Saturday, July 24, 2010

Taliban captures two US soldiers

(Taliban waits for you, by Carlos Latuff)


"The Taliban has captured two US soldiers in Logar province in eastern Afghanistan.

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) confirmed on Saturday that two of its soldiers were captured.

"Two International Security Assistance Force servicemembers departed their compound in Kabul City in a vehicle on Friday afternoon and did not return," Isaf said in a statement.
Isaf did not specify the nationality of the captured soldiers, but US officials told the Associated Press that the soldiers are Americans.

A Taliban spokesman who earlier announced the capture also described the soldiers as American. He told the Reuters news agency that three US soldiers were initially captured, but that one of them has died....."

Anger Rises Over U.S. Tax Dollars for Settlements

By Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, Jul 24, 2010 (IPS) - Anger has arisen in Palestinian areas over reports that millions of tax-exempt dollars from the U.S. are being funneled towards Israel's illegal settlement building in the Palestinian West Bank -- in flagrant violation of international law.

This is happening under the nose of the U.S. administration despite its claims of support for a two-state solution and criticism of Israel's continued settlement building....

"Without the substantial support of millions of tax-exempt dollars from the U.S., and elsewhere in the world, Israeli NGOs such as Elad and Ateret Cohanim which finance the construction and expansion of settlement building in East Jerusalem would be restricted," Ofran told IPS.

"They rely on the substantial funds they have to buy Palestinian homes often under dubious circumstances and then to fight long and protracted battles against the owners should they take the cases to court." "

Terror’s Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone

By Ray McGovern

"A recent exposé in the Washington Post shows that if you have a security clearance and are comfortable being part of a lucrative "self-licking ice cream cone" — a process that offers few if any benefits while perpetuating its own existence — then the "war on terror" is definitely for you!

The conclusion that the Long War against Islamic militants abroad can be enriching for a host of "counter-terror" contractors at home leaps out of the Post’s "Top Secret America," a comprehensive three-part series by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin on July 19, 20 and 21......

And the feeding trough won’t disappear anytime soon, if ever. We are told that this "war" will not end like World War II with a surrender ceremony on the battleship Missouri; indeed, it will be impossible to tell when (or if) it is over — since the "war" is so vaguely defined as to guarantee its continuation in perpetuity as long as there are some angry Islamists out there, enflamed over all the people the U.S. government has been killing....."

We should mourn these desert staging posts

By Robert Fisk

"So what, readers, is a "caravanserai"? In Persian (or Dari), it is "karvansara", in Turkish, "keravandaray" – yes, from which we get our "caravan" – and it is an inn (or "pub" as we might call it) and I am inspired this week to praise the "caravanserai" because it is where we all met in the age before steamships and aircraft. Buddhist, Jew, Muslim, Christian, we would all meet there.....

There were thousands of these caravanserais, staging posts across the known world, accommodating, as Schutyser says, traders, pilgrims and travellers. They were for commerce and for multicultural meetings. Some caravanserais had their own translators so that Persians and Indians and Arabs (and Brits, too, of course) could speak to each other.

In Jordan, in Iran, here in Lebanon, I come across these places of peace and solitude and happiness, usually in ruins. And oh, if only we could re-create their world. What airport today will give you a translator? What railway station will tell you what your fellow traveller is saying? Some caravanserais had libraries – books – in which a tired family could read of their fellow guests. How we should miss these places."

Fruits of "Liberation": Toxic legacy of US assault on Fallujah 'worse than Hiroshima'

The shocking rates of infant mortality and cancer in Iraqi city raise new questions about battle

By Patrick Cockburn

"Dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukaemia in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was bombarded by US Marines in 2004, exceed those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, according to a new study.

Iraqi doctors in Fallujah have complained since 2005 of being overwhelmed by the number of babies with serious birth defects, ranging from a girl born with two heads to paralysis of the lower limbs. They said they were also seeing far more cancers than they did before the battle for Fallujah between US troops and insurgents.

Their claims have been supported by a survey showing a four-fold increase in all cancers and a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in under-14s. Infant mortality in the city is more than four times higher than in neighbouring Jordan and eight times higher than in Kuwait.....

Researchers found a 38-fold increase in leukaemia, a ten-fold increase in female breast cancer and significant increases in lymphoma and brain tumours in adults. At Hiroshima survivors showed a 17-fold increase in leukaemia, but in Fallujah Dr Busby says what is striking is not only the greater prevalence of cancer but the speed with which it was affecting people......"

Iran: Medvedev mouthpiece of enemy


"Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, has denounced Dimitry Medvedev, his Russian counterpart, as a "mouthpiece" of Iran's enemies, highlighting rising tensions between the two countries.

Ahmadinejad made the comments after Russia joined the US and the EU in accusing Iran of having a hidden agenda for its controversial nuclear programme.

Russia had already upset its past ally when it backed US-led calls for more sanctions against Iran.

"In a meeting with his ambassadors, [Medvedev] said we have knowledge that Iran is moving towards the bomb," Ahmadinejad said in pre-recorded footage broadcast by state television on Saturday.

"We regret that Medvedev has become the mouthpiece for the plans of Iran's enemies."

Russia's attitude towards Iran has appeared to dramatically shift after Medvedev visited the US late last June....."

Five US troops killed in Afghanistan

(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

Press TV

"Two separate bomb attacks have killed at least five US soldiers in Afghanistan as the foreign death toll there nears two thousand.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said on Saturday that the Americans were killed by a Taliban-style improvised explosive device in the south of the the war-torn country.....

AFP quoted an ISAF spokeswoman as confirming that the dead troops are American. The US-led alliance did not provide further details of the incident.

The death toll of US-led troops in Afghanistan jumped closer to the 2,000 mark since the beginning of US-led invasion in 2001. According to an AFP tally, 1,205 of the dead soldiers are Americans.

Around 400 foreign soldiers have been killed in combat in the first half of 2010, making this year the deadliest so far for US-led forces in Afghanistan......"

Beyond apartheid

By Lamis Andoni

"Israel's decision to force all prospective Israeli citizens to declare loyalty to "a Jewish and democratic state" is not only racist, but designed to further institutionalise the dispossession of Palestinians.

It is ironic that the oath should include the term democracy as the law itself is a blatant exercise in state coercion.

As Adalah, a legal centre for Arab minority rights in Israel, puts it, the new amendment "requires all non-Jews to identify with Zionism and imposes a political ideology and loyalty to the principles or Judaism and Zionism".....

All evictions of Palestinians - whether through the demolition of homes, deportations or the confiscation of lands - are committed under the guise of Israel's security needs. But their aim is, in fact, to maintain a Jewish majority and to reduce - and if this continues, potentially end - the presence of Palestinians in both Israel proper and the Occupied Territories.The cabinet has turned the loyalty oath not only into a tool for the subversion of Palestinians, but also into a vehicle for the continued eviction of Palestinians from their homeland.

Editors of the Israeli daily Haaretz, who urged the government not to pass the law, have unequivocally rejected the security rationale. "The wording of the initiative perpetuates the lie that these measures are required by security considerations, when in truth they are clearly driven by demographic concerns," said an editorial published prior the decision's ratification.....

