Interfaith Peace Initiative



































Opinions expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the Interfaith Peace Initiative.  They are presented to provide the reader with a variety of views on the situation in Israel and Palestine.




Zionism is the problem
The Zionist ideal of a Jewish state is keeping Israelis and Palestinians from living in peace.
By Ben Ehrenreich
Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2009

It's hard to imagine now, but in 1944, six years after Kristallnacht, Lessing J. Rosenwald, president of the American Council for Judaism, felt comfortable equating the Zionist ideal of Jewish statehood with "the concept of a racial state -- the Hitlerian concept." For most of the last century, a principled opposition to Zionism was a mainstream stance within American Judaism.....
The problem is fundamental: Founding a modern state on a single ethnic or religious identity in a territory that is ethnically and religiously diverse leads inexorably either to politics of exclusion (think of the 139-square-mile prison camp that Gaza has become) or to wholesale ethnic cleansing. Put simply, the problem is Zionism.,0,4405950

The Country's Loss
By David S. Broder
Thursday, March 12, 2009

“The Obama administration has just suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the lobbyists the president vowed to keep in their place, and their friends on Capitol Hill. The country has lost an able public servant in an area where President Obama has few personal credentials of his own -- the handling of national intelligence.
Charles Freeman, the man who was slated to be chairman of the National Intelligence Council, the high-level interagency group that prepares evaluations for the president and other senior officials, suddenly withdrew his name Tuesday night…..”

US: Freeman Affair Puts Israel Lobby in Spotlight
By Daniel Luban and Jim Lobe*

“WASHINGTON, Mar 13 (IPS) - Although the successful campaign to keep Amb. Charles "Chas" Freeman out of a top intelligence post marked a surface victory for the pro-Israel hardliners who opposed him, the long-term political implications of the Freeman affair appear far more ambiguous.
Freeman’s withdrawal has provoked growing - if belated - media scrutiny of the operations of the so-called "Israel Lobby", and aroused protests from a number of prominent mainstream political commentators who allege that he was the target of a dishonest and underhanded smear campaign that, among other things, accused him of shilling for the governments of Saudi Arabia and China.
For the neo-conservatives who led the charge against Freeman’s appointment, his withdrawal may therefore prove to be both a tactical victory and a strategic defeat….”


Zero tolerance now
By Lara Friedman and Hagit Ofran
Haaretz, February 27, 2009

"Media reports that Israel has approved the massive expansion of the West Bank settlement of Efrat represent the first lesson for the Obama administration as to why it must establish a policy of zero tolerance for settlement expansion before it is too late...."

The real Israel-Palestine story is in the West Bank
By Ben White
the Guardian
Friday 20 February 2009,

Israel's targeting of civilian resistance to the separation wall proves the two-state solution is now just a meaningless slogan

It is quite likely that you have not heard of the most important developments this week in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the West Bank, while it has been "occupation as normal", there have been some events that together should be overshadowing Gaza, Gilad Shalit and Avigdor Lieberman.
First, there have been a large number of Israeli raids on Palestinian villages, with dozens of Palestinians abducted. These kinds of raids are, of course, commonplace for the occupied West Bank, but in recent days it appears the Israeli military has targeted sites of particularly strong Palestinian civil resistance to the separation wall.
For three consecutive days this week, Israeli forces invaded Jayyous, a village battling for survival as their agricultural land is lost to the wall and neighbouring Jewish colony. The soldiers occupied homes, detained residents, blocked off access roads, vandalised property, beat protestors, and raised the Israeli flag at the top of several buildings.
Jayyous is one of the Palestinian villages in the West Bank that has been non-violently resisting the separation wall for several years now. It was clear to the villagers that this latest assault was an attempt to intimidate the protest movement...".

Conditioning US aid to Israel
by Robert Naiman
Maan News
February 18, 2009

It is well-known outside the United States that a key obstacle, if not the key obstacle, to Israeli-Palestinian peace is the relationship between Israel and the United States.
To say that the U.S. "supports Israel" severely misstates the problem; the key problem is the perception and the reality that the US almost unfailingly protects the Israeli government from the negative consequences of anti-Palestinian policies, such as the recent military assault on Gaza, so that while rhetorically the US is committed to peace, in practice the incentives that have been created and maintained by US policy have had the effect of constantly pushing the Israeli government toward more confrontation with the Palestinians, rather than toward accommodation.

