Saturday 26 May 2012

Israeli settler shoots Palestinian

An Israeli settler shot and wounded a Palestinian man on Saturday in a clash that began when a group of settlers set fire to fields belonging to a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank, officials said.

Residents said about 25 settlers, some of them carrying guns, set fire to wheat fields in the village of Orif, which is near the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Some villagers came out to extinguish the fire and were attacked by the settlers, said Nablus official Kassan Daglas.

During the clash, an Israeli settler shot and wounded one Palestinian, an Israeli military spokesman said, adding that security forces were sent to the scene.

"The Israel Defense Forces regards this incident as severe and will thoroughly investigate it," the spokesman said.

The Palestinian man was shot in the stomach and taken to the hospital, medical officials said.
The military is investigating a similar incident from last week in which a video distributed by an anti-settlement group appeared to show a settler shooting and wounding a Palestinian during a confrontation with rock-throwing Palestinians, as soldiers stood by.
Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and have regularly been condemned by the United Nations and other bodies.

The Jewish state continues to expand its development of the settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)
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The Israel Lobby’s Tea Party Foreign Aid Conundrum

By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
May 22, 2012

In a May 15 JTA article titled “Lugar’s defeat raises specter of more partisanship on foreign policy,” Ron Kampeas notes that the so-called Tea Party poses an interesting conundrum for the Israel lobby:
The problem, the insiders say, is not one of enthusiasm for Israel but in how members of the party’s right wing have proposed changing the mechanisms for allocating foreign aid.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has always emphasized the importance of backing the entire foreign assistance package. The logic is multifold: Aid overall builds good will for the United States and its allies; the perception that aid to the developing world is inextricable from aid to Israel promotes good will for Israel in those countries; singling out Israel for assistance while neglecting other countries promotes unseemly stereotypes about Jewish influence; and cutting aid inevitably will likely lead to cuts in assistance for Israel, however much the current Congress supports the country.
“They want to cut everything but Israel, but in the end, if everything else is cut, assistance to Israel will have to be cut,” said the pro-Israel donor.
The logic of the lobby’s position on foreign aid was surely not lost on CNN’s Wolf Blitzer when he challenged Senator Rand Paul on his budget cut plans. “You want to end all foreign aid as well, is that right?” the former editor of AIPAC’s Near East Report anxiously asked the senator from Kentucky. “What about humanitarian aid, for example, to Africa? You want to end all that?”
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Criminal Charges Placed against IDF General Ashkenazi

by Roy Tov
Friday, May 25th, 2012

Life sentence requested by Turkish authorities
Gabi Ashkenazi | Criminal Charges against former IDF Chief of Staff

A few days ago I published Hunting down Ashkenazi, where I said: “When the day comes it would be an important testimony in the trial of Barak and Ashkenazi for war crimes by the International Court of Justice.” That sentence cost me a record number of subscribers; yet, it may soon become reality. At the beginning of May 2012, Turkey’s Justice Ministry finished its probe on the IDF’s 2010 Freedom Flotilla raid. Turkish Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin requested then information from the country’s Foreign Ministry on several IDF soldiers; fact reported by the Turkish Today’s Zaman. Yesterday, May 24, it was made public that criminal charges had been placed by Turkey against several IDF officers, demanding life sentences. Among them is former IDF Chief of Staff, General Gaby Ashkenazi.

