attacked by settlers on 16 May completed an operation on his lower leg and foot on Friday and has since been released to recover at home. He also provided a full account of his attack and the time he spent in an Israeli jeep untreated and tortured for information he neither had nor could speak of due to the pain from his untreated injury. The boy said he was alone on his land near the illegal settlement of Eli when he was attacked. His friend was coming to join him when settlers began shooting at the boy. He ran, but fell from a big drop in the land, being on the mountainside. Settlers pursued him but he dragged himself on his stomach by some bushes. He was in great pain but kept quiet, afraid of settlers or soldiers finding him and continuing to attack him. After some time, his phone rang when his sister and friend called him. The soldiers then found and descended on him, threatening him with their guns while he lay, unable to move, on the ground. Below is video of the boy’s harassment when the Israeli soldiers found him
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UPDATE: Cousins of teenager murdered at checkpoint arrested
‘Anabta (ISM) 18 May by Team Nablus -- UPDATED: Two brothers of the arrested Deiyaa’ Nassar, cousins of the murdered Amer Nassar, were arrested last week Monday, May 13 past 2 am at night. Deiyaa’ Nassar, 19, and Fadi Abu-’Asr continue to be held in Mejiddo Israeli prison as their trials continue to be rescheduled on each previous trial date. Deiyaa’s brothers, Bahaa, 20, and Baraa, 21, were arrested randomly; Bahaa is studying at university and Baraa is an artist in calligraphy who makes wooden plaques and ornaments with calligraphic Arabic text or Palestinian images. Deiyaa, Bahaa, and Baraa are of a household of seven boys.  A local Red Crescent representative met with the family and said that the boys’ mother is only comforted that the brothers are said to be together in Mejiddo prison. See below for the full report on the murder of two teenagers from ‘Anabta, Amer Nassar and Naji al-Balbisi, and subsequent arrests: UPDATED: The fourth of the four ‘Anabta village boys who were present at the murder of Amer Nassar, 17 and Naji al-Balbisi, 18 and the arrest of Deiyaa’ Nassar, 19 was taken by Israeli soldiers at about 4 AM on Tuesday April 9.
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25 Palestinians injured near Ramallah
IMEMC Friday evening, May 17 2013, Palestinian medical sources reported that approximately 25 Palestinians have been injured, including twelve who were shot by live rounds, during clashes that took place when Israeli soldiers invaded the Al-Jalazoun refugee camp and Silwad town, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah.
The sources said that clashes took place at the entrance of the Al-Jalazoun refugee camp, close to the Bet El illegal settlement, and added that the army fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition, wounding twelve Palestinians, mainly in their lower body.
Also, clashes took place in Silwad town, east of Ramallah, after the army invaded the town following Friday prayers, and fired dozens of gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets, wounding more than 10 Palestinians, one in his mouth. The soldiers also kidnapped one Palestinian after ambushing him in the town, local sources reported.
Furthermore, the army attacked several Palestinian reporters wounding one identified as Moath Mashal, a cameraman working for the Anadolu Turkish news agency.
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17 Palestinians injured in the Al-Arroub refugee camp
IMEMC Friday, May 17, 2013; Palestinian medical sources reported that 17 Palestinians have been injured by rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs fired by Israeli soldiers invading the Al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The sources said that several residents fainted after inhaling gas fired by the army, while one resident, identified as Luay Al-Badawi, 23, was shot by a rubber-coated bullet in his upper jaw, and another bullet in his chest. He was moved to the Al-Ahli hospital in the city; his medical condition was described as moderate but stable.
In related news, soldiers invaded, on Friday evening, Jaba‘ village, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and broke into the home of Moath Alawna, on his wedding eve, and searched the property causing extensive property damage.
Furthermore, the army invaded Sanour village, near Jenin, broke into and searched several homes and interrogated the residents. .
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Israeli troops storm Awarta near Nablus, detain Palestinian man
NABLUS (Ma‘an) – Israeli forces stormed the northern West Bank village of Awarta south of Nablus on Sunday and detained a young Palestinian man, locals told Ma‘an. They added that Israeli military vehicles stormed the village at midday before they detained 27-year-old Samir Faisal Qadah and took him to the nearby Huwwara military base.
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Photo essay: Israeli soldiers sing 'We wish your whole village would burn down' to residents of Nabi Saleh
Nabi Saleh (ISM) 17 May by Team Ramallah -- Today Palestinian, international and Israeli activists marched towards a well that was stolen from the village of Nabi Saleh by the establishment of Halamish illegal settlement. As activists walked down the hill towards the well, Israeli soldiers shot tear gas at them which set fire to the ground around them. As they did so , soldiers sang “we wish your whole village would burn down”. Activists were then blocked from reaching the spring by a large group of Israeli soldiers. At the same time, a skunk water truck entered the village spraying several of the homes in the village with the putrid smelling liquid. Eight international and Israeli activists were detained by Israeli soldiers who confiscated their passports. They were released within 30 minutes.
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Israeli man 'sexually assaults' 2 boys in Jordan Valley
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 May -- A human rights group said Saturday that it was "deeply disturbed" by reports that an armed Israeli man dressed in a police uniform sexually assaulted two Palestinian boys in the Jordan Valley in April. Defense for Children International Palestine said that in late April an Israeli man driving a white car with yellow Israeli plates approached two 14-year-old boys attending goats north of Jericho, and with his firearm visible, ordered them to strip before sexually assaulting them one at a time. The grandfather of one of the boys said that the Palestinian Authority Liaison office submitted a complaint to Israeli police, but the attacker has still not been found. "It's been three weeks since these kids were sexually assaulted, and they live in fear with their attacker still on the loose," Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCI-Palestine, said.
Since 2009, there have been at least 20 cases of children alleging sexual abuse and threats by Israeli forces while being interrogated, DCI-Palestine says. This is the first case to be documented where sexual abuse has taken place by an Israeli perpetrator in uniform outside of arrest or interrogation, the group added.
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PA forces arrest 4 Hamas supporters, summon 5 others
OCCUPIED WB (PIC) 18 May -- PA Intelligence services re-arrested the liberated prisoner Nidhal Daghlas few moments after his release from Jericho prison on bail. The liberated prisoner Daghlas was detained in Israeli jails for more than 5 years after the IOF demolished his home in 2000. He was also detained more than 10 times in PA prisons where he was subjected to severe torture. In Ramallah, PA security forces summoned the former prisoner Maher Mohamed Yusuf Shritah who declared not to respond to the summon threatening to declare hunger strike in case he is arrested....
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PCHR Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (08-15 May 2013)
4 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded during incursions in the West Bank. Israeli forces have continued to use excessive force against peaceful protestors in the West Bank.  4 protestors were wounded during peaceful protests against the annexation wall and settlement activities.  2 photojournalists volunteering in B'Tselem and a paramedic were among the wounded persons.  Israeli forces conducted 61 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. 47 Palestinian civilians, including 13 children and a woman, were arrested in the West Bank. A number of university students and members of Palestinian security services were among the arrested persons ... Shooting:  During the reporting period, Israeli forces wounded 8 Palestinian civilians, including a child, in the West Bank; 4 civilians were wounded during Israeli dispersal of gatherings of Palestinian civilians protesting against Israeli forces' attacks in the Palestinian residential areas, while the 4 others, including 2 photojournalists, a paramedic and an 18-year-old boy, were wounded during peaceful protests against settlement activities and the annexation wall.  Full Report
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Army kidnapped 28 children in the first half of May, dozens injured
IMEMC 17 May -- 293 Palestinian Children Kidnapped In The First Quarter Of 2013 -- According to reports by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), based in Gaza, and the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, in Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers continued their aggression against the Palestinian children, kidnapped 28 children, dozens of children have been injured by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the first half of this month. [detailed list of kidnappings follows]
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Palestinian kids swept up in wave of Israel arrests
TEL AVIV 19 May  by Lawahez Jabari, Producer, NBC News – Ahmed Jawabreh, 14, was asleep in his home in early April at the al-Arub refugee camp near Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, when Israeli soldiers came looking for him. He had been anticipating exams at school in the morning, not a knock at the door at 3:30 a.m. Ahmed was arrested that night for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli soldiers in the camp earlier in the day and wasn’t released for another 18 days, when a judge ordered that a fine of $1,100 be paid and that Ahmed be placed under house arrest. His was only one of a recent wave of arrests of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities, human rights groups say. According to Defence for Children International (DCI), an independent non-governmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, since the beginning of this year there has been a 17 percent increase in arrests of Palestinian children. An average of 198 children were arrested each month in 2012; that average has risen to 232 arrests during the first three months of 2013, DCI reported.  [good to have this story on a major American network, but the appalling comments on it make it evident that it didn't make much of a dent in American ignorance of the situation]
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Detainees / Court actions

