Saturday 5 December 2009

The Choice for Israel – Civil war for peace or the end of Zionism?


By Alan Hart* | Sabbah Report |

I have been writing about what must happen in America if there is to be more than a snowball's chance in hell of peace on the basis of an acceptable amount of justice for the Palestinians. (The main point I've been making is that unless and until enough Americans are made aware of the truth of history, no American president will have the space to break the Zionist lobby's stranglehold on Congress). In this article, with thanks to an analysis by Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell, I'm looking at what must happen in Israel if the countdown to catastrophe is to be stopped.

Polish-born Sternhell is one of the world's leading experts on fascism. To my knowledge he has never said so, but I would be surprised if he didn't have moments when he asked himself if he was witnessing the emergence of it, fascism, in Israel. In his work the Founding Myths of Israel, he wrote that the conquest of 1967 had "a strong flavour of imperial expansionism".
Under the headline An end to vagueness, he wrote in his latest piece for Ha'aretz that Israel's political establishment is approaching a point where it will no longer be possible to evade decisions that will be among the most crucial in the state's history.

"It is a mistake to play around with the idea that such decisions can be made without an open confrontation with the settlers. Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Bark will have to decide what they prefer; to be remembered as having capitulated to the settlers or as having taken a courageous leap forward, as befits important national leaders." (My emphasis added).
He went on to say that the rift on the right (essentially between Likudniks who can tolerate Netanyahu's temporary and partial freeze and those who can't) is genuine and can be exploited to reorganize the political system. All on what Sternhell calls by obvious implication the insane right should join the National Union party, with a "conscious choice" to continue the occupation without any kind of time limit.
Those on what he calls the "ordinary, sane right" should have no problem joining forces with Kadima because the difference between them "is mainly psychological and laden with personal grudges, but not more than that."
And what of the left? It should start a social-democratic party similar to those which exist in Europe.
Sternhell then asks this question: Would the expanded center and left have a majority in Israel that would support it in a conscious choice of peace, relative security and economic prosperity in exchange for the territories occupied in 1967 and still retained?
Sternhell believes that it's reasonable to assume that the answer would be "Yes" for a number of reasons, one of them being that "not everyone is willing to sacrifice Israel's future on the altar of the settlers' interests."
So far, so good. Perhaps. But can it be reasonably assumed that any Israeli leader would be prepared, come the crunch, to openly confront the settlers and IDF elements that would side and fight with them?
The doubts in my own mind on this matter were planted by Shimon Peres in a one-to-one conversation with me in 1980. At the time he was the leader of the main opposition Labour Party, hoping to become prime minister after Israel's next election and deny Menachem Begin a second term in office. (An outcome that President Carter among others was praying for). At the time I was in the process of becoming the linkman in a secret, exploratory dialogue between Peres and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.
As I reveal in my book, Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, Peres said to me early in our conversation that he feared it was "already too late" for peace on terms Arafat could accept. I asked him why and this was his reply:
"Every day that passes sees new bricks on new settlements. Begin knows exactly what he's doing. He's creating the conditions for a Jewish civil war. He knows that no Israeli leader is going down in history as the one who gave the order to the Jewish army to shoot Jews out of occupation for peace with the Palestinians". Pause. "I'm not."
When Peres made that statement to me there were only about 70,000 illegal Jewish settlers in residence on the occupied West Bank. Today, including occupied Arab East Jerusalem, that number is 500,000 and rising on a daily basis. (In recent days Netanyahu has assured the settlers that when the temporary freeze ends, it will be back to building and continuing colonization as usual).
If Peres was right in his logic, it's more than reasonable to assume that there is today no prospect of any Israeli leader taking on the settlers. But is the situation really as bleak as that?
There are some Israeli commentators who think it isn't. They have suggested that in the event of prospects for a real peace, many of the settlers would agree to quit the West Bank and be re-located in exchange for generous financial compensation. My own guess is that half their present number and perhaps even more would. But that would still leave a very significant number of armed bigots, some of them in my view deluded to the point of clinical madness, who would fight to the death.
As I write, I am reminded of what Eygpt's President Sadat said to me a few months before he was assassinated. "There will have to be a Jewish civil war before there can be peace."
My own conclusion is that any Israeli leader even thinking about taking on the settlers, and probably triggering a Jewish civil war, would need to be empowered by a referendum in which all Israelis were asked one question: In exchange for a real and lasting peace with the Arab and wider Muslim world, are you in favour of Israel withdrawing to its borders as they were on 4 June 1967, with Jerusalem an open, undivided city and the capital of two states?"
If a majority of Israelis answered "Yes", the leader could take on the settlers.
* Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent who covered wars and conflicts wherever they were taking place in the world and specialized in the Middle East. Author of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews. He blogs on and tweets on



December 5, 2009 at 7:27 pm (Gaza, Genocide, Israel, Palestine, War Crimes)
‘Tis the Season to make war on Gaza’….

Almost an exact year since the start of the ‘Chanukah Masacre’, it looks like it did then.

The Palestinian Information Centre just issued the following:

Rafah under attack

GAZA, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and Israeli gunboats fired at Rafah homes and Palestinian fishing boats south of the Gaza Strip on Saturday, local sources reported.
They said that IOF navy boats opened machinegun fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the Rafah coast but no casualties or material damage were suffered.

The sources added that IOF soldiers also opened their machineguns at Palestinian homes east of Rafah city as warplanes and reconnaissance planes continued to hover over the Strip all daylong

Hezbollah manifesto and Hassan Nasrallah press conference


Dear friends,

I have received the full translation of the recently adopted Hezbollah Manifesto and a transcript of the subsequent press conference by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. These are long documents and rather than posting them here I have made them available for download at this location:

Both documents are included in the zipped file.

These are important documents for the future of the Middle-East, in particular at a time when the Obama Administration is executing a major military escalation in Afghanistan and Pakistan and when the USraelian Empire is poised to strike at Iran. I encourage you to read these documents.

The Saker
Posted by VINEYARDSAKER: at 11:26 AM 

United States of America, Chief Kingpin in the Afghanistan Heroin Trade?

Posted by realistic bird

by Richard Clark, source

What we have is essentially a drug war in Afghanistan, and US forces are simply helping one side against the other.
Unbeknownst to American taxpayers, drug lords collaborate with the U.S. and Canadian officers on a daily basis.

This collaboration and alliance was forged by American forces during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and has endured and grown ever since. The drug lords have been empowered through U.S. money and arms to consolidate their drug business at the expense of drug-dealing rivals in other tribes, forcing some of them into alliance with the Taliban.

In short, the war in Afghanistan is largely, if not entirely, between armies run by heroin merchants, some aligned with the Americans, others aligned with the Taliban. Even worse, the Taliban appear to be gaining the upper hand in this Mafiosa-style gang war, the origins of which are directly rooted in U.S. policy.
U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol, while their rivals are placed on American hit lists.

If you’re looking for the chief kingpin in the Afghanistan heroin trade, it’s the United States. The American mission has devolved to a Mafiosi-style arrangement that poisons every military and political alliance entered into by the U.S. and its puppet government in Kabul. It is a gangster occupation, in which U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol, while their rivals are placed on American hit lists, marked for death or capture. As a result, Afghanistan has been transformed into an opium plantation that supplies 90 percent of the world’s heroin.

An article in the current (December) issue of Harper’s magazine explores the inner workings of the drug-infested U.S. occupation and it’s near-total dependence on alliances forged with players in the heroin trade. The story centers on the town of Spin Boldak, on the southeastern border with Pakistan, gateway to the opium fields of Kandahar and Helmand provinces. Here the chief Afghan drug lord is also the head of the border patrol and the local militia. The author is an undercover U.S.-based journalist who was befriended by the drug lord’s top operatives and then met with the U.S. and Canadian military officers who collaborate with the drug dealer on a daily basis.

