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

VTJP Archives | VTJP 2009
3 June , 2009


International Middle East Media Center

Hamas: “Abbas’ security forces arrested two women in Nablus, Tulkarem”
4 Jun 2009 - Media sources affiliated with the Hamas movement, stated Wednesday that Palestinian security forces, loyal to president, Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank, arrested two Palestinian women in Al Ein refugee camp in Nablus, and in Tulkarem, in the northern part of the West Bank. 

Israel: “Obama’s speech could harm US-Israeli relations”
4 Jun 2009 - An Israeli Foreign Ministry official stated Wednesday  that Obama’s speech would harm US-Israeli relations, and that Israel is awaiting this speech with “suspense and embarrassment”, Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported. 

Obama arrives in Saudi Arabia
4 Jun 2009 - US President, Barack Obama, landed in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, officially starting his trip to the Middle East, which would include Egypt before heading to Germany and France. Obama was welcomed by the Saudi King, Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz. 

Settlers burn Palestinian land, block a main junction
4 Jun 2009 - Israeli settlers continued their attacks and acts of revenge against the evacuation of smaller illegal outposts, and naturally directed their attacks against the Palestinians, as they burnt a trees and farmlands, and blocked an intersection. 

Obama the anti-Semite?
4 Jun 2009 - More than 130 extremist Israeli right-wingers protested against the American President, Barack Obama, on Wednesday afternoon in front of the American Consulate in Jerusalem, as he started a Middle East tour that reportedly aims at improving US relations with the Muslim world. 

Settlers attack driver near Nablus and the army closes checkpoints
3 Jun 2009 - A group of Israeli settlers attacked on Wednesday afternoon a Palestinian driver near the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Israel plans to build hotel on the site of East Jerusalem kindergarten and market
3 Jun 2009 - The Israeli ministry of Interior has approved a plan to demolish a kindergarten and wholesale market in East Jerusalem in order to construct a new hotel. 

Hamas says it will likely withdraw from unity talks with Fatah
3 Jun 2009 - Spokesman of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, believed that his party is seriously considering withdrawal from underway Cairo talks for national unity with the rival Fatah party.

Army declares Nablus area a closed military zone
3 Jun 2009 - In an attempt to prevent Israeli peace activists from entering the Nablus area, the head of the Central Command of the Israeli Army, Gadi Shamni, declared Nablus a closed military zone. 

Two fighters wounded in northern Gaza
3 Jun 2009 - The Al Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of Fateh movement, reported that two of its fighters were wounded on Wednesday at dawn during clashes with Israeli forces near the Al Hawouz area, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. 

Obama could be seeking changes in Israel’s government formation
3 Jun 2009 - Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior Israeli political source, told the Israeli Maariv newspaper, that US president, Barack Obama, could be seeking to interfere into internal Israeli politics to change the current government formation, in an attempt to force Netanyahu to allow the Kadima party into the coalition. 

70% of the Arab population in the north has no bomb shelters
3 Jun 2009 - A study conducted and released by the “Mubadarah” Israeli-Arab Rights group, revealed that 70% of the Arabs living in northern Israel do not have shelters or safe rooms, and the 25% of them do not have emergency sirens. 

Ha'aretz Defense page

Settlers set fire to Palestinian field in West Bank
3 Jun 2009 - IDF lifts West Bank roadblocks, razes rebuilt settler outpost; Settlers: We won't yield to security forces. 

IDF declares Nablus area a closed military zone to keep out left-wing activists
3 Jun 2009 - Human rights organization slams 'totalitarian' decision, says ban meant to cover-up illegal actions. 

'Shas won't let government dry out West Bank settlements'
2 Jun 2009 - Interior Minister to meet with settler leaders, who seek his help in revoking construction freeze. 

Al-Qaida No. 2 urges Egyptians to reject 'criminal' Obama
2 Jun 2009 - Terrorist accuses Obama of waging 'bloody campaign against Muslims' in Pakistan's Swat valley. 

Sarkozy to meet Iran's foreign minister for nuclear talks
2 Jun 2009 - Rare high-level meeting to proceed Sarkozy-Obama meet Saturday, where they are expected to discuss Iran. 

Despite Gaza probe, Israeli firms vying for lucrative UN tenders
2 Jun 2009 - 15 prominent firms currently vying for tenders in communication, energy, engineering, and security. 

Likud minister: Free terrorists with 'blood on their hands' for Shalit
2 Jun 2009 - Gilad Erdan says issue of abductee's release shouldn't be politicized; Shalit talks broke down under Olmert. 

Shi'ite politician challenging Hezbollah in Lebanon
2 Jun 2009 - Ahmad El-Assaad receives death threats, arson attacks after calls to break Hezbollah monopoly on Shi'ite votes. 

Ma'an News

Two fighters wounded in Gaza clashes with Israeli forces
6/3/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Two Fatah Al-Aqsa Brigades fighters were injured on Wednesday morning in clashes with Israeli troops in the area of Abraj An-Nada in the northern Gaza Strip, the group said in a statement. According to the statement, the wounded guerillas have been transferred to a hospital for medical treatment. “The fighters were injured while trying to retaliate for Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” the statement said. The military group also claimed responsibility for clashing with special Israeli forces near the Nahal Oz crossing, east of Gaza City, and for launching three rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) at Israeli military tanks on Tuesday. In a separate statement the Al-Aqsa Brigades said they launched two mortar shells at Israeli forces near the town of Juhor Ad-Dik, in central Gaza on Wednesday morning. 

Israel to demolish East Jerusalem kindergarten, build hotel
6/3/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli authorities approved plans on Tuesday to demolish an East Jerusalem kindergarten and wholesale market in order to make way for a hotel and commercial center. The plan for the hotel, in the Wadi Joz neighborhood near the Old City, was given a green light by the Jerusalem planning and building committee, which submitted the proposal for public comment, according to the newspaper Haaretz. The site, near the Rockefeller Museum, is owned by the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality, Haaretz reported. The area is east of the Green Line and is recognized internationally as occupied territory. Legally the hotel would be a settlement. The newspaper said the plan calls for a nine-story, 200-room hotel with architecture matching the contours of the hillside. This is part of an overall Israeli plan for the area around the Old City, involving hotels, parks, and tourist attractions. 

