Saturday, 1 August 2009

Thoughts on Fatah Convention and thoughts on Palestine

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Saturday, 01 August 2009 15:06 RamallahOnline User Rating: / 0
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Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD, http://qumsiyeh.org/

Bethlehem is a buzz with security preparations for the Fatah conference on Tuesday. The local people I talked to either were indifferent or were worried about inability to reach school or work or do shopping during the days of the conference. The Fatah people I talked to are unsure of how this will go and what will happen.

A big segment of the Fatah cadres who are real resistance fighters from abroad or underground will not be able to attend. It is suspicious that Israel is allowing so many others to enter and even facilitated a few to come from Gaza across the green lines to the consternation of Hamas which wanted Fatah to release its political prisoners from West Bank jails before allowing Fatah officials from Gaza to travel to Bethlehem.

Fatah, the biggest and most well financed of the Palestinian factions, is certainly at a crossroads. In the time of Arafat, he managed by his sheer personality and charisma to keep the various political factions and trends together under one umbrella (even those supportive of violent resistance and those against it). When Arafat was president and Abu Mazen was prime minister, they did not get along.

Farouk Kaddoumi recently dropped a bombshell by releasing a transcript he claimed showed Abu Mazen at a meeting in which Dahlan and Israeli leaders discussed assassinating Arafat. But rumers and stories of the past aside, the future is far harder to shape.

I have no way of predicting what will happen at the meeting Tuesday. I onoy wish peopel in power believe in the power of ordinary citizens and create more accountable and democratic forums. I had a fantasy that attendees would do what the first conventiuon of Palestinian women did in 1929: go the streets, challenge the occupation and demand self determination.

Most of the people I talk to (of various political leansings) believe that this convention will instead likely validate the negotiations track taken during Oslo (many opposed these talks that are not based on human rights and International Law). In the unlikely event that this conference reinvigorates the resistance plank of Fatah, there are implicit and explicit Israeli threats which are taken seriously since Bethlehem and all its visitors are under Israeli brutal military occupation. If the convention tries to straddle the fences and to come up with an arrangement that attempts to satisfy everyone, then it will likely fail. But while Fatah is a core segment of our society, it is not all. And we must remember that Palestine is bigger than any of us.

We Palestinians are in Lebanon, in the US, inside Palestine 1948, inside the West Bank, in Gaza, and everywhere. Palestine is in us regardless of political leanings (or even courage). Collectively, we are diverse, dynamic, and able to resurrect hope in the land where it is believed that Jesus was resurrected from the death. It is this larger Palestine that gives us hope.

The original Zionist blueprints are for control of the area between the Euphrates and the Nile. Here we are 130 years later and even the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean is roughly at parity between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians.

30 years ago, Zionists had convinced most of the world that there was no such thing as Palestinians. Today most of the world and even Zionists themselves recognize that not only are there Palestinians but that indeed there is such a thing as Palestine. The Palestinian flag now flies around Palestine even inside the Green line. But no one denies that we are perhaps at the most dangerous turn since 1948 and history has not decided yet what will transpire. We can shape the future if we believe in ourselves and our people.

I am completing a book on history of civil resistance in Palestine. What is notable is that resistance has been sporadic with periodicity of 10-15 years between uprisings (beginning in 1891) . Further, the biggest challenges came not because of external factors but from within (especially our infighting and drive for dictatorial control). Similarly the biggest successes (and there have been many) were achieved from grass root movements when Palestinians joined hands and worked together (e.g. the beginning of the 1987 uprising). The net of our strengths and weaknesses has overall resulted in stalemate. This is miraculous considering that we were facing perhaps the best organized, best financed, and most ruthless colonization effort in the past three centuries.

We as Palestinians have unique advantages and disadvantages in our struggles for liberation. We must analyze these scientifically and act accordingly. For example we need to leverage the tremendous sympathy and solidarity of people around the world to produce power (e.g. through better managed campaigns of boycotts, divestments and sanctions). And as the geopolitical landscape shifts around us (e.g. due to the failure and shedding of militarism or the mistakes of Israel with Turkey), we do need to take advantage in strengthening our position?

In my upcoming book I show by hundreds of examples that we were/are able to seize these opportunities in timely manner when we had/have a dynamic responsive society that can adapt without bureaucracy or dictatorship. For example, this happened when clan relations were shed in favor of political party affiliation or when younger generations took leadership on the ground during the 1987-1991 Intifada.

We Palestinians can indeed shape our future with choices we make everyday even in the context of existing power structures (and those are changing). Neither reckless bravado and useless 1960s rhetoric nor supine begging for endless negotiations will help us at this critical junction. These are times that demand new ways of thinking.

Accountability need not mean immediate punishment of those who harmed or profited from our cause but as a minimum unleashing new blood to take new initiatives unencumbered by old baggage. We would do well (at the Fatah Convention or outside) to begin by working with younger and newly empowered generations on such ideas as one state for all its people (the original PLO consensus) or at least the Civil Society Call to Action of 2005.

It won’t be easy but our history has not been easy. Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote (and thsi is applicable to all of us including those who will attend teh convention Tuesday): “Cowardice asks the question - is it safe? Expediency asks the question - is it politic? Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But conscience asks the question - is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.”

Those of you who would like to visit us in the Bethlehem are most welcome. Despite all, it is still the city of the prince of peace. And our change for peace begins with ourselves as individuals and communities.

In Peace - Salam

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a Villager at Home

http://qumsiyeh.org/

Top Iran Reformist Tells Trial Ahmadinejad Win Was Clean


Top Iran Reformist Tells Trial Ahmadinejad Win Was Clean

01/08/2009 Top Iranian reformist Sayyed Mohamad Ali Abtahi, accused of taking part in deadly riots after the June election, reportedly testified before a Tehran court on Saturday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory came after a clean vote.

In a blow to the so-called opposition movement which claims that his re-election as president was because of massive vote rigging, Sayyed Abtahi said there had been no fraud in the June 12 poll, the Fars news agency reported.

Abtahi, a close aide of reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami, said the reformists and opposition leaders had also betrayed Iran's all-powerful supreme leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, the agency said. "The 10th (presidential) election was different and it took two or three years to work on it. I think reformists took action to sort of restrict the (supreme) leader," Abtahi told a revolutionary court in which he and around 100 people face charges of rioting after the disputed poll.

"I say to all my friends and all friends who hear us, that the issue of fraud in Iran was a lie and was brought up to create riots so Iran becomes like Afghanistan and Iraq and suffers damage and hardship... and if this happened, there would be no name and trace of the revolution left."

Abtahi said opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, Khatami and powerful cleric and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani had taken an "oath" not to abandon each other. "Mousavi probably did not know the country, but Khatami, with all due respect... knew all the issues. He was aware of the capability and power of the leader, but he joined Mousavi and this was a betrayal," the cleric said, adding that Rafsanjani sought to avenge his 2005 presidential defeat to Ahmadinejad. "It was wrong of me to take part in the rallies, but Karroubi told me that we cannot call the people onto the streets with such a meager number of votes, so we had better go to the streets ourselves to demonstrate our protest," he was quoted as saying.

Mehdi Karroubi, a reformist ex-parliament speaker, won just 333,635 votes or 0.85 percent in the presidential ballot. Abtahi was one of his advisers before the election. Mousavi and Karroubi are spearheading a massive anti-Ahmadinejad campaign in which their supporters have staged street protests over the President's win.

Abtahi was among around 100 people, including other top reformists and aides to opposition leaders, facing charges on Saturday of rioting after the election. Media said the accused are accused of having "participated in riots, acting against national security, disturbing public order, vandalizing public and government property, having ties with counter-revolutionary groups and of planning to launch a velvet revolution."