The amended law is another brick in the apartheid system that Israel has built. But the main problem in Israel is not apartheid but the systemic colonisation and dispossession of Arabs. And apartheid in the case of Israel is a tool - not an aim in itself - to complete the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland."

Al-Jazeera Cartoon: Abbas Will Agree to Resume "Negotiations" While Colonization Continues Full Speed!

Friday, July 23, 2010


An environmental group on Wednesday called for a halt to baptisms in the Jordan River where tradition holds that Jesus was baptized, saying the waters there were dangerously polluted.

In recent years the flow of the river has slowed to a dirty trickle as fresh water running into the river has been replaced with sewage.

"Sadly, the lower Jordan River has long suffered from severe mismanagement with the diversion of 98 percent of its fresh water by Israel, Syria and Jordan and the discharge of untreated sewage, agricultural run-off, saline water and fish pond effluent in its place," the statement said.

The, known as Qasr al-Yehud, is a closed military area near the West Bank city of Jericho. In recent years the army, under pressure from the tourism ministry, has opened it to pilgrims on special occasions.

Al-Jazeera Video: Gaza child upholds potter tradition

"A six-year-old boy has attracted much attention in Gaza by being the youngest potter in the area.

He started learning when he was four and spends most of his school holidays working on the potter's wheel.

Nicole Johnston reports on young Mahmoud, who is determined to carry on his family's craft tradition."

What does Obama have planned next for Latin America?

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

"President Obama’s Latin American policy resembles more Richard Nixon’s Operation Condor and its assassinations and covert operations than President Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress and its advancement of economic progress and democracy. Obama’s reactionary Latin American policies appear to be aimed more at currying favor with south Florida’s emigré right-wing exiles from Cuba, Venezuela, and Central America than in advancing democracy in the region....."

The Hariri Assassination: Israel ’s Fingerprints

An Important Story

by Rannie Amiri
Global Research

"In the Middle East , the link between political machinations, espionage and assassination is either clear as day, or clear as mud. As for the yet unsolved case of the February 2005 murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the underpinnings of this covert operation including the role of Israel have now surfaced.....

A significant breakthrough in the ongoing investigation occurred in late June and culminated in the arrest of Charbel Qazzi, head of transmission and broadcasting at Alfa, one of Lebanon ’s two state-owned mobile service providers.

According to the Lebanese daily As-Safir, Qazzi confessed to installing computer programs and planting electronic chips in Alfa transmitters. These could then be used by Israeli intelligence to monitor communications, locate and target individuals for assassination, and potentially deploy viruses capable of erasing recorded information in the contact lines. Qazzi’s collaboration with Israel reportedly dates back 14 years.....

It is believed the STL will issue indictments in the matter as early as September—relying heavily on phone recordings and mobile transmissions to do so. According to the AFP, “A preliminary report by the U.N. investigating team said it had collected data from mobile phone calls made the day of Hariri's murder as evidence.”.....

In a July 16 televised speech, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah speculated the STL would use information gleaned from Israeli-compromised communications to falsely implicate the group in the prime minister’s murder:

“Some are counting in their analysis of the (STL) indictment on witnesses, some of whom turned out to be fake, and on the telecommunications networks which were infiltrated by spies who can change and manipulate data....."

The Prophet Palin, by Nate Beeler, The Washington Examiner

Haneen Zoabi: The largest threat to democracy is Zionism

Max Blumenthal, The Electronic Intifada, 22 July 2010

"On 13 July, the Israeli Knesset voted by a large margin to strip the parliamentary privileges of Haneen Zoabi, a member of the Palestinian Israeli party Balad. The measure was a punishment for Zoabi's participation in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. As described in the Israeli daily Haaretz, during the raging debate, Member of Knesset (MK) Anasatassia Michaeli rushed toward Zoabi and handed her a mock Iranian passport with Zoabi's photo on it. "Ms. Zoabi, I take your loyalty to Iran seriously and I suggest you contact Ahmadinejad and ask him to give you an Iranian diplomatic passport that will assist you with all your diplomatic incitement tours, because your Israeli passport will be revoked this evening," said Michaeli, who is a member of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's explicitly anti-Arab Yisrael Beiteinu party ("Knesset revokes Arab MK Zuabi's privileges over Gaza flotilla," 13 July 2010).

The debate over revoking Zoabi's parliamentary privileges was nearly as rancorous as her appearance at the Knesset speaker's podium in the immediate wake of the Flotilla massacre. While Zoabi attempted to relate her experience on the Mavi Marmara, where she coaxed Israeli commandoes to stop shooting and beating passengers, Knesset members from a broad array of parties leapt from their chairs to shout her down. "Go to Gaza, traitor!" shouted MK Miri Regev of Likud. "One week in Gaza as a 38-year-old single woman and we'll see how they treat you!" barked Yohanan Plesner of the supposedly centrist Kadima party. Finally, Moshe Mutz Matalon of Yisrael Beiteinu lamented that the Israeli commandoes "left only nine floating voters" ("MK Regev tells Zoabi: Go to Gaza, traitor!," YNet, 2 June 2010).

I met Zoabi at her office in the bustling center of Lower Nazareth on 12 June. While preparing a spread of biscuits and chocolates for me, she told me that a reporter from Nablus who met her earlier in the day had been detained at a checkpoint and had her laptop seized. Zoabi was convinced that the Shin Bet (Israel's General Security Service) was monitoring her communications and movements as it does with many Balad Party leaders. Despite the tense climate and violent threats against her, she spoke without restraint about her experience on the Mavi Marmara, the predicament of Palestinian members of the Knesset, and what she considered the fascist direction of Israeli society......"

Tourists Now in Their Land of Birth

HEBRON, Occupied West Bank, Jul 23, 2010 (IPS) - Beyond the pernicious well-documented aspects of the Israeli Occupation, all sorts of niggling fragments of Israeli control over Palestinian life, and individual petty cases of nastiness leave new Israeli talk of "gestures" towards peace hollow.

Analysis by Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler

"....But when is a gesture a genuine confidence-building measure? And when does Israeli talk of "gestures" in fact mask blatant Israeli insensitivity, total lack of responsibility of occupier vis-à-vis occupied?

In Israel's lexicon of the Occupation, its cloak of "gestures" is generally presented from under an all-encompassing umbrella -- "Israel's security needs". These often have more to do with serving Israel's own interests as the power in place, or of the interests of its settlers. Gestures have little to do with easing the plight of the Palestinians. And, usually have zero effect on easing the occupation.

In the occupied town of Hebron, the Israeli army recently sealed up the windows of several Palestinian homes. The openly declared purpose was to protect the settlers against would-be Palestinian sharpshooters. The precautionary measure was taken to enable the settlers to take a shorter route by foot to the Cave of the Patriarchs or the Al-Khalili Mosque, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims.

In a mirror image to the "convenience" of the settlers, the army is also making it more difficult for the Palestinians to gain access to their homes.

"The army stands to attention to serve the settlers, and the government stands behind the military," says historian Zeev Sternhell, a prominent voice opposing the Occupation.

