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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
26 June , 2009

News

International Middle East Media Center

Free Gaza boat convoy delayed in Cyprus
27 Jun 2009 - The Free Gaza Movement was ready to set sail yesterday from Larnaca Cyprus on their eighth mission, bringing Human rights workers, dignitaries and construction materials to help rebuild the devastated region of Gaza, but their ships were not given permission to leave due to concerns about their welfare and safety. 

Sixth round of internal Palestinian talks Sunday
27 Jun 2009 - The Palestinians hope the this Sunday’s sixth round of internal talks in Egypt would be the one that leads to a unity deal. Yet, political leaders of the rival Fateh and Hamas movements continue to trade accusations casting doubts on the outcome of this upcoming round. 

Three swine-flu cases diagnosed in Nablus
27 Jun 2009 - The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported on Friday that three more Palestinians were diagnosed with the swine-flu infection. This rises the number of officially diagnosed cases to 15. 

UN Fact-finding committee arrives in Gaza
27 Jun 2009 - The United Nations Fact-finding Committee arrived in the Gaza Strip on Friday evening through the Rafah border terminal, and would be holding hearing sessions with the residents and the victims of Israel’s war on Gaza. 

The Israeli military attacks Bil'in weekly protest
26 Jun 2009 - Dozens suffered from gas inhalation when Israeli troops attacked the weekly protest in Bil'in village near the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday. 

Scores treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation as Israeli soldiers attack the Nil'in's weekly
26 Jun 2009 - Israeli soldiers attacked Palestinian villagers along with their international and Israeli peace supporters during the weekly non-violent protest against the wall in Ni'lin village, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, on Friday.

Mashal: 'Hamas willing to cooperate with international efforts, will not accept demilitarized state'
26 Jun 2009 - Hamas political bureau head, Khalid Mashal, stated Thursday that the movement would cooperate with any international effort that would end the Israeli occupation, but would not accept the notion of a demilitarized Palestinian state. 

Palestinian killed, four missing, in Gaza tunnel collapse
26 Jun 2009 - Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that one Palestinian was killed and four others on Friday morning when a tunnel collapsed on then near the Gaza-Egypt border in Rafah. Four other residents are believed to be buried under the rubble. 

US Praises Israel over the removal of some West Bank roadblocks
26 Jun 2009 - The United States Administration praised Israel for what it described ‘actions taken to ease the daily life of the Palestinians in the West Bank’, after the Israeli army removed some roadblocks. 

Fateh publishes a list of 210 members imprisoned by Hamas in Gaza
26 Jun 2009 - Fateh movement, headed by president Mahmoud Abbas, published a list containing the names of 210 members imprisoned by Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip. The list comes while Hamas denied it has political prisoners in the coastal region.  

PCHR Weekly Report: 5 Palestinian civilians, 1 international wounded by Israeli forces this week
26 Jun 2009 - According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, during the week of 18 - 24 June 2009, five Palestinian civilians, including a journalist, and an international human rights defender were wounded. Israeli forces conducted 19 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and abducted 22 Palestinian civilians, including two children. 

Ross appointed for Middle East Affairs
26 Jun 2009 - The White House decided on Thursday to name Dennis Ross, veteran Middle East Negotiator, as the special advisor to President Barack Obama on affairs regarding the Middle East, the Arab Gulf, Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Asia. 

Ha'aretz Defense page

Shalit's father: My son has only one wish - his freedom
25 Jun 2009 - Noam Shalit gives keynote address at Tel Aviv rally to mark three years since Gilad Shalit fell into captivity. 

Israeli sources: IDF to limit West Bank raids
25 Jun 2009 - Israeli and Western sources say IDF to refain from entering Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jericho and Qalqilya. 

Hamas fears Shalit deal would be seen as surrender
24 Jun 2009 - The one who really controls Shalit's fate is Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas' military wing in Gaza. 

IN PICTURES / Gilad Shalit - three years in captivity
25 Jun 2009 - The IDF corporal was snatched in a raid by Gaza militants that left two of his comrades dead. 

Cyprus prevents activists from sailing to Gaza
25 Jun 2009 - Cyprus says ship still needs to undergo safety inspection; Free Gaza spokeswoman 'absolutely outraged.' 

Gaza militants open fire on IDF patrol; no casualties
25 Jun 2009 - Nobody was hurt as Palestinian gunmen open fire on troops near Nahal Oz border crossing into Strip. 

IDF was warned of kidnap plots day before Shalit seized
24 Jun 2009 - The details of the intelligence warning appear in debriefings that were done by the GOC Southern Command. 

Israel removes dozens of West Bank roadblocks
23 Jun 2009 - Change in policy follows PA security forces actions against Hamas, Islamic Jihad terrorist infrastructure. 

Ma'an News

Author Naomi Klein in Bil’in: Boycott Israel
6/26/2009 - Bil’in – Ma’an – Canadian author Naomi Klein called for an international boycott of Israel during a visit to the West Bank village of Bil’in on Friday, where she also attended a weekly demonstration against Israel’s separation wall. Klein held a news conference in Bil’in, which is known for its tenacious demonstrations against the Israeli barrier, on the first of her nine days in the region, where she is promoting a recent translation of her book, the Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. “When we hear about what happens at the demonstrations… When people are killed and badly injured in lawful demonstrations against something that is clearly illegal, that isn’t a normal situation,” she said. “We’re rejecting normalization,” Klein said of her Middle East visit, “We’re rejecting the idea that there can be apolitical cocktail parties and book signings while violence like this is taking place so nearby. 

Settlers make land grab in latest outpost east of Tulkarem
6/26/2009 - Tulkarem – Ma’an – More than 50 Israeli settlers attacked two farmers and erected a tent on Palestinian farmland in the Ras Al-Masid area in the village of Kfar Al-Labad east of Tulkarem on Friday. Eyewitnesses saw the three dozen settlers descend on the lands, owned by Ibrahim Kayid, expressed horror as the group erected a tent and place an Israeli flag over top. Kayid, whose sons Samer, 30, and Jamal, 20, were attacked by the descending mass and forced off the land. The farmer was dismayed, saying “this land is my only source of livelihood, what will I do now? ”Residents are unsure whether the new tent will be declared a new outpost to the nearby Enev settlement. Similar cases in Hebron where Israelis erected small tents and clapboard structures were declared closed military zones and were henceforth off limits for Palestinians and even the owners of the land. 