Check out the following illustrative excerpts from the article by Canadian journalist Matthieu Aikins, writing in the December 2009 issue of Harper’s.
On the latest United Nations Department of Safety and Security map, which color-codes Afghanistan to denote levels of risk for U.N. operations, we were in a tiny island of “high” orange surrounded by a wide sea of “extreme” red. The orange island is Spin Boldak and the road to Kandahar city; the red sea stretches across most of the provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul, and Uruzgan, and farther to the southeast.
This schema is illustrative of four striking facts.

First and foremost, it depicts how a ferocious and increasingly sophisticated insurgency—the “neo-Taliban,” as many now call them—has spread across the predominantly Pashtun south and southeast of Afghanistan.
Second, that red area we were in also corresponds with the indefinite deployment of 20,000 additional U.S. soldiers, sent here during the months leading up to the eighth anniversary of the 2001 invasion, in October. Intended to bolster the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a patchwork of different nations, the increase was a belated recognition of just how badly the country has fared after years of neglect and mismanagement.

Third, all the red regions on the UNDSS map serve as a rough approximation of the areas with opium under cultivation, representing a billion-dollar industry whose tentacles grip both the neo-Taliban and the fledgling Afghan state, from foot soldier to government minister.

And last, our little island of “high” orange in the sea of “extreme” red is Colonel Razik’s private domain.
Together, these four facts—the intensifying insurgency, the massive deployment of international troops and assistance, the opium, and Razik’s relatively secure territory—go a long way toward explaining why an uneducated thirty-year-old warlord remains firmly entrenched as an ISAF ally and drug trafficker at a crucial border crossing like Spin Boldak.

This Afghan-Pakistani border region has long been awash in opium, which is grown in Afghanistan and then generally smuggled west to the Balkans, via Iran and Turkey, or shipped out of the port of Karachi to the Gulf states and Africa. The trade boomed during the Eighties, when both the CIA and the Pakistani government were happy to turn a blind eye to the drug operations of the mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan, since it helped fund the war against the invading Soviet Union. After the Soviets left, the drugs remained, and since then opium production in Afghanistan has increased fourteen-fold, from around 500 tons in the mid-1980s to 6,900 tons this year. Recent counternarcotics efforts have dramatically reduced cultivation in the north and east of the country, and so both cultivation and trafficking have shifted to the south, where security is most tenuous.

Like much of Afghan life, drug operations tend to be organized by tribal and family affiliations.

Razik turned to me suddenly. “Do you know what I do?” he asked. “I am a smuggler.” He said it proudly—it is, after all, the natural heritage of his tribe, which has straddled the border since the British drew it in 1893. “I take cars and things to Pakistan.”

Didn’t he have problems with the Pakistani police? I asked. Razik beamed. “No problems! I just give them money.

Razik’s family’s fortunes soared when Esmat Muslim, a warlord from the same Adozai branch of the Achakzai, came to prominence in the region. A former military officer who had been trained by the Russians, Esmat became a mujahideen commander during the early 1980s and organized a force drawn mainly from his tribe; Razik’s uncle Mansour became one of his principal lieutenants. Notorious for his treachery and cruelty, Esmat shattered the delicate peace that had existed between the Achakzai and Noorzai smuggling clans, and he eventually sided with the Communist government in return for control over the border trade. In the end, Esmat was driven out of Spin Boldak in 1988 by a combined mujahideen offensive.


That summer saw the return of widespread opium cultivation in the south of Afghanistan, after the Taliban had banned it the year before. With stocks running low, the price paid to farmers for opium shot up to $250 per kilo at harvest-time, compared with $28 in 2000. The nascent central government had little influence; every warlord was running his own small fiefdom, and the economic incentives were clear. Fayda Mohammad, tasked with policing one of the world’s largest drug-smuggling routes, soon found his job impossible to do with any honor. He and his men would stop trucks full of opium or hashish only to find them under the protection of prominent officials. On one occasion, he claimed, he was forced into releasing a truck under direct pressure from a powerful minister in Kabul. Another driver carried a letter from Bacha Shirzai, Governor Shirzai’s brother.


The smuggling of goods may be the biggest economic sector in Afghanistan, larger even than the opium trade, according to World Bank reports.

As a result, places like Spin Boldak have become markets for all sorts of goods to be smuggled back into Pakistan. Each day, new shipping containers arrived, and Samiullah and I would often go to watch them being cracked open and unloaded. The haul was not just vehicles. It was all the cast-off crud of the First World, anything conceivably worth being shipped here: used microwave ovens, guitars, DVD players, bicycles, car stereos, TV sets, Beta camcorders, keyboards, propane stoves, motorized wheelchairs, generators, winches, children’s toys, clothing. I watched one bent, beturbaned old man hauling a tangled bundle of PlayStation controllers slung over his shoulder like a bushel of thatching.

Maintaining a sort of order in this chaos was Razik’s Border Police, who protected the trade and in turn fed off it. The Border Police were so involved in smuggling that the duties of several commanders who frequented the showroom, Razik included, seemed to consist entirely of brokering goods. When I asked them why they were never in uniform, they told me they suited up only for major engagements. Their days were spent sizing up cars, gossiping on the showroom’s veranda over cups of chai, and sealing deals.
Of course, some Border Police officers were engaged in the serious business of securing Spin Boldak. The most active I met was Commander Hajji Janan, who wore a U.S. Army combat uniform with a captain’s insignia and a 1st Infantry Division patch. Janan had been a police officer in the Taliban regime before he sensed the changing winds of fortune, shaved his beard, and joined his tribesmen in the new border force.
Razik pulls in between $5 million and $6 million per month in revenues, money he has invested in properties in Kabul and Kandahar and also abroad, in Dubai and Tajikistan. The racket itself is run directly by a select group of his commanders, who facilitate drug shipments and collect payment from the smugglers. Lalai showed me a list with their names—Janan was among them—and the names of the five biggest drug dealers in Spin Boldak. He said that Razik’s men also had imported shipping containers full of acetic anhydride, a chemical used in heroin manufacturing, from China.

On condition of anonymity, two Kandahari politicians—Achakzai tribal elders with clean reputations and who were widely respected—made similar assertions to me about Razik’s involvement in drug smuggling, his private prisons, his vast wealth, and his entanglement in a network of corrupt high officials and major drug smugglers. An official at the Kandahar office of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, who asked not to be named, agreed that Razik was operating his own prisons and conducting extrajudicial executions.

I spoke to one of Razik’s current commanders, who was initially extremely reluctant and agreed to meet only on the basis of absolute anonymity—Razik would kill him if he knew he was talking, he said. Still, he came forward because he felt that the corruption had swelled to monstrous proportions, and he was anguished about the worsening security situation that was costing the lives of more and more of his men. He said that even as the commander of a company-sized force in a volatile border zone, he was powerless to stop the convoys of drug smugglers that ran through his area. Not only were they better armed than he and his men; some smugglers had shown him letters of protection signed by Razik himself. Many of these convoys, the commander said, were in fact made up of green Border Police pickup trucks headed for the heroin laboratories in Helmand Province’s Taliban-controlled areas. Others were unmarked Land Cruisers headed south into Baluchistan.

What followed was a debacle. The Noorzais, fearing their tribal enemies, rose up and joined forces with the Taliban. Razik and his men responded to the unexpected resistance with brutality. “They were killing women and children,” said Ustaz Abdul Halim, a Noorzai and former mujahideen commander who lives in Kandahar city. “After that, everyone was with the Taliban.”

