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Source: PACUSA, via El Taller International - Tunis

Today in Palestine!

Jeudi, 21 mai 2009 - 22h22

Thursday 21 May 2009


Land Theft/Destruction

Protected by Israeli army, settlers uproot olive trees near Salfit
Nablus – Ma’an – A Palestinian agricultural area was declared a closed military zone as settlers infiltrated the area and uprooted olive trees as Israeli soldiers guarded the area Thursday afternoon. The Wadi Qana area of Dir Istiya, north of Salfit, is agricultural land owned by locals Haitahm Mansour, and Ali Sa’id Zaidan.

Beit Ommar farmers continue to challenge closed military zones in order to reach their lands
On the morning of the 16th, Palestinian farmers from Beit Ommar village with lands in Saffa close to the illegal Israeli settlement of Bet Ayn, defied a closed military zone order issued by the army in order to work their lands. At around 7am, about a dozen farmers and their families accompanied by a large group of Israeli and international solidarity activists, went to their fields in a valley just below Bet Ayn settlement. Farming in this valley is often dangerous, as the villagers face harassment from settlers and the Israeli military.

FM: Settlements not hindering peace
Lieberman says Jewish communities in West Bank cannot be blamed for difficulties in Israeli-Palestinian peace process; adds Washington, Jerusalem share strategic goals.

Mayor’s aide: new deal for Jerusalem Palestinians
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli official put in charge of Jerusalem’s Arabs said he believes treating them more fairly will strengthen Israeli claims to all the disputed city, and says he’s seeking ways to legalize thousands of unlicensed Arab homes vulnerable to demolition.

Israel: ’No need to finish’ W Bank barrier
The head of Israel’s security service has said there is no security reason for continuing construction of Israel’s barrier through the West Bank. Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told a parliamentary committee that Israel had enough capabilities to prevent attacks from the Palestinian territory.

Clinton calls on Israel to halt ’any kind’ of settlement activity
WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took a hard line against settlement construction in the territories Wednesday, including a call to freeze building for natural growth. Her statement came in contrast to the general terms U.S. President Barack Obama expressed about the issue to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in the week.

Empty gestures: Israeli Police Tear Down Tiny West Bank Settlement Outpost
Israeli police said they razed a tiny Jewish settlement outpost in the West Bank on Thursday in what media called a gesture to U.S. President Barack Obama after his talks with Israel’s prime minister.

Israel evacuates youth from seven-hut outpost as "gesture to Obama"
Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - In what appears to be a gesture to US President Barack Obama Israeli forces evacuated a seven-hut settlement northeast of Ramallah Thursday morning.

Moving the Wall in Jayyus
May 21st, 2009— On May 1, the Wall was moved in Jayyus. Villagers turned out to celebrate, finally able to walk on land that has been isolated for years. But with the Wall still standing, soldiers will maintain control over the majority of village land while movement, social ties and economic activity will continue to deteriorate. The struggle will continue until the Wall is destroyed and every stolen dunum returned.

Attacks/Aggression/Siege Related Injuries

Israeli settler runs over a three-year-old Palestinian girl
Hebron – Ma’an – A car driven by an Israeli settler hit a three-year old girl as she crossed Ar-Ras street in Hebron near the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement. The screams of the injured child, identified as Jalila Mus’ab Salah Al-Ja’bary, brought Palestinian and Israeli police to the scene, who then detained the settler woman as she attempted to flee the scene. The young child was taken to Hebron hospital for treatment; her injuries were described as moderate.

Gaza fishermen protest Israeli harassment at sea
Gaza – Ma’an – Hundreds of Gazan fishermen launched their boats for a mass demonstration at sea Wednesday, in protest against the constant threat they are under when they sail into fishing waters.

Palestinian farmer injured by military fire in northern Gaza
One Palestinian farmer was reported injured on Wednesday morning by Israeli army fire in Beit Hannon in northern Gaza Strip.

Israeli police invade home in Hebron, expel family and Christian Peacemakers
A Palestinian family whose home is located near the Ibrahimi mosque in downtown Hebron faced a squadron of Israeli police who invaded their home Monday night and forced the family out into the street.