Free Gaza will continue despite warnings from Israel, Cyprus, USA
6/26/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Free Gaza Movement, after being denied permits to sail from the port of Larnaca at Cyprus, will deliver a waiver, signed by all going to Gaza Friday, absolving Cyprus of “all responsibility for our safety. ”The Cypriot authorities reportedly denied the crews of the Free Gaza’s two boats permission to sail out of concern for their safety, worried that the crew would be harmed at sea. “Though we understand and appreciate their concerns,” Free Gaza organizer Greta Berlin wrote in a statement, “we will not back down to Israel’s threats and intimidation. ”Further to the denial of permission to sail from Cyprus, the Free Gaza group was also contacted by the US Embassy at Nicosa. According to the group, the US representatives communicated the following:“…[T]he Israeli Foreign Ministry informed US officials at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv that Israel. . . 

PRC wing: Capturing more Israeli soldiers remains a priority
6/26/2009 - Gaza - Ma’an - The armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees said on Friday it would consider capturing further Israeli soldiers for future exchanges. As long as one Palestinian prisoner remains in an Israeli jail, the Salah Ad-Din Brigades said in a statement to Ma'an, capturing Israeli soldiers "will remain among the most important of our priorities for the present and coming stages. " The brigades' statement came on the three-year anniversary of the capture and killing of an Israeli pre-military yeshiva student and settler, Eliyahu Asheri, in the northern West Bank. [end] 

One crossing into Strip open Friday; siege continues
6/26/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Some 1. 5 million Gazans will collectively see 50-61 truckloads of goods and 350 cows transferred into the Strip via one open crossing Friday, as Israel maintains its siege on the coastal area. Crossings official Raed Fattouh said officials notified him that only the Kerem Shalom crossing would be open Friday. All crossings will be closed Saturday for the Jewish Sabbath, and minimal transfers will likely continue on Sunday. Goods allowed into the Strip over the last week include:Friday 19 - 350 cows, 40 truckloads including power-grid repair equipment, Saturday 20 - All crossings closed, Sunday 21 - 60-71 truckloads, minimal industrial diesel for power plant, Monday 22 - 60-79 truckloads and limited amounts of cooking gas and industrial diesel, Tuesday 23 - 60-67 truckloads, limited quantities of cooking gas and industrial diesel. . . 

US welcomes Arab League decision to endorse Obama peace project
6/26/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - The United States welcomed the decision of the Arab Foreign Ministers meeting Wednesday to endorse the peace project of President Barack Obama. In a Wednesday press briefing at the White House a Washington spokesman noted that the “United States welcomes all positive efforts aimed at achieving our shared goal of a two state solution and a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors. ”He affirmed that Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Special Envoy George Mitchell are “working hard to create a context conducive to resumption of peace negotiations. ”

Leonard Cohen to play in Tel Aviv, Ramallah in September
6/26/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Leonard Cohen will perform at Ramallah’s Cultural Palace following his concert in a Tel Aviv suburb in September in what appears to be an effort to appease Palestinian activists who criticized his tour of Israel. The Israeli daily paper Haaretz published the announcement Thursday, confirming Cohen would play in Ramat Gan on 24 September and in Ramallah on the 26th. Cohen, who frequently plays concerts in Israel, was criticized for his decision to play several concerts at Israeli army bases during the October War in 1973. The Canadian-born Jewish singer and songwriter has expressed both solidarity and criticism of Israel over the past decades, but is expected to fill the Cultural Palace this fall. 

G8 calls for Israeli settlement freeze
6/26/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Delegates at Friday’s G8 summit in Italy reiterated Palestinian, American, Middle Eastern and European calls for a halt to illegal Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem. The Foreign Ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States and a European Union observer all urged Israel and Palestine to resume peace talks based on the Road Map plan for peace. Later Friday Israeli settlers made a land-grab east of the West Bank city of Tulkarem, and erected a tent with an Israeli flag atop it. Locals anticipated a military presence would later declare the area a closed military zone. 

Czech FM calls for halt to settlement construction
6/26/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout reiterated the European position that the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank is a “serious obstacle to peace in the Middle East,” during his visit to Israel Wednesday. Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman Milan Repka was quoted by the Daily Prague Monitor as saying the minister expressed the demand to halt settlement construction to both Israeli and Palestinian leaders during his regional tour. During his visit Kohout met the Israeli foreign and defense ministers, Avigdor Lieberman and Ehud Barak, as well as opposition leader Tzipi Livni. In Palestine he met with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. [end] 

Quartet backs settlement freeze; Arab leaders call for action over words
6/26/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - The Middle East Quartet added its voice to the growing calls from the international community for Israel to halt all settlement construction including “natural growth,” Reuters reported Friday. The Quartet, made up of representatives from the US, EU, UN and Russia, met on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Italy. Earlier in the day the G8 also called for a halt to settlement construction, following similar pronouncements from the Czech Republic, Canada, France,the Arab League, Egypt, Australia, and several other nations. These followed the landmark speech of US President Barack Obama in Cairo, in which he categorically outlined the American policy on Middle East peace, saying a halt to settlement construction was a necessary first step. In recent days Arab leaders have criticized Obama for failing to act on his demands, as it becomes more and more clear Israel has no intention to halt settlement construction. 

Palestinian, US teens talk politics at Jerusalem consulate
6/26/2009 - Jerusalem - Ma'an - The US Consulate hosted a delegation of 18 American students for a meeting with local high schoolers from East Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday. The group, a number of whom were sporting checkered keffiyeh scarves, discussed and debated US foreign policy toward Israel and Palestine in the presence of the consulate's cultural affairs officer for exchanges, Alaister Bafkey. "The objective of this meeting is within the efforts of [US President Barack] Obama's administration to increase the number of exchange programs between the Americans and the Palestinians," Bafkey told Ma'an TV following the event on Friday afternoon. "An important point which President Obama focused on in his speech at the beginning of June in Cairo is that he said we want to increase opportunities for exchanges between Americans and Islamic and Arab societies," the official added. 

PA police release Al-Qassam Brigadesman; remind Hamas of political prisoners in Strip
6/26/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Authority security released Hamas member and Al-Qassam Brigades leader Faze’a Sawafta following his surrender to Egyptian authorities and questioning in Ramallah, police spokesman Brigadier Adnan Ad-Damiri said. Hamas officials refuted his surrender when it was announced on 12 June, saying Sawafta had been approached by Egyptian mediators who asked that he come in to Ramallah for talks around the recent clashes between Hamas fighters and PA police in Qalqiliya. According to a PA police statement Thursday, however, Sawafta was released after he swore no further clashes with PA forces would occur. The statement said police “finished Sawaftah’s file and handed him to Egyptian authorities [who will make sure he gets] safe and sound to his family. ”The statement assured that police are “with democracy” and respect all political parties and are rather against anyone who threatens the law or peoples’ lives. 