'Israel must change "counterproductive" Gaza policies'

Banning lentils and pasta from Gaza does not help the cause of peace, two visiting congressmen told The Jerusalem Post on Friday morning, after making a rare visit to Gaza the previous day.
US Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., left and US Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., right, take photos of the rubble of the American International school in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, Thursday.
"When have lentil bombs been going off lately? Is someone going to kill you with a piece of macaroni?" asked Rep. Brian Baird (D-Washington).
He and Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) called on Israel to end the economic isolation of Gaza and to open the crossings into the area, which have been closed since Hamas's coup there in June 2007.


Kurtzer: Netanyahu-Lieberman is 'bad combination' for U.S.
By Natasha Mozgovaya
Haaretz Correspondent
February 18, 2009

"The former envoy added that the Obama administration would find it politically risky to embrace a government that included Lieberman, who has voiced controversial views about Arabs.
"There will be an image problem for an American administration to support a government that includes a politician who was defined as racist," Kurtzer said during an appearance at Georgetown University. "But the Israeli system doesn't respond well to perceptions of outside parties," he said.
Kurtzer, who was speaking at an event examining the U.S. perspective on the Gaza conflict, said the peace process will be on hold as Israel spends the next five weeks attempting to cobble together a stable coalition...." 


Choose life!
by Deb Reich
Abu Ghosh, Israel/Palestine
February 17, 2009

"Most people will say I'm delusional; that's okay. I will say what I have to say anyway. When your opinion is way out on the periphery, it may mean you are delusional - or it may just mean that the so-called center has gradually drifted closer and closer to a very high cliff, and finally fallen off the edge, while the majority of the population follows along like a horde of doomed lemmings. In that scenario, someone needs to stake out a position at the other extreme and drag the locus of the center back from oblivion. So here goes.

After this futile, criminal, pornographic war in Gaza (Shmuel Amir rightly termed it a "hunt" rather than a war) and yet another national election in Israel ending basically in impasse, but this time with a distinctly fascist motif, we are no closer to sustainable peace in the Middle East. We need a drastic revisioning of what we are doing here." Full article


ANALYSIS / Fatah fears Shalit deal will bring down Abbas
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent
February 9, 2009

Concerned voices have been heard in the Muqata in Ramallah over the past few days: Senior Palestinian Authority and Fatah officials are speaking openly of the end of an era if an agreement to free abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is reached.
Palestinian officials say a Shalit deal would bring about early elections in the territories, and Hamas would win again - but this time it would win the Palestinian presidential election, too. Israel would then be forced to deal with a Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, they say.
The latest poll from the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre conducted in the territories shows the recent war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip afforded the Islamic organization unprecedented popularity.

ANALYSIS / Hamas rift holding up approval of Gilad Shalit deal
By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff

"Anyone who has been burned repeatedly in the past needs to be extra careful, but over the weekend it seemed that for the first time some optimism was justified. A genuine opportunity is out there, not only for a long-term cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, but also, according to a variety of sources linked to the talks, for a deal to free captured soldier Gilad Shalit.
The main obstacle to what sources have described as a "negotiated formula" remains Khaled Meshal and the Hamas politburo in Damascus.....
There has been growing tension between Hamas' domestic leaders and those abroad. The former have felt that they have been pushed by the group's Damascus leadership to confront Israel, with the people of Gaza paying the price. The local leadership is now asking to take control of the group...."

Kahane won
By Gideon Levy , Ha'aretz
February 8, 2009

"...If there is something that typifies Israel's current murky, hollow election campaign, which ends the day after tomorrow, it is the transformation of racism and nationalism into accepted values...."

Israeli vote could hamper peace process
Gulf News
February 07, 2009

The rise of the far-right leader Lieberman is sure to reflect on the new government
The Israeli elections are taking a nasty turn into even more vicious racism than usual, with leaders of almost all political parties vying to be seen as more anti-Arab than the other. The defining feature of the savage war in Gaza was about individual leaders in the failing coalition in Israel trying to look tough against their opponents.
Ehud Barak is the leader of the Labour Party and the present defence minister but is not doing well in the polls, whereas Tzipi Livni, the leader of the Kadima Party and the foreign minister, has staged a fightback in the last few days. The leader in the elections is Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud Party, who has gathered a lot of support. But it may well be that the next prime minister of Israel will be decided by outsider Avigdor Lieberman, who is the leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, which could win more votes than Labour. 


