Saturday, May 31, 2008

[ePalestine] 'I kicked the Arab, I stepped on his head' / Murder at Huwara Checkpoint

Dear friends,

I'm at a loss for words!  How much more before it's too late, or is it already!

In the first story, you will not find the words "mob" or "lynching," these are reserved only when Palestinians are the perpetrators.

Regarding the second story, note that these checkpoints are under 100% Israeli surveillance. I ask why aren't the surveillance camera tapes being shown to the public? May the killers never sleep a full night again as they see Fahmi in their nightmares!

Occupation morally corrupts the occupier,



'I kicked the Arab, I stepped on his head' 

By Uri Blau 

Dozens of teenage boys from Jerusalem received the same ICQ message: "We're putting an end to all the Arabs who hang out in 'Pisga' [Pisgat Ze'ev] and the mall, whistle at the girls, curse, threaten little kids. Anyone who is Jewish and wants to put an end to all that should be at Burger Ranch at 10 P.M., and we'll finally show them they can't hang in our area anymore. Anyone who is willing to do that and has Jewish blood should add his name  
to this message."



Murder at Huwara [Checkpoint] 

This time we came to the checkpoint especially in order to gather testimony about the murder of 15.5-year old Fahmi Abd alJawaad alDarduk, who was shot by the soldiers at this checkpoint on Monday, May 19th 2008. 

After he was shot, the army claimed that pipe bombs had been detected in his belt. That wires had been seen hanging from under his clothing. That three pipe bombs had been observed. Later it was said there were five. One of the perpetrators of this crime was cited for excellence. 

A Palestinian ambulance arriving from Nablus twenty minutes later at the most was not permitted access to the bleeding boy until 11:30 PM. For two and a half hours he lay on the concrete floor of the checkpoint and no one was allowed to approach him but the Occupation forces. During this time all Palestinians in the area were violently pushed away and the blood washed away with water jets. 


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Friday, May 30, 2008

[ePalestine] NYT: U.S. Withdraws Fulbright Grants to Gaza

Dear friends,  

Remind me again why anyone in their right mind would believe that the U.S. can bring a lasting peace to the region when they can't even get six U.S.-bound students past an Israeli checkpoint?  

If I had to guess, I think Israel may change their stance on this one...using their infamous posture of solving 6 individual cases to cover the war crime of collectively punishing of 1.5 million!

If you are in the U.S., maybe a letter to your representatives noting the absurdity of this move by our "strategic ally."

No illusions here,


The New York Times 
May 30, 2008 
U.S. Withdraws Fulbright Grants to Gaza 

GAZA — The American State Department has withdrawn all Fulbright grants to Palestinian students in Gaza hoping to pursue advanced degrees at American institutions this fall because Israel has not granted them permission to leave. 

Israel has isolated this coastal strip, which is run by the militant group Hamas. Given that policy, the United States Consulate in Jerusalem said the grant money had been “redirected” to students elsewhere out of concern that it would go to waste if the Palestinian students were forced to remain in Gaza. 

A letter was sent by e-mail to the students on Thursday telling them of the cancellation. Abdulrahman Abdullah, 30, who had been hoping to study for an M.B.A. at one of several American universities on his Fulbright, was in shock when he read it. 

“If we are talking about peace and mutual understanding, it means investing in people who will later contribute to Palestinian society,” he said. “I am against Hamas. Their acts and policies are wrong. Israel talks about a Palestinian state. But who will build that state if we can get no training?” 

Some Israeli lawmakers, who held a hearing on the issue of student movement out of Gaza on Wednesday, expressed anger that their government was failing to promote educational and civil development in a future Palestine given the hundreds of students who had been offered grants by the United States and other Western governments. 

“This could be interpreted as collective punishment,” complained Rabbi Michael Melchior, chairman of the Parliament’s education committee, during the hearing. “This policy is not in keeping with international standards or with the moral standards of Jews, who have been subjected to the deprivation of higher education in the past. Even in war, there are rules.” Rabbi Melchior is from the Meimad Party, allied with Labor. 

The committee asked the government and military to reconsider the policy and get back to it within two weeks. But even if the policy is changed, the seven Fulbright grantees in Gaza are out of luck for this year. Their letters urged them to reapply next year. 

Israel’s policy appears to be in flux. At the parliamentary hearing on Wednesday, a Defense Ministry official recalled that the cabinet had declared Gaza “hostile territory” and decided that the safety of Israeli soldiers and civilians at or near the border should be risked only to facilitate the movement out of Gaza for humanitarian concerns, like medical treatment. Higher education, he said, was not a humanitarian concern. 