The defendants include Mohsen Aminzadeh and Mohsen Safai-Farahani, deputy ministers under the government of Khatami, and Mohsen Mirdamadi, current head of the Islamic Iran Participation Front. Prominent reformists Behzad Nabavi of the Islamic Republic Mujahedeen Organization and Mohammad Atrianfar of the Executives of Construction are also on trial.

Fars reported Abtahi, a cleric, as testifying that he "agreed" with the prosecution charges. "But I want to say something, about the velvet revolution part... I think the capacity for such a thing to happen exists in the country, but I don't know if there was a real intention to do it."

Fars said the accused, if proven guilty, could face a maximum jail term of five years, unless they are charged with being a "mohareb" or enemy of God, which can carry the death penalty.

Mishaal: Fatah cadres departure from Gaza linked to release of Hamas detainees


Mishaal: Fatah cadres departure from Gaza linked to release of Hamas detainees

[ 01/08/2009 - 03:45 PM ]

DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Khaled Mishaal, the political bureau chairman of Hamas, has asserted that the Fatah leaders in Gaza Strip would be allowed out of it to attend their factions' general congress only when Hamas detainees in the West Bank are released.

Mishaal told the semi-official Egyptian daily Al-Ahram published on Saturday that there was no way his Movement would retract this stand.

He charged former PA chief Mahmoud Abbas with obstructing the exchange by his insistence on not releasing any of the Hamas cadres from the West Bank jails.

Contacts were made by the Turkish and Russian leaderships to allow Fatah cadres to attend their factions' meeting, the Hamas leader said, adding that there was no mediation in this respect. He underlined that Egypt is the sole party entrusted with the mediation file in the Palestinian arena.

Ghussain: Citizens illegally traveling will be prosecuted

Ihab Al-Ghussain, the spokesman for the interior ministry, on Saturday underlined that any citizen illegally traveling outside the Strip or in coordination with the IOA would stand trial

Haneyya: The next round of dialog may not be held due to the persistent arrests

Palestinian premier Ismail Haneyya ruled out Friday the possibility of holding the next round of the inter-Palestinian dialog in light of the ongoing political arrests in the West Bank.


Families of West Bank detainees attach hope to Hamas's conditions on Fatah

[ 31/07/2009 - 04:17 PM ]

WEST BANK, (PIC)-- Families of more than 1,100 Palestinian political detainees in Mahmoud Abbas's jails in the West Bank have attached big hope on the condition made by Hamas Movement to release all political detainees before Fatah cadres in Gaza could attend sixth conference.

Hamas Movement took stern and clear-cut stand that it won't allow Fatah cadres in Gaza Strip to leave to Bethlehem to attend the sixth congress of Fatah unless Fatah releases all political detainees in the West Bank.

According to the disgruntled families, the way in which Fatah and the PA security forces deal with the Palestinian people tarnishes the image of the Palestinian people and badly affects the just Palestinian cause.

They called on Hamas Movement to remain steadfast on that condition and not to give it up, urging Fatah faction to return to the Palestinian mainstream and to sincerely work to restore the Palestinian national unity.

"We all believe that the hour of releasing our sons from jails is close after Hamas put that condition" said Abu Mohammed Bilal, father of one of the detainees in Beitonia jail.

Mahmoud Abdul Khaleq, father of another detainee in Junaid prison, asserted that torture sessions and humiliation inside the jails of Abbas were "unaccepted and unbelievable", adding that the only crime of those detainees was they want to liberate their country from the Zionist occupation.

He also explained that "the Palestinian policeman who tortures his fellow Palestinian was brain-washed under the pressure and temptation of money that made him unable to comprehend the degree of pain he inflicts on his Palestinian brother".

Moreover, Abdul Khaleq opined that the next congress of Fatah would tighten the grip of Abbas and Mohammed Dahalan on the faction, and would turn it into a faction without national principles and without resistance that would easily sell Palestine.

For his part, Azzam Al-Ahmad, the chairman of Fatah's parliamentary bloc in the PLC, threatened to take aggressive actions against Hamas's leaders and lawmakers in the West Bank if Fatah cadres were blocked from leaving the Gaza Strip to attend the conference.

Hamas's lawmakers in the West Bank confirmed they have received threats from Abbas's militia of targeting and kidnapping them if Fatah members in Gaza didn’t attend the Bethlehem meeting.

Lucia got fresh news for you: Obama's administration had made the first steps to reach Hamas.



UP, I've got fresh news for you.


Niños palestinos juegan en medio de las ruinas que dejó en la franja de Gaza el ataque israelí de principios de este año. - Adel hana / ap

There's a report today stating that the Obama's administration had made the first steps to reach Hamas. The Swiss Govt officially acknowledged that a secret meeting had been held in Geneva, at the Swiss Fgn Ministry, on june 16 and 17 past, to which top level american "expert" officers attended, as well as colleagues from France, Germany and the United Kingdom. For Hamas's part, the ample -the report says- delegation was headed by Al-Zahhar (Foreign Minister) and the Health Minister Basem Naim.



The inform adds that many direct questions were asked to the Hamas delegation, that were matched with outright responses. Hamas was requested to recognize Israel, and refused. It was requested to renounce "violence", and equally refused.




It was asked, as well, for more details about the long-term truce, that Obama is reportedly interested about. The report says that "the Movement has been more constructive, since it doesn't ask for the palestinian state being stablished in the whole land of Palestine, but it would accept it within the 67 lines." (Lucia interpretation of this sentence is that it is kind of face-saving for the USA, because Hamas has been declaring this for some time, this is old news, though adding they accept it "for the moment")




The article ends with an odd comment: "It is also significant that the principal interlocutor chosen by the USA to continue with the peace process had been Mahmud Zahhar, rather than the leader in exile Khaled Meshal". Well, we cannot know if the USA really "chose" him. But he is the Minister of Foreign Relations and a founding member, anyway.




It seems that the USA has not yet grasped that Hamas functions like a well trained orchestra where all musicians play simultaneously with equal importance whatever the instrument they play.




Possibly these news will make it to the international press in a few hours. Let's wait and see what they say... and the volumes of analysis thereafter. ;) 6:27 AM, July 31, 2009
NSB resistance fighters clash with occupation soldiers east of Khan Younis



UP Comment:


Thank you Lucia. Good news, bad for Hamas bashers (hoping Hamas would be domesticated, just to prove they were right), prefering a continued ocupation, until "Nice Secular Israelis" are elected in the only democracy in the middle east, and Mocking Mashaal Hoping Obama Cancels Conditions for Talks with Hamas.

Lucia: I got something fresh for you. A shiity comment on Fateh kenafah, Hamas kites and Quran.
Gaza children fly 6000 kites calling for an end to the blockade

Thousands of children fly kites during festival in Gaza

For me Kenafah is symbol for wealth and corruption (WESTERN AID). A call for more Kenafah to spoil Palestinians and forget their rights.

Flying Kites is a desperate call for lifting the siege, for freedom.
For seculars, anti Islam, hamas bashers,
  • The alarming part is that thousands of youngsters are enrolled in special camps for the purpose of MEMORIZING the Qur'an; Instead of lively debates, critique and analysis, revolutionary theory and practice, etc, this is what Hamas has produced.
  • Comming into contact with a religious man they always feel they must wash their hands.
  • The problem with political Islam is the fact that it is political!!
  • As Arab minorities (to their own right) prefer a pseudo secular dictatorships than a democratically elected Muslim party.
  • The masses are so brain washed and religion is thought of as the spinal chord of their identity.
  • To them the reformation will not be possible until political Islam fails completely against Israel same way Arab nationalism failed in 1967. Only then will the masses lose faith in it , same way the lost faith with Nasser and Baathism.
  • For things to get better , they must get a whole lot worse (to them it means the liquidation of the Palestinian struggle and the full hegemony of the west over historic Palestine with the Arab regimes blessing Zion. ).
  • In their life time they will not see the changes , because we are in the midst of the Islamic Dark ages.
Those Palestinians are Breaking all the Guinness Book World Records! The Largest Kenafah, The Most Kites Flown, and now.......