Administrative detainees to start a hunger strike at the beginning of June
RAMALLAH, AL-KHALIL (PIC) 17 May -- The Palestinian administrative prisoners in Israeli jails decided to launch an open-ended hunger strike at the beginning of the month of June. Sources in the captive movement inside the Negev prison said that the administrative detainees decided to go on an open-ended hunger strike after two weeks; to demand their release, and a stop to the persistent policy of extending their detention without setting a date for their release. The sources told Quds Press on Thursday that the prisoners are demanding to stop the policy of administrative detention under which the Palestinians are detained without specific charges or trial. According to Palestinian human rights data, there are 218 Palestinian detainees held under the Israeli administrative detention.
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Prisoner Youssef Shabaan's detention extended
JENIN (PIC) 17 May -- The Israeli court at Jalama prison extended the arrest of the prisoner Youssef Shaaban, 30, for 8 days.
Prisoner Shaaban had started a hunger strike in November last year for 64 days protesting his administrative detention following the arrest campaign waged in the West Bank during the recent Israeli aggression on the Gaza strip, where he was released after spending 3 months administratively. However, the Israeli authorities re-arrested the prisoner on May 2 during an Israeli arrest campaign against a number of freed administrative detainees.
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Israel court decides to release MP Qarawi
TULKAREM (PIC) 19 May -- An Israeli court issued a decision not to renew the administrative detention of the Hamas MP Fathi Qarawi, from the city of Tulkarem in the northern West Bank. Qarawi's son Hazem told Quds Press reporter on Saturday that the Israeli Supreme Court issued on Thursday a decision not to renew the administrative detention of his father, who has been detained for nearly seven months. Hazem said that his father had earlier served more than three years in administrative detention, with no charge, noting that his release from the Negev desert prison is scheduled for May 23.
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Gaza siege