Were the Netanyahu government to instruct the military governor in Hebron to remove the bricked-up windows that the army itself had just put in place, would the prime minister call that a 'gesture'?

Or, take the case of Dr. Imad Hamada, 43, a Palestinian expert in nanotechnology, born in occupied East Jerusalem. His family traces its origins in the city several generations back.

Between 1989 and 2007, Dr. Hamada studied electrical engineering in the U.S. and then worked in Silicon Valley to pay for his studies and to gain experience. While there, he and his family were granted U.S. citizenship. They frequently came back on family visits to Jerusalem.

Recently, Hamada was offered employment in Israel, both by an Israeli company and by a U.S. company with a branch in Israel. Both companies have since changed their minds. The reason: Israel's Interior Ministry informed Dr. Hamada that he was no longer eligible to live in Jerusalem. Officially, he is now designated "a tourist" in the place of his birth......"

Israel Gets Brutal With Media

NABI SALAH, Occupied West Bank, Jul 23, 2010 (IPS) - Palestinian activists are being jailed, Israeli activists are under surveillance, and the Israeli military is increasingly targeting journalists who cover West Bank protests.

By Mel Frykberg

"The Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Israel issued a statement recently condemning what it sees as a change in Israel Defence Forces (IDF) policy in their treatment of journalists covering the growing number of West Bank protests against Israel's separation barrier, illegal settlements and land expropriation.

"We would appreciate it were the authorities to remind the various forces involved, that open, unhindered coverage of news events is a widely acknowledged part of the essence of democracy.

"Generally speaking this would not include smashing the face of a clearly marked photographer working for a known and accredited news organisation with a stick, or for that matter aiming a stun grenade at the head of a clearly marked news photographer or summarily arresting cameramen, photographers and/or journalists," said the FPA.....

Meanwhile, Palestinian grassroots activists involved in non-military popular committees, which organise non-violent activity against the occupation, continue to be arrested and jailed on what they say are trumped-up charges involving forced confessions under duress.

The IDF carries out nightly raids in West Bank villages where demonstrations take place regularly on a Friday and where villagers have been particularly active.....

Abdullah Abu Rahme from the head of the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Bili'in village near Ramallah continues to languish in detention following his arrest in December last year.

Some of the allegations against him include incitement for planning the peaceful protests and "being in possession of arms." The latter referred to his collection of used teargas canisters and spent bullet cartridges, fired by Israeli troops at unarmed protestors, into a peace sign......"

Oil, blood money, and Blair's last scandal

There is no question there was a plot. The question is whether the plot worked,or whether it got what it wanted by a remarkable coincidence

A Very Good Piece
By Johann Hari

"....Let's start in the deserts of Iraq – because the Lockerbie deal might just reveal what really happened there. Many people were perplexed by Tony Blair's decision to back George W Bush's invasion, which has led to the deaths of 1.2 million people. Blair said he was motivated by opposition to two things – terrorism and tyranny. First off, he said Saddam Hussein might give weapons of mass destruction to jihadis. When it was proven in the rubble after the invasion that Saddam had no WMD and no links to jihadis – as many critics of the war had said all along – Blair declared he would do it all again anyway, because Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, and all tyrants should be opposed.

Most critics of the war said the real reason was a desire for Western access to Iraq's vast supplies of oil. This debate has gone on for years. Now it has emerged that Tony Blair plotted to hand a convicted terrorist – the worst in modern British history – to a vicious tyrant in exchange for access to oil for British corporations. It seems to settle the argument about his priorities in the darkest possible way.

Here's how it happened......

This affair seems to reopen the Iraq debate, in a way that vindicates Blair's most severe critics. Tony Blair's remaining defenders say he was motivated in Iraq by a hatred of terrorism and tyranny and had no regard whatsoever for getting access to oil. Yet at the very same time the Labour government was plotting in Libya to hand the worst terrorist in British history to a tyrant in exchange for oil. It's proof that oil and corporate power were a much bigger factor in driving foreign policy than the public rhetoric of opposing tyranny or terror.....

There's a revealing little postscript to this tale. Last month, Blair went to Libya on behalf of the many mega-corporations who now employ him. He was greeted by Gaddaffi himself – who tortures dissidents and terrorises his population – "like a brother", according to the Libyan press. There has even been speculation that, now they need a CEO, Tony Blair will go to work for BP. In so many ways, it seems, he always has."

Israel turns upon its own

This week's controversial rape conviction of an Arab man highlights a growing intolerance

Rachel Shabi

The Guardian, Friday 23 July 2010

".....The country is in thrall to such anti-democratic sentiment and mob rule racism, manifesting at such breakneck speed that it is hard to keep up. In the last few months alone two Arab citizens of Israel were "disappeared" by the state's secret police; an Arab member of the Knesset was stripped of her parliamentary privileges for being on the Gaza aid flotilla; and now a Palestinian man from Jerusalem has just been convicted of rape after pretending to be Jewish and having consensual sex. This verdict, in effect turning the obfuscation of race into a criminal offence, also reveals the extent to which Israelis consider Palestinians to be abhorrent. Meanwhile, the Israeli children of migrant workers are threatened with expulsion, as a government campaign warns against hiring foreign workers.

Zero tolerance for the "other" in Israel has widened to include anyone questioning a twisted concept of loyalty to the state. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (Acri) lists 14 antidemocratic laws currently working their way through parliament, from the demand that Arab citizens pledge allegiance to a "Jewish democracy" to attempts to gag Israeli rights groups. Acri representatives are denounced as "Arab-lovers" and "traitors" when they attend parliamentary hearings. All this has widespread support – in fact, one of the few causes to bring thousands of Israelis on to the streets was a recent ultra-orthodox protest for the right to segregate Ashkenazi children, of European origin, from their Middle Eastern Jewish classmates....."

Hezbollah Secretary General: Lebanon Pushed into Sensitive Stage from STL Gate


".....The Sayyed stressed that “we have to bear in mind that as of this moment, Lebanon has been pushed into a very sensitive and complicate stage from the gates of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).” His eminence also underlined the right of the resistance to defend itself regardless of those who “philosophize and claim that he who defends himself confesses his crime.”

An indictment had been written, before the investigation (into the assassination of former PM Rafiq Hariri) and before Hezbollah members were interrogated as witnesses. It was written but its issuance was delayed for political reasons. Judge Daniel Belmar’s deliberations with UNSC members and French officials had to do with the political timing, not the context. Before leaving to Washington, PM Saad Hariri visited me and told me that in month ‘x’, an indictment will be issued and it will implicate ‘undisciplined members of Hezbollah’, not the whole party.”....

Sayyed Nasrallah reminded that the target was the resistancewhich constitutes the main obstacle for any settlement that would establish a U.S. and Israeli hegemony against the Palestinians.” He called on so-called March 14 powers to review their position “because the results of their stances and their policies have affected Lebanon and the region.”....

Sayyed Nasrallah concluded his speech saying that Hezbollah was not afraid of anything, even the indictment. “Let them issue it now and let us finish already. Those who conspire against the resistance and Lebanon – and have so far failed – ought to be concerned because more schemes will be foiled. We know the nature of the responsibility that we’re shouldering and we urge those who have so far miscalculated their moves to make the right calculations this time.”.....