Capitalizing on the tribal dynamics, the Taliban installed a Noorzai, Mullah Rauf Lang, as their commander in Panjwaii District. Later that fall, newly arrived Canadian troops in the area would launch Operation Medusa, a large-scale assault that killed hundreds of fighters and scores of civilians in weeks of close combat and withering bombardments. Today, the area remains one of the most violent in Kandahar Province—the Canadians suffer many of their casualties there and have recently abandoned two untenable forward operating bases in the area—and anti-government sentiments still run high.

A grim irony of the rising pro-Taliban sentiments in the south is that the United States and its allies often returned to power the same forces responsible for the worst period in southerners’ memory—the post–Soviet “mujahideen nights.” In the case of Gul Agha Shirzai (now governor of Nangarhar but still a major force in Kandahar), the same man occupied the exact same position; in the case of Razik, nephew of the notorious Mansour, it is the restoration of an heir. By installing these characters and then protecting them by force of arms, the ISAF (the International Security Assistance Force, a patchwork of different nations, that was bolstered by 20,000 additional U.S. soldiers sent to Afghanistan during the months leading up to the eighth anniversary of the 2001 invasion) has come to be associated, in the minds of many Afghans, with their criminality and abuses. “We’re doing the Taliban’s work for them,” said one international official with years of experience in counternarcotics here.

In the initial scramble to invade Afghanistan in 2001, there was a certain pragmatism to enlisting the mujahideen, who represented the best means of taking over the country in the absence of a substantial U.S. ground presence. But those troops were diverted to Iraq, and the ISAF was cobbled together slowly, arriving too late and with too few soldiers to upend the warlords’ rule. Canadian forces didn’t deploy to Kandahar until 2006, and even then their contingent of 2,500 was stretched far too thin to control one of the most critical provinces in Afghanistan.

“We were facing the worst-case scenario in 2006—a conventional takeover by Taliban forces,” said Brigadier General Jonathan Vance, the Canadian commander of ISAF forces in Kandahar Province. He was proud that his country’s small contingent had been able to hold the insurgency more or less at bay. But he admitted that the life of the average Kandahari had become less secure as the Taliban began to tighten their grip on Kandahar city. “I don’t have the capacity to make sure someone doesn’t rip their guts out at night.”
Military officers like General Vance find themselves in a peculiar fix when confronted with characters like Abdul Razik. These entrenched figures hold posts or wear uniforms whose legitimacy must be respected. But many of those who maintain their power through corruption and coercion were originally installed by the U.S. military—a fact not lost on Afghans, who tend to have longer memories than Westerners here on nine- or twelve-month rotations.

I asked General Vance if he was aware that Razik was directly involved in the drug trade. “Yes,” he said. “We are completely aware that there are a number of illicit activities being run out of that border station.” He had few illusions about Razik, with whom he interacts directly. “He runs effective security ops that are designed to make sure that the business end of his life runs smoothly, and there is a collateral effect on public order,” he told me. “Ideally, it should be the other way around. The tragedy of Kandahar is that it’s hard to find that paragon of civic virtue.”

Honest people in Afghanistan don’t often occupy the halls of power, and they don’t usually have the resources to be the first in line for big development contracts. Should one’s security restrictions allow one to stroll the streets, however, one will find them (the honest people) there, pushing carts of vegetables, positively begging strangers to join them for a cup of tea that might cost them half their day’s salary. If one looks a little harder, one will find them in crumbling little homes, so unlike the palatial “poppy palaces” of Kabul’s new elite, dwellings such as Fayda Mohammad’s in Spin Boldak, or Hajji Ahmad Shah’s in Carte Nau Market, a poor area on the edge of town: places of exile, to which honest men have been marginalized either by force or by choice. In other cases—such as that of Malalai Kakar, Kandahar’s top female police officer, who was shot in September of last year by unknown assailants, or that of Alim Hanif, chief judge of the new Central Narcotics Tribunals Appeals Court, killed outside his house in Kabul by masked men—the honest Afghans will be found in the cemetery.

As for Razik, he remains alive and very much the master of the borderlands. Occasionally, outside forces will annoy him: in July, CNPA teams, working with DEA mentors, raided two caches of hashish in Razik’s territory, arresting one of his commanders in the process. But Razik is hardly at odds with his government. After the first round of national elections closed on August 20, his men forcibly took Spin Boldak’s ballot boxes into his house for “safekeeping” overnight. It was just one of the many reports of electoral fraud in Kandahar Province, which polled overwhelmingly for President Karzai, according to the independent Election Commision of Afghanistan. The count from Spin Boldak’s polling stations: Karzai, 8,341; his main challenger, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, 4.

Report: 14000 Palestinian olive trees subjected to Israeli aggression in 2009


Posted by realistic bird |

December 4, 2009, source

A Palestinian research centre, specialised in monitoring Israeli violations, revealed that the Israeli occupation authorities destroyed 14000 olive trees in the Palestinian territories during 2009. Such assaults included the uprooting of thousands of olive trees, for the sake of expanding the Israeli settlements, and the burning and cutting of thousands more by settlers.
In a report issued following the completion of the olive harvest in the occupied West Bank, the Land Research Centre said that the occupation authorities burned and uprooted about 1455 olive trees during the harvest season this year, and washed away around 7000 trees since the beginning of the year for the sake of settlement expansion, while settlers attacked more than 5500 other trees.

Israeli attacks were concentrated in the provinces in the north of the West Bank. In Nablus, the occupation attacked about 6000 olive trees; in Salfit nearly 5720 trees were uprooted; in Qalqilya around 400 trees were burned or uprooted; in Hebron, nearly 1600 trees were attacked; and in Bethlehem, the occupation pulled out about 30 trees.

The centre said that the occupation authorities and settlers not only attacked the Blessed Tree, but they also prevented Palestinian farmers, who are the land’s owners, from accessing the trees to harvest the olives, as the occupation authorities closed the gates; built the apartheid wall to prevent farmers from reaching their land that is located behind the wall; and physically abuses Palestinian farmers.

The centre also mentioned that, in the beginning of the olive harvest season in 2009, leaflets were distributed in a number of West Bank settlements calling for ruining the harvest of olives in the lands near settlements, and to be ready to prevent Palestinians from harvesting the olives. The leaflets also called for confronting foreign peace activists and preventing them from helping Palestinians as well as from taking photos; the leaflets encouraged Israelis to steal peace activists’ cameras and to steal olives before Palestinian farmers could reap them.

The centre clarified that the settlers’ behaviour is based on the Zionist literature that is behind this destructive war. Rabbi Murdakhai Elyaho sanctioned Israelis to steal Palestinian olives. He said, “It is permissible to harvest olives off Palestinian farms, because they grow these olives on our land.” He added that Rabbi Yusef Melmid, who is a senior religious authority, gave a fatwa legalising the seize of Palestinian crops on the grounds that Jews are permitted to seize Palestinian properties.

The Land Research Centre considered the Israeli settlers’ aggression on Palestinian olive trees to be part of the Israeli ethnic-cleansing policies that seek to eradicate Palestinians and everything that has to do with them and their existence, including their trees.

And on his part, the head of the Land Research Centre in Hebron, Jamal Al Omla, said that this report exposes the Israeli violations and the lies of Benjamin Netanyahu and his government regarding the settlement freeze.
Al Omla added that the settlers’ presence in the occupied territories is, in and of itself, an ongoing violation, the magnitude and the negative effect of which is proof that Israel adopts a de facto policy to expel Palestinians from their land and replace them with Israeli settlers.

He called on the international community to impose sanctions on Israel to force it to abide by international resolutions. He also said that the cosmetic US and European support to the cause of establishing an independent Palestinian state is no more than a way to give Israelis more time to impose facts on the ground in their favour.

