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Mondoweiss
Here are the headlines from Mondoweiss for 04/21/2012:

Mads Gilbert, eyewitness to ‘Cast Lead’, says Gaza remains besieged and ‘shattered’
Apr 20, 2012 02:31 pm | Alex Kane

Gilbert

Two years ago, Dr. Mads Gilbert (right) told me that his experience in Gaza during Israel’s assault in 2009 was the “most horrific experience” of his life, a grim honor previously held by Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which Gilbert also witnessed. Gilbert spent over two weeks as one of the only foreign doctors in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, and worked at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Currently a professor of medicine at the University of North Norway, Gilbert is the co-author of the book Eyes in Gaza, which chronicles what he witnessed during the Israeli assault and invasion.

Today, Gilbert says Gaza remains in ruins, betrayed by the international community. The blockade of Gaza remains, and Israeli air strikes continue to kill civilians.

Gilbert, who is known for his deeply personal and riveting presentations on the Gaza Strip, recently concluded a speaking tour in the United States.

I caught up with Gilbert before his talk at Columbia University. We discussed his recent impressions of Gaza, the decision by the International Criminal Court to reject a probe into war crimes committed during Cast Lead, and much more.

Alex Kane: So, what brings you back to New York?

Mads Gilbert: Actually, it’s my sixth invited speaking tour on Gaza since Operation Cast Lead. This time, it’s a speaking tour of ten days to Washington, obviously New York, up north, to Madison and a number of universities. The tour is organized by Jennifer Loewenstein and the Carol Chomsky Memorial Foundation. So they are the ones that invited me, actually. So I think it’s interesting that I’ve been here six times on speaking tours, speaking at a large number of universities, in church groups, at the Sabeel conference, and so forth, and I’ve been twice to Canada on a week-long stretch of tours and twice to the UK on week-long speaking tours. So it amounts to, all together, ten speaking tours on Gaza.

AK: And have you been back to Gaza since your time spent during Cast Lead?

MG: Yes. In fact in August 2009, with the manuscript for the families to review and to review the pictures. And I was back in January. I came the same route in and out as I did during Operation Cast Lead. So I traveled in through Rafah on New Year’s Eve, to follow the footsteps of the mission during Operation Cast Lead, and went up to Shifa Hospital, met with my colleagues, did some clinical work, had meetings, gave lectures, and most importantly, met many of the patients that I had treated.

AK: What are your most recent impressions of Gaza?

MG: My impressions as of 2012--that’s what I’m going to speak about tonight. The human rights abuses of the Israeli government, of the Israeli army, continues.

There is widespread lack of human security, ongoing killings, military attacks, week by week people are getting killed and injured. The siege is as brutal as it has been, resulting in lack of everything, from construction materials, to power--the power cuts are more extensive than they have been in a long time because of the lack of diesel and gasoline to fuel the generators. The lack of solid waste trucks makes it almost impossible to collect the solid waste. In Gaza City, they have contracted 280 donkey cart drivers to manually handle the solid waste. Many of the sewage cleaning installations are not working because they lack spare parts and maintenance, so sewage is pumped into the Mediterranean. And of course there is widespread deficiencies in nutrition. The malnutrition is well documented, and it causes anemia and stunting in children, not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank, but it’s more pronounced in Gaza.

The people of Gaza maintain their dignity and their humanity, I would say. I was well received with great hospitality. People don’t weep, they don’t beg, they don’t complain, but of course life is exceedingly difficult. Many are so tired and sick of the siege and the ongoing bombing, and they really want to see an end to that. Also, they want to see Palestinian unity. Many of the patients that participated in the treatment, they need follow-up, they need rehabilitation. Some of them need surgery. And of course the health care system in Gaza is quite overburdened by the number of people needing medical support, and the siege takes its tool on equipment, maintenance, spare parts, everything you can imagine. So, taken all together, the situation has not become easier. The attacks continue, but the people will not give up. The 600 tunnels are the lifelines of the influx of goods and animals to Gaza. The smuggler economy will increase the level of costs for all types of goods, so there is increasing poverty, and more and more people are living under the line as extreme poverty as defined by the UN.

AK: And obviously you’ve spent a lot of time dealing with the victims of Israeli airstrikes. Recently, there was a decision by the International Criminal Court that essentially said there will not be a war crimes tribunal for Operation Cast Lead. What’s your response to that?

MG: I very much regret the decision by the ICC. I’m saddened, and in fact, quite provoked by it, because I think the ICC had a golden opportunity to tell the world, and to tell Israel, that they are not exempt from international law and the laws of war. As it now stands, because of the lack of formalities--that is, an international recognition of Palestine as a state--they use this as an excuse to let Israel off the hook, which I very much regret because it sends a signal to the superpowers and the military forces of the world that, you can get away with it.

And Israel always gets away with its war crimes, which is really demoralizing, because the types of warfare that Israel is waging, with siege and collective punishment, with starvation and with the destruction of civilian infrastructure in occupied territories is really taking us back to medieval times, yet they claim to be one of the most moral armies in the world. And this contradiction does not fit together. So the only thing we could have hoped for was that all the reports on the table--the Goldstone report, the Arab League fact finding mission, the B’Tselem report (PDF), the Amnesty International report and our book--should have served as strong testimonies and documentation sources that there was no way that the ICC could not open a case against Israel. As it now stands, nobody will be held responsible for 1,400 killed and 5,400 injured, and nobody is accountable for the ongoing siege of Gaza. And this, of course, is a heavy burden of responsibility for President Obama and your government.

AK: When you recently went back to Gaza, did you speak with some of the patients you saw during Cast Lead?

MG: Yes.

AK: And, in general, have they been treated? Have they been rehabilitated in Gaza?

MG: Some of them have. Some of them were evacuated out of Gaza during January 2009, like Samar 'Abd Rabbo, the little girl who was shot in the back by Israeli forces, her two sisters being killed on the spot. She’s in Brussels for rehabilitation, paralyzed from the nipples down. Other children are staying behind in Gaza, obviously needing rehabilitation.

As I said, the condition of the health care system is that of certain insufficiencies due to the siege and the lack of capacity. And you have to remember the Israelis bombed health institutions, and due to the lack of building material, few of these institutions have been properly constructed. So the total capacity is reduced. So I would say that, one thing is the physical rehabilitation, which the Palestinians are taking good care of, as much as they can. The other thing is the psychological rehabilitation, and the psychosocial rehabilitation, and we know from a large body of studies that the trauma of war, and the trauma of losses, individual losses, collective losses, can be efficiently healed if the victims are respected on their own strategy of coping--that they are listened to, and that they have the potential to talk about their experience and the narrative. And the third factor, that life is brought back to normality as soon as possible. So the siege serves today as a continuous, “do not return to normality” situation, in particular for the youngsters and the children in Gaza.

This is a double punishment: you had the attack, the onslaught, the killing, the maiming, the amputations--and now they are denied the right to return to normal life because of the siege and the ongoing bombing and lack of reconstruction. By “going back to normal life,” I mean normal schooling, normal kindergarten, normal studies. And we have to remember, the Palestinians are now 1.6 million people [in Gaza], it remains that 60%, approximately, are 18 and below, and the average age is 17.6 years. So this lack of psychosocial and psychological rehabilitation may be one of the most devastating effects of the very deliberate, very cynical, very in detail, planned siege of Gaza.

AK: And when you talk to some of the people injured from the events of Cast Lead, do they think about the ICC? What are those conversations like?

MG: There’s not much hope--a lot of disappointment, and a lot of quite relevant criticism of the West and the US. I think the overall impression is that the Palestinians in Gaza and in the West Bank and in the diaspora--I just came back from Beirut, visiting the camps--they have a feeling that, quote on quote, they have no human rights. They feel excluded from the global community covered by human rights regulations. They feel overlooked by the European and Western powers with regards to their just human rights. And they have little confidence in us in the North because they have been betrayed so many times, and they have seen so many times that Israel, the occupying power, is precisely getting away with their war crimes and all their apartheid tactics and policies against the Palestinian people. So my impression is that they do feel quite betrayed by those who call themselves democratic states, like the United States.

However, being a solidarity worker, it is encouraging that so many people around the world continue their solidarity work and actions. And they feel very strongly about that. They say, that is the light, those are the stars on the dark night over Gaza. The light from the solidarity movement, be it in the United States, Canada or Norway, and boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, the demonstrations and all the good people trying to come to their assistance.

And when you talk to Palestinians like my old colleagues at Shifa Hospital, they actually sum up Cast Lead as probably most the most brutal and extensive attack since the Nakba in 1948. And so it is provocative and heartbreaking to see that Gaza remains in ruins: shattered, destroyed and not rebuilt.

This all comes together in the new Dahiya doctrine in Israel, which they formulated during the invasion of Lebanon in 2006. And this Dahiya doctrine simply is a deliberate use of extremely excessive force in order to destroy as much infrastructure and kill as many as possible in any location, village, city, neighborhood, from where shots are fired against Israel or Israeli troops, in order to deter the population. But not so much the population as the Palestinian leaders.

Actually, Israeli officials have said, “we will bomb Gaza decades into the past.” And they will make reconstruction so painful that any Palestinian leader will think twice before they try to shoot at Israel. Now, this strategy, the Dahiya doctrine--we precisely document it in the book--is precisely what we saw and are seeing in Gaza, because the denial of reconstruction is part of the collective punishment, which at the end of the day, has the goal of breaking the backbone of the resistance, of the national resistance, of the willingness to confront the occupation, of the willingness to say, “we will not yield, we will not surrender” to the occupier.

So I think there is a twist on the occupation brutality through this Dahiya doctrine for the last six years.

AK: What do you make routine flare-ups of violence, which last time occurred with Israel assassinating the leader of the Popular Resistance Committee? What kind of effect does it have on the people of Gaza?

MG: Well, to take the latter first, for the people of Gaza it means no return to human security, and human security is a very important precondition for health. So, as a medical doctor, in the construct of human security, I include the right not to be killed, not to be threatened, not to be frightened. And all of these elements are used by the Israeli occupation forces to intimidate and to keep the population insecure. So these flare-ups are extremely destructive to the civilian population in particular, all these families with children.

We have to go back to 2008 to recall that the ceasefire from July 2008 until the 4th of November 2008, was 100% effective. Nobody got killed on either side. And this truce was brokered by Egypt, between the Hamas government in Gaza and the Israeli government. And that is an important truth, that political solutions are hand. You can trust the Palestinians, they can control the shooting of rockets and mortars. You can trust the Israelis when they want to be trusted, that they will not attack during the truce. Why did that truce break down? Well, as we all know, on the 4th of November 2008, when your president was elected and all the attention in the world was directed towards the United States, Israeli commanders went into southern Gaza and killed a number of Hamas officials, on purpose breaking the truce. And of course, the Palestinians were shooting back, because they have to defend themselves, and this was the excuse and the explanation for why the attack started on the 27th of December. But in fact Israel had been planning Operation Cast Lead. They say so themselves.

So I think this shows us two things. Political solutions are at hand, if Israel wants it. Number two, they don’t want it. If Israel had wanted to negotiate some sort of solution with the Palestinians, including the leadership of Hamas, they would have succeeded. I think the current Israeli government, and current political parties in charge, are very cynical about the expansion of Israel. They have their plan to expand, expand, expand, and they try all the time to have their actions go just under the radar of the international community’s outcry, the international isolation radar. So, for example, the lack of food in Gaza, happens so that there will not be a starvation disaster in Gaza, but just hunger. They attack regularly with great precision, not more than the US can tolerate, but enough to intimidate, kill and maim Palestinians in Gaza.

