Saturday, 8 May 2010

Save Judaism !!!

Frustrated Arab's Diary
The religion of the masters
will be the fate of their slaves......

When a king or leader or president, is evil
his own religion will follow his behaviours.

When he is ,for example, a dictator
his religion shall dictate the fate of his people

When he is humane and righteous
his religion shall become popular and a blessing,
regardless of its nature.

How many rulers ,presidents, monarchs and tyrants
have used and abused their own religions.....???

A bad-ruler with a right religion ,
is wrong.....
a good-ruler with a bad-religion ,
is ,also, wrong....

History is full of examples:
how many have enslaved, robbed,burned,killed,raped
in the name of their religion ????
or in spite of their religions !!!.

But ,to separate any power from its own faith, 
remains an Utopia.

Therefore I wish ,and I beg,
to save Judaism from the hands of the Zionists....!!

(Save even humanity from Zionism !!)
Raja Chemayel

Posted by Тлакскала at 2:15 PM
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Abbas's obsequious behavior

[ 07/05/2010 - 10:13 PM ]

Indirect talks, cartoon by Emad Hajjaj (

By Khalid Amayreh

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is already conducting negotiations with Israel with utmost irresponsibility.

Even inexperienced hagglers in a wholesale bazaar would display more caution. His obsequiousness toward Israel and her guardian ally, the United States, is baffling, to put it mildly.

This week, Abbas gave the Nazi-like Israeli regime two important concessions free of charge. First, he said the Palestinians wouldn't return to armed struggle against Israel irrespective of what the terrorist state does.

In an interview with a Saudi-funded newspaper, Abbas castigated Arab states that continue to advocate active resistance against the apartheid Zionist regime. He argued that armed resistance would wreak havoc on the Palestinian people and seriously undermine their national interests.

Well, opinions may differ as to the pros and cons of armed struggle, especially the question of when to fight back and when to resort to non-violent resistance. However, erasing armed struggle completely from the Palestinian national lexicon, especially in the face of unrelenting and escalating Jewish terror, would be at the very least an irresponsible act bordering on compromising Palestinian national interests.

First of all, armed resistance is an inevitable result of Zionist criminality. People living under a foreign occupation and languishing under oppression, irrespective of their culture, have an inherent right and duty to resist their tormentors. Arguing otherwise is both dishonest and unethical.

Indeed, in most cases, the very occurrence of resistance against Israel is nearly always preceded by serious acts of murder and terror by the apartheid state which practices all forms of criminality and nefarious aggression against a virtually helpless people while claiming to be a victim of terror. Resistance is made inevitable not due to the desire of the oppressed, but rather by the evilness of the oppressors.

This pornographic mendacity on the part of Israel screams to the seventh heaven. Accusing Palestinians, who are Israel's enduring and tormented victims, of incitement is very much like the Nazis accusing their victims of inciting against the Third Reich.

In short, Israel would like to see the Palestinian people raise the whit flag and succumb unconditionally to Zionism, a malignant ideology that differs little form German Nazism.

Unfortunately, we are being affronted with some Palestinian "leaders" who would go to any extent in order to accommodate Israel's morbid and whimsical demands, namely capitulation to Zio-Nazism.

True, armed or passive resistance is not a goal in itself. However, history teaches us that liberty is not given on a silver platter but earned by blood and fire.

I know of no Palestinian under the sun who wants to see his or her children die a painful death at the hands of the Nazi-like Zionists whose ultimate aim and strategy is our national demise as a people.

With this nefarious goal in mind, it is naïve and irresponsible to think that non-violent resistance alone, even if joined by all the Mother Teresas, Mahatma Ghandhis and Martin Luther Kings of the world, would be tolerated or allowed to dislodge the Israeli occupation.

After all, we are dealing with criminal-minded soldier-thugs who wouldn't hesitate even for a moment to shoot and murder kids and school children let alone demonstrators protesting apartheid and oppression and demanding liberty.

Besides, Israel is not Britain in India, or even the White-minority apartheid South African government. Israel is more or less a Judeo Nazi entity who would do the unthinkable including genocide, as we saw in Gaza last year, in order to preserve the integrity of the occupation.

The reason for this intrinsic evilness is Israel's sense of arrogance of power as well as the reluctance of the international community, especially the increasingly whoring American administration, to force the apartheid state to pay attention to the rule of international law.

Hence, it is likely that no matter what the Palestinians do or don't with regard to abandoning the resistance, Israel would still try to kill and maim them and their children.

Just look how trigger-happy Israeli child-killers, unfairly called soldiers, routinely murder Palestinian and foreign protesters protesting the continued theft of land and farms under the pretext of building the gigantic so-called Separation Wall.

In light, one is prompted to ask Abbas the following questions: Are rape victims supposed to surrender to and refrain from their attackers?

Are peaceable Palestinian villagers supposed to respectfully allow Jewish settler thugs to burn down Palestinian mosques as happened recently at two Palestinian villages in the north, namely al Libban al Sharqiya and Yasuf?

Are we supposed to allow the Nazis of our time to murder our children while on their way to school as we sing: "raise the kufiyaa aloft and wave it proudly"?

The Arab proverb says "If you want to be obeyed, ask for what can be done." With all due respect, you, Mr. Abbas, are asking for too much, because people still have dignity and pride and wouldn't just stand by and passively watch as Zionist thugs and terrorists attack, murder and vandalize in order to realize their morbid whims, such as forcing our people to flee our ancestral homeland?

Besides, the PA has over 70,000 security cadres scouring the width and breadth of the West Bank, who are funded and trained by the United States. So why doesn’t the PA leadership order this huge army to at least protect the unarmed Palestinian citizens from settler terror and criminality?

Or, perhaps, we should think that our children and men and women are supposed to die and be killed quietly and silently in order to prove to the evil men in Tel Aviv and Washington that we are a peaceful people and committed to the whoring peace process even though this disingenuous game of make believe is killing us and causing our people to lose the remnants of our ancestral homeland.?

For God's sake, we will defend ourselves and pay no attention to the idle words coming from the mouths of bankrupt politicians.

Even in American, the Golden Calf of the international community today, they say "give me freedom or give me death."

ANOTHER vacuous statement coming from Abbas's mouth recently urged Palestinians to refrain from indulging in incitement against Zio-Nazism in general and the Israeli apartheid regime in particular?

Well, Mr. President, how are we supposed to do that? Are we supposed to conceal our pain and anguish whenever satanic Israeli bulldozers descend on our homes to blow them into smithereens? Are we supposed to view Israeli settlers and soldiers who routinely and nonchalantly murder our children, nearly on a daily basis, as angelic figures or messengers of peace and good will?