International Human Rights Workers to accompany Palestinian farmers in Gazan ‘buffer zone’
Thursday, 21 May 2009: Five international human rights workers from the ISM-Gaza Strip will be accompanying 10 farmers from Khoza’a as they harvest crops several hundred metres from the Green Line. In the morning, human rights workers will join Palestinian farmers in Khoza’a village, located east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, to farm land 300-350 meters from the ‘Green Line’. Farmers and international accompaniers were last fired upon in Letaemat, Gaza by Israeli forces on the 9th of May.

7 Palestinians wounded as fire outbreak in Rafah tunnel
Gaza, May 21, 2009 (Ramattan) – Seven Palestinian were badly wounded due to the outbreak of fire in a tunnel under the borderline between Egypt and Gaza strip, Palestinian medical sources said.

2 Israeli soldiers, Palestinian policeman injured in exchange of fire
West Bank, May 21, 2009 (Ramattan) – A Palestinian policeman and two Israeli soldiers were wounded Wednesday in an exchange of fire in the northern West Bank town of Qalqiliya, Israeli sources said.

Testimonials/Eyewitness Accounts

Max Blumenthal: How I Got Gassed in the West Bank
We’ve been posting updates from Max Blumenthal from the West Bank. One of them was from the village of Ni’lin, where Max watched a nonviolent protest against the Separation Barrier get violently disbanded by the Israeli military. Max has now posted two amazing short videos from his trip on the Daily Beast. The first one deals with his experience in Nil’in, home demolitions in Silwan and the views of Palestinian students at Bir Zeit University.

Testimonies: Settlers assault elderly farmers
Testimonies given to B’Tselem by Muhammad Wahadin, 72, and his brother ‘Abdallah, 82, indicate that on 26 April, settlers assaulted them while they were on their way home from their farmland, in Hebron District.


Troops kidnap 26 Palestinians in the West Bank, two soldiers wounded in clashes
Palestinian sources reported on Thursday morning that Israeli troops kidnapped 26 Palestinians in several areas in the West Bank. Two Israeli soldiers were wounded in armed clashes with Palestinian fighters in the northern part of the West Bank.

Six Hamas members seized by PA
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Fatah-allied Palestinian Authority forces seized six Hamas members on Wednesday night, the Islamic movement said.

Israeli troops detain five young Bethlehem-area men
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli troops detained five young men from Tuqu village southeast of Bethlehem and took them to an unknown destination before sunrise on Thursday.

Israeli soldiers seize five Palestinians from Nablus
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers seized five young Palestinians during an overnight raid on Balata Refugee Camp in Nablus and nearby villages on Thursday.

Report: Israeli Prisons Overrun by Arabs
Nearly 70 percent of all prisoners in Israeli jails are Arab, according to statistics gathered by the Israeli Arab Adalah organization. Out of a total of 22,500 prisoners in Israeli jails, nearly 10,000 are residents of the West Bank and Gaza, and an additional 3,700 are Arab citizens of Israel, the report said.

“This is a dangerous phenomenon”
On May 1, people from al-Ma’sara and the neighboring villages in Bethlehem area commemorated Workers’ Day with a march protesting the Apartheid Wall. Soldiers fired on the demonstration and arrested ‘Azmi Sheukhi from Hebron, Mustafa Fawagreh from Um Salamuna and Muhammed Brajiya, Mahmoud Zawahreh, Hasan Brajiya, all members of the popular committee in al-Ma’sara. Following the payment of a high fine, Mustafa, Mahmoud and ‘Azmi were released on Thursday after spending two weeks in prison. The Brajiya brothers are still incarcerated. Mahmoud Zawahreh detailed the group’s experience, beginning with their time in court.

Two from Tubas suffer ’medical negligence’ in Israeli jails
Tubas – Ma’an – The head of the Prisoners’ Society in the West Bank town of Tubas, Mahmoud Sawaftah, appealed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday to intervene to help two prisoners who he said are at risk of dying in Israeli prisons due to medical negligence. Swaftah identified the two prisoners as Khaled Ash-Shawish, who is sentenced to ten life terms and is paralyzed, and Abdallah Hamed Bani Audah who has cancer.