Settlers burn Palestinian fields in fourth day of violence
6/3/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli settlers threw stones, blocked roads, and set fire to Palestinian farmland in the fourth straight day of violence they say is in reaction to their government's decision to dismantle a handful of unauthorized outposts. According to Israeli media reports, Israel’s Civil Administration alerted Palestinian firefighters to the blaze, which was set near the West Bank city of Nablus. The fire was reportedly extinguished and no one was injured. Settlers also returned to the sites of two outposts that were earlier dismantled, Maoz Esther and Ramat Migron, and erected two new outposts close by. In response to these incidents, Palestinians reportedly hurled stones at the settlers near the settlement of Havat Gilad. Settler activist Meir Bartler told Israel’s Army Radio that the settlers would "not yield to security forces," according to the newspaper Haaretz. 

EU leader: Israel relations linked to Palestinian state
6/3/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – The President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering, suggested this week that the EU may impose conditions on its relationship with Israel if it refuses to accept a Palestinian state. In an interview with the German newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt on Monday, Poettering said that he wants to increase cooperation with Israel, Turkey, and Ukraine in the areas of foreign affairs, counterterrorism, and environmental protection. “We have well-regulated relations with Israel. [. . . ] they can be a privileged partner for the European Union. Various depends on how they [conduct] their politics,” said Poettering. He also said, “We want to ensure peace in the Middle East based on a two country solution: Israel as a state with assured borders, as well as Palestine. The European Union will not accept an Israeli rejection of founding a Palestinian state. 

UPDATE: UN says Israel didn’t remove checkpoints as claimed
6/3/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – United Nations officials found that Israel did not dismantle two West Bank military checkpoints as promised on Wednesday. UN teams found that the Atara checkpoint in the village of Bir Zeit, on the main route between Ramallah and Nablus, was physically intact, including a concrete watchtower. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that they will re-classify the installation as a “partial checkpoint,” since the Israeli military has decided not to impose 24-hour checks. The other checkpoint the Israeli military said it would remove is At-Tayba (referred to as Rimonim by the army), near the village of the same name. The physical apparatus of this roadblock, already classified as a partial checkpoint, was still place when an OCHA team visited on Wednesday. 

Cancer patient released from Israeli prison arrives in Bethlehem
6/3/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian prisoner Fayiz Zeidat who was released on Tuesday from Israel’s custody after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, was hosted at Beit Jala Hospital in Bethlehem. There was an official reception for Zeidat by Bethlehem officials including the new governor of Bethlehem Abdul-Fattah Hamayil, lawmaker Issa Qaraqe, commander of Palestinian national forces Sulaiman Imran, director of military liaison department Abu harb, head of prisoners society in Bethlehem Abdullah Az-Ghari, along with other officials and ordinary Palestinians. Zeidat thanked the people of Bethlehem for the warm welcome. Bethlehem Governor Abdul-Fattah Hamayil pointed out during the reception that Zeidat’s case reflected Israeli “oppression, negligence, and torture of Palestinian prisoners. ” He said the Israelis attempted to “kill the spirits of Palestinian prisoners” which are always high despite the dire conditions in Israeli jails. 

Al-Aqsa Brigades ’shell Israeli forces’ in central Gaza
6/3/2009 - Gaza - Ma’an – The armed wing of Fatah, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed to have launched two mortar shells at Israeli forces near the town of Juhor Ad-Dik, in central Gaza on Wednesday morning. The group said the shelling, which was not confirmed by the Israeli army, was in response to “continued aggression against the Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza Strip. ”[end] 

PA police dispose of suspected bomb near Hebron
6/3/2009 - Hebron – Ma’an – Palestinian Authority police said that they safely disposed of a suspected explosive device found in the village of Sa’ir, northeast of Hebron on Wednesday. Hebron Police chief Brigadier Ramadan Awad told Ma’an, “We received information about an ambiguous object in a residential area in Sa’ir and we called experts to rush to the location. They took the object that was suspected to be explosive and took it away. ”“We were also able to prevent the explosion of this object, which threatened people’s lives in that residential area,” he said. Awad urged members of the public to report suspicious objects in the future to the police. [end] 

Settler boars reported in Salfit
6/3/2009 - Salfit – Ma’an – Palestinians in the West Bank town of Salfit said that Israeli settlers sent wild boars to attack them on Wednesday afternoon. Resident Nasser Khader Eshtayeh, of the Wadi An-Najjar neighborhood of the town, told Ma’an, “A flock of wild pigs attacked the neighborhood and searched in the baskets looking for food, adding that little kids in the roads were terrified when they saw the pigs and families were afraid that these animals could break into their houses. ”Eshtayeh said the boars are owned by Israelis living in the nearby settlement of Ariel. This was not the first time settler-own boars have been reported in Salfit. On 25 May officials from the Palestinian Agricultural Trade Union reported that Boars damaged crops planted in the area. 

Obama begins Middle East trip
6/3/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – US President Barack Obama left Washington on Tuesday heading to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia on the first leg of his first Middle East visit as president. Obama is also expected to give Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu four to six weeks to give clear answers regarding halting settlement construction in the West Bank, and accepting a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, according to news reports. This comes after Obama made a surprise appearance at a Washington meeting between Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and US National Security Advisor Jim Jones. Obama’s Envoy to the Middle East, former Senator George Mitchell, is expected to seek formal responses to his inquiries when he arrives in Israel next week. During his short stay in Saudi Arabia, Obama is scheduled to meet King Abdullah Ben Abdul-Aziz and discuss with him the Middle East peace process, the Iranian issue, and oil prices. 

Israeli forces close Enav checkpoint for enlargement
6/3/2009 - Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israeli forces on closed the Enav military checkpoint east of the city of Tulkarem on Wednesday, banning movement of the Palestinians residents for a whole day, planning to reopen the checkpoint on Thursday morning. Ma’an’s reporter stated that Israeli forces began enlarging the checkpoint, adding glass huts and new paths for pedestrians and cars. This enlargement means they have to confiscate surrounding agricultural lands owned by Palestinians. [end] 

Israel opens three Gaza crossings
6/3/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli authorities decided to open the Gaza Strip’s three commercial crossing points on Wednesday to allow passage of humanitarian aid and supplies. Palestinian crossings official Raed Fattouh told Ma’an that 60 to 69 truckloads will be shipped to the Kerem Shalom crossing. In addition, limited quantities of cooking gas and industrial-grade diesel needed to run Gaza’s sole power plant, will be shipped through the Nahal Oz crossing. The Karni terminal, which has been closed the past several days, will be open for quantities of wheat and animal feed. [end] 

Barak rebuffs UN chief over Gaza probe
6/3/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak came under pressure from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to to cooperate with an international investigation into alleged violations of international law during the recent attack on Gaza. The UN Fact-Finding Mission, led by the renowned Justice Richard Goldstone, is in Gaza this week as part of the UN Human Rights Council’s investigation of abuses committed during the three-week war that left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead. Ban raised the issue with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at a meeting yesterday in New York, the UN News Centre reported. “On the Gaza fact-finding mission, the Secretary-General renewed his call for cooperation from Israel,” Ban’s spokesperson, Michele Montas, told reporters. Barak told reporters that he rejected Ban’s request. 