Habila's Son Memorizes the Qur'an in Just 35 Days!
Who Needs Liberation and Siege Breaking? Keep Those Guinness Records Coming!
As They Used to Say, "Revolution" Until Victory!

# posted by Tony : 9:29 AM

Flashback:
Tony is alway certain, at least almost certain, He has well-reasoned and informed, especialy with Sryian and Zionist Affairs.
Déjà Vu All Over Again: Mashaal Hopes Obama Cancels Conditions for Talks with Hamas
Thus preyed the "Pandit"
"Iran is a regional power, so Obama has to deal with it. so Obama is trying to put the ayatollahs to good use. by moving Syria away from Iran. By removing Iran and Syria from the equation, Hamas will be cut off and the plan is to destroy it or at least domesticate it, just as Arafat was domesticated and finally destroyed." Two weeks ago I commented on Khalid Amayreh's article: Fatah deadlock continues

I wrote;

"Hamas Basher mocked Hamas expected that Cairo dialogue will deliver a domesticated Hamas, that Hamas would join the Happy family: "
"There is Love in the Air: All Together Now.....I Love You....You Love Me..We're A Happy Family...

Let Abbas deliver a Fatah Happy Family. " "Ahead of Abbas congress, in Bethlehem, and next session of Palestinian dialoque in Cairo, Mashaal delivered his landmark speech from Damascus, sending messages/replies to all concerned (Netanyaho, Obama and his Carter, Moderate Arabs).
  • No to Jewish State killing the Uproted Palestinians right of return, and 1948 Arabs right to stay
  • No to Naturalizing Palestinian Refugees
  • Yes to an Arab state with its capital in occupied Jerusalem and full sovereignty in the areas liberated by Israel in 1967, dismantling of Jewish communities in those areas."
Sincere Fateh members are aware that The Dayton-Fayyad Project is to Fatah as Well. Today, Quadomi stand proved that Hamas insistance dialogue and resistance even delivered a Happy Family in Gaza with sincere fateh members, and deepened the rift in Fatah.
Let Abbas keep his Ramallah family happy.
More

“A good deed for a good deed, and a bad deed for a bad deed,”

By Khaled Amayreh
August 1, 2009 at 8:08 am (Associate Post, Corrupt Politics, Fatah, Palestine)

Khalid Amayreh takes a hard look at Fatah’s long-awaited, much-heralded and highly controversial sixth congress convening in Bethlehem

Palestinian Authority (PA) President and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas has decided to hold the conference in the occupied Palestinian territories 4 August despite stiff objections from some key Fatah leaders such as the group’s Secretary-General Farouk Qaddumi. However, while logistical and other obstacles hindering the convening of the conference have been largely overcome, conditions for its success remain in doubt.

The conference will be the largest in Fatah’s history and is expected to be a watershed event that will determine the shape and political discourse of the largest Palestinian political movement for many years to come. Moreover, the outcome of the conference will have a direct impact on the deadlocked political process with Israel.

The conference will see the election of a new leadership of Fatah, which means that some of the movement’s current faces, including high-ranking leaders, will either be re-elected or voted down. New faces will likely be brought to the fore, which could have important ramifications on the peace process, the rift with Hamas and Fatah’s own internal troubles.

Notwithstanding, several serious question marks still hover over the venue of the conference. For example, will Hamas allow as many as 400 Fatah leaders from the Gaza Strip to leave for Bethlehem? And if Hamas does allow them to leave, will Israel grant them entry into the West Bank?

The organisers of the conference received bad news from Gaza this week. Hamas leader, Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, said during a Friday sermon that the Islamic authorities in Gaza would allow Fatah delegates to leave only if the Fatah-dominated PA government in Ramallah agreed to release all Hamas- affiliated political detainees and to supply Gaza with passports, long denied to Gazans as a reprisal for the violent ousting by Hamas of Fatah militias in the summer of 2007.A good deed for a good deed, and a bad deed for a bad deed,” said Al-Zahhar, addressing thousands of worshipers at a Mosque in central Gaza.

The 400 Fatah delegates from Gaza constitute an important numerical weight whose presence or absence will leave a strong impact on the deliberations and outcome of the conference.

Moreover, it is widely presumed that many of these delegates are loyal to the Abbas camp. Hence, it is probably safe to assume that Abbas and his allies, in particular, former Gaza strongman Mohamed Dahlan, stand to lose in case Hamas continues to refuse to allow the Fatah delegates to leave.

In light of this, the Fatah leadership has been pleading with Egypt to pressure Hamas to allow Fatah delegates to leave. However, it is unlikely that Hamas will make free concessions to Fatah, especially with as many as 900 Hamas supporters still languishing in PA jails. Some of the detainees are reportedly being subjected to severe physical and psychological torture as testified by a Qaliqilya journalist who was freed from PA custody on 26 July, having spent five months in jail on charges of affiliation with Hamas.

Earlier this week, a former Hamas detainee, who had spent several months in PA jails in Hebron, was pronounced “clinically dead” at the King Hussein Medical Centre in Amman. Kamal Tiema, 45, was released from PA custody nearly two months ago after suffering a massive stroke purportedly as a result of torture.

Some Fatah officials have been defiant, warning Hamas that its “intransigence” would have serious consequences on the Hamas-Fatah dialogue. However, others questioned the wisdom of holding the sixth congress in the absence of Gaza Fatah delegates.

In addition to the Hamas factor, the success of the conference also depends on the arrival in the West Bank and participation in the conference of hundreds of Fatah delegates from the Diaspora.
So far, only one prominent Fatah leader has arrived in the West Bank for the conference. He is Abu Maher Ghneim who is often touted as a possible nominee for succeeding Mahmoud Abbas.

Thirty other delegates were preparing to leave Amman for the West Bank in the coming few days. However, it is still uncertain if Israel will allow all of them to enter the West Bank. But dozens, or even a few hundred other delegates are expected to boycott the conference or be denied entry to the West Bank by Israel.



Then there is the Qaddumi factor, which is expected to loom large during the conference.
Earlier this month, he dropped a bombshell during an impromptu press conference in Amman, saying he was in possession of an authentic document showing that Abbas and Dahlan were involved in an Israeli plot to poison the late former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Abbas and Dahlan scoffed at the revelations, accusing Qaddumi of seeking to abort the upcoming Bethlehem conference. However, the effects and aftereffects of Qaddumi’s bombshell refuse to evaporate as a number of Fatah leaders are demanding that “a serious investigation” into Qaddumi’s allegations be carried out by a “neutral and credible body”. Such an investigation per se would amount to a vote of no-confidence in Abbas who is unlikely to allow it to materialise.

According to reliable Palestinian sources, Qaddumi has voiced his willingness to mend bridges with Abbas if the PA leader agrees to sack Dahlan, dissolve the American-backed government of Salam Fayyad and halt the inquisition-like campaign against Hamas leaders and activists in the West Bank.

Such conditions are unlikely to be accepted by Abbas since doing so would seriously harm PA relations with the United States whose vital support for Abbas is directly linked with his anti-Hamas stance.


The most contentious issue in the Bethlehem conference is expected to be the moribund peace process with Israel. Fatah leaders are already castigating the PA leadership for being duped for too long by Israeli deception and prevarication while Israel devours more Palestinian land and builds more Jewish settlements on occupied territories.