Palestinian lawyers condemn politically motivated arrests
Gaza – Ma’an – The legal community in Palestine is up in arms about continuous political detentions on the part of Palestinian Authority and de facto government security forces. In a statement sent to Ma’an, the Palestinian Legal Society said that "continuous political detentions" are "humiliating to Palestinian rights and will lead to the failure of the national dialogue."

Hebronite released after seven years of detention in Israel
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli authorities released seven-year prisner Ala Ad-Din Othman Abdel Kader Kashur from Beit Ar-Rush south of Hebronon on Wednesday . The 26-year-old was accused of working with the Palestinian resistance.

War Crimes/Humanitarian Issues
Report: Spain trying to rein in judges on Israel war crimes trial
’Wall Street Journal’ reports Spanish government proposing legislation that would prevent courts from dealing with cases not directly related to Spain. Unclear if bill would have impact on open war crimes investigations against US, China and Israel.

The Humanitarian Monitor : April 2009
OCHA - The basic right of many Palestinians to human dignity continued to be undermined during April. In the West Bank, over 100 Palestinians, including many children, were displaced when their homes were demolished by the Israeli authorities for lack of permit, an over two-fold increase in displacement compared to March 2009. Hundreds of additional Palestinian homes were raided and searched by the Israeli army in the course of over 350 search operations throughout the West Bank. In addition, there was a 40% increase in the number of Palestinian conflict-related injuries, compared to the 2008 monthly average. Nearly half of these injuries occurred during incidents of Israeli settler violence, which is on the rise in the West Bank.

Committee Against Torture’s Findings Highlight International Community’s Inaction in the Face of Israel’s Widespread and Systematic Violations of International Law
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights - Press Release - On 14 May, 2009, the United Nations Committee Against Torture published its concluding observations on Israel’s fourth periodic report. While the State of Israel was preparing its submission, other elements of the Occupying Power’s administration were, inter alia, reinforcing the siege on the Gaza Strip, solidifying the annexation of occupied East Jerusalem, expanding illegal settlement activities in the West Bank, and preparing for Operation ‘Cast Lead’, the 23 day military offensive on the Gaza Strip.

New PA minister to British counterpart: Occupation suffocating Palestinian economy
Ramallah – Ma’an – Newly-appointed Palestinian Minister of Economy Basem Khoury met with UK Minister for Trade and Investment Lord Mervyn Davies on Thursday in Ramallah. Khoury, who was sworn in with the new government on Tuesday, presented a detailed explanation on the economic difficult situation resulting from the Israeli siege of Gaza, and Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. He said Israeli checkpoints and other obstructions are suffocating economic activity.

MIDEAST: Power Struggle Killing Patients
GAZA CITY, May 21 (IPS) - The lives of hundreds of critically ill Gazans continue to be jeopardised by the power struggle between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, and political blackmail by Israel.

21 May 2009: B’Tselem and ACRI demand investigation of officers who testified to a policy of routine use of violence against Palestinian civilians.

Palestinians displaced by Operation Cast Lead living in tents
According to the UN, Israel destroyed 3,500 homes in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead. Some of the displaced persons now live in tents, in harsh conditions. B’Tselem’s video project has documented life in one encampment.

Army denies results of use of phosphorous
In a letter to the judge advocate general, B’Tselem has demanded that the army stop all use of white phosphorous in the Gaza Strip, and that the use of phosphorous during Operation Cast Lead be thoroughly investigated.

Palestinian Retaliation

Army claims three Palestinian women attempted to stab soldiers in separate incidents
Israeli military sources claimed Friday that a Palestinian woman attempted to stab an Israeli soldier at Bir Zeit roadblock, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. In a related incident, the army detained two women after claiming that one of them threw a knife at a soldier in Hebron.