Palestinians need to adopt a united stand
Gulf News
February 03, 2009

"The inability of the Palestinians to come up with a united stand to address the fallout of the Israeli war on Gaza demonstrates the urgent need for the Palestinians and the Arabs to unite in action and bring about an end to the decades-old Israeli oppression of the Palestinians...."


Life in Gaza is not 'back to normal'
By Amira Hass
February 3, 2009

"GAZA - "Only aerial photographs of the Gaza Strip will make it possible to show and to comprehend the extent of the destruction," a number of Western civilians said this week. They added: "But there isn't a chance that Israel will allow anyone to come with a light plane and do aerial photography."
The talk of aerial photography reveals the frustration felt by everyone who has managed to come here. The frustration derives from the conclusion that the real dimensions of the Israeli attack on Gaza are not being fully comprehended in the West and in Israel. They go beyond the physical destruction, beyond the numbers of the dead and the wounded.......
... The unending horror, for three weeks, the worry, the impotence, the thoughts that never leave about the relative who has bled to death, a meter or a kilometer away. In Gaza today, as students are returning to school and cars are again driving along the roads, the commonplace "life is slowly going back to normal" is more hollow and false than ever. "

'Want loyalty from Arabs? Bridge gaps'
Jerusalem Post
February 3, 2009

"Loyalty can only be expected from citizens if the State returns such loyalty, Science, Culture and Sport Minister Ghaleb Majadle said Tuesday. Speaking at the Herzliya Conference at IDC, Majadle said, "Anyone who wants loyalty from Israeli-Arabs must first ensure that the State is loyal to them, by closing the gaps."
The minister was speaking in response to the Israel Beiteinu election campaign which says only those loyal to Israel should be granted citizenship. Majadle added, "I hope we will return to being a moderate society, and that the demagogues don't succeed in bringing us to state of despair." He said that the "vast majority" of Israelis were "sane and pragmatic."
He warned that the county would be in danger if "gaps in Israeli society" were not bridged...."


America's election message
By Haaretz Editorial

Israeli voters must know that the Obama government will be intolerant of construction in the settlements, as well as measures that hurt the Palestinians, such as closures and checkpoints. It will make every effort to bring about a two-state solution. Anyone for whom Israel's relations with the United States is important must vote for parties that support a peace agreement with the Palestinians, out of the recognition that the right-wing parties that support settlement expansion jeopardize Israel's international standing as well as its security, both of which are dependent on American support.

Gaza Is a Concentration Camp
By Ellen Cantarow, AlterNet
Posted January 16, 2009.

"Gaza is an immense concentration camp -- 1.5 million people squeezed into 140 square miles hemmed in on all sides by 25-foot-high walls separated by a vast expanse of bulldozed earth. The 2005 "pull-out" left Gaza still controlled by Israel from air and sea, its entries and exits prisonlike mazes electronically controlled and under constant surveillance. Bombing it, assaulting it with tanks and Uzis, is like shooting animals in a pen. The claptrap about "pinpoint" accuracy and "avoiding civilians" is a lie so flagrant, so transparent, that any child -- certainly any Gaza child -- could grasp it."

Israel’s Lies
by Henry Siegman
(Siegman is former national director of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America)
January 29, 2009 - London Review of Books

"Western governments and most of the Western media have accepted a number of Israeli claims justifying the military assault on Gaza: that Hamas consistently violated the six-month truce that Israel observed and then refused to extend it; that Israel therefore had no choice but to destroy Hamas’s capacity to launch missiles into Israeli towns; that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, part of a global jihadi network; and that Israel has acted not only in its own defence but on behalf of an international struggle by Western democracies against this network.......
Middle East peacemaking has been smothered in deceptive euphemisms, so let me state bluntly that each of these claims is a lie. Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce: Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it tightened it further. This was confirmed not only by every neutral international observer and NGO on the scene but by Brigadier General (Res.) Shmuel Zakai, a former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division. In an interview in Ha’aretzon 22 December, he accused Israel’s government of having made a ‘central error’ during the tahdiyeh, the six-month period of relative truce, by failing ‘to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip . . ."