Egypt closes Gaza crossing for third day in a row
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 May -- Egyptian police at Rafah are closing the crossing for a third day in a row Sunday after the kidnappings of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai, officials said. They are preventing all Palestinians from traveling through the crossing or leaving the Gaza Strip, the Gaza interior ministry said Sunday. The Hamas-run Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Saturday that talks were underway with Egypt to reopen the crossing ... Maher Abu Sabha, the general director of crossings and borders, said 800 Palestinians were stranded on the Egyptian side of the crossing on Saturday morning. The number was expected to reach 1,000 by the end of the day. Most travelers are waiting in hotels in el-Arish for the crossing to reopen. They include sick people who had received medical treatment abroad, pilgrims and students who study abroad.
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Egyptian Brotherhood leader: Hamas has nothing to do with kidnappings
CAIRO (PIC) 18 May -- Saber Aboul Fotouh, a leader in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, stressed that charging Hamas with the Egyptian soldiers' kidnapping only misleads justice. Hamas is engaged in the battle against the Israeli occupation, and it has no reason to abort the Egyptian-Palestinian good relationship, said Aboul Fotouh. The kidnapping of 7 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai is a catastrophe, he continued, calling on the Egyptian armed forces to work for their release by any possible means.Meanwhile, Director General of border crossings Maher Abu Sabha confirmed on Friday morning that the Egyptian authorities refused to re-open Rafah crossing in both directions.
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Man killed in Gaza tunnel collapse
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 May -- A man was killed on Saturday when a smuggling tunnel in Rafah collapsed, a Gaza medical official said. Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma‘an that Mousa Ghunaim, 26, was pronounced dead on arrival at a Gaza hospital after a tunnel collapsed while he was working.
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Palestinian refugees outside Palestine

Ukraine deports detained Palestinian refugees to Belarus
LONDON (PIC) 18 May -- Palestinian activists said that the Ukrainian authorities deported to Belarus the Palestinian refugees who had fled from Syria camps towards Ukraine where they had been detained. Working Group for the Palestinians in Syria said in a press statement on Friday that the Palestinian families arrived on Thursday evening to the Belarusian territories, where the border guards received them and took them to an unknown destination. The Working Group appealed to all humanitarian and human rights organizations, particularly the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to protect and support this group of refugees.
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PFLP-GC leader dies in Syria
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 May -- Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command leader Ibrahim Salama passed away in Syria on Saturday, the group said in a statement. Salama, also known as Abu Arab, was one of the founders of the PFLP-GC and spent 13 years in Israeli prisons before being released in a swap deal in 1979. Salama, 65, was also a writer and poet, the statement added, and passed away in Damascus after a long illness.
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Palestinian killed, 2 hurt in Lebanon clash
BEIRUT (Ma‘an) 19 May -- Clashes between rival Palestinian groups in a Lebanese refugee camp left one man dead and another two injured, Lebanese media reported Sunday. Clashes between Fatah and Islamist gunmen in Ain al-Hilweh in Sidon took place late Saturday and early Sunday, the Beirut-based Daily Star newspaper reported.
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Israel youth movement shirts display anti-Arab racism
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 May  – Picnickers in northern Israel were surprised Thursday when they saw anti-Arab racist slogans printed on T-shirts of a guide affiliated to a religious youth movement Ezra. "Torching Arabs for education," was written on the guide’s shirt, families who were picnicking in the north told the Israeli daily Maariv. Maariv reported that it was not the first time such slogans were seen on T-shirts. A witness told the newspaper that he saw "death to Arabs" written on T-shirts wore by guides affiliated to the same movement.
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Political, other news