....If the court said that Al-Qaeda had killed Hariri, I would refuse its conclusion because the international investigation has skipped one hypothesis; the Israeli hypothesis. Israel has the motive, the capabilities, the control and the interest to kill Hariri, but it is forbidden to work on this hypothesis. As long as it does not take this hypothesis into consideration, the court will not be unprejudiced.”....

The Hezbollah Secretary General concluded that the party has never and will never wage war, “knowing that the breakout of any war in the region will not be limited. In 2006 we captured two Israeli soldiers; never in history had the capture of two soldiers led to war.”
We are a resistance movement working on liberating the rest of our occupied land our own way and we will defend our country like we have always done.”....."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Video of Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah's Press Conference on July 22, 2010.

مؤتمر صحافي لسماحة السيد حسن نصرالله ( السيد حسن نصر الله ) 22/07/2010

حماس وفتح والسلطة في استطلاعات الرأي

لعل الاستخدام الأهم لنتائج الاستطلاعات خلال السنوات الأخيرة، تحديدا منذ الحسم العسكري، هو القول إن حماس ترفض المصالحة لأنها تعلم أنها ستخسر الانتخابات.

والحق أننا، وبصرف النظر عن النتائج المتوقعة للانتخابات، فإننا ندعو إلى رفضها تماما، لاسيما بعد أن ثبت للقاصي والداني أن هذه الديمقراطية تحت الاحتلال لا تختلف عن السلطة المصممة لخدمته، أي أنها إما أن تأتي بنتائج تخدم المحتلين أو ينقلبوا عليها، ولا مبرر لإعادة التجربة من جديد في ظل تهديد الناس بعودة الحصار في حال انتخبوا حماس (كيف تكون نزيهة في هذه الحال؟!)، وفي ظل الاستهداف البشع للحركة في الضفة، وبعدما تأكد الجميع من عبثية المفاوضات بينما تستمر عمليات الاستيطان وتهويد القدس، وبينما يستمر برنامج الدولة تحت الاحتلال (الدولة المؤقتة أو السلام الاقتصادي)، بما ينطوي عليه من تصفية للقضية.

والحل هو ما ذهبنا إليه مرارا ممثلا في ضرورة الانقلاب على هذه اللعبة برمتها، أعني لعبة السلطة التي تعمل لخدمة الاحتلال والتوافق على إدارة لقطاع غزة بوصفه منطقة شبه محررة وقاعدة للمقاومة، مع إطلاق برنامج شامل للمقاومة حتى دحر الاحتلال من دون قيد أو شرط عن الأراضي المحتلة عام 67 كمقدمة للتحرير الشامل

Al-Jazeera Video: Arab 'rape by deceit' conviction in Israel defended

"The crime of rape generally refers to non-consensual sexual intercourse.

But an Israeli court has jailed an Arab man in the country for 18 months for "rape by deception" after having consensual sex with an Israeli woman.

Sabbar Kashur had falsely introduced himself to the woman as a Jewish bachelor looking for a long-term relationship before they had sex.

The woman accused him of rape after finding out he was Arab....."


More at The Real News

"On Wednesday, July 14th, the Israeli Parliament approved the first of three readings of a new law. If passed, the law will make it illegal to declare a boycott on Israel or Israeli companies, participate in a boycott, or provide aid in the form of information to anyone who is part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. The bill also penalizes the Palestinian Authority for its decision in May to ban the use by Palestinians of settlement products. The law even affects international citizens who will be banned from entry into Israel for 10 years and will be effective retroactively. Lia Tarachansky of The Real News spoke with Dalit Baum of Who Profits and Ronnie Barkan of Boycott from Within about how their work will become illegal if this bill passes."

Women Prepare to Set Sail Past Israel (I Believe it When I see it; I Think That it is Posturing and Political Theater.)

By Mona Alami

"BEIRUT - The 'Maryam', an all-female Lebanese aid ship, currently docked in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli, is getting ready to set sail for Gaza in the next few days. The ship, which aims to break Israel's siege on the Palestinian territory, will carry about 50 aid workers, including some U.S. nuns keen to deliver aid to the long-suffering women and children of Gaza....."

Redundant but Dangerous Language

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"....Of course, none of this means that Abbas has actually adopted a serious shift in course. One need not dig up old archives to remember that the PA president felt the same way about the so-called ‘proximity talks’ with Israel last May. Before they began, he also expressed his opinion that the talks would be futile. He further insisted that no talks, direct or otherwise, would resume without a complete Israeli halt in settlement constructions in occupied East Jerusalem. After this grand declaration, Abbas went along with the proximity talks charade, while Palestinian families continued to be uprooted from their homes in their historic city. Only one barrier was removed before embarking on the proximity talks: Abbas and his men quit complaining......

Considering the numerous compromises that Qurei afforded in his very attendance of the conference, and his handshaking with Livni, one fails to understand the point of such statements.

These empty declarations will have no bearing on the outcome of events, nor will they force Netanyahu and his right-wing government to think twice as they carry on demolishing homes and uprooting trees. But they are more important than ever for the PA, as voices are rising in Washington, in London and elsewhere, demanding that the US and its partners acknowledge, if not ‘engage’ Hamas. Such a prospect is bad news for the West Bank Palestinian leadership, which understands that its relevance to the ‘peace process’ hinges on the constant dismissal of Hamas. Therefore, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah will continue to adhere to its methodology: don’t criticize Israel too harshly, so as not to lose favor; follow the US dictates, so as to maintain a ‘moderate’ status and many privileges; and always give an impression to Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims that the PA is the one and only defender of Jerusalem.

One wonders how much longer the Palestinian leadership can sustain this act, which is in fact the real exercise of futility."

The New Warlord of Oz

by John Pilger, July 22, 2010

".....The new prime minister’s partner is a former hair products salesman called Tim Mathieson. This would be of no interest had he not been given the job of “Australia’s men’s health ambassador” by one of Gillard’s cabinet colleagues, the health minister, even though he had no experience in healthcare. Mathieson is now a “rising star” in real estate, thanks to one Albert Dadon, whose company is seeking planning permission for a contentious high rise development in Melbourne. Dadon can claim membership of the Order of Mates. As head of the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange, he arranges admiring tours of Israel for politicians and journalists. Gillard went on such a junket last year in the wake of Israel’s massacre of 1400 people in Gaza, mostly women and children. She who would be the first female prime minister of Australia drooled her uncritical support for their killers. "

The problem with judging a blog by its commenters

By Stephen M. Walt

".....Why do they use such ugly tactics? The answer is simple: the case they are defending is so weak that they cannot rely on facts, logic, and claims of justice to win the day. To be perfectly clear, I am not talking about the case for Israel's existence inside its pre-1967 borders, which I wholeheartedly support. Rather, I am talking about the case for defending many of Israel's policies, including its actions in the Occupied Territories, and its recent wars against Lebanon (2006) and Gaza (2008-2009). I am talking about the case for giving Israel unconditional and uncritical backing no matter what it does, which is not in either America's or Israel's interest. Those cases cannot stand up to scrutiny, which is why Smith and Goldberg have to rely on name-calling and character assassination instead of facts, logic, and rational discussion.