But when a query about the canceled Fulbrights was made to the prime minister’s office on Thursday, senior officials expressed surprise. They said they did, in fact, consider study abroad to be a humanitarian necessity and that when cases were appealed to them, they would facilitate them. 

They suggested that American officials never brought the Fulbright cases to their attention. The State Department and American officials in Israel refused to discuss the matter. But the failure to persuade the Israelis may have stemmed from longstanding tensions between the consulate in Jerusalem, which handles Palestinian affairs, and the embassy in Tel Aviv, which manages relations with the Israeli government. 

The study grants notwithstanding, the Israeli officials argued that the policy of isolating Gaza was working, that Palestinians here were starting to lose faith in Hamas’s ability to rule because of the hardships of life. 

Since Hamas, a radical Islamist group that opposes Israel’s existence, carried out what amounted to a coup d’état in Gaza against the more secular Fatah party a year ago, hundreds of rockets and mortar shells have been launched from here at Israeli civilians, truck and car bombs have gone off and numerous attempts to kidnap Israeli soldiers have taken place. 

While Hamas says the attacks are in response to Israeli military incursions into Gaza, it also says it will never recognize Israel. 

“We are using the rockets to shake the conscience of the world about Israeli aggression,” argued Ahmed Yusef, political adviser to the Hamas foreign minister in an interview in his office here. “All our rockets are a reaction to Israeli aggression.” 

The Israeli closing of Gaza has added markedly to the difficulty of daily life here, with long lines for cooking gas and a sense across the population of being under siege. Israel does send in about 70 truckloads per day of wheat, dairy products and medical equipment as well as some fuel, and it permits some medical cases out. 

But Israel’s stated goal is to support moderates among the Palestinians so that Hamas will lose power, and even some security-conscious Israeli hard-liners say that the policy of barring students with grants abroad is counterproductive. 

“We correctly complain that the Palestinian Authority is not building civil society, but when we don’t help build civil society this plays into the hands of Hamas,” said Natan Sharansky, a former government official. “The Fulbright is administered independently, and people are chosen for it due to their talents.” 

The State Department Web site describes the Fulbright, the American government’s flagship program in international educational exchange, as “an integral part of U.S. foreign relations.” It adds, “the Fulbright Program creates a context to provide a better understanding of U.S. views and values, promotes more effective binational cooperation and nurtures open-minded, thoughtful leaders, both in the U.S. and abroad, who can work together to address common concerns.” 

Sari Bashi, who directs Gisha, an Israeli organization devoted to monitoring and increasing the free movement of Palestinians, said, “The fact that the U.S. cannot even get taxpayer- funded Fulbright students out of Gaza demonstrates the injustice and short-sightedness of a closure policy that arbitrarily traps 1.5 million people, including hundreds of Palestinian students accepted to universities abroad.” She said that their education was good not just for Palestinian society, but for Israel as well. 

Some Israelis disagree strongly. 

“We are fighting the regime in Gaza that does its utmost to kill our citizens and destroy our schools and our colleges,” said Yuval Steinitz, a lawmaker from the opposition Likud Party. “So I don’t think we should allow students from Gaza to go anywhere. Gaza is under siege, and rightly so, and it is up to the Gazans to change the regime or its behavior.” 

Hadeel Abukwaik, a 23-year-old engineering software instructor in Gaza, had hoped to do graduate work in the United States this fall on the Fulbright that she thought was hers. She had stayed in Gaza this past winter when its metal border fence was destroyed and tens of thousands of Gazans poured into Egypt, including her sister, because the agency administering the Fulbright told her she would get the grant only if she stayed put. She lives alone in Gaza where she was sent to study because the cost is low; her parents, Palestinian refugees, live in Dubai. 

“I stayed to get my scholarship,” she said. “Now I am desperate.” 

She, like her six colleagues, was in disbelief. Mr. Abdullah, who called the consulate in Jerusalem for further explanation after receiving his letter, said to the official on the other end, “I still cannot believe that the American administration is not able to convince the Israelis to let seven Palestinians out of Gaza.” 

Taghreed el-Khodary contributed reporting. 


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Dear friends, 

If you are in the WASHINGTON D.C. or  BALTIMORE area, I strongly recommend you take the chance to see Arna's Children  -- heart-wrenching, but speaks volumes of the deep humanity that still exists in this world.