Mr. Abbas are we to give up any remaining semblance of personal and national dignity in deference to the evil ones, may their name perish and memory be erased?

Mr. Abbas, you are the head of the Palestinian Authority and leader of Fatah, and as such you are supposed to know too well that the issue of incitement as presented by the thuggish Israeli regime is first and foremost a propagandistic canard intended to cover up and divert attention from Zionist criminality against our people.

In the final analysis, how can a thoroughly oppressed people languishing under a Nazi-like military occupation really indulge in incitement against its oppressors and tormentors? Aren't we supposed to cry out for justice, for liberty? Aren't we supposed to complain? Are we children of a lesser God?

Shame on the shameless.

Hamas warns PLO against returning to negotiations

[ 08/05/2010 - 08:39 AM ]

DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Hamas warned the PLO's executive committee of returning to "absurd negotiations" with the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) that would grant a cover for committing more crimes against the Palestinian people.

The movement in a statement on Friday urged the executive committee to stop "selling illusions to the Palestinian people and announce the failure of their gambling on absurd talks".

It said that the Oslo team was seeking indirect talks with the IOA despite the latter's rabid judaization campaign, siege of Gaza, and banishment of Palestinians from the West Bank. It also pointed out that the talks were approved at a time the American administration was incapable of committing the IOA to stop settlement activity especially in occupied Jerusalem.

Hamas called on the executive committee, which meets later on Saturday to discuss the resumption of talks with the IOA, to head to national unity on the basis of a united Palestinian program that would preserve constants and national rights.

Meanwhile, Sylvan Shalom, the Israeli first deputy premier, ruled out the success of those indirect talks.

Shalom told English-language Israeli daily Jerusalem Post published on Friday that he expected the indirect negotiators to hit a dead-end.

He explained that no Palestinian leader would accept less than what late PA chief Yasser Arafat had refused in Campo David ten years ago and no Israeli premier would propose more than what was proposed in Camp David.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Saadi starts her 9th year in IOA jails

[ 08/05/2010 - 02:58 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- The higher national committee for the support of prisoners has said that Qahera Al-Saadi, 34, had started her 9th year in Israeli occupation authority (IOA) jails on Saturday.

Riyadh Al-Ashqar, the committee's spokesman, said in a press release that Saadi was detained since 8/5/2002 and was sentenced to three life sentences in addition to 30 years.

Saadi, affiliated with Islamic Jihad movement, was charged with helping a human bomber to enter Israel and carry out his human bombing operation.

Saadi is the father of four children, two of whom are forbidden from visiting her at the pretext they were adults while in fact they did not exceed 15 years of age. Her three brothers are also barred from visiting her.

Ashqar recalled that Saadi was severely beaten and insulted after her detention and was taken to Maskobeh detention center where she was tortured in cruel interrogation rounds for three months. She was held in cells under the ground for nine days before being transferred to Talmund jail for women.

Saadi is one of five Palestinian women serving life sentences while 33 other Palestinian women are held in IOA jails.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Artists thank Gil Scott-Heron for heeding boycott call

Press release, Adalah-NY, 7 May 2010

The following press release was issued by Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel on 5 May 2010:

More than 50 organizations and artists from eight countries have written to legendary political singer and poet Gil Scott-Heron to thank him for his decision to drop Israel from his current tour. The letter, facilitated by Adalah-NY, highlighted the parallels between the South African apartheid that Scott-Heron crusaded against decades ago and the Israeli system that currently subjugates Palestinians.

Palestinian civil society has called for grassroots pressure on Israel to end its oppressive behavior through a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), including cultural events. "To salvage its deteriorating image abroad, Israel has launched a 'rebranding' campaign which uses arts and culture to whitewash its violations of international law and Palestinian human rights," said Randa Wahbe of Adalah-NY. Gil Scott-Heron is the latest in a list of notable artists, including Sting, Bono, Snoop Dogg and Carlos Santana, who have recently declined to play Israel. Distinguished artists, writers and peace activists -- among them John Berger, Arundhati Roy, Adrienne Rich, Ken Loach, Naomi Klein, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Alice Walker -- have declared support for the BDS movement.

The signatories told Scott-Heron: "As you recognized in your iconic anti-Apartheid anthem "Johannesburg," when "brothers over there are defyin' the man ... they need to know we're on their side." They added "[I]n refusing to do business as usual with Israel, you join ranks with the growing number of international artists, intellectuals and cultural workers who have rejected Israel's cynical use of the arts to whitewash its Apartheid and colonial policies."

Haidar Eid, of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) praised the singer's action: "Gil Scott-Heron's decision to cancel his concert in Tel Aviv is warmly welcomed by all of us here in Gaza and Palestinian civil society at large. This does not come as a surprise to us due to his luminous heritage in support of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. Once again, we wholeheartedly thank him for heeding our call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, until it complies with its obligations under international law and fully respects Palestinian rights."

Since the 2009 Israeli invasion of Gaza, in which 1,400 Palestinians were killed, there has been rapid growth in the BDS movement worldwide. Wahbe also noted that "The outpouring of anguish from Scott-Heron's fans on his website when he was scheduled to perform in Israel, and the more than 50 artists and organizations that have joined together to communicate the importance of Scott-Heron's decision, represent a new phase in this growing movement."

The concert, first announced in Haaretz on 15 April, was to be held 25 May. After a torrent of postings on the Internet expressing shock and dismay, the singer announced his cancellation during his 24 April London concert, at which activists protested. Within days, the Tel Aviv show was removed from his website and tickets were no longer available.

In the wake of the cancellation, Facebook groups have sprung up calling on Elvis Costello, Joan Armatrading and Bob Dylan to cancel their planned concerts in Israel. On 5 May, PACBI issued its own call to Armatrading.

The BDS campaign has the backing hundreds of Palestinian civil society groups and is coordinated through the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Campaign National Committee ( and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (

To view the thank you letter and list of signatories, click here.

Israel's military indoctrination of children

Via Respect

By Stephen Lendman



May 7, 2010

Israel is one of the world's most militarised societies, routinely recruiting children as young as 13 to perform military service in defiance of international law, writes Stephen Lendman*

The modern roots of Zionism go back to its founding at the First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland, in 1897, its programme being the "establishing for the Jewish people of a publicly and legally assured home in Eretz Yisrael". Five decades later, this was accomplished by dispossessing indigenous Palestinians, denying them the right to their land, creating a new Jewish identity, legitimising Jews as rightful owners, and using superior military force to support the state against defenceless civilians who were no match against their powerful adversary.