On May 31, 2010, nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed by IDF soldiers in a confrontation with Shayetet 13 naval commandos that boarded the Mavi Marmara on international waters. The ship was bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza. Israel established the Turkel Committee to conduct an investigation; expectedly, its biased report determined that Israel’s takeover of the flotilla had been legal in terms of international law, but criticized the IDF’s preparations to the flotilla arrival as well as the operation itself.
Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit
The IDF position was outrageous. Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit addressed the Turkel Committee and claimed that the naval blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza in 2007 was according with international law, and that it was imposed due to pure military considerations and not as a part of economic warfare against Hamas. Showing disregard for the listeners intelligence, he then added: “Every step taken, be it part of classical warfare or economic warfare, aims to bring the other side to do what we want it to do.” Mr. Mendelblit, I am confused. Is there an economic warfare toward civilians or not? Mendelblit’s picture leaves no doubt: he is a Haredi Jew (notice his black kippa). As such, he studied the Talmud, meaning that he has at least a rudimentary understanding of logic. This wasn’t an unintentional mistake of a stupid man, but an attempt to mislead the public with carefully stated lies. In another part of his testimony, he said that “We have no desire to punish the civilian population” and “we won’t fire in an unguided manner into a civilian population.” For those finding these dubious, he added “no one in the IDF would think to violate international law.” Mr. Mendelblit, did you bother to read the Goldstone Report? Or at least the Beit Oranim Transcript? The last is in Hebrew, it should be easy for you. Both speak of repeated and intentional attacks on civilians by the IDF and of systematic violations of international law by the IDF. The Beit Oranim Transcript is disturbing; it describes the cold-blooded assassination of grandmothers, and mothers and their children by IDF soldiers and officers, who then spoke about it in a inner IDF event that took place in Beit Oranim; the report was published by Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Given the circumstances and its content, there is no doubt that the Turkel Committee Report is void of any value. Israel cannot investigate its own crimes.
Mavi Marmara | May 22, 2010
In early September 2011, the UN Palmer Report on the Gaza flotilla was published; it claimed that the IDF soldiers acted in self-defense, but used excessive force. Oddly enough, the self-defense of the ship crew and passengers was not properly accounted for by Mr. Palmer. In May 2012, the Turkish inquiry into the raid found that the raid was illegal. Turkish law allows for the trial of people accused of genocide or crimes against humanity even if the crimes are committed abroad; consequently, criminal charges had been placed against several of the IDF officers responsible for the mortal attack on the humanitarian convoy.
The Turkish government bases its charges—presented in a thick document of 144 pages—on the testimonies of around 600 people. 490 of them were on the attacked ship; the others are relatives of the killed. The government is asking ten life sentences for various IDF officers, including Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, back then the IDF Chief of Staff, Major General Eliezer Merom, back then commander of the IDF’s Navy and Major General Amos Yadlin, back then Head of AMAN, the IDF Intelligence Directorate. The next step would be the issuing of international arrest orders against the accused officers. Right now, their entrance into Turkish territory will lead to their arrest and trial.
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Israel partisans stoke “human rights” crisis in U.S.-Russia relations

By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
May 25, 2012
According to a Reuters report on the recent Group of Eight Summit at Camp David, Russia’s G8 liaison Arkady Dvorkovich warned of a potential crisis between Moscow and Washington over the issue of human rights:
Dvorkovich said that at a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, Medvedev will raise opposition to attempts by some U.S. lawmakers to introduce legislation which will address human rights violations in Russia.
Such legislation could take a form of the so-called Sergei Magnitsky bill, named after the Russian lawyer who died in prison in 2009. The Kremlin human rights council says he was probably beaten to death.
The bill would require the United States to deny visas and freeze the assets of Russians or others with links to his detention and death as well as those who commit other human rights violations.
“New legislation which will address new political issues as imagined by some U.S. congressmen or senators is unacceptable,” Dvorkovich said, promising a retaliation.
The Magnitsky bill was introduced last year by Senator Ben Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and co-chair of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission). In a August 9, 2011 Washington Post op-ed to promote the legislation, Senator Cardin wrote:
The case of Sergei Magnitsky has come to symbolize the rampant and often violent corruption plaguing the Russian state. Sergei, a 37-year-old tax lawyer, husband and father working for an American firm in Moscow, blew the whistle on the largest known tax fraud in Russian history. For that he was arrested in 2008 by those he accused, and he was imprisoned under torturous conditions for nearly a year. He was denied medical care and beaten by prison guards; he died alone in November 2009 in an isolation cell as doctors waited outside his door. These facts are accepted at the highest levels of Russia’s government, yet those implicated in his death remain unpunished, in positions of authority. Some have even been decorated and promoted.
Sergei joins a heartbreaking list of Russian heroes who lost their lives because they stood up for principle. These ranks include Natalya Estemirova, a brave human rights activist whose bullet-riddled body was found on a roadside in 2009 in the North Caucasus; Anna Politikovskaya, an intrepid reporter shot in Moscow in 2006 while carrying home groceries; and too many others.
Ben Cardin’s apparent concern about Russia’s human rights abuses stands in marked contrast to his staunch support for Israel, however. Notwithstanding the equally heartbreaking — and arguably longer — list of Palestinian heroes who have lost their lives because they too stood up for principle, the Senator for Maryland’s May 24, 2011 statement regarding President Obama’s speeches on the Middle East peace process and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a Joint Session of Congress leaves little doubt as to his passionate attachment to the Jewish state despite its egregious human rights abuses:

This week, the President highlighted what I have always believed – unyielding U.S. support for Israel’s security, U.S. rejection of Palestinian terrorism, and most importantly, the necessity for the parties to commit to negotiations as the means of resolving the conflict. I also met with Prime Minister Netanyahu today and after that discussion, I am similarly confident that that what bonds our countries is an unbreakable alliance. As he stated before Congress, “Israel has no better friend than America. And America has no better friend than Israel. We stand together to defend democracy. We stand together to advance peace. We stand together to fight terrorism.”
Apart from the Washington Post’s championing of the Magnitsky bill, a cursory look at other stridently pro-Israel media such as The Weekly Standard and Commentary shows that Senator Cardin is not alone in his selective outrage over human rights abuses. So, as Moscow contemplates its “retaliation” against this “unacceptable” legislation, it should also consider whether Tel Aviv might not be a more appropriate target for its ire than Washington.
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Separate and Unequal in Israel

Thursday, May 24, 2012

On May 23, Yousef Munayyer headlined his New York Times op-ed "Not All Israeli Citizens are Equal," saying:

Residing in Lod, Israel, he's an Arab citizen. His Palestinian wife lives in Nablus in the West Bank.

Israel separates them 30 miles apart. Discriminatory laws, "walls, checkpoints, settlements and soldiers" enforce it. Normal life is impossible. More on that below.

Palestinians face occupation repression. Arab Israeli citizens bear their own cross. Institutionalized intolerance harms them. Israel calls them fifth column and demographic threats.

All aspects of their lives are affected. Socioeconomic discrimination includes land policies, urban planning, housing, infrastructure, economic development, employment, education, healthcare, and personal safety.

Separate and unequal is policy. Arabs aren't wanted. Discriminatory laws target them. Fundamental rights are violated. Redress most often is impossible. Living free on their own land is denied. Emigration is encouraged. Perhaps forced relocations loom.

Non-Jews aren't wanted. Neither are refugees fleeing repression. Around 3,000 South Sudanese face expulsion. More on them below.

International law protects refugees and asylum seekers.

Article I of the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees calls them:

"A person who owning to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of their nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country."

Post-WW II, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established to help them.

To gain legal protection, they must:

  • be outside their country of origin;
  • fear persecution;
  • be harmed or fear harm by their government or others;
  • fear persecution for at least one of the above cited reasons; and
  • pose no danger to others.
Israel's a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention. Nonetheless, Interior Ministry procedures and secret inter-ministerial determinations decide individual cases.

Compared to Western states, Israel accepts the fewest number of temporary or permanent refugees even though being legally and morally bound to help.

In recent years, thousands of South Sudanese refugees were admitted. Now they face deportation. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein claims no legal obstacle prevents expelling them despite repressive conditions back home.

Human Rights Watch documented numerous security force violations. They include "unlawful killings, forcible community disarmament operations, as well as unlawful arrests and suppress opponents of the ruling party and independent journalists."

A Jerusalem District Court issued a temporary restraining order. Deportations are prohibited pending its ruling on a petition filed by five human rights organizations. It's on behalf of the refugees legally entitled to stay.

According to Tel Aviv University's Refugee Rights Clinic attorney Anat Ben-Dor:

"A humanitarian crisis is developing in South Sudan, which is expected to lead to extreme famine. In addition, the border conflicts with Sudan are continuing, so in these circumstances the decision to return the Sudanese to South Sudan is premature and irresponsible."

Israel breaches fundamental international law principles. Despite dangers refugees face back home, a Justice Ministry statement said they're no longer eligible for asylum.

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman considers them illegal. He called all illegal migrants a "national plague."

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said South Sudan remains unstable. As a result, refugees deserve asylum status.

Returning must only be voluntary. Israel intends mass deportation. International law obligations and fundamental human rights considerations don't matter.

Munayyer described his own ordeal. Separation from his wife is painful. So is foreign travel. Ben-Gurion International Airport lies close to Lod. His wife holds a Palestinian ID card. She can't use it.

She's "relegated to flying from Amman, Jordan." Planning a trip together entails a "logistical nightmare. (It) reminds us of our profound inequality before the law at every turn."