Arab Collaborators

Le Monde Diplomatique: Leviev, Dubai & the boycott of Israel
At a time when Israel violates all the resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations and enjoys impunity, a movement is forming in favor of boycott, divestment (recollection of the foreign investments in Israel and in the occupied territories) and sanctions. This is the direction adopted by campaigns in France against Alstom and Veolia for their involvement in the construction of a tram in occupied Jerusalem ("Tram to Jerusalem, lie to Paris", October 24 2007). It is astonishing in these conditions that the Arab countries collaborate with these same corporations that work in the occupied territories.

Security threat

So Zionist and Saudi media are insisting that people of the world should feel threatened by the Iranian missile test. Saudi media (echoing as usual the Zionist handlers) are citing "experts" (typically in Zionist bastions in the West) to the effect that the missile test is a threat "not only to Israel." Of course, I don’t trust the Iranian regime—especially on the Palestinian question, but on any other question. But I am a 49-year old Arab and in my own life time Israel has bombed—BOMBED not missile tested—Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq. And you think that you can convince Arabs that Israel is not a threat? I don’t care how much money House of Saud has, it won’t fly. Try again and again and again. [end]

Political Developments

Abbas’ New Government Broadly Rejected As “Illegal” and “Unconstitutional”
A new transitional government was sworn in on Tuesday, May 19 by President Mahmoud Abbas to replace the previous emergency government. This new government was immediately rejected as “illegal” and “unconstitutional” by almost every political party—including Hamas, Fatah, leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP).

Rift deepens between Palestinian factions
Hamas rejects Fayyad government, calling the administration illegal and accusing Fatah of trying to undermine unity talks.

Fatah in Gaza: No more unity talks; Egypt to set up five committees to solve problems
Gaza - Ma’an - An agreement based on the previous five rounds of dialogue will be announced by Egypt on 5 July, said leading Fatah figure in Gaza Ibrahim Abdul Naja on Wednesday. According to Abdul Nahaj Egyptian mediators will set up a schedule for the five committees on each of the issues unresolved and each committee will work independently.

Hamas: Fatah agents leaking intelligence; Rights group: Gaza gov’t violates freedom of movement
Bethlehem – Ma’an – De facto government security services seized “serious security documents” from Fatah members attempting to send them to Ramallah through the Erez crossing in the north of Gaza, said Security and Interior committee official in the PLC Isma’il Al-Ashqar Wednesday.

Radwan: Latest escalation aims to blackmail Hamas
Hamas has warned the Zionist entity against stepping up its escalation against the Gaza Strip stressing that the Palestinian resistance has the right to retaliate.

PPP slams Hamas for barring Gaza women activists from heading to the West Bank
The Palestinian People Party (PPP) slammed Hamas movement for barring Gaza women activists from leaving Gaza to participate in conference for the Women Union in the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

Haaretz: Hamas thwarts "terror attacks" against Israel
Gaza, May 21, 2009 (Ramattan) – The Israeli daily Haaretz said on Thursday that Hamas has prevented recent terror attacks against Israel, because it is scared of angering Egypt.

’Fixation on two-state solution is childish’
Although the prime minister returns contented from his visit to Washington, his aides are already hard at work in bid to discredit US fixation on two-state plan. ’Two states for two peoples is a stupid and childish solution to a very complex problem,’ they say.

Netanyahu Clashed With Obama, Congress On Trip
JERUSALEM — Media focus on the idea of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, favored by President Barack Obama, is "childish and stupid," said an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday. The aide’s statement reflected efforts by Netanyahu to deflect attention away from the issue during his just-completed trip to Washington. The Prime Minister clashed with both Obama and members of Congress in his attempts to avoid discussing the peace process in favor of Iran.

Obama is dividing Jerusalem
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s enemies have gotten together to promote a few sacred causes: to bring Israel to its knees, to force a Pax Americana on Israel (the "Obama plan") and to grind the prime minister’s status to dust.

Ayalon: Obama’s plan differs little from Bush’s
US President Barack Obama’s statements about how to advance the peace process do not differ significantly from those of his predecessor, George W. Bush, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. Ayalon, who was ambassador to the United States during the Bush administration, said Obama was not acting differently than Bush, except for his emphasis on adding a regional element to the diplomatic process.

