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Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
www.vtjp.org/
For those interested in keeping up with events in Palestine/Israel, there is no better digest than VTJP.

VTJP Archives | VTJP 2009
12 May , 2009

News

International Middle East Media Center

Israeli Police arrests Haaretz reporter for entering Gaza
13 May 2009 - The Israeli Police detained on Tuesday Haaretz correspondent, Amir Hass, directly after she exited the Gaza Strip. Hass lived and reported from Gaza for several months and was detained by the police upon exiting the Gaza Strip. 

Fateh wins students elections at the American University in Jenin
13 May 2009 - Fateh student’s bloc, Al Aqsa Martyrs, garnered 19 out of 33 seats during the Tuesday students elections at the American University in the northern West Bank city of Jenin. 

Israeli police look down Jerusalem as Pope Benedict the sixth arrives
12 May 2009 - The city of Jerusalem was on total look down as Pope Benedict XVI visited Islamic, Christian and Jewish holy sites in the old city. 

The military kidnaps a civilian from a town near Hebron
12 May 2009 - The Israeli military kidnapped one Palestinian civilian during an invasion targeting Al Thahriya town near the southern west Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday.

The Israeli military kidnaps a mother of "Wanted" Palestinian in northern West Bank
12 May 2009 - The Israeli army invaded the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia on Tuesday and kidnapped an old Palestinian woman.

New government Tuesday
12 May 2009 - Yasser Abed-Rabbu, secretary of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) stated Tuesday morning that the new government, headed by Dr. Salaam Fayyad, would be formed today and that the ministers would be sworn-in by president Mahmoud Abbas. 

PPP declines participation in new government
12 May 2009 - The leftist Palestinian People Party (PPP) decided Tuesday that it would not participate in the new Palestinian government, headed by Dr. Salaam Fayyad. 

US, Israel boycott Security Council Session
12 May 2009 - Israel and the United States boycotted the Monday evening Security Council session after claiming that the peace process in the Middle East is an issue that only concerns the Palestinians and Israel. 

Broad government to be formed within two days
12 May 2009 - Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, stated Monday that he intends to form a broad government in the coming two days, and added that any upcoming government should be committed to the international legitimacy and the previously signed peace deals. 

Peace Now files an appeal against Israeli railway plan that digs deep into Palestinian lands
12 May 2009 - The Israeli Peace Now Movement filed on Monday an objection against the planned Jerusalem-Tel Aviv rail line which, in some sections, would be constructed on private and public Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank. 

Israel angered by statements of Sheikh Tamimi in front of the Pope
12 May 2009 - Sheikh Taiseer Tamimi, Chief Islamic Justice, started his speech in front of the Pope, Benedict XVI, by confirming that Jerusalem is the capital of the future Palestinian state, and by slamming the Israeli violations against the Palestinians and their holy places. The Pope’s statements also did not satisfy some Israeli religious leaders. 

Israel kidnapped 2350 Palestinians since the beginning of this year
12 May 2009 - Palestinian researcher, specialist in detainees’ affairs, former detainee Abdul-Nasser Farawna, stated Monday that the Israeli forces kidnapped since the beginning of this year until the end of April more than 2350 Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. 

Ha'aretz Defense page

IDF probe: Soldier killed by commanding officer's gun
12 May 2009 - Initially, army thought Richter-Levi died from own errant bullet; suspected officer discharged from IDF. 

UN: Israel gives Lebanon cluster bomb data from 2006 war
12 May 2009 - Delivery of technical strike data and related maps follows UN and Lebanese pressure for information. 

MI Chief: Gaza smuggling continues, despite Egypt's efforts
12 May 2009 - Yadlin tells MKs that Hamas has been reinforcing since Gaza op, but unlikely to unleash major strike this year. 

Haaretz reporter Amira Hass arrested upon leaving Gaza
12 May 2009 - Hass released on bail after promising not to reenter the coastal territory over the next 30 days. 

Syrian army chief in Beirut to improve military ties with Lebanon
12 May 2009 - Habib is the highest ranking military official to visit Lebanon since Syria's withdrawal in 2005. 

Report: Iran deploys missile batteries in Persian Gulf
12 May 2009 - Iranian source tells 

Two IDF soldiers arrested for robbing Palestinian in Gaza
12 May 2009 - Givati infantry soldiers allegedly stole Gaza man's credit card with which they spent thousands of shekels. 

Did U.S. help Lebanon crack alleged Israeli spy rings?
12 May 2009 - U.S. has given $1 billion since 2006, including $410 million in security assistance to the military, police. 

Ma'an News

Israeli forces seize 52-year-old mother of wanted man 
5/12/2009 - Qalqiliya – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized a 52-year-old mother from the West Bank city of Qalqiliya, Aadla Abed Al-Aziz Yassin, on Tuesday morning. Her son, Muhammad Rafiq Yassin, is wanted by Israel for being a member of Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. Palestinian security officials raided the Khalet Yassin area of Qalqiliya at 6am, attacking Yassin’s house, detaining the mother and taking her to an unknown location. Israel has often arrested the mothers and wives of “wanted” Palestinian men in order to pressure them into turning themselves in. [end] 

PA to lodge legal challenge to Ma'ale Adumim expansion 
5/12/2009 - Jerusalem – Ma’an – The Palestinian prime minister’s Advisor on Jerusalem Affairs Hatim Abdul Qader said his office would take legal action on Tuesday to strop Israel from seizing more Palestinian land to expand the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. Israel’s Interior Ministry approved a plan for the expansion of Ma’ale Adumim in early May. The plan calls for the annexation of 12,000 dunums (12 square kilometers) of land between Ma’ale Adumim and the smaller settlement of Qedar. After a meeting with his legal team on Monday, Abdul Qader released a statement confirming that the attorneys have been given the green light to file the required papers and move on the suits. The order followed theirauthorization by the local municipal councils of the Palestinian towns of Abu Dis and As-Sawahira Ash-Sharqiyya, and the residents who own the land slated for confiscation to represent them. 

PA Health Ministry: Israel to allow dialysis solutions into Gaza 
5/12/2009 - Ramallah – Ma’an – Dialysis solutions and treatments will be permitted into the Gaza Strip, announced the Palestinian Ministry of Health Tuesday. Director General of the public relations department in the ministry Omar An-Nasr explained in a statement that the Palestinian Authority offices had been coordinating for the transport of meds and solutions into the Strip and they are scheduled to arrive by the end of the week. The coordination effort also worked out several blocks in the transfer process between Israel and the Gaza Strip, the statement noted. Further shipments should be more straightforward. 