Palestinian observers predict that it will be difficult for Abbas to sell the delegates, many of them veteran prisoners in Israel jails, a “moderate vision” for peace, especially in light of the aggressive extremism and sullen hostility displayed by the current Israeli government.

Observers also expect to reassert the erstwhile Palestinian national constants: a complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and a just resolution of the refugees’ plight in accordance to UN Resolution 149.

Islamophobia, the Israel lobby and the Western media

Islamophobia, the Israel lobby and the Western media


By PAUL J. BALLES

Paul J. Balles considers the roles of Israel lobby propagandists and hate-mongers in the US media, such as writer Daniel Pipes and broadcasters Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly, in promoting and irrational fear of Muslims and Arabs.

Most of us have had fears of one kind or another. Some fears are quite rational. If someone threatens you, and you have reason to believe that person will carry out his threat, your fear is rational. Not all fears are rational.

Have you ever been short of breath, shaking, nauseated and light-headed within elevators, closed rooms or crowded places? Experienced a panic attack in a high-rise building? Do you have an irrational fear of germs? Of strangers or foreigners? Of shadows? Of thunder or lightening? Of spiders? Of public speaking? Afraid of flying?

If you've experienced any of these, you're suffering from a type of irrational fear called a phobia. These are some of the most common phobias. People suffer from literally hundreds of phobias.

A relatively recent irrational phobia that hasn't even appeared on all the lists is Islamophobia – fear of Islam.

Kofi Annan told a UN conference on Islamophobia in 2004: "When the world is compelled to coin a new term to take account of increasingly widespread bigotry, that is a sad and troubling development. Such is the case with Islamophobia."

In 1996, the Runnymede Trust established the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia. The term was defined by the trust as "an outlook or world-view involving an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims, which results in practices of exclusion and discrimination".

The Runnymede report identified eight perceptions related to Islamophobia:



  1. Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.
  2. It is seen as separate and "other". It does not have values in common with other cultures, is not affected by them and does not influence them.
  3. It is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive, and sexist.
  4. It is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism and engaged in a clash of civilizations.
  5. It is seen as a political ideology, used for political or military advantage.
  6. Criticisms made of "the West" by Muslims are rejected out of hand.
  7. Hostility towards Islam is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.
  8. Anti-Muslim hostility is seen as natural and normal.

Of course, Muslims and others who have lived in Muslim countries know how absurd these perceptions are. Why, after more than a decade, do Westerners still believe these false assumptions about Islam? What are the sources of the baseless fears feeding these perceptions?

Many of the distorted impressions come from Zionist propaganda:

  • Israel’s use of words like disputed territory rather than occupied, redeeming for stealing land, terrorists rather than resistance fighters for Palestinians, anti-Semites for critics of Israel (self-hating Jews if the critics are Jewish).
  • American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) bulletins and lobbying – AIPAC’s only purpose is to ensure American support for Israel. No matter what Israel does, it cannot do any wrong.
  • American Jewish Committee (AJC) newsletters – despite efforts by Jewish organizations to stifle criticism of Israel and objections to Zionism, anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. Not all Jews are Semites. Most Arabs are.
  • ZOA - Zionist Organization of America.

Western brainwashing comes from the media:

  • Articles by writers like Daniel Pipes, (who claims an Islamist goal is to take over the United States and replace the constitution with the Koran).
  • Anti-Arab, anti-black radio broadcasts by Rush Limbaugh and Arab-hater Ann Coulter.
  • TV influence of Fox News anchors, like Bill O'Reilly, labelling Arabs as anti-Semites and terrorists.
  • Hollywood films have been vilifying Arabs for more than 50 years.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Fear always springs from ignorance. “

Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. For more information, see http://www.pballes.com.


Posted by JNOUBIYEH at 5:09 PM 0 comments

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Canadian newspaper coverage of Israel/Palestine


Link


By Karin Brothers
July 30, 2009

Attempts to challenge the biased coverage of Canadian newspapers on the Israel/Palestine issue through the Ontario Press Council (OPC) have been disappointing.

Public understanding about the realities facing Palestinians is stymied by mainstream media coverage that ranges from biased, to deceptive, to outright fabrication.

Academics such as Prof. Greg Philo of the University of Glasgow, co-author of Bad News from Israel and Prof. Sut Jally, Prof. of Communications at the University of Massachusetts, have studied the strong connection between media coverage of the Israel/Palestine issue and misunderstanding of this issue among the public.

Philo, who studied BBC TV viewers, found that more people thought that Palestinians occupy Israel than the reverse; the more they watched TV, the more confused they tended to be.

Jally noted in his film Peace Propaganda and the Promised Land that from 58 to 63% of his students typically thought that Palestinians occupy Israel; only 22% knew that it is Israel that occupies Palestinian territory!

Both professors noted the lack of context to news from Israel/Palestine as well as consistent bias against Palestinians.

The web site If Americans Knew documents this bias in their own study of The New York Times newsprint coverage, a methodology that the Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation (NECEF) duplicated in its own study of Canadian print media.

The OPC is supposed to monitor the accuracy of its members' news coverage if readers file formal complaints against a given newspaper.

Canadian national newspapers, The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star are OPC members; the National Post is not.

But official complaints presented to the OPC in 2006 and 2007 produced disappointing results.

Two complaints about a 2006 Globe and Mail editorial were taken up by the OPC. Despite their conclusions that acknowledged the editorial's misrepresentation, the OPC "dismissed with reservations" the two complaints.

A complaint against The Toronto Star was presented in May, 2007 after The Star reported that Hamas, rather than Israel, had broken a ceasefire.

Excerpts of the official complaint to the OPC on May 1, 2007 follow:

" ... The breaking of the ceasefire: Despite the Israeli killing of over 150 Palestinians since the November 2006 ceasefire, it was still considered in effect on April 22nd, when the Israeli military killed nine Palestinians including two children.

“Israeli forces also wounded 18 civilians including two children, a journalist, four women and four international human rights activists. The Star ran no headlines about Israel's shocking breaches, which caused Hamas to declare that the ceasefire was off (and shoot off three of their crude, homemade rockets toward Israel; one of which ended up in the sea and two in empty fields). The Foreign Editor surmised that there may have been "no space" to cover this story.

“While the killing of nine Palestinians and the wounding of 18 didn't make The Star's headlines, the firing off of harmless Palestinian rockets did, with the April 27th headline "Israel losing patience after Palestinian militants fire rockets from Gaza".

“On Friday, April 27th, Israeli forces shot a number of peace activists at a nonviolent protest at the illegal Israeli wall at Bil'in, including the Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maquire. This went unreported in The Star.

“While the shooting of the Irish Nobel Peace Laureate didn't make The Star's news, unverifiable advice to Hamas did on Monday, April 30th; The Star ran the headline about a web posting addressed to Hamas: "Israel: Al Qaeda urges Hamas to fight with "bombs and fire":" continuing: "An Al Qaeda recruiter called on the Islamist Hamas group to fight Israel .... days after militants launched rockets into southern Israel breaking a ceasefire... in a video posted on a web site used by militant groups.

“Reality checks:

1) The Star cannot verify that "Al Qaeda" posted this on a commonly-used web site: anyone could have,

2) Hamas is not a "group", it is a political party that was elected with the support of both Christian and Muslim communities and includes at least one Christian legislator,

3) This is The Star's second reporting of the Palestinian response to the Sunday slaughter,

4) Hamas did not break the ceasefire; they declared it ended after Israel's slaughter of the nine Palestinians. Israel broke the ceasefire by killing nine people, and

5) Why is anyone's advice to Hamas (or to anyone else) news? The Star's purpose seems to have been to try to create a connection in people's minds between Al Qaeda and Hamas.