Gaza war ended in utter failure for Israel
By Gideon Levy, Haaretz
January 26, 2009

".... We have gained nothing in this war save hundreds of graves, some of them very small, thousands of maimed people, much destruction and the besmirching of Israel's image.....
Israel's actions have dealt a serious blow to public support for the state. While this does not always translate itself into an immediate diplomatic situation, the shockwaves will arrive one day. The whole world saw the images. They shocked every human being who saw them, even if they left most Israelis cold.

The conclusion is that Israel is a violent and dangerous country, devoid of all restraints and blatantly ignoring the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, while not giving a hoot about international law. The investigations are on their way..."

Gaza success proves Israel is strong, not right
Haaretz, by David Grossman
January 20, 2009,

"....When the guns become completely silent, and the full scope of the killing and destruction becomes known, to the point where even the most self-righteous and sophisticated of the Israeli psyche's defense mechanisms are overcome, perhaps then some kind of lesson will imprint itself on our brain. Perhaps then we will finally understand how deeply and fundamentally wrong our actions in this region have been from time immemorial - how misguided, unethical, unwise and above all, responsible, time after time, for fanning the flames that consume us....."

Mahmoud Abbas seen as big loser after fight between Israel and Hamas
Joel Greenberg
The Chicago Tribune (Analysis)
January 20, 2009 - 12:00am

"The Gaza Strip has been devastated by Israel's punishing offensive against Hamas, but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appears to be the war's most serious political casualty. Sidelined during the fighting and now struggling to play a role in Gaza's reconstruction, Abbas' Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank, is battling to stay relevant. "Marginalized is a very good choice of words," Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian government in the West Bank, told journalists on Monday.

Abbas, a moderate who has pursued negotiations with Israel for more than a year, is certain to be part of any renewed peace efforts by the Obama administration. Yet Abbas appeared to many Palestinians as ineffective during the Gaza war, unable to press Israel to halt its onslaught while sending his police to break up pro-Hamas demonstrations in the West Bank with tear gas, clubs and even gunfire....",0,1595186.story 

Israel should have embraced UN's Gaza truce proposal
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent
January 11, 2009

"The cries of disappointment sounding from the offices of the prime minister, the foreign minister and the defense ministry in Tel Aviv are unjustified. But even worse is the government's decision to reject the UN cease-fire proposal and press on with the 15-day-old offensive in the Gaza Strip...."


How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe
by Avi Shlaim
The Guardian
January 7, 2009

"Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state's legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions"
"The only way to make sense of Israel's senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel's vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration's complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.

I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times....."

Commentary: Let journalists into Gaza
by Campbell Brown, CNN, December 6, 2009

"....The reason we have no reporters on the ground in Gaza is because Israel will not allow foreign journalists into Gaza. Tuesday night, we call for Israel to open the borders to allow journalists in, to allow them to do their jobs, to witness first-hand what is happening on the ground...."

If you (or I) were Palestinian
By Yossi Sarid, January 2, 2009
Tags: Hamas, Israel News, Gaza, IDF

This week I spoke with my students about the Gaza war, in the context of a class on national security. One student, who had expressed rather conservative, accepted opinions - that is opinions tending slightly to the right - succeeded in surprising me. Without any provocation on my part, he opened his heart and confessed: "If I were a young Palestinian," he said, "I'd fight the Jews fiercely, even by means of terror. Anyone who says anything different is telling you lies."

His remarks sounded familiar - I had already heard them before. Suddenly I remembered: About 10 years ago they were uttered by our defense minister, Ehud Barak. Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy had asked him then, as a candidate for prime minister, what he would do had he been born Palestinian and Barak replied frankly: "I would join a terror organization."


Israel, news media fail to speak the truth
by Joel Finkel, Chicago Tribune
December 31, 2008

Israel has returned to the old-fashioned way of murdering Palestinians: by military assault. It seems that starving them, denying them medicine and electricity, and enclosing them in the largest outdoor prison in the world is insufficient.
And what is Israel's message to the world? Palestinians are to blame. After all, Palestinians are always to blame.
Neither Israel nor the news media will speak the truth. Israel is murdering the indigenous population (and its children) who were forcibly expelled from their homes in the wave of ethnic cleansing that was necessary to establish a "Jewish state" in the overwhelmingly non-Jewish Palestine. Neither Israel nor the media will face the simple fact that Israel has been violating international law (not to mention simple moral decency) since 1948.
In that year, 60 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (authored by a Jew, René Cassin) was adopted by the nations of the world. It guaranteed the right of all refugees to return to their homes. No exception was made for Palestinians; they too have this right.
Israel has chosen to bury this declaration among the rubble of Gaza. Meanwhile, they, and the news media, continue to blame the victims.
--Joel Finkel
Member, American Jews for a Just Peace, Chicago,0,2964386.story