Senior Fatah officials call for single democratic state, not two-state solution
Haaretz 17 May by Amira Hass -- New initiative would allow Palestinian refugees the right of return to 'a state of all its citizens." Calling the two-state solution unrealistic, senior Fatah members issued a document Wednesday calling for the establishment of one democratic country in the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. The initiative, which was the culmination of two years of discussion, coincided with the 65th anniversary of the Nakba 
("catastrophe" in Arabic) − the forced exile of more than 700,000 Palestinians in 1948 and after and the dispersal of the Palestinian people between different countries and regimes ... Most of the participants behind the initiative are identified with Fatah; a minority are members of other organizations in the PLO.
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Risheq denies claims that Hamas has cells in US
BEIRUT (PIC) 18 May -- Hamas Politburo member Izzat al-Risheq denied New York authorities' claims concerning the arrest of 15 elements affiliated to Hamas movement for smuggling untaxed cigarettes. These allegations are failed attempts to tarnish the Palestinian people’s struggle and just cause, he said on Friday. New York authorities have claimed on Thursday the arrests of 15 Palestinians for smuggling untaxed cigarettes, pointing that some of them are affiliated to Hamas movement and another "extremist" group. New York Attorney General and Police Commissioner stated during a press conference that "the smuggling ring has made a fortune selling more than a million cartons of untaxed cigarettes in New York."
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Celebrated Palestinian historian, journalist dies at 93
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 May -- Celebrated Palestinian historian, author and journalist Nasser al-Din al-Nashashibi died on Friday at his home in Jerusalem on Friday aged 93. Al-Nashashibi was born in Jerusalem in 1920. He studied political science in Lebanon, and joined the Arab League's Arab Office in 1945. He would later be appointed an Ambassador-at-large for the League.
His journalistic career began in 1946, when he started work as a literary commentator and political analyst at Al-Quds radio. He held top editorial posts in Egyptian and Jordanian media, and wrote over 40 books.
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2 journalists say Palestinian Authority interrogated them
RAMALLAH, West Bank, May 18 (UPI) -- Two Palestinian journalists said they were detained and questioned this week by the Palestinian authority, despite a promise to respect freedom of the press. One of the journalists, a documentary filmmaker, said he was forced to reveal the passwords to his personal email and Facebook page, the Jerusalem Post reported. Haroun Abu Arrah said he was questioned for more than 2 hours by agents of the General Intelligence Service and then released without being told why he had been summoned. "I went to the headquarters of the GIS two days after receiving a summons," Abu Arrah told the Samir Kassir Eyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom. "They asked me provocative and personal questions, such as whether I was having or had sexual relationships. I told the interrogator that this was none of his business. He replied: 'You better answer the questions.'" Abu Arrah said he was detained for 10 days this year after asking President Mahmoud Abbas during a news conference in Oslo about deaths in Palestinian prisons. Omar Arqoub said he was held for 11 days by the GIS and his laptop was confiscated. He said he was questioned about a film he is doing on Palestinians held in Israel.
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Palestinian scales Mt. Everest
Ynet 19 May by Elior Levi -- Four alpinists from Arab countries scaled Mount Everest as part of a 64-man group, thus setting a triple mountain-conquering precedent: The first Palestinian, the first Saudi woman and the first Qatari national to climb to the top of the world's highest mountain. The group dubbed themselves "Arabs with Altitude." ...  Raed Zidan was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents who immigrated from a village near Qalqilya. Zidan, who is living in the US, is a seasoned mountaineer who had previously scaled Mount Kilimanjaro. There, as on top of Nepal, he erected a Palestinian flag, saying he dedicates his feat to Palestinians, especially those "languishing" in Israeli prisons.
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Israel is world's largest exporter of drones, study finds
Haaretz 19 May by Gili Cohen -- In eight years, Israel exported $4.6 billion worth of UAVs to countries ranging from Britain to India and Uganda -- Israel is the world's largest exporter of unmanned aircraft, in terms of the number of systems sold, a study has found. Over the last eight years Israel has exported $4.6 billion worth of unmanned aerial vehicles, according to a study by the business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. UAVs, or drones, constitute nearly 10 percent of Israel's total military exports.
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Senior BBC official insists all Jerusalem is an 'Israeli' city
EI 17 May by Amena Saleem -- The BBC has provided evidence this week that it prefers to use the territorial claims of the Israeli government to the whole of Jerusalem as a framework for its reporting, rather than acknowledging international law. International law considers only West Jerusalem, conquered in 1948 — amid the expulsion by Zionist militias of tens of thousands of Palestinians — to be under de facto Israeli control, while East Jerusalem, conquered in 1967 is occupied territory. This is reflected in the  UK government’s position, which, since 1950, has recognized Israeli de facto authority in West Jerusalem, but not sovereignty, and considers East Jerusalem to be under military occupation. However, in a 15 May email sent to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), the BBC’s Senior Editorial Strategy Advisor, Leanne Buckle, has confirmed that the BBC is happy to refer to the whole of Jerusalem as an "Israeli" city.
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EU 'delays' West Bank settler goods labels
AAP 19 May -- THE European Union has postponed plans to introduce separate labelling for products from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reports. Citing European diplomats and Israeli officials it did not identify, the paper reported the plan, which had been due to be approved by EU foreign ministers later this week, will now not be put to ministers until the end of June. Haaretz said US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is trying to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, intervened with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton at Israel's request.
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Anti-Palestinian activist heaps praise on campus BDS campaigners
EI 14 May by Abraham Greenhouse --It was meant to be an alarmist hit piece, alerting readers (and undoubtedly, potential donors) to the growing 'threat' posed by campus divestment campaigns to Israel’s unconditional supporters. It was meant to instill fear and loathing. It was meant to channel these intense emotions into support (especially of the financial variety) for reinforcing the infrastructure of the organized anti-Palestinian community. It was meant to do a lot of things, but the Jewish Journal article “Attempted divestment at UCSB and the BDS machine” by Max Samarov, a University of California Santra Barbara alumnus and a staff member with anti-Palestinian advocacy group StandWithUs, may be most notable for sheer amount of unintended compliments it pays to the dedicated activists working on campuses across the United States (and indeed, the world) to shed light upon Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and to hold businesses accountable for knowingly profiting from those abuses.
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Cliff Richard will come
Haaretz 19 May -- When Stephen Hawking visited here in 2006 he received the royal treatment; but then he decided to criticize Israel -- This might be the most sensitive of Israeli nerves: Just try to touch it, and your fate is sealed. Anyone proposing to boycott an Israeli product, from Ahava's skin creams to the Israeli Presidential Conference, is immediately sentenced to scorn, ostracism and a total smear campaign. This Pavlovian response reached a nadir with the announcement by the esteemed scientist Stephen Hawking of his withdrawal from the birthday celebrations for President Shimon Peres. Instead of asking itself how it got to the point where even a celebrated figure like Hawking, who has never been accused of being anti-Israel, decides to boycott its gatherings, Israel is busy waging a slander campaign. Instead of listening to the synthesized moral voice of the paralyzed scientist, Israel kicks viciously at Hawking, in a manner that obviously only proves the lameness of its arguments.
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Analysis / Opinion / Interviews / Reviews