One final point is in order about the lobby's efforts to marginalize individuals who criticize Israel. Smith's attack is obviously designed to try to convince the people who run Foreign Policy to drop me from its site. Why else would Smith make a pointed reference to the "owners of the Washington Post" and to the "advertising staff" there?...."

The National Security Product

by Philip Giraldi, July 22, 2010

"Those who are agonizing over whether Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri was a double agent or just an agent or whether he was kidnapped or a defector are really missing the point. Amiri was just a small cog in the Greatest Show on Earth, the $100 billion a year US intelligence community. United States intelligence is a huge and expensive bureaucracy and the information it produces must be consumed even when it does not necessarily make Americans safer. More important than that, it is a product that must have enough bells and whistles to impress Congress, the media, and the White House to keep the money flowing. What that all translates to is that every success, no matter how minor or even debatable, must be spun and promoted to the fullest while every failure must be concealed. The tendency to do so is not unique to the intelligence community and one has only to look at the military’s contrived narratives relating to Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch, both of which were completely fictitious but supportive of a tale of heroism and self-sacrifice that the Pentagon was promoting.

CIA Case Officers are the bureaucratic version of used car salesmen.....

I have spoken to a number of intelligence officers who claim to have some insights into what went on with Shahram Amiri. My sources all agree that Amiri was not kidnapped. If he had been he would have disappeared down some hole after being "encouraged" to tell everything he knows. He was a volunteer, meaning he contacted the CIA himself, one account being that it was done over the internet and another suggesting that he walked into the US Consulate General in Istanbul. Either way he volunteered his services. He cooperated with the US for a while and there is nothing in what he provided that would suggest that he was a double agent. He did not have information of any real value apart from his secondhand corroboration of the lack of any Iranian nuclear weapons program, which might merit a footnote in the Iran NIE if it ever emerges. If he had been truly doubled one would have expected a long, carefully contrived narrative replete with blind allies and complicated deceptions. Amiri’s greatest impact will come when the Iran NIE report is again revisited in light of the re-defection, a process that has already begun. Poor Amiri was a small fish swimming in a pool full of piranhas and his future is bleak. He meant nothing, did not materially assist the United States, and is now being tossed away after being used to tout the great American intelligence success story. He will be disposed of by the Iranians after he has been similarly used."

Why Jordan is occupied by Palestinians

A powerful group of ex-army leaders say their country is being overrun – and they blame King Abdullah

By Robert Fisk

"....They moan that 86,000 Palestinians have received Jordanian passports unconstitutionally since 2005, that too many Palestinians are now in the Jordanian government, that corruption and a rigid adherence to American-Israeli policies are laying the groundwork for Israel to expel the West Bank Palestinians across the Jordan River. They have no time for the Jordanian-Israeli peace agreement.

Former General Ali Habashneh, Colonel Beni Sahar and Major General Mohamed Jamal Majalli interrupt their beef and chicken and "humous lahme" with expressions of fear and anger about the future of Jordan. Habashneh runs the Jordanian army's pensions committee and has 140,000 ex-army personnel and their families on his books; his voice is not to be taken lightly by King Abdullah of Jordan and his government. These are the king's men. But they are fierce nationalists.....

In most Arab countries, nationalism gave way to Islamist politics as old Arab secular movements failed in the face of Israeli and American pressure. But Jordan has reversed this transfer of influence. King Abdullah, to the satisfaction of most Jordanians of tribal or Palestinian origin, subdued the Muslim Brotherhood, stifled their parliamentary power and so preserved his own power. But the old-school army men and their followers, who include academics, schoolteachers and trade unionists, are now pushing the frontiers of politics in Jordan.

Around the restaurant table, there is frightening talk of ending the Arab peace treaty between Jordan and Israel; of creating a "Popular Army" of former servicemen who could create a territorial force to support regular soldiers in the event of an Israeli attack; of setting up a "new national army rather than a neo-colonial one".

General Habashneh is as explicit as any of the men. "There is corruption, a widening of the gap between rich and poor," he says. "Economic investment policies are destroying the country. This is what our national movement is all about. We are trying to get all our forces together to hold a national conference by the beginning of the new year, to decide on a strategic movement which will protect this country and remove the influence of the Israelis and Americans.".....

The open letter says that "the root cause of governmental weakness lies in the policies of privatisation and the liquidation of the public sector... that have led to the growing power of business interests and those who deal in corruption and shady financial deals... A narrow and unrepresentative coterie of political clans has monopolised the formation of cabinets and decision-making while preventing the Jordanian people from determining their fate and defending Jordan's national interests."....."

Now Afghanistan too shows the limits of American power

British troops are paying the blood price in Helmand, as they did in Iraq, of a now officially subservient relationship

Seumas Milne, Wednesday 21 July 2010

".....We are accustomed to the idea that Iraq has been a disaster; now we are getting used to seeing the war in Afghanistan in the same light. It has failed in every one of its ever-changing objectives – from preventing the spread of terrorism and eradicating opium production to promoting democracy and the position of women, which has actually deteriorated under Nato occupation according to Afghan women's groups.

What it has now really come to be about is the credibility of the US and Nato. There has long been an obvious way out of the Afghanistan imbroglio: withdrawal of foreign occupation troops, negotiated with all significant Afghan forces, including the Taliban, as part of a settlement guaranteed by the regional and other powers. The fact that a solution long backed by the war's opponents is now being taken up by its supporters is a measure of how badly things are going on the ground.

For what is now taking place in Afghanistan has the potential to reinforce what has already been demonstrated in Iraq: namely the limits of US power to impose its will by force. If the unmatched might of the American military can be seen off by a ragtag army in one of the poorest countries of the world, the implications for the new international order are profound. Which is why the US and its closest allies will do everything to avoid the appearance of defeat – and why many thousands more Afghans and Nato troops will pay the price of a war their leaders now accept can never be won."

Israel intensifies West Bank Palestinian home demolitions

"21 July 2010

Amnesty International has today called on the Israeli authorities to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes and other buildings in the West Bank, after a further 74 were destroyed in the Jordan Valley earlier this week.

The demolitions were carried out by the Israeli military in the villages of Hmayyir and 'Ein Ghazal in the area of al-Farisiya on Monday, displacing 107 people, including 52 children.

According to UN figures, at least 198 Palestinian structures in the West Bank have been demolished this year, resulting in the forced displacement of almost 300 Palestinians, half of them children, while 600 others have also been affected.

"These recent demolitions intensify concerns that this is part of a government strategy to remove the Palestinian population from the parts of the West Bank known as Area C, over which Israel has complete control in terms of planning and construction," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa......."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

قوات كبيرة من الشرطة تجري تدريبات خاصة على إقتحام الأقصى...