Traveling to or from Amman, they're forced to use different bridges. They're located two hours apart. Crossing into Israel or the West Bank involves "humiliating waiting and questioning. The laws conspire to separate us."

Israeli legislation prohibits Palestinians from living in Israel.

Israel's Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law is discriminatory, unfair and illegal. It denies legal status to Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens.

In May 2006, Israel's High Court rejected petitions opposing the law and did again in January 2012. It called it essential for national security. It also covers spouses living in designated "enemy states." Iran, Syria and Lebanon are targeted. Iraq was under Saddam Hussein.

The law has far reaching implications. Normal family life, equality and human dignity are denied. Adalah called the High Court's 2006 ruling a "violation of human rights and (failure) to provide a legal remedy (to) injured" Palestinian spouses and family members.

It upheld a "racist law that denies a person's fundamental constitutional rights on the basis of his or her national identity."

It went far beyond nationality, ethnicity, religion, and entry into Israel. It legitimized collective punishment. It's prohibited under international law. It also legitimized discrimination as policy. At the same time, it exposed Israel's undemocratic harshness.

Democracies grant equal rights to all citizens. Separate and unequal policies are prohibited. Judges ruling otherwise have no place on any court. Sitting on Israel's High one is a travesty of justice.

In his statement, Deputy Chief Justice Mishael Cheshin said:

Palestinians are "enemy nationals and as such constitute a risk group for the citizens and residents of Israel."

In his minority opinion, Chief Justice Aharon Barak disagreed, ruling:

  • "A democracy does not act this way. A democracy does not impose a sweeping prohibition and thus divide its citizens from their spouses and not allow them toconduct family life."
  • "A democracy does not impose a sweeping prohibition and thus leave its citizens with the option of living in the state without the spouse or leaving the state in order to conduct a proper family life."
  • "A democracy does not impose a sweeping prohibition and thus separate parents from their children."
  • "A democracy does not impose a sweeping prohibition and thus discriminate between its citizens in their fulfillment of family life."
  • "Indeed, democracy cedes a certain degree of security in order to obtain an immeasurably larger degree of family life and equality."
  • "This is how a democracy acts in periods of peace and tranquility. This is how a democracy acts during periods of fighting and terror."
  • "It is precisely during these difficult periods when the strength of democracy is revealed. It is precisely in the difficult situation in which Israel is immersed today that Israeli democracy is being tested."

Israel fails every time. Palestinians suffer grievously.

Munayyer continued saying:

"Israelis who marry Americans or any non-Palestinian foreigners are not subject to this treatment."
Jews everywhere in the world immigrating to Israel are automatically afforded citizenship. Palestinians expelled from their land are prohibited from returning.

"Two generations after the Nakba, the effect of discriminatory Israeli policies still reverberates. Israel still seeks to safeguard its image by claiming to be a bastion of democracy that treats its Palestinian citizens well, all the while continuing illiberal policies that target this very population. There is a long history of such discrimination."
After Israel's "War of Independence," discriminatory laws were passed. Some authorized Palestinian land seizures.

The June 1948 Abandoned Areas Ordinance covered conquered territories. Israel's government got exclusive rights to expropriate freely. Palestinians were displaced and prohibited from returning. Land they owned was confiscated.

The September 1948 Area of Jurisdiction and Powers Ordinance revoked Palestinian rights. Henceforth they were subject to Israeli laws.

The March 1950 Absentees' Property Law (ABL) transfered Palestinian owner rights to a Custodian of Absentee Property. Under Israeli law, ownership rights were lost.

The July 1950 Development Authority (Transfer of Property) Law shielded Israel from accusations of having confiscated abandoned Palestinian land and everything on it.

Israel's Development Authority (DA) was established to buy, sell, lease, exchange, repair, build, develop and/or cultivate seized property. Only transactions between Jews or Jewish entities are allowed.

In July 1960, the Israel Lands Administration Law established an "Israel Lands Administration (ILA)."

Israel's Basic Law affirms that Israeli land ownership can't be transferred "by sale or any other manner." Structures and everything "permanently fixed to the land" are included.

Israeli laws and ILA policies prohibit Arabs from buying, leasing or using land exclusively reserved for Jews. Israel institutionalized plunder and discrimination. Historical injustices remain unaddressed.

Millions of Palestinians can't live free on their own land. "If this is not apartheid," said Munayyad, "then whatever it is, it's certainly not democracy."