“The Star's responses to my complaints have been unacceptable. When their switchboard gave me the "Foreign Editor's desk", I was immediately hung up on with the words: ‘We can't please everyone.’

“The actual foreign editor I spoke to later surmised that there might have been a lack of space for more important articles, which is doubtful, as situations less dire and less important received generous coverage.

“The Star’s public editor had no response other than to ask me to write a letter to the editor, which was not published.

I believe that The Star's selective reporting, along with misrepresenting facts, is damaging enough to the public understanding of a critically significant situation to warrant a formal complaint.”

The Foreign editor of the Toronto Star, Martin Regg Cohen later responded to the complaint when the OPC forwarded it to the Star.

While claiming that The Star's coverage was "fair and balanced," he implicitly acknowledged the misrepresentation of the period documented, but defended it on the grounds that other papers such as the Globe and Mail were also negligent; The Star's long-term record was better than that lapse; other news from the Middle East also requires space; and that the complainant underrated the danger to Israelis of the Palestinians' Kassam rockets.

When the long term coverage of the Star was then challenged as the main problem, Cohen "advised" the OPC that it "does not plan to respond to the [charge of the long term coverage]!”

The OPC declined to adjudicate that complaint on the grounds that "there are so many incidents in Israel and the Palestinian territories (note: not "occupied") that it would be almost impossible to reach a rational decision on whether the Star is providing irresponsible and intentionally deceptive coverage on the Palestinian situation. There may be a variety of reasons why the newspaper did not cover a particular incident but it would be presumptuous of the Council to try to rule that such incidents are a reflection of a deliberate policy.”

Despite pointing out that the OPC's constitution instructs it to deal with the conduct of the press, not the intent of the of conduct, the OPC confirmed in a March 2008 meeting that they would refuse to pursue any complaints about this coverage.

The result of the OPC's refusal to challenge misstatements of fact, non-coverage of significant events, stories of highly questionable provenance, and extreme bias in covering the Israeli/ Palestine issue, leads to the conclusion that the OPC will do whatever it can to avoid embarrassing a member paper.

It is thus apparent that there is virtually no accountability in our newspapers' coverage of the Israeli/ Palestine issue.

Karin Brothers is a freelance writer based in Toronto.

Source

Gilad Atzmon introducing Ziauddin Sardar - The Erasure of Islam

Gilad on July 31st, 2009 at 13:49:

@uprooted palestinian -

We are on the same page, the next Q is how to bring others to read that very page..

Sukran a million for the reference on your site…

Reply - Quote


Originally Posted By uprooted palestinian

Referance on my site is a step on the long way to let them read and understand that very page,
Million welcome..

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Erasure of Islam

By Gilad Atzmon • Jul 31st, 2009 at 12:11 • Category: Analysis, Culture and Heritage, Gilad Atzmon, Gilad's Choice, Newswire, Opinions and Letters, Our Authors, Religion, Zionism


After a decade of elaboration on Jewish ideology and identity I came to a conclusion that Jewish identity, politics and ideology can be grasped as different manifestations of ‘self love’. The Zionist loves himself being strong and crude (Sabra), the Jewish leftist loves himself being a ‘humanist’ and ‘tolerant’, yet, for some reason, he prefers to operate in ‘Jews only’ cells (Bund, Jews for Palestine, Jews for Peace, Jews against Zionism, etc.). It took me some years to gather that Jewish ideology, politics and identity is not just surrender to self-affection, it is also driven by resentment towards others. It would be correct to argue for instance that the Zionist mantra could be interpreted as “love yourself as much as you hate your neighbour”. Other forms of Jewish ideologies may be slightly lighter on hatred but, generally speaking, they all resemble one another in their positive tendency towards segregation.


Enlightenment that is there to praise ‘freedom’, ‘liberty’, ‘reason’ and ‘liberal thought’ is not very different from Jewish ideology once put into political practice. In reality, it is just another form of a self-centred supremacist method of separation between the ‘chosen’ (labelled as progressive) and the ‘inferior’ (labelled as reactionary).


Enlightenment is anthropocentric in its essence, for it regards humans as the ‘universe’s most important entity’. Those who follow enlightenment ideology are basically different breeds of self -lovers. We are basically referring to humans who love themselves for being rational and liberated. We are referring to humans who are convinced that they are at the core of the essence of our cosmos. Bearing that in mind, we may be entitled to regard the last two centuries of Western conflicts as futile battles between different kinds of ‘self lovers’.


Enlightenment was there to invent a dichotomy between the progressive (the enlightened) and the reactionary (the other). Enlightenment thinkers “worked hard to provide a rational justification for colonisation.” Since it is the spirit of Enlightenment that happens to be the driving force behind neo-conservative thought, dogmatic interventionalist secularism and ruthless technology, it would be intelligible to argue that if we want to save ourselves and our planet, we better be courageous enough to face our Enlightenment driven self-affectionate ideologies. It is the Enlightened who puts humanity at risk whether it is nuking other humans, whether it is carpet bombardment, whether it is mass killing in the name of collectivisation, whether it is our ecological disaster and global warming or even killing in the name of democracy or liberation. For some devastating reason, it is always an Enlightened ideology behind all these well orchestrated genocides and human-inflicted tsunamis.


The following article by Ziauddin Sardar is a philosophical attempt to identify the conflict between Islam and lethal Western ideology. Sardar is a leading British intellectual. Some regard him also as a leading Muslim critic of Islam. In the following paper Sardar successfully challenges the notion of the clash of civilizations from the perspective of the other. GA


What Enlightenment?

It may have been good for Europe, but for the rest of the world in general, and Islam in particular, the Enlightenment was a disaster. Despite their stand for freedom and liberty, reason and liberal thought, Enlightenment thinkers saw the non-West as irrational and inferior, morally decadent and fit only for colonisation. This legacy is not only with us but is positively thriving in the guise of neo-conservative thought, dogmatic secularism and scientism.


For key Enlightenment thinkers, such as Voltaire, de Montesquieu, Volney and Pascal, Europe occupied a special place: it was to be the destiny of humanity, construed as Western man. They worked hard to provide a rational justification for colonisation. They rationalised the medieval images, anxieties and fear of Islam and its Prophet – so evident in the sections devoted to Muhammad in Pascal’s Pensées – and presented them as evidence for the innate inferiority of Islam. They deliberately suppressed the Muslim contribution to science and learning and severed all intellectual links between Islam and Europe. Their Eurocentricism thus further locked Islam into an exclusive confrontation with the West, which continues to this day.


For thirteen and fourteenth century thinkers of Christendom, such as Roger Bacon and John Wycliff, Islam was simply a pagan, enemy Empire. To their credit, the Enlightenment thinkers saw Islam as a civilisation. But it was a civilisation grounded in a backward society and inferior political institutions and religious beliefs at its core. In Mohammad and Fanaticism, Voltaire denounced Islam in harsh and hostile terms. Later, in the Essai sur les moeurs, he was a little more restrained, but the judgement did not change. He still saw Islam as an embodiment of fanaticism, anti-humanism, irrationalism, and the violent will to power. But despite this, Muslims did have a few positive aspects. They could move towards greater tolerance thanks largely to Islam’s loose sexual standards, which made it akin to a natural religion. While Jesus was good, Christians had become intolerant. But Muslims were tolerant despite their evil Prophet. Positive development in one case, negative in another. This is how Voltaire reconciled his deep seated prejudices about Islam and Muslims with reason.