AK: Is there anything else you want to add for readers?

MG: Number one: don’t give up. The Palestinians teach us not to give up. Travel to occupied Palestine, see their situation on the ground. Just by going to the occupied West Bank, any American who is in doubt will immediately understand what the apartheid regime is all about.

And our most important obligation is to do our homework politically. The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is getting stronger and stronger every day, particularly in the US. Work through local communities, be active, read, study and organize. Organize BDS campaigns. And inform, educate and teach other people.

I think the tides are changing in the United States. Ten years ago, it would have been unheard of that I would have been invited six times, and twice to Canada. I have full houses. Zionists are there, Campus Watch, Hillel, but they are remarkably soft spoken. I think they are miscalculating the American public. Now, you are betrayed by your media, because you’re not given the truth. That’s why I find it so important to inform and to lecture. By sending people to the occupied West Bank and also to Gaza and to the diaspora, young people in the United States will be committed to the cause of Palestine, which is also our cause, because without an end to the occupation of Palestine, there will be no peace in the Middle East. And if there is no peace in the Middle East, there is no peace in the world. This is the mother of all wars currently. And the double standards of the West have to be uncovered by us, on moral grounds, political grounds, historical grounds, and simply, our subjective interest in not spending all these billions of taxpayer money on Israeli weapons and on the occupation.

I told the grandfather of Jumana Samouni I was going to the US when I was in Gaza. I said, "what do you want me to tell the US?” He said, “tell them your tax money is killing us.” That’s the bottom line. You have a responsibility here in the US.


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On Iran, Obama’s fmr national security adviser uses the new C-word (Contain)
Apr 20, 2012 01:10 pm | Philip Weiss

This Washington Times interview with retired Marine Corps General Jim Jones will aggravate the soreness between Netanyahu and Obama over Obama's refusal to push military response. Jones utterly approves the policy, and hints at de-nuclearizing the region:

He also said that a nuclear-armed Iran would be highly undesirable but not necessarily impossible to deal with.

“You would have to think that, on the basis of historical evidence of nation-states once they acquire a [nuclear] capacity, we’ve been able to contain them,” the former national security adviser said.

“It’s not something that I think you would want to do,” he said. “We’d like to see proliferation go the other way. We don’t want more nuclear-weapons capable countries, and in Iran’s case, it’s particularly problematic because they traditionally export terror.”


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1200 rabbis threaten an end to interfaith harmony if Methodists support divestment
Apr 20, 2012 11:36 am | Philip Weiss

Next week at their conference in Tampa, the Methodists will consider divesting from Israel companies profiting off the occupation , and people are gearing up for the big struggle. Here is an amazing stroke that demonstrates the overwhelming support for Zionism inside the Jewish community, a letter reported in JTA from 1200 rabbis to Christian churches, appealing to them not to divest from Israel.

"We understand and respect your calling to invest in a morally responsible manner," said the letter, which was launched two weeks ago. "A policy of divestment to pressure Israel runs counter to these goals. Such a one-sided approach damages the relationship between Jews and Christians that has been nurtured for decades. It promotes a lopsided assessment of the causes of and solutions to the conflict, disregarding the complex history and geopolitics. Furthermore, it shamefully paints Israel as a pariah nation, solely responsible for frustrating peace."..

The rabbis are from all 50 states and represent the gamut of Jewish belief, including Orthodox, Chabad, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Jewish Spirituality movements. The signatories also represent a range of political views, including signatories affiliated with the liberal New Israel Fund.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for public policy groups, helped to organize the letter.

Note the incredible diversity of the rabbis. Tragic. Notice the consolidation of neocons (JCPA) and liberal Zionists (NIF).

And a lopsided assessment? One side is throwing rocks if they are doing anything, the other has nukes and M16s and a huge occupying army. That is the lopsided reality. I wonder how many of these rabbis have been to the occupation. I wonder how many have independently sought to assess the human rights violations for millions of people who lack the power of consent to the government that controls their lives.


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Khader Adnan will continue to work at a bakery and sell zaatar to remind Palestinians of their roots
Apr 20, 2012 11:08 am | Today in Palestine

adnan
Khader Adnan plays with his daughters on his first day out of Israeli jail in the West Bank village of Araba, near Jenin, April 18, 2012. (Photo: Activestills/ Oren Ziv)

Linah Alsaafin's incredible interview with Khader Adnan.  What a man, what a hero, what a gift to the Palestinian people he is.  Above is a picture of Khader playing with his children, they stayed close to him upon his release.  The love in their eyes, both father and children is something that is almost unbearable to witness in its beauty. Oh but the Zionists will tell you that we don't love our children, that we are not human.

Alsaafin:

When Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan called his mother at 11:30pm on Tuesday night, she burst into tears. "He told me, 'Mother I am on my way home,'" she said. “For the first time in months my heart was at ease again." For Palestinians, Khader Adnan has become a symbol of resistance and steadfastness, or sumoud, after he waged a 66-day hunger strike against the Israeli prison service. He began his hunger strike immediately after his violent arrest by Israeli soldiers on December 17, 2011. He was detained under what Israel calls "administrative detention", a policy adopted from the era of the British mandate. Under administrative detention, Israel can detain a prisoner for up to six months, renewable indefinitely, without ever charging the prisoner or presenting any evidence against them.

There are currently more than 4,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, over 300 of those, in administrative detention. Adnan’s hunger strike, which eventually attracted international media attention and solidarity from around the world, inspired other administrative detainees to go on hunger strike. Hana Shalabi went on strike for 43 days before she was released and deported from her village in the West Bank to Gaza. Five others are now in the Ramleh prison hospital, including Bilal Thiab and Thaer Halahleh, who have not eaten for 52 days. After more than two months without food, Adnan’s lawyer brokered a deal in February with Israeli officials that saw him released on April 17. Coincidentally, that is the same day Palestinians commemorate Prisoners Day, which was marked this year by the open-ended hunger strike of 1,600 prisoners.

Sahar Francis, director of the Ramallah-based rights group Addameer, saw Adnan's hunger strike as a catalyst for this current mass hunger strike movement. "I definitely think the successful hunger strike of Khader Adnan and his release was a main feature in inspiring the 1,600 prisoners to carry out this act now, which is a continuation of what they began in September 2011," he says. "It should be noted that a successful hunger strike depends a lot on internal support, international pressure from the EU and UN, and the policy of the Israeli prison authorities."

Khader Adnan, who was was reunited with his family just before midnight on Tuesday, after visiting the families of the prisoners in Arrabeh, seven of whom are serving life sentences, later spoke to Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera: You've undergone the most difficult experience of your life and have been separated for months from your family. Why did you first stop by the families of other prisoners before seeing your own, and how does it feel to be free again?

Khader Adnan: Every day we live through Prisoners’ Day and its special symbolism. I went to see the families of those imprisoned before seeing my own family as a token of appreciation for their support during my imprisonment and their enduring anguish at having loved ones behind the bars of the Israeli occupation.

My freedom is incomplete because of the prisoners who I've left behind. We salute all of the prisoners; Lina Jarbouni [the longest serving female prisoner], Sheikh Ahmad Hajj [the oldest prisoner on hunger strike], Omar Abu Shalalah, Jaafar Ezzedine, Hassan Safadi, and of course Thaer Halaleh and Bilal Thiab.

I was received by Bilal Thiab's mother in [the nearby village of] Kufr RaI and relayed to her his message of endurance and commitment to his hunger strike.

After 66 days of refusing food, you spent 53 days recuperating. Did the treatment at the hands of the Israeli officers during your imprisonment improve after you ended your hunger strike?

No, not at all. Up until the last day in the prison hospital they would embark on ways to humiliate me, such as opening the door to stare at me whenever I would use the bathroom or shower.

When I was hunger striking, they would purposely eat and drink in front of me. They would insult me, call me a dog. One told me that they still haven't done anything to me yet. Their manners are so unscrupulous.

They tried to provoke me by repeating that my wife was unfaithful to me, and that my daughters were not mine. What else could they do? They banned the media from covering my case, proof that they are afraid of the truth.

Even after I ended my hunger strike, as I was being transferred from the hospital in Safad to Ramleh, they did so in a way so that no one could see me.

They kidnapped me and pushed me through an inner garage. My appeal was held in the hospital cafeteria! Is Israel that afraid of showing its true face to the world?

How did you manage to find the resilience and strength in continuing your hunger strike, especially after the three times your family visited you?

[Hurried laugh] I don't know how I did it. All strength comes from God, and when I began my hunger strike I knew that it would be until freedom or death … sometimes I am puzzled myself!

Israel granted permission for my family to see me not out of the goodness of their own hearts, but because they thought that the sight of my family would be enough to pressure me into eating again. It achieved the opposite effect, and I was further inspired to challenge my jailers.

I've spent many sleepless nights from the pain my body was going through. However, my family's happiness, my people's happiness, and the free people's happiness all over the world made me forget that I've ever experienced pain throughout my hunger strike.

Sixteen hundred Palestinian prisoners are on their third day of an open-ended hunger strike in Israeli jails demanding improved living conditions, including the right to family visits and the right to receive family photographs. Will this tactic succeed in translating a popular resistance movement outside of the prison walls amongst Palestinians?

My stance will always be with the prisoners, whether next to them, behind them, or in front of them. From the Gaza Strip to the West Bank to the '48 territories and the exile, every Palestinian is obliged to stand united.

We are all the children of the same cause, and one people living under the same occupation. I saw so much support from our family in 1948 Palestine, from the Palestinian doctors and nurses, the Palestinians in Haifa, the school girls from Nazareth who wrote an assignment on me … I will never forget their love.

The mass hunger strike is a signal to all oppressed and vulnerable people everywhere, not just Palestinians. It's a message to everyone suffering from injustice, under the boot of oppression. This method will be successful, God willing, and will achieve the rights of the prisoners.

I ask God to move the consciences of the free people around the world. I thank them all, especially Ireland, for they have stood by my hunger strike. I ask them to stand in solidarity with all the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in the past, present and future, with our tortured and oppressed people who live under the injustice of occupation day and night.

As the Palestinian prisoner to go on the longest hunger strike and survive, how does it feel becoming a symbol not just for Palestinian steadfastness but for resistance among other oppressed people?

During my days in the [Meir Ziv] hospital in Safad, occupied pre-partition Palestine, I was reminded of the holiness and the glory of this land. Being close to the resisting countries of Lebanon and Syria all gave me further incentive to defy the Israeli prison authorities, which I don't recognise.

I have barely presented anything worth of value to the Palestinian cause. I work at a bakery and sell zaatar, and will continue to do so to remind every Palestinian that their roots are deeply entrenched in this land, among the olive trees and the zaatar. Source.