Leading up to and after its war of independence, Israel stayed politically and militarily hard line, negotiating from strength, choosing confrontation over diplomacy, and naked aggression as a form of self- defence and occupation in order to seize as much of historic Palestine as possible and secure an ethnically pure Jewish state. These policies were called "Israelification [and] De-Arabisation" to preserve a "Jewish character".

In his book, The Making of Israeli Militarism, author Uri Ben-Eliezer says writing about Israeli militarism involves "ventur(ing) into an intellectual minefield", given Jewish history under the Nazis and the perception of Israel as a safe haven. Yet, decades of Arab- Israeli conflict have produced seven full-scale wars, two Intifadas, and many hundreds of violent incidents.

Ben-Eliezer believes that, beginning in the 1930s, militarism "was gradually legitimized within the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine, then within the new state [it was] crystallized into a value, a formula, and an ideology." Over time, it acquired a dynamic of its own, and then, during the 1948 war, it "acquired full legitimacy" and became decisive in setting policy.

Politics and militarism were wedded to create a militaristic view of reality. Thereafter, it was institutionalised to the point that "the idea of implementing a military solution to [political problems] was not only enshrined as a value in its own right, but was also considered legitimate, desirable, and indeed the best option."

Today, militarism is a "cardinal aspect of Israeli society", its quintessential element under the 1986 National Defence Service Law that requires all Jewish Israeli citizens and permanent residents to serve. The law covers both men and women, with exemptions only for Orthodox Jews, educational inadequacy, health, family considerations, married or pregnant women or those with children, criminals, and other considerations at the Defence Ministry's discretion. In addition, most Israeli leaders are former high-ranking Israel Defence Force (IDF) officers, politics and the military being inextricably connected.

Little wonder, then, that Israel is a modern-day Sparta, a nation of about 5.6 million Jews and another 500,000 settlers that is able to mobilise over 600,000 combatants in 72 hours, equipped with state-of-the art weapons and the backing of the world's only superpower for whatever it wants to do.

Yet on 2 March 2008, the US McClatchy Newspapers writer Dion Nissenbaum headlined that, "Israelis show declining zest for military service," saying that "....under the surface, something has been slowly shifting in Israel as the nation prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary on May 14. More and more Israelis are avoiding mandatory military service -- something" earlier considered unthinkable.

According to author and former chief Israeli military psychologist, Rueven Gal, "in the past, it is true that not serving in the military was considered the exception. In more recent times, it became more tolerable and more acceptable to people."

According to 1997 IDF statistics, fewer than one in 10 Israeli men avoided service. Now it's nearly triple that number, or, according to some, even higher, given the resonance of conscientious objectors, refusniks, students unwilling to serve in the occupied territories, and "Breaking the Silence" reservists speaking out about IDF atrocities over the past decade, especially during the Gaza war.

Women are also opting out, around 44 per cent compared to 37 per cent a decade earlier. As a result, Israeli National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau has called the IDF no longer a "people's army [but rather] half the people's army." Given Israel's hardline militarism requiring mandatory service, officials are seeking new ways to deter avoidance.

One way of doing this is by indoctrinating Israeli young people to accept the militarism of Israeli society, particularly since various organisations in Israeli, such as the pressure group New Profile, are promoting themselves as being a "Movement for the Civilisation of Israeli Society" away from militarism and a culture of violence. Israeli "feminist women and men.... are convinced that we need not live in a soldiers' state" and should no longer tolerate one.

In July 2004, a New Profile report entitled Child Recruitment in Israel examined how Israeli armed forces and Jewish militias indoctrinate young children to be warriors, a practice it believes is essential to stop.

Child recruitment involves more than having weapons and using them, there being no front lines in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In Israel and the occupied territories, IDF soldiers are everywhere. "Many military bases are located inside population centres, and few Israelis ever spend a day without meeting soldiers on duty," the report says.

As a result, a functional definition of child recruitment is as follows, with a child being anyone under 18 recruited by one or more of the following methods: by wearing an official uniform, having an official document, or in other ways identified as an IDF or related group member, even if not formally; by promoting or supporting IDF actions, actively or through other services; and/or by undergoing practical or theoretical training to perform or assist IDF activities, formally or otherwise.

Armed forces and security groups include Israel's military, its police (including conscripted border police), General Security Services (GSS), and Jewish militias, mostly based in settlements.

The relevant international laws governing the military use of children include Article 38 (2) and (3) of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), which state: (2) "State Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of 15 years do not take a direct part in hostilities; [and] (3) State Parties shall refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of 15 into the armed forces. In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of 15 years but who have not attained the age of 18 years, State Parties shall endeavour to give priority to those who are oldest."

Article 77 (2) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (1977) contains similar language, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) criminalises the recruiting of children under 15 for military purposes.

The 1990 African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child recognised 18 as the minimum recruitment age. Then, in 2000, the International Labour Organisation's Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention No. 182 condemned "all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery... including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict." The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (2000) also prohibited forced recruiting and raised the minimum age to 16.

Yet, contrary to international law, Israeli legislation takes precedence over these accepted norms and standards. Conscription at 18 is mandatory, at times includes those six months younger, and children under 18 may enlist voluntarily, but aren't used as combatants until coming of age.

Child recruitment is also done informally, the idea being to prepare underage youths for future mandatory service. Ben-Eliezer has written how early Zionist settlers established militant organisations, notably the Bar Giora (named for Simon Bar Giora in ancient Roman times), Hashomer (The Guard), and the Haganah (Defence), which were small in scale but profound in influencing younger minds.

Ben-Eliezer explained these organisations by writing that "the formative years of the younger generation produced an ethos created by local experience: guarding fields and crops, fighting with Arab children, being given a weapon at the age of bar mitzvah [a boy's 13th birthday]. This was the childhood experience of prominent members of the young generation [tempering their outlook] with suspicion, which frequently became hostility, and they reached maturity feeling that a confrontation between [Arabs and Jews] was inevitable."

Before 1948, very young children engaged in military activities, doing so eagerly as a sort of game. As a result, a militaristic worldview developed, especially among youths later becoming leaders. Militant groups formed at this time include Fosh (a Hebrew acronym for Field Units), the Palmach (Striking Force), Stern Gang (Israeli Freedom Fighters, Lehi in Hebrew) and Irgun (the National Military Organisation -- Etzel in Hebrew).

Before Israel's war of independence, recruitment came through a "duty to volunteer". Then it became mandatory after the IDF's establishment on 26 May 1948, replacing the paramilitary Haganah. Today, such recruitment is still called a privilege in Israel, a "noble and worthy action", moulding young minds to be eager when called upon and encouraging them to participate earlier as well. In the 1948 battle for Jerusalem, Israeli Youth Battalion trainees, aged 16 and 17, were combatants. So were women.