UN: Israel exclusion zone eats up 30% of Gaza’s arable land
6/3/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel’s military “buffer zone” along the eastern and northern edge of the Gaza Strip eats up 30% of the territory’s arable land, the United Nations said this week. Fieldworkers with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) told the Christian Science Monitor that they have been unable to verify conditions in this 300-meter-wide band of land along the Green Line. "We haven't been able to visit this area. No organization has," said Mohammed Al-Shattali, project manager for (FAO) in the Gaza, according to the newspaper. "The war increased the amount of land destroyed, particularly in the border areas, and the farmers can't replant anything because it's too dangerous," he told the Christian Science Monitor. "The Israeli soldiers, they shoot at everything – dogs, sheep. 

Exclusive: Hamas invites Obama to Gaza in letter
6/3/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an Exclusive – An American group returning from Gaza says it will deliver a letter from Hamas to US President Barack Obama who is to give a landmark address to the Muslim world in the Egyptian capital on Thursday. Hamas official Ahmad Yousef confirmed that he wrote the letter, which the US women's antiwar group CODEPINK plans to deliver on Thursday. Yousef sent a copy of the letter, in Arabic, to Ma'an. The following is a translation:Mr. President Barack Obama,President of the United States of America,June 3, 2009We welcome your visit to the Arab world and your initiative to break the problems between you and the Muslim world. One of the most important points causing tension between the United States and this part of the world is the failure to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Hamas: Fatah talks threatened by Qalqiliya deaths
6/3/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas said on Wednesday that it is on the verge of pulling out of talks with its rival Fatah over the killing of three of its members in the West Bank city of Qalqiliya on Sunday. The Hamas members, one of them a civilian, were killed when Fatah-allied Palestinian Authority (PA) forces moved in to arrest gunmen who were holed up in a house. Three PA security officers were also killed. Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum told Ma’an, “We are so close to a decision to suspend the dialogue with Fatah. After what happened in Qaliqiliya, it became difficult to go back to the dialogue, especially if Fatah does not change its behavior toward Hamas, release the political prisoners and present something new in the dialogue sessions. ”The next round of Egyptian-mediated negotiations between the Palestinian factions was scheduled for early July in Cairo. 

Hamas: PA arrest raids will be met with violence
6/3/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas’ armed wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, announced on Wednesday that any attempt by the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces in the West Bank to arrest so-called “wanted activists” would be met with violence. The group’s spokesperson Abu Ubayda released a statement warning the PA against any attempt to “harm” Al-Qassam fighters, threatening that what happened in Qalqiliya could be “repeated everywhere. ”The announcement comes after six people died in a shootout when PA forces attempted to arrest Hamas gunmen in the West Bank city of Qalqiliya on Sunday. The shootout was the worst instance of Hamas-Fatah violence in the West Bank since 2007, when Hamas took full control of the Gaza Strip. Earlier another Hamas spokesman said the movement is likely to pull out of upcoming talks with Fatah over the Qalqiliya deaths. 

Palestinian leftists call for an end to Hamas-Fatah violence
6/3/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – Left-wing Palestinian factions held a meeting in Gaza on Wednesday to discuss a response to a recent flare up in internecine violence. A member at the central committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Kayed Al-Ghoul, said that his party also met with officials from the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP) on Tuesday evening. Al-Ghoul said that the left “totally rejects” the use of violence among Palestinian factions, after a Hamas-Fatah shootout in the West Bank city of Qalqiliya left six people dead on Sunday. The official also expressed the importance of “comprehensive dialogue” after the Qalqiliya events. He also called for the establishment of an independent committee to investigate the causes of the clashes and put forward suggestions for a resolution of the current crisis. 

Hamas: PA denied lawmakers access to Qalqiliya
6/3/2009 - Tulkarem – Ma'an – Hamas lawmakers said they were barred by the Palestinian Authority (PA) from visiting the West Bank city of Qalqiliya on Wednesday, where six people died in a shootout on Sunday. Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Abdel Rahman Zeidan told Ma’an thatAhmed Al-Haj Ali, Sheikh Hamid Al-Betawi, Mahmoud Musleh, Abdel Rahman Zeidan, and Mona Mansour were turned back on their way into the city. Zeidan said they intended to console the parents of three Hamas members who were killed in a gunfight that took place when PA forces attempted to arrest Hamas fighters. The Palestinian Authority has not commented on the report. Earlier, Hamas’ armed wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, announced that any attempt by the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces in the West Bank to arrest so-called “wanted activists” would be met with violence. 

The National

Lebanon dismisses fears of outside influence in electoral result
3 Jun 2009 - Sunday's election in Lebanon will be fairly democratic and free from undue Syrian interference, according to Rami Mortada, a senior Lebanese official in Damascus.

Jordan has the jitters over Palestinian state proposal
2 Jun 2009 - A proposal in the Knesset that Jordan serves as a Palestinian state raises fears in the country.

Lebanon poll no threat to status quo
2 Jun 2009 - Despite government claims that an opposition win on Sunday would amount to a militant Shia takeover, little is likely to change.

Why the media is losing the Israeli numbers game
2 Jun 2009 - Comment: Even on the most basic fact about the settlers – the number living on occupied Palestinian territory – the agencies regularly get it wrong.

Shift in stance on settlements could end up dislodging Netanyahu government
2 Jun 2009 - Bowing to US pressure to change policy has a high political price.

Lawyers turn to Muslim Brotherhood for leadership
1 Jun 2009 - Egypt's largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, is elected to run a professional syndicate.


Iran rivals clash in live debate
3 Jun 2009 - Presidential candidates trade insults in televised broadcast.

Israel steps up defence drill
2 Jun 2009 - Population heads to air-raid shelters as nation practices "doomsday" scenario.

Lebanon charges nine for spying
2 Jun 2009 - Number of people accused in past weeks of collaborating with Israel rises to 35.

Man killed in Jerusalem gun attack
2 Jun 2009 - Armed Jewish man kills one person and wounds another in attack near the Old City.