Al Jazeera management orders Joseph Massad article pulled in an act of pro-Israel censorship
EI 19 May by Ali Abunimah -- In an unprecedented act of political censorship Al Jazeera English has deleted an article by noted Columbia University Professor Joseph Massad after coming under intense criticism from Zionists in recent days. Massad told The Electronic Intifada that he had "received confirmation" from his editor at Al Jazeera English that "management pulled the article." The Electronic Intifada was able to independently confirm that the article was pulled. The piece, "The Last of the Semites," published on 14 May, was taken down from the main Al Jazeera English site this morning. The link now redirects to Al Jazeera’s main page. The article had been one of the most viewed and emailed articles on the site and had been tweeted hundreds of times. Intense criticism Since its publication, the article generated intense criticism from Zionist extremists, including a columnist in the virulently anti-Palestinian Jerusalem Post, and condemnation on Twitter from President Barack Obama’s favorite Israel lobby gatekeeper and former Israeli prison guard Jeffrey Goldberg:
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The Last of the Semites / Joseph Massad
Jews sans Frontières 19 May -- This is a copy and paste of the cached version of Joseph Massad's article The Last of the Semites, which seems to have been taken down from al Jazeera. "It is Israel's claims that it represents and speaks for all Jews that are the most anti-Semitic claims of all."
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Tommy Donnellan - Galway talks 2013-05-17
Irish activist is interviewed on an Irish radio station on the present situation in the West Bank and about the occupation forces shooting him in Nabi Saleh and Silwad.
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High hopes for Palestinian 3-D animated film The Scarecrow
AFP 18 May -- Filmmakers in Gaza have finished making what is believed to be the first Palestinian animated feature in 3-D, in a bid to show a fresh perspective on life through a child’s eyes. Called The Scarecrow, the 40-minute production tells the story of a 9-year-old orphan named Rima and the scarecrow she was given by her parents who died in a car crash. One day, the scarecrow -- who represents the guardian of Palestinian land -- is taken away by an Israeli soldier from the family’s land near the border and Rima sets off with her school friends on a mission to find it. It is a story which evokes some of the suffering of Palestinian refugees, says the director Khalil Al Mazen. "The world is used to seeing Palestinian children surrounded by death, destruction and war, but this film focuses on their simple dreams," he said.  See TRAILER here
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Haaretz editorial: Stop rewriting history

19 May -- Without recognizing the Palestinian Nakba it is impossible to understand the source of the Israeli-Arab conflict -- For decades, successive Israeli governments have waged a resolute war over the shaping of historical consciousness. In the center of the battle over national consciousness stands the Nakba - the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Israel's War of Independence, and the refusal to permit their return. Israel is not willing to take responsibility for these events. It even invests enormous effort, mainly educational in nature, to suppress and eliminate stories or testimony that could support the existence of the Nakba. One example of how the state tries to cause the erasure of history it finds uncomfortable can be found in the article by Shay Hazkani ("Of their own free will," Haaretz Magazine, May 17 ), about research commissioned in the early 1960s by then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, with the aim of finding evidence for the Israeli claim that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees left their homes of their own volition.
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The Dromi Law in the service of the Palestinians / Ithamar Handelman-Smith
Haaretz 20 May -- Jewish settlers in the West Bank are allowed to use live fire to defend their lives or their property, but might the same law also enable Palestinians to act in self-defense? -- ...MK Orit Strock (Habayit Hayehudi) wants to apply the "Dromi Law" in the occupied territories. In other words Strock, "the activist for the rights of the settler," wants to ease the orders for opening fire for the settlers, who have quick trigger fingers in any case. Strock is a representative of the extreme right in Israel, but she is also a faithful representative of the subconscious of the Israeli right, the subconscious of a victimizer who is constantly convinced that he is the victim. Now she wants to make things a little easier for the settlers, in order to help them deal with "nationalist attacks" on Jewish property by using live fire. She wants to equalize the situation in the state of the settlers with that in the State of Israel. Strock, a woman of valor, doesn’t only speak loftily, she also takes action ...
The big question that should now be asked is whether the “Dromi Law” also applies to Palestinian residents of the occupied territories. What does the Dromi Law say? In the context of the amendment to Section 134 of the Penal Code it was ruled that "a person will not bear criminal responsibility for an act that was required immediately in order to repel someone who breaks into or enters a residential home, business or fenced-in farm, belonging to him or anyone else, with the intention of committing a crime, or someone who attempts to break in or enter as mentioned."
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Israeli panel: Palestinian boy killed by IDF at start of intifada die not actually die
Haaretz 19 May by Barak Ravid -- National Israeli panel of inquiry says iconic footage from start of second intifada reveals that Palestinian child apparently caught by IDF bullets did not actually die in the incident -- Thirteen years after an exchange of fire in Gaza appeared to have resulted in the death of a Palestinian boy at the start of the second intifada, an Israeli investigative panel has found "there are many indications" that Mohammed al-Dura and his father, Jamal, "were never hit by gunfire" -- neither Israeli nor Palestinian -- after all.
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Report on IDF shooting of Palestinian boy during intifada may cause Israel more damage than good
Haaretz 20 May by Barak Ravid -- Its publication and the accompanying international public relations campaign only threatens to awake sleeping dogs. If international press picks up on the report, it could lead to a renewed discussion around Palestinian children getting hurt during IDF operations -- The report of the committee investigating the "coverage by French TV station France 2 of the Mohammed al-Dura affair, its results and implications," which was presented Sunday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is probably one of the least relevant documents written by the Israeli government in recent years. The fact that 13 years have elapsed since the incidents addressed in the report took place turned the submission of the report into a surreal affair. Netanyahu recited slogans about "a campaign of de-legitimization directed against Israel" and Minister Yuval Steinitz, who had no part in preparing the report, muttered a few words about a "blood libel" and everyone present felt very righteous.
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Kennedy’s insistence on right of return prompted Ben-Gurion to rewrite history: They fled ‘of their own free will’
May 20, 2013 11:11 am | Philip Weiss