SALUTING CULTURE AS RESISTANCE as we approach 42yrs of Israeli military occupation,


at the Amercian-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Convention,
June 14-15

Please join us at these public events in the Washington/Baltimore area:


BUSBOYS AND POETS , 14th and V NW, Sun. June 15th, 7–9:00pm

Screening "Arna's Children", discussion and fundraiser in the Langston Room,
free admission

THE JERUSALEM FUND, 2425 Virginia Avenue, NW, Mon. June 16th, 6:30-8:30pm
Dinner and discussion, $25 admission


MISSION HELPERS CENTER , 1001 W. Joppa Road, Towson, MD, Tue.
June 17th, 7pm

Screening "Arna's Children", discussion and fundraiser, free admission
Sponsored by Baltimore Tikkun, Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart,
AFSC Baltimore Urban Peace Program, and the Morgan State University
Muslim Students Association


JULIANO MER KHAMIS is a Palestinian Israeli; Jew, Arab, actor, director and political activist born in Israel to an Arab father and a Jewish mother. His film "Arna's Children" is a moving and critically praised documentary about the children's theater founded in the Jenin refugee camp by his late mother Arna—and the fate of 3 of the young troupe members.

"Speechless. Silent. I cannot move. I just sit here, watching the screen,
reading the names of Arna's children.
—Arjan El Fassed, The Electronic Intifada

DR. MERVAT AIASH, professor of fine arts at the Arab American University in Jenin, is Chairperson of the Board of The Freedom Theatre. She provides an important leadership model and is a link between the theater and the university community. She understands the role of culture and the arts as social development, healing and resistance to the occupation.

THE JENIN FREEDOM THEATRE was destroyed in 2002 by the Israeli Occupation Forces but in 2006 Juliano returned to Jenin to rebuild and renew Arna's work. The Jenin Freedom Theatre now runs a full program of computer skills, photography, acting, psychodrama, and visiting theatrical productions in the refugee camp. Plans are underway for an accredited drama school to begin in the fall. See for more information.

For more information or to schedule an interview,
contact Dorothy Zellner, Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre
at or 917 439 3470



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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

[ePalestine] Facing the Specters of Israel’s Establishment: the Palestinian Right of Return as the True Healing of Israeli Society

Facing the Specters of Israel’s Establishment: the Palestinian Right of Return as the True Healing of Israeli Society  

Written by Michael Warschawski, Alternative Information Center (AIC)   
Tuesday, 27 May 2008 

Ten years ago, when the State of Israel was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, our main duty was to explain that the creation of Israel was also the Palestinian Nakba, and often people asked "what does Nakba mean?" In most of the cases, the question was the result of ignorance. Today, whoever is asking "what does Nakba mean?" is not an ignorant, but rather a Nakba-denier, a kind of cousin of the Shoah-denier who is asking "what does Shoah mean?” The concept of Nakba and the reality of the Palestinian catastrophe have become public knowledge. 

Moreover: all over the world, and not only in the progressive media, any mention of Israel's sixtieth anniversary has been followed by the mention of the Palestinian Nakba, including by those—and they are the majority—for whom the creation of Israel is an event that deserves feasts and celebrations. 

No doubt that this recognition is a big victory for the Palestinian people, whose tragic history has been denied for decades: the battle over history has finally be won, and the Zionist narrative concerning "a land without people for a people without land" and Palestinian refugees who either have never existed (sic) or have been forced to flee by their own leadership, are lying today in the garbage heap of old-propaganda lies. In its great majority, international public opinion recognizes that the price for the creation of a Jewish State was the destruction of Palestine and the creation of hundreds of thousands of refugees. 

In Israel too, the Palestinian tragedy is largely recognized, thanks to the New Historians, who, twenty years ago, started to demystify the events surrounding the creation of Israel and have almost become today the official historians of Israel. No doubt, recognizing the "original sin" of the birth of Israel is an important evolution, allowing the Israeli people to look at its own existence with much less self-deception and mystifications, and, therefore, able to better understand the roots of the Israeli-Arab conflict and the way out of this conflict. 

One should, however, be aware of the simple fact that recognizing a crime is only a first step, and by no means final one if our aspiration is reconciliation between the peoples. A necessary condition, yes, but not a sufficient one to end the conflict. 

It may sound obvious, but it is not: during the Oslo process, not a few Israeli Left-intellectuals argued about the necessity for Israel to recognize "its portion of responsibility" and the right of return for the refugees, while, in exchange, the Palestinians will renounce any meaningful implementation of this right. Not a bad deal! One pleads guilty in exchange of being absolved by the victims and not having to repair or pay compensations! In reality, however, it is a very bad deal. First for the victims, who are asked to renounce what has just been recognized as their legitimate right; it is not hard to imagine that as long they are barred from returning to their lands, many among the refugees will keep their anger and animosity toward the Israelis, even after the Israelis will have asked for forgiveness. 