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Your tax dollars fund ‘violent crackdowns on dissent’
Apr 20, 2012 11:00 am | Allison Deger

lisag 1
Tear gas canisters collected in Silwan, 2010. (Photo: LisaG)

Earlier this week on "Tax Day" Tuesday, Anna Lekas Miller for Alternet covered the business of U.S. foreign aid used to purchase less-than-lethal weapons for the Israeli military. Lekas Miller focused on extended-range tear gas canisters manufactured by Combined Systems Inc. in Jamestown, PA. These canisters and others produced by different U.S. manufacturers are responsible for dozens of deaths in Bahrain over the past year, and five in Palestine over the past decade. Anna Lekas Miller writes:

Here's how this system generally works: a foreign government requests a certain amount of military assistance from the United States government. If the US government chooses to accept this request, Congress appropriates the amount into the budget, and once the budget is passed, the recipient can use the money to purchase weapons from US manufacturers. Israel is a case in point.

The United States has given foreign aid to Israel since 1949. In the beginning it was only used for economic development. It wasn’t until 1959 that the United States began a modest military loan program to Israel. By 1962, this money was used to fund the purchase of US weaponry, forming the foundation of the relationship between the US government and Israeli military.

Due to an Israeli economic crisis during the 1980s, military loans to Israel were eliminated and replaced with grants. In 2008, all economic aid was eliminated and replaced exclusively with military aid.

Today, Israel receives about $3.1 billion annually from the United States in foreign military financing, or more simply, military aid. Since this form of foreign assistance is part of the congressional budget, this collective amount is financed entirely by the US taxpayer.

Despite proposing drastic cuts to domestic programs, President Obama's most recent budget proposal suggests increasing US military aid to Israel by $25 million. Aside from this increase, the Israeli government has recently requested an additional $700 million to construct more Iron Dome and Magic Wand missile and rocket defense batteries.

Once President Obama submits a budget request, Congress reviews—and in the case of military aid to Israel—will most likely appropriate the proposed changes into the budget. Within 30 days of the budget's passing, Israel receives the lump sum of $3.1 billion in an interest-bearing account. This is an anomaly, as any other country receiving US military aid can only receive the grant in quarterly installments.

As soon as Israel receives the grant, it can begin to purchase weapons and other military devices from US manufacturers.

According to a recently released report from the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, US aid to Israel financed the transfer of over 600 million weapons in 500 different categories to the IDF from 2000-2009. These weapons and military devices include the technologically equipped spy towers that monitor checkpoints along the separation barrier, advanced missile systems and the highly toxic white phosphorous dropped on Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2009.

But it is more than just these direct agents of war that US taxpayers subsidize. It is also the teargas canisters, flash-bang grenades and other "non-lethal" methods of crowd control that have been used to violently break up nonviolent demonstrations in Palestine for years. In more recent months, non-lethal weapons have also enabled police crackdowns on pro-democracy demonstrations in other parts of the Middle East. These supposedly non-lethal weapons have killed five unarmed Palestinian civilians and permanently injured two US citizens in the Palestinian territories alone in the past decade. These devices are seen most vividly in the empty teargas canisters that litter the West Bank village of Bil'in once a week after the weekly demonstrations protesting the separation barrier are broken up.


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Danish support for Jews is commemorated on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day
Apr 20, 2012 10:51 am | Dena Shunra


Rechavia Berman delivers flowers to the Royal Danish Embassy in Tel Aviv on the Eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day 2012

After Irit Linur's calumny against the Danes hit the airwaves in Israel, quite a few listeners were angry - at Linur's pleasure at Shalom Eisner's wanton violence against a Danish youth, but also at the ingratitude about the Danish role in keeping the Jews of Denmark safe. More than 99% of the Jews of Denmark survived the horrors of WWII, despite the Nazi occupation of Denmark.

Two of the most outraged Israelis were journalist Rechavia Berman and filmmaker Eran Vered. They pooled their recession-hit resources and brought a bouquet of flowers to the Danish embassy Tel Aviv - by way of thanks, and acknowledgment.

As you can see, the Danish embassy staff didn't quite know what to do with the gesture - no one had ever showed up with flowers to thank them, before.

You can read Rechavia's comments on Israel's Holocaust Memorial Day (held yesterday) here: Like We Just Got Out Of The Ghetto.

Eran Vered's work is available on his YouTube channel, as well as many other fine video hosts.


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Israeli undercover unit’s murder of Palestinian civilian was part of “training exercise”
Apr 20, 2012 10:44 am | Today in Palestine

and other news from Today in Palestine:

Israeli undercover unit’s murder of Palestinian civilian was part of "training exercise"
At the beginning of this month, I blogged about the shooting of three brothers in the West Bank village of Rammoun on 27 March that resulted in the death of one and was conducted by undercover Israeli agents, an act tantamount to perfidy and thus a violation of international humanitarian law. Yesterday, Ynet reported that these undercover agents were actually performing a military training exercise and that the soldier responsible for killing Rashad Shawakha, 28, had been dismissed.
link to electronicintifada.net

Ethnic Cleansing / Land Theft & Destruction / Apartheid / Exile / Refugees

Netanyahu: Cabinet to vote on plan to legalize three West Bank outposts
Following recommendation of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Netanyahu will ask the cabinet to approve the status of the Bruchin, Sansana and Rachalim outposts. 
link to www.haaretz.com

 MK Regev: Jews have right to live in Hebron
Likud lawmaker visits disputed Machpelah house, meets evacuated settlers at protest tent. 
  
Palestinians evicted from two East Jerusalem houses
JERUSALEM -- Israeli police evicted Palestinian families from two homes in East Jerusalem on Wednesday, clearing the way for Jewish residents to take over and creating a potential new flash point in the city's long-running battle for control over disputed neighborhoods. The evictions of about 13 Palestinians, who last month lost their court case to retain the property, gives Jewish settlement groups their first foothold in the vast neighborhood of Beit Hanina, one of the holy city’s largest Arab communities.
link to latimesblogs.latimes.com

Jerusalem Family Displaced, Home Handed To Settlers
Israeli soldiers and policemen displaced resident Khaled An-Natsha and his family from their home in Al-Ashqariyya area, in Beit Hanina, north of Israeli controlled East Jerusalem. The eviction came following a court order that granted Israeli settlers ownership over the property.
link to www.imemc.org
 
Despite orders from the Civil Administration of the Israeli Defence Ministry issued in 2011 to stop construction in the Miztpeh Cramim outpost, homes have been completed and are now occupied by Israeli settlers, reported Haaretz. The settlers ignored the order; the Israeli army ignored the ongoing construction, and the defence establishment took no positive action to stop the construction.
 
New settlement outpost in Ramallah
A new settlement outpost was established to the north east of Ramallah grouping 20 buildings so far, the Hebrew daily Ha’aretz said on Thursday.

Defense establishment sources admit construction in the outpost is illegal, and that no real steps have been taken to stop it; situation could spark the next crisis in PM Netanyahu's coalition.

IOF serves demolition notice to Palestinian family
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) served a demolition notice to a Palestinian family to the east of Yatta town, south of Al-Khalil, on Tuesday.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
 
Israeli municipality renews demand for demolishing Maghareba bridge
The Israeli-controlled municipality of Jerusalem has renewed a request for the demolition of the Maghareba bridge at the pretext it was posing danger to the public.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

New Migron bill could lead to massive Israeli land grab in the West Bank, Allison Deger 
Last year Migron, an illegal outpost home to around 50 families in the West Bank near Ramallah, was ordered to be evacuated. The encampment was built over ten years ago on privately owned Palestinian land in the West Bank—without the proper Israeli building permits. Then in February with support from a Knesset working group, the settlers negotiated a postponement of the Supreme Court-ordered eviction. Now, they have another two years on the hilltop. But a new Knesset bill to be introduced in two weeks may extend Migron's mandate permanently by legalizing the outpost, and in the process, transforming the entire system of how Israel builds settlements in the West Bank. Under the bill, the West Bank will be ripe for any manifest destiny "greater Israel" pioneer, so long as compensation is paid to the Palestinian owner.
link to mondoweiss.net

"Present absentee" keeps fighting against Israel's wall in al-Walaja, Tanzil Chowdhury
Sheerin al-Araj, a resident of al-Walaja village, is fighting tooth and nail against Israel’s encroaching settlement projects and the wall, which both continue to rapidly confiscate more village land.
link to electronicintifada.net

Nowhere Left to Go - documentary film on Jahalin plight launched
Angela Godfrey-Goldstein - The Jahalin Association - Harvey Stein`s documentary on the Jahalin Bedouins, constantly harassed and displaced to make place for expanding Israeli settlements, got its premiere at the French Cultural Centre in East Jerusalem. Unfortunately, not a single one of the Jahalin themselves was able to get a permit to enter Jerusalem and be there in person.
link to www.kibush.co.il

IOA bars Sheikh Ekrema Sabri from entering Aqsa for two months
The commander of the Israeli central command has imposed a ban on the entry of Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, Aqsa preacher, into the Aqsa mosque in occupied Jerusalem for two months.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
 
Our day will come (and soon), Yousef M. Aljamal
Despite it all, hope is on the rainbow, writes Yousef M. Aljamal from Gaza, as his mother enjoys a long-awaited reunion with her family in the West Bank. 
  
Siege on Gaza

The Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority has announced that the power station in the Gaza Strip will be fully operational in May after the installation of four new electrical transformers. This will be the first time since 2006 that the plant will be working at full capacity. The transformers have been funded by the Islamic Development Bank and implemented through the United Nations Development Programme.
 
No compensation for Gaza businesses damaged in raid
Israel is not liable to pay damages to two Gaza companies whose property was demolished during a July 2006 IDF aerial raid on the southern Gaza Strip, the Beersheba District Court ruled on Wednesday. 
link to www.jpost.com

Professor shares concerns with current state of Gaza
Through the eyes of Dr. Mads Gilbert, the Israeli siege in Gaza remains unchanged since its bombing three years ago during Operation Cast Lead. Gilbert, a volunteer doctor during the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza conflict, spoke at “Gaza, Three Years Later,” last night at the Busch Campus Center, sponsored by BAKA: Students United for Middle Eastern Justice.
link to www.dailytargum.com
 
In Gaza it is all about control as citizens suffer
THE ISRAELI immigration officer stamps my passport and hands it back along with my press card, my pass to Gaza. “Have a good day,” he says. The journey begins with two barred gates and a brisk hike through a covered walkway enclosed in mesh. At the Gaza end, a white taxi whisks me 200 meters to the Palestinian checkpoint, where a policeman asks for my entry permit. “What permit?” Foreigners need a permit, he replies. I ring Salah, a friend who works for an aid agency, and two members of a leading family. As Salah phones to say I might have to wait two or three hours, the interior ministry mudir (director) rings the policeman, who photocopies my passport and waves me on my way. Over coffee in the garden at Marna House hotel, Amjad Shawa, head of the Palestinian non- governmental organisation network, says: “The story in Gaza is control.”

Gaza horse riders have to jump unusual hurdles
Horse riding has become a popular hobby in the Gaza Strip but local Palestinians face constant hurdles -- from a conservative society to Israel's blockade on the territory -- to practise the sport on their home turf.
link to news.yahoo.com

Israeli Violence / Aggression / Raids
 
Israeli Soldiers Shoot Teargas into Beit Ommar
Today, April 19, 2012, two 15-year-old boys, Fady Abu Fanoos and Hakeem Nasr, were arrested from Beit Ommar at about 2pm. Nasr was released after about 30 minutes. Israeli soldiers tried to arrest a third boy, but he escaped. A woman fainted when they tried to arrest her nephew, and an ambulance came to take her to the hospital. Soldiers shot teargas into the town and at people’s homes prior to the arrests.