DEFINING ISRAELI MILITARISM: New Profile calls Israeli militarism "a way of thinking, which promotes forceful solutions, usually military ones, as preferable and even desirable ways of solving problems." As a result, security forces are Israeli society's most valued and revered members, "whose needs and opinions come second to none". Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, called "the whole nation... an army and the whole land [a] front".

Today's IDF is the world's fourth most powerful military, nuclear-armed with state-of-the-art weapons and technology, an active space and satellite programme, biological and chemical capabilities, and a large per capita military budget, financed generously by Washington.

The military also controls 48 per cent of public land, and recycles its commanders into high government positions, including municipality and regional council heads, mayors, ministers and heads of state. Others get top public administration positions or serve as business executives or directors.

"The unquestioned prestige enjoyed by top military officers emanates downwards, and some of it can still be enjoyed by" common soldiers, the report states. Children see and feel it everywhere in Israel, including from adult family members, from religious leaders, and in school. In addition, imagery and weapons are ubiquitous, including old tanks, guns and fighter jets visible in public places.

Militarised education starts in kindergarten, at home, and on the streets. "The military is physically present in schools and school activities", with many uniformed soldiers teaching classes to programme young minds. Further, teachers, especially principals, are often retired career officers, and school walls are adorned with names and photographs of fallen heroes among their graduates.

Field trips for all ages are to military memorials on former battlegrounds. Curricula and textbooks reflect militarism, from kindergarten through secondary schools that have mandatory programmes called "preparation for the IDF" that include training. Glorifying military heroes and conquests while vilifying Palestinians are featured.

Symbolic recruitment also precedes conscription. This consists of indoctrinating youths to feel part of the military, mobilised for war, ready for combat, and eager to participate. It also consists of kindergarten and elementary school children sending gift packages to soldiers, especially on holidays, expressing their "gratitude" in personal letters.

A 1974 Israeli teachers' guide entitled "When a Nation Reports for Duty" promotes enlistment by saying that the people as a whole carry the burden of the war effort, and it is divided between those who wear the IDF uniform and civilians who are not directly recruited by the IDF. "Therefore, it should be understood that [every] civilian carries the burden of the war effort," the guide says.

Children learn such values early, and they stick, preparing them for later conscription and a lifetime of military support. At school, children are exposed to ceremonies, commemorations, speeches, field trips to military bases, and holiday celebrations of battles between "us" (Jews) and "the bad guys", earlier Nazis, Egyptians, Persians, and Arabs, and now Palestinians. As a result, children are imbued "to accept military force and war as a natural state and a natural response to conflict situations".

Soldiers in Israeli schools are both former IDF teachers and administrators as well as "uniformed soldiers on duty, stationed in schools as part of the school staff... The presence of former soldiers, especially retired high-ranking officers, in the education system is considered by many in Israeli society, including government, to be a positive influence on children," reports say, especially since preparing youths for military service is a core educational goal.

In collaboration with the ministries of education and defence, the IDF operates two large-scale youth programmes, the Teacher-Soldier programme that trains soldiers to become teachers and to complement civilian staff despite their poor qualifications, and the Youth-Guide programme that works with underprivileged children, in some cases for Youth Battalions and in others as preparation for military service coordinators.

Soldiers working in Israeli schools are nearly always in uniform, report to civilian and military superiors, promote militarism and wars for defence, and children acclimatise themselves to viewing them as an integral part of their education and a future obligation.

Indoctrinating youths early on blurs the line between Israeli military and civil society, promotes militarism, and makes conscription seem inevitable, necessary and desirable.

PREPARING FOR MILITARY SERVICE: For most male and female Israeli young people, military service is a rite of passage and a natural step in the preparation for adulthood, something that policymakers have been cognizant of for decades.

After the 1973 War, the above-mentioned "When a Nation Reports for Duty" guide explained the role of all Israelis during emergencies and helped children understand it clearly. In 1984, actively preparing youths for military service began when the IDF and Israeli Ministry of Defence published a guide called "Towards Service in the IDF", which explained the privilege of serving in the Israeli armed services, adapting to military and basic training, developing fitness in preparation, the IDF as a positive force in society, and preparing parents to accept their children's role as future soldiers.

Since the run-up to the 1948 War, training for military service was common in Israel, especially through the Youth Battalions, but the 1984 programme included school indoctrination "as part of the ordinary curriculum".

Today's school programme is called "Willingness to Serve and Readiness for the IDF", which is mandatory for three years in Israeli secondary schools, the programme's goal being "preparing the entire youth population to service in the IDF, while strengthening their readiness and willingness to perform a substantial and contributing service, each to his abilities, and emphasising the importance of serving in combat units".

Content includes combat legacy stories on field trips, the ethics of war, familiarisation with different IDF units, physical education and Arabic studies to enlist Israelis for intelligence. The format is regimented, emphasising discipline, and the "Soldier for a Day" programme takes children to a military base for descriptive presentations, especially about elite combat units.

Several civilian programmes also prepare children for future service, including "Preparation for Combat Fitness" courses, "Youth Battalions Special Forces Induction" and "Follow Me". It is common in Israel "to see large groups of young men run about on public beaches, in preparation for military service".

The Naale Programme (a Hebrew acronym for "Youth Immigrating Before Parents") also promotes immigration for foreign Jewish children, encouraging them to come to Israel, attend school and become citizens. It presents military service as a major socialising force, stressing benefits such as acceptance in Israeli society.

Moreover, Article 44 of Israel's 1986 National Defence Service Law authorises the IDF to obtain information about everyone eligible for service. Educators, employers and others asked to help must cooperate. Under Article 43, persons "Intended for Security Service" cannot travel abroad without Defense Ministry permission, although exemptions are granted with restrictions, such as time limits.

Prior to their conscription, most Israeli young people receive a warrant at home, requiring them to report to a regional conscription bureau in a practice called "first call-up" for initial screening, data verification, medical and intelligence tests and a personal interview. If after three warrants young people do not comply, police intervention may follow.

In addition to regular Israeli secondary schools, there are military high schools that include Mevo'ot Yam, which has 500 students who wear uniforms, participate in parades and learn weapons use in preparation for future Navy service, Israeli Air Force technical schools for cadets preparing for future IAF service, and the Amal 1 network, one of the largest in Israel, which carries out joint military-civilian projects for future Air Force service.

Courses at such schools combine civilian and military studies, children being groomed to become soldiers. This is the case even though Article 77 (2) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (1977) prohibits recruiting children under the age of 15. In Israeli military schools, children are "regularly recruited" as young as 13 or 14, a practice that persists because of the pervasive influence of militarism in Israeli society and culture.