Israeli forces stop Bethlehem University faculty en route to interfaith conference with Pope Benedict 
5/12/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Two Bethlehem University faculty were detained for questioning on their way to participate in an interfaith conference with Pope Benedict XVI Tuesday, university officials said. According to BU the two men were held and then denied entry to Jerusalem by Israeli authorities. The delegates were faculty members at the university, university alumni and Bethlehem-area natives. The reasons for their denial were not explained. “Unfortunately” the university commented, “this experience is common for our students, faculty and staff, many of whom navigate a maze of checkpoints, soldiers and other structures of military occupation simply to be present on campus. ”Despite its diminished delegation at the conference Bethlehem University got special mention by the pope. Praising local efforts at interfaith dialogue, Benedict noted BU’s “outstanding achievements” as. . . 

PPP refuses to join new Fayyad-led government 
5/12/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian People’s Party (PPP) declared on Monday that it will not join a new government expected to be appointed within a day and led by current caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Secretary-General of the formerly-communist PPP Bassam As-Salihi said that refuses to accept an offer to become Minister of Agriculture in the new government. As-Salihi told Ma’an his party refused to partake in the new government because they wanted the government to be part of a comprehensive strategy to deal with global trends and with the outcome of inter-Palestinian dialogue. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday that he would appoint the new government within 48 hours. The announcement could come when he arrives Bethlehem, where he is to welcome the pope on Wednesday. Abbas plans to re-instate Fayyad, who he first appointed in June 2007 following the Hamas takeover of Gaza. 

Abbas to swear in new cabinet led by Fayyad 
5/12/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will appoint a new caretaker government on Tuesday, reinstating Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in a setback for hopes of Palestinian political unity. Secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Yasser Abed Rabbo confirmed that Abbas would swear in his new cabinet on Tuesday, giving few other details. Hamas, the main rival of Abbas’ Fatah faction, said that the formation of the new government spells the end of months of reconciliation talks between the two rivals. Another Palestinian official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the new government would be composed of 24 ministers, including independent figures, businessmen, and officials from the PLO factions, including Fatah, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Fida, and the Popular Struggle Front. 

Fatah releases names of new cabinet ministers 
5/12/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Fatah movement published what it said was the final list of ministers in a new Palestinian government which is expected to be sworn in later on Tuesday. Fatah said Salam Fayyad, who is to be reinstates a prime minister, has completed consultations on the makeup of the government. The following, Fatah’s website said, is the coming government: 1. Salam Fayyad, prime minister and finance minister. 2. Sa'adi Al-Krunz, minister of the national economy, and a candidate for deputy prime minister. 3. Fathi Abu Moghli, minister of health. 4. Muhammad Ismail Abu Ismail,minister of public works. 5. Muhammad Saqr, minister of communication. 6. Mashhour Abu Daqqa, minister of transportation. 7. Ali Alsertawi, minister of justice. 8. Zahira Kamal, minister of women’s affairs. 9. Ghassan Al-Khatib, minister of labor. 

Detainees Society calls for the release of cancer patient from Negev Prison 
5/12/2009 - Tubas– Ma’an – The detainees’ society in Tubas appealed the human rights organizations to intervene on behalf of Abdullah Hamid Bani Odeh from Tammoun village, a cancer sufferer detained in Israeli prison and being denied proper medical treatment. Head of the detainees society Mahmoud Sawafta noted that Odeh is being held in Israel’s Negev prison which does not have a medical facility. “The life of Odeh is in the hands of the Israeli prison administration,” said Sawafta, “if something happens to him it is on their heads. ”[end] 

Israeli troops seize Hebron man with alleged weapons 
5/12/2009 - Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized Usama Muhammad, 42, from his home near the West Bank city of Hebron early on Tuesday morning, claiming they found weapons in his house. The military said it confiscated a rifle and matching ammunition from the house in the village of Dahariya, south of Hebron. Palestinian officials denied that there had been weapons in the building, but confirmed that Muhammad was detained. Meanwhile Israel released Abdullah Abed Al-Muhdy Gharib, 21, from the West Bank town of Tarqumiya, West of Hebron, after detaining him for several hours. [end] 

Gaza police rehearse emergency plan in case of renewed Israeli attack 
5/12/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto government police in Gaza have developed a dispersal and evacuation plan to avoid mass casualties in the event of a second war on the Strip, the police department in Gaza City announced Tuesday. On 27 December 2008 at 11:30 am Israeli forces launched their first attack on the Gaza Strip, which targeted a de facto government police station in Gaza City, killing more than 150 officers at a graduation ceremony. A second strike at 2pm also targeted police buildings. The new emergency procedures are meant to avoid catastrophic death tolls for policemen and women in any future strike. A trial run of the evacuation and dispersal plan was conducted earlier this week, officer Iyad Al-Horany said. According to Al-Hourany the plan is separated into three areas in the Strip, each with an independent network of evacuation and dispersal routes. 

Islamic Jihad commander sentenced to five life terms for bombings 
5/12/2009 - Tulkarem – Ma’an – An Israeli military court sentenced the former commander of the Islamic Jihad’s armed wing in the northern West Bank, 24-year-old Adham Younis, to five life terms plus 20 years on Tuesday. Younis is from the village of Illar near Tulkarem. He is a former member of the Al-Quds Brigades. He was convicted of sending Lutfi Abu Sa’da from Illar to blow himself up in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya on 5 December 2005, killing five Israelis and injuring 30. He was also accused of sending a number of other people to blow themselves up inside Israel. Younis, according to the court’s verdict, also participated in several shooting attacks and battles with Israeli forces while leading Al-Quds Brigades fighters. He was apprehended in Jenin, in the northern West Bank, by an undercover Israeli force while he was driving a civilian car. 

UN Security Council calls for Palestinian state 
5/12/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies –The UN Security Council called for “urgent efforts” to create an independent Palestinian state after a debate on the Middle East peace process on Monday. The foreign ministers of all 15 members endorsed the statement, which called for “vigorous diplomatic" action toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty. The Council encouraged the International Quartet – the EU, UN, US, and Russia – to continue efforts toward peace. "The council reiterates its call for renewed and urgent efforts by the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on the vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, will live side by side in peace, within secure and recognized borders," the statement said, according to AP. 