عممت " مؤسسة الأقصى للوقف والتراث" مساء اليوم صوراً قالت إنها لقوات كبيرة ومتنوعة من الجيش الاسرائيلي، تجري في هذه الساعات تدريبات واسعة على ما يبدو تحضيراً لأحداث جسام ستحدث في المسجد الأقصى المبارك ،

وقد قامت طواقم "مؤسسة الأقصى" بزيارة سريعة الى الموقع ، وهو في أحراش " بن شيمن " ، ورصدت طواقم " مؤسسة الأقصى " تجمعات قوات كبيرة ومتعددة من الجيش والشرطة الإسرائيلية ، وسيارات القوات الخاصة وداخل ما يشبه المعسكر قاموا ببناء مجسم لقبة الصخرة المشرفة ، وآخر لمجسم المسجد القبلي وبجانبه مجسم للهيكل المزعوم ، بوجود آلاف من عناصر الشرطة الإسرائيلية بين المجسمّين .

هذا وقامت قوات الشرطة بنصب شادر بلاستيكي أخضر حول موقع التدريب ، وبحسب ما رأى طاقم "مؤسسة الاقصى" فإن التدريبات كما يبدو تشمل التدرب على سيناريو وقوع أحداث كبيرة في المسجد الأقصى ، حيث تم التدرب على إقتحام واسع للمسجد الأقصى المبارك ، بآلاف من وحدات الجيش ، والقاء القنابل المتنوعة ، وسيناريو تصدي من قبل الفلسطينيين لهذه الأحداث ولذلك تقوم فرق الجيش والشرطة بالتدرب على امكانية القاء الحجارة والتصدي لها داخل المسجد الأقصى المبارك .

هذا ولدى قيام طاقم "مؤسسة الأقصى" بتصوير وقائع التدريب ، جاء جندي وقال انه الناطق باسم ما يسمى بـ "حرس الحدود" ، وسأل طاقم "مؤسسة الأقصى" عن هويتهم وسبب تصويرهم، ثم قال مدعياً ان ما نتدرب عليه هو تحضير لشهر رمضان، وعندما سألناه مستغربين؟! ، ولماذا يوجد مناظر لإلقاء الحجارة ، قال أنه يمكن أن يكون القاء حجارة في رمضان – بحسب قوله - .

Al-Jazeera Video: Gaza's only fisherwoman

"In Gaza, traditional industries like fishing are dominated by men but one 16-year-old girl is changing that.

She has taken charge of her father's fishing boat and the family's livelihood after he suffered an injury to his leg.

Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reports."


I wonder how long will it be before Hamas issues a Fatwa against women fishing and stopping her.

According to Hamas, women are not allowed to swim at sea either! Soon the Hamas "Virtue Squad" will be after her.

Aid boat seeks to sail as 'Audacity of Hope'

The Free Gaza Movement

"A group calling itself U.S. Boat to Gaza is seeking $370,000 in the next month to send an aid ship to the Gaza Strip that would be named after President Obama's best-selling book "The Audacity of Hope."

Rashid Khalidi, a friend of Obama who is active in Palestinian causes, has signed the appeal, part of a broader effort to thwart the Israeli blockade of the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave.

(A second longer article with video is here at the New York Times )

Khalidi, a Columbia University professor, briefly became the subject of controversy during the 2008 presidential campaign when Sen. John McCain's camp tried to make an issue of what it called Obama's suspect friendships. The news of Khalidi's involvement in the boat appeal has led the National Review to call for a Justice Department probe of the academic on grounds he may have provided material support to a terrorist group.

The White House declined to comment. Khalidi said he was not aware the boat would be named after Obama's book when he agreed to add his name to the list of sponsors.
"But if the name is a problem for the administration, it can simply insist publicly that Israel lift the siege: end of problem, end of embarrassment," he wrote in an e-mail."

The Ministry of Truth

By Philip Giraldi

"The Ministry of Truth was how George Orwell described the mechanism used by government to control information in his seminal novel 1984. A recent trip to Europe has convinced me that the governments of the world have been rocked by the power of the internet and are seeking to gain control of it so that they will have a virtual monopoly on information that the public is able to access. In Italy, Germany, and Britain the anonymous internet that most Americans are still familiar with is slowly being modified. If one goes into an internet café it is now legally required in most countries in the European Union to present a government issued form of identification......

The danger is real. Most Americans who are critical of the actions of their own government rely on the internet for information that is uncensored and often provocative, including sites like Campaign for Liberty. As this article was being written, a story broke reporting that Wordpress host Blogetery had been shut down by United States authorities along with all 73,000 Blogetery-hosted blogs. The company's ISP is claiming that it had to terminate Blogetery's account immediately after being ordered to do so by law enforcement officials "due to material hosted on the server." The extreme response implies a possible presumed terrorist connection, but it is important to note that no one was charged with any actual offense, revealing that the government can close down sites based only on suspicion. It is also likely only a matter of time before Obama's internet warfare teams surface either at the Defense Department or at State. Deliberately overloading and attacking the internet to damage its credibility, witness the numerous sites that have been "hacked" and have had to cease or restrict their activities. But the moves afoot to create a legal framework to completely shut the internet down and thereby control the "message" are far more dangerous. American citizens who are concerned about maintaining their few remaining liberties should sound the alarm and tell the politicians that we don't need more government abridgement of our First Amendment rights. "

The Complexity Conundrum

Our “anti-terrorist” effort: too big to succeed

By Justin Raimondo

"Many years ago I read a science fiction story in which earthmen are conducting a war against a primitive people in a far distant star system: the natives, while less developed than their Terran overlords, were putting up quite a fight, and the colonizers, in an effort to stamp out the insurgency, launched an effort to utilize their chief advantage – high technology – and finally crush the enemy, which was armed with little more than bows and arrows.....

The memory of this story is, admittedly, faded by the years – if anyone can identify the title and author, I’d be grateful – and I may have the details wrong, but in essence the theme of this well-told tale wasn’t just a warning that technology may not hold all the answers, but also that increasing complexity is a problem, one inherent in the very nature of “advanced” civilizations. In any case, this story came immediately to mind as I read the first installment of “Top Secret America,” by Dana Priest and William Arkin, currently being serialized in the Washington Post. ....."

One-State Debate Explodes Myth About Zionist Left

NOTE: An interesting article dealing with the same topic Ali Abunimah dealt with in his piece Israeli right embracing one-state? posted yesterday.

by Jonathan Cook

"A fascinating debate is entering Israel’s political mainstream on a once-taboo subject: the establishment of a single state as a resolution of the conflict, one in which Jews and Palestinians might potentially live as equal citizens. Surprisingly, those advocating such a solution are to be found chiefly on Israel’s political Right.

The debate, which challenges the current orthodoxy of a two-state future, is rapidly exploding traditional conceptions about the Zionist Right and Left.....

We should not romanticize these Likud converts. They are not speaking of the “state of all its citizens” demanded by Israel’s tiny group of Jewish non-Zionists. Most would require that Palestinians accept life in a state dominated by Jews. Arens, for example, wants to exclude the 1.5 million Palestinians of Gaza from citizenship to gerrymander his Jewish-majority state for a few more decades. None seems to be considering including a right of return for the millions of Palestinian refugees. And almost all of them would expect citizenship to be conditional on loyalty, recreating for new Palestinian citizens the same problematic relationship to a Jewish state endured by the current Palestinian minority inside Israel.