ANALYSIS / Hamas is racking up its first diplomatic victory
By Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz Correspondent

"President Hosni Mubarak could not keep silent any longer about the attack on Egypt in the press. His decision to explicitly state Egypt's position that the West Bank and Gaza are part of the same country, and that the Rafah crossing will open only under the conditions of the 2005 agreement (to which Egypt is not a signatory), is part of the public diplomacy Mubarak has been dragged into against his will.

Mubarak would have preferred for Hamas to appeal to him directly for a cease-fire, which Egypt would negotiate with Israel. But Hamas, like Hezbollah, chose a different and probably more effective path..."

The true story behind this war is not the one Israel is telling
Johann Hari, The Independent
29 December 2008


The world isn't just watching the Israeli government commit a crime in Gaza; we are watching it self-harm. This morning, and tomorrow morning, and every morning until this punishment beating ends, the young people of the Gaza Strip are going to be more filled with hate, and more determined to fight back, with stones or suicide vests or rockets. Israeli leaders have convinced themselves that the harder you beat the Palestinians, the softer they will become. But when this is over, the rage against Israelis will have hardened, and the same old compromises will still be waiting by the roadside of history, untended and unmade.


Statement from head of UN General Assembly:
H.E. Mr. Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann is President of the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly.
On Gaza airstrikes
UN Headquarters , New York
27 December 2008

The behavior by Israel in bombarding Gaza is simply the commission of wanton aggression by a very powerful state against a territory that illegally occupies.

Time has come to take firm action if the United Nations does not want to be rightly accused of complicity by omission.

The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.

Those violations include:

Collective punishment - the entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.

Targeting civilians - the airstrikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.

Disproportionate military response - the airstrikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza's elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.

I remind all member states of the United Nations that the UN continues to be bound to an independent obligation to protect any civilian population facing massive violations of international humanitarian law - regardless of what country may be responsible for those violations. I call on all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move expeditiously not only to condemn Israel's serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.


If Gaza falls . . .
by Sara Roy, Jewish American Harvard professor and granddaughter of Holocaust Survivors
London Review of Books
January 1, 2009

"Israel s siege of Gaza began on 5 November, the day after an Israeli attack inside the strip, no doubt designed finally to undermine the truce between Israel and Hamas established last June. Although both sides had violated the agreement before, this incursion was on a different scale. Hamas responded by firing rockets into Israel and the violence has not abated since then. Israel s siege has two fundamental goals. One is to ensure that the Palestinians there are seen merely as a humanitarian problem, beggars who have no political identity and therefore can have no political claims. The second is to foist Gaza onto Egypt. That is why the Israelis tolerate the hundreds of tunnels between Gaza and Egypt around which an informal but increasingly regulated commercial sector has begun to form. The overwhelming majority of Gazans are impoverished and officially 49.1 per cent are unemployed. In fact the prospect of steady employment is rapidly disappearing for the majority of the population....."


'Gaza strike is not against Hamas, it's against all Palestinians'
By Amira Hass, Haaretz
December 29, 2008

 "At 3:19 P.M. Sunday, the sound of an incoming missile could be heard over the telephone. And then another, along with the children's cries of fear. In Gaza City's Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, high-rise apartment buildings are crowded close together, with dozens of children in every building, hundreds in every block....
Hassan worked as a clerk at the local university and played in the police band for fun. He was performing at a police graduation ceremony on Saturday when the bomb struck.
"Seventy policemen were killed there, not all Hamas members," said S., who opposes Hamas. "And even those who supported Hamas were young men looking for a job, a salary. They wanted to live. And therefore, they died. Seventy in one blow. This assault is not against Hamas. It's against all of us, the entire nation. And no Palestinian will consent to having his people and his homeland destroyed in this way." "

Trying to 'teach Hamas a lesson' is fundamentally wrong
By Tom Segev
Haaretz , December 29, 2008

"Channel 1 television broadcast an interesting mix on Saturday morning: Its correspondents reported from Sderot and Ashkelon, but the pictures on the screen were from the Gaza Strip. Thus the broadcast, albeit unintentionally, sent the right message: A child in Sderot is the same as a child in Gaza, and anyone who harms either is evil.
But the assault on Gaza does not first and foremost demand moral condemnation - it demands a few historical reminders. Both the justification given for it and the chosen targets are a replay of the same basic assumptions that have proven wrong time after time. Yet Israel still pulls them out of its hat again and again, in one war after another...."