Israel PM willing to start Mideast peace talks
AFP - Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday he told US President Barack Obama he was willing to launch peace talks with the Palestinians and Syria immediately.

’Israel ready for talks with Syria without preconditions’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday after talks with U.S. President Barack Obama that Israel was ready to immediately open peace talks with Syria without preconditions.

Kadima: Israel worse off after Bibi’s US trip
Opposition says PM’s meeting with Obama reflects promotion of his own survival rather than Israel’s.

Hamas denies Hezbollah links, vows to stay in Syria
In his first interview since talks between Palestinian rival factions Hamas and Fatah broke down, one of the Islamist groups’s leaders said progress had been made but called the newly-formed Palestinian government a step in the wrong direction in an exclusive interview with the editorial board.

Other News

Palestinian residents protest Jerusalem Day
Demonstrators carrying Palestinian flag, signs saying ’wake up from fantasy of unification’, say ’city has never been unified… there is no equality in it’. City Council member Meir Margalit calls national holiday ’one big lie’.

U.S. to continue funding Israel anti-missile system
Israeli defense officials have recently been concerned that cuts in the U.S. defense budget, along with Pentagon unwillingness to fund a project that does not employ American workers, could harm the future of the Arrow.

Palestinians to agree to Islamic sovereignty over Temple Mount
Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said that if Israel opts for peace and has a leader who is willing to make genuine compromises, a peace agreement could be reached within three to six months. Palestinian sources said the PA would only be willing to relinquish Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount as part of a final-status agreement in exchange for Islamic sovereignty over the site. Meanwhile, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced yesterday that he was canceling his planned visit to Washington next week due to the death of his grandson.

Most of Jerusalem’s non-Jewish children live below poverty line
Figures released ahead of Jerusalem Day show that at the end of 2008, over one third of Jerusalem’s families live below the poverty line, and negative immigration from the capital continues, albeit at a slower rate than in previous years. The numbers, released by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, show that at the end of 2008, there were 492,400 Jews (some 65 percent of the city’s population) and 268,400 Arabs (about 35 percent) living in the capital.

Obama gov’t restores visa to former spy, Netanhayu adviser
As might be expected of a former senior official with Israel’s spy agency Mossad, Uzi Arad — the most trusted political adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister — has become used to being in the shadows as he exerts influence. But that is fast changing. Arad was prominent in preparing Netanyahu’s tough positions as he headed for Washington this week to meet Barack Obama, the US president, who is seeking to advance a Middle East peace plan. Jonathan Cook analyzes.

Soldier indicted for looting in Gaza
Givati Brigade troop admits to taking card from Palestinian home and withdrawing money.

Jerusalem Patriarch Faults Tight Israeli Security for Low Turnout at Papal Mass
JERUSALEM — A church leader on Wednesday criticized what he described as excessive Israeli security surrounding the recent visit here of Pope Benedict XVI, blaming it for a disappointingly low turnout at a historic open air mass celebrated in the city. Reflecting the dissonance that characterized much of the pope’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land this month, Israeli officials rejected the complaints about their safeguarding of the pope and suggested that worshipers simply did not show up in the numbers expected for political or other reasons.

Egypt to revoke citizenship from men married to Israelis
Court explains that children of these couples join IDF, therefore posing threat to national security.

Palestinian national poet does not lose relevance a year after death, social analysis of Darwish
Hiba Lama / PNN – The Department of Social Sciences at the University of Bethlehem organized a conference on ’Rights and the Palestinian Community in the Creations of Mahmoud Darwish.’ Known as the Palestinian national poet, Darwish died last summer. In Bethlehem today Norma Hazboun told PNN that presented papers offered detailed explanations as to the social significance of Darwish’s works.

For decades the Abu Musallam’s have carried melons on their heads in family business
Nablus / Amin Abu Wardeh for PNN – The Abu Musallam family of Nablus’ Balata Refugee Camp are attracting photographers and the media after creating considerable attention while selling watermelons.