In all Israeli secondary schools, mandatory Youth Battalion Training Week simulates army life for those in 11th and 12th grade on military bases. With the children wearing uniforms, this training includes reception, processing, orientation and marches, night and day weapons and field training, and lessons about battle heritage, military ranks, discipline, adapting, service commitment, and the purity of arms.

During the entire training, Israeli children are surrounded by soldiers and treated like them in order to gain familiarity with military life. In groups of about 20, treatment and conditions are rigorous, obedience a must, and for those who disobey, punishments include extra calisthenics, running and chores like latrine duty.

In times of emergency, Israeli Youth Battalions may be recruited for active service as they were during the 1948 War. For boys aged 16 or older, elite combat unit try-outs are held, initially for two days, and for qualifiers of up to five, involving demanding and exhausting mental and physical fitness tests. The IDF's reference to "substantial service" strongly emphasises Elite Combat Unit enlistment, being the "cream of the crop" destined for the "most exciting fighting activities".

For the few selected, pressure to be accepted is intense because participation is considered a great honour.

Arranged through schools, children are also enlisted to support the IDF, especially during times of emergency or special needs. Besides training, they do laundry, sort uniforms, wash dishes, set dining room tables, clean vehicles, and do other chores, freeing soldiers for military duties.

To support a war effort, children as young as 15 and a half are enlisted for "labour service [to protect] the state or public security or for providing vital services to the population". In all cases, schools cooperate, and during extreme times children have no choice.

Another way in which children are used for military purposes in Israel is in the Israeli Civil Guard, a police- run community-based organisation founded in 1974 to mobilise civilians for protection against Arab militia attacks. Today, the Guard patrols community areas, challenges Palestinians, harasses them, at times shoots them, and performs other services like securing public transportation, educational institutions, open markets and parking lots, as well as helping out at checkpoints.

About 15 per cent of Guard volunteers are children, eligible at age 15 to join with a restricted status that is removed a year later. Parental consent is also required. The youths are armed, and some schools give extra credit for participating.

Members of Israeli Emergency Squads are mostly adults to be called on as needed, but since 2002 secondary school pupils have increasingly also been enlisted. Although part of Israel's police force, the Squads, set up under Section 8 of the 1971 Police Orders, allow the Israeli government "at times of war or emergency... to declare the Israeli Police Force, or a part of it, a military force which might be employed in military functions for the protection of the State."

In the West Bank, Israeli children as young as 15 guard settlements and do other security work, performing functions that include working in police headquarters and patrolling with arms they're trained to use.

Some of these children "grow up believing they must banish the Palestinians, and act" violently with impunity, including harassing them, beating them, breaking into their homes, destroying their property, and at times killing them.

There's little difference between "training and assigning a child to do work as an armed [settlement] guard [or] assigning [them as] soldier[s] at the front in wartime... The formalities of whether one officially belongs to the army or not are hardly relevant," reports say, given the pervasive militarisation of Israeli society.

Although civilian service is voluntary, children are raised "in a hostile and violent environment in the middle of a confrontation area". In the occupied territories, many believe the land is their land. They must protect it, and the Palestinians are enemies. Under intense social pressure, children are encouraged to perform at a very immature age when they're too young to know the consequences, yet they are conditioned to be militant and obedient.

A last feature of the military use of children by Israel is its use of Palestinian children as collaborators. Israel recruits Palestinian informants, including children, as field agents to provide intelligence, asking them to work as collaborators that most Palestinians call traitors.

Tactics involve detaining Palestinian children, then pressuring and torturing them to comply, much like the tactics Israel used in recruiting for the South Lebanon Army (SLA) after the 1982 Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon. Under Israeli supervision, SLA Lebanese citizens, including children as young as 12, were used as collaborators for intelligence purposes.

During the second Intifada, Palestinians, including children, were also used as human shields by Israel, forced at gunpoint to comply.

Militarised education starts early in Israel in both overt and symbolic ways, the aim being to condition young minds to accept military service as natural, vital, and an honour for Israeli citizens. The "educational system is so committed to [promoting] military service that it [fails] to consider" the harm done to new youth generations, who grow up thinking wars and violence are natural, peace unattainable, Arabs inferior, and Palestinians enemies.

The militarisation of society is corrupting and self- destructive, and the recruiting of child soldiers is criminal and unconscionable. All forms of it must stop. The alternative is unacceptable, illegal and intolerable.
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Foreign Media In Brief 07 & 08 April, 2010

Foreign Media In Brief 07 & 08 April, 2010

08/05/2010 The following are quotes and translated bits from foreign and Israeli reports and articles. They do not reflect the views of

Israeli Media: Hamas Urges PA Not to Approve ‘Absurd” Proximity Talks (08-05-10)

A Hamas movement statement, posted on the Ma’an News Website, urged the Palestinian Authority not to approve the resumption of talks with Israel, saying that such a move would only legitimize Israel's occupation.
The statement rejected continued talks with Israel, saying that, what it calls the "absurd proximity talks" would only "give the Israeli occupation an umbrella to commit more crimes against the Palestinians."
"Hamas calls on the PLO to stop selling illusions to the Palestinian people and announce the failure of their gambling on absurd talks," Hamas said.

Real Gazette: Canada Unveils Proposal to Resolve “Conflict over Jerusalem” (08-05-10)

Canada has formally unveiled a proposal to resolve the conflict over occupied Jerusalem, the Montreal Gazette reported on Saturday.
The proposal, which was released after seven years of research and planning, calls for a "special regime" comprising Israeli and Palestinian officials headed by "an effective and empowered third-party" commissioner to oversee a 0.9-square-kilometer district that contains the city's contested Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites. The Gazette goes on to say that the proposal emphasizes the need for an alternative to the geographic division of Jerusalem or exclusive control by either Israel or the Palestinians, or the creation of a separate international authority to oversee the Old City.

Haaretz: Israel Gov’t Tells High Court: We'll Authorize Illegal West Bank Outpost (08-05-10)

Following Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's request to delay the demolition date of illegal structures in the West Bank, “the state on Friday announced to the High Court of Justice that it may legalize the Givat Hayovel outpost in the West Bank, if the outpost in question resides on state-owned land,” the Israeli media reported Saturday. According to Haaretz, “the state announced on Friday that it intends to conduct a thorough investigation into the status of the land on which the structures stand – whether they are privately owned, or are indeed state lands. If it turns out the lands are privately owned, the houses will be demolished. If they are state-owned lands, the state will work to legalize the structures .”