Persecution also affects Arab citizens. Dozens of discriminatory laws harm them.

"For all the talk about" Israeli democracy, "until (its) leaders....recognize Palestinians as equals," reality will belie rhetoric.

Munayyer serves as the Jerusalem Fund's executive director.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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Egypt Muslim Brotherhood Urges Support for Mursi

Local Editor

Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood urges people to rally behind its presidential candidate Mohamad
Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood urges people to rally behind its presidential candidate Mohamad Mursi who is likely to go on the run-off next month along with former prime minister Ahmad Shafiq.
The Brotherhood on Friday declared Mursi the front-runner in the May 23-24 election after all the votes had been counted, with Shafiq, who served as the last PM during Hosni Mubarak’s rule, in second place.
Several newspaper websites also put Mursi and shafiq out in front after the voting on Wednesday and Thursday.

A run-off between Shafiq and Mursi will further polarize a nation that rose up against the authoritarian Mubarak 15 months ago but has since suffered a spike in violence and a declining economy.

The electoral commission is expected to declare the official results on Tuesday, but tallies of the vote counting provided by the official MENA news agency and Al-Ahram newspaper showed Mursi in first place and Shafiq in second.

"We have complete numbers now. Complete, after adding expatriate votes," said Essam al-Erian, the deputy head of the Brotherhood's political arm.

Erian told a press conference it was "completely clear" that Mursi and Shafiq had topped the presidential vote and would compete in the run-off on June 16-17.

He said Mursi won 25.3 percent of the vote, and Shafiq 24 percent. Pan-Arab socialist Hamdeen Sabahi won 22 percent, Erian said.

Another Brotherhood official told AFP that Mursi would personally call the movement's bitter rival Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a former Brotherhood leader who ran independently of the movement.
"We call on all sincere political and national forces to unite to protect the revolution and to achieve the pledges we took before our great nation," a Brotherhood statement said.

"Today we face desperate attempts to reproduce the old regime," it said.

Aboul Fotouh's campaign earlier issued a statement calling on Egyptians to confront "the corrupt regime" in the run-offs, in a veiled reference to Shafiq.
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May 25: South Lebanon Returns Home

Photo Blog by Haitham Moussawi

On 25 May 2000, the Israeli army was forced out of the Lebanese territory it had occupied for 22 years. 12 years later, Lebanon celebrates its liberated lands which continue to be under threat from Israels military. Israeli fighter jets violate Lebanese airspace on a daily basis. In summer of 2006, Israel launched a war to destroy the Lebanese resistance.

After Israel’s failed war, Lebanon’s main resistance group, Hezbollah, turned one of its military bases in Mleeta into a museum about the history of Hezbollah’s resistance against Israel. The trenches in the base show how fighters lived, the weapons they used, and display the war trophies gained from fleeing Israeli troops.

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

(Photo: Haitham Moussawi)

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Jerusalem Day rife with racism

Photos by E. Van R and Lazar Simeonov. More

May 20th marked the annual Israeli celebration of the ‘reunification’ of Jerusalem that came with the establishment of Israeli control and occupation over the old city in the June 1967 six day war. One of the biggest events to mark Jerusalem Day is day is the massive parade through the streets of the city itself.

According to international law the occupation of East Jerusalem, which includes the old city, is illegal. The international community rejects the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem and treats it as Palestinian territory. Meanwhile the policies of the Israeli government is to expand their presence in East Jerusalem, which is evident from the thousands of Jewish only settlement housing units being built, the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes, and demolishing Palestinian houses.

The Israeli authorities declared a state of emergency for the entire city of Jerusalem. Shops in the Old City were ordered to close. Some shop owners followed this order, others stayed open until around four o’clock. As one shop owner explained, “It is my right to open the shop, and if I do close I’ll be accused by other Palestinians of being a normalizer.” By around 5 pm almost every shop was closed out of fear from getting vandalized by Israeli settlers as they passed by.

According to the Israeli National Police spokesman, approximately 35,000 extremist Jews participated in the parade which passed through Palestinian quarters. Almost every Jew was dressed in the white and blue national colors, and thousands of Israeli flags filled the streets of Jerusalem. Nationalistic and Zionist songs were sung.

Before the parade started, two Israeli Knesset members along with 20 other extremist Jews entered the Al-Aqsa compound, but were removed by security forces. Meanwhile Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed that “Israel without Jerusalem is like a body without a heart. Our heart will never be divided again.”