Report: Israel, Hamas Reject Mediator's Proposals

04/12/2009 A senior Hamas source told the London-based Arabic-language al-Hayat newspaper in an interview published Friday morning that the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian organization on a prisoner exchange deal are facing three major obstacles: Israel's refusal to release 50 detainees out of 450 demanded by Hamas, its insistence on deporting 130 detainees, and its refusal to include Israeli Arabs in the deal.

According to the source, the German mediator has been visiting the Gaza Strip and the occupied territories, relaying different off ers to both sides in a bid to overcome the difficulties.

One of the options raised, the source said, was to deport some of the 50 detainees Israeli refuses to release abroad, deport others to the Gaza Strip and leave the rest in jail. According to the source, the talks are progressing but no one can predict their results.
Saudi newspaper al-Watan published a similar report, quoting sources monitoring the negotiations as saying that Hamas rejected the offer it received from Israel through the German mediator.
According to the Saudi report, the dispute revolves around Israel's refusal to release 15 detainees, headed by former Tanzim leader in the West Bank Marwan Barghouti, Secretary-General of the Popular Resistance for the Liberation of Palestine Ahmed Saadat, and 10 leaders of Hamas' military wing, including Abdullah Barghouti and Ibrahim Hamed. "This is a red line," one of the sources said. "There is no chance the deal will go through without their release."
According to the reports, Israel has also turned down some of the demands made by Hamas. A Hamas source told the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper that the German mediator informed the organization heads that Israel is adamant in its refusal to accept some of their demands. "This response by Israel could complicate some of the issues related to the negotiations," he said.

by Omar Abdellat
According to the report, Hamas may delay the deal's completion following Israel's response, relayed by the mediator, that it refuses to release some of the prisoners on Hamas' list and to accept some of the special arrangements demanded by the Palestinian organization as part of the deal.
Ziad al-Thatha, Deputy Prime Minister of the Hamas government, said there was "good progress" in the negotiations and expressed hope that hundreds of Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails would soon be reunited with their families.
Al-Thatha refused to disclose further information about the current status of negotiations, which he said were continuing despite "difficulties." He added that representatives of the armed groups holding Shalit were conducting the negotiations with German and Egyptian mediators.
"Our government is supporting these groups," he said. "We all want to see a prisoner exchange agreement as soon as possible so our prisoners can be freed." Meanwhile, Hamas denied a newspaper report that claimed Shalit had been transferred from the Gaza Strip to Egypt in preparation for a prisoner exchange with Israel.

"This report is untrue and does not even deserve any attention," said Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon.

Hamdan, who is one of the top Hamas political leaders, said that secret negotiations to reach an agreement on a prisoner swap were continuing. However, he would not say whether progress had been made, citing that Hamas would not make any public statements until a deal is finalized.



I am not so optimistic, because Shlit Deal could be a turning point, a great success for Hamas, especially, if Marwan Barhouti and Ahmad Saadat are freed. Barghouti: Shalit's Capture Achieved What No Dialogue Could

It would Isolate the Traitors of Ramalla, and provide a way for putting both Fath and PFLP on the right track, and would pave the way for Palestinian reconciliation.

Therefore, The Deal is a nightmare for Usrael, Pharoah, PA, and Hamas "Lovers"


Is Hamas About to be Fooled, Again, by the Pharaoh? I am Almost Certain, the Answer is Yes!

[How can the Hamas fools fall for this? Egyptian "intelligence" is inseparable from the Mossad. Might as well give him directly to the Mossad and say that, "Hamas trusts the goodwill of the Mossad!" What fools!] , and his parents will be allowed to visit him. He will be returned to Israel after an agreement is reached regarding the list of Hamas detainees to be released that was previously submitted to the cabinet.

The European source said Shalit's transfer to Egypt was the first stage of the Egyptian-brokered agreement hammered out between Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian factions,
in coordination with the U.S. and with Syria's support.

The deal would put the Gaza Strip under the leadership of a joint committee subordinate to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas......

Israel this week freed Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker and Hamas member Aziz Dweik after three years in prison.[I am sure that this was a part of the deal]....."

# posted by Tony : 8:00 PM

Failure of Reconciliation shaked the Donkeys s head, I mean I mean the shitbag above his shoulder, and he did it TONY dropped his Bombshell (Fart)

As The Stomach Turns......Is Hamas Still Keen on Rehabilitating the Traitor in the Name of "Reconciliation?"

He was right from the very begening, longtime ago he did it.

"COMMENT: Instead of burying the collaborationist PA and starting a new chapter based on resistance and liberation, Hamas throws the PA a lifeline. Disgusting!

I will write a longer comment about all these "peace" and "reconciliation" moves breaking out all over, and what could be behind them.

The more things change, the more they stay the same: Hamas wants recognition and a place at the Table and the
Pharaoh will deliver a domesticated Hamas.

"CAIRO, (PIC)-- Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah, among other Palestinian factions meeting in Cairo have agreed Thursday to form an interim national unity government that would manage the Palestinian affairs t ill next PA election is held

# posted by Tony : 2:58 AM

Finally read the following Quotes


By By Amira Hass

"Hamas in the Gaza Strip wears three hats: It is the ruling party, a popular semi-underground movement and a military organization. Some believed (LIKE THE GREAT ANAL-YSIST AT PP) its role as the ruling party would contradict its self-image as a resistance movement opposing the Israeli occupation, leading one role or the other to be weakened or renounced. But so far, the facts indicate otherwise. The lab conditions of an isolated and impoverished strip of land allow both kinds of discourse to exist peaceably, side-by-side. "

"Politically, Hamas accepts the borders of June 4, 1967, for determining the boundaries of a Palestinian state. The public is told two versions of what will happen next. In one, the state will be achieved only through a genuine armed struggle (`not like that of the PLO`) and greater Palestine will be returned to its legal owners at the right time. The other, shorter version skips over the 1967 stage and gets directly to the future. "

"As a religious movement, Hamas is in no rush; the future belongs to Islam, even if only the great-grandchildren, or their grandchildren, will see it. This is a very real future, the evidence of which can be found in the Koran. Every believer can cite the relevant proofs and knows that the hour will come when the Arab states and Muslim nations are able to overcome the pro-American governments."

"As a consolidated political movement, Hamas has done a good job of predicting what its rivals and enemies will do. (HAMAS IS

"Hamas leaders expected Fatah to do all it could to sabotage the 2006 election and prepared accordingly. Since the Oslo Accords, Hamas has crafted its policy on the assumption that Israel would do everything to foil the implementation of a two-state solution along the 1967 borders. The history of settlement expansion, the splitting up of the West Bank and the isolation of Gaza since 1993 show that they were right."

PSL surprised at absence of Arab reaction to Israeli calls for banning Adhan


[ 05/12/2009 - 04:10 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestine Scholars League (PSL) has expressed surprise at the Arab and Islamic silence towards the Israeli calls for banning the Adhan (call for prayers) in Jerusalem and Palestinian land occupied in 1948 at the pretext that it "disturbs" the public.

The PSL in a statement on Saturday said that the Arab and Islamic silence had "apparently encouraged the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) to go ahead in its judaization schemes of occupied Jerusalem".

The League also urged all those concerned with stability in the region to curb the IOA and its violations of the Aqsa Mosque, demolition and displacement of Jerusalemites.