Nonetheless, the Right is showing that it may be more willing to redefine its paradigms than the Zionist Left. And in the end it may confound Washington by proving more capable of peace-making than the architects of Oslo."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Liberate all ghettos

Ewa Jasiewicz and Yonatan Shapira, The Electronic Intifada, 20 July 2010
(Yonatan Shapira is an Israeli solidarity activist supporting the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel.

Ewa Jasiewicz is a coordinator with the Free Gaza Movement and the Polish Kampania Palestyna.)

"....Our action is a small act of unarmed resistance intended to break the international silence on Gaza. It is to stir the conscience of Israeli tourists visiting the site of the old ghetto. It is to lift the spirits of the Palestinian people trapped inside ghettos in Palestine. We are civilians with little else in our hands aside from our solidarity and a spray can.

Our action is about the future and the kind of world we want to live in. It is one which supports and promotes our collective humanity. It is one of dignity, mutual respect and solidarity. A world without ghettos and walls of discrimination and prejudice.

"Never Again" means never again to crimes against humanity and dehumanization anywhere in the world. Liberate all ghettos."

Palestinian Rights in Lebanon

Allow Them to Own a Home? La, Abadan! (No, Never!)


"....One Palestinian academic, at a Palestinian research center who has studied this dilemma thoroughly told this observer, “About the only thing that keeps some in the government from trying to physically confiscate Palestinian real estate like they do in occupied Palestine is their sure knowledge that someone like Ahmad Jabril of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) would resist on behalf of the refugees. So we don’t expect the government to move for Israeli style evictions no matter that some would like to, but the 2001 law must be changed.”

The simple, sisterly, moral, and internationally mandated Parliamentary solution is to amend the 2001 law to correct the pre 200l law registration problems and to allow Palestinians to own at least one home if they are able to afford it."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The current poll asks:

Do you agree with the Syrian government's decision to prevent veiled women from registering in universities?

With over 1,500 responding so far, 80% said no.

Amiri 'told CIA Iran had no bomb program'

By Gareth Porter
Asia Times

"WASHINGTON - Contrary to a news media narrative that Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri has provided the United States with intelligence on covert Iranian nuclear weapons work, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sources familiar with the Amiri case say he told his CIA handlers that there was no such Iranian nuclear weapons program, according to a former CIA officer.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counter-terrorism official, told Inter Press Service (IPS) that his sources were CIA officials with direct knowledge of the entire Amiri operation.

The CIA contacts say that Amiri had been reporting to the CIA for some time before being brought to the United States while the hajj (pilgrimage) to Saudi Arabia last year, Giraldi told IPS, initially using satellite-based communication. But the contacts also say Amiri was a radiation safety specialist who was "absolutely peripheral" to Iran's nuclear program, according to Giraldi.....

For the Israelis and for some US officials, reversing the conclusion that Iran was not actively pursuing weaponization was considered a precondition for maneuvering US policy into a military confrontation with Iran. "

Who Needs the PA? USrael! Certainly Not the Palestinians.

Palestinians in Gaza denied PA passports
Rami Almeghari, The Electronic Intifada, 19 July 2010

"Nidal Abdo lives in Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Four years ago he was at a friend's house in the nearby al-Bureij refugee camp when Israeli tanks moved in. When Abdo tried to escape the area, Israeli soldiers shot him in his left foot. Due to the injury, Abdo still can't walk or stand for long periods of time. He needs a metal rod inserted into his foot and because the surgery can't be performed in Gaza, his doctors have referred him abroad.

Amid all the obstacles preventing Palestinians in Gaza from traveling outside the besieged territory, Abdo faces an additional one. He needs a passport and despite five attempts to obtain one, he has so far failed.

"After three weeks, another travel agent phoned me and told me that officials refused to issue me a passport for security reasons," Abdo told The Electronic Intifada after just returning from a visit to a doctor in Gaza City. "I am a member of the Nuseirat Camp handball club and, thank God, most of the team members are considered to be Fatah supporters." This is significant for Abdo because many Palestinians believe that passports are now being issued based on political affiliation......

Students, patients seeking medical treatment and those with residency permits in neighboring Arab countries can leave Gaza through the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing terminal when it is open, but only if they have a passport.

"Denying me my right to a passport is inconsistent with our Palestinian social or religious values," said Nidal Abdo. But like thousands of other Palestinians, he is still waiting for one."

Analyst: Israel’s Next War Could Be Lebanon

by Jim Lobe, July 20, 2010

"While speculation over a possible Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities intensifies, at least one influential analyst is calling on Washington to focus more on the likelihood of a new war breaking out between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia and how to prevent or contain it.

In his eight-page “Contingency Planning Memorandum” released last week by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), retired U.S. ambassador Daniel Kurtzer argued that Israel was more likely than Hezbollah to initiative hostilities and that it could “also use a conflict with Hezbollah as the catalyst and cover for an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities.”.....

Nonetheless, Kurtzer calls for Washington to upgrade U.S.-Israeli intelligence exchanges; reiterate U.S. support for Israel’s right of self-defense and concerns about Hezbollah’s rearmament; increase pressure on Syria to halt arms shipments to Hezbollah; support international monitoring efforts; and prepare both for the likelihood of war and its aftermath, including the possibility of launching a post-conflict diplomatic initiative to promote a broader Arab-Israeli peace process.

Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, expressed disappointment that the study did not recommend a more assertive effort by Washington to push Netanyahu into negotiations with Syria over the occupied Golan Heights as a way of gaining Damascus’s cooperation in curbing arms supplies to Hezbollah....."

BP is Not Far Behind, by Schrank

Israeli soldier who shot British activist granted early release

Family of Tom Hurndall 'angry and shocked' as military court releases Taysir Hayb after serving six years in prison

The Guardian

"The family of British activist Tom Hurndall have said they are angry that the Israeli soldier who killed him is to be released early from prison.

Taysir Hayb will be freed next month after serving six years of his eight-year sentence, after a ruling yesterday by the Kastina military court in southern Israel.

Hurndall was shot in the head in April 2003 as he was helping Palestinian children to cross a street in the Rafah area of Gaza.

"We have barely had time to process the news. We all feel angry and shocked," Hurndall's sister Sophie told Israel's Haaretz newspaper.

Hayb was convicted of Hurndall's manslaughter in 2005 after claiming he was shooting at an armed Palestinian. He later admitted that was a lie.

The 21-year-old activist, who had been filming with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, died in London after nine months in a coma....."

White House shifts Afghanistan strategy towards talks with Taliban

(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

Senior Washington officials tell the Guardian of a 'change of mindset' over Obama administration's Afghanistan policy

Ewen MacAskill in Washington and Simon Tisdall, Monday 19 July 2010

"The White House is revising its Afghanistan strategy to embrace the idea of negotiating with senior members of the Taliban through third parties – a policy to which it had previously been lukewarm.

Negotiating with the Taliban has long been advocated by Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, and the British and Pakistani governments, but resisted by Washington.