During the afternoon Zionist Jews showed up in front of the Damascus gate while on the other side of the street 150 Palestinians gathered for a counter demonstration. Some Palestinians were waving flags as they sang songs for freedom.

The situation quickly became tense. In addition to the presence of the Israeli police and border control soldiers, a huge amount of special forces, known as the Yassam, were also there. Yassam are known for their very aggressive and violent behavior toward Palestinians. The Israeli police spokesman said that the large amount of soldiers and police were to prevent any provocation from the Palestinian side.
However, the small protest by the Palestinians was completely peaceful. The Israeli soldiers tried to suppress the protest and began pushing people back. Every once in a while police mounted on horses drove full speed into the crowd, chasing Palestinians, and beating up or arresting some.

Meanwhile on the other side of the road, more and more Israeli Jews were gathering to taunt the Palestinian counter demonstration. Every time the soldiers harassed Palestinians the crowed would burst into cheers and applause. An Israeli settler family stood behind the fence watching the other side while the mother explained to her three children what was happening.

“See, these are the Arabs who want to throw rocks at us, but the police are taking them down one by one like this.” She made the hand gesture as the father, wearing a gun on his belt, agreed with a smile.
Israeli youth gathered at the fence with only the width of the street separating them from the Palestinian youth and yelled racist slurs at them. Both sides were screaming “This is our land!” It was disconcerting to see young Israelis, who used their larger number to scream racist slogans at Palestinians with such hatred, such as “Death to the Arabs!” and “Muhammad is dead!”
As the sun set and darkened the streets of Jerusalem, the Israeli soldiers violently pushed the Palestinians further away from the Damascus gate. Thousands of Jews were celebrating at the Western wall.

By the end of the day, five Palestinians were arrested and accused for throwing object at Israeli’s and/or soldiers. Another ten Israelis were arrested for racist slurs and attacking Palestinians.

Although this year’s Israeli commemoration of Jerusalem Day was less violent than last year’s, it were again the Palestinians who had to suffer from another Israeli army backed provocation by Jewish extremists in their own city, which illustrated in another tell tale sign of who really wields the power and authority when it comes to the rule of law.
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Not All Israeli Citizens Are Equal

I’M a Palestinian who was born in the Israeli town of Lod, and thus I am an Israeli citizen. My wife is not; she is a Palestinian from Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Despite our towns being just 30 miles apart, we met almost 6,000 miles away in Massachusetts, where we attended neighboring colleges.

A series of walls, checkpoints, settlements and soldiers fill the 30-mile gap between our hometowns, making it more likely for us to have met on the other side of the planet than in our own backyard.
Never is this reality more profound than on our trips home from our current residence outside Washington.

Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport is on the outskirts of Lod (Lydda in Arabic), but because my wife has a Palestinian ID, she cannot fly there; she is relegated to flying to Amman, Jordan. If we plan a trip together — an enjoyable task for most couples — we must prepare for a logistical nightmare that reminds us of our profound inequality before the law at every turn.

Even if we fly together to Amman, we are forced to take different bridges, two hours apart, and endure often humiliating waiting and questioning just to cross into Israel and the West Bank. The laws conspire to separate us.

If we lived in the region, I would have to forgo my residency, since Israeli law prevents my wife from living with me in Israel. This is to prevent what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once referred to as “demographic spillover.” Additional Palestinian babies in Israel are considered “demographic threats” by a state constantly battling to keep a Jewish majority. (Of course, Israelis who marry Americans or any non-Palestinian foreigners are not subjected to this treatment.)

Last week marked Israel’s 64th year of independence; it is also when Palestinians commemorate the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” during which many of Palestine’s native inhabitants were turned into refugees.

In 1948, the Israeli brigade commander Yitzhak Rabin helped expel Lydda’s Palestinian population. Some 19,000 of the town’s 20,000 native Palestinian inhabitants were forced out. My grandparents were among the 1,000 to remain.

They were fortunate to become only internally displaced and not refugees. Years later my grandfather was able to buy back his own home — a cruel absurdity, but a better fate than that imposed on most of his neighbors, who were never permitted to re-establish their lives in their hometowns.

Three decades later, in October 1979, this newspaper reported that Israel barred Rabin from detailing in his memoir what he conceded was the “expulsion” of the “civilian population of Lod and Ramle, numbering some 50,000.” Rabin, who by then had served as prime minister, sought to describe how “it was essential to drive the inhabitants out.”