Marwan Barghouthi urges Palestinian, Arab unity in face of Israeli crimes
6/26/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – “Unity is a basic law for nations’ success,” Marwan Barghouthi told Muhammad Barakeh when the latter visited him in prison Thursday, and urged internal Palestinian as well as wider Arab unity. Palestinian Knesset Member Muhammad Barakeh visited imprisoned member of the Palestinian Legislative Council Marwan Barghouthi for a two-hour meeting. The Fatah-list leader, who is also a major force in the unity movement, has been in the Haradim detention center since 2002, when he was detained on charges of attacking and killing Israeli civilians and soldiers. Barakeh and Barghouthi reportedly discussed the case of the thousands of Palestinian detainees in Israeli facilities, and in particular the cases of the detained leaders. Also on the table were talks around the “latest achievements in the Palestinian arena,” reports said. 

Gaza: PRC congratulate de facto government, Palestinians, on Dweik release
6/26/2009 - Gaza - Ma’an - The Popular Resistance Committees welcomed the unity call from released PLC speaker Aziz Dweik and expressed their hope that the national assembly would resume its leading role in Palestinian politics in a statement visit to the assembly building Friday. A high-level delegation from the An-Nasser Brigades visited the headquarters of the Legislative Assembly in Gaza City where they were received by several political leaders and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Palestinian National Council, as well as de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and a delegation of elders from Khan Younis province. The Brigades leaders travelled to the PLC building to congratulate leaders on the release of the chief of the Legislative Assembly, Dr Aziz Dweik. “We welcome the decision to release Dr Dweik as it has many good impacts on ending the division and. . . 

Gaza: Fatah releases report detailing hundreds of arrests, torture of members
6/26/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip released what it called a comprehensive report on the number of politically-motivated arrests and detentions of Fatah members in the Strip. The document, which publishes the names of 210 Fatah members allegedly in prison, was released by the Ramallah-based government news agency WAFA on Friday. The report alleges that many of the men are wounded or ill and require medical treatment. In addition to the 210 currently in de facto government prisons, the report details some 1,013 warnings delivered to Fatah affiliates, which required them to report to de facto intelligence personnel for questioning. The report alleges that all of those requested to report at the intelligence office were assaulted and even tortured in caged rooms “for long hours under the hot sun. 

Hamas: PA forces detained families, co-workers of Hamas members
6/26/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Hamas officials released a list of the names of 34 of its members allegedly detained by Palestinian Authorities overnight Thursday. Several of those detained are wives of Hamas-members who have already been imprisoned. The following are the names, by area: Qalqiliya: Hekmat Sabri, 27 and his wife, 22, Mrs Abo Rabeea Sabri, 55, Wasef Oada, 53, Ali Ash-Shanty, Ahmad Taha, director of Qalqiliya municipality, Firas Oada, 32, Joma’ Mostafa, Anas Nasar, 33, Mahmoud Bakeer, Iyad Bagdady, Shiekh Awad Salman, director of Qura’n centers in Qalqiliya, 55, Mohamed Hashem Khader, Basem Swan, Hebron: Samira Ah-Halyqa, deputy of Hamas and her son, Anas, Baha Af-Farej, director of Dr Aziz Dweik’s office and his companions Farj Ghayth and Tareq Noaman Metawa, Jenin: Jihad Mohamed Nwahda,. . .

Hamas: No unity without release of prisoners
6/26/2009 - Gaza - Ma’an - A sixth round of internal Palestinian unity talks will begin on Sunday with bilateral meetings between Hamas and Fatah in Cairo sponsored by Egypt, Hamas confirmed Friday. The meetings will focus on the issue of politically-motivated detentions and ways of handling the file, said Hamas spokesperson, Fawzi Barhoum, “because all other issues related to dialogue and security, government and elections are linked to closing the file on political arrests in the West Bank. ”The weeks leading up to the talks have been filled with what appear to be frenzied arrest and public relations campaigns of tit-for-tat arrests and allegations. Hamas has alleged that PA forces in the West Bank have arrested more than 150 members in the last week alone, and on Friday Fatah members in Gaza published an extensive report detailing arrests, detentions, home invasions and harassment directed at party members in the Strip by de facto government forces. 

H1N1: Two more cases diagnosed, West Bank up to 12 diagnoses
6/26/2009 - Nablus/Tulkarem - Ma’an - A twelfth case of H1N1 was diagnosed in Nablus Friday morning, following quick on the heels of the eleventh case, from Tulkarem, Thursday night. Both patients are young boys, the latest unidentified, but the Tulkarem case, a three-year-old, reportedly arrived in the West Bank with the virus after travelling in the United States with his parents. Head of public relations at the health ministry Dr Omar An-Nasser urged the parents of the infected children, and parents across the West Bank, to take the necessary precautions to limit the spread of the virus. The director general of health care in the ministry Dr Asa’d Ar-Remlawy said the Nablus child diagnosed Thursday is in stable condition and was released from hospital to continue treatment at home. Health officials said they expected the number of cases of H1N1 to increase, as Palestinians travel home for weddings this summer. 

The National

Crowd caught student's killer' 
26 Jun 2009 - The doctor who tried to save Neda Agha Soltan seconds after she was hit by a bullet during a post-election protest in Tehran said she was shot in the chest from close range.

Berri re-elected as parliament speaker
25 Jun 2009 - Nabih Berri is re-elected to a fifth consecutive term as Lebanon's parliament speaker.

US to appoint ambassador to Syria
25 Jun 2009 - An ambassador from the US will be dispatched to Syria for the first time in four years, as part of increased US diplomatic engagement in the Middle East.

Aljazeera

Call to execute 'rioters' in Iran
26 Jun 2009 - Warning sounded in Friday sermon as Guardian Council calls vote "healthiest" since 1979.

Hariri gathers backing for PM vote
26 Jun 2009 - March 14 leader meets Hezbollah rival before parliament meets to choose prime minister.

Quartet urges settlement freeze
26 Jun 2009 - Russia, EU, UN and US call on Israel to halt settlements and open border crossings. 

Egypt tycoon death verdict ratified
25 Jun 2009 - Confirmation in Lebanese singer's murder case follows grand mufti's approval of sentence.

Hamas rejects 'Jewish state' demand
25 Jun 2009 - Palestinian group's chief backs two-state solution and hails Obama's "new language".