Benedict XVI becomes first pope to enter Dome of the Rock 
5/12/2009 - Jerusalem – Ma’an/Agencies – Benedict XVI became the first pope in history to enter the iconic Dome of the Rock Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, amid heavy security on Tuesday morning. Before the pope arrived Palestinian politicians and clerics held a meeting with cardinals who accompanied Benedict on his tour of the Holy Land in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which includes the Dome of the Rock. The pope was then welcomed at the entrance of the mosque by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein, according to AFP. In his address to the Mufti, Benedict spoke about the unity of the three monotheistic religions, beginning with the Arabic greeting "Asalamu Alaikum!" (Peace be upon you!). “Undivided love for the One God and charity towards ones neighbor thus become the fulcrum around which all else turns. 

South Africa "regrets" Israel barred Palestine envoy from attending president's inaguration 
5/12/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – The South African government expressed “regret” on Monday at an Israeli decision to prevent a Palestinian envoy from travelling to the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma, which took place in Pretoria on Sunday. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ envoy, Abdul Rahim Mallouh was granted a visa to visit South Africa last week by the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv to attend the inauguration ceremony. Mallouh was scheduled to travel to Jordan on Wednesday through the Israeli-controlled Allenby Bridge. In Jordan he would board a plane to Johannesburg. However, permission to cross over to Jordan was refused by the Israeli government. “South Africa regrets the decision of the Israeli government to deny the Special Envoy of Palestine a basic human right to travel to South Africa to join representatives of the world in witnessing the inauguration of our fourth. . . 

Palestinian Heritage Center to present kuffiyeh to pope in Bethlehem 
5/12/2009 - WednesdayBethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Heritage Center in Bethlehem designed a special embroidered kuffiyeh, or Palestinian scarf, to be presented to the pope when he visits Bethlehem’sAyda Refugee Camp on Wednesday. Maha As-Saqa, the director of the center, said the scarf shows the star of Bethlehem, a key representing Palestinian refugees’ right of return, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Church of the Nativity, and the Vatican flag. Pope will Visit Ayda camp on Wednesday after celebrating mass at the Church of the Nativity. The kuffiyeh, in winter and summer weaves, is worn during cold weather around the neck and on the head to keep off the sun in the summer months. The patterned scarf has become a nationalist symbol for Palestine, the black and white version made famous by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. 

Bethlehem completes preparations for Holy Father's visit 
5/12/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Preparations for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival in Bethlehem Wednesday are completed, announced the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday. While congratulating Palestinians on their efforts to receive the pope, the PA also condemned Israeli attempts to use the visit of the Holy Father as a platform to assert Jerusalem as the capital of Israel rather than a future Palestinian State. Minister of Local Government and head of the preparations committee Ziad Bandak praised the high-level cooperation between security services and officials at local Muslim and Christian Holy sites, saying the smooth planning was exemplary of the mutual assistance between the peoples living and honoring the birthplace of Christ. Bandak also noted the lack of cooperation with Israel, saying the Israeli military shut-down the Palestinian press operation at the Ambassador. . . 

Abbas to hold talks with Syrian counterpart in Damascus 
5/12/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to head to Damascus on Thursday to hold talks with Syrian counterpart Bashar Al-Assad, according to presidential spokesperson Nabel Abu Rdiena. The aim of the visit is to “coordinate positions of Arabs, Palestinians and Syrians” for the sake of “national interests” and to “strengthen Arab solidarity,” Abu Rdiena. The meeting is an attempt to find a united Arab position toward negotiations with Israel in light of the new right-wing government there. The meeting also precedes by two weeks Abbas trip to Washington, DC , where he will discuss the now-dormant Middle East peace process with President Barack Obama. Abu Rdiena also said that Palestinian national unity dialogue would be on the agenda for the Damascus meeting. Abbas last visited Syria in October, when he met Al-Assad. 

Rafah crossing to open Saturday and Sunday 
5/12/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza will open Saturday and Sunday the 16-17 May, de facto government authorities announced Tuesday. The de facto government Interior Ministry released a statement clarifying those Gazans who would be permitted to leave the Strip. Travellers were urged to remain in their homes and not travel to Rafah ahead of the 16th. Those permitted to leave the strip will fall into one of the following categories:1. Names included on the Interior Ministry’s lists. The ministry noted that the lists have been computerized and those whose names are not on the list will not be permitted to leave. 2. Special cases, including:-Patients holding official transfer documents-Students with valid certificates-Foreign passport holders-Names submitted by Egypt (who will leave on busses coordinated by the Gaza government). . . 

DFLP to take Social Affairs ministry in new government 
5/12/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an Exclusive – The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) will join the new Palestinian caretaker government which could be announced within hours, becoming the only one of three main left-wing factions to join the coalition. Knowledgeable Palestinian sources told Ma’an that a member of the DFLP’s politburo, Majida Al-Masri, will be given the portfolio of Social Affairs in the new government. The Palestinian People’s Party (PPP) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) are refusing to join the cabinet. [end] 

Fida to receive labor or economy portfolio in new government 
5/12/2009 - Nablus – Ma’an – The Fida party will join the new Palestinian caretaker government led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, according to Palestinian sources. Fida-affiliated Palestinian Ambassador to Romania Dr Ahmad Majdalawi will be given either the portfolio of labor or national economy. Majdalawi has already arrived from Romania on Tuesday morning to decide which portfolio he will accept. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to swear in the new government on Tuesday, reinstating Fayyad and signaling a breakdown in Palestinian unity talks. Fida split from the leftist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) in 1990. The party is lead by Yasser Abed Rabbo, a leading advocate of the two-state peace formula and an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. 

Hebron police arrest drug dealer based on tip from new hotline 
5/12/2009 - Hebron – Ma’an – Anti-drug police arrested a Hebron man suspected in distributing illegal substances in the Ash-Sheikh neighborhood of the city after searching his home and finding large quantities of hashish. The man was investigated based on several tips received on the area's new internet and phone hotlines where locals can file complaints or note illegal activity. Head of the anti-drug department in Hebron Yasser Al-Farajin said the suspect arrested Tuesday has a criminal record and was transferred to the public prosecution for follow-up legal action. The public relations and the media offices in Hebron called on civilians to cooperate with police in preventing illegal activity in the area. For those who wish to report illegal activity dial (100) or file a complaint on their website: www. police. 

EU funded Palestinian Central Elections Committee conducts mock election in West Bank highschools 
5/12/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Palestinian Central Elections Commission held a closing ceremony to congratulate students who participated in a mock-elections project across the West Bank on Tuesday. Funded by the European Union, the project was administrated by the CEC, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and UNRWA schools. The project was meant to raise electoral awareness among ninth-grade students in schools through participatory simulations of the electoral process. The last set of national elections was held in 2006 when the Hamas government was put in power. A unity government was formed but collapsed in 2007. Remnants of the Hamas government continue to rule the Gaza Strip, while a caretaker government is in control of the West Bank. The caretaker government resigned in March pending unity talks between Hamas and Fatah. 