Two generations after the Nakba, the effect of discriminatory Israeli policies still reverberates. Israel still seeks to safeguard its image by claiming to be a bastion of democracy that treats its Palestinian citizens well, all the while continuing illiberal policies that target this very population. There is a long history of such discrimination.

In the 1950s new laws permitted the state to take control over Palestinians’ land by classifying them “absentees.” Of course, it was the state that made them absentees by either preventing refugees from returning to Israel or barring internally displaced Palestinians from having access to their land. This last group was ironically termed “present absentees” — able to see their land but not to reach it because of military restrictions that ultimately resulted in their watching the state confiscate it. Until 1966, Palestinian citizens were governed under martial law.

Today, a Jew from any country can move to Israel, while a Palestinian refugee, with a valid claim to property in Israel, cannot. And although Palestinians make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population, the 2012 budget allocates less than 7 percent for Palestinian citizens.

Tragically for Palestinians, Zionism requires the state to empower and maintain a Jewish majority even at the expense of its non-Jewish citizens, and the occupation of the West Bank is only one part of it. What exists today between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is therefore essentially one state, under Israeli control, where Palestinians have varying degrees of limited rights: 1.5 million are second-class citizens, and four million more are not citizens at all. If this is not apartheid, then whatever it is, it’s certainly not democracy.

The failure of Israeli and American leaders to grapple with this nondemocratic reality is not helping. Even if a two-state solution were achieved, which seems fanciful at this point, a fundamental contradiction would remain: more than 35 laws in ostensibly democratic Israel discriminate against Palestinians who are Israeli citizens.

For all the talk about shared values between Israel and the United States, democracy is sadly not one of them right now, and it will not be until Israel’s leaders are willing to recognize Palestinians as equals, not just in name, but in law.

Yousef Munayyer is executive director of the Jerusalem Fund.
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Eliminating 4,970,000 Palestinian refugees: Status Update

With the stroke of a pen, a new bill in Congress could slash the number of Palestinian refugees -- and open a world of controversy.


A war is brewing on Capitol Hill. And while wars tend to create refugees, this one may result in fewer of them.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) is trying to get a handle on the real number of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East -- a move that could result in a change of status for millions of Palestinians. His proposed language for the 2013 foreign appropriations bill would require the U.S. government to confirm just how many Palestinians currently served by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) -- the body taskedwith providing assistance, protection, and advocacy for Palestinian refugees -- are actually refugees. The bill, slated for markup on May 22, would challenge the status of the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Palestinian refugees -- a great many of whom claim to be refugees despite the fact that they were never personally displaced in the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars.

The aim of this proposed legislation, Kirk's office explains, is not to deprive Palestinians who live in poverty of essential services, but to tackle one of the thorniest issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: the "right of return." The dominant Palestinian narrative is that all of the refugees of the Israeli-Palestinian wars have a right to go back, and that this right is not negotiable. But here's the rub: By UNRWA's own count, the number of Palestinians who describe themselves as refugees has skyrocketed from 750,000 in 1950 to 5 million today. As a result, the refugee issue has been an immovable obstacle in round after round of negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.

How have these numbers swelled, particularly as the Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes in 1948 and 1967 grew old and died? This question lies at the crux of the Kirk amendment. And the answer is UNRWA.

The knock on UNRWA is that it exists to perpetuate the refugee problem, not solve it. It was UNRWA that bestowed refugee status upon "descendants of refugees," regardless of how much time had elapsed. As a result, the Palestinian refugee population has grown seven-fold since the start of the Arab-Israeli conflict. As one study projects, if descendants maintain their current status, the number of "refugees" in 2020 will be 6.4 million -- despite the fact that few of the actual, displaced Palestinians will still be alive. In 2050, that number will reach 14.7 million.

UNRWA, which calls for a "just and durable" solution to the refugee problem, has unquestionably been a silent partner to the Palestinian leadership. The agency's administration fully understands that if Israel accepted the PLO's demand, it would be demographic suicide. As Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself has admitted, asking the Jewish state to repatriate 5 million Palestinians "would mean the end of Israel."

UNRWA's warts notwithstanding, American taxpayers have rewarded it year after year. In the 2011 fiscal year, U.S. assistance to UNRWA stood at $249.4 million. Total contributions since its founding in 1949 amount to a staggering $4.4 billion.