Denunciation is no longer valid to deter the IOA, it said, demanding practical steps that stipulates among other things coordinating Arab and Islamic positions and unifying efforts to protect occupied Jerusalem and its holy shrines and inhabitants

PALESTINE: Israel and the U.S. Empire


Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire provides a sharp analysis of historic and current events in the struggle for Palestine—from the division of the Middle East by Western powers and the Zionist settler movement, to the founding of Israel and its regional role as a watchdog for U.S. interests, to present-day conflicts and the prospects for a just resolution.
The book’s narrative is firmly rooted in the politics of Palestinian liberation. Here is a necessary introduction to the heroic efforts of the Palestinian people to achieve justice in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

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Testimonials About the Book
“Becker gives us the most sharply focused and penetrating analysis we have of the real dynamics at work in the continuing persecution of the Palestinian people. The ‘sacred covenant’ of the League of Nations to create a Palestinian state long ago succumbed to the imperial interests of the few who have determined U.S. and Zionist policies toward the domination and exploitation of the larger Middle East and beyond. A consequence has been decades of intolerable violence, cruelty, suffering and falsehood inflicted on Palestine, all failing to crush the indomitable spirit of its people. Becker calls for international unity among all people to end this tragic injustice and the threat of imperialist power it poses to the world at large. Hear his call and join the struggle.”
Ramsey Clark,
former U.S. attorney general, Former litigation attorney for the Palestine Liberation Organization

“Richard Becker foregrounds what other students of Palestine/Israel usually set aside: the integral role played by U.S. imperialism with the Zionist state as an essential partner. His approach has the great merit of connecting the Palestinian struggle with a universal perspective, which gives the people dignity and strength. The political implications are great, and equally essential to the freeing of Palestine and the building of an effective anti-war movement, each of which must be seen as crucial to the other.”
Joel Kovel, author, “Overcoming Zionism”
“Finally, a breath of fresh air, and analysis, on the question of Palestine. Richard Becker’s new insightful book, Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire, is an extremely well written and comprehensive analysis of the issues, dynamics and history of Palestine. At a time when liberal and progressive political narratives have lost their bearings on how to understand and analyze the Palestinian issue, Becker offers a refreshing historical contextualization that will allow readers to comprehensively fathom the current abject state of U.S.-Israeli policies and why Palestinians continue to struggle under the yoke of a profound occupation.
“The chapters in Becker’s book unfold in a way that will allow the reader to understand the macro-political development from an originally indigenously  populated Palestine to the current colonized status that we see today. The role of U.S. imperial strategies in Palestine and the Arab World are well articulated, and this will help debunk so many myths about the role of the Israeli lobby and the “wag the dog” syndrome that often pervades our discourse. This is a must read for anyone interested in the U.S. geo-political project and in understanding Palestine. It should be read by academics, activists, and most of all, be read by policy makers who continue to labor under simplistic notions of how to create peace in the Arab World. Bravo to Richard Becker for his incisive and skilled analysis—it is long overdue.”
Dr. Jess Ghannam, professor,
University of California, San Francisco

Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire is required reading for anyone interested in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Providing deep analysis, replete with annotation and documentation, Becker offers a first-rate and very readable examination of the history and long-term imperialist program at the heart of the conflict. By laying out the facts so cogently, it becomes as well a call to all of us to become part of the crucial humanitarian movement to save Palestine and the Palestinians.”
Susan Curtiss, professor
University of California, Los Angeles

“For over six decades the American people have been inundated with a one-sided, fictional pro-Israel narrative that negates the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian for human dignity and freedom. Richard Becker’s book provides with factual clarity the injustices the Palestinians have courageously resisted, and why we must end the last vestiges of colonialism in the 21st century.”
Imam Mahdi Bray, executive director,
Muslim American Society Freedom


Richard Becker
Richard Becker is embarking on a nationwide speaking tour to promote Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire.
Orange County Forum
& Book Signing
Sat, Dec. 12 at 2:00pm
Unitarian Universalist Church
of Anaheim
511 S. Harbor Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92805
Info: 213-251-1025,
More events are currently being scheduled for cities and towns across the country and will be posted soon.
Events have already taken place in over 20 cities, including: San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Riverside, California; Boston, Worcester and Wellesley, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; New Paltz, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Chicago, Illinois; Yellow Springs, Columbus and Toledo, Ohio; Ann Arbor, Detroit and Dearborn, Michigan. (See below for a partial archive of past events.)
Read Palestine book tour travels across New England and the East Coast published on
If you would like to organize an event with the author in your city or town, please email or call 415-821-6171.

December 5, 2009 Posted by Elias

"Each and every one of them can come as tourists"


Nowhere else but in Israel!

CNN, here

" ... On a 2006 trip to visit his sister and ailing mother, Israeli authorities informed Hujaij that his residency permit in Jerusalem had expired.
"They called me and said 'oh, you are not living in Jerusalem you are living outside the country,'" Hujaij recounts. "They said you have to give up your ID and leave within 30 days.'" ..... Hujaij faced a difficult choice, return to his wife in the U.S. or stay in Jerusalem to fight in court to win back his residency.
Thousands of Palestinian natives from East Jerusalem face similar scenarios.
The Israeli Ministry of Interior revoked the residency permits of 4,577 East Jerusalemites in 2008. This marks a dramatic change in policy. From 1967 to 2007, with the exception of 2002 during which no statistics were available, Israel revoked 8,558 Jerusalem identity cards.
"Revocation of residence has reached frightening proportions," wrote Dalia Kerstein, of the Hakomed Center for the Defense of the Individual, an Israeli human rights organization which obtained these statistics through Israel's Freedom of Information Law. "The Interior Ministry campaign in 2008 is only a part of a general policy whose aim is to limit the Palestinian population and preserve a Jewish majority in Jerusalem,...the Palestinians are natives of this city, not residents who have recently arrived.".....
Meir Sheetrit, the former Israeli interior minister, insists Palestinians who lose their residency permits are always welcome to return to visit their families in Jerusalem by applying for 3-month tourist visas. "Each and every one of them can come as tourists," he says. "We are a free country."

Posted by G, Z, or B at 11:43 AM

Hosam society: Conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Etzion inhumane


[ 05/12/2009 - 04:02 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Hosam society for detainees and ex-detainees said Saturday that the incarceration conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Etzion prison are extremely inhumane because of the prison administration’s repressive practices against them.

The society explained in a statement that Etzion administration does not provide prisoners with adequate food or allow them to bathe especially those placed in isolation, which led to the outbreak of skin diseases among them.

It added that the prisoners are deprived of sleep and going to bathrooms as well as they are often physically assaulted and exposed to psychological pressure through demanding them to collaborate with Israel in exchange for improving their imprisonment conditions.

In another related context, specialist in prisoners’ affairs Abdelnasser Farwana stated Saturday that any negotiations which do not give long-serving prisoners freedom are meaningless and any swap deal excluding them will lose its luster.

Farwana underlined that those long-serving prisoners have been in Israeli jails before the signing of Oslo agreements and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and they number 320 detainees.

He added that those prisoners suffered much more than others, where the shortest period some of them served until now was 16 years and the longest was 32 years, noting that they suffer from deteriorating health conditions as a result of the long years of captivity and their old ages.

The specialist stressed that the Palestinian people look forward to an honorable prisoner swap deal that is able to break the Israeli standards and overrun Oslo mistakes and gaps and lead to the release of all long-serving prisoners without conditions or discrimination.

Brother of prisoner appeals for ending suffering of his sister in Israeli jails

[ 05/12/2009 - 09:41 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- The brother of female detainee Somoud Karajeh appealed to all organizations concerned with the issue of prisoners to urgently intervene and pressure the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) to end the psychological suffering his sister is exposed to in Israeli jails.

Hasan Karajeh, the brother of the prisoner, said that his 21-year-old sister was detained in October 2009 and was transferred to Hasharon prison recently after a long journey of interrogation and moving from one jail to another.

He added that his sister was exposed during investigation to many psychological pressures such as detaining her in cold cells, with no heavy clothes, which are full of moisture and bugs, and transferring her from one investigation center to another.