Hamas: PA detains four Hamas, one Hizb At-Tahrir affiliate 
5/12/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Authority security services detained four Hamas affiliates and a Hizb At-Tahrir (Liberation Movement) member from across the West Bank on Sunday, Hamas announced. PA forces also stormed a charity society in Hebron and a female students’ dorm in Qalqiliya, according to the Hamas statement. Those detained were identified as follows:Aiman Al-Madbouh and Muhammad Rayhan from Nablus, Ammar Sabha and Yousef Fayyad (Hizb At-Tahrir) from Tulkarem in addition to Yasser Ar-Rab’i from Yatta. A charity society in Ash-Shuyukh in the east of Hebron was raided and its employees investigated. [end] 

Fatah bloc wins Jenin Arab American University council elections 
5/12/2009 - Jenin – Ma’an – The Fatah bloc won 19 out of 33 seats at the Student Council elections at the Arab American University in Jenin Tuesday. The Islamic bloc took six seats, the PFLP bloc took five and the DFLP took three. Only 2462 out of more than 3500 students at the university voted, reaching a low 70%. Of the ballots 145 were spoilt, the student elections committee said. [end] 

The National

Pope in historic visit to al Aqsa
12 May 2009 - Massive security operation in the city sees whole neighbourhoods of Jerusalem cordoned off to traffic.

Contest to win Obama's ear
12 May 2009 - On his first trip to Egypt since his re-election as Israel's prime minister in March, Benjamin Netanyahu said his new, far right government was committed to peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.

Pope visits Jerusalem's holy sites
12 May 2009 - Pope Benedict visits holy sites in Jerusalem at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Pope talks of justice in Jerusalem
11 May 2009 - Benedict urged peace and security through justice for everyone in the region. 

Egypt to launch new television channel
11 May 2009 - But critics say project will be just another government mouthpiece and a lack of media freedom is the most important issue.

Pope arrives in Israel
11 May 2009 - Pope Benedict XVI appeals for Middle East peace as he arrives in Israel on the latest leg of his pilgrimage to the region.

Journalist freed from Iran prison
11 May 2009 - Roxana Saberi, the US-born journalist jailed in Iran on charges of spying, walks free from a Tehran prison.

Journalist's lawyer hopeful over appeal
11 May 2009 - A ruling on sentencing of an Iranian-American imprisoned in Tehran on spying charges is expected this week.

Aljazeera

Netanyahu 'wants new peace talks'
11 May 2009 - Israeli PM says he is open to negotiations, but refuses to commit to Palestinian state.

Abbas plans new Palestinian cabinet
11 May 2009 - Palestinian leader says move does not close door to power-sharing talks with Hamas.

Inter Press Service

KUWAIT: Election Promotes Democracy Amid Instability 
DUBAI, May 12 (IPS) - As Kuwaitis prepare to vote for a new parliament on May 16, trends suggest that while elections serve as a reminder of the Gulf country’s democratic traditions, the exercise is unlikely to end the political chaos that it was meant to quell.

MIDEAST: Pope Failing the 'Test of Pain' 
JERUSALEM, May 12 (IPS) - Before stepping into Jerusalem's interfaith and inter-political Middle East minefields, Pope Benedict XVI had posited himself as a "pilgrim of peace". But, only hours into his spiritual mission, the Pope found himself crashing up against the walls erected by pain - Jewish pain and Muslim...

MIDEAST: Abbas Standing Takes a Fall 
RAMALLAH, May 12 (IPS) - Yet another sign of the growing unpopularity of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) was evident on the streets of Ramallah last weekend.

U.S.-IRAQ: Massacre Puts War Trauma Under the Spotlight 
SAN FRANCISCO, May 11 (IPS) - A U.S. soldier shot five of his colleagues dead at a base in Baghdad, Iraq Monday. The Pentagon says at least two other people were hurt in the shootings and the gunman is in custody.

Stop The Wall

Protests for the Ma’sara prisoners
9 May 2009 - Nearly 20 people were injured in protests against the Wall this Friday, several of which were held in solidarity for the five activists who were arrested in al-Ma’sara last week. In addition to a large demonstration in the Bethlehem area, the demonstrations in Ni’lin and Bil’in also called for their release. The people of Bi’lin themed the weekly action around “Occupation Flu”, and a demonstration was also held in Jayyus. [

PCHR Latest

(12-05-2009) PCHR Condemns Arrests of Supporters of Islamic Movements in the West Bank
PCHR

Now Available: English Translation of Spanish National Court Judgment to Continue Investigating Suspected Israeli War Criminals  
PCHR

PCHR Weekly Report

(29 Apr. - 06 May  2008)
During the reporting period, three Palestinians were killed and 13 others, including four children and a woman, were wounded in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

International Solidarity Movement

Israeli forces suppress Ni'lin demonstration
International Solidarity Movement - 8 May 2009 - Before the start of the weekly Friday demonstration against the Apartheid Wall in Ni'lin, international solidarity activists visited homes that Israeli forces occupied last Friday. As soldiers were already present in the olive groves of Ni'lin, the internationals stayed at the homes to deter another attempt by the Israeli army to occupy their homes. Around 100 demonstrators gathered, accompanied by international and Israeli solidarity activists, to march against the construction of the Apartheid Wall on Ni'lin's land. Demonstrators reached the construction site and were able to damage a part of the illegal Wall. Then protestors were pushed back into the village when Israeli forces opened fire with numerous tear-gas canisters. The protest continued as demonstrators were pushed back, and the young men from the village responded to the army violence by throwing stones. 

Palestinians protest land confiscation in Hebron
International Solidarity Movement - 9 May 2009 - PHOTOS - The Youth Against Settlements group, with participation from international and Israeli solidarity activists, organized a protest in Bwaireh north east of Hebron on Friday. The protesters built a small booth in response to the recent construction of a settler outpost. A month ago, local settlers created a structure to de facto annex Palestinian land with a colonial outpost in the area. The Israeli settlers trespassed on to the Palestinian land owned by Issa Abu Karsh Jaber a month ago and built an illegal structure. Israeli army and police, who were present, did not interfere despite the illegality of the structure. Israeli forces arrived to the place of the protest to protect the settlers who began attacking the protesters and their. . . 