Incredible piece of reporting on the Nakba at 'Haaretz' from Shay Hazkani, and meaningful at many levels. It shows what the scholar Victor Kattan has documented, that several US presidents were for the right of return. Kennedy wanted several hundred thousand to be allowed to return, and Israel said 20-30,000. And then US policy on the right changed under Clinton, in 1994, as Rashid Khalidi has stated. Hazkani:

Ben-Gurion appeared to have known the facts well. Even though much material about the Palestinian refugees in Israeli archives is still classified, what has been uncovered provides enough information to establish that in many cases senior commanders of the Israel Defense Forces ordered Palestinians to be expelled and their homes blown up. The Israeli military not only updated Ben-Gurion about these events but also apparently received his prior authorization, in written or oral form, notably in Lod and Ramle, and in several villages in the north. Documents available for perusal on the Israeli side do not provide an unequivocal answer to the question of whether an orderly plan to expel Palestinians existed. In fact, fierce debate on the issue continues to this day. For example, in an interview with Haaretz the historian Benny Morris argued that Ben-Gurion delineated a plan to transfer the Palestinians forcibly out of Israel, though there is no documentation that proves this incontrovertibly.

Even before the war of 1948 ended, Israeli public diplomacy sought to hide the cases in which Palestinians were expelled from their villages. In his study of the early historiography of the 1948 war, “Memory in a Book” (Hebrew), Mordechai Bar-On quotes Aharon Zisling, who would become an MK on behalf of Ahdut Ha’avoda and was the agriculture minister in Ben-Gurion’s provisional government in 1948. At the height of the expulsion of the Arabs from Lod and Ramle, Zisling wrote in the left-wing newspaper Al Hamishmar, “We did not expel Arabs from the Land of Israel ... After they remained in our area of control, not one Arab was expelled by us.” In Davar, the newspaper of the ruling Mapai party, the journalist A. Ophir went one step further, explaining, “In vain did we cry out to the Arabs who were streaming across the borders: Stay here with us!”

Contemporaries who had ties to the government or the armed forces obviously knew that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had been expelled and their return was blocked already during the war. They understood that this must be kept a closely guarded secret. In 1961, after John F. Kennedy assumed office as president of the United States, calls for the return of some of the Palestinian refugees increased. Under the guidance of the new president, the U.S. State Department tried to force Israel to allow several hundred thousand refugees to return. In 1949, Israel had agreed to consider allowing about 100,000 refugees to return, in exchange for a comprehensive peace agreement with the Arab states, but by the early 1960s that was no longer on the agenda as far as Israel was concerned. Israel was willing to discuss the return of some 20,000-30,000 refugees at most.

Under increasing pressure from Kennedy and amid preparations at the United Nations General Assembly to address the Palestinian refugee issue, Ben-Gurion convened a special meeting on the subject. Held in his office in the Kirya, the defense establishment compound in Tel Aviv, the meeting was attended by the top ranks of Mapai, including Foreign Minister Golda Meir, Agriculture Minister Moshe Dayan and Jewish Agency Chairman Moshe Sharett. Ben-Gurion was convinced that the refugee problem was primarily one of public image (hasbara). Israel, he believed, would be able to persuade the international community that the refugees had not been expelled, but had fled. “First of all, we need to tell facts, how they escaped,” he said in the meeting. “As far as I know, most of them fled before the state’s establishment, of their own free will, and contrary to what the Haganah [the pre-independence army of Palestine’s Jews] told them when it defeated them, that they could stay. After the state’s establishment [on May 15, 1948], as far as I know, only the Arabs of Ramle and Lod left their places, or were pressured to leave.”

Ben-Gurion thereby set the frame of reference for the discussion, even though some of the participants knew that his presentation was inaccurate, to say the least...

Ben-Gurion went on to explain what Israel must tell the world: "...[T]his was of their own free will, because they were told the country would soon be conquered and you will return to be its lord and masters and not just return to your homes.” In 1961, against the backdrop of what Ben-Gurion described as the need for “a serious operation, both in written form and in oral hasbara,” the Shiloah Institute was asked to collect material for the government about “the flight of the Arabs from the Land of Israel in 1948.”

Thanks to Omar Barghouti and Annie Robbins.

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Palestinian-American Raed Zidan plants flag on top of Everest, dedicates climb to political prisoners
May 20, 2013 11:04 am | Ira Glunts

Raed Zidan, first Palestinian to reach summit of Everest

Palestinian-American Raed Zidan became the first Palestinian to reach the summit of the earth's highest mountain last Saturday, dedicating his climb to Palestinians - especially political prisoners.

Zidan was one of 35 foreigners, along with 29 Nepalese Sherpa guides, intent on reaching the summit and raising a million dollars to promote education in Nepal. Calling themselves "Arabs With Altitude," Zidan was joined by two men from Qatar and Iran, and by 25-year-old Raha Moharrak, who became the first Saudi Arabian woman to reach the world's tallest peak.

According to Ynet

Raed Zidan was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents who immigrated from a village near Qalqilya.  Zidan, who is living in the US, is a seasoned mountaineer who had previously scaled Mount Kilimanjaro. There, as on top of Nepal [Everest], he erected a Palestinian flag, saying he dedicates his feat to Palestinians, especially those "languishing" in Israeli prisons. [emphasis mine]

This video will give you chills in more ways than one.  In a previous expedition, clad in his keffiyeh, Raed Zidan placed the Palestinian flag on the summit of Mount Vinson in Antarctica:

Raed Zidan is a United States citizen residing in Indianapolis and Dubai. He owns and operates Zidan Management Group, an Indianapolis multi-housing real estate development, acquisition and management business.  He is 41 years old, married, and has three children. Along with mountaineering, his passions are flying and auto rally racing.