But it is also a bad deal for the Israelis themselves, who, by such tricks and half-measures, will not be able to liberate themselves from the specters haunting their very existence. For, the Israeli structural violence and brutality cannot be understood if one is not aware of the permanent presence of the specters of the Nakba in the Israeli collective (un)consciousness. It is well known that denial does not make the victims disappear, but merely transform them into specters. 

Only by fully accepting the right of return of the refugees can the Israeli people liberate themselves from the fear of return and destruction. Because, accepting in good faith the (right of) return means the end of the refugees as refugees, and their transformation into neighbors. The return of the Palestinian refugees to their homeland is not only a basic and nonnegotiable human right, but the precondition for the healing of Israeli society, its normalization, and the door open for true reconciliation. 


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Monday, May 26, 2008

[ePalestine] American math prof pledges Wolf prize to Bir Zeit

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m 
Last update - 09:18 26/05/2008 

American math prof pledges Wolf prize to Bir Zeit 

By Ofri Ilani 

The American mathematician David Mumford , co-winner of the 2008 Wolf Foundation Prize in Mathematics, announced upon receiving the award yesterday that he will donate the money to Bir Zeit University , near Ramallah, and to Gisha , an Israeli organization that advocates for Palestinian freedom of movement. 

"I decided to donate my share of the Wolf Prize to enable the academic community in occupied Palestine to survive and thrive," Mumford told Haaretz. "I am very grateful for the prize, but I believe that Palestinian students should have an opportunity to go elsewhere to acquire an education. Students in the West Bank and Gaza today do not have an opportunity to do that." 

The Wolf Foundation awards prizes of $100,000 each year "to outstanding scientists and artists for achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples," its web site says. It is considered one of the most prestigious international honors in mathematics. 

Mumford, professor emeritus at Brown University and Harvard University, shared this year's prize with Pierre Deligne and Phillip Griffiths of Princeton University. According to the Wolf Foundation, he was recognized for his "work on algebraic surfaces; on geometric invariant theory; and for laying the foundations of the modern algebraic theory of the moduli space of curves and theta functions." 

Mumford, who received the prize from President Shimon Peres in the Knesset, said he has already contacted Bir Zeit University and Gisha, and they have agreed to accept his donation. "The achievements I accomplished in mathematics were made possible thanks to my being able to move freely and exchange ideas with other scholars," he said. "It would not have been possible without an international consensus on an exchange of ideas. Mathematics works best when people can move and get together. That's its elixir of life. But the people of occupied Palestine don't have an opportunity to do that. The school system is fighting for its life, and mobility is very limited." 

"When I visited Israel in 1995, there was a feeling of hope, but that is not the situation today," he added. "Education for people in the occupied territories gives them a future. The alternative is chaos." He said his decision was not aimed at Israel. "I have tremendous regard for Israel, which is without a doubt a major force in the mathematics world. But unfortunately, the Palestinians cannot take part in this prosperity." 


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Saturday, May 24, 2008

[ePalestine] It’s Time for a Declaration of Independence From Israel (A MUST READ, If you're American read 2X, if Jewish American 3x)

Dear friends,  

Below please find the text of a superb speech delivered yesterday, Thursday, May 22, 2008, at Princeton University by Chris Hedges, a former Middle East bureau chief of the New York Times.  This speech was first written as an article in 2007.  It speaks volumes.  

A MUST READ, If you're American read 2X, if Jewish American 3x 

Truth can be painful,



It’s Time for a Declaration of Independence From Israel 

By Chris Hedges, Truthdig  
Posted on July 6, 2007,  Speech delivered Thursday, May 22, 2008, at Princeton University 

Israel, without the United States, would probably not exist. The country came perilously close to extinction during the October 1973 war when Egypt, trained and backed by the Soviet Union, crossed the Suez and the Syrians poured in over the Golan Heights. Huge American military transport planes came to the rescue. They began landing every half-hour to refit the battered Israeli army, which had lost most of its heavy armor. By the time the war was over, the United States had given Israel $2.2 billion in emergency military aid.  

The intervention, which enraged the Arab world, triggered the OPEC oil embargo that for a time wreaked havoc on Western economies. This was perhaps the most dramatic example of the sustained life-support system the United States has provided to the Jewish state. 

Israel was born at midnight May 14, 1948. The U.S. recognized the new state 11 minutes later. The two countries have been locked in a deadly embrace ever since. 