Tour organizers: now it’s time to present the best of Arab hip hop from Europe to Palestine
Jerusalem / Alix de Mauny - In the first tour of its kind a group of professional European-Palestinian artists are performing a series of hip hop shows in Jerusalem, 21 through 24 May 2009. Taking place in five different districts of East Jerusalem the tour includes several concerts performed by both local and Arab-European rappers, in a celebration of European-Palestinian relations.

Media Bias

JINSA advocates censorship, military strikes on “partisan” media outlets
JINSA is the hard-line, Likudnik Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. They boast a pretty powerful line-up of present and former advisors including Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle. If you’re looking for groups to blame for helping to get us into the endless war and now occupation of Iraq, JINSA is certainly a great place to start.

NPR describes Gaza onslaught as ’striking targets’
Earlier today I asked for help to find a dismaying reference to Gaza on NPR yesterday morning. Susie Kneedler responded. She confirmed the quote I thought I’d heard, and had this to say: I found the Renee Montagne clip and, with it, the barbarous heartlessness of both her false "summary" and Don Gonyea’s ridiculous "story" that missed everything that mattered. Montagne:

"In the last days before Pres. Obama took office, Israel’s military was striking targets in Gaza. The shooting stopped just in time for the inauguration, but nobody expected the challenge of Middle East peace to go away. The issue returned to the headlines this week. The new American President met Israel’s new Prime Minister, and it was a moment for Pres. Obama to downplay his differences with Binyamin Netanyahu."

’The Times’ continues to parrot the lobby’s talking points even in the suggestion that Netanyahu is somehow Obama’s co-equal (What planet is this?)
Iwent to AIPAC two weeks back. The line was: Don’t worry about the two-state solution; it’s all about Iran. And duly the New York Times imbibed this line; it reported that the Obama-Netanyahu meeting on Monday was all about Iran. But it wasn’t about Iran. My president set the agenda; and it was about the last chance for the two-state solution—as Gideon Levy in Haaretz and David Ignatius in the Washington Post both correctly report. While here on Mondo, and over at Huffpo, David Bromwich states that the Times "falsified" the Obama-Netanyahu meeting.

"We only seem to waterboard Muslims"
But apparently that’s an extreme statement, according to the most useless of The View members, Elizabeth Hasslebeck (sorry Sherri Shepard!), a blonde beauty with a fascistic conservative overcoat, seemingly in style these days. While I’m not big on show itself - which has some potential - I have always been drawn to Hasslebeck’s complete idiocy.

Solidarity/Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment
CodePink to deliver playground equipment to Gaza children
More than 30 people from all over the world, including some from the East Bay, are heading to Gaza with $15,000 worth of playground equipment, school supplies and toys for children there. The trip, the second such trek this year, is being organized by a Bay Area chapter of CodePink. Anna Davda of Berkeley said the trip’s purpose is to call attention to the needs of Gaza’s children. According to the group Save the Children, children make up more than half of Gaza’s population.

Scottish Film Festival Joins the Israel Boycott Fun
A week ago, the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) released its program listing the Embassy of Israel as a "Programme Supporter." The festival had received a 300 pound grant from the Israeli Embassy to pay for Israeli filmmaker Tali Shalom Ezer’s travel to attend the festival. Thanks to the efforts of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, festival organizers were inundated with letters from Scotts expressing their anger over accepting money from and being associated with the State of Israel. In addition, acclaimed British director Ken Loach (The Wind That Shakes the Barley, My Name is Joe) expressed his outrage and added more pressure to boycott the festival.

Israel denies Canadian delegation entry to Gaza
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli authorities at Erez crossing denied entry to a delegation of 17 Canadian civil society advocates on a mission to the Gaza Strip on Thursday afternoon. The group included representatives from Palestinian and Jewish peace groups as well as the Federation des Femmes du Quebec, the Quebec Teachers Union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Canadian Union of Postal workers, all from Quebec. The groups were planning an educational and solidarity trip to Gaza.