UN war investigators arrive in Gaza
1 Jun 2009 - United Nations team enters Gaza to investigate Israel war crimes claims.


OPT: Grim housing, water situation in Gaza 
TEL AVIV Thursday, May 28, 2009 (IRIN) - Reports published recently by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), Israeli NGO B'Tselem and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) paint a grim picture of life in Gaza more than four months after the 23-day Israeli offensive ended on 18 January.

OPT: Gaza liquidity crisis having tangible humanitarian impact 
GAZA CITY Monday, May 25, 2009 (IRIN) - A banking and liquidity crisis is affecting the lives of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip: Civil servants are struggling to get their salaries, and humanitarian aid is being delayed. Thousands of welfare benefit recipients are not getting their dues. 

Inter Press Service

US-MIDEAST: Obama Overture Fraught With Stumbling Blocks 
WASHINGTON, Jun 3 (IPS) - In his most widely anticipated speech to date, U.S. President Barack Obama will reach out directly to the Muslim world Thursday morning at Cairo University.

POLITICS-US: Report Ties Dubious Iran Nuclear Docs to Israel 
WASHINGTON, Jun 3 (IPS) - A report on Iran’s nuclear programme issued by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month generated news stories publicising an incendiary charge that U.S. intelligence is underestimating Iran’s progress in designing a "nuclear warhead" before the halt in nuclear weapons-related research in 2003.

MIDEAST: Obama Turns the Screws on Israel 
JERUSALEM, Jun 3 (IPS) - Air raid sirens wailed out on Tuesday morning and Israelis were asked to go down into bomb shelters as the country engaged in its largest-ever civil defence drill. Israelis remain deeply worried by what they perceive as an existential threat of a possible future all-out...

MIDEAST: Palestinian Authority Going the Israeli Way 
RAMALLAH, Jun 3 (IPS) - A surge in confidence, following unprecedented U.S. political support, led to the Palestinian Authority's bloody crackdown on a Hamas cell in the northern West Bank on Sunday which left six Palestinians dead.

Stop The Wall

April in Jerusalem
1 Jun 2009 - In the month of March, four homes were demolished in Jerusalem, displacing four families totaling 26 people. The residents of Jabl al-Mukabr, for instance, saw one house destroyed in the neighborhood as well as the issuing of several new demolition orders. Settlement work also continued in Jabl al-Mukabr, where Occupation forces are creating a new settlement in the heart of the community. To the east of Jerusalem, 12,000 dunums were confiscated to further tie major settlement blocs together. [

Two new videos online!
30 May 2009 - Two new video resources are online. The first is 

PCHR Latest

(02-06-2009) PCHR Welcomes Arrival of Human Rights Council Mandated Independent Fact-Finding Mission to Gaza

PCHR Condemns Arrests of Hamas' Members and Supporters in the West Bank; Director of the Office of PLC Members from the Change and Reform Bloc Continues to be Detained

PCHR Weekly Report

(21 - 27 May  2008)
During the reporting period, IOF killed two Palestinian resistance activists in the Gaza Strip, and wounded 17 civilians, including four children and an old woman in the West Bank

International Solidarity Movement

Settlers set Palestinian land ablaze and attack villagers in the West Bank
International Solidarity Movement - Early in the morning of the 1st of June, settlers started to burn farm land of the village of Burin. Continuing throughout the day, settlers also set fire to the crops and olive trees of Tell, Jit, Immatin, and Far'ata villages in the Nablus region of the West Bank. Six Palestinians were also attacked violently by settlers while they were on their way to work near the villages. At 4 o'clock in the morning, the first group of settlers started to come towards a house on the outskirts of Burin. The family had to close all the shutters and doors to stop the settlers from entering the house. One woman of the house said "We're very afraid. This is not the first time the settlers have come. They harass us, cut the electricity wires to the house, and throw burning things on our roof. 

UN: Israel exclusion zone eats up 30% of Gaza’s arable land
International Solidarity Movement - Ma'an News Agency - Israel's military "buffer zone" along the eastern and northern edge of the Gaza Strip eats up 30% of the territory's arable land, the United Nations said this week. Fieldworkers with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) told the Christian Science Monitor that they have been unable to verify conditions in this 300-meter-wide band of land along the Green Line. "We haven't been able to visit this area. No organization has," said Mohammed Al-Shattali, project manager for (FAO) in the Gaza, according to the newspaper. "The war increased the amount of land destroyed, particularly in the border areas, and the farmers can't replant anything because it's too dangerous," he told the Christian Science Monitor. "The Israeli soldiers, they shoot at everything - dogs, sheep. 

Palestinian village sends pair to sue Quebec companies
International Solidarity Movement - CBC Canada - 2 June 2009 - Two representatives of a small West Bank Palestinian village will tour Canada this month, as they prepare a lawsuit against two Quebec-based companies for allegedly violating international law by building Israeli settlements on occupied territory. Mohammed Khatib is a member of the Popular Committee Against the Wall in the town of Bil'in, west of Ramallah. He will hold a news conference on June 4 at Quebec Superior Court, along with Israeli lawyer Emily Schaeffer, who represents Bil'in. The town's claim was filed July 9 against sister companies Green Park International and Green Mount International. It also asks the Quebec Superior Court for an injunction to stop further construction and demolish apartment buildings already erected in Moddin Illit, a Jewish settlement northwest of Ramallah. 

Soldier who killed UK peace activist deemed ineligible for parole
International Solidarity Movement - YNet News - 2 June 2009 - Israel Defense Forces soldier Taysir Hayb, who was convicted of the manslaughter of British peace activist Tom Hurndall in Gaza in 2003, will remain in jail despite having served two-thirds of his sentence, which should have made him eligible for parole. Hurndall was shot in the head during a demonstration in Rafah, located in the southern Gaza Strip. The Military Prosecution stated Tuesday that it objected to Hayb's early release for fears it might exacerbate tensions between Israel's and the UK. After serving five-and-a-half years of his sentence, Hayb told a committee headed by Jaffa Military Court President Colonel Rachel Tevet-Vizel that "I did not come from a criminal organization; I came from a military background. I am not a criminal and I want to complete my jail term, get engaged and build a home and a future. . . " 

Health Day for Gazan fishermen
International Solidarity Movement - Fishing Under Fire - 3 June 2009 - The Palestinian International Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza has organized a day of free medical treatment for the Gazan fishermen at the offices of the Tawfiq Cooperative of Fishermen - Gaza Strip. The Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees (UPMRC) provided the doctors, nurses and the medicines. The situation of Palestinian fishermen is critical because of the siege imposed by Israel and Egypt. According to the Oslo accords the Palestinian fishermen were allowed to fish up to 20 n. miles from the coast, but these limits were gradually reduced by the Israeli Navy to 12, then 6 and now after the recent massacres, to 3 n. miles. In fact the Palestinian fishermen are facing attacks by the Israeli Navy even a few meters from the coast. Since the declaration of the "ceasefire" there has been at least 5 fishermen wounded. . . 