Washington, at the beginning of the relationship, was able to be a moderating influence. An incensed President Eisenhower demanded and got Israel's withdrawal after the Israelis occupied Gaza in 1956. During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli warplanes bombed the USS Liberty. The ship, flying the U.S. flag and stationed 15 miles off the Israeli coast, was intercepting tactical and strategic communications from both sides. The Israeli strikes killed 34 U.S. sailors and wounded 171. The deliberate attack froze, for a while, Washington's enthusiasm for Israel. But ruptures like this one proved to be only bumps, soon smoothed out by an increasingly sophisticated and well-financed Israel lobby that set out to merge Israeli and American foreign policy in the Middle East. 

Israel has reaped tremendous rewards from this alliance. It has been given more than $140 billion in U.S. direct economic and military assistance. It receives about $3 billion in direct assistance annually, roughly one-fifth of the U.S. foreign aid budget. Although most American foreign aid packages stipulate that related military purchases have to be made in the United States, Israel is allowed to use about 25 percent of the money to subsidize its own growing and profitable defense industry. It is exempt, unlike other nations, from accounting for how it spends the aid money. And funds are routinely siphoned off to build new Jewish settlements, bolster the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories and construct the security barrier, which costs an estimated $1 million a mile. 

The barrier weaves its way through the West Bank, creating isolated pockets of impoverished Palestinians in ringed ghettos. By the time the barrier is finished it will probably in effect seize up to 40 percent of Palestinian land. This is the largest land grab by Israel since the 1967 war. And although the United States officially opposes settlement expansion and the barrier, it also funds them. 

The U.S. has provided Israel with nearly $3 billion to develop weapons systems and given Israel access to some of the most sophisticated items in its own military arsenal, including Blackhawk attack helicopters and F-16 fighter jets. The United States also gives Israel access to intelligence it denies to its NATO allies. And when Israel refused to sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, the United States stood by without a word of protest as the Israelis built the region's first nuclear weapons program. 

U.S. foreign policy, especially under the current Bush administration, has become little more than an extension of Israeli foreign policy. The United States since 1982 has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members. It refuses to enforce the Security Council resolutions it claims to support. These resolutions call on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. 

There is now volcanic anger and revulsion by Arabs at this blatant favoritism. Few in the Middle East see any distinction between Israeli and American policies, nor should they. And when the Islamic radicals speak of U.S. support of Israel as a prime reason for their hatred of the United States, we should listen. The consequences of this one-sided relationship are being played out in the disastrous war in Iraq, growing tension with Iran, and the humanitarian and political crisis in Gaza. It is being played out in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is gearing up for another war with Israel, one most Middle East analysts say is inevitable. The U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is unraveling. And it is doing so because of this special relationship. The eruption of a regional conflict would usher in a nightmare of catastrophic proportions. 

There were many in the American foreign policy establishment and State Department who saw this situation coming. The decision to throw our lot in with Israel in the Middle East was not initially a popular one with an array of foreign policy experts, including President Harry Truman's secretary of state, Gen. George Marshall. They warned there would be a backlash. They knew the cost the United States would pay in the oil-rich region for this decision, which they feared would be one of the greatest strategic blunders of the postwar era. And they were right. The decision has jeopardized American and Israeli security and created the kindling for a regional conflagration. 

The alliance, which makes no sense in geopolitical terms, does makes sense when seen through the lens of domestic politics. The Israel lobby has become a potent force in the American political system. No major candidate, Democrat or Republican, dares to challenge it. The lobby successfully purged the State Department of Arab experts who challenged the notion that Israeli and American interests were identical. Backers of Israel have doled out hundreds of millions of dollars to support U.S. political candidates deemed favorable to Israel. They have brutally punished those who strayed, including the first President Bush, who they said was not vigorous enough in his defense of Israeli interests. This was a lesson the next Bush White House did not forget. George W. Bush did not want to be a one-term president like his father. 

Israel advocated removing Saddam Hussein from power and currently advocates striking Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. Direct Israeli involvement in American military operations in the Middle East is impossible. It would reignite a war between Arab states and Israel. The United States, which during the Cold War avoided direct military involvement in the region, now does the direct bidding of Israel while Israel watches from the sidelines. During the 1991 Gulf War, Israel was a spectator, just as it is in the war with Iraq. 

President Bush, facing dwindling support for the war in Iraq, publicly holds Israel up as a model for what he would like Iraq to become. Imagine how this idea plays out on the Arab street, which views Israel as the Algerians viewed the French colonizers during the war of liberation. 

"In Israel," Bush said recently, "terrorists have taken innocent human life for years in suicide attacks. The difference is that Israel is a functioning democracy and it's not prevented from carrying out its responsibilities. And that's a good indicator of success that we're looking for in Iraq." 

Americans are increasingly isolated and reviled in the world. They remain blissfully ignorant of their own culpability for this isolation. U.S. "spin" paints the rest of the world as unreasonable, but Israel, Americans are assured, will always be on our side. 