An open letter to Leonard Cohen
International Solidarity Movement - Dear Leonard Cohen: Your songs have been part of the soundtrack of our lives - like breathing, some of them. But we can't make sense of why you've decided to perform in Israel in September this year. If we understand anything about Buddhism - your practice of which is public knowledge - it's that Buddhism advocates "˜right action'. We accept that this precept, like the injunction to "˜love thy neighbour as thyself', is probably honoured more in the breach than the observance. But we can't believe you didn't weigh up performing in Israel in the light of "˜right action'. And apparently you've decided that it's right to take your unavoidably starry and very newsworthy presence there. But what does this say to the Palestinians? If you had just emerged from three weeks of unfettered bombing from land,. . . 

New York protesters call for Mother's Day boycott of Leviev diamonds over Israeli settlements
International Solidarity Movement - 9 May 2009 - On the day before Mother's Day, 40 New York human rights advocates gathered at the Leviev jewelry store on Madison Avenue and called on throngs of weekend Madison Avenue shoppers to boycott Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev over his companies' construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in West Bank villages including Bil'in and Jayyous. Mother's Day is one of the biggest jewelry shopping periods in the US annually. The New York protest came as controversy is growing in Norway over Norwegian government investments in Leviev's company Africa-Israel. The New York protesters also commemorated Bassem Abu Rahma from Bil'in who was shot to death by Israeli soldiers last month during a peaceful protest against the construction on Bil'in's land of Israel's wall and of the Mattityahu East settlement by a Leviev company. 

Israel has secret plan to thwart division of Jerusalem
International Solidarity Movement - 10 May 2009 - The government and settler organizations are working to surround the Old City of Jerusalem with nine national parks, pathways and sites, drastically altering the status quo in the city. The secret plan was assigned to the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA). In a report presented to former prime minister Ehud Olmert on September 11 last year, the JDA described the purpose of the project as "to create a sequence of parks surrounding the Old City," all in the aspiration "to strengthen Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. "The program, sponsored by the Prime Minister's Office and the mayor of Jerusalem, is secret and did not engage in any form of public discussion. According to an analysis by Ir Amim, a non-profit organization dedicated to Jerusalem issues that impact on Israeli and Palestinians which exposed this detailed, confidential. . . 

Anti-Israel activists urge Leonard Cohen to nix T.A. show
International Solidarity Movement - 11 May 2009 - Anti-Israel activists are stepping up efforts to dissuade Leonard Cohen from performing in Israel in September. The activists urge supporters to "apply pressure during his tour by local groups along his path," in their most recent appeal, which was circulated on Monday in various pro-Palestinian mailing lists. They added that letters "and various actions" might prove "instrumental in helping him take the decision to cancel his last concert. "This, they explain, is because "it is obvious the situation in Palestine and Israel is quite clear to Leonard Cohen, to judge by his song entitled Questions for Shomrim. The poem begins with the words "And will my people build a new Dachau and call it love, security, Jewish culture. "It also reads: "You were our singing heroes in ‘48, do you dare ask yourselves what you are now" and: "now my son must die for he's an Arab. . . " 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

Netanyahu inclined to allow food shipments into Gaza
12 May 2009 - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to promise during his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday that Israel will remove all restrictions to the movement of foodstuffs into the Gaza Strip. ... 

Lieberman arrives in London for low-key talks
12 May 2009 - Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday arrived in London for low-key talks with his British counterpart, David Miliband. ...

Vatican defends pope as anti-Nazi, backtracks on Hitler Youth claim
12 May 2009 - The Vatican defended Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday as a man of strong anti-Nazi credentials, and backtracked over an earlier claim that he had never been a member of the Hitler Youth in his native Germany, which had contradicted statements by the pontiff himself. ...

Pope to Jerusalem Christians: Jesus' suffering continues through you
11 May 2009 - Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday described the trials of Jerusalem's dwindling Christian community as a direct continuation of Jesus' sufferings. ...

Alleged Nazi guard Demjanjuk's lawyers appeal his arrest warrant
11 May 2009 - Accused Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk's lawyer filed a challenge Tuesday to the German arrest warrant that led to the 89-year-old's deportation, arguing that the evidence against him was not solid and Germany's jurisdiction was questionable. ...

The Guardian

Pope Benedict visits Israel and the Palestinian territories
12 May 2009 - Pontiff makes historic visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories

Progress is doomed if Obama is merely a cleverer version of Bush | Jonathan Freedland
12 May 2009 - At next week's US-Israel summit, a change in mood music will not be enough. A radical shift in strategy is needed Binyamin Netanyahu can comfort himself with one thought as he heads to Washington next week....

Cairo is the wrong choice for Obama | Chris Phillips
12 May 2009 - By choosing the corrupt Egyptian regime as his Middle Eastern host, Obama risks undermining his message of change Like a grandmaster positioning his pieces for the first attack, President Obama has diligently prepared the ground for...

Michael Tomasky on Pope Benedict XVI
12 May 2009 - The Pope is apparently not knocking their socks off in the Holy Land. And by them I mean both Israelis and Arabs. Israeli officials were disappointed in his Yad Vashem speech (not contrite enough). Some Palestinians...

Ha'aretz National page

Study: Quality of Israeli men's sperm down 40% in past decade 
10 May 2009 - The quality of Israeli sperm has declined alarmingly in the last decade, according to recent research conducted at Jerusalem's Hadassah University Hospital, Mount Scopus. ... 

Netanyahu's new neighbors annoyed by disruptive security measures
10 May 2009 - The neighbors of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Caesarea claim that since his election their quality of life has suffered at the hands of stringent security measures. ... 

Israel to rethink rail route that cuts through Palestinian land 
10 May 2009 - The Civil Administration's planning bureau will hold a hearing on Monday on a Peace Now demand that the planned route of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv train be altered so as not to cut into privately owned Palestinian land in the West Bank. ... 

Pope fever hits Facebook with new Holy Land quiz
9 May 2009 - Just in time for Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Israel this week, the Consulate General of Israel in New York announced the formation of a Facebook application that will allow users of the social networking site to learn about the Holy Land. ...

Mother, grandfather on trial for murder of 4-year-old Rose Pizem 
9 May 2009 - The trial of the mother and grandfather alleged to have killed four-year-old Rose Pizem last year commenced Sunday morning at the Petah Tikva Magistrates Court. ...