For all their sabre-rattling against religion, Enlightenment thinkers saw Christianity as the standard of civilised behaviour and norm of all religion. In effect, they further naturalised the natural law theory of medieval Christianity which had always been vague in the sense of never precisely defined, yet also highly specific in being a universalising of Christian norms as the standard for human behaviour. Islam remained the antithesis to Christianity. Thus, in Les Ruines, Volney announced that “Mohammad succeeded in building a political and theological empire at the expense of those of Moses and Jesus’ vicars.” Or, in the scene where he has an imam speaking about “the law of Mohammad”, “God has established Mohammad as his minister on earth; he has handed over the world to him to subdue with the sabre those who refuse to believe in his law.” Volney described Muhammad as the “apostle of a merciful God who preaches nothing but murder and carnage,” the spirit of intolerance and exclusiveness that “shocks every notion of justice”. While Christianity might be irrational, Volney declared that it was gentle and compassionate but Islam had a contempt for science – a truly bizarre claim since Volney himself, and all his fellow Enlightenment thinkers, learnt most of their science and philosophy from such names as al-Frabi, Ibn Sina and ibn Rushd.


While the Enlightenment may have been concerned with reason, its champions were not too worried about truth when it came to Islam. They not only shamelessly plagiarised philosophy, science and learning from Islam, but the very hallmark of Enlightenment, liberal humanism, has its origins in Islam. It is based on the adab movement of classical Islam, which was concerned with the etiquette of being human. Islam developed a sophisticated system of teaching law and humanism that involved not just institutions such as the university, with its faculties of law, theology, medicine and natural philosophy, but also an elaborate method of instruction including work-study courses, a curriculum that included grammar, rhetoric, poetry, history, medicine, and moral philosophy, and mechanisms for the formation of a humanist culture such as academic associations, literary circles, clubs and other coteries that sustain intellectuals and the literati. The adab literature and institutions were, in fact, what enlightenment was all about in Islam. One cannot have a revolt on behalf of reason in Islam because reason is central to its worldview: reason is the other side of revelation and the Qur’an presents both as “signs of God”. A Muslim society cannot function without either. While Muslims can hardly be exonerated for the decline of reason and learning in Muslim civilisation, it was colonialism that as deliberate policy destroyed adab culture in Muslim societies.


But Enlightenment Europe swallowed the adab system, including textbooks, en masse. However, since it was a product of an inferior culture and civilisation its origins had to be shrouded. Thus, classical Arabic had to be replaced with another classical language, Latin. This was followed by a systematic expunging of all traces of the influence of Islamic thought on Europe. From the days of Voltaire right up to 1980, thanks largely to the efforts of Enlightenment scholars, it was a general western axiom that Islam had produced nothing of worth in philosophy, science and learning.


The Enlightenment legacy that Islam and Europe have nothing in common, that Islam is only a darker shadow of the West, that liberal secularism is the destiny of all human cultures, is much in evidence in our newspapers and television, literature and scholarship, as well as in our politics and foreign policies. It is the bedrock of Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History” hypothesis, Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilisation” thesis, and the neo-conservative “Project for the New American Century”. Voltaire’s Bastards, to use the title of John Ralston Saul’s brilliant 1992 book, are busy rationalizing torture, military interventions, and western supremacy, and demonising Islam and Muslims. The Enlightenment may have been big on reason but it was, as Saul shows so convincingly, bereft of both meaning and morality.


Forgive me if I don’t stand up and salute the Enlightenment.


Ziauddin Sardar is the author of Balti Britain: A Journey Through the British Asian Experience (Granta)


Source: http://www.philosophypress.co.uk/?p=288


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Gilad Atzmon is a jazz musician, composer, producer and writer.

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United for freedom and universal justice

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Omar Barghouti and Sid Shniad, The Electronic Intifada, 31 July 2009

For several decades, the world has watched in frustration as the crisis in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories deepened. Confused by the details of what is alleged to be a highly complicated situation and loathe to be attacked for criticizing Israel lest they be vilified as anti-Semites, people who would otherwise be expected to play an active role in striving for an end to Israel's occupation, colonization and system of discrimination, in accordance with international law have chosen to focus their attention elsewhere.

In recent years, however, this state of affairs has begun to change dramatically as a growing number of activists and intellectuals -- including members of the Jewish communities in the West, who could once be counted upon by Israel to be either unquestioning supporters or silent in their acquiescence to its actions -- have begun to find their voice on this matter.

The fact that Israel's decades-old oppression of the indigenous people of Palestine defies the fundamental notions of justice and respect of the rule of law has informed this gradual transformation of people of conscience advocating social justice everywhere. The most recent scenes of Israeli jets and heavy armor mounting savage attacks on defenseless civilian populations first in Lebanon in 2006, and then in Gaza at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 -- compounded a growing perception among international civil society of Israel as a pariah state that is flouting international law and basic human rights with utter impunity.

There is a growing understanding of the fundamental issues that drive the crisis: the occupation of Palestinian land by Zionist Jews claiming a right to do so by virtue of an alleged historical-Biblical entitlement; the expulsion of masses of Palestinians from their homeland -- first by Zionist militias and, later, the state of Israel -- at the time of Israel's establishment; the legalized and institutionalized discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel; and the ongoing military occupation and colonization of Palestinian and other Arab lands conquered in 1967.

As a result, a long-overdue determination has arisen in the ranks of civil society around the world, a determination to take concrete steps to generate tactics and strategies to bring a satisfactory resolution to this ongoing crisis by addressing its root causes. One of the most important manifestations of this new determination is the rise of an international movement endorsing the nonviolent, morally-consistent, universalist strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel to compel it to comply with international law and human rights principles. The struggle against apartheid in South Africa was one of the key inspirations behind this fast spreading movement.

As expected, the prevailing Zionist response to this development has been a vitriolic denunciation of the individuals and organizations involved and a sustained attempt to bully them into silence. This usually involves an ascription of anti-Semitism as the motive for such action. In April of this year, however, when Independent Jewish Voices Canada joined the growing number of organizations endorsing BDS to promote a just peace based on international law, the Zionist establishment chose to ignore the development -- presumably because the fact that it was Jews endorsing the strategy strongly challenged the false notion of a monolithic Jewish voice in support of Zionism and Israel. From the Zionists' perspective, engaging IJV on the subject would focus increased attention on the underlying substantive issues and neutralize their most powerful tools: brow beating and intimidation.

Unfortunately for Israel's unquestioning supporters, however, the support for BDS continues to grow. It has recently surfaced that, consistent with its long tradition of engaging on matters of social justice, the United Church of Canada (UCC) plans to debate its own version of a BDS resolution at its national conference, set for Kelowna, British Columbia in August. As expected, Zionist organizations have aimed their big guns at the UCC, attributing all sorts of vile motives to it for even considering such a resolution. We appeal to the UCC to ignore the thinly-veiled smear campaign and to join this global movement in the pursuit of sustainable peace based on freedom, equality and universal justice.

Omar Barghouti is a founding member of the >Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). Sid Shniad is a co-chair of Independent Jewish Voices Canada.

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Report: Lieberman Accuses Chavez of Ties to ‘Radical Islamists’


Report: Lieberman Accuses Chavez of Ties to ‘Radical Islamists’

31/07/2009 Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of cooperating with "radical branches" of Islam and of anti-Semitism, according to media reports Thursday in Colombia.

"I will not speak about intelligence specifics, but we have enough to be concerned about the collaboration between radical branches of Islam and Hugo Chavez," Lieberman told the El Tiempo newspaper at the conclusion of a 10-day South American visit which included stops in Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Colombia.

Lieberman also accused Chavez of anti-Semitism for his comments on Saturday in which he warned that the United States was converting Washington's key ally Colombia into the "Israel of Latin America" by setting up a military platform there from which to "attack" its neighbors.