An open letter to President Obama from the Free Gaza Movement
International Solidarity Movement - Free Gaza Movement - 3 June 2009 - Dear President Obama, Tomorrow you travel to Egypt to give one of the most important speeches of your presidency. With the words you deliver you have said that you want to "reset" U. S. relations with the Muslim world and create a fundamental change for the better. We sincerely wish you well. But you have also said that "part of being a good friend is being honest. " Let's be honest. Israel's ongoing occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and the United States' unquestioned financial, military and political support for Israel is at the heart of the negative perceptions and bitter anger that many Arabs and Muslims have of the United States. Tomorrow, we hope to hear from you a commitment to aligning U. S. policy in the Middle East with U. N. Resolutions and international law. 

People & Power - Courtroom Intifada
International Solidarity Movement - Al Jazeera - 3 June 2009 - The small village of Bil'in is trying to regain land lost to the Separation Wall and an encroaching Jewish settlement through "˜legal resistance'. As their victory in the Israeli Supreme Court continues to be ignored, the villagers, helped by Israeli lawyer Michael Sfard, file a case against the international construction companies who are building the settlements for violating international human rights law by building on occupied land. Updated on June 3, 2009 [end] 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

Gazan commanders dismissed on Iranian recommendation
3 Jun 2009 - Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal recently relieved two brigade commanders in the Gaza Strip on Iranian recommendations, Palestinian sources said Wednesday. The two officers, Bassam Issa and Imat Aakel, were removed from their positions following the recommendation of Iranian Revolutionary Guard officials who participated in the investigation of the perceived Hamas military failure during Operation Cast Lead. The two officers have been known to lead military wing formations in two of the Strip's refugee camps, Nuseirat and Bureij, and became brigade commanders when the Hamas regular military force was established. ... 

Gideon Levy / Future of Mideast is a domestic American issue
3 Jun 2009 - Benjamin Netanyahu can keep pretending it's just rain and Interior Minister Eli Yishai can continue berating the Obama administration for its "unacceptable" policies. National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari can keep shouting hysterically about our soldiers, and the settlers can keep putting us all in danger. But the issue has been settled in Washington. ... 

ANALYSIS / Netanyahu will comply with Obama's demands
3 Jun 2009 - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will back down. Another week, another month, and he will give into American pressure and will be forced to accept the two-state solution and also agree to some sort of concessions on settlements. So far there has been no real negotiation between Israel and the Obama administration, just an exchange of declarations. There are no personal links between the Prime Minister's Bureau and the White House. Only after Thursday, following the "conciliatory address" of U.S. President Barack Obama to the Arab and Muslim world in Cairo, will the real discussion begin. Or maybe not, and Israel will continue to be hit in the head until Obama is satisfied. ... 

Obama to tell Israel, Arabs to change their approach to peace 
3 Jun 2009 - In his Cairo address Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama will call on Israel and the Arab states to change their approach to the Middle East peace process. A U.S. source says the president will encourage the Arab world to change its attitude toward Israel and embark on "normalization." ... 

Lieberman: Israel has no plans to attack Iran
3 Jun 2009 - Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said on Wednesday his government has no plans to attack Iran. ...

The Guardian

Will Obama be Netanyahu's downfall? | Simon Tisdall
2 Jun 2009 - Barack Obama's perceived tilt towards the Arab world has left Israel's fragile coalition government reeling Israeli alarm is growing over Barack Obama 's perceived tilt away from the Jewish state and towards its historic Arab foes....

Tony Blair flags 'way forward' in Middle East peace process
1 Jun 2009 - Former PM tells foreign affairs committee that efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are entering a 'critical' phase Tony Blair said today he expected the Middle East peace process to find "a way forward" in the...

Tony Blair faces questions over Middle East peace envoy work
1 Jun 2009 - Foreign Affairs Select Committee to ask former prime minister about recent developments in region Tony Blair's post Downing Street role as a Middle East peace envoy will today come under the spotlight when the former prime...

Obama's speech in Cairo: getting the right audience | Editorial
31 May 2009 - Cast a weary eye over the map of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and there are, on any one day, at least a dozen flashpoints. One erupted yesterday in the West Bank town of Qalqilya, when a local...

Ha'aretz National page

Shulamit Aloni / a Jewish state controlled by religious fanaticism 
3 Jun 2009 - Not very long ago, during Rabbi Meir Kahane's racist rantings, the late writer and journalist Amos Elon gave me a copy of a letter Lord Rothschild sent to Herzl in August 1902. In the letter, Rothschild explains why he refuses to support the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. He writes that he "should view with horror the establishment of a Jewish colony pure and simple; such a colony would be Imperium Imperio; it would be a Ghetto with the prejudice of the Ghetto; it would be a small petty Jewish state, orthodox and illiberal, excluding the Gentile and the Christian." ... 

TV personality Dudu Topaz attempts suicide in prison 
3 Jun 2009 - Television personality Dudu Topaz attempted to commit suicide in his jail cell overnight by injecting himself with insulin, an Israel Prison Service spokesperson said early Thursday. ...

Two suspected pedophiles arrested in ultra-Orthodox J'lem neighborhood
3 Jun 2009 - Police remanded two men Wednesday suspected of more than 20 sexual attacks on young boys in an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood. One of the two, a 17-year-old, is suspected of attacking an 11-year-old boy who lives in the neighborhood. ... 

Shas seeks authority to strip Israelis of citizenship
2 Jun 2009 - Interior Minister and Shas Chairman Eli Yishai is planning to submit an amendment to the basic citizenship law which would give him the authority to strip Israelis of their citizenship at his discretion, without the authorization of Attorney General Menachem Mazuz or the courts. ...

'We're launching a campaign against anti-Semitic Obama'
2 Jun 2009 - Some 130 protesters gathered in front of the American Consulate in Jerusalem Wednesday afternoon to rally against U.S. President Barack Obama, who had just launched his Middle East tour , during which he is expected to reach out in friendship to the Muslim world. ... 