IRIN

YEMEN: Major new water source discovered in parched Hadhramaut 
MUKALLA Thursday, June 25, 2009 (IRIN) - A water company in Hadhramaut Governorate, southern Yemen, has discovered an important new source of water near the provincial capital, Mukalla, after four months of exploration.

IRAQ: Timeline of violence in 2009 
DUBAI Tuesday, June 23, 2009 (IRIN) - With just a week left until all US forces must leave Iraq’s major cities, violence in the war-battered country appears to be on the rise once again. More than 100 people have been killed in bombings and shootings in Iraq in the past three days. 

EGYPT: Needle sharing rife among drug users
DUBAI Sunday, June 21, 2009 (IRIN) - The prevalence of HIV among intravenous drug users (IDUs) in Egypt is relatively low, but needle sharing is rife among this group, putting them at risk of contracting the virus, experts say. 

Inter Press Service

POLITICS-EGYPT: Women Get Help on Road to Parliament 
CAIRO, Jun 27 (IPS) - Egypt elected the first Arab woman to parliament in 1957, but in the half century since, the most populous country in the Arab world has gone from being a leader in women's political participation to a lagger.

MIDEAST: Arabs Court U.S. via Baghdad 
CAIRO, Jun 26 (IPS) - Egypt finally appointed an ambassador to Iraq earlier this month after four years without diplomatic representation in Baghdad. While the last year has seen other Arab capitals do likewise, some critics question the wisdom of the move in light of Iraq's still volatile security situation.

IRAQ: Lame-Duck Lawmakers Push Through Kurdistan's New Charter 
WASHINGTON, Jun 26 (IPS) - A draft constitution passed by the parliament of Iraqi Kurdistan has drawn divided reactions, with some questioning the very legitimacy of a lame-duck parliament to pass the single most important legal document of the Kurdish region and others touting it as a positive step forward.

MIDEAST: Iran Crisis Ripples Outward 
WASHINGTON, Jun 26 (IPS) - As the political crisis that erupted after Iran’s Jun. 12 elections enters its third week, it is becoming evident that this crisis will have repercussions in many parts of the Middle East - and far beyond.

Stop The Wall

International Conference: “Experiences of unification and rejuvenation of the left in Palestine and worldwide”
25 Jun 2009 - On June 26 – 28, the Palestinian National Democratic Progressive Movement (PNDM - Tayyar) will hold a three-day-conference on `Experiences of uniting the left in Palestine and the world` at the meeting hall of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Al-Bireh (Ramallah) and in Gaza. See 

Occupation forces raid Bil'in, kidnap youth
24 Jun 2009 - Soldiers stormed into the village of Bil'in at three in the morning on Tuesday. They conducted house to house searches and kidnapped fifteen-year-old Khalil Yassin and Kamil al-Katib, also fifteen. They also arrested Hassanain Mansour and Kefah Mansour, who were going to their isolated land, and brought them to an unknown location. [

PCHR Latest

(23 June) Defense of Universal Jurisdiction Speech Presented to Conference in Madrid on Behalf of PCHR Director, Raji Sourani "
PCHR

PLC Speaker, Dr. Aziz al-Dwaik, Released from Israeli Detention
PCHR

PCHR Weekly Report

(18- 24 June  2008)
PCHR Position Paper:PCHR has Reservations about Regulations Adopted in the Context of Ongoing Political Fragmentation

International Solidarity Movement

Bil’in village holds press conference and demonstration against construction of the Apartheid Wall
International Solidarity Movement - Friday, 26 June 2009: Bil'in village holds press conference and a demonstration against construction of the Apartheid Wall. Palestinian residents, alongside international and Israeli activists gathered today in Bil'in to demonstrate against the Wall. Before the demonstration, Naomi Klein, Basel Mansour, and Attorney Wisam Ahmad held a press conference. Naomi Klein is visiting Palestine on the occasion of the publication of her latest book, the #1 international bestseller, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" in Arabic and Hebrew. Klein is an advocate for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign and spoke about her choice to respect the 2005 call for BDS from Palestinian civil society. She explained that the international community can actively support the Palestinian people in their non-violent resistance to the Occupation through BDS. 

VIDEO - Palestinian kids with kites reclaiming land and rights
International Solidarity Movement - Farming Under Fire, 25 June 2009 - ISM Gaza Strip activists participated in a children event/protest organized by the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative, close to the so called "buffer zone" that Israeli occupation forces are trying to impose all along the Green Line. Among the ruble of recently demolished homes, with other children watching from their homes full of bullet holes, the children of Beit Hanoun launched their kites, defying the siege and the buffer zone and reclaiming land and rights. The Israeli occupation forces participated also to the event with their military balloons. - Beit Hanoun Local Initiative launches its Children's activities: Let me Play Freely, in Beit Hanoun: On Tuesday June 23, 2009, the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative group organized a kite competition with the participation of Beit Hanoun children. 

Author Naomi Klein calls for boycott of Israel
International Solidarity Movement - AFP - 26 June 2009 - Bestselling author Naomi Klein on Friday took her call for a boycott of Israel to the occupied West Bank village of Bilin, where she witnessed Israeli forces clashing with protesters. "It's a boycott of Israeli institutions, it's a boycott of the Israeli economy," the Canadian writer told journalists as she joined a weekly demonstration against Israel's controversial separation wall. "Boycott is a tactic … we're trying to create a dynamic which was the dynamic that ultimately ended apartheid in South Africa," said Klein, the author of "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. ""It's an extraordinarily important part of Israel's identity to be able to have the illusion of Western normalcy," the Canadian writer and activist said. "When that is threatened, when the rock concerts don't come, when the symphonies don't come, when a film you. . . " 

Naomi Klein in Bil’in: boycott Israel
International Solidarity Movement - Mondoweiss - 26 June 2009 - Naomi Klein visited the West Bank village of Bil'in today to voice her support for the weekly demonstrations against the Separation Wall, and to reiterate her support for boycotting Israel. Her visit it timed with the release of her best selling book, The Shock Doctrine, in Israel/Palestine where it is being published in Arabic and Hebrew. During a press conference held under an olive tree near before the weekly protest, Klein explained her support for the boycott:"It's a boycott of Israeli institutions, it's a boycott of the Israeli economy," the Canadian writer told journalists as she joined a weekly demonstration against Israel's controversial separation wall. “Boycott is a tactic …we’re trying to create a dynamic which was the dynamic that ultimately ended apartheid in South Africa,”“It’s an extraordinarily important part of Israel’s identity to be able to have the illusion of Western normalcy,” the Canadian writer and activist said. 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

Disgraced financier Madoff ordered to forfeit over $170b
26 Jun 2009 - Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff has been ordered to forfeit over $170 billion for orchestrating perhaps the largest financial swindle in history, prosecutors said Friday. ...