Jewish settlers beat Palestinian man in his home
A Palestinian man was seriously injured late Tuesday in the West Bank town of Hebron after some Jewish settlers beat him up at his home, a Palestinian medical source said. According to an ambulance driver who took 41-year-old Marwan Burkan to the hospital, "several (Israeli) settlers came and knocked on his door and beat him up at this house in Hebron," he told AFP. Burkan lives in a house next to the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement, with some 6,500 people, on the outskirts of Hebron, the ambulance driver said.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Thousands of Jewish settlers storm Qalqilia village to perform rituals
Thousands of Jewish settlers stormed the village of Kufl Hares, south east of Qalqilia, on Tuesday night and offered Talmudic rituals at a shrine under Israeli occupation forces’ protection.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
 
An epitome of Israeli barbarianism
Israeli soldiers and settlers are rebuked, not for the brutal ugliness of their assaults on Palestinians and international peace activists, but rather for failing to make sure there were no cameras. 

Detainees / Political Arrests

Israeli Soldiers arrest two more youth in Beit Ommar
Today, April 19, 2012, two 15-year-old boys, Fady Abu Fanoos and Hakeem Nasr, were arrested from Beit Ommar at about 2pm. Nasr was released after about 30 minutes. Israeli soldiers tried to arrest a third boy, but he escaped. A woman fainted when they tried to arrest her nephew, and an ambulance came to take her to the hospital. Soldiers shot teargas into the town and at people’s homes prior to the arrests.
 
IOF soldiers arrest Palestinian university student from her house
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested Islam Hassan Al-Bashiti from her family home in Beit Ola village to the west of Al-Khalil at dawn Wednesday, local sources told the PIC reporter.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

IOF soldiers arrest Palestinian woman
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested a Palestinian woman at a roadblock in Al-Khalil city after claiming she had a knife in her possession.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

IOF soldiers arrest 13 West Bankers
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up 13 Palestinian citizens in various West bank areas at dawn Wednesday.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
 
19 Prisoners in solitary confinement, thousands demonstrate in solidarity
There are still nineteen Palestinian prisoners in solitary confinement, in the Israeli occupation prisons, according to Ahmed Al-Betawi, researcher at Tadamun International.
 
Hunger Strikers / Prison Strike

Safadi to maintain hunger strike until his release
Detainee Hassan Safadi is adamant on maintaining his hunger strike in Israeli occupation jails after 45 days of starting it despite losing 25 kilograms so far, his family said on Wednesday.
Palestinian Detainees Initiate An Open-Ended Hunger Strike

Palestinian detainees imprisoned by Israel started on Tuesday an open-ended hunger strike demanding an end to all violations carried out against them by the Israeli Prison Administration, and demanding their internationally guaranteed rights.
link to www.imemc.org

“We will live in dignity:” Palestinian political prisoners begin mass hunger strike
As an organisation dedicated to the promotion and protection of Palestinian human rights, Al-Haq would like to take the opportunity of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day to highlight the ongoing violation of the rights of Palestinians incarcerated in Israeli prisons, many of whom are interned without charge or trial. The continuing ill-treatment of some 4,600 political prisoners, which includes internment, the denial of family and lawyer visits, prolonged periods of isolation, and the lack of fair trial, has largely been overlooked ed by a wider international community that has grown more and more desensitized to such violations of international law. Click here to read more.
link to palsolidarity.org

On Palestinian Prisoners Day, the Suffering of Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails Doubles
Today, 17 April 2012, marks the Palestinian Prisoners Day, which has been devoted by the Palestinian people to support the cause of Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli jails. Since 1979, Palestinians have commemorated this day, which marks the anniversary of the release of Palestinian prisoners in the first prisoner swap deal of 17 April 1974.
link to www.imemc.org

320 International Organizations Support the Prisoners Strikers' Demands
It was announced in Gaza City, on Tuesday morning, the launch of the broadest international call under the name "thirsty for freedom" to support the Palestinian hunger strikers' demands.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Report On The Palestinian Political Prisoners
Marking Palestinian Prisoners Day, the Palestinian Central Census Bureau and the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees issued a joint release revealing that 201 Palestinians have died in Israeli prisons since 1967 due to torture, medical negligence, and by use of live ammunition. More than a third of this number have died in Israeli prisons since late 2000. 4,700 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli prisons.
link to www.imemc.org

The Palestinian Authority announced that Palestinian Prisoners’ Day would mark the start of a massive new wave of hunger strikes. But factionalism threatens the success of this movement, says Addameer’s Mourad Jadallah in an interview with The Electronic Intifada.
link to electronicintifada.net

Hamas: Fatah Attitude against the Prisoners' Strike Serves the Occupation
The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas condemned ,yesterday, Fatah statement in which they have attacked the planned prisoners' strike on Tuesday 17 April to coincide with Prisoners' Day.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Mass Palestinian Prisoner Hunger Strike, Stephen Lendman
On April 17, about 1,600 Palestinian prisoners began open-ended hunger strikes. More on that below. Palestinians face hellish conditions in Israeli prisons. They endure torture, deprivation, isolation, intimidation, and denial of basic rights. Administrative detainees are held indefinitely without charge or trial. Children young as 10 are treated like adults. So-called security prisoners are isolated punitively for extended periods. 
link to sjlendman.blogspot.com

Other Prisoner News

Resheq: Resistance only means to liberate prisoners
Political bureau member of Hamas Ezzet Al-Resheq has said that liberating prisoners should precede the liberation of the occupied lands.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
 
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli prison authorities on Thursday prevented relatives from visiting detainees in Gilboa prison in northern Israel, the Prisoners Society said. Family members of detainees from Nablus told the Prisoners Society that they were not allowed to see their relatives. Several detainees were also transferred to nearby Shatta jail as a punishment for undertaking hunger strike action. Director of the society in Nablus Raed Omar condemned the incident and said Israeli prison authorities were escalating the situation.
link to www.maannews.net 

Bassem Tamimi Granted “Temporary Leave” from Prison
Photo by E. Van R Bassem Tamimi, one of the leading figures of the weekly popular protests in the village of Nabi Saleh, has been granted short leave from prison to visit his ailing elderly mother in Ramallah Hospital. Bassem was arrested from his home on March.
link to www.palestinemonitor.org

Video: Palestinian prisoners and their families, Allison Deger
"Since September 2000 more than 20 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention have died cause of medical negligence," said the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)in a short film released yesterday marking Palestinian Prisoners Day. "Dozens more have died after their release due to medical negligence during their detention," said PCHR. The prisoners and family members in the video describe the abusive treatment commonly experienced in Israeli prisons. From denial of medical treatment, to soldiers stirring food for the prisoners with a broom used to clean the bathroom, the rights of these prisoners are constantly denied. Furthermore, the video, explains that for the past five years prisoners from Gaza have been died all family visits. This, PCHR says, is "collective punishment."
link to mondoweiss.net

Hamas calls solitary confinement and administrative detention "retaliation for prisoners' steadfastness"
As Palestinian prisoners in Israel's jails begin an indefinite hunger strike to protest against their conditions behind bars, Hamas has described Israeli policies such as solitary confinement and administrative detention as "retaliation for prisoners' steadfastness". The prisoners themselves say that an end to the imposition of solitary confinement is the most important demand of their latest hunger strike. It is important not least because the prison authorities use it as a punishment for even minor infringements of prison rules.
link to www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk

Khader Adnan

Photos: Khader Adnan returns home
Khader Adnan, who engaged in a 66-day hunger strike demanding the end of administrative detention, returned home, to his village of ‘Arraba, outside Jenin last night, April 17, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. He was warmly welcomed by huge crowds, celebrating the return of this hero of the prisoner movement.

Detainee Khader Adnan Released
The Israeli Prison Authorities on Tuesday night at midnight, Sheikh Adnan Khader, a leader of the Islamic Jihad who went on hunger-strike for 66 consecutive days demanding an end to his illegal detention without charges or trial.
link to www.imemc.org

Freed Khader Adnan Greets Hunger Strikers
Khader Adnan arrived late Tuesday to his home town Arraba in the West Bank after being released from the Israeli occupation prisons.
link to www.almanar.com.lb
 
On April 17, Palestinian Prisoners Day, Khader gained freedom. At issue is for how long? As announced, Israel released him as scheduled. He endured 66 hunger striking days to be free. So was Hana Shalabi last October when released with other Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit. Held two and a half years without charge, she wasn't free long. On February 16, she was again arrested and detained uncharged. After 44 hunger striking days, she was lawlessly exiled to Gaza where she's recuperating from her ordeal. Weeks after he resumed eating, Khader also perhaps still struggles to regain full health.
link to sjlendman.blogspot.com

Popular Protests / Solidarity / Activism / BDS

Addameer Calls for Continued Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners as Mass Hunger Strike is Launched
Ramallah, 18 April 2012 – Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons launched a mass hunger strike yesterday, 17 April, on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. The call for hunger strike came amidst a wave of individual hunger strikes initiated in the past few months, and prisoners on hunger strike continue to face punishments by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS). 

Hundreds hoist photos of detained MPs before European parliament
Hundreds of European activists staged a sit-in before the European parliament in Brussels on Tuesday to mark the Palestinian prisoner’s day.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
In Glasgow, a mass demonstration took place on April 17, 2012 in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, organized by the We Are All Hana Shalabi coalition. Following students’ occupation of the BBC, protesters marched from George Square to the BBC in a strong protest calling for support and freedom for the over 1200 prisoners engaged in the Karameh Hunger Strike.
 
Video: Brussels protest for Palestinian Prisoners’ Day
A large protest was organized in Brussels, Belgium on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, part of the Global Day of Action for Palestinian Prisoners, April 17, 2012. Participants carried photos of imprisoned Palestinians in Israeli jails, saluting the over 1600 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike inside occupation prisons.
 