Palestinian t-shirt solidarity
"They stole my land, burnt my olive trees, destroyed my house, took my water, imprisoned my father, killed my mother, starved us all, humiliated us all. But I am to blame : I shot a rocket back. So they stole more of my land, burnt my olive trees, destroyed my house, took my water, bombed my country..."

Man with loudspeaker: God will avenge himself (Himself?) on Jews who say No to occupation

Here’s a video supposedly from outside the White House as Bibi met Obama. Note the One State signs with Code Pink. Note the simulated West Bank "checkpoint," now a staple of I/P protests. And note the bigger, pro-Israel demo, and the man calling out that God will avenge himself on the Jews in Code Pink gathering. You’re leaving the ship, just when Israel needs you, he says. And nearby a sign says: No Land for Peace. No Land for Peace=One State. Here’s a new truth emerging: They really do want apartheid. They’re fine with apartheid, for a Jewish state. There’s a massive movement forming on the American plain, to say No.


Netanyahu Adviser Steps Out of the Shadows, By JONATHAN COOK
As might be expected of a former senior official with Israel’s spy agency Mossad, Uzi Arad — the most trusted political adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister — has got used to being in the shadows as he exerts influence.

Khalidi faces down the neoconservatives over numerous ’existential’ threats
On Monday night, following the Obama-Netanyahu meeting, Charlie Rose had an interesting half hour with Rashid Khalidi, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, and Lally Weymouth of Newsweek (and Jim Hoagland in Washington, reporting). The best part of the show was seeing Khalidi holding his own with two neoconservatives at Rose’s table. What those neocons are doing there, I don’t know; it is merely tragic that they continue to have such sway, that a realist was not there to counter Stephens’s Zionism. But Khalidi diplomatically and firmly insisted that 1948 is the baseline. 1948 must be addressed, he said. "If you don’t address those grievances," you can forget about a peaceful solution.

Beholden to the Big Powers: Israel, Gaza and the UN
On December 27, 2008, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, a massive assault on Gaza. 22 days later, around 1,400 Palestinians, including over 300 children, and 13 Israelis were dead; about 5,000 Palestinians were wounded. Israeli forces bombed and shelled schools, medical centers, hospitals, ambulances, United Nations buildings (including UN schools), power plants, sewage plants, roads, bridges and civilian homes. This was described in much of the press as hitting “Hamas targets” (e.g. David Gardner, “U.S. accused of white phosphorus against Taliban,” Daily Mail, May 11, 2009).

Funded by U.S. neocons, think tank researchers now carving Israeli policy
The rooms at Beit Nativ, the Jerusalem building that houses the Shalem Center, have been gradually emptying in recent months, with fellows at the neoconservative research institute taking their leave one by one. But rather than signaling a slump, the depletion is actually a sign of the think tank’s unprecedented success, because instead of writing scholarly books and articles, the Shalem fellows are now sitting in government offices, helping turn abstract research into concrete policy.

Just a coincidence, I’m sure, by Stephen M. Walt
"You see this napkin? In 24 hours, we could have the signatures of 70 Senators on this napkin."—Former AIPAC official Steven Rosen, speaking to a sympathetic journalist (Jeffrey Goldberg).

Upping the Ante on Israel
Binyamin Netanyahu’s friends liken him to a good poker player. They explain, for example, that before the Israeli prime minister plays the card marked "Palestinian state," he wants an American commitment that this state will be demilitarized. But the Israeli leader faced an unusual test in his meeting this week with Barack Obama. The new president is not the poker-player sort of politician: When he decides to do something, he goes straight at it, laying his cards on the table face-up. That direct style is becoming an Obama signature, and it has subtly changed the dynamics of the U.S. dialogue with Israel.

Israel’s choice, Obama’s challenge, by Mustafa Barghouti
I cannot recall a more important meeting between an American president and an Israeli prime minister than today’s meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Will the Obama administration have the courage to challenge Netanyahu, or will all the talk of change dissolve in the face of a concerted one-two punch from Netanyahu and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee? Mustafa Barghouthi comments.