Yedioth Aharonoth: US Photo Exhibit Shows Israel Stealing Water From Syria (08-05-10)

Israel is stealing water from Syria and is blocking Palestinian access to water resources, according to a National Geographic photo exhibit in Los Angeles.
The caption under one of the photos reads, "Israelis relax by the Sea of Galilee, a lake near the Golan Heights that is fed by the Jordan River and that supplies a third of Israel’s fresh water. Since 1967, Israel has blocked Syria’s access to the shoreline." Israeli Consul General in Los Angeles Jacob Dayan sent a complaint letter to the owners of the Annenberg Space for Photography, saying “the venue is being used as a political tool to spread lies about Israel's part in the global effort to provide clean and fresh drinking water.”

Associated Press Report: IAEA Set to Focus on Israel (08-05-10)

Israel's secretive nuclear activities may undergo unprecedented scrutiny next month, with a key meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency tentatively set to focus on the topic for the first time, according to documents shared Friday with The Associated Press. A copy of the restricted provisional agenda of the IAEA's June 7 board meeting lists "Israeli nuclear capabilities" as the eighth item — the first time that that the agency's decision-making body is being asked to deal with the issue in its 52 years of existence. The 35-nation IAEA board is the agency's decision making body and can refer proliferation concerns to the UN Security Council.
Inclusion of the item appeared to be the result of a push by the 18-nation Arab group of IAEA member nations, which last year successfully lobbied another agency meeting — its annual conference — to pass a resolution directly criticizing Israel and its atomic program.

BBC: UK Parties to Consider Power Deals (08-05-10)

Libearal Democrats leader Nick Clegg said that "people deserve good, stable government. " He is meeting senior Lib. Dem. MPs to discuss a power-sharing offer from the Tories, after the UK election resulted in a hung parliament .
He said they would talk to other parties in a "constructive spirit" over the "coming hours and days ".
The Conservatives led by David Cameron won most seats but not enough to secure a majority and are looking to the third-biggest party for support to form a government .If it fails, Gordon Brown has invited the Lib Dems to talk to Labour .

Washington Post: Pentagon Asking Congress to Hold Back on Increases in Troop Pay (08-05-10)

The Pentagon, not usually known for its frugality, is pleading with Congress to stop spending so much money on the troops .
In the midst of two long-running wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense officials are increasingly worried that the government's generosity is unsustainable and that it will leave them with less money to buy weapons and take care of equipment .
With Washington confronting record deficits, the Pentagon is bracing for an end to the huge increases in defense spending of the past decade.
But Congress -- including members opposed to the wars -- has made clear that it considers military pay and benefits sacrosanct, especially when service members and their families are struggling to cope with repeated deployments to faraway conflicts .

Christian Science Monitor: Hezbollah Says It's Ready for Fresh War with Israel – and Stronger Now (07-05-10)

Nicholas Blanford wrote that nearly four years after Hezbollah fought invading Israeli troops to a standstill in south Lebanon, the militant Shiite group says it's prepared for a fresh conflict and confident of victory . “We are ready for another war and we eagerly await it," says veteran Hezbollah fighter Abu Hadi on a drive through the Bekaa Valley. "We expect the next war to be short. The Israelis will not be able to endure what we will do to them ."
Hezbollah's leadership insists it does not seek a war and that its military preparations are a defense against potential Israeli aggression. Yet, the inconclusive outcome of the 2006 war has stoked a feeling here that another war is inevitable .
War drums have been beating faster in recent weeks amid allegations that Syria has supplied Hezbollah with Scud ballistic missiles.
Hezbollah's strongholds in the Bekaa Valley are likely to be one of several front lines during another war with Israel – a war that threatens to be far more destructive than the one in July 2006. Hezbollah says lessons learned from that conflict have been implemented, including new battlefield tactics and the acquisition of improved weapons systems, surface-to-surface rockets, and possibly advanced antiaircraft missiles .
Blanford suggests that the stakes for both sides are so great that the military preparations of Israel and Hezbollah to some extent serve as a mutual deterrent against rash action .

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Report: IAEA Set to Focus on Israel

IAEA Chief Yukiva Amano

08/05/2010 Israel's secretive nuclear activities may undergo unprecedented scrutiny next month, with a key meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency tentatively set to focus on the topic for the first time, according to documents shared Friday with The Associated Press.

Following report on IAEA attempts to get Israel to sign NPT treaty, local official says even such signatories as Iraq tried to gain nuclear weapons in the past

A copy of the restricted provisional agenda of the IAEA's June 7 board meeting lists "Israeli nuclear capabilities" as the eighth item — the first time that that the agency's decision-making body is being asked to deal with the issue in its 52 years of existence.

The agenda can still undergo changes in the month before the start of the meeting and a senior diplomat from a board member nation said the item, included on Arab request, could be struck if the US and other Israeli allies mount strong opposition. He asked for anonymity for discussing a confidential matter, according to AP.

Even if dropped from the final agenda, however, its inclusion in the May 7 draft made available to The AP is significant, reflecting the success of Islamic nations in giving concerns about Israel's unacknowledged nuclear arsenal increased prominence.

The 35-nation IAEA board is the agency's decision making body and can refer proliferation concerns to the UN Security Council.
A decision to keep the item would be a slap in the face not only for Israel but also for Washington and its Western allies which have been turning a blind eye on Israel’s nuclear program and the stockpile of more than 200 nuclear warheads it is believed to possess.

Inclusion of the item appeared to be the result of a push by the 18-nation Arab group of IAEA member nations, which last year successfully lobbied another agency meeting — its annual conference — to pass a resolution directly criticizing Israel and its atomic program.

A letter to IAEA chief Yukiya Amano by the Arab group that was also shared with the AP urged Amano to report to the board what was known about Israel's nuclear program "by including a list of the information available to the Agency and the information which it can gather from open sources."
The April 23 Arab letter urged Amano to enforce the conference resolution calling on Israel to allow IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities.

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IOA offers two Gazan prisoners their freedom if they accept exile

[ 08/05/2010 - 09:04 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- The higher national committee supporting prisoners has announced that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) had offered two prisoners from the Gaza Strip to set them free if they accepted exile.

Riyadh Al-Ashqar, the committee's spokesman, said in a press release on Friday that the IOA was offering prisoners their freedom coupled with exile or else they would be held indefinitely in administrative custody.

He said that the IOA offered Mohammed Mustafa his freedom in return for exile outside Palestine for medical treatment. Mustafa was sentenced for 12 years in 2000 and was paralyzed due to torture during interrogation followed by medical neglect.

Ashqar said that another prisoner Munir Abu Diba, who had completed his 11-year sentence, was offered deportation or detention for a long period. The IOA refused to release Abu Diba at the pretext that he did not carry a Palestinian ID and tried to deport him to Egypt and Jordan but both refused to receive him.