`Flytilla`Activists on Hunger Strike for Palestinian Prisoners Day
Detained activists from 'Welcome to Palestine' flytilla campaign, have begun a hunger strike in solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike for Palestinian Prisoners Day. Organisers of the 'Welcome to Palestine'flytilla, which is currently in it's third year, stated on Monday that the activists were hunger striking "in solidarity with the April 17 Palestinian Prisoners' Day on one hand and to renew the demand for their basic right to move freely in the occupied West Bank, especially to Bethlehem."
link to english.pnn.ps
 
Relatives of Egyptian prisoners stage sit-in
Relatives of Egyptian prisoners in Israeli jails have staged a sit-in in front of the Egyptian military intelligence headquarters in El-Arish in northern Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk 

Tunisia: Call for a ship to cruise Mediterranean in solidarity with prisoners
"The Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights" called for an international campaign in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners who started an indefinite hunger strike in occupation jails.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Gaza rallies on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, Joe Catron 
Thousands of Palestinians rallied outside Gaza's International Committee of the Red Cross headquarters this morning to mark Palestinian Prisoners' Day. "Today we marched from every street of Gaza," said Shahd Abusalama, an Al-Azhar University student and blogger. "All generations marched to convey a message to our prisoners behind Israeli bars that they are not forgotten, and that we are fighting for their freedom." "And we marched to congratulate Khader Adnan on his," she added, referring to the former administrative detainee and hunger striker’s expected release today.
link to mondoweiss.net 

International solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers
A joint appeal has been made by international human rights and legal aid groups for solidarity with Palestinian detainees on hunger strike in protest against their prolonged detention without trial and inhumane treatment. The NGOs from Europe, North American, Africa and Asia praised the detainees for their courage and strength. The longest-serving detainees have been isolated for 13 years under conditions which, it is alleged, are tantamount to torture. Many are strip-searched repeatedly, sometimes in front of their families to humiliate them and their loved ones. Israel's refusal to honour internationally recognised rights of due process and humane treatment is a flagrant violation of international law.
link to www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk

Palestine’s Prisoners Day: In the Footsteps of Khader Adnan
Khader Adnan was expected to return to his village of Arrabeh today after waging a 67-day hunger strike that led to Israel agreeing to release him on 17 April, by chance coinciding with the annual Palestinian Prisoners Day. However, at the time of publishing, Khader had still not been released and the Israeli Prison Service had not communicated with either his lawyer or family on his status. When Khader Adnan is finally allowed to return to his home village of Arrabeh, just outside of Jenin, he will return to a resurged prisoners’ movement that he very well may have sparked. 
link to english.al-akhbar.com

On Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, protest mounts against world’s largest security contractor, Allison Deger 
Today Palestinians are marking Palestinian Prisoners' Day with mass hunger strikes protesting Israel's practice of detaining political prisoners and abusing the rights of all prisoners. Inside of Israel's detention facilities a reported 1,600 prisoners out of a total 4,700 are on hunger strike. And an additional 2,300 prisoner are refusing all meals. But outside of Israel's prisons, Palestinians are mounting pressure against a private security contractor by calling for boycotts of the company.
link to mondoweiss.net
 
Foreign activists visit Silwan
A delegation of the foreign solidarity activists participating in the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign visited Silwan town in occupied Jerusalem on Wednesday. 
  
Israeli authorities deport 9 French activists on arrival at airport
The Israeli authorities at Lod airport deported nine French activists on arrival at the airport on Tuesday as part of “Welcome to Palestine” event.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

A Response to Lufthansa Airlines on Cancelling the “Flytilla”, Felicity Arbuthnot
Dear Herr Hansen, I write, to coin a phrase, more in sorrow than in anger, that your airline caved in to pressure from Israel and joined Air France, Alitalia, Turkish and Brussels Airlines, Jet2 and Easy Jet (mission statement: “ … to effect and offer a consistent and reliable product …”) in refusing “flytilla” passengers en route to Bethlehem in Palestine, with fully paid tickets, on to your flights to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport.
link to dissidentvoice.org
 
Urgent appeals to support upcoming US church divestment initiatives
Next week, the United Methodist Church will vote on a major BDS initiative at its general conference in Tampa, Florida, where delegates will consider divestment from Caterpillar,Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard — corporations that sell equipment, technology and communication systems to the Israeli military, thereby supporting Israel in its occupation and apartheid policies against Palestinians.
 
Refuseniks
 
Israeli teens enter jail rather than take part in army crimes against Palestinians, Ali Abunimah
On Monday, an Israeli teenager, Noam Gur, began an initial ten-day prison sentence because she publicly refused to serve in the Israeli army.
link to electronicintifada.net

Conscientious objector Noam Gur sentenced to prison for her refusal to join the Israeli Army
Noam Gur, 18 year old from, Kiryat Motzkin near Haifa, arrived yesterday morning, Monday, 16 April, to the Induction Base in Tel Hashomer, where she declared her refusal to serve in the Israeli Army as it is an occupying force. She was sentenced to 10 days of imprisonment for her refusal.
link to palestinianprisoners.blogspot.com 

Anti

No Boycotts Here: Veolia's Booming Business from OPT to KSA
Veolia, a publicly owned French company that provides environmental services in the fields of water, waste management, energy and transportation, has long been the target of one of the most successful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns for its violation of Palestinian human rights. In the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Veolia has facilitated the Israeli occupation by building and operating a tram-linewhich links Jerusalem with illegal settlements in the West Bank, by dumping waste from Israel and illegal settlements on Palestinian land at the Tovlan landfill, and by providing wastewater treatment to several illegal settlement, including Modi’in Illit.  Due to Veolia’s violation of International Law, Palestinian human rights, and Veolia’s own mission, other countries, municipalities, and pension funds are boycotting Veolia and holding it accountable for its actions. 

PCHR Denounces Israel For Denying Entry To Peace Activists
This is a press release by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, based in Gaza, denouncing Israel for preventing solidarity activists from across Europe traveling to the occupied Palestinian territories.
link to www.imemc.org

At Israel's behest, woman removed from Air France flight for not being Jewish, Ali Abunimah
Air France demanded to know the religion of a passenger on a flight from Nice to Tel Aviv and removed her because she is not a Jew.
link to electronicintifada.net

How California uni chief conflates real bigotry with criticism of Israel, Dalia Almarina
University of California President Mark Yudof has double standards when it comes to on-campus criticism of Israeli policies.
link to electronicintifada.net

UCLA prof reprimanded for linking to website advocating boycott of Israel,  Adam Horowitz
In a situation that stirred questions about academic freedom, a UCLA professor has been asked not to link his class online syllabus in the World Arts and Cultures/Dance Department to a website that called for a boycott of Israel, according to the head of the campus faculty Senate. The link from class materials last quarter to that boycott campaign stepped too far into political activities, according to Andrew Leuchter, chairman of UCLA’s faculty Senate. Leuchter said the professor, David Delgado Shorter, has agreed not to repeat the link in future courses. But Shorter said he made no such promise.
link to mondoweiss.net

Israeli Racism & Discrimination

Scandinavian Airports Reject Shin Bet Racial Profiling Security Screening Procedures, Richard Silverstein
So much for the vaunted Israeli security screening procedures the media was touting only a few years ago in the aftermath of the Nigerian underwear bomber.  Now, airports in Sweden and Denmark have rejected the racial profiling techniques employed by the Shin Bet to screen passengers boarding Israel’s Arkia Airlines flights to and from Israel: Israeli security inspections…involve ethnic and personal profiling, extensive questioning and selective inspections based on the perceived degree of risk to security.
 
UK Jewish Chronicle Names British White Supremacist Regular Columnist, Richard Silverstein
Carlos Cortiglia: you'd look smug too if you were a white supremacist and the Jewish Chronicle offered you a regular column. Stephen Sizer reports that the UK national Jewish community’s Jewish Chronicle has offered a blog- column to Carlos Cortiglia, a leader of the British National Party, the nation’s leading white supremacist political party.  Cortiglia is the BNP candidate in the London mayoral race.
link to www.richardsilverstein.com
 
Palestinian Christians Denied Permits to Enter Jerusalem for Easter
It is not unusual to realize that across the world, Easter has been fully commercialized with colored eggs and bunnies. For a lot of people it is a holiday spent with family and friends. Easter is one of the holiest days for Christians, as it marks the resurrection of Jesus from the dead following his crucifixion. It is an occasion that thousands of Christians celebrate with a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. 

An occasional Palestinian Christian encounter of Israeli intolerance, Baha Hilo
The Israeli ambassador to the US appears to really believe that Palestinian Christians suffer significantly from Palestinian Muslims, and just occasionally from Israeli intolerance. Palestinian Christians' reality is the complete opposite. The ambassador's latest missives in the American press have provoked Palestinian Christian leaders to remind him and his readers that Israel really isn't all that friendly to its Christians.
link to www.maannews.net
 
Other News & Developments

Palestinian PM to set out grounds for negotiation with Israel
Salam Fayyad to deliver Binyamin Netanyahu letter describing conditions under which Palestinians will resume talks. The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, is to deliver a letter to his Israeli counterpart in the pair's first ever meeting, setting out the grounds on which the Palestinians are prepared to resume negotiations and warning that the status quo cannot continue.
link to www.guardian.co.uk

US court: PA, PLO cannot be sued under torture law
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The Palestinian Authority and PLO cannot be sued under a 1991 US victim protection law over the alleged torture of an American in a West Bank prison, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, holding that the law only applies to individuals. The justices unanimously agreed with the Obama administration that the Torture Victim Protection Act allowed civil lawsuits in US courts only against a person who had engaged in torture or killing, not against groups.
link to www.maannews.net

Celebrating criminals: Netanyahu among Time's 100 most influential people
Prime minister described as 'iconic' leader who deserves credit for drawing world's attention to Iranian threat
link to www.ynetnews.com

Analysis / Op-ed

Britain's duty to the Palestinian people, Raed Salah
I came to the UK to talk about the plight of the Palestinians but ended up fighting deportation. This is what I wanted to say. In June 2011 I came to Britain to begin a speaking tour to draw attention to the plight of my people, the Palestinian citizens of Israel. The tour was meant to last 10 days. Instead I had to stay for 10 months in order to resist an attempt by the home secretary, Theresa May, to deport me – itself the result of a smear campaign against me and what I represent. I fought not just for my own sake, but for all who are smeared because they support the Palestinian cause.
 
A 14-year old essay by the late Edward Said speaks with remarkable insight into the problems afflicting the Palestinian national liberation struggle, and the strategies of Israeli colonialism.
 
‘The War Around Us’: New film on the journalists who covered ‘Cast Lead’, Adam Horowitz
The War Around Us is produced and directed by Abdallah Omeish who also co-directed Occupation 101.
link to mondoweiss.net

Israeli response to fly-in proves West Bank is the Palestinians’ prison
Noam Sheizaf - +972 - By refusing to allow members of the flytilla entry into the West Bank, Israel actually proved right their original claim: that the level of control Israel exercises over the Palestinian population in the occupied territories for nearly half a century makes the occupation a unique phenomenon, well deserving of the world’s attention.
link to 972mag.com

Gaza's Christians like "birds who will always return to their nest", Rami Almeghari
Despite common media depictions of Gaza as being under harsh, Islamist rule, Gaza-based Palestinian Christians emphasize the close ties between families regardless of religion.
link to electronicintifada.net

Question for Israel: Where are the Palestinian Gandhis . . . and what have you done with them?, Sami Sulaiman
The question, asked by well meaning liberals and Zionist propagandists alike, has become anathema to those of us with familiarity with the long history of patient Palestinian non-violent resistance. Our emotional responses range from burning frustration to somber resignation. Sometimes the question is asked in ignorance or as a cynical tactic of hasbara. Depending on whether or not we had our morning coffee, we sometimes respond with a fumbling bullet point list of Palestinian villages and their popular committees, and we sometimes respond with eloquent narratives, but we always respond.
link to mondoweiss.net

The ugly face of Israel
Ziv Lenchner - Ynet - The blow delivered by Lieutenant Colonel Eisner is particularly painful because it was delivered by a senior officer, rather than a young, inexperienced soldier who lost his head.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Israel rides the rollercoaster of mass hysteria, Ilan Pappe
French grandmas, a retired poet and nuclear holocaust are all threats of the same magnitude in the post-modern world of the current captains of the Israeli Titanic.
link to electronicintifada.net
 
Jenny Tonge's Victory over the Lobby, Ramzy Baroud
'My Lords, I was in Gaza six weeks ago,' began Baroness Tonge, when she spoke at the House of Lords in January 2009. 'Now, as a result of the impotence of the international community, not just in Gaza, but…over 40 years of occupation of Palestine by Israel, those institutions that I visited are rubble and many of the children with whom I played are dead.' Jenny Tonge, then a member of the UK’s Liberal Democrat party, was a dangerous British politician as far as Israel was concerned. She not only dared to use strong language while referencing Israeli actions in the occupied territories, she also demanded action from her government .