The Guardian has learned that while the American government is still officially resistant to the idea of talks with Taliban leaders, behind the scenes a shift is under way and Washington is encouraging Karzai to take a lead in such negotiations.

"There is a change of mindset in DC," a senior official in Washington said. "There is no military solution. That means you have to find something else. There was something missing."

That missing element was talks with the Taliban leadership, the official added......"

التدخين مسموح للرجال فقط!../ مصطفى إبراهيم*

مصطفى إبراهيم*
كاتب فلسطيني - غزة

وتزامنت خطبة الجمعة المذكورة مع القرار الذي نفذه أفراد من المباحث العامة في حكومة حماس بمنع تدخين "الشيشة" في المطاعم والفنادق والمقاهي في قطاع غزة، وبعد الاحتجاج من قبل أصحاب تلك الاماكن تراجعت الحكومة عن القرار الذي اقتصر على منع النساء من تدخين "الشيشة" في الاماكن العامة والمفتوحة.

المتحدث باسم وزارة الداخلية في تبريره للقرار قال: "إن القرار لا يشمل المطاعم والأماكن المغلقة، وأنه اتخذ لأن (تدخين النساء للنرجيلة)، تتنافى مع العادات والتقاليد والأوضاع الاجتماعية في قطاع غزة، وأنه من غير اللائق، أن تضع المرأة قدماً على قدم وتدخن النرجيلة أمام الناس، في مشهد يضر بصورة شعبنا الذي يعاني من وطأة الحصار وتداعياته التي طالت كافة مناحي الحياة".

كثيرة القرارات التي اتخذتها حكومة حماس في قطاع غزة وتراجعت عنها مؤقتاً، قبل أن تفاجأ الناس وتطبقها بشكل تدريجي، ولم يكن لأي قرار أي سند قانوني، بل إن كثيرا من القرارات كانت من أجل التضييق على الحريات العامة، والحد من الحرية الشخصية للناس، ومنافية للقانون.

في غزة أصبح الناس يأخذون أي قرار يصدر عن حكومة حماس على محمل الجد، والشك في آن معاً، وأي قرار يتم اتخاذه سواء كان سلبا او إيجاباً يحمل تفسيرات وتكهنات كثيرة من قبل الناس الذين يُنظرون لذلك من خلال إحكام السيطرة وفرض حكومة حماس رؤيتها التي لم يخف عدد كبير من المسؤولين في الحركة ذلك.

القرارات كانت لإحكام السيطرة على المجتمع، وتتماشى مع رؤية حماس، استجابة لضغط من قاعدة الحركة المقتنعين بأنها حكومة إسلامية، وأنها الحكومة الوحيدة في المنطقة العربية التي تطبق الشريعة الإسلامية في قطاع غزة ومنه سوف ينطلق المشروع الإسلامي.

قبل عدة أشهر اتخذت الحكومة قراراً بفرض ضريبة ورسوم على السجائر، وكان تبرير ذلك أن سياسة الحكومة منع التدخين تطبيقا للقرار الذي صدر في العام الماضي بمنع التدخين في الأماكن الحكومية والعامة، وأن رفع أسعار السجائر وفرض الرسوم الجديدة للحد من إمكان تداوله، ومنع الأطفال من التدخين.

يتساءل الناس، ويشككون في قرار منع النساء من تدخين "الشيشة"، والتبرير الذي يقول أن ذلك يتنافى مع العادات والتقاليد والأوضاع الاجتماعية في قطاع غزة، ما علاقة أن تضع المرأة "قدما على قدم وتدخن النرجيلة أمام الناس" بالحصار الذي يعاني شعبنا من وطأته؟ فالمشاهد التي تضر بشعبنا ووطأة الحصار كثيرة منها على سبيل المثال لا الحصر، تهريب السيارات الحديثة عبر الأنفاق، والتي يمتلكها عدد قليل جدا من الأغنياء الجدد، والولائم وما يقدم عليها ما لذ وطاب من الطعام الذي يقدم للوفود المتضامنة مع أبناء شعبنا لرفع الحصار، وغيرها من المشاهد التي يتم التشكيك من خلالها في الحصار.

Israeli right embracing one-state?

By Ali Abunimah

"..... One might expect that any support for a single state among Israeli Jews would come from the far left, and in fact this is where the most prominent Israeli Jewish champions of the idea are found, although in small numbers.

Recently, proposals to grant Israeli citizenship to Palestinians in the West Bank, including the right to vote for the knesset, have emerged from a surprising direction: Right-wing stalwarts such as knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, and former defence minister Moshe Arens, both from the Likud party of Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister.

Even more surprisingly, the idea has been pushed by prominent activists among Israel's West Bank settler movement, who were the subject of a must-read profile by Noam Sheizaf in Haaretz......

Their visions still fall far short of what any Palestinian advocate of a single state would consider to be just: The Israeli proposals insist on maintaining the state's character - at least symbolically - as a "Jewish state," exclude the Gaza Strip, and do not address the rights of Palestinian refugees.

And, settlers on land often violently expropriated from Palestinians would hardly seem like obvious advocates for Palestinian human and political rights.

Although the details vary, and in some cases are anathema to Palestinians, what is more revealing is that this debate is occurring openly and in the least likely circles.

The Likudnik and settler advocates of a one-state solution with citizenship for Palestinians realise that Israel has lost the argument that Jewish sovereignty can be maintained forever at any price. A status quo where millions of Palestinians live without rights, subject to control by escalating Israeli violence is untenable even for them.

At the same time repartition of historic Palestine - what they call Eretz Yisrael - into two states is unacceptable, and has proven unattainable - not least because of the settler movement itself......

Transforming relationships

That proposals for a single state are coming from the Israeli right should not be so surprising in light of experiences in comparable situations.

In South Africa, it was not the traditional white liberal critics of apartheid who oversaw the system's dismantling, but the National Party which had built apartheid in the first place. In Northern Ireland, it was not "moderate" unionists and nationalists like David Trimble and John Hume who finally made power-sharing under the 1998 Belfast Agreement function, but the long-time rejectionists of Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party, and the nationalist Sinn Fein, whose leaders had close ties to the IRA.

The experiences in South Africa and Northern Ireland show that transforming the relationship between settler and native, master and slave, or "horse and rider," to one between equal citizens is a very difficult, uncertain and lengthy process.

There are many setbacks and detours along the way and success is not guaranteed. It requires much more than a new constitution; economic redistribution, restitution and restorative justice are essential and meet significant resistance.

But such a transformation is not, as many of the critics of a one-state solution in Palestine/Israel insist, "impossible." Indeed, hope now resides in the space between what is "very difficult" and what is considered "impossible".

The proposals from the Israeli right-wing, however inadequate and indeed offensive they seem in many respects, add a little bit to that hope. They suggest that even those whom Palestinians understandably consider their most implacable foes can stare into the abyss and decide there has to be a radically different way forward.

We should watch how this debate develops and engage and encourage it carefully. In the end it is not what the solution is called that matters, but whether it fulfills the fundamental and inalienable rights of all Palestinians."