Obama scoffs at Ahmadinejad's demand for apology
26 Jun 2009 - United States President Barack Obama's criticism of Iran escalated Friday into an unusually personal war of words. To Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's demand he apologize for meddling, Obama shot back that the regime should "think carefully" about answers owed to protestors it has arrested, bludgeoned and killed. ...

Michael Jackson death still unsolved after autopsy
26 Jun 2009 - Doctors completed an autopsy on the body of Michael Jackson on Friday but said they could not immediately establish a cause of death for the "King ...

Set to become Lebanon PM, Hariri meets with Nasrallah
26 Jun 2009 - A majority of Lebanon's parliament will nominate U.S.-backed Saad al-Hariri for the post of prime minister, paving the way for his appointment later this week, political sources said on Friday. ...

Blair: Netanyahu election could be a blessing
26 Jun 2009 - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's election could prove a blessing, since his right-leaning government could have the domestic support to make concessions, Middle East envoy Tony Blair said Friday. ...

The Guardian

Israel eases up on West Bank checkpoints
26 Jun 2009 - Move reflects growing confidence in Palestinian security forces but UN says Israeli restrictions as a whole more entrenched Israel's military has eased some of its checkpoints in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks and agreed...

BBC anti-Israel bias is a myth | Sharif Nashashibi
26 Jun 2009 - The broadcaster favours Israeli over Palestinian sources in its news reports – as does al-Jazeera, a new study shows I am always baffled at the ferocity and frequency of accusations that the BBC's Middle East coverage...

Europe must respond to Obama on Middle East | Letters
25 Jun 2009 - President Obama is setting forth on an entirely new path in the Middle East with great courage (Leaders, 25 June). He has broken with the previous policies and is engaging in an effort to build for...

Palestinian woman gets 20 years' hard labour for helping Israel
25 Jun 2009 - Agents used sexual entrapment to force 21-year-old into spying Dressed in jeans and a tight headscarf, she stood in a makeshift courtroom with plastic chairs and tables and a television set hanging from the wall. She...

Ha'aretz National page

Israel's Dudi Sela reaches fourth round at Wimbledon
26 Jun 2009 - Dudi Sela became the first Israeli man to reach the fourth round of a grand slam for 17 years on Friday when he knocked out Spain's Tommy Robredo to set up a clash with Novak Djokovic. ...

Thousdands of Haredim protest against opening of Jerusalem parking lot
26 Jun 2009 - Thousands of ultra Orthodox Jerusalemites staged a mass rally on Friday, protesting the opening of a municipal parking lot in the capital on the Sabbath. ...

Youth arrested over YouTube clips that denigrate Druze community
25 Jun 2009 - Police said on Friday that they arrested a youth last week on suspicion that he uploaded clips denigrating the Druze community to YouTube, one of which allegedly led to recent fighting among residents in the northern town of Shfaram. ...

Is disgraced ex-Shas leader Aryeh Deri planning a political comeback?
25 Jun 2009 - Aryeh Deri crossed the street Wednesday night in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof and entered the apartment building across the street where Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas movement, lives. Earlier that evening he had attended the wedding of Yosef's granddaughter, but they had not met there. "I only came to congratulate him," Deri said Thursday of the meeting, which "lasted no more than 30 seconds." ... 

Israeli basketball star Omri Casspi picked in first round of NBA draft 
25 Jun 2009 - Israeli basketball star Omri Casspi took a huge step in his Israel-to-NBA saga Thursday when he became the first Israeli player ever selected in the first round of the NBA Draft - an important, but certainly not final, stage in an attempted journey to the world's preeminent professional basketball league. ...

Relief Web

Despite progress, civilians continue to bear brunt of conflict, says Under-Secretary-General in briefing to Security Council
26 Jun 2009 - Source: UN Security Council

OPT: Statement by Middle East Quartet, 26 Jun 2009
26 Jun 2009 - Source: Middle East Quartet

OPT: Israeli blockade thwarts efforts to rebuild war-shattered Gaza
26 Jun 2009 - Source: AlertNet

OPT: Gaza war traumatised a generation
26 Jun 2009 - Source: Islamic Relief

La France débloque 10 millions d'euros d'aide alimentaire (26 juin 2009)
26 Jun 2009 - Source: Government of France

Middle East, Afghanistan on agenda as Ban heads to Italy
26 Jun 2009 - Source: UN News Service

OPT: Israel plays down reports of imminent Gaza deal
26 Jun 2009 - Source: Reuters - AlertNet

The Youth Times' newspaper speaks volumes for Palestinian teenagers 
26 Jun 2009 - Source: UN Children's Fund

YNet News

Thousands of haredim protest in Jerusalem 
26 Jun 2009 - Some 30,000 members of all ultra-Orthodox factions flock to Bar Ilan Road for mass prayer in protest of decision to open parking lot in capital on Shabbat. Some attempt to attack journalists. 'If we had a haredi mayor this never would have happened,' one of the demonstrators says 

Blair sees Middle East deal if Israel acts 
26 Jun 2009 - Quartet envoy says deal on a two-state solution could be within reach if Jerusalem compromises on issues such as halting settlement expansion. PM Netanyahu could be in a strong domestic position to deliver concessions, he adds 

Obama: Violence affects hope for dialogue with Iran
26 Jun 2009 - In joint White House press conference with German Chancellor Merkel, US president again condemns post-election violence in Tehran, says Islamic government must 'respect the rights and heed the will of its people' 

Police vow 'zero tolerance' against haredi violence 
26 Jun 2009 - Massive police forces deployed on Jerusalem's Bar Ilan Road ahead of riots expected Friday evening over opening of parking lot near Old City on Shabbat. 'If the protest turns violent we will show zero violence,' official says 

Palestinian killed in Gaza tunnel collapse
26 Jun 2009 - Five other people injured in collapse of tunnel used to smuggle goods from Egypt 

Lebanon's Hariri set to become prime minister 
26 Jun 2009 - Political sources say parliament, including Hizbullah MPs, will nominate US-backed candidate; Hariri, Nasrallah meet agree to continue discussions 'in current positive calm atmosphere' stress 'logic of dialogue, cooperation and openness' 

B'tselem

Hamas must release Gilad Shalit immediately and unconditionally
24 Jun 2009 - B’Tselem repeats its demand that Hamas release Gilad Shalit immediately. The circumstances of Shalit's capture three years ago and the behavior of his captors clearly indicate that he is legally a hostage. Hostage taking is absolutely prohibited under int

B'Tselem's video camera distribution project wins British award 
22 Jun 2009 - On 22 June 2009 B'Tselem won a prestigious British prize for its groundbreaking work in the field of citizen journalism. The One World Media award was given to the organization for its camera distribution project.