Relief Web

Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 257, 04 - 10 May 2009
12 May 2009 - Source: World Health Organization

Spain supports Palestinian Authority through EU's PEGASE scheme for the repayment of PA arrears to Palestinian private sector
12 May 2009 - Source: European Commission

OPT/Gaza: fragments of border wall used to patch up water treatment plant
12 May 2009 - Source: ICRC

UN workers shut schools in Jordan strike
12 May 2009 - Source: Agence France-Presse

OPT: GZ-Southern West Bank solid waste management (SWMP)
11 May 2009 - Source: World Bank

OPT: Press conference by Russian Foreign Minister on Middle East situation
11 May 2009 - Source: UN Department of Public Information

UN SC presidential statement reiterates urgent need for renewed efforts to achieve comprehensive peace in Middle East
11 May 2009 - Source: UN Security Council

OPT: Israel removes more roadblocks in Ramallah area
11 May 2009 - Source: Government of Israel

YNet News

Ministers to Homesh evacuees: You'll return to settlement
12 May 2009 - Some 1,500 people return to West Bank settlement evacuated during 2005 unilateral disengagement, call on government to rebuild it 

UN: Israel hands over info on munitions used in 2nd Lebanon War
12 May 2009 - UNIFIL peacekeeping force says IDF gave it technical strike data, maps on the cluster munitions fired over Lebanon in 2006

Pope celebrates mass outside walls of Jerusalem
12 May 2009 - Near spot where Jesus is believed to have prayed with his disciples before his arrest, pontiff urges Holy Land's Christians to persevere; 'I hope my presence here is a sign that you are not forgotten,' he tells thousands of cheering pilgrims 

Saudi FM says Israel's plan to raze Palestinian homes 'dangerous' 
12 May 2009 - Prince Saud al-Faisal calls reported plan to raze east Jerusalem homes 'counter-indication' of Israel's commitment to peace, reflection of Netanyahu's 'extreme position' 

Op-Ed: Netanyahu shouldn’t force Iranian issue on US
12 May 2009 - New York Times editorial urges Israeli PM not to pressure US administration into unnecessary moves regarding Tehran, hopes Obama will resist any pressure by Jerusalem

Lebanon says will work with Syria 'to confront suspicious Israeli schemes' 
12 May 2009 - Syrian army chief Gen. Ali Habib holds talks in Beirut with Lebanese President Suleiman, who says two armies will work together to 'confront joint enemy Israel and terrorism'

Egyptian papers: Enough of Netanyahu's foot-dragging
12 May 2009 - On heels of meeting with Netanyahu in Sharm, Mubarak relays message to Israel through Egyptian media according to which 'there is no turning back; the goal is establishment of Palestinian state alongside Israel' 

B'tselem

Testimony: Settlers throw stones with soldiers present
9 May 2009 - According to a testimony given to B'Tselem by a resident of the Wadi a-Nasara neighborhood of Hebron, on 3 April 2009, dozens of settlers, accompanied by soldiers, entered the neighborhood. The soldiers allowed the settlers to throw stones at homes and pa

Settler youngsters attack ambulance in Hebron
6 May 2009 - On 11 April, a Palestinian ambulance was transporting a patient to her home in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron. According to testimonies, children and youths from nearby settlements threw rocks at the ambulance and soldiers at the scene did not inte

Daily Star

Pope comes under Israeli criticism during pilgrimage 
12 May 2009 - The speaker of Israel's parliament accused German-born Pope Benedict on Tuesday of showing detachment from Jewish suffering in the Nazi Holocaust, adding to criticism that has marked his Holy Land pilgrimage. The pontiff, described by one Israeli newspaper columnist as coming across as "restrained.

Israel under UN pressure to back two-state deal 
12 May 2009 - Israel came under pressure Monday to commit to the creation of an independent Palestinian state as the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a non-binding statement calling for "urgent efforts ... to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace." It said such peace should be "based on the vision of a region where two democratic states.

Iran's anti-Israel rhetoric aimed at Arab opinion 
12 May 2009 - After Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called in October 2005 for an end to the state of Israel, Israeli leaders began stepping up talk of an "existential threat" to the country. Likud Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu has even used it support his argument that the Iranian president is threatening a "new holocaust" against Jews.

Palestinian Information Center

The Pope is welcomed, but….
12 May 2009 - As hospitality is a key Arab-Muslim character, the Pope of the Vatican, Benedict XVI, should be accorded all the respect he deserves

Bahar: Pope's pro-Israel stands are rejected
12 May 2009 - Acting-president of the PA legislature MP Dr. Ahmad Bahar has strongly condemned Tuesday the "pro-Israel" stands of Pope Benedicts XVI during his visit to the Zionist entity..

Hamas: Ramallah-IOA security coordination in Gaza war reveals conspiracy
12 May 2009 - Hamas on Tuesday said that the Israeli document that was revealed earlier today on the Ramallah authority's coordination with IOA during Gaza war displayed the big conspiracy on Hamas.

Interior ministry: Rafah crossing to open for two days next Saturday
12 May 2009 - The PA interior ministry in Gaza Strip on Tuesday announced that the Rafah border terminal with Egypt would be open for two days starting next Saturday with priority given to patients and students.

Zahhar: Unity of Palestinian line on resistance program road to liberation
12 May 2009 - Hamas leader and MP Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar on Tuesday championed unity of the Palestinian line on the resistance program in its capacity as the road leading to the liberation of Palestine.

Hamas PLC bloc: A Swedish academic will launch a sea trip to Gaza in Ramadan
12 May 2009 - The Hamas parliamentary bloc reported that Swedish professor Matthias Gardel intends to launch the first Swedish sea trip to break the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip by the holy month of Ramadan.

Bardawil: Forming a gov’t in W. Bank reflects Abbas’s reluctance to end the rift
12 May 2009 - Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil on Monday stated that Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to mandate Salam Fayyad to form a new unconstitutional government reflected his unwillingness to reach reconciliation.

UN asks Israel to change its settlement policies
12 May 2009 - The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has said that it was about time Israel changed its settlement policy, demolition of homes and restricting Palestinians' movement in the West Bank.

Barghouthi: Israeli gov't races against time to turn Palestinians into minority
12 May 2009 - MP Mustafa Al-Barghouthi has said that the rapidly increasing Israeli settlement drive was the most serious danger facing the Palestinian cause at present.

Holmes: Life-saving aid to Gaza should not be linked to political agendas
12 May 2009 - John Holmes stressed the need to separate life-saving aid and reconstruction needs from any political or security agendas so as to improve the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

Los Angeles Times

Pope's speech on Holocaust receives lukewarm response 
12 May 2009 - At the memorial in Israel, Benedict XVI declares that Jews' suffering must 'never be denied.' But Jewish leaders say the pontiff avoided questions of responsibility for the Holocaust. Pope Benedict XVI, trying to quell Jewish anger over a Holocaust-denying bishop, bowed in silence Monday at Israel's memorial to Jews exterminated during World War II and declared that their suffering must "never be denied, belittled or forgotten." 