Israel is reaping economic as well as political rewards from its lock-down apartheid state. In the "gated community" market it has begun to sell systems and techniques that allow the nation to cope with terrorism. Israel, in 2006, exported $3.4 billion in defense products -- well over a billion dollars more than it received in American military aid. Israel has grown into the fourth largest arms dealer in the world. Most of this growth has come in the so-called homeland security sector. 

"The key products and services," as Naomi Klein wrote in The Nation, "are hi-tech fences, unmanned drones, biometric IDs, video and audio surveillance gear, air passenger profiling and prisoner interrogation systems -- precisely the tools and technologies Israel has used to lock in the occupied territories. And that is why the chaos in Gaza and the rest of the region doesn't threaten the bottom line in Tel Aviv, and may actually boost it. Israel has learned to turn endless war into a brand asset, pitching its uprooting, occupation and containment of the Palestinian people as a half-century head start in the 'global war on terror.' " 

The United States, at least officially, does not support the occupation and calls for a viable Palestinian state. It is a global player, with interests that stretch well beyond the boundaries of the Middle East, and the equation that Israel's enemies are our enemies is not that simple. 

"Terrorism is not a single adversary," John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt wrote in The London Review of Books, "but a tactic employed by a wide array of political groups. The terrorist organizations that threaten Israel do not threaten the United States, except when it intervenes against them (as in Lebanon in 1982). Moreover, Palestinian terrorism is not random violence directed against Israel or 'the West'; it is largely a response to Israel's prolonged campaign to colonize the West Bank and Gaza Strip. More important, saying that Israel and the US are united by a shared terrorist threat has the causal relationship backwards: the US has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around." 

Middle Eastern policy is shaped in the United States by those with very close ties to the Israel lobby. Those who attempt to counter the virulent Israeli position, such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, are ruthlessly slapped down. This alliance was true also during the Clinton administration, with its array of Israel-first Middle East experts, including special Middle East coordinator Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk, the former deputy director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, one of the most powerful Israel lobbying groups in Washington. But at least people like Indyk and Ross are sane, willing to consider a Palestinian state, however unviable, as long as it is palatable to Israel. The Bush administration turned to the far-right wing of the Israel lobby, those who have not a shred of compassion for the Palestinians or a word of criticism for Israel. These new Middle East experts include Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, the disgraced I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and David Wurmser. 

Washington was once willing to stay Israel's hand. It intervened to thwart some of its most extreme violations of human rights. This administration, however, has signed on for every disastrous Israeli blunder, from building the security barrier in the West Bank, to sealing off Gaza and triggering a humanitarian crisis, to the ruinous invasion and saturation bombing of Lebanon. 

The few tepid attempts by the Bush White House to criticize Israeli actions have all ended in hasty and humiliating retreats in the face of Israeli pressure. When the Israel Defense Forces in April 2002 reoccupied the West Bank, President Bush called on then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to "halt the incursions and begin withdrawal." It never happened. After a week of heavy pressure from the Israel lobby and Israel's allies in Congress, meaning just about everyone in Congress, the president gave up, calling Sharon "a man of peace." It was a humiliating moment for the United States, a clear sign of who pulled the strings. 

There were several reasons for the war in Iraq. The desire for American control of oil, the belief that Washington could build puppet states in the region, and a real, if misplaced, fear of Saddam Hussein played a part in the current disaster. But it was also strongly shaped by the notion that what is good for Israel is good for the United States. Israel wanted Iraq neutralized. Israeli intelligence, in the lead-up to the war, gave faulty information to the U.S. about Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. And when Baghdad was taken in April 2003, the Israeli government immediately began to push for an attack on Syria. The lust for this attack has waned, in no small part because the Americans don't have enough troops to hang on in Iraq, much less launch a new occupation. 

Israel is currently lobbying the United States to launch aerial strikes on Iran, despite the debacle in Lebanon. Israel's iron determination to forcibly prevent a nuclear Iran makes it probable that before the end of the Bush administration an attack on Iran will take place. The efforts to halt nuclear development through diplomatic means have failed. It does not matter that Iran poses no threat to the United States. It does not matter that it does not even pose a threat to Israel, which has several hundred nuclear weapons in its arsenal. It matters only that Israel demands total military domination of the Middle East. 

The alliance between Israel and the United States has culminated after 50 years in direct U.S. military involvement in the Middle East. This involvement, which is not furthering American interests, is unleashing a geopolitical nightmare. American soldiers and Marines are dying in droves in a useless war. The impotence of the United States in the face of Israeli pressure is complete. The White House and the Congress have become, for perhaps the first time, a direct extension of Israeli interests. There is no longer any debate within the United States. This is evidenced by the obsequious nods to Israel by all the current presidential candidates with the exception of Dennis Kucinich. The political cost for those who challenge Israel is too high. 