Daily Star

Iranian cleric says leading rioters should be executed 
26 Jun 2009 - A hardline Iranian cleric called on Friday for the execution of leading "rioters" to teach a lesson to the tens of thousands who have protested against the result of the presidential election two weeks ago. Iran's top legislative body, the Guardian Council, said it had found no major violations in the election.

G8 denounces Iran election violence, calls on Tehran to resolve conflict 
26 Jun 2009 - Group of Eight powers on Friday deplored violence in Iran after the disputed presidential election and called on Tehran to resolve the crisis peacefully. But the G8 foreign ministers were careful not to slam the door on possible talks with Iran over its nuclear program. They encouraged Tehran to accept an offer of nuclear negotiations although.

Freed Hamas speaker urges Israel to accept truce 
26 Jun 2009 - The Hamas speaker of the Palestinian Parliament, freed by Israel this week after three years in prison, has urged Israel to accept a long-term truce offered by the Islamist group. Although Hamas refuses to recognize Israel, it is offering "some type of reconciliation" that could, if accepted, bring lasting peace to the Middle East, Abdel-Aziz Dweik told in an interview on Thursday. 

Canadian author takes call to boycott Israel to West Bank 
26 Jun 2009 - Bestselling author Naomi Klein on Friday took her call for a boycott of Israel to the Occupied West Bank village of Bilin, where she witnessed Israeli forces clashing with protesters. "It's a boycott of Israeli institutions, it's a boycott of the Israeli economy," the Canadian writer told journalists.

Israeli officials deny knowledge of Gaza deal 
26 Jun 2009 - Israeli officials played down reports on Friday that a deal was close with Hamas that would include the release of an Israeli soldier held captive in the Gaza Strip in exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli jails. Israeli and Palestinian political sources and Western diplomats confirmed, however.

Jordan River is now a sickly trickle kept alive by sewage water 
26 Jun 2009 - Pilgrims might think twice about baptism in the brackish waters after walking in the footsteps of Jesus down to the Jordan River. The stream that watered "the garden of the Lord," where Moses led the Jews to the Promised Land, is a sickly trickle through a closed military zone, kept alive by sewage water.

Turkish Army chief lashes out at coup-plot speculation 
26 Jun 2009 - Turkey's army chief Ilker Basbug on Friday called for an end to speculation about an alleged plot to bring down the government, denouncing what he called a smear campaign against the military. "At a time when there are important things taking place in the world, notably in Iran, Turkey has used a lot of energy pointlessly over a piece of paper," he told reporters angrily.

Iran's regime may ride out the storm, but at a hefty price 
26 Jun 2009 - Iran's Islamic regime may well ride out the post-election crisis, but not without collateral damage. The contours of what's likely ahead are already taking shape: more isolation from the West and a leadership turning on the pressure at home, with its military forces and street-level vigilantes swiping hard at anything or anyone perceived as a threat.

Palestinian Information Center

American historian: I read in faces of Gazans immense strength and confidence
27 Jun 2009 - The American historian, Professor Paul Aron, who is visiting the Gaza Strip said that the situation in Gaza after the war is horrifying adding that he expected this situation to persist.

UN fact-finding mission on war on Gaza to hold public hearings
27 Jun 2009 - The UN fact-finding mission on the recent Gaza conflict, mandated by the Human Rights Council and led by Justice Richard Goldstone, will hold public hearings this Sunday and Monday in Gaza City.

Palestinian factions welcome speech of Mishaal
27 Jun 2009 - The Palestinian resistance factions have welcomed on Thursday the speech of Khalid Mishaal, head of the Hamas political bureau, and described it as strategic speech..

Palestinian academics praise Mishaal's speech
27 Jun 2009 - Dr. Abdul Sattar Qassem said Thursday that the speech of Khalid Mishaal reflects the Islamic Movement's conviction that a new balance of powers in the region had been established.

Political analysts: Mishaal's speech is "strategic"
27 Jun 2009 - Arab political analysts in the Lebanese capital Beirut have hailed Thursday the speech of Khalid Mishaal, head of Hamas's political bureau, and described it as strategic and comprehensive..

Asha'l: Abbas has to choose between heading the PA or the occupation authority
27 Jun 2009 - Dr. Abdullah al-Asha'l, lecturer in international law and former aide to the Egyptian Foreign Minister, expressed his full support for the speech of Khalid Misha'al..

Mashaal to Obama: we appreciate your words, but actions speak louder
27 Jun 2009 - In a landmark Khalid Mashaal urged President Obama to transform his positive words about the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people into “concrete actions.”

Naim: Turkey conference pledged 600 million Euros for Gaza projects
27 Jun 2009 - Palestinian minister of health Dr. Basem Naim has said that the conference held recently in Istanbul, Turkey, for the support of Gaza had pledged 600 million Euros to finance 470 projects.

Hamas: Fatah escalated kidnappings as a reply to Dwaik’s initiative
27 Jun 2009 - Hamas said that Fatah faction responded to PLC speaker Dr. Aziz Dwaik’s initiative to end the internal division by kidnapping more ex-detainees and wives of prisoners still in Israeli jails.

Prisoner club: Israel uses electric shock torture against children
27 Jun 2009 - The Palestinian prisoner club accused the IOA of committing new crimes of corporal torture against children through giving them electric shocks and beating them severely.

Los Angeles Times

Mir-Hossein Mousavi slams Iran's leaders 
26 Jun 2009 - Opposition leader Mousavi speaks out after days of quiet, blasting the supreme leader and state-controlled media. He pledges to continue his campaign to have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's reelection annulled. After days of relative quiet, the candidate defeated in Iran's disputed presidential election launched a broadside Thursday against the nation's leadership, an indication that the country's political rift is far from over. 

Iran supreme leader's son seen as power broker with big ambitions 
25 Jun 2009 - Mojtaba Khamenei is being positioned to succeed his father, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but he lacks the stature to overcome any opposition from a key panel, analysts say. There are few anecdotes about him, and pictures, at least ones that have appeared in public, are scarce. But Mojtaba Khamenei, the son of Iran's supreme leader, wields considerable power and is a key figure in orchestrating the crackdown against anti-government protesters, analysts say. 