In recent years, politicians and policy wonks, including one former UNRWA administrator, have called for UNRWA reform. The agency hasn't merely demurred; it has girded for battle. UNRWA set up shop in Washington with two Hill-savvy professionals, despite the fact that its operations are entirely based in the Middle East, anticipating the need for what looks a full-scale lobby effort to defend its mission. The agency even toyed with changing its name last year in an attempt to burnish its image in the West.
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Egypt's ex-intelligence chief has predicted a military coup that will eventually pit the country's armed forces against the Muslim Brotherhood and its future "Iranian-style revolutionary guard".

Omar Suleiman claims ongoing political instability may prompt the army to reassert control, bringing it into direct conflict with a more militant Muslim Brotherhood
Ahram Online, Monday 21 May 2012
Former spy chief and one-time presidential candidate Omar Suleiman (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's ex-intelligence chief has predicted a military coup that will eventually pit the country's armed forces against the Muslim Brotherhood and its future "Iranian-style revolutionary guard".

Omar Suleiman made the prediction during a conversation with Jehad El-Khazen, a journalist with the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, who reported it in his Sunday column.
Suleiman, whose presidential campaign floundered after legal hurdles, said Egypt faces the prospect of ongoing instability under an Islamist-dominated government.
This could lead to confrontations between Egypt's political groups and citizens, potentially spiralling into a civil war like that witnessed in Iraq, Suleiman told Khazen.
Such as situation would make the prospect of a military coup against the government "very possible", according to the retired general.
He went on to claim that the Brotherhood is forming paramilitary forces modelled on Iran's Revolutionary Guard to be ready in 2 to 3 years and which will fight to protect the Islamist group's political power.
Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh also came under fire from Suleiman, who claimed the Islamist presidential candidate was the founder of the Gamaa Islamiya (Islamic Group), an organisation behind a wave of brutal violence across Egypt in the early 1990s.
Suleiman also condemned the performance of Egypt's new Parliament, saying that MPs have focused on petty issues while ignoring the essential needs of citizens.
He claimed the Brotherhood had deceived the poor, who represent around 40 per cent of Egyptians, by providing them with low-price foodstuffs in return for electoral support.
Suleiman's informal tete-a-tete with Khazen was the 77-year old's first interview since his elimination from Egypt's presidential race in April.
An 11th hour candidate, the ex-spy head was disqualified after failing to meet registration guidelines.

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American Jews Debate is Edifying – They Just Don’t Get It

Ignoring the real issue.

by Tom Valentine

Leading Israel-first American Jews held an illuminating debate about American politics and Israel’s future recently. It is available for all to see at the link below, Watch the two debates between the non-aggressive leader of J-Street, Jeremy Ben Ami, and the arrogantly aggressive Bill Kristol and Allen Dershowitz, then read the account at Mondoweiss, a website billing itself as featuring “the war of ideas in the Middle east.”

Bill Kristol celebrates Republican Party purge of ‘old fashioned Arabists’ Scowcroft, Baker and Bush I

It won’t take long for VT readers to see the glaring omission in this debate. How can Israelis anywhere complain that Palestinians and Persians want to “drive them into the sea? When the core philosophy of Jews is the racist Talmudic separation of all Jews from all other humans, whom they consider to be cattle?

Obviously, it is this ‘we are the chosen’ chutzpah that is the basic flaw underlying all the hatred, wars and Massacres like Gaza in recent decades and terrorism by Irgun in the early days of the forming theocracy,which was a huge political manipulation by the Banker-dominated West.

In case you sayan shills and bloggers wish to try tarring me for using “code” by calling it “banker-dominated,” I do mean Jewish-dominated. It’s not code, it’s historic truth.

If anyone misconstrues my citing of fact in this column as attempting to arouse hate against Jews—you just don’t get it either—the cosmic double-standard was not my idea, and I consider any person who knowingly claims to be a Jew, Israeli-firster commits a hate crime against the world.

Folks like me are passionately opposed to corrupt, tyrannical government and the “collective” mentality, as contrasted with the cooperative mentality. I have, perhaps too much so, empathy and compassion for fellow humans who also have the same toward me.
See Kevin Barret’s excellent piece here: Evil, Madness, and Blind Spots: Two New Books on Psychopathy Leave their Selective Empathy Showing

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