Such allegations, Lieberman warned, represent "xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Israelism. It is not a new phenomenon, and it is regrettable that it exists in the 21st century after the Holocaust: terrorism against the people of Israel, and the use of such anti-Semitic language."

He also told El Espectador newspaper that the resumption of diplomatic ties - severed by Caracas in January after Israel's Gaza Strip aggression - rested in part on a Chavez apology. Lieberman said he saw "no reason" to communicate with Chavez while he maintains "relations with Iran, with Hezbollah and with Hamas."

Media institutes condemn re-arrest of journalist Sabri in W. Bank

Media institutes condemn re-arrest of journalist Sabri in W. Bank

[ 31/07/2009 - 04:00 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian Institute for communication and development has strongly condemned Thursday the PA security forces for arresting Palestinian journalist Mustafa Sabri three days after he was released from jail.

After three days from his release from the jails of the infamous PA preventive security apparatus in Qalqilia city, Sabri was kidnapped again but this time at the hands of the PA military intelligence for unknown reasons, the institution revealed in a statement it issued Thursday and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC.

"It is clear that they (PA security apparatuses in the West Bank) are practicing the abhorred rotating door policy that had prevailed in the past but the Palestinian people thought it had gone forever", the institution pointed out.

According to the institution, the re-arrest of Sabri constitutes strong blow to the Palestinian Judiciary system in the West Bank and belies claims of the illegitimate prime minister there Salam Fayyad that his "government" was implementing orders of the courts.

The high court had ordered the immediate release of Sabri 45 days ago, but the PA security forces refused to carry out the order and retained the man in jail before their comrades in the PA military intelligence arbitrarily rounded him again a couple of days ago.

Furthermore, the institution explained that "It is either the PA security forces in the West Bank take the law into their hand and pay no attention to the orders of the courts, or they practice the rotating door policy based on political instructions which the institution strongly rejects".

In this concern, the institution called on Fayyad to immediately release all detained journalists, on top of them Sabri, to stop arresting media men, and not to violate freedom of media and freedom of journalists anymore.

The institute also urged the family of Sabri to go to the high court again to get a new order to release their son, stressing that PA jails should be cleared of political detainees and prisoners of conscience, describing the journalists as "horsemen of the fourth authority".

NAZI" Analogy OK To Use

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After all the recent attempts and calls of Anti-Semitism for using the word "Nazi" in any analogy of the Zionist Rogue State's actions, today we see the "Nazi Analogy" AND "Zionist Blood Libel", both on the new "Anti-Semitism" list, being used by non-other than Jews in Israel. So, will they be arrested for Anti-Semitism should this legislation come into effect? Report:
Israel riots expose tension between orthodox Jews, state

Latest Jerusalem riots show rare unity among Jewish extremists in battling 'Nazi' Israeli authorities.

"Zionist blood libel!" blare hundreds of posters pasted on walls lining the streets of Jerusalem's reclusive Jewish ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood of Mea Shearim.

Prominent rabbis called for a mass mobilisation in protest at what they consider to be profaning the Sabbath, and for three straight weekends police clashed with thousands of stone- and nappy-throwing Haredim in and around Mea Shearim, bastion of the ultra-Orthodox community.
Sorry, the image of Israeli police being pelted with dirty diapers/Nappys is priceless, more:

"The Zionist-Hadassah-police axis of evil is in the process of vilifying us. An organised blood libel!" screams one of the hundreds of posters on the walls known as Pashkevils which present rabbinical decisions to the faithful.

The Orthodox Jewish community makes up about one third of Jerusalem's entire 750,000-strong population.

"The police and the media are using the same methods used by the Nazis to show that the Haredim are violent and evil," according to Yosef, a 26-year-old Haredi who refused to give his full name. more here

Friday, 31 July 2009

Divisions within Fatah looming as members in Rafah refuse to attend congress


Divisions within Fatah looming as members in Rafah refuse to attend congress

[ 31/07/2009 - 03:54 PM ]

RAFAH, (PIC)-- As Fatah faction prepares to hold its sixth congress after 20 years of unexplained delays, members of Fatah faction in Rafah district announced they will boycott the conference due to "grave" legal violations in scrutinizing and selecting members.

Munther Al-Bardaweel of Fatah in Rafah district explained in a written statement received by the PIC that the boycott decision was taken after an emergency meeting was held in Rafah to discuss the legal violations and the wrong mechanism in nominating candidates for the faction's central committee and for the revolutionary council.

He said that his group decided to write an a letter to the higher frameworks in the Movement to clarify a number of points regarding membership of the conference, describing the amendments on the membership as "irrational" and unacceptable.

Moreover, Bardaweel pointed out that those amendments were done behind the back of Fatah members in the districts, adding that many of qualified and honorable leaders in Fatah faction in Rafah were ignored and marginalized.

MP Ashraf Juma'a of Fatah faction in Rafah said that the decision was necessary to voice out our stand regarding this issue, stressing that at the end of the day the sixth congress won't succeed without the participation of Fatah members from the Gaza Strip.

Furthermore, while Fatah leaders from Gaza such as Dr. Nabil Shaath insist that the Fatah conference should not be held without the attendance of representatives from the Gaza Strip, a current in the Fatah movement want to go ahead with the conference regardless.

As blockade bites deep, more Gaza children must work

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Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 31 July 2009




Fourteen-year-old Jihad sells chewing gum to drivers in Gaza City. (Rami Almeghari)

Zaher and Jihad are two boys living in Gaza. Every day they get up early and rush to Gaza City's streets so that they might find something to sell to those walking or driving by. Their fathers have been unemployed since the the intifada -- the uprising against Israeli occupation -- began in 2000 and they, along with thousands of others, were no longer allowed to work inside Israel. Conditions worsened after Israel imposed a siege on the territory in June 2007. The boys work in order to help their families.

Zaher, 17, from Gaza City's al-Tuffah neighborhood explains that, "I get up at 6am every day, then I go to a local farmer, where I pick up mint leaves. I carry the leaves and start my working day as you see me now." He buys small bunches of mint leaves for one shekel ($0.25). Working sunset to sunrise, Zaher earns about 90 shekels a day.

Zaher added, "I am forced to sell these leaves here. Otherwise my family cannot live. There are 10 members in my family, including me, my brothers and parents. No one helps us as my father has been without work for the past nine years. The only assistance we get is some food rations provided by UNRWA [the UN Agency for Palestine refugees] from time to time as well as some help from a generous relative."

While running among the cars in the street, Zaher explains that not everyone is supportive or generous. Stating that, "Sometimes some people, especially young ones in luxurious cars, mock us. I recall that one day while I was trying to sell mint to some young men in a car, they took the leaves from me and then drove away fast as the light turned green. When they stopped they gave me the leaves and said sarcastically 'who told you we want these leaves?'"

Standing on another corner at the al-Saraya crossing, Jihad al-Jael sells small packs of chewing gum. Jihad, 14, and his 15-year-old brother walk to the crossing every morning from the Gaza City neighborhood of al-Mujama al-Islami, which is about three kilometers away.

Jihad explains that, "I have five sisters and five brothers as my father has been without work for the past nine years. Under these harsh conditions me and my brother are forced to come here in the heart of Gaza City, in order to earn a living for hungry stomachs."

Jihad's father is not only unemployed but is also ailing. The family does not have another source of income other than the occasional food rations they receive from UNRWA.

Sadly, Jihad and Zaher are not alone. Children can be seen on Gaza City's other street corners, selling in front of stores or to passing cars. Other children sell tea, coffee or tissues at the Jundi al-Majhoul public garden in the al-Rimal district. All of them work to help their families.