Netanyahu’s Real Fear
A recent skit on the sketch comedy “Eretz Nehederet” featured a “debate” about the Iranian nuclear program between U.S. and Israeli leaders. After some discussion, U.S. President Barack Obama accedes to the position of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and he urges them to attack Iran. Netanyahu and Barak exchange frightened glances and plead with Obama to stop them.
link to www.counterpunch.org

Meeting the Demands of the Occupation in the UK, Richard Irvine
Amongst what remains of the Israeli left, the siren cry for many years has been that the Occupation is destroying Israel. This view, brilliantly propounded by Pulitzer Prize Winner Richard Ben Cramer in his 2004 book How Israel Lost, makes a simple case. Israel cannot remain a Jewish and democratic state whilst it rules the lives of four million Palestinians, it will either cease to be Jewish or cease to be democratic.
link to palestinechronicle.com

Bahrain
 
Bahraini hunger striker to refuse IV fluids, drink water
Jailed Bahraini Shiite activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is on a hunger strike, will refuse intravenous infusions from Wednesday and drink only water, his wife said.
link to news.yahoo.com

Iraq's Sadr calls for Bahrain activist's release
Anti-US Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called for the release of jailed Bahraini activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who has been on hunger strike for more than two months.
link to news.yahoo.com
 
Bahraini Crown Prince confronted by angry protesters
The Crown Prince of Bahrain faced angry crowds on Wednesday as protests continued ahead of Sunday's planned controversial Formula One Grand Prix. Dozens of protesters chanted "the people demand the fall of the regime" at Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, after he appeared at a funeral in the village of Sanabis. Banners were held, with some depicting dead activists, while the Prince was quickly shepherded away to a nearby car, unverified footage on YouTube showed.
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/bahraini-crown-prince-confronted-angry-protesters?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AlAkhbarEnglish+%28Al+Akhbar+English%29
 
The safety of Formula One teams at this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix was called into question on Thursday after four members of the Force India team were caught up in a petrol bomb attack. The four mechanics were stuck in traffic while activists and security forces clashed, with a petrol bomb landing near to their car. None of the men were injured but the incident raises questions about whether the FIA – the sport's governing body – made the wrong decision in confirming the race amid ongoing pro-democracy protests. Bahrain circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani called the incident “unfortunate,” but dismissed the threat to drivers.
 
VIDEO: Stun grenades used at F1 protest
Bahraini security forces have fired stun grenades at protesters outside a cultural exhibition in Manama ahead of Sunday's Formula 1 Grand Prix. 

Wave of arrests ahead of Bahrain Grand Prix: NGO
Bahrain has arrested about 80 leading democracy activists in an attempt to contain anti-government protests ahead of this weekend's Formula One Grand Prix race, a rights group said Wednesday.
link to news.yahoo.com
 
Porsche withdraws from F1 in Bahrain
Porsche Supercup Squad MRS has withdrawn from this weekend’s opening rounds of Bahrain’s Formula One Grand Prix 2012, blaming “ongoing unrest” and “security situation” in the sheikdom.
 
Iraq's Sadr calls for Bahrain F1 race boycott
Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called for a boycott of the upcoming Formula 1 race in Bahrain over the kingdom's continued crackdown on dissidents, in a statement released on Thursday.
 
Bahrain update
From Angry Arab chief correspondent in Bahrain:  "The Formula 1 race begins in 3 days. In preparation the regime is raiding houses in various areas and has arrested 100s. The funny thing about F1 is that the debate centered on whether it is safe for the racers and fans to go to bahrain. No one seems to care about the safety of ordinary Bahrainis. As we can see the regime is stepping up its crackdown days before the race and throwing everyone in jail to ensure that there are no protests when the race begins. I'm pretty sure that the villages will be under military lock down pretty soon. All this so that f1 fans can have some fun and racers can drive fast around a track. Also to those who accuse the protesters of politicizing the race - the regime politicized it when it keeps using the race as an indicator that all is well in Bahrain and decided to use UniF1ed as their slogan."
link to angryarab.blogspot.com

Egypt

Egypt panel turns down candidates' appeal
Muslim Brotherhood leader and ex-spy chief among 10 presidential candidates whose disqualifications have been upheld.
link to www.aljazeera.com

Egypt Brotherhood candidate: army wants to retain power
The Muslim Brotherhood's candidate who was disqualified from Egypt's first presidential race since Hosni Mubarak's ouster said on Wednesday that the ruling army council was not serious about transferring power to civilians. "The military council does not have the serious intention to transfer power," Khairat al-Shater, a millionaire businessman and top Brotherhood official, said after he was pushed out of the race by the election committee because of a criminal conviction during Mubarak's rule when the group was banned.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Egypt Salafist's massive support
Anger at disqualification shows Egyptian Salafist's popularity.
link to www.bbc.co.uk

Egypt’s Presidential Elections: And Then There Were Three
The race for the Egyptian presidency has been narrowed down to three likely candidates after the High Elections Commission refused the appeals of 10 candidates, including three front-runners, that were disqualified from the elections last Saturday.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Egypt is creaking under the weight of revolution, but it will survive
Upcoming elections are blighted by paranoia and a national crisis of confidence. It doesn't mean revolution was a bad idea. In Egypt it's sometimes impossible to determine whether chaos is the work of sinister counter-revolutionary forces, or just normality. There's a big fire almost every week – the latest being in an oil depot in Suez. This immediately sparked fears that "enemies of the revolution" were again at it. Chaos, people say, will convince the average Egyptian that the revolution was a bad idea – with the result that he/she will vote for "stability" in the coming presidential election, or even worse, call on the ruling military junta, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), to stay in power.
link to www.guardian.co.uk

The Art of Narrating the Egyptian Revolution: An Interview with Alaa Awad
The paintings on the walls of Mohamed Mahmud Street have generated a great deal of attention in the past months. In an interview with Mona Abaza, artist Alaa Awad takes us through the journey of creating the impressive murals he painted on the walls of Mohammed Mahmud and the area surrounding the former Greek Campus of the American University in Cairo (AUC). Awad’s art narrates the Egyptian revolution through reviving the centuries old pharaonic tradition of murals. The video was filmed by Rudolf Thome.
link to www.jadaliyya.com

Iran

Japanese refiner Showa Shell renews oil contract with Iran
Japanese refiner Showa Shell has renewed its term contract with the National Iranian Oil Co, with delivery starting in May, sources familiar with the matter told Platts. 

The Lede Blog: Israeli Minister Agrees Ahmadinejad Never Said Israel 'Must Be Wiped Off the Map' 
In a reminder that Persian rhetoric is not always easy for English-speakers to interpret, a senior Israeli official has acknowledged that the Iranian president's rhetorical flourish had been misinterpreted.
link to thelede.blogs.nytimes.com

Iran to Annan: We’re With You, but Assad Stays
The Iranians warned the UN-Arab League envoy that Syria’s Arab and Western adversaries were out to foil him and that the consequences of failure would be devastating for Syria and the region. Iran views Kofi Annan’s plan for Syria as a last chance to resolve the crisis there peacefully and is backing it to the hilt – as long as it provides President Bashar Assad with enough of a chance to enact the political reforms he has promised.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

U.S. official says Netanyahu was fully briefed on Iran talks
After Israeli PM claimed that Iran was handed a 'freebie' at Istanbul talks, senior official says Netanyahu was fully briefed on strategy of six world powers; at next meeting, major powers to demand Iran suspend uranium enrichment at level of 20 percent at next meeting.
link to www.haaretz.com
 
Bibi: Specter of Iran Nuke Will Strike Terror into Israelis, Cause Mass Population Flight, Richard Silverstein
The list of Israeli paranoiac notions about Iran has just grown one item longer: but this one’s a doozy.  The Jerusalem Report notes: Even if the Iranians don’t use the bomb, he [Bibi Netanyahu] fears the very fact that they have it, could lead to a mass exodus of Jews from an Israel under nuclear threat, weakening the state and compromising the Zionist dream…
 
Report on Iran’s Nuclear Fatwa Distorts Its History, Gareth Porter
The Barack Obama administration’s new interest in the 2004 religious verdict, or “fatwa,” by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei banning the possession of nuclear weapons, long dismissed by national security officials, has prompted The New York Times to review the significance of the fatwa for the first time in several years.  

Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi speaks out against Iran sanctions
Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian to win a Nobel Peace Prize, also spoke with the Monitor about her fight for human rights in Iran and challenged the supreme leader's role.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/lyuWjCGiN-Q/Nobel-laureate-Shirin-Ebadi-speaks-out-against-Iran-sanctions

Iran thanks Saudis for sparing death row citizens
Iran -- a country slammed by international rights groups for its state executions -- on Wednesday welcomed Saudi Arabia suspending death sentences against several of its nationals convicted for drug trafficking.
link to news.yahoo.com

The United States and the lost art of grand strategy - Flynn Leverett at Penn State
Earlier this month, Flynt gave a public lecture at Pennsylvania State University’s School of International Affairs and Dickinson School of Law, where he teaches.  His presentation was entitled “Energy, Economics, and the Lost Art of Grand Strategy:  American Policy Toward the Persian Gulf and Rising Asia in the 21st Century,” and can be seen here. 
link to www.raceforiran.com

Iraq
 
Blasts in Baghdad, northern Iraqi cities kill 30
Bombings struck several areas in Baghdad and to the north Thursday, killing at least 30 people in the first major attacks in Iraq in nearly a month. The violence stoked fears that insurgents were trying to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led government amid rising sectarian tensions.