It is ironic that the only news website that reported Zidan’s acts of political solidarity was the Israeli Ynet.  I emailed the writer of the article, Elior Levi, who covers what is termed "Palestinian Affairs," congratulating her on the scoop.  So far I have not received a reply.  Maybe Levi did not find my reference to the climb as “Raed’s excellent aliyah” all that funny.  Aliyah is the Hebrew word for ascent, which is more commonly used to denote Jewish immigration to Israel, considered a great achievement among Israelis.  

A look at the comments about Zidan’s ascent under Levi’s report will give you an idea just how racist Israelis can be.  Out of the first 15 responses there was only one that viewed the Palestinian climber’s accomplishment as something praiseworthy, and that comment elicited an angry reply.

The Emirati website Khaleej Times focused its report on the remarkable achievements of local “Arabs With Altitude” member Raha Moharrak, the Saudi woman who lives in the United Arab Emirates:

The UAE’s fame has reached new heights with a Dubai-based Saudi woman scaling Mount Everest on Saturday and three other Arabs, with links to the country, inching to reach the top of the world.

Mountaineering officials in Nepal said the 25-year-old graphic design graduate from the American University of Sharjah was among 64 climbers who successfully scaled Everest from Nepal’s side of the mountain, during a charity expedition.

Raha Moharrak, the only female in the four-member ‘Arabs with Altitude’ group, has become the first ever Saudi woman to climb to the top of Mount Everest. “I really don’t care about being the first ... so long as it inspires someone else to be the second,” Moharrak said ahead of her expedition.

Moharrak, like Zidan, is an accomplished mountain climber.  Her achievement is noteworthy since Saudi Arabian culture is extremely restrictive for women; Moharrak would be legally prohibited from even driving an automobile there.

The ascent of Raed Zidan to the summit of Everest and his commitment to  solidarity serves as a reminder that Palestinians will keep moving forward until they reach their ultimate goal:  a land which is free of Israeli oppression and a country where human and political equality is the birthright of all citizens.


  Raed Zidan with a Palestinian flag on top of Mt. Vinson

H/T Annie Robbins

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Exile and the Prophetic: Disappearing Massad, disappearing Palestine
May 20, 2013 10:52 am | Marc H. Ellis

This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

Al Jazeera pulled Joseph Massad’s article – “The Last of the Anti-Semites” - from their website yesterday.   They caved, it seems, to Jewish pressures and perhaps the profit motive, future licensing and alike.  I leave that analysis for others.

The fall out is likely to escalate at Columbia University where Massad teaches.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Congressional hearings are in the mix.  Massad touched the third rail of American innocence.  Could Israel – and “white” Jews - really be what Massad say they are?

Massad’s article is disappearing.  Like disappearing Palestine, it will reappear.  Neither are going away.

As I wrote in my two recent posts that refer to Massad, he’s a tough cookie.  Massad lacks restraint on issues that touch on the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  He either doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to understand the nuanced, ever-moving red lines that Jewish and Palestinian intellectuals and activists – at least in the European- American discourse - have agreed to respect. 

Massad’s rhetoric is far removed from that of the late Edward Said.  Massad’s notion of Israel as the ultimate victory of the last anti-Semites – which for Massad includes Zionist Jews as anti-Semites - moves far beyond Said’s claim of being the last cosmopolitan Jew.  Said’s reference was a lament. The macho-nationalism of the contemporary Jewish establishments in America and Israel had taken over the Jewish tradition.  Massad isn’t lamenting anything except his people’s dwindling prospects.

I wonder, though, if they are tied together, noting the deepening crisis of Palestinian life.  Where would Said be today on these issues? 

No matter how tough the going gets, Palestinian intellectuals and activists have agreed that questioning initial Jewish motives in settling Palestine and discussions about Zionist-Nazi connections, then and now, are off limits.  Palestinians have also agreed to police anti-Semitism wherever it rears its ugly head.

When I heard Massad in Oslo on the 15th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, I thought the lid was about to come off the Israel/Palestine discourse agreements.  Subsequent conferences on the One-State option I spoke at, though conducted with a great and dignified restraint, confirmed my view.

My sense is that the lid some Palestinians want to come off relates as much to the Palestinian Authority and the Arab governments as it does to Jews and Israel.  Read Massad carefully.  Though his criticism of the Palestinian Authority and Arab governments are often one-liners, they’re tough ones.  It’s bound to ruffle feathers. 

This could be another reason for Massad’s disappearing article.  With the recent Arab League land swap agreement, it seems that the Arab countries are all-in on Israel being integrated into the Middle East military security structure.  What they don’t need are Palestinian intellectuals and activists messing with their political alliances, especially those sponsored by the United States.  Al Jazeera is policing its own.

If you remember, Said was merciless on the Palestinian Authority and the Arab governments after the Oslo Accords were signed.  As his health deteriorated, Said went ballistic.  Again, the differences between Massad and Said are instructive here.  Is Massad the inheritor of Said’s mantle in these changing times?

Massad and other Palestinian intellectuals and activists want to prevent the Palestinian Authority and the Arab governments from signing away their birthright.  Hitting at Jews and Jewish history, making Jewishness invisible in the movement to free Palestinians, is partly a strategic ploy to regain traction in the context of an agreed upon disappearing Palestine.

Whatever their ultimate objective, the lid, somewhat ajar, remains in place.  Is Massad taking another swing at it?