In Iran, family members wait and worry outside Evin Prison 
25 Jun 2009 - Iranians seeking the release of relatives and friends arrested during election protests must contend with a lack of information and conflicting instructions. The mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters wait. 

New York Times

Obama Dismisses Ahmadinejad’s Request for Apology
26 Jun 2009 - President Obama rejected the notion that he should apologize to Iran’s president for sharply criticizing the deadly crackdown on protesters in Tehran. 

Israel Resists Pressure on Settlements
26 Jun 2009 - Israeli officials held firm against a total settlement freeze in the West Bank, despite a call from the so-called quartet of peacemakers for a halt to construction. 

Options Shrink for Opposition as Iran Tightens Grip
25 Jun 2009 - Step by step, Iran’s leaders are successfully pushing back threats to their authority, crushing protests and restricting the main opposition leader. 

Misc

Bush-Era Official: US Did Have ‘Tacit Understanding’ on Israeli Settlements 
Antiwar.com - Antiwar. com, 6/25/2009 - Abrams Admits Israel Likely Can Do Nothing About Obama 'Decision to Renege' - In an editorial for the Wall Street Journal today, Elliott Abrams, who held multiple positions in the Bush Administration, challenged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s assertion that there were no secret agreements between the previous administration and the Israeli government in which the US pledged to accept settlement growth in the West Bank. Elliott AbramsAbrams cites the letter from Israeli official Dov Weissglas to then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice as well as the 2003 Aqaba meeting as proof that the administration had indeed reached a ‘tacit understanding’ on the Israeli government’s intention to continue construction in the settlements. As the Obama Administration began to call for a halt to the construction, Israeli officials insisted that they had clear understandings 

Nixon administration searched for ways to persuade Israel to declare it had nuclear weapons 
Antiwar.com - Antiwar. com - AP News - Jun 25, 2009 - Inside the Nixon administration four decades ago, American officials weighed options to pressure Israel to declare that it had a nuclear weapons program. U. S. officials concluded Israel was "actively working to improve its capability to produce nuclear weapons on short notice. " In an unsigned National Security Council memo, prepared sometime between April 1969 and March 1970, officials worried that the program might make elusive peace with the Arabs even harder to attain. The memorandum, part of a collection of memos and tape recordings released Tuesday by the Nixon Presidential Library, shows efforts to get Israel to sign the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. This would have required Israel to open itself to international inspection and dismantle any nuclear weapons program it had. 

Israeli military build up along borders with Lebanon 
China View - BEIRUT, June 25 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli army has set new military buildup along its border with Lebanon Thursday, amid intensified air force flights over Lebanese territories, the official national News agency (NNA) reported. Merkava tanks and armored vehicles were deployed along the wired fence separating occupied Shebaa Farms from Lebanese territories, the report said. The NNA described the Israeli military setup as "unusual military activities," while the Israeli air force carried out several flights over Al-Arqoub village, Hasbaya, Marjeyoun, West Bekaa and Ialim al-Toufah in southern Lebanon. Israel fought a 34-day devastating war with the Lebanese Shiite armed group Hezbollah in July 2006. Lebanon is still in a state of war with Israel. However, an Israeli army delegation has proposed to a Lebanese military delegation Wednesday during a meeting sponsored by UN interim 


Articles

Saving Lives by Saving Money 
Alison Weir, The Gilmer Mirror and Grayson County News-Gazett, If Americans Knew 6/21/2009
      Imagine you could help people abroad by keeping your money home. Imagine you could help bring peace to the Middle East, build a safer world and alleviate massive misery. Imagine you could begin to eliminate the requirement for long airport lines, the justification for frisking old ladies, the alleged need to discard our most cherished principles in a quest for ‘security’ against an ill-defined enemy.
     Imagine you could save America. You can – by ending our $7 million per day gift to Israel. Following are six reasons to end this enormous foreign expenditure:
     1. We can’t afford it. Businesses are failing; schools are closing; we owe more money than many think we can ever pay back. We need to get our financial house in order. We are trimming our personal, governmental and business spending. We need to trim this as well.
     2. It is a failed policy. Rather than improvement, during our six decades of more aid to Israel than to any other nation, we have seen escalating regional violence, numerous wars (many involving Americans) and growing global instability. It is time to stop sending good money after bad.
     3. It fuels the tragic cycle of violence. Empowered by our money, Israeli expansionism consistently initiates renewed violence, costing numerous lives. Israel struck first in all its wars except one. Historically, it was the initiator of conflict. The state of Israel was created in 1948 through the ethnic cleansing of Christians and Muslims, who had originally composed 95 percent of the inhabitants of land that colonists wanted for a Jewish-only state. In the current round of conflict that began in 2000, Israeli forces killed 140 Palestinian men, women and children in the Palestinian Territories before a single Israeli in Israel was killed – before any suicide bombers or Gazan rockets. In the past 8.5 years, 6,348 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis (1,487 of them children), and 1,072 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians (123 of them children). In more than 96 percent of the actions that ended periods of calm, it is Israel that broke the peace....

The Village and the Wall 
Glen Johnson, CounterPunch 6/26/2009
      A Protest in N’ilin
     The village is small and run-down. A couple of hundred residents. Green Hamas flags hang above the dirt street and wave in the breeze.
     It is brutally hot. The buildings are plastered with images. One is a photo of a small Palestinian boy from the village. His face is smiling, superimposed over a picture of the West Bank Wall and a sniper tower.
     At the age of 10 he was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers.
     From the mosque’s minaret the midday prayer projects through the streets of Ni’lin in the West Bank.
     I sit at a small coffee shop and wait. The only customer.
     A child is running down the street, kite trailing in the sky above him. He is covered in dust and his shoes are worn-out.
     Next to me, and on the wall, is the image of a man: Yousef. He was shot dead by Israeli soldiers in the village two weeks ago, during a protest against the West Bank Wall.
     People start appearing. They make their way to the olive groves near the town’s centre.
     Around 100 Palestinians have gathered. They are facing east and praying.
     Littered about the place are shell casings. And tear gas canisters.
     The canisters are lethal. Fired at high-velocity, they whip past you: crunching into trees. A range of hundreds of metres.
     Earlier this year, a local man had his chest split open when shot with canisters by Israeli soldiers. He bled to death.
     Another man - an American activist called Tristan - was shot in the back of the head with a canister. He was in a coma for months and had to have a section of his brain removed.