Iraqi lawyer hopeful Hezbollah prisoner will be freed
The lawyer for a Hezbollah commander jailed in Iraq for targeting US soldiers predicts that his client will be released soon because of flimsy evidence. Attorney Abdul-Mahdi al-Mitairi said on Wednesday that Ali Mussa Daqduq could be freed after his first court appearance in the next few weeks. Daqduq is accused of training militias and helping plot the 2007 killing of four American soldiers in the Iraqi city of Karbala. Daqduq was captured in 2007 and held without formal charge or access to a lawyer by the US military until troops left Iraq last December.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Lebanon
 
Julian Assange's The World Tomorrow: Hassan Nasrallah
Hezbollah urged the Syrian opposition to engage in dialogue with Assad's regime, but they refused. Hezbollah leader Sayyid Nasrallah confirmed this in his first interview in 6 years, the world premiere of Julian Assange's 'The World Tomorrow' on RT.
link to www.youtube.com 
 
Hackers take down 15 Lebanese government websites
A group calling itself “Raise Your Voice” hacked into 15 Lebanese government websites on Tuesday, demanding an improvement in living standards and an end to widespread electricity and water shortages.
link to english.alarabiya.net

Lebanon’s Disconnect from Reality
It would be truly tragic were the Lebanese public not fully complicit in it: the state and role of Lebanon’s government and politicians, and of its democracy, which has degenerated from a game into a total farce. There is a complete disconnect between reality, what we see on TV, and what the politicians say. The reality is that the entire country is living on the edge of civil and regional war, with struggles and international conflicts raging all around it, fires burning in Syria, and the revolution’s vain attempts to effect change over the northern and eastern borders. The Lebanese sects see a day coming when they can resume invading each other, and plunge the land of incense and honey back into a conflict aimed at settling the cardinal question: “Which sect rules Lebanon?”
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Qana: A Stigma on Israel’s face (In Pictures)
April 1996 was a black month in Lebanon’s history, and the 18th of it was a stigma on Israel’s face. At five past twelve, on the 18th of April 1996, when the Israeli enemy was launching its “Grapes of Wrath” war on Lebanon, families fled from several southern towns to the UNIFIL post in Qana believing they will be safe there. However, their safe haven became their slaughter place. Israeli shell targeted the UN post's courtyard. The panicked families went into hangars for shelter. It was not long before rounds of Israeli phosphoric shells put an end to the fright and astonishment of more than a hundred of innocent men, women and children. This was Israel's notorious Qana massacre that stunned the world. It was not the only “Qana” blood bath Israel had committed. More than 60 people were killed, including over 36 sleeping children, when Israeli warplanes bombed the village of Qana for another time in July 2006 Israeli War on Lebanon. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, following are pictures of some of the tragic massacre during Israel’s 1996 April War on Lebanon.
link to www.almanar.com.lb

Saudi Arabia

Saudi sentences rights activist to four years
A court in Riyadh has sentenced prominent Saudi rights campaigner Mohamad al-Bajadi to four years in prison, activists said on Tuesday. Bajadi was detained in March 2011 after voicing support for families demonstrating outside the interior ministry in Riyadh to demand the release of jailed relatives, according to fellow activists. They say he has been on hunger strike for one month.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Saudi Diplomat Kidnapped in Yemen Held by Al-Qaeda

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said it was holding the Saudi diplomat who was kidnapped in the country last month.
link to www.almanar.com.lb
 
Sri Lankan woman faces beheading on witchcraft charge
Saudi Arabian authorities may order execution of woman after man reported her for casting a spell on his daughter. A Sri Lankan woman could face the death penalty by beheading after she was arrested on suspicion of casting a spell on a 13-year-old girl during a family shopping trip, a police spokesman said on Wednesday. The daily Okaz reported that a Saudi man had complained his daughter had "suddenly started acting in an abnormal way, and that happened after she came close to the Sri Lankan woman" in a shopping mall in the port city of Jeddah.
 
Saudi cracks down on "perverted" emo teens
Human rights activists criticized on Wednesday a Saudi interior ministry statement calling for schools and universities to suspend students who are perceived to dress like "emos" or "tomboys." The ministry statement, released on March 21, condemned an "emo" and "tomboy" phenomenon among teenagers that "contradicts Islamic ethics and morals." "Emos is a phenomenon alien to our society and is considered a wrong and perverted behavior," the statement read.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Osama bin Laden's family due to be deported to Saudi Arabia

Pakistan hopes chapter on al-Qaida leader's death in US raid will close with departure of three widows and nine children. Osama bin Laden's three widows and their nine children are due to be deported to Saudi Arabia around midnight on Tuesday, almost a year after US Navy Seals killed the al-Qaida chief at a compound in north-west Pakistan, their lawyer said. The family was detained by Pakistani authorities immediately after the pre-dawn raid on 2 May in Abbottabad. The American commandos left them behind but took Bin Laden's body, which they later buried at sea.
link to www.guardian.co.uk

Child brides: Will Saudi Arabia set age limit for marriage?
Saudi Arabia Justice Ministry is considering setting a minimum age for marriage. In 2009, Saudi courts refused to nullify the marriage of an 8-year old girl to a 58- year old man.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/UEGJ1k-G5xc/Child-brides-Will-Saudi-Arabia-set-age-limit-for-marriage

Syria

UN chief says Syria has broken ceasefire
Ban Ki-moon calls for an expanded observer mission, saying Damascus has failed to adhere to agreed peace plan.
link to www.aljazeera.com
 
Flanked by Syrian government security forces, UN vehicles made their way to Deraa, the birthplace of Syria's 13-month uprising yesterday, prompting activists to question why they had not chosen to visit a more violent location.
link to www.independent.co.uk
 
Shots fired in Syria town where observers visit
Opposition activists say Syrian troops opened fire on protesters, wounding eight in a Damascus suburb visited by a U.N. observer team.
link to news.yahoo.com

Syria says six soldiers killed in Idlib bombing
Six members of the Syrian security forces were killed in a bombing in the northern province of Idlib on Wednesday, state news agency SANA said. It said an "armed terrorist group" carried out the bombing, which also injured 11 others.
link to english.al-akhbar.com
 
Syria 'has respect' for Annan plan
Foreign minister Walid al-Muallem says deployment of 250 UN monitors is "reasonable and logical", during visit to China.
link to www.aljazeera.com
 
Syria's FM claims government abiding by truce
Syrian forces fired a barrage of mortar shells at an opposition stronghold Wednesday even as the foreign minister promised the regime would respect a week-old cease-fire and withdraw troops from urban centers in line with an international peace plan.
link to news.yahoo.com

Each Side Accuses the Other of Violating Syria’s Cease-Fire
The sides traded accusations as an advance team of United Nations observers, sent to monitor the cease-fire, was spotted in the southern city of Dara’a.
link to www.nytimes.com
 
Sanctions 'halve Syrian reserves'
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has said that international sanctions against the Syrian government have cut its foreign currency reserves by half.
link to www.bbc.co.uk 
 
Push in Paris for More Pressure on Syria as Money Ebbs and Cease-Fire Wobbles
Activist reports of attacks by Syrian forces were a response, the Russian foreign minister said.
link to feeds.nytimes.com 
 
Obama administration searches for a ‘Plan B’ in Syria
The White House is unhappy with the options it's been given on Syria and is searching for a new strategy for removing President Bashar al-Assad, The Cable has learned. "There was a fundamental decision made at the highest level that we need a real Syria policy with more options for the president," one administration official with knowledge of the internal deliberations said. "Our allies were coming back to us and saying ‘What's your next move?,' and we were forced to admit we didn't have one."

Ship 'facing Syrian arms search'
A German-owned ship is to be searched by Turkish port authorities after claims that it is carrying arms destined for Syria.
link to www.bbc.co.uk

The problems of funding Syria's rebels
Two weeks after their bold promise, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have yet to start distributing money from a multimillion-dollar fund designed to prop up Syria's rebels and entice defections from President Bashar Al Assad's army, Syrian opposition members and international officials say.
 
Morocco and a Syrian opposition group urged Russia on Wednesday to press President Bashar Assad's government to adhere to a ceasefire and pull back forces in accordance with UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan.  The separate calls on Russia to use its influence on Damascus to ensure a fragile ceasefire takes hold came in visits to Moscow by Morocco's foreign minister and members of the Syrian National Coordination Body for Democratic Change (NCB), an internal opposition group.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Annan in talks with Arab ministers on Syria

Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League special envoy, is briefing Arab League on plans to end conflict raging despite ceasefire.
link to www.aljazeera.com
 
UN wives ask Mrs Assad for peace
Bashar al-Assad's wife Asma to pressure him to end the suppression of Syria's uprising.
link to www.bbc.co.uk
 
Syria Olympic chief may be blocked from London 2012 Games
Syria's Olympic chief could face being refused entry to Britain for the London 2012 Games.
link to www.independent.co.uk 

No fans of Assad, Syria's Kurds distrust uprising
Syria's Kurds, who have long complained of discrimination under President Bashar Assad, would seem a natural fit to join the revolt against his rule. Instead, they are growing increasingly distrustful of an opposition they see as no more likely to grant them their rights.
link to news.yahoo.com


Golan residents mark Syria's independence: 'We back Assad'
Hundreds of Druze wave Assad posters, Syrian flags. 'Golan Heights must be returned to Syria,' they say.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Syria’s Email Wars: The Opposition Leaks
Starting today, Al-Akhbar will be publishing a series of documents that electronic activists managed to obtain after hacking into the email account of Syrian National Council president Burhan Ghalioun.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

The contents of the Syrian National Council (SNC) President Burhan Ghalioun’s leaked emails, which were obtained by Al-Akhbar, reveal much of what is taking place in the “corridors” of the dominant organization in the Syrian opposition. The SNC is certainly not a homogeneous body, pulling together many components that are only linked by their hostility toward the Syrian regime. Its diverse nature has led to a great deal of disagreements on many issues, from differences over the decision-making process and structure of the SNC, to the demands for democracy in Syria while the SNC has not had elections and the term of its president keeps being renewed.
 
All Quiet on the Damascus Front
There’s little sign of revolution in the Syrian capital. Either it is simmering underground awaiting the moment to surface, or the confidence expressed by the regime is well-founded.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Other Mideast and World News

Protests against veil ban in Tunisian universities bring lectures to a halt
The controversy over the face veil, which emerged following the fall of former Tunisian President Zein Abidine Ben Ali’s secular regime, has resurfaced again on campus with lectures coming to a halt following ongoing disputes on the issue.
link to english.alarabiya.net

Rights groups urge US to come clean on Yemen strike
Two US rights groups on Tuesday urged the United States to divulge details of a 2009 missile strike in Yemen that allegedly targeted Al-Qaeda militants, but left dozens of civilians dead. Yemen initially said it launched the 17 December 2009 strike in a remote mountain village, but media reports later quoted unnamed US officials saying it was an American operation. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement they had filed a request for details on the strike under the Freedom of Information Act.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Pentagon Asked Newspaper Not to Publish Photos
Whether to publish images of soldiers in Afghanistan posing with body parts was the subject of intense debate, one that the Pentagon weighed in on, too.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/world/asia/pentagon-asked-newspaper-not-to-publish-photos.html
 
Breivik glorifies Norway mass killings
Defendant tells court on the second day of his trial he acted out of "goodness, not evil" in attacks that killed 77.
link to www.aljazeera.com
 
"You will be punished if you don’t become an informant": ACLU’s Nancy Murray on Tarek Mehanna case, Maureen Clare Murphy
Last week, a federal judge sentenced 29-year-old Boston-area pharmacist Tarek Mehanna, convicted earlier this year of various material support for terrorism charges, to 17.5 years in a supermax prison. Mehanna has been in lockdown for most of the past four years, held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day in a cell “the size of a small closet,” as Mehanna described during his powerful statement to the judge at the hearing.
 
Cops arrest 6-year-old kindergartener in Georgia
A police department in Milledgeville, Georgia is standing behind a cop’s decision to arrest a kindergarten student in her school after she had a tantrum in class. Acting police chief Dray Swicord told WMAZ-TV Tuesday that he continues supporting one of his officers’ judgement to arrest 6-year-old Salecia Johnson after she threw a tantrum at Creekside Elementary School Friday.
link to www.rawstory.com

Study finds white juries more likely to convict black defendants
A Duke University study released today has found that black defendants who face all-white juries in the U.S. are more likely to be convicted of the charges leveled against them, according to a report at Mother Jonesmagazine’s “MoJo” blog. The study found that a single black juror, however, can significantly alter that outcome.
link to www.rawstory.com

Funder of Santorum campaign and anti-Muslim causes to back Romney, Alex Kane
Last week’s announcement that Rick Santorum was suspending his presidential campaign signaled the start of the general election season. It also signaled the start of right-wing donors coalescing around Mitt Romney, the presumed Republican nominee. Foster Friess, a multi-millionaire financial investor and a backer of Islamophobia, is a prominent case in point. Friess was a major Santorum backer. According to Open Secrets, Friess donated over $1 million to the pro-Santorum “Red, White and Blue” Super PAC.
link to mondoweiss.net

www.TheHeadlines.Org
 

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‘Grass shattered the narrative’ — Refaat Alareer
Apr 20, 2012 10:35 am | Yousef M. Aljamal

DSC06355
The Center for Political Development Studies [CPDS] Gaza, Palestine

The Center for Political Development Studies [CPDS], a Gaza based organization, held a lecture on Monday, April 16, 2012 on 'What must be said about the poem that shook Israel', delivered by Refaat R. Alareer. A lecturer at the English Language Department at IUG, Alareer discussed the poem poetically and its implications and consequences.