This means there will be no peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It means the incidents of Islamic terrorism against the U.S. and Israel will grow. It means that American power and prestige are on a steep, irreversible decline. And I fear it also means the ultimate end of the Jewish experiment in the Middle East. 

The weakening of the United States, economically and militarily, is giving rise to new centers of power. The U.S. economy, mismanaged and drained by the Iraq war, is increasingly dependent on Chinese trade imports and on Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury securities. China holds dollar reserves worth $825 billion. If Beijing decides to abandon the U.S. bond market, even in part, it would cause a free fall by the dollar. It would lead to the collapse of the $7-trillion U.S. real estate market. There would be a wave of U.S. bank failures and huge unemployment. The growing dependence on China has been accompanied by aggressive work by the Chinese to build alliances with many of the world's major exporters of oil, such as Iran, Nigeria, Sudan and Venezuela. The Chinese are preparing for the looming worldwide clash over dwindling resources. 

The future is ominous. Not only do Israel's foreign policy objectives not coincide with American interests, they actively hurt them. The growing belligerence in the Middle East, the calls for an attack against Iran, the collapse of the imperial project in Iraq have all given an opening, where there was none before, to America's rivals. It is not in Israel's interests to ignite a regional conflict. It is not in ours. But those who have their hands on the wheel seem determined, in the name of freedom and democracy, to keep the American ship of state headed at breakneck speed into the cliffs before us.  

Chris Hedges is the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times and the author of "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning."  

© 2008 Truthdig All rights reserved. 


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Friday, May 23, 2008

[ePalestine] ACTION ALERT: Israel Arrests Outspoken Academic Norman Finkelstein (ACT TONIGHT)

Dear friends,


Minister of Interior Mr. Meir SHEETRIT
Israeli Ministry of the Interior 
2 Kaplan St., Qiryat Ben-Gurion 
P.O. Box 6158, 91061 Jerusalem  
Tel.  +972-2-670-1411 / +972-2-629-4722 
Fax: +972-2-670-1628 


Mr. Meir SHEETRIT's numbers at the Knesset 
Telephone 1:     +972-2-640-8410
Telephone 2:      +972-2- 640-8409
Fax:      +972-2- 640-8920

It is now Friday night and the Ministry will be closed through Saturday for the Jewish Sabbath. Thus, if you are in the US please call your congressman and senator NOW and advise them a Jewish American U.S. citizen is being denied access to Israel!!

Also, CALL the STATE DEPT's Hotline for American Travelers: 202-647-5225 and let them know this is happening and is in violation of international law. 

If you are an Israeli, please start working the phones...this denial of entry is all being done in your name!!

The only 'democracy' in the Middle East strikes again,


Democracy Now

Israel Arrests Outspoken Academic Norman Finkelstein

And the American academic Norman Finkelstein has been arrested and ordered deported from Israel. Finkelstein arrived in Tel Aviv earlier today on his way to the Occupied Territories. He was immediately detained and told he is banned from Israel for ten years. He's expected to be deported tomorrow. Finkelstein is known one of the most prominent academic critics of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. 


US political author Norman Finkelstein denied entry to Israel 

05.23.2008 | Monsters & Critics 

Jerusalem - The US political author and critic of Israel Norman Finkelstein was denied entry to the Jewish state on Friday, his lawyer said. 

Finkelstein landed at Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv in the early morning and was told by a representative of the ministry of interior that he would not be allowed into the country on 'security' grounds, attorney Michael Sfard told dpa. 

'This usually means a 10-year ban on entry,' Sfard added. 

Finkelstein, who is Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors, has written critical books on Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories and on what he called 'exploitation' of the Jewish tragedy during World War II. 

Finkelstein has received with the fierce disapproval of some authors and academics, while others have praised his controversial works. 


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Thursday, May 22, 2008

[ePalestine] NYT: West Bank, Aided by Israel, Seeks Investors

The New York Times 
May 22, 2008 

West Bank, Aided by Israel, Seeks Investors 


BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Hundreds of potential investors and dignitaries from the Middle East and beyond gathered here Wednesday for the start of a vaunted conference under the slogan, “Palestine is open for business.” 

The Palestine Investment Conference, scheduled to last three days, is perhaps the most upbeat happening in Bethlehem since crowds packed Manger Square to see 2,000 doves of peace released at millennium celebrations at the end of 1999. Months later, the second intifada broke out, sending the Palestinian national enterprise into a tailspin of violence and chaos. 