No hope or change from Obama-Netanyahu meeting
Seldom has an encounter between an American and Israeli leader been as hyped as this week’s meeting between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As expected, Obama committed himself to diplomacy with Iran and pledged an enormous effort to achieve a two-state solution. Netanyahu continued to incite confrontation with Iran and refused to commit himself to a Palestinian state.

Little progress in Obama-Netanyahu talks
WASHINGTON (IPS) - While reaffirming the "special relationship" between their two countries, US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared unable to bridge major differences in their approaches to Iran and Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts following their White House meeting here Monday.

A friend of Israel, by Gideon Levy
We must be thankful to Obama. Four months after taking office, he is trying to rescue Israel, the Middle East, and basically the entire world, whose most dangerous conflict is this one. The threats are many; first and foremost refusals by Israel, a loss of interest by Obama, and Palestinian divisions. The ball is in Netanyahu`s court. If he ends the occupation, he`ll get peace and security; if he doesn`t, he won`t. It`s not about another minor deal, but about the future of the Zionist enterprise. Such an opportunity will not return. Yes, we can. Obama has proved it; now it`s our turn.

Twilight Zone / PlayStation, By Gideon Levy
Mohammed Abu Akrub returned from school one afternoon and stood in the street with a few friends, doing nothing, according to him. Six Israel Defense Forces jeeps appeared suddenly and announced a curfew in the village. That was the start of the abuse of Mohammed and his five friends - abuse that continued until dawn, when the six were tossed out of the jeeps, wounded and battered.

Diaspora Jews find their voice : If diaspora Jews can find the courage to speak critically to Israel, a tipping point may finally be reached
Freedland`s dream, predicated on the fact that Israel is heavily dependent on the support of diaspora Jewry to legitimise its actions, was that diaspora Jews would finally turn round to the Israeli government and say "Enough is enough. The occupation must end. The Palestinians must have their independent state. If not, however much we are with you, we can no longer support you." Jacqueline Rose agreed, adding that central to this there had to be a full recognition of the injustice suffered by the Palestinians in 1948. And Freedland accepted this too.

Fatah is key to Palestinian polity | Karma Nabulsi
As Fatah prepares for its sixth congress, it must recapture the essence of its movement if it is to redeem Palestinian politics. In September 1965, two years before Israel occupied the remainder of historic Palestine (Arab Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza), the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fateh), then still a clandestine formation in its infancy, sent a statement to the third Arab summit under way at Casablanca. It introduced itself to the Arab leaders attending as "nothing more than a group of youth who have determined to regain their homeland, and around whom are gathering, day by day, hundreds of other Palestinian youth ... longing to return to their homeland."

I remember when…
Palestine, May 21, (Pal Telegraph) - During the last couple of trips to Palestine, I have begun to notice a very encouraging trend in the way people see and appreciate the traditional Palestinian foods and "old ways". There seems to be a newfound appreciation of the old fellah (farmers, peasants, and country folk) ways of preparing foods. People are nostalgic for the down to earth goodness of the foods, traditions, and everything fellah! My mother, may God bless her and keep her, used to always remind me with yet another one of her nuggets of wisdom: If it weren’t for the fellah, the medinee (city folk) would starve!

The Hebrew Republic – Book Review
The Hebrew Republic – How Secular Democracy and Global Enterprise Will Bring Israel Peace at Last. Bernard Avishai. Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin), Orlando. 2008. Two events have severely diminished the prospects of this book since it was published in early 2008 – the IDF attack on Gaza and the current global recession. In what are somewhat hopeful but weakly expressed arguments, Bernard Avishai was on slim grounds to begin with. His two main pillars of Israel of the future are of a Hebrew republic based on “globalization” – essentially the Washington consensus economics of finance capitalism. While there is some room for hope that he has expressed certain ideas that are progressive, they are surrounded by misleading ideas and omitted ideas. Finally his arguments are based much more on philosophical musings without a significant amount of practical logistics on how to achieve his end – a Hebrew republic that is also secular and democratic, inclusive of the Palestinians in Israel.