Although the Palestinian Child Law of 2004 forbids children under age 15 from working, the phenomenon has become more prevalent among that age group and younger due to the harsh economic conditions in Gaza. In June, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) published a report stating that the closure of Gaza has pushed the unemployment rate to 44 percent and caused a dramatic rise in poverty. Currently, more than 70 percent of Gaza's population lives in poverty, with an income of less than $250 a month for a family of seven to nine.

A crippling Israeli blockade has hampered public life in Gaza, with 95 percent of local industries being forced to shut down, due to lack of essential raw materials and shortage of machineries. According to the ICRC, only 2,662 truckloads of goods entered Gaza from Israel in May. This represented a decrease of almost 80 percent from the 11,392 truckloads Israel allowed in during April 2007, before Hamas took over the territory amidst factional fighting with the US-supported Fatah party of West Bank Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. Israel imposed a siege on Gaza after Hamas' takeover.

Sajy al-Mughanni, communication officer for the UN children's agency (UNICEF) in Gaza, blamed Israel's 25-month siege for the growing poverty as well as the increasing number of working children in the region. He explained that, "We do have a high level of unemployment in Gaza. In terms of child labor, we don't have specific numbers. But we do use our teams to go out in the field, to do an assessment and try to intervene with the families. I can confirm to you that the phenomenon of child labor is growing. The increase of this phenomenon can be mainly attributed to the Israeli blockade."

Al-Mughanni added that, "We are coordinating with all UN agencies to provide food aid or health care to many families, in an attempt to provide relief and prevent further spread of the child labor phenomenon. However, this is not solving the problem drastically. So if we want to realize an end to such a phenomenon, the Israeli blockade should come to an end and Palestinians in Gaza should go back to their normal life, prior to the imposition of the siege."

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.

Amnesty urged to reject "tainted" funds from Leonard Cohen concert

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Open letter, PACBI, 31 July 2009


The following open letter was sent to Amnesty International USA by the The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) on 30 July 2009.

In May, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) called on singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen to heed the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel and avoid complicity with Israel's violations of international law by cancelling his planned September concert in Israel, particularly in view of Israel's war crimes in Gaza earlier this year. Sadly, according to a 28 July article in the Jerusalem Post, Amnesty International USA has agreed to cooperate with Cohen in dealing with Israel on the basis of business as usual. Amnesty International USA will serve as sponsor of a new fund that will whitewash the money raised at Cohen's concert in Israel by using it to finance programs for "peace." Being one of the world's strongest proponents of human rights and international law, you shall thus be subverting a non-violent, effective effort by Palestinian and international civil society to end Israel's violations of international law and human rights principles. We call on you to be true to your values and immediately withdraw support for Leonard Cohen's ill-conceived concert in Israel.

The Jerusalem Post report indicates that Cohen and his public relations staff, having been criticized for trying to normalize Israel's occupation and apartheid, are trying to whitewash the concert in Israel by using Amnesty International USA's good name. According to the article, "All of the net proceeds from Leonard Cohen's 24 September concert at Ramat Gan Stadium will be earmarked for a newly established fund to benefit Israeli and Palestinian organizations that are working toward conciliation," and the fund will be "sponsored by Amnesty." Curt Goering, the senior deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA, told the Jerusalem Post that, "We saw this as an exciting opportunity with potential to recognize, support and pay tribute to the Israelis and Palestinians who have been working for peace and human rights amid a difficult environment and insurmountable odds. I see our participation as complementary to what we do, even though this initiative is different from Amnesty's ongoing work."

Why we are calling on Amnesty to withdraw from the project

By supporting Cohen's concert in Israel, Amnesty International is actively undermining a particularly successful effort by Palestinian and international civil society to end Israel's occupation and other violations of international law and human rights principles. We find this position by Amnesty particularly frustrating and puzzling given your call for an arms embargo against Israel following its atrocities in Gaza earlier this year, which your organization described as constituting war crimes.

Accepting funds from the proceeds of Cohen's concert in Israel is the equivalent of Amnesty accepting funds from a concert in Sun City in apartheid South Africa. Profits earned through violations of human rights and international law are tainted and should not be accepted by any morally consistent human rights organization, particularly when this money is intended to be used to whitewash the very violations behind those profits.

Furthermore, your Israeli partners in this venture actively hinder efforts to achieve a just peace. The Peres Center for Peace, with its multi-million dollar annual budget and fifteen million dollar building, is listed incongruously by the Jerusalem Post as both a beneficiary of the fund and a member of the new fund's board of trustees. The Peres Center has been denounced by leading Palestinian civil society organizations for promoting joint Palestinian-Israeli projects that are "neither effective in bringing about reconciliation, nor desirable" and that enhance "Israeli institutional reputation and legitimacy, without restoring justice to Palestinians, in the face of continued Israeli Government violations of international law and fundamental Palestinian human rights, including breaches of the Geneva Conventions." A columnist in Israel's daily newspaper Haaretz called the Peres Center patronizing and colonial, explaining that "Efforts are being made to train the Palestinian population to accept its inferiority and prepare it to survive under the arbitrary constraints imposed by Israel, to guarantee the ethnic superiority of the Jews."

Your other indirect partner in this project, according to the Jerusalem Post, is Israel Discount Bank, a key sponsor of the Cohen concert. Who Profits, a project of Israel's Coalition of Women for Peace, reports that the Israel Discount Bank has branches in the settlements of Beitar Illit and Maale Adumim, has financed construction in the settlements of Har Homa, Beitar llit and Maale Adumim, and is a major shareholder in a factory in a settlement. Amnesty hardly needs any reminder that all Israeli colonial settlements built on occupied Palestinian territory are not only illegal under international law but are considered war crimes in the Fourth Geneva Convention. Your intention to indirectly partner with a bank that profits from the occupation and to oversee a fund that uses some of that legally and morally stained money contradicts Amnesty's founding principles and commitment to human rights.

The latest attempt by the Cohen team to find an alternative Palestinian fig leaf has also failed. The only Palestinian organization falsely reported in the Jerusalem Post article as being a partner in this project, the Palestinian Happy Child Center, has confirmed that it is not taking part. There is no Palestinian organization participating in this whitewash.

Background on the boycott

With the international community failing to take action to stop Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people, and inspired by the international boycott movement that helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, Palestinian civil society has launched calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, including an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. Endorsed by nearly sixty Palestinian cultural and civil society organizations and inspired by the South African anti-apartheid boycotts, PACBI calls on "the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel's occupation, colonization and system of apartheid." These Palestinian calls have inspired a growing international boycott movement which gained added momentum following Israel's assault on Gaza last winter.

In April, the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) and over 100 Israelis called on Leonard Cohen to cancel his planned September concert in Israel. Protests against Cohen's plans to play in Israel were then held at Cohen's concerts in New York, Boston, Ottawa and Belfast, among other cities. Feeling the rising heat of the protests, Cohen tried to schedule a small concert in Ramallah to "balance" his concert in Israel. However, Palestinians rejected the Ramallah concert. The Palestinian group that was supposed to host the Ramallah event cancelled its invitation to Cohen after realizing the adverse effects this would have on the boycott movement, which is widely supported by Palestinians. Reflecting the general mood in Palestinian society against any claimed symmetry between the occupying power and the people under occupation, a 12 July PACBI statement explained, "Ramallah will not receive Cohen as long as he is intent on whitewashing Israel's colonial apartheid regime by performing in Israel. PACBI has always rejected any attempt to 'balance' concerts or other artistic events in Israel -- conscious acts of complicity in Israel's violation of international law and human rights -- with token events in the occupied Palestinian territory."

For all the above reasons, we strongly urge you to distance Amnesty International from this discredited project and its tainted money.

Signed:

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East, American Jews for a Just Peace (US), Boycott from Within (Israel), British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Jews Against the Occupation-NYC, New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel (NYCBI), Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK), US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel.

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