Karajeh also said that his sister is not allowed to receive any piece of clothes from her family or any side and until this moment she has not changed her clothes since she was detained and have nothing to protect herself against extreme cold, noting that his family sought the help of the Red Cross, but to no avail.

In another context, the Israeli Haaretz newspaper quoted Israeli security and political circles as saying that the prisoner swap deal with Hamas would not bring any change regarding the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.

The newspaper added that the US and Arab countries pressure Mahmoud Abbas to extend his term of office until the coming election to prevent the fall of the West Bank in the hands of Hamas following the completion of the swap deal.

It pointed to Israel's fears that the Palestinian political landscape may change because, according to Palestinian law, Hamas speaker Aziz Dweik would become the president in case Abbas resigned.

The newspaper noted that the Israeli security and political circles believe that Abbas would not leave the political arena for Hamas and would not resign, as he alleged, next month.

IOF soldiers arrest Palestinian, settlers attack farmers


[ 05/12/2009 - 08:40 AM ]

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested a Palestinian young man in Beit Ummar, north of Al-Khalil, in a pre-dawn raid on Saturday, local sources told the PIC.

They said that the IOF troops detained Thaer Abu Ayyash, 20, after breaking into and ransacking his family home at 2 am Saturday, recalling that the soldiers had rounded up his brother Mohammed on Friday after wreaking havoc in the house and tearing copies of the Holy Quran. They also arrested five other youths in the same village on Friday, the locals said.

In the Old City of Al-Khalil, the IOF soldiers searched the house of Mohammed Al-Muhtaseb for hours but no arrests were made.

Witnesses reported that a Palestinian young man called Thaer Al-Ja'bari was injured when the IOF soldiers assaulted him in Al-Khalil city.

Meanwhile, fanatic Jews threw stones at a Palestinian bus driver near Sha'fat refugee camp in occupied Jerusalem on Friday.

Five Palestinians were wounded in Assira Al-Qabalia village, south of Nablus city, when Jewish settlers and IOF soldiers attacked them on Friday.

Locals said that more than 30 settlers wearing masks attacked the village escorted by ten IOF armed vehicles and beat up farmers who were tending to their lands.

They said that IOF soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets and teargas canisters at the farmers while the settlers used batons to assault the farmers.

The settlers tried to occupy a home in the village but the citizens confronted them.

EAPPI: No water for the neighbours

December 6, 2009

Water comparisons
PHOTO: Shabtai Gold/IRIN (left)  PHOTO: Angela Godfrey-Goldstein (right)

by Patrick Franks and Miranda RosouxEcumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel -  3 December 2009
Rows of neat suburban houses stand on the parched, barren hillside. A water tower looms over them, irrigating lush greenery in the gardens. But outside this West Bank settlement’s perimeter fence sits the tiny Bedouin community of Umm Al Kher, whose residents are desperate for water.
Here in the South Hebron Hills, there has been scarce rainfall for many months. Grey rock and dry, rugged earth spread off in every direction. But locals who met observers from the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel said the effects of the recent drought are exacerbating a man-made water crisis.
The community is not connected to any water supply network and the Israeli army will not issue permits to dig wells. The community is forced to buy tanked water from Mekorot, the Israeli national water company, which charges 5 shekels (around $1.30) per cubic meter. That cost prohibits the shepherds of Umm Al Kher from irrigating crops. Umm Al Kher’s only other water supply is a pipe no bigger than a garden hose that trails across from the pump in the settlement.
“Sometimes they turn the water off for days at a time,” one resident of Umm Al Kher told Miranda Rosoux, an Ecumenical Accompanier from Britain. “We have enough water for drinking and washing but no water for agriculture.”
Ecumenical Accompaniers, who are sent by the World Council of Churches to provide protective presence and human rights monitoring throughout the West Bank, regularly visit the villages of the South Hebron hills. These isolated communities struggle with the combined challenges of land confiscation and violence by Israeli settlers on the one hand and movement and building restrictions imposed by the Israeli military on the other.
Amnesty International recently completed an investigation into Israel’s water policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It revealed a host of measures that prevent Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza from obtaining adequate water. Demolitions of storage facilities and denial of access to aquifers, along with bans on digging wells, mean that up to 200,000 Palestinians in rural communities have no access to running water at all.
Israeli settlers, meanwhile, face no such challenges. With their intensive irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools, they consume on average around 300 litres each per day. Average Palestinian consumption is around a quarter of that, and well short of the 100 litres minimum recommended by the World Health Organization. In some cases Palestinians survive on as little as 20 litres a day, usually brought in by tanker. For communities that rely on agriculture for a living, the lack of water is critical.

No water for farms, no passage for shepherds

These problems are exacerbating the impact of a long-running drought. Bedouins coping with dry spells in the past would have moved around in search of good pasture. But these days, much of the best grazing land is off limits, confiscated by the Israeli settlements that are spreading inexorably across the landscape.
Palestinian shepherds are tied down by movement restrictions imposed by the Israeli army and the threat of violence from Israeli settlers which bars them from grazing in certain areas. Armed youths from the settlement regularly threaten the village itself. Recently, they broke through the barrier fence to steal the Bedouins’ few scrawny chickens. There is also frequent abuse and stone throwing.
Salim, a shepherd from Umm Al Kher, says that complaining about water problems ignores the root cause. In order to improve the water situation, Umm Al Kher needs to build pipes, but the village is in an area where the Israeli authorities refuse to grant building permits to Palestinians.
As recently as October, the Israeli authorities told international non-governmental development organizations that they are breaking the law if they build in the village. The Oslo Accords of 1994 placed the village in “Area C,” meaning it is under full Israeli military and civilian control. The Israeli authorities do not grant permits to Palestinians in Area C, so although the residents have papers proving they own the land, they cannot build on it.
The frustration this creates is palpable within the village. The residents live underneath electricity wires that run from the settlement to a nearby chicken factory also belonging to the settlers. But Umm Al Kher’s residents are not connected to the electricity network. And even though they have papers proving they own this patch of land, every structure the Bedouins have built here since 1967 has a demolition order hanging over it, including the tents. Several buildings have already been destroyed – including a toilet block.
Eid, the son of a village elder, was defiant. “Every time they destroy our buildings, we will build them again. This is our land,” he said.
His determination does not hide the fact that Umm Al Kher is in a precarious spot. Winter rains may make these hills green pastures for a few months, but the long term future of Bedouin communities like Umm Al Kher hangs in the balance.
Patrick Franks and Miranda Rosoux are members of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel.
See Amnesty Report “Thirsting for Justice”, October 2009

Palestinians wounded in IOF quelling of Bilin march


[ 05/12/2009 - 08:07 AM ]

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- A Palestinian youth was hit with a bullet while many others suffered breathing problems when Israeli occupation forces (IOF) used rubber coated bullets and teargas to disperse the weekly peaceful anti-wall march in Bilin village, Ramallah district, on Friday.

Local sources said that a 20-year-old young man was hit with a bullet in his pelvis during the IOF violent quelling of the march while tens were treated for breathing difficulty.

They added that a group of foreign solidarity activists took part in the event during which they raised Palestinian flags and slogans denouncing the Israeli occupation's settlement policy and its attacks on Jerusalemite homes.

French solidarity activists and a delegation of the industrial workers of the world participated in the march that also called for releasing all Palestinian detainees.

Demonstrators marched in the village streets chanting national unity slogans and calling for resisting occupation.