The War in Gaza: A Vicious Folly of a Bankrupt Government
by Uri Avnery, former Knesset Member and leader of Israeli peace group Gush Shalom
Maan News Agency
December 27, 2008


".......The escalation towards war could and should have been avoided. It was the State of Israel which broke the truce, in the 'ticking tunnel' raid on the night of the US elections two months ago. Since then the army went on stoking the fires of escalation with calculated raids and killings, whenever the shooting of missiles on Israel decreased.

The cycle of bloodshed could and should be broken. The ceasefire can be restored immediately, and on firmer foundations. It is the right of Israel to demand a complete end to shooting on its territory and citizens – but it must stop all attacks from its side, end completely the siege and starvation of Gaza's million and half inhabitants, and stop interfering with the Palestinians' right to choose their own leaders.

Ehud Barak's declaration that he is stopping the elections campaign in order to concentrate on the Gaza offensive is a joke. The war in Gaza is itself Barak's elections campaign, a cynical attempt to buy votes with the blood and suffering in Netivot and Sderot, Gaza and Beit Hanun....."

 Israel's merry band of Klansmen, the extreme right
By Benjamin L. Hartman
Ha'aretz, December 15, 2008


"The extreme right's instigator-in-chief, Itamar Ben-Gvir, told Haaretz this week that the decision to cancel a march planned to take place in Umm al-Fahm, Israel's second largest Arab city, was a violation of freedom of speech.
Marches of this sort are incendiary and pointless, but the worst of all, and the ones that most resemble the attempted Umm al-Fahm march, are the repeated attempts by the KKK to march through Skokie, Illinois, a suburb of Illinois that not coincidentally houses a sizable community of Holocaust survivors.
In such a case, the desire to march has nothing to do with protest, or the protection of individual rights, but is rather a cynical attempt to publicly denigrate and offend the sensitivities of an entire community......"

I am ashamed
By Hadassa Ben-Itto


Editor's note: This is an important article by a courageous retired judge who is honorary president of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists.

".....I have watched on television as young Jews in Hebron assaulted their neighbors, including defenseless families - vandalizing property, destroying, burning and defacing sites holy to others. And my words in Bern are ringing in my ears. I told myself: I, too, am keeping silent. And I was ashamed.
Therefore, I am breaking my silence. Because I believe that the individual is also obligated to make his voice heard - his personal voice, not a political voice - in order to warn against atrocity.....
I am ashamed of my silence. I saw the uprooting of olive trees, the overturning of market stalls, the attacks on property, and sometimes on innocent people, and I kept silent. I heard the words of incitement, I identified the messages and I was ashamed, but I kept silent...."

Israeli blockade of Gaza amounts to occupation
Darlene Wallach
San Jose Mercury News
Dec 15, 2008

"On Nov. 18, the Israeli military kidnapped me - a Jewish American leaving behind the comforts of San Jose - and 17 others from three Palestinian fishing vessels plying Gaza's coastal waters. Two other international human rights workers and I were accompanying 15 Palestinian fishermen to provide witness to and documentation of the frequent harassment and attacks by the Israeli navy. Our seizure belies Israel's claim that it no longer occupies Gaza and its 1.5 million people.
Israel's military occupation of Gaza did not end with the withdrawal of its soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005. Israel still controls access of people and goods into and out of the Strip. It controls Gaza's airspace, borders and, as my capture attests, territorial waters.
Last year, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza, hoping to turn Gazans against Hamas. In early November, it tightened the blockade and is denying an entire population access to trucks laden with humanitarian provisions, food and gas...."

Action, not words

Karen Koning Abuzayd

The Guardian


December 5, 2008


As we approach the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the steadily rising death toll in Gaza highlights the painful gap between its peaceful rhetoric and the desperate reality for Palestinian people.

The declaration was a pivotal statement in which the world community recognised the "inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world". True to its nobility of spirit, it declares "the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom from fear and want as the highest aspiration of the common people".

Sixty years on, the fate of the Palestinian people should be a cause for universal soul-searching. The need to give substantive meaning to the