The spokesman recalled that three other prisoners from the West Bank were recently offered release along with banishment but they turned down the offer.

The committee, meanwhile, said that it had asked the union of parliaments of member countries in the organization of Islamic conference (OIC) scheduled to hold a meeting in Istanbul within two days to support the cause of Palestinian prisoners.

Mohammed Radwan, an official with the committee, said in a press release that his committee asked the union to establish an Islamic committee to activate the issue of those prisoners who are in danger of death in IOA jails.

Radwan asked professor Irfan Gündüz, a Turkish MP and head of the union's relations with Islamic countries, in a telephone conversation for an Islamic role against the IOA violations of the prisoners' rights.

Gündüz said that the issue would be prioritized at the meeting, which would adopt a practical position toward this humanitarian question.

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Book Review: "Mornings in Jenin" by Susan Abulhawa

Contributed By Titania (Thanks)

Please read "Mornings in Jenin" by

Susan Abulhawa.

February 21, 2010 05:07 PM EST

Mornings in Jenin
Susan Adulhawa

ISBN: 978-1-60819-046-1

What is life like as a perpetual refugee? Most in the West can’t even conceive of living in a stateless society, where two peoples are constantly at war, both having been wronged by society and history. This is Palestine in the modern world. It’s about as foreign an environment as most readers could imagine.Before reading Mornings in Jenin, my only real insight into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had come from dry news reports of atrocities on both sides over the years. This book is a life changing force. It won’t necessarily change your political leanings, but it will take you far into the Palestinian mindset and make apparent just how impossible this conflict is for any side to “win.”

There is no common ground, and yet these two groups are exactly in the same spot, each seeking the security of being able to live in peace on a land they can call their own.

Although it is a fictional account, there are plenty of real news events included in the book, including the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps and the bombing of Beirut. The story told here is that of one Palestinian family, whose roots are in the olive groves of Palestine before the 1948 creation of the state of Israel. In particular, the novel is told from the point of view of the youngest daughter, Amal, who was born after the family had been exiled to the refugee camp of Jenin.

As one would expect, this novel is one of heartbreak and loss, of coping with unimaginable tragedy and hope for a restoration of what was taken. An interesting component in the story is the circumstance in which one brother of the family (presumed dead) is raised as an Israeli Jew. More than anything, this duality and tenuousness of life is what sets this book apart from merely being a diatribe about Palestinian loss. It is so easy to see how both sides feel and why they take the actions they do to defend what each considers to be “their” exclusive homeland.

As if all this weren’t reason enough to read Mornings in Jenin, author Susan Abulhawa has written one of the most lyrical and prosaic books I‘ve ever read. There are passages that will cause a reader to stop mid-story in awe, so beautifully written are they. It is this beauty that helps carry the heavy meaning of loss. Understanding what land means to a landless people is made more bittersweet by this compelling writing, of her beautiful descriptions of the land, the family‘s love for one another, and the stoic endurance that is adopted when one suffers a fatal loss.

This is the story of loss that no political solution can solve. Yet despite the tragedies heaped on one family, there is still reason for hope and humanity, to carry on, to love again. It’s a powerful book, beautifully written.

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One injury, dozens of suffocation cases, six detainees in Bil’in anti-wall march

[ 08/05/2010 - 08:12 AM ]

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- One Palestinian citizen was injured, dozens suffered tear gas suffocation and six others were detained at noon Friday when the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) attacked the weekly anti-wall protest at the village of Bil'in, central West Bank.

The villagers and international activists set off toward the wall carrying Palestinian flags and calling for national unity against the Israeli occupation and land confiscation. They also stated their refusal of all military measures to close the village and prevent citizens and activists from organizing protests.

When the protest reached the wall, IOF troops were seen stationed behind concrete blocks. The wall gate that leads to the usurped Palestinian lands was already closed and encircled by barbed wire.

The troops immediately fired teargas grenades which caused fire in the olive groves. A protester was shot by a teargas canister and he was transferred to Ramallah for medical treatment.

The anti-wall march took place for the second consecutive month despite the Israeli government’s decision to close the wall’s perimeter and the site of weekly protests, and declare them a closed military zone.

In the village of Ma’sarah near Bethlehem on the same day, the citizens and activists challenged the Israeli measures and went on two marches against the segregation wall.

Israeli troops installed a barbed wire checkpoint to stop villagers from reaching the stolen lands, but the villagers along with their supporters managed to pass the military checkpoint and reach the agricultural areas.

Soldiers tried to stop protesters by using batons but some, including a group from France, broke through and spent time in one of the fields.

A similar protest took place yesterday in the village of Nabi Saleh, northwest of Ramallah, where the IOF troops reportedly used batons to beat the protestors and fired tear gas grenades and rubber bullets at them.

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Cleaning Up

kenny's sideshow

Mayor Karl Dean of Nashville said the cost of damages from the weekend of record flooding will likely exceed $1 billion.

Nashville  drying out and cleaning up photos.

BP oil spill cost for the Deepwater Horizon clean-up could total at least $12.5 billion.

Meanwhile, the U.S.Congress is considering a bill to vote for it’s annual $3 Billion assistance to Israel’s IDF.

Money that doesn't exist except as forever debt to the Federal Reserve.

While tens of thousands of US citizens work to clean up the destruction that has and is occurring in our land and on our shores, Israel uses its influence to continue to clean out what is left in our pockets.

Isn't it time to take care of our own and force Israel pay for its own land theft and destruction of lives? Without our money perhaps it would stop.
Posted by kenny's sideshow at 9:05 AM

Masri: Shalit would not be the last Israeli captive

Masri: Shalit would not be the last Israeli captive

[ 08/05/2010 - 07:30 AM ]

RAFAH, (PIC)-- Secretary of Hamas's parliamentary bloc Mushir Al-Masri affirmed in Rafah on Friday night that the recent spate of punitive measures against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation jails would not influence Hamas's decision in the prisoners' exchange deal.

Masri, in a ceremony organized by the higher national committee to support prisoners for relatives of old-serving prisoners, said that Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit would never enjoy his freedom until all prisoners on the list tabled by Hamas were released from Israeli jails.

He said that Shalit would not be the last captive to be captured by Palestinian resistance, vowing that Hamas and its armed wing the Qassam Brigades would continue to seek the release of all Palestinian prisoners.

The MP criticized, in this respect, the security militias, loyal to former PA chief Mahmuod Abbas, for detaining tens of liberated prisoners who had sacrificed their freedom for the sake of the Palestinian people's cause.