Pope calls for a Palestinian homeland 
11 May 2009 - Pope Benedict XVI put himself at odds with Israel's new government today by calling for an independent Palestinian homeland. "I plead with all those responsible to explore every possible avenue in the search for a just resolution of the outstanding difficulties," he said. Pope Benedict XVI, arriving in Israel on a pilgrimage across the Holy Land, put himself at odds with the country's new government today by calling for an independent Palestinian homeland alongside the Jewish state. 

Lawyers for journalist jailed in Iran seek reduced sentence 
11 May 2009 - U.S.-raised Roxana Saberi appeals her espionage conviction, telling judges she signed a confession under duress, attorneys say. Lawyers for jailed journalist Roxana Saberi said they pursued a vigorous and lengthy defense of their client at an appeals court hearing Sunday that they hope could shave time off the Iranian American's eight-year prison sentence. 

New York Times

Memo From Cairo: Egypt to Be Center Stage in Obama’s Address to Arabs
12 May 2009 - President Obama’s decision to deliver a speech to the Muslim world from Egypt is fraught with potential perils. 

On His Tour, Pope Runs Into Politics of Middle East and Holocaust
12 May 2009 - On his first day in Israel, Pope Benedict XVI seemed to underscore the tensions in the region rather than ease them. 

In Turnabout, Iran Releases U.S. Journalist
12 May 2009 - An Iranian-American reporter who was jailed on spying charges was released after a court reduced the sentence. 

Misc

U.S. blocking Israeli access to U.S. fighter-jets
World Tribune - WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has imposed obstacles on Israeli efforts to procure U. S. -origin fighter-jets. ShareThisAdministration sources said the White House has drafted measures that could prevent Israel and other non-NATO allies from procuring U. S. fighter-jets, including the F-35. They said the administration would require that Israel obtain special permission from the Defense Department and State Department to acquire the Joint Strike Fighter. The administration has also been resisting Israeli requests for technical data on the new F-15SE fighter-jet. Under the proposals, the Pentagon would order modifications of JSF to provide the aircraft with nuclear strike capabilities. . . . 

Israeli Scholar Disputes Founding Myth
Consortium News - The founding narrative of the modern State of Israel was born from the words of Moses in the Old Testament, that God granted the land of Israel to the Jewish people and that it was to be theirs for all time. Then, there was the story of the Diaspora – that after Jewish uprisings against the Romans in the First and Second centuries A. D. , the Jews were exiled from the land of Israel and dispersed throughout the Western world. They often were isolated from European populations, suffered persecution, and ultimately were marked for extermination in the Nazi Holocaust. . . . But a new book by Israeli scholar Shlomo Sand challenges this narrative....

Articles

The West Bank Archipelago 
Robert Mackey, New York Times 5/7/2009
      This week, leading Israeli, Palestinian and American officials have agreed that the creation of a Palestinian state on territory in the West Bank and Gaza is essential to peace in the Middle East. But spend any time looking at a map of the West Bank as it is today, or with any of the many different proposals for how that map might be redrawn to accommodate the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians, and it becomes clear why any sensible mapmaker might choose to steer well clear of the challenge of drawing up that state.
     ...To get a better idea of where the mapmakers are starting from, take a look at a fanciful map of the West Bank called “L’archipel de Palestine orientale” (”The Archipelago of Eastern Palestine”), drawn by Julien Bousac for the French publication Le Monde Diplomatique, and republished recently on the blog Strange Maps. Mr. Bousac’s imaginary map illustrates how fragmented the areas of the West Bank currently under the control of the Palestinian Authority are by portraying them as islands, divided by areas under Israeli control, which are represented by the sea.
     ...As Strange Maps explains, “the dotted lines symbolising shipping links, the palm trees signifying protected beach land, and the purple symbols representing various aspects of seaside pleasure” are “totally fanciful but the small blue ships, next to those parts of the map labeled “Zone sous surveillance” (”Zone under surveillance”) have “some bearing on reality, as the locations of the warships match those of permanent Israeli checkpoints."

The Bomb Iran Faction 
Gary Leupp, CounterPunch 5/11/2009
      An Existential Question for the Power Elite?
     There is clearly a faction of the power elite that is, and has for some years been pressing, for a U.S. military attack on Iran. It is not advocating a war, at least openly, or an occupation of that vast nation; rather, it is advocating an operation similar in concept to the Israeli attack on Iraq’s French-built Osiraq nuclear reactor in 1981. In a word, it is both advocating an Israeli-like action and justifying it explicitly as one on behalf of Israel.
     That Israeli raid on the Iraqi reactor in 1981, justified at the time by Tel Aviv as an act of “preemptive self-defense,” was condemned by the entire world as an egregious violation of international law. President Ronald Reagan directed the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to vote with other members of the Security Council to condemn the attack. It is a measure of the Israelification of U.S. foreign policy that a quarter-century later Vice President Cheney and the neconservatives who used his office as their general headquarters praised this action and raised preemption to the status of a sacred U.S. military doctrine. What was the attack on Iraq in 2003, to eliminate its (imaginary) weapons of mass destruction, but a preemptive Osiraq raid on crack?
     George Bush declared that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction threatening its neighbors, requiring U.S. action (despite lack of UN approval). Iran and Kuwait, recent victims of real Iraqi aggression, stated that they did not feel threatened. Neither did any other bordering state. That left, by implication, Israel. But Israel was not much discussed as an issue during the massive propaganda build-up to the Iraq War. The last thing its proponents wanted was to convey the impression that this was a war for Israel, although that was in fact the only country in the world where the war enjoyed any popularity outside the U.S. (It was, as Joe Klein put it in a 2003 column, “the casus belli that dare not speak its name.")


Electronic Intifada
Obama administration renews Bush-era sanctions on Syria
12 May 2009 - WASHINGTON (IPS) - US President Barack Obama issued a statement on 8 May calling for the renewal of sanctions on Syria, which were set to expire on Monday. The declaration came at the end of a busy week in which both high-level US officials and the Iranian president visited the Syrian capital, Damascus. Though Syria has recently sought engagement with the US and Israel, the executive order extending sanctions is only the latest in a series of significant stumbling blocks to peeling off one of Iran's closest regional allies. 

Palestinian Authority popularity at all-time low
12 May 2009 - RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - Yet another sign of the growing unpopularity of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) was evident on the streets of Ramallah last weekend. Demonstrators ripped apart hundreds of posters of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, whose term officially expired in January, that were plastered on walls and buildings along the street leading to the heavily fortified compound known as the Muqata, the PA government headquarters. 