I am much closer to Said whom I knew as a friend.  Massad’s historical rendering of Zionism, the various faces of Nazism and who is and isn’t a Semite are over the top.  On Jewish history, Massad is simplistic.  His generalizations are too sweeping. In the end there’s little room for Jews of European and American background to breathe Jewish without being implicated in atrocity. 

Having pointed to these flaws, however, take a look at those who are up in arms about him.  These analysts and officials primary aim is to bury crimes against the Palestinian people in the name of peace that doesn’t include justice.  Talk about simplistic analysis!

Years ago I lectured in Scotland. In the question and answer period, a young Palestinian woman rose up and thanked me for my presentation. She asked what she was to do with her grandparents’ village near Tel Aviv.   Her grandparents, along with the rest of her family, were stuck in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon.  They wanted to return home.

The young woman clearly violated the red lines of respectable discourse.  Yet her innocence betrayed her.  She had just arrived in Europe and hadn’t read the Israel/Palestine discourse rule book.  She didn’t know what she could and couldn’t say. 

The rules of engagement have been muted for too long.  Sure everyone gets to hear what they rather not hear.  Tough.  There’s too much suffering on the ground to keep our polite white gloves on.

 Massad’s words should be heard as a broadside about his people’s suffering that all the red lines in the world have failed to address. 

Let Massad speak unfettered.  Let the chips fall where they may. 

While we’re listening, follow the money, security and political alliances trail.  You might end up in a different place than Massad’s accusers want you to be.

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Lapid says ‘Israelis want peace and security and Palestinians want peace and justice’
May 20, 2013 10:24 am | Philip Weiss

Jodi Rudoren reports for the New York Times from Tel Aviv on the rising/falling Israeli political star Yair Lapid, now the Finance Minister under Netanyahu. Shorter version: Nothing is going to change. He trashes Abbas, who is actually a conservative inside Palestinian life, as some kind of insurgent; he hasn't had a word with John Kerry, the savior of the two-state-solution, since March. He hasn't spoken with Palestinians since taking office. Lapid's summary of the difference between the two populations, Israelis want security, Palestinians want justice, has a profound truth to it but contains its contradiction: Israelis are insecure because of an injustice; they will never find security without justice. Rudoren:

While he described the two-state solution as “crucial” to preserving Israel as a Jewish nation, he offered no hints of Israeli concessions that could break the stalemate in the peace process. Instead, he repeatedly said he hoped that Secretary of State John Kerry, who is scheduled to arrive here this week for his fourth visit in two months, would “jump-start” it.

And he expressed extreme skepticism about the likelihood of reaching a deal with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, saying, “He’s one of the founding fathers of the victimizing concept of the Palestinians.”

He also questioned whether Palestinians truly wanted a state.

“Israelis want peace and security and Palestinians want peace and justice — these are two very different things, and this is the real gap we have to close,” he said. “More and more people are saying to themselves and to others, this is not going to happen, all we have to do is some maintenance and we’ll see. Some people think ‘we’ll see’ is ‘God will help us,’ which is not a very tangible idea to me. Others say, ‘Some problems are not to be solved,’ which is a very sad idea.

“I am saying what we need to do is something.”

Yet while Mr. Lapid vowed “to be proactive about this and do everything in my power to contribute to the discourse,” he said he has not spoken with Mr. Kerry since sitting with him at a state dinner during President Obama’s visit to Jerusalem in March. Nor has he met with any Palestinians since taking office.

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Birthright guide turned US youths’ eyes away from refugee camps, settlements
May 20, 2013 10:11 am | Philip Weiss

"Birthright tells only half the story," Dartmouth students and Birthright alumni Steven Povich and Axel Hufford write in The Jewish Week. Their observations are not all that original and certainly not incisive, but they are a reminder that generational criticisms of Israel are beginning to leak into even mainstream organizations and Jewish publications.

These two young men are part of J Street. Note the indoctrination about the Jewish people's connection to Israel, and note their resistance to the indoctrination.

This past December, as we participated in Birthright through Dartmouth College Hillel, Israel, in our minds, shifted from being merely an abstract conception to something that felt tangibly, overwhelmingly real. Never before had we felt such a strong connection to our people’s homeland.

Despite our strong Jewish upbringings, including K-12 attendance at Jewish schools, we had never before felt a real passion for the Jewish homeland. Yet, when we walked around the shuk in Jerusalem and bonded with the Israeli soldiers who accompanied us, we started to feel a strong connection to the State of Israel. Experiencing Israel’s many natural and historic wonders, from the Dead Sea to Safed, deepened our desire to learn more about the country.

And yet, while we enjoyed our falafel and posed for pictures on Masada, part of our Israel education was missing. Although our tour guide did not fail to teach many fun facts, she skimmed over some of the important ones. When we were driving towards Jerusalem and could visibly see the refugee camps and settlements in the West Bank, our tour guide remained silent. In some cases, she actually pointed in the opposite direction to show us the landscape or certain buildings, barely touching on the more contentious topic of the Israeli occupation. When we tried to ask, our questions were deflected. Indeed, we were curious about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but left the country feeling intellectually unfulfilled in that regard.

As Jewish college students who want to explore the challenges that Israel faces in a realistic and honest way, we found ourselves frustrated by the one-sided education and utter lack of critical discussion regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Put simply, we returned from Israel feeling incapable of being pro-Israel advocates on campus; with such a small piece of the story, how could we talk to our peers about the complexities, nuances, and narratives that form the fabric of one of the world’s most intractable conflicts?

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