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Official sources: Egypt’s iron wall is not the only threat to tunnel trade

Official sources: Egypt’s iron wall is not the only threat to tunnel trade

[ 08/05/2010 - 10:12 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Different security and official sources stated that Egypt’s steel wall is not the most serious threat to the tunnel trade in the besieged Gaza Strip, but the other tight measures that target tunnels and workmen.

The sources told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that the perforated pipes which Egypt had planted along the borderline near its iron wall and intends to pump sea water through it in order to cause cracks and landslides leading to the destruction of tunnels is the most dangerous threat not only to the tunnel trade, but also to the groundwater aquifer and the Palestinian ecology.

They affirmed that the pipes and other Egyptian measures such as pumping poisonous gas into the tunnels and detonating them are the real danger to the trade, especially since Gaza tunnel workmen had managed to breach the iron wall.

The sources stressed that the tunnels are a Palestinian innovation born out of the need that resulted from the blockade and will remain there as long as the besieging parties still refuse to open the crossings.

For his part, an official Egyptian source confirmed to the PIC what was reported by the BBC about the success of Gaza tunnel workmen in penetrating the iron wall.

The source explained that the workmen used thermal diggers to breach parts of the wall, but he said that the wall is not finished yet and it will be electrified and supported with a network of underground water pipes in order to make it difficult for them to penetrate the wall.

In a separate incident, a Palestinian medical source reported that paramedics saved the lives of eight Palestinian tunnel workmen who suffered breathing difficulty after their tunnel collapsed at dawn Saturday.

1.5 million people in impoverished Gaza largely rely on the network of tunnels on the border to secure their vital needs since Israel and Egypt sealed Gaza off after the Movement of Hamas won the elections.

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Reproduction of failure

While the Palestinians and Israelis will soon engage in proximity talks, the preceding battle was won by Israel, with Palestinian leaders much weakened, writes Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank

At a time when the Obama administration is hailing the imminent resumption of indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a "notable achievement", very few observers in the region think that the upcoming talks will lead to any breakthrough or tangible progress.

Backed by major Arab states, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the PA agreed this week to start "indirect" or "proximity talks" with Israel for four months.

The PA had been refusing to resume stalled talks with Israel as long as Israel kept up expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Intensive pressure from Washington, coupled with "brotherly advice" from moderate Arab states, seems to have dislodged the Palestinian leadership from its earlier stance.

Some reports this week indicated that the Israeli government of Binyamin Netanyahu has given the Obama administration "implicit assurances" that Israel wouldn't indulge in fresh settlement expansion and home demolitions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem at least for the duration of the talks. If true, this may have encouraged the PA to agree to restart talks. Netanyahu nonetheless vowed to keep up expanding settlements despite the upcoming resumption of talks. He told supporters this week that "building all over the land of Israel will continue irrespective of what you hear in the media."

The PA was reportedly asked not to publicise the Israeli "concession" of halting settlement expansion in order not to undercut Netanyahu vis-à-vis his extreme rightwing coalition partners who oppose any peace agreement with the Palestinians, especially if involving "territorial concessions".

For his part, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Ereikat warned that the talks would "stop the moment Israel starts building new settler units on occupied Palestinian territory".

The resumption of talks between Israel and the PA is no cause for euphoria. Palestinian officials in Ramallah have suggested that the Palestinian leadership opted to restart stalled talks "first and foremost in order to appease Washington and prove to the Obama administration that Israel, not the Palestinians, was the real impeder of peace." "I think President Abbas wanted to prove to the Americans that he is still the nice guy and that Netanyahu was the villain," said a PA operative close to Abbas's coterie of aides and advisors.

The operative, who was not authorised to speak to the press, added that, "Abbas and the entire Palestinian leadership knew quite well that there was zero per cent chance that the restarted talks would succeed." "We simply don't want to lose the public relations showdown with Israel because what is happening is a public relations battle, not real peace efforts."

From a different vantage, some stress that Washington's intentions are disingenuous and that the US is only utilising the issue in order to isolate Iran by depriving the Islamic republic of a valuable propaganda card in its showdown with the West over its nuclear programme. The US, especially the State Department, is convinced that the Arab-Israeli conflict is an effective "red herring" that enables Iran to escape accountability with regards to its emerging nuclear capability.

Hence, observers in the Arab region argue forcefully that the driving motive behind accelerated US efforts to get Israel and the PA to resume peace talks has more to do with building an Arab coalition against Iran and less to do with pushing towards a lasting solution to the enduring conflict in the Middle East. The huge and seemingly unbridgeable gaps between the PA and Israel -- especially the present hawkish government, arguably the most extreme in Israel's history -- are bound to make tangible progress unlikely.

Indeed, while ostensibly accepting Palestinian statehood in principle, Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed that Israel would never withdraw from the bulk of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Jordan Valley. Netanyahu has also said repeatedly that Israel would retain its current control of all border crossing to and from the West Bank, which means that any future Palestinian state would lack sovereignty and real authority and be subservient to and tightly controlled by Israel.

It is also clear that talks between the two sides over such cardinal final status issues as the refugee problem, which many experts consider the heart of the Palestinian cause, will go nowhere since Israel vehemently rejects repatriating Palestinian refugees to their original villages and homes in what is now Israel. For its part, the PA can't ignore the issue lest it loses legitimacy in the eyes of the Palestinian people.

President Abbas is thus resuming stalled talks with Israel from a position of considerable weakness. On numerous occasions, Abbas said he wouldn't return to the negotiating table with Israel unless the latter froze all settlement activities in the West Bank. His obvious retreat in this regard is bound to weaken his image both in the eyes of Israelis as well as the Palestinians.

Indeed, Abbas is likely to face mounting opposition from his own Fatah Party should he continue to disregard the party's institutions, such as the Revolutionary Council that recently reasserted its objection to the resumption of talks with Israel under the present circumstances (i.e. continued settlement expansion). Also, the Palestine Liberation Organisation, the umbrella organisation under whose rubric Abbas is resuming talks with Israel, is firmly opposed to the unconditional resumption of talks for the same reason.

Finally, Abbas's Palestinian arena is divided against itself, with the rift between Fatah and Hamas lingering if not deepening, and with no signs of a foreseeable breakthrough. For these and other reasons, it is expected that the Palestinian negotiators will be facing their Israeli counterparts from an inherently weak position.

With these hard realities, and frustrated by the rejectionist Israeli stance and also by the Obama administration's reluctance to pressure Israel, and still more by Arab states' chronic failure to help the Palestinians in any meaningful way behind paying rhetorical lip service to their cause, Abbas last week called on the US to impose a solution on the two sides. Observers have interpreted his call as an expression of exasperation, if not political depression.
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