"In the rigid sense of defining of poetry, this may not be a poem. We can classify it as a text, an article or a complaint as some people have suggested. It does not have the figurative language, the imagery that poetry is characterized by. The most important thing in poetry is metaphor," said Alareer, surprising some of the audience.

It is necessary to vigorously defend Günter Grass and reject the despicable campaign against him. Grass's warning of a war against Iran and his statement, "The nuclear power of Israel endangers an already fragile world peace," is quite correct. It deserves recognition and support.

"Generally, calling it a poem makes it more universal than calling it an article. If you write an idea in a poem, it may make it into the books." he continued.

"The poem implicitly says that the silence regarding what is happening in Palestine is like the silence occurring during the Holocaust. This is a crazy idea actually! He compared the greatest sin in Germany's history to attacking Iran. This drove Israel crazy. It is a counter narrative to what Israel tries to profess that it is to be the sole democracy in the Middle East, having the most moral army, and fighting the evil of Palestinians, Iranians and the terrorists in the Middle East," Alareer noted.

"Grass shattered this narrative. He points the finger, accuses Iran, the West, Germany and most importantly Israel. He accuses Israel of being the real threat to peace in the Middle East," he added.

Many figures in the West were accused of anti-Semitism, the label Israel uses to intimidate any voice attempting to criticize its occupation of Palestine for over six decades now. The 84-year-old German writer has been banned from Israel following the publication of his poem 'What must be said' last week in the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

"The poet talked about anti-Semitism. He tries to make fun of this idea and concept. Everyone who tries to criticized Israel, including some Israelis, is branded anti-Semitic or a self-hating Jew. He is calling upon his followers to criticize Israel and not fear being labeled anti-Semitic, to break the silence and hypocrisy they are living in the West", he argued.

"The who, the why, the when, the where, the what and the climate in which it was written, were crucial to its impact", he assured.

"Grass broke the taboo of criticizing Israel in Germany. More people are seeing the reality. We no longer have only ordinary people supporting us," he concluded.

The lecture is the 17th CPDS has held this year, aiming to shed light on political issues related to Palestine worldwide, with the presence of Palestinian and International activists.


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Sequestering young people in religious/ethnic schools breeds alienation and hatred (Magid takes on Beinart)
Apr 20, 2012 10:30 am | Philip Weiss

Shaul Magid
Shaul Magid

This is interesting. Peter Beinart is now getting criticized by a member of his own camp, another liberal Zionist. Shaul Magid is famous in Jewish circles. He was on the J Street rabbinical board (in his Beinart review he says he felt betrayed by J Street's capitulation), he is a scholar of Jewish history at Indiana University. He writes in Religion Dispatches that Beinart ignores the fact that the settlements are directed, authorized, and approved by Israelis. This point has been made before but Magid is very clear:

The settlements are not distinct from the state, they are an integral part of it.

Israel is a legislative democracy (its flaws notwithstanding), so its elected officials must be viewed as representing the majority of the population. This may be more complex in a parliamentary democracy but it is still the foundation upon which we call something a democracy. Israelis elected a parliament that supports the settlements. Polls indicate that if elections were held in Israel tomorrow the coalition would be even more rightist. Israeli high school mock elections held in 2009 gave present Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a settler and vocal advocate of the settlement movement, a clear victory as Prime Minister.

Given that, whatever polls say regarding a majority of Israelis’ “willingness” to end the occupation, when they go to ballot box as a collective, they indicate otherwise. American Jews need to take seriously the real likelihood that Israelis (not just Netanyahu) simply do not want to end the occupation for all kinds of reasons. For many American Jews this causes cognitive dissonance—but they may have to deal with it.

This raises the issue of why American Jews simply don't throw in the towel on the Jewish state and say, Let's have what we like over here: democracy!! (Shaul Magid, what's the answer to that challenge?)

Then Magid goes on to hammer Beinart's segregationist views as the views of his grandmother's generation. (As I've said before, Beinart is the kind of young person old people love). What's fascinating about this argument is that Magid, who is a really smart guy, sought to segregate his own children, and then discovered when his son was grown up that he'd missed out on diversity. Wasn't that obvious?

Second, when Beinart speaks of intermarriage he speaks as if he’s from his grandmother’s generation. Intermarriage is a reality American Jews will have to deal with. It’s not going away nor, I would argue, should it. American Jews intermarry at a rate commensurate with many other minority populations in America (excluding blacks and Latinos), so is Beinart suggesting ethnic groups should only marry one another? Or is he saying that intermarriage between a Polish Catholic and a Korean Presbyterian is fine but that Jews should only marry other Jews? It may be that the intermarried Jew cares less about Israel, but rectifying this reality by making an exceptionalist claim about the Jews, making them “anomalous” (a label with ominous anti-Semitic coattails) is not the answer.       

...the case Beinart makes for more Jewish education should make those on the left a little uncomfortable....

Having sent three children through a Jewish school system in Boston (modern Orthodox, Conservative, and non-denominational) I can personally attest that one of the real deficiencies in the otherwise laudable effort to make young Jews literate in the tradition is that they grow up interacting almost exclusively with Jews, have only Jewish friends, and know about the world around them primarily through a Jewish lens. You can have all the classes you want in global community, tolerance, liberalism, etc., but when it’s a classroom of Jews being taught by a Jew using mostly Jewish resources (and on vacation many of these children go to… Jewish summer camps!), that message may not resonate very far, whatever the noble intensions.

My son, now 28, recently told me he didn’t have a non-Jewish friend until he was in 12th grade when he first attended a public high school. Non-Jews were simply the “other.” ... Beinart’s strong advocacy of sending one’s children to schools where everyone is the same in order to teach them how to be generous to those who are different requires a bit more scrutiny. Would he advocate a society where all ethnic groups only went to school with their own? This is the case in Israel and it has contributed to the creation of a society filled with alienation and hatred on both sides, precisely the kind of society Beinart rightly criticizes in the book.

...sequestering young Jews so that they only learn with one another, marry one another and have children who will do the same is hardly the way to create a liberal humanistic society that can offer a viable alternative to the problems contemporary Jews face.

Beautiful argument. Though I do find it remarkable that a Jewish scholar would be so immured in a Jewish world as to wake up to this truth only after he'd segregated his own children. Wasn't this a truth we learned in the '70s? The Jewish discourse is actually somewhat primitive on this score. And given our power and status in U.S. society, the conversation is actually unseemly. 

Allison Deger has a post up about Joseph Dana's  great review at the National of Beinart's book. I want to add my two cents (and thanks to Annie for passing the Dana along).

The essence of Dana's critique is the problem posed to Beinart by Joseph Dana himself-- a good Jewish intellectual who loves Jewish history and culture but who sees Jewish renewal in a commitment to democracy, not exclusivity. Dana:


Perhaps the actual crisis of Zionism is the fact that liberal Zionist writers, who deeply care for Israel, are unable or unwilling to accept that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is increasingly being defined as a battle over rights and equality between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea. Palestinians are coalescing around nonviolent boycotts targeting Israel’s system of inequality while Israel is destroying its own democratic foundations in an attempt to protect its ideology of exclusion. Rigorous critique of Zionism, not Israeli settlements, is the first step towards safeguarding Israel as a haven for Jews while preventing the country from sliding deeper into moral bankruptcy.

This is a wonderful insight because it gets at the undemocratic nature of Beinart's discourse. He seems to want to limit the Israel conversation to Jews attached to a Jewish homeland. But Palestinians and leftwingers have a very different discourse. Isn't it actually democratic to let them speak?

Dana also takes this jab:

Evidently not strong enough for him to emigrate from New York to Jerusalem, Beinart has a deeply emotional relationship with Zionism...

I love this argument. Why don't people make it more often? The truth is that Beinart is as useful to the Jewish state here as he is in Israel, maybe more useful because Israel has always been dependent on world powers. It does not have the consent of its neighbors or subjects. So it must grapple the U.S. to its soul with hoops of steel.


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Dana on Beinart: ‘undeterred by unavoidable realities’
Apr 20, 2012 10:07 am | Allison Deger

Joseph Dana
Joseph Dana. (Just Vision)

Today for the United Arab Emirites' The National, Joseph Dana takes on Peter Beinart's milestone book, The Crisis of Zionism. In his review, Dana chastises the author for omitting the "unavoidable realities" of the occupation. Included, is Beinart's  "undemocratic Israel" and "democratic Israel" model, where the actions of settlers are considered separate from the Tel Aviv café-scene and its surrounding suburban lifestyle. For Dana who lives in Ramallah, "this is not how the situation looks on the ground."

Israel's economy is deeply entrenched beyond the Green Line. Recently, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Israeli companies could extract natural minerals from the rich land of the West Bank. The main water aquifers which supply thriving Tel Aviv and Haifa are found under the mountain top city settlement of Ariel. The captive economy of Palestine is a central and lucrative focal point for Israeli exports.

beinartcover
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And when Beinart addresses ending Israel's occupation of the Palestinian Territories, Dana finds him failing to articulate a plausible solution. Beinart "borrows rhetoric and tactics of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in order to marginalise it." Dana then further rebuffs Beinart for using BDS as a last stitch effort to make viable the two-state solution. As Dana shows, the era of negotiated land swaps is over not only because of the amount of settlements now in the West Bank, but because Zionism, as such, is predicated on conquest. "Rigorous critique of Zionism, not Israeli settlements, is the first step towards safeguarding Israel as a haven for Jews while preventing the country from sliding deeper into moral bankruptcy."

Read Dana's full review here, and an excerpt below:

Evidently not strong enough for him to emigrate from New York to Jerusalem, Beinart has a deeply emotional relationship with Zionism. His book is a personal chronicle of his development as a Zionist, which began, of all places, in South Africa. He presents raw reflections about his personal process of awareness of Israel’s immoral treatment of Palestinians, but is careful not to denounce them by always providing an Israel caveat.

Beinart’s arguments are not new or even particularly original, let alone based in reporting from Israel. His analysis draws on a variety of books and reports which don’t capture the entire dialogue taking shape in cafes in Tel Aviv, let alone Ramallah, but allow him to present a slightly new analysis of why the two-state solution has failed. Even those he holds responsible for Israel’s present ills – chief among them revisionist Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – are the traditional enemies of American Zionists who start to feel uncomfortable when racism towards Palestinians is clearly articulated, as opposed to quietly carried out.

At its core, The Crisis of Zionism is an ode to liberal Zionism – that confusing ideology which rallies behind the idea Israel can exist as a Jewish and Democratic state – a place where liberalism coexists with tribalism
 


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