The IOF soldiers fired at the marchers when they approached the separation wall



By Larry Derfner
The Jerusalem Post
December 5, 2009

Father Samuel Aghoyan, a senior Armenian Orthodox cleric in Jerusalem's Old City, says he's been spat at by young haredi and national Orthodox Jews "about 15 to 20 times" in the past decade. The last time it happened, he said, was earlier this month. "I was walking back from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and I saw this boy in a yarmulke and ritual fringes coming back from the Western Wall, and he spat at me two or three times."

Wearing a dark-blue robe, sitting in St. James's Church, the main Armenian church in the Old City, Aghoyan said, "Every single priest in this church has been spat on. It happens day and night."
Father Athanasius, a Texas-born Franciscan monk who heads the Christian Information Center inside the Jaffa Gate, said he's been spat at by haredi and national Orthodox Jews "about 15 times in the last six months" ~ not only in the Old City, but also on Rehov Agron near the Franciscan friary. "One time a bunch of kids spat at me, another time a little girl spat at me," said the brown-robed monk near the Jaffa Gate

Conspicuous targets. "Every Christian cleric who's been here for a while, and who dresses in robes in public, has a story to tell about being spat at," says Father Athanasius, a Franciscan monk. Photo: Sarah Levin
"All 15 monks at our friary have been spat at," he said. "Every Christian cleric in the Old City who's been here for awhile, who dresses in robes in public, has a story to tell about being spat at. The more you get around, the more it happens."

A nun in her 60s who's lived in an east Jerusalem convent for decades says she was spat at for the first time by a haredi man on Rehov Agron about 25 years ago. "As I was walking past, he spat on the ground right next to my shoes and he gave me a look of contempt," said the black-robed nun, sitting inside the convent. "It took me a moment, but then I understood."
Since then, the nun, who didn't want to be identified, recalls being spat at three different times by young national Orthodox Jews on Jaffa Road, three different times by haredi youth near Mea She'arim and once by a young Jewish woman from her second-story window in the Old City's Jewish Quarter.

But the spitting incidents weren't the worst, she said ~ the worst was the time she was walking down Jaffa Road and a group of middle-aged haredi men coming her way pointed wordlessly to the curb, motioning her to move off the sidewalk to let them pass, which she did.
"That made me terribly sad," said the nun, speaking in ulpan-trained Hebrew. Taking personal responsibility for the history of Christian anti-Semitism, she said that in her native European country, such behavior "was the kind of thing that they ~ no, that we used to do to Jews."
News stories about young Jewish bigots in the Old City spitting on Christian clergy ~ who make conspicuous targets in their long dark robes and crucifix symbols around their necks ~ surface in the media every few years or so. It's natural, then, to conclude that such incidents are rare, but in fact they are habitual.
Anti-ChristianOrthodox Jews,
overwhelmingly boys and young men,
have been spitting with regularity
on priests and nuns in the Old City
for about 20 years,
and the problem is only getting worse.
My impression is that Christian clergymen are being spat at in the Old City virtually every day. This has been constantly increasing over the last decade," said Daniel Rossing. An observant, kippa-wearing Jew, Rossing heads the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations and was liaison to Israel's Christian communities for the Ministry of Religious Affairs in the '70s and '80s.
For Christian clergy in the Old City, being spat at by Jewish fanatics "is a part of life," said the American Jewish Committee's Rabbi David Rosen,Israel's most prominent Jewish interfaith activist.
"I hate to say it, but we've grown accustomed to this. Jewish religious fanatics spitting at Christian priests and nuns has become a tradition," said Roman Catholic Father Massimo Pazzini, sitting inside the Church of the Flagellation on the Via Dolorosa.
These are the very opposite of isolated incidents. Father Athanasius of the Christian Information Center called them a "phenomenon." George Hintlian, the unofficial spokesman for the local Armenian community and former secretary of the Armenian Patriarchate, said it was "like a campaign."
Christians in Israel are a small, weak community known for "turning the other cheek," so these Jewish xenophobes feel free to spit on them; they don't spit on Muslims in the Old City because they're afraid to, the clerics noted.
The only Israeli authority who has shown any serious concern over this matter, the one high official whom Christian and Jewish interfaith activists credit for stepping into the fray, is Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger.
Rabbi Metzger on the Pope's left during the Papal visit last spring, 2009.
On November 11, Metzger addressed a letter to the "rabbis of the Jewish Quarter," writing that he had "heard a grave rumor about yeshiva students offending heaven…[by] spitting on Christian clergy who walk about the Old City of Jerusalem." Such attackers, he added, are almost tantamount to rodfim, or persecutors, which is one of the worst class of offenders in Jewish law. They violate the injunction to follow the "pathways of peace," Metzger wrote, and are liable to provoke anti-Semitism overseas.
"I thus issue the fervent call to root out this evil affliction from our midst, and the sooner the better," wrote the chief rabbi.
Armenian Orthodox Archbishop Nourhan Manougian (L), deputy to Jerusalem's Orthodox Armenian Patriarch Torkom Manougian, enters the Church of the Nativity, which houses the biblical birth place of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on January 18, 2009, to celebrate Christmas.
Metzger published the letter in response to an appeal from Armenian Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, an appeal that came in the wake of a September 5 incident in the Old City in which a haredi man spat on a group of Armenian seminarians who, in turn, beat him up.
This is not the first time Metzger has spoken out against the spitting ~ he did so five years ago after the most infamous incident on record, when Manougian himself was spat on by an Old City yeshiva student during an Armenian Orthodox procession. In response, the archbishop slapped the student's face, and then the student tore the porcelain ceremonial crucifix off Manougian's neck and threw it to the ground, breaking it.
Then interior minister Avraham Poraz called the assault on the archbishop "repulsive" and called for a police crackdown on anti-Christian attacks in the Old City. Police reportedly punished the student by banning him from the Old City for 75 days.
Seated in his study in the Armenian Quarter, Manougian, 61, said that while he personally has not been assaulted since that time, the spitting attacks on other Armenian clergy have escalated.
"The latest thing is for them to spit when they pass [St. James's] monastery. I've seen it myself a couple of times," he said. "Then there's the boy from the Jewish Quarter who spits at the Armenian women when he sees them wearing their crosses, then he runs away. And during one of our processions from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre this year, a fellow in a yarmulke and fringes began deliberately cutting through our lines, over and over. The police caught him and he started yelling, 'I'm free to walk wherever I want!' That's what these settler types are always saying: 'This is our country and we can do whatever we want!'"
Where are the police in all this? If they happen to be on the scene, such as at the recent procession Manougian described, they will chase the hooligans ~ but even if they catch them, they only tell them off and let them go, according to several Christian clergymen.
"The police tell us to catch them and bring them in, but then they tell us not to use violence, so how are we supposed to catch them?" asked Aghoyan, a very fit-looking 68-year-old. "Once a boy came up to me and spat in my face, and I punched him and knocked him down, and an Armenian seminarian and I brought him to the police station [next to the Armenian Quarter]. They released him in a couple of hours. I've made many, complaints to the police, I'm tired of it. Nothing ever gets done."
Said Rosen, "The police say, 'Show us the evidence.' They want the Christians to photograph the people spitting at them so they can make arrests, but this is very unrealistic ~ by the time you get the camera out, the attack is over and there's nothing to photograph."
Victims of these attacks say that in the great majority of cases the assailants do not spit in their faces or on their clothes, but on the ground at their feet. "When we complain about this, the police tell us, 'But they're not spitting on you, just near you,'" said Manougian.