Hizballah today, Hamas tomorrow
12 May 2009 - Like most Western governments, the Canadian government rejected the Hamas leadership from the moment of its sweeping victory in 2006 in the democratic Palestinian elections. But the attitude of pouting in the face of ideological and political opposition from elected groups is an outdated policy that has proved largely ineffective. Shourideh Molavi comments for The Electronic Intifada. 

Israel's psychological siege
11 May 2009 - GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - Palestinians in Gaza have a colloquial term to describe the buzzing of Israeli warplanes that is an ever-present feature of their lives: zanana . The gallows humor of likening instruments of death to honey bees might suggest that the people of this crowded sliver of land on the Mediterranean have found a way of coping with the occupation that has lasted more than four decades. Yet the planes also remind Palestinians of what they fear most: that they could come under fresh attack at any time. 

In Gaza
alone and impoverished
12 May 2009 - Hadwa lives among the same cluster of impoverished shacks and broken cement houses as the other al Bateran families I’d already met. It seems the lane holds sad story after sad story, a micro-segment of Gaza’s overall suffering under siege and warfare, and every encounter of the extended al Bateran family alone reinforces this. Hadwa said she used to receive aid but that the Ramallah government cut it in the past two years. She takes what she can get from her relatives, but lives hand-to-mouth day by day. Consider supporting her .

Palestine Chronicle
Remembering Jenin
11 May 2009 - By Stephen Williams The Martyrs' Cemetery is but a few meters from Jenin Refugee Camp. On a warm, sunny day I stood in front of the memorial to the victims of the massacre of 2002 and remembered them, as I had long promised to do. I remembered the forgotten. It is not an imposing monument; had the victims been Israeli, a more grandiose memorial would have been built, perhaps with a museum, perhaps with a carefully-maintained eternal flame. I was disappointed at first. Is this what I had travelled from Occupied Jerusalem to see? Through Ramallah, Nablus and those checkpoints manned by bored, surly adolescent soldiers? But then I understood; the victims were ordinary people- men, women and children- trying to live ordinary lives, until they came face to face with an extraordinary interruption; the appearance of the highly-mechanised, US- resourced Israel Defence Force at their very their doorsteps. Most of them died in or just outside their homes. Such ordinary homes. Such ordinary people. No huge, imposing monument for them. The story of the invasion, the heroic resistance and the demolition of Jenin Camp is related in Ramzy Baroud’s " Searching Jenin ". The author had written a message to me, “Remember Jenin”, inside the cover of my copy and I was here; to remember. It had begun on 3 April 2002 with an artillery barrage. The next day, access was blocked; there was no escape for the residents. Apaches, Cobras and tanks did their work. And bulldozers. One...

Nuclear Shadow over the Middle East
11 May 2009 - By Jeremy Salt – Ankara "Unfortunately the Middle East finds itself in the shadow of a nuclear threat. We shall not give up. We shall not surrender." These remarks could have been made by the representative of any Arab government since the late 1960s, by which time it was widely assumed within intelligence agencies that Israel, which had been developing nuclear weapons for a decade, had finally produced one. But the speaker was Israeli President Shimon Peres, who knows a lot about nuclear weapons, having been closely involved in his country’s nuclear development program from the beginning. In the Middle East only Israel has nuclear weapons but the ‘nuclear threat’ to which Peres was referring is Iranian. Arab states and non-Arab states on the periphery of the Arab world have been living in the shadow of Israeli nuclear weapons for four decades. Iran has an advanced nuclear program but no nuclear weapons. No-one even says it has. Even Israel says only that it ‘may’ or ‘will’ soon have reached the point of technical expertise of being able to produce a nuclear weapon and most intelligence agencies don’t even go that far. The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has issued numerous statements affirming that Iran does not have the bomb and that there are no signs it is trying to develop one. Iran itself has said it will not produce nuclear weapons. Furthermore, unlike Israel it has signed up to the NPT and allows inspections of its nuclear installations. The record...

Palestinian Refugees and Lebanon's Election
11 May 2009 - By Franklin Lamb - Wavel Palestinian Refugee Camp, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon "My work here is very difficult. To be honest with you there isn't a single day when I don't leave work completely depressed, sometimes in tears. The amount of abuse of Palestinians in Lebanon is at a level that you cannot even imagine unless you live here. At the end of the day I go home and sit. And think. How is this possible? I think of these Palestinians and feel they are so pale and patient and 'moderate' compared to what I feel. I tend to keep quiet but what I feel inside is shocking and I am not comfortable describing it. This place is close to exploding." (European NGO social worker who assists children of NON-ID Palestinians in Ein el Helwe Refugee Camp). Beirut’s Casino de Liban north of Beirut at Maameltein, perched above the Mediterranean north of Jounieh, was offering as late as 3 a.m. Saturday morning May 9, 2009, 2 to 1 odds that US President Barak Obama will drop out of the sky a la C. Rice and H. Clinton in an 11th hour ‘hail Mary’ to score a last minute goal for Israel. Another US ‘quick drop-in’ to shape the ‘US Ruling Team’ into a ‘US Wining Team’ during President Obama’s upcoming visit to the region. Will He and will It Work? Hard to say, but the likes of David Hale, Michele Sison, Jeff Feltman, Madeleine Albright, Susan Rice, Alenjandro Wolf (from the...

Obama's 100 Days - The Mad Men Did Well
10 May 2009 - By John Pilger The BBC's American television soap Mad Men offers a rare glimpse of the power of corporate advertising. The promotion of smoking half a century ago by the “smart” people of Madison Avenue, who knew the truth, led to countless deaths. Advertising and its twin, public relations, became a way of deceiving dreamt up by those who had read Freud and applied mass psychology to anything from cigarettes to politics. Just as Marlboro Man was virility itself, so politicians could be branded, packaged and sold. It is more than 100 days since Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. The “Obama brand” has been named “Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008”, easily beating Apple computers. David Fenton of MoveOn.org describes Obama’s election campaign as “an institutionalized mass-level automated technological community organizing that has never existed before and is a very, very powerful force”. Deploying the internet and a slogan plagiarized from the Latino union organizer César Chávez – “Sí, se puede!” or “Yes, we can” – the mass-level automated technological community marketed its brand to victory in a country desperate to be rid of George W Bush. No one knew what the new brand actually stood for. So accomplished was the advertising (a record $75m was spent on television commercials alone) that many Americans actually believed Obama shared their opposition to Bush’s wars. In fact, he had repeatedly backed Bush’s warmongering and its congressional funding. Many Americans also believed he was the heir to...

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