Relief Web

OPT: Jewish settlers build two new West Bank outposts after two removed
3 Jun 2009 - Source: Deutsche Presse Agentur

Israeli actions curb Palestinian growth-World Bank 
3 Jun 2009 - Source: Reuters - AlertNet

OPT: Rebuilding lives, healing minds
3 Jun 2009 - Source: World Health Organization

OPT: Ministry of Health, UNDP/PAPP and France cater for mental health needs in the Jenin District
3 Jun 2009 - Source: Government of France, UN Development Programme

OPT: Open letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
3 Jun 2009 - Source: Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Defence for Children International/Palestine Section, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

Press conference by Security Council President on programme of work for June
2 Jun 2009 - Source: UN Department of Public Information

OPT: Increased humanitarian aid to Gaza after IDF operation, 30 May 2009
2 Jun 2009 - Source: Government of Israel

OPT: Israel's Barak urges US to rethink settlement stand
2 Jun 2009 - Source: Reuters - AlertNet

YNet News

Israel fears ramifications of Obama's Cairo speech 
3 Jun 2009 - Jerusalem hopes president's speech will promote reconciliation with Arab world, but official says government awaiting speech with 'suspense and embarrassment' due to fears of consequences it may have on US-Israel relations 

Gaza businessmen want compensation for war damage
3 Jun 2009 - Gazans tell head of UN probing committee they want Israel to pay for damage caused by IDF offensive

MK Shalom to Palestinian UN rep: Renew talks 
3 Jun 2009 - In meeting with Arab ambassadors in New York, Vice PM says 'Israel willing to take major steps towards peace,' adding that 'Iran wants to restore Persian Empire' 

Sarkozy warns Iran after nuclear talks in Paris
3 Jun 2009 - French president says after meeting with visiting Iranian FM Mottaki Tehran will expose itself to constantly growing international pressure if it rejects world powers' offer to halt nuke program in exchange for no new economic sanctions; also slams Ahmadinejad's Holocaust remark as 'deeply shocking' 

Rightists to circulate doctored photos of kaffiyah-clad Obama
3 Jun 2009 - 200 right-wing activists demonstrate outside American Consulate in Jerusalem in protest of growing pressure to halt settlement construction; extremists to circulate doctored photos of US president in Arab headdress and shaking Ahmadinejad's hand 

Settlers setting up new outposts in West Bank 
3 Jun 2009 - 'Security forces destroy and we build,' Binyamin Settlers' Committee says two more illegal outposts being built by members of the Land of Israel Faithful movement in response to Maoz Ester 'expulsion' 

Barak tells US not to expect the 'irrational'
3 Jun 2009 - Summing up his visit to Washington, defense minister tells reporters he wants US administration to 'tone down volume' on public remarks regarding disputed settlement activity in order to conduct debate in respectful fashion

Siren test catches central Israel residents by surprise
3 Jun 2009 - Sirens activated simultaneously in Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Givatayim and additional cities as part of Home Front Command's nationwide drill, stirring panic among residents who feared Israel may be under attack 


Testimony: Sixty laborers detained in refrigerator compartment
25 May 2009 - On 9 May, more than sixty Palestinians, in an attempt to enter Israel without a work permit, squeezed into a truck's refrigerator compartment. One of them related to B'Tselem that police stopped the truck, found the workers, and then made them remain insi

Daily Star

Lieberman and Barak send conflicting signals on Iran 
3 Jun 2009 - Israel is not planning to bomb Iran, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday, addressing speculation that it might launch a military operation to attempt to destroy the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, has repeatedly described Iran's uranium enrichment.

Four die in clashes over demolitions near Damascus 
3 Jun 2009 - Clashes Tuesday between security forces and demonstrators have left several casualties in a protest against house demolitions near Damascus, Syrian state news agency SANA said on Wednesday. The electronic newsletter Champress, which is close to the government and among the most popular in Syria.

Beyond the Muslim world 
3 Jun 2009 - President Obama's speech in Egypt represents symbolically critical outreach to those of the Muslim faith around the world. His efforts have marked an important strategic shift in tone for American foreign policy. Whether it marks a strategic shift in substance can only be proven by actions and, above all, results over an extended period of time.

One killed as rebels attack bus in southeastern Iran 
3 Jun 2009 - Rebels opened fire on a bus and killed one passenger Tuesday in southeastern Iran, where police said they had arrested dozens of people after unrest there killed more than 30 in the past week. The renewed violence occurred ahead of a presidential election on June 12 in which conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Israel takes down two army roadblocks, Palestinians say move 'not enough' 
3 Jun 2009 - Israel ended inspections of Palestinian cars at two army roadblocks in the Occupied West Bank on Wednesday, taking a small step toward meeting US calls to ease Palestinian hardship in the occupied territory. The move came a day after Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met President Barack Obama in Washington.

Obama, Barak leave White House in disagreement over settlements 
3 Jun 2009 - President Barack Obama told Israel's defense minister Tuesday that Israel must stop allowing West Bank settlements to grow, reiterating his stance in the hours before leaving for the Middle East on a trip to improve relations with Muslims. Obama and Ehud Barak left the White House in disagreement over Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.

Palestinian Information Center

Muslims want actions, not words, from Obama
3 Jun 2009 - I sincerely believe that the vast majority of Muslims, including this writer, profoundly appreciate President Obama’s decision to address the Muslim world from Cairo.

Hamas: Obama’s’ address to the Muslim world will be judged through his sincerity
3 Jun 2009 - Hamas stated that the speech which Obama intends to deliver to the Muslim world in Cairo would be judged through his seriousness about supporting the justice of the Palestinian cause.

Hamas: PA security intensified arrest campaigns in search of a new Qassam cell
3 Jun 2009 - Hamas said that the PA security apparatuses intensified in the past few days the arrest campaigns in search of Al-Qassam commander in Tulkarem Mohamed Karyoush and members of his cell.

Mizeini: No progress in Shalit file unless demands are met
3 Jun 2009 - Dr. Osama Al-Mizeini, one of Hamas's political leaders, has asserted that Israel's change of the official in charge of the issue of Gilad Shalit would not achieve any progress in the exchange file.

Gov't against siege calls for international campaign to open Rafah crossing
3 Jun 2009 - The government committee against the siege has called for an international campaign to open the Rafah border terminal between Egypt and the Gaza Strip to end the Palestinian suffering.