A scuffle between two Armenian seminarians and a haredi man on September 5, in which the students beat up the man after he spat on them, almost led to their deportation. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimksi
Sitting inside the Church of the Flagellation on the Via Dolorosa, Pazzini recalled: "Early this year there were about 100 Orthodox Jewish boys who came past the church singing and dancing. The police were with them ~ I don't know what the occasion was, maybe it was a holiday, maybe it had to do with the elections. There was a group of Franciscan monks standing in front ofthe church, and a few of the Jewish boys went up to the monks, spat on them, then went back into the crowd. I went up to a policeman and he told me, 'Sorry about that, but look, they're just kids.'"
Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby refused to provide an official comment on the situation on behalf of the Old City police station. "We don't give interviews on relations between Jews and Christians in the Old City," he said. "We're not sociologists, we're policemen.
The Jerusalem municipality likewise refused to be interviewed. "We have not received any complaints about this matter and we do not deal with things of this nature," said assistant city spokesman Yossi Gottesman.
Every Christian cleric interviewed for this article stressed that they weren't blaming Israeli Jewry as a whole for the spitting attacks; on the contrary, they said their general reception by Israeli Jews, both secular and religious, was one of welcome.
"I keep in mind that for every person here who's spat at me, there are many more who've come up and said hello," said Father Athanasius.
"I studied at Hebrew University for seven years and the atmosphere was wonderful. I made a lot of friends there," said Pazzini.
"My class members at ulpan visited our convent, they couldn't have been more warm and friendly," said the nun in east Jerusalem. She recalled that a group of boys in a schoolyard near the ulpan once threw stones at her and another nun, and two ulpan teachers saw it, became outraged and went straight into the school principal's office. "The kids never threw stones at us again," the nun said.
"I don't want to cause troubles for Israel ~ I love Am Yisrael," said Manougian, adding that he felt completely unthreatened and at ease when visiting Tel Aviv, Haifa and other parts of the country. The problem of belligerent Orthodox Jews spitting at Christian clergy, added Rossing, is evidently confined to Jerusalem.
There was a time when priests and nuns in the capital went virtually unmolested. In the first 20 years or so after Israel conquered the Old City in the 1967 Six Day War, spitting incidents did occur, but only once in a very long while. Old City police would lock the offender up for the night, which proved an effective deterrent, said Hintlian.
"Whatever problem we had, we could call [mayor] Teddy Kollek's office, we could call people in the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry, we could call Israeli ambassadors. In those days, Christians in Jerusalem were 'overprivileged,'" he said.
That era of good feelings came about as a result of two circumstances, continued Hintlian, the leading chronicler of Jerusalem's Armenian history. For one, he says, Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular were much more liberal in those days, and secondly, Israeli authorities were out to convince the Christian world that they could be trusted with their newly acquired stewardship over the Old City's holy places.
"Now Israel doesn't need the world's approval anymore for its sovereignty over Jerusalem, so our role is finished," said Hintlian. "Now we don't have anyone in authority to turn to."
Yisca Harani, a veteran Jewish interfaith activist who lectures on Christianity to Israeli tour guides at Touro College, likewise says the change for the worse came about 20 years ago. She blames the spitting attacks on the view of Christianity that's propagated at haredi and national Orthodox yeshivot.
"I move around the Old City a lot," she said, "I come in contact with these people, and what they learn in these fundamentalist yeshivot is that the goy is the enemy, a hater of Israel. All they learn about Christianity is the Holocaust, pogroms, anti-Semitism.
Rosen recalls that in 1994, after Israel and the Vatican opened diplomatic relations, he organized an international Jewish-Christian conference in Jerusalem, "and the city's chief rabbi called me in and said, 'How can you do this? Don't you know it's forbidden for us? How can you encourage these people to meet with us?'
"He told me that when he sees a Christian clergyman, he crosses the street and recites, 'You shall totally abhor and totally disdain…' This is a biblical verse that refers to idolatry." Rosen noted that theJerusalem chief rabbi of the time, like the more insular Orthodox Jews in general, considered Christians to be idolators.
The people doing the spitting, according to all the Christian victims and Jewish interfaith activists interviewed, are invariably national Orthodox or haredi Jews; in every attack described by Christian clerics, the assailant was wearing a kippa.

Near Mount Zion, four teenage boys on their way to the Diaspora Yeshiva affirmed with a nod that they knew about the spitting attacks onChristian clergy. "But it's nobody from our yeshiva," said one boy, 16, who noted that he'd seen it happen twice right around there ~ once by a boy wearing a crocheted kippa and once by a boy without a kippa. (This was the only mention I heard of a secular Jew spitting on a Christian.)
"We're against it because it's a desecration ~ it gives religious Jews a bad name," said the boy. He added, however, "Inside, I also feel like spitting on the Christians because everybody knows how they preach against the Jews. But I'd never do it."

Only a tiny proportion of the spitting incidents are reported to police. "When somebody spits at our feet, or at the door to the monastery, we don't even pay attention to it anymore, we take it for granted," said Aghoyan. We have no suspect or evidence to give the police, nor any reason to think the police care, he said.
Pazzini, the vice dean of the seminary at the Church of the Flagellation, said the dean of the seminary had his face spat upon, but he rejected Pazzini's urgings to file a police complaint. "He told me, 'There's no point, this is the way things are around here,'" Pazzini said.

Even outrageous incidents, one after another, go unreported to the police and unknown to the public. About a month ago, when a senior Greek Orthodox bishop was driving into the Jaffa Gate, a youngJewish man motioned him to roll down his window, and when he did, the young man spat in the bishop's face, said Hintlian.
Father Athanasius says that about a year ago, he witnessed the archbishop of Milan, which is one of the world's largest Roman Catholic dioceses, get spat at in the Old City. "The archbishop was with another Italian bishop and a group of pilgrims, and a class of about a dozen adolescent boys in crocheted kippot and sidecurls came by with their teacher. They stopped in front of the archbishop and his guests, the boys began spitting at the ground next to their feet, and then they just kept walking like this was normal," said Father Athanasius. "I saw this with my own eyes."
Rosen, Rossing and Hintlian say the most frustrating thing is that there's no longer anyone in authority who's ready to try to solve this problem, and the reason is that theChristian community in Israel is too small and powerless to rate high-level attention anymore.
"In the old days there were ministers and a mayor in Jerusalem who took the Christian minority seriously, but now virtually everyone dealing with them is a third-tier official, and while these individuals may have wonderful intentions, they have no authority," said Rosen. As far as the current cabinet ministers go, he said the phenomenon of Orthodox Jews spitting onChristian clergy "is at most distressing to some of them, while there are other ministers whose attitude toward non-Jews in general is downright deplorable."
Among Christian victims and Jewish interfaith activists alike, the consensus is that two steps are needed to stop the spitting attacks. One, of course, would be much stronger law enforcement by police. The other would be an educational effort against this "campaign," this "phenomenon," this "tradition" ~ although it may be that there's nothing to teach ~ that a person, even an adolescent, either knows it's wrong to spit on priests and nuns or he doesn't.
"We can't tell the Jews in this country what to do ~ they have to see this as an offense," said Father Athanasius. "There's only a small part of the population that's doing it, but the Jewish establishment has to bring them under control."
The great majority of the attackers were teenage boys and men in their 20s. However, the supposition was that they came not only from the Old City yeshivot but also from outside. Hintlian and Aghoyan noted that the spitting attacks tended to spike on Fridays and Saturdays, when masses of Orthodox Jews stream to the Western Wall.

The incident was documented internationally but nothing was done to any of the hundreds of Orthodox men who cornered ABC correspondent Anne Barker and bathed her in sweat and kicks.
The hot spots in the Old City are the places where resident Orthodox Jews and Christians brush up against one another ~ inside Jaffa Gate, on the roads leading through the Armenian Quarter to theJewish Quarter and around Mount Zion, which lies just outside the Old City and is the site of a several yeshivot.
Of all Old City Christians, the Armenians get spat on most frequently because their quarter stands closest to those hot spots.
Posted by Noor al Haqiqa at 9:07 AM