Electronic Intifada
Australia's pro-Israel policies, pro-Palestine public
26 Jun 2009 - The little Sydney-based pro-Palestine lobby group which I chair called Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine decided we would commission a high class, well-known, opinion poll company to test whether Australia's Labor machine or politicians knew something we didn't -- for example, that their one-sidedness reflected "the will of the people." Peter Manning comments for The Electronic Intifada. 

Report finds Israel still torturing Palestinians
26 Jun 2009 - RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel has accused the Israeli security forces of deliberately shackling Palestinian prisoners in a painful and dangerous manner, amounting to a form of torture. The report, "Shackling as a Form of Torture and Abuse," based on the evidence of over 500 prisoners, was released in advance of the UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims Friday, 26 June. 

Video: Nahr al-Bared "Two Years Under Siege"
25 Jun 2009 - Two years after it was destroyed in the wake of fighting between the Lebanese army and a militant group, the fate of the Palestinian refugee camp, Nahr al-Bared remains unclear. This 10-minute film, the co-owner of an ice cream factory, the president of the local traders committee and the imam of the al-Quds Mosque, all Palestinian refugees, speak about the siege and its economic consequences. 

Hamas' political immaturity
25 Jun 2009 - Instead of coming up with an alternative program to that of the Palestinian Authority, and all the organizations belonging to it, and instead of building on the unprecedented, growing solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza, the leadership of Hamas, in statements made by its leaders and -- more importantly -- letters sent to the US president, have begun a process of deterioration like that of their predecessors who sold out Palestinian rights at Oslo. Haidar Eid comments for The Electronic Intifada. 

Palestine Chronicle
Israeli Firms Accused of Profiting from Holocaust
25 Jun 2009 - By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth Israel's second largest bank will be forced to defend itself in court in the coming weeks over claims it is withholding tens of millions of dollars in 'lost' accounts belonging to Jews who died in the Nazi death camps. Bank Leumi has denied it holds any such funds despite a parliamentary committee revealing in 2004 that the bank owes at least $75 million to the families of several thousand Holocaust victims. Analysts said the bank’s role is only the tip of an iceberg in which Israeli companies and state bodies could be found to have withheld billions of dollars invested by Holocaust victims in the country -- dwarfing the high-profile reparations payouts from such European countries as Switzerland. “All I want is justice,” said David Hillinger, 73, whose grandfather, Aaron, died in Auschwitz, a Nazi camp in Poland. Lawyers are demanding reparations of $100,000 for Bank Leumi accounts held by his father and grandfather. The allegations against Bank Leumi surfaced more than a decade ago following research by Yossi Katz, an Israeli historian. He uncovered bank correspondence in the immediate wake of the Second World War in which it cited “commercial secrecy” as grounds for refusing to divulge the names of account holders who had been killed in the Holocaust. “I was shocked,” said Dr Katz, from Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv. “My first reaction was: ‘My God, this isn’t Switzerland!’ ” In 1998, following widespread censure, Swiss banks agreed to pay $1.25 billion...

Beyond Politics: People for Sale in Hungry World
25 Jun 2009 - By Ramzy Baroud One might be tempted to dismiss the recent findings of the US State Department on human trafficking as largely political. But do not be too hasty. Criticism of the State Department's report on trafficked persons, issued on 16 June, should be rife. The language describing US allies' efforts to combat the problem seems undeserved, especially when one examines the nearly 320- page report and observes the minuscule efforts of these governments. Also, it was hardly surprising to find that Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria -- Washington's foremost foes -- languish in the report's Tier 3 category, i.e. countries where the problem is most grave and least combated. Offenders in Tier 3 are subject to US sanctions, while governments of countries in Tier 1 are perceived as vigilant in fighting human trafficking. One could also question the US government's own moral legitimacy; classifying the world into watch lists, congratulating some and reprimanding and sanctioning others, while the US itself has thus far (and for nine consecutive reports starting 2000) been immune to self-criticism. Undoubtedly, the political hubris and self- righteous underpinnings of the report are disturbing, but that hardly represents an end to the argument. The fact remains that the report's rating of over 170 countries is thorough and largely consistent with facts as observed, reported by the media and examined in other comprehensive reports on the same issue. Indeed, the UN's own Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, launched by the United Nations Office on Drugs...

Arab-Americans Must Get Involved
25 Jun 2009 - By George S. Hishmeh A few months after arriving in the US in 1968 and joining the staff of the Chicago Sun-Times, I was invited to speak at an Arab-American community gala dinner. My punchline that evening was an appeal to the community that their children study journalism and get more involved in the political process there. Knowing that many did not trust their English or shied away because of the prevalent stereotyping, I recommended two things: Instead of writing long-winded letters to the newspapers, as some I know have done, limit them to two or three paragraphs. Better still, cut out negative news items or commentaries and mail them to the paper with the words "erroneous" or "nonsense" written on them in red ink and follow this up with a request for a meeting with the editors. A large number of such letters would at least be impressive, if not persuasive. I have also urged Arab-Americans to volunteer in political and election campaigns or, better still, seek internships in the offices of congressmen. Graduating college students should sit for the Foreign Service entrance exam in the hope of gaining a position at the State Department. I have no idea how many have done so, but I note that there are several Arab-American journalists nowadays. One of them, Anthony Shadid of The Washington Post, won the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in 2004. Of course, there is also the Lebanese-American media icon Helen Thomas, who has been present at the...

America's 'Bases of Empire'
25 Jun 2009 - By Stephen Lendman – Chicago Besides waging perpetual wars, nothing better reveals America's imperial agenda than its hundreds of global bases - for offense, not defense at a time the US hasn't had an enemy since the Japanese surrendered in August 1945. So when they don't exist, they're invented as former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Charles W. Freeman, Jr., suggested in a May 24, 2007 speech to the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs: "When our descendants look back on the end of the 20th century and the beginning of this one, they will be puzzled. The end of the Cold War relieved Americans of almost all international anxieties." As the world's sole remaining superpower, "We did not rise to the occasion." "We are engaged in a war, a global war on terror, a long war, we are told....How can a war with no defined ends beyond the avoidance of retreat ever reach a convenient stopping point? How can we win (any war let alone the hearts and minds of millions) with an enemy so ill-understood that we must invent a nonexistent ideology" for justification. In his 2006 book, "Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic," Chalmers Johnson discussed the known number of foreign US bases by size and branch of service. According to the Department of Defense's Base Structure Report (BSR) through 2005, it totaled 737 but likely exceeds 1000 today with so many new ones built since then - some known, others secret and always others planned....

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