Four Palestinians wounded in IOF shelling
3 Jun 2009 - Four Palestinians were wounded at dawn Wednesday when Israeli occupation forces stationed north of the Gaza Strip opened artillery fire at the Bedouin village north of the Strip.

IOA distributes new demolition orders of Palestinian homes
3 Jun 2009 - The Israeli occupation authority on Tuesday informed a number of house owners in various areas of Tobas district that their homes would be demolished within 48 hours.

H.R. groups: Ban Ki-Moon ignores Palestinian blood in Gaza
3 Jun 2009 - Five Palestinian human rights groups have accused Tuesday the secretary-general of the UN Ban Ki-Moon of violating the charter of his organization.

Khreisha: PA security formed to protect Israel and liquidate resistance
3 Jun 2009 - The second deputy speaker of the PLC Dr. Hassan Khreisha has opined that the PA security apparatuses were formed to protect Israel' security and to liquidate Palestinian resistance.

Gov't provides UN fact-finding commitee with evidence for Israeli war crimes
3 Jun 2009 - The Palestinian government provided Tuesday the visiting UN fact-finding committee with photos, documents and evidence related to the Israeli war crimes committed during the last war on Gaza.

Los Angeles Times

Dudu Topaz, former Israel TV host, jailed over assaults 
3 Jun 2009 - Police say the onetime 'ratings king' has confessed to soliciting attacks on two television executives who rebuffed his new-show ideas and on the agent who abandoned his comeback bid. They called Dudu Topaz "the ratings king" of Israel. Handsome and charismatic, folksy and zany, he drew audiences to gimmicky variety shows, game shows, talk shows, children's shows and satires that made him one of the country's most popular and provocative television hosts for nearly three decades. 

Is Israeli film 'Lost Islands' too funny for U.S.? 
3 Jun 2009 - The country's box-office winner goes begging for an American distributor. The Israeli producer David (Dudi) Zilber couldn't be happier about the success of his latest film, "Lost Islands," a comedy about twin brothers in late-1970s Israel who fall in love with the same girl. The film is having its gala U.S. premiere tonight at the Israel Film Festival (it plays at 7:30 p.m. at the Egyptian Theatre, with more showings later in the week). 

New York Times

As Obama Begins Trip, Arabs Want Israeli Gesture
3 Jun 2009 - President Obama arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday at the start of a five-day Mideast tour intended to push for progress in settling the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

Israelis Say Bush Officials Agreed to Settlement Building
3 Jun 2009 - President Obama has declined to acknowledge what Israeli officials called clear understandings with the Bush administration. 

Obama Plays Down Divide With Israel
2 Jun 2009 - Ahead of a visit to the Middle East, President Obama played down a dispute with Israel over his demand for a suspension of further settlement in the West Bank. 



Gambling with Conflict: How a neocon casino king from California funds the Israeli settler movement 
Max Blumenthal, Mondoweiss 6/3/2009
      Includes video
     The Israeli government has repeatedly announced plans to forge ahead with plans to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank in direct opposition to President Barack Obama’s demand for an absolute settlement freeze. On May 27, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leveled strong criticism at Israeli policy, telling reporters that President Barack Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements - not some settlements, not outposts, not ’natural growth’ exceptions.” Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev responded by declaring that “normal life” in the settlements would continue, using a phrase that is code for continued construction.
     With neither side exhibiting willingness to back down, the stage is set for a contentious clash between Israel and the U.S. over settlement policy. At the center of the maelstrom is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the hawkish Likud Party, who has highlighted his unique understanding of the United States – he is MIT educated and speaks flawless English. Supporters of the settlement movement are an integral part of his governing coalition. How Netanyahu navigates between his far-right constituency and increasingly insistent demands from Obama will not only determine the fate of his government, but also the fate of Israel’s “special relationship” with Washington.
     A gathering of the settlement movement’s leading figures in Jerusalem on May 22, documented in this exclusive Mondoweiss report, revealed the unprecedented influence of the settlers on Israeli policy. The event, a ceremony for the presentation of the Moskowitz Foundation Prize for Zionism, was organized and bankrolled by one of Netanyahu’s closest confidants and backers, the American casino tycoon Irving Moskowitz. For over a decade, Moskowitz has funneled millions in profits from his California-based Hawaiian Gardens casino, where he has been sued for exploiting undocumented workers, into settlement construction projects in the West Bank, including Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. He has also funded several neoconservative think tanks including a research center named after Netanyahu’s brother, Yonatan, who was killed while leading the Entebbe rescue raid in 1976. Moskowitz and Netanyahu have remained close since he established the center.

A Stifling Embrace 
Nadia Hijab, CounterPunch 6/3/2009
      Obama’s Misstep with Abbas
     The normally sure-footed Barack Obama made a misstep during his press conference with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. He declared: "I want to publicly commend President Abbas" for steadfastly insisting that a Palestinian unity government would have to recognize the Quartet conditions for dealing with Hamas.
     In providing this seal of approval, the American president tripped over one of the oldest maxims of the modern Middle East: The closer the United States appears to side with a leader, the further away that drives the people from the leader.
     By contrast, vice president Joe Biden, who is often accused of being a "gaffe machine," was more nuanced in enveloping Lebanon’s president Michel Sleiman in the American embrace earlier this month, saying he had "not come to back any particular party or any particular person."
     Nevertheless, Biden’s visit to Lebanon, hard on the heels of secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s, was widely seen as an attempt to shore up the pro-Western March 14 Alliance. As for Obama’s plaudits for Abbas, they sent a signal to the region, intentional or not, that the United States is the reason the Egyptian-sponsored unity talks between Palestinian parties have yet to bear fruit.

Electronic Intifada
Media agencies annex 200,000 settlers 
3 Jun 2009 - Given their influence on world opinion and the vital importance of the settlement issue in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, can readers depend on the news agencies to provide fair coverage? The answer, sadly, is: no. Even on the most basic fact about the settlers -- the number living on occupied Palestinian territory -- the agencies regularly get it wrong. Jonathan Cook analyzes. 

Obama should visit Gaza
3 Jun 2009 - The Obama administration has said almost nothing about the devastating Israeli invasion of Gaza that left more than 1,400 dead, including some 400 children. To many in the Middle East, this is an unfortunate continuation of past policies that condemn the loss of innocent Israeli lives, but refuse to speak out against the disproportionately greater loss of Palestinian lives at the hands of the Israeli military. Medea Benjamin comments for EI. 