Now, with the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts at the American-sponsored conference last fall in Annapolis, Md., and the international community trying to bolster the Western-leaning Palestinian leadership that holds sway in the West Bank, the business convention — a partnership of the Palestinian Authority and the private sector — is meant to project a climate of opportunity and change. 

Yet the gathering had a contrary air about it, as if Alice stepped through the looking-glass and found herself here. 

Projects worth a total of $2 billion are to be presented, almost half for housing and other infrastructure projects, most of the rest for ideas in agriculture, finance, tourism and information technology. But even among the organizers, expectations for significant investment appeared low. Hasan Abu Libdeh, the chief executive of the conference, told reporters that the meeting was more for “networking, and maybe to strike some deals,” he said. 

The overall picture was “contradictory,” according to Muhammad Shtayyeh, president of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction, a Palestinian Authority agency that oversees projects built with donor funds. “Capital is a coward,” he said. “It needs encouragement. The environment in Palestine is not very encouraging.” 

Indeed, the hundreds of Israeli army checkpoints and roadblocks that dot the West Bank, and that Israel insists are necessary for its security, choke the local economy. (Gaza, which was taken over by the militant Islamic group Hamas last June, remains under a tight blockade, its own economy crushed.) 

And Palestinian officials have recently offered bleak assessments of the prospects of imminent success for a political solution to bring the Israeli occupation of the West Bank to an end. 

“Without a political solution any chance of improvement will evaporate,” said Mr. Shtayyeh, who was scheduled to speak at the conference on Thursday. “Nobody will invest.” 

Even the venue for the opening of the conference, the Jacir Palace Intercontinental hotel, serves as a cautionary tale. Built around a magnificently renovated mansion, it was “built for VIPs coming for conventions and conferences,” according Kareem Abdul Hadi, manager of the Palestine Tourism Investment Co., a subsidiary of Padico, the Palestinian offshore holding company that invested $50 million in the project. But the hotel opened its doors just before the intifada’s outbreak in 2000, turned into a battle zone and closed down for five years. The investors lost $25 million. 

Today there is a broad interest in improving the West Bank’s economy. In an unprecedented move Israel, which controls access to the West Bank and movement on the ground, issued nearly 500 special two-week entry permits and visas for participants from abroad, many of them Palestinian expatriates from Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. Over a hundred businessmen from Gaza were issued travel permits for Bethlehem. 

Attendance was also arranged for a handful of Israeli industrialists, despite some Palestinian qualms about normalizing relations and an Israeli military order that bars Israeli civilians from entering the Palestinian cities of the West Bank. 

Official delegations are being headed by, among others, the American deputy Treasury secretary, Robert Kimmitt,; the British secretary of state for international development, Douglas Alexander; and a member of the ruling family of the U.A.E, Muhammad bin Hamdan al-Nahyan. 

At a news conference in Ramallah on Tuesday, Mr. Abu Libdeh noted that the “very special” arrangements made for the conference were far from the norm and urged Israel to guarantee future access so that investors could follow their projects on the ground. 

Sam Bahour, an American-born Palestinian who has invested heavily in the local economy, has been campaigning for better access for two years. For the past 14 years, Mr. Bahour, who built Ramallah’s Plaza shopping mall, has been living in the city on a tourist visa that has to be renewed every three months. Married to a Palestinian, he applied for permanent residency in 1994. The Israelis, who control the population registry in the Palestinian territory, have not yet responded, he said. 

He estimates that 50,000 Palestinian expatriates and non-Palestinians from all walks of life have been denied access to the Palestinian territories since early 2006. 

Still many, including Mr. Bahour, insist that even under the current circumstances there is money to be made. 

The Palestinian Securities Exchange, the small 11-year-old, 36-company stock exchange based in Nablus, is having a banner year with 35.9 percent growth since Jan, 1, a bigger growth than any other exchange in the Arab world. 

Matthew Eyre of London’s Blakeney Management said his investment firm has been invested in Padico since the end of 2007 and has seen very strong profits. “When we started, we weren’t making a political call,” he said. “We were simply convinced that the valuations here had become absurdly low. If these companies can grow by 30 percent in such difficult times, what sort of growth will we get in normal times?” 

Even the Jacir Palace can be counted as a success story of sorts. The hotel’s value has increased dramatically, according to Mr. Abdul Hadi, who said that his board of directors is thinking of expanding into a hotel chain. 

“Investment in land and real estate has always flourished,” he said, “even during the intifada.” 

Ethan Bronner contributed reporting from Nablus, West Bank. 


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