Gaza aid still in Egypt
3 Jun 2009 - AL-ARISH (IRIN) - The lack of proper warehousing facilities in the northeastern Egyptian cities of al-Arish and Rafah is partly to blame for bottlenecks and inefficiencies in delivering food and other aid to the Gaza Strip, a former senior Egyptian aid official has said. The only working warehouse in al-Arish had been part-rented to the World Food Programme with only some of its space allocated to the Egyptian Red Crescent Society. 

Gaza's emerging trash crisis
3 Jun 2009 - GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - Suliman Khodari begins his shift at 5am on one of Gaza City's busiest streets. With his horse-drawn cart, Suliman spends seven hours every morning hauling away the rubbish left by residents and shop owners of the neighborhood. But he is not a scavenger. Suliman is one of 150 animal cart owners currently collecting garbage for the Gaza City municipality. 

In Gaza
harvest challenges
1 Jun 2009 - photo story: Just after 7 am on May 30th, Palestinian farmers in Khoza’a, east of Khan Younis, returned to the land they’d been menaced off of 5 days earlier. “The same day the Israelis dropped papers saying they would shoot at us for being on our land they did shoot at us,” Ahmed, a 22 year old farmer explained.  It was around 10:30, he said. “They were shooting so much that the dirt rose in clouds of dust.” When we arrive on May 30th, the bales of wheat are ready, all neatly and compactly hand-bundled, covering 30 dunums (1 dunum=1000 square metres) of land belonging to Radi Abu Rayder.  He...

Palestine Chronicle
Nasrallah's Turn
1 Jun 2009 - Nicholas Noe - Beirut Over the last decade and a half, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Lebanon's militant Shiite movement Hezbollah, has steadily moved front and center in the often vitriolic (and regularly under-informed) Western debate over the threat that 'radical Islam' is said to pose to the world at large. Now, as Nasrallah appears ready to lead what could be a new majority in the Lebanese Parliament, the steady stream of accusations and threats have, somewhat predictably, turned into a deluge – with Arab states, Arab media and prosecutorial offices far and wide at the forefront of efforts to paint him as public enemy Number One. A central reason for all the attention in the past, of course, has been that Nasrallah and Hezbollah have managed – for better or worse, depending on your perspective – to inflict a series of increasingly significant setbacks for US and especially Israeli interests: the ignominious, unilateral withdrawal from South Lebanon by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in May 2000, the failure of the Bush administration to vanquish Hezbollah and Syria in one go following the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri, and, of course, the July 2006 war – vigorously encouraged by the Americans and lost by the Israelis. But Nasrallah has also become an object of particular focus and concern because, unlike many other Islamists, he has successfully staked a great deal of his power and prestige on a sustained appeal to reason in the all important battle...

'Racist for Democracy'
1 Jun 2009 - By Uri Avnery – Israel How lucky we are to have the extreme Right standing guard over our democracy. This week, the Knesset voted by a large majority (47 to 34) for a law that threatens imprisonment for anyone who dares to deny that Israel is a Jewish and Democratic State. The private member’s bill, proposed by MK Zevulun Orlev of the “Jewish Home” party, which sailed through its preliminary hearing, promises one year in prison to anyone who publishes “a call that negates the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State”, if the contents of the call might cause “actions of hate, contempt or disloyalty against the state or the institutions of government or the courts”. One can foresee the next steps. A million and a half Arab citizens cannot be expected to recognize Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State. They want it to be “a state of all its citizens” – Jews, Arabs and others. They also claim with reason that Israel discriminates against them, and therefore is not really democratic. And, in addition, there are also Jews who do not want Israel to be defined as a Jewish State in which non-Jews have the status, at best, of tolerated outsiders. The consequences are inevitable. The prisons will not be able to hold all those convicted of this crime. There will be a need for concentration camps all over the country to house all the deniers of Israeli democracy. The police will...

Lobby Connection: Japan and the 'War on Terror'
1 Jun 2009 - By Maidhc Ó Cathail – Japan Japan may be 'in the American Embrace,' as Gavan McCormack's Client State cogently argues, but in whose embrace is America? In Client State: Japan in the American Embrace, Gavan McCormack demonstrates how Japan’s apparent nationalist turn owes much to the need to conceal the country’s increasing subordination to American imperial designs. However, a closer examination of the driving forces behind the US Empire in the 21st century suggests that both countries may be serving a quite different agenda. Rightly described as a “masterful” analysis by fellow Japan expert Chalmers Johnson, McCormack’s 2007 book expertly documents how Japan’s postwar “peace constitution” has been steadily attenuated to the point of meaninglessness, as Tokyo has consistently bowed to pressure from Washington to become more active in its support of US hegemony, culminating in a “merger” of their military forces in the wake of 9/11. McCormack claims that this is “an agenda heavily in the American, rather than the Japanese national interest.” But in what sense could the extremely costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, now being expanded into Pakistan under the “antiwar” commander-in-chief Obama, be said to be in “the American interest”? These illegal wars of aggression have been costly to America not only in terms of the trillions of dollars added to its ballooning national debt, but also in terms of the incalculable loss of credibility that it has suffered in the eyes of world opinion, appalled by the shameless lies about WMDs, the lurid scenes...

Obama, Islam and Illusions
1 Jun 2009 - By Terry Lacey – Jakarta In Cairo President Barack Obama has to show if he can make a break with the illusions of the Bush legacy as far as the Muslim world is concerned. Arief Munandar, recently reviewed The Illusion of an Islamic State: Expansion of Transnational Islamist Movements to Indonesia, and concludes that its lumping together of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the Council of Indonesian Jihad Fighters (MMI) and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) is “simplistic, unfocused and runs counter to historical fact.” (Jakarta Post 31.05.09). Arief rejects the simplistic categorization of Muslim ideas and organizations into two camps representing “Wahabism” or “moderation”. He argues the Muslim Brotherhood (IM) is not monolithic and you cannot simply equate IM with Sayyid Qutb. Hassan Al Banna, IM´s founder said his followers should be moderate and wise in accepting differences, since IM did not claim to be a group embracing all Muslims, but one among many striving to restore the glory of Islam. There is little evidence that modern political Islam is a systemic threat to the West. Political Islam in Egypt and the Gaza Strip is home grown, not made in Iran. In Egypt a growing parliamentary opposition is pro-economic and social reform, while in Gaza and the West Bank, Hamas won a democratic election in 2006 on a platform of reform, against corruption and resistance to Israeli occupation. In Turkey the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is in power, pro-Western, pro NATO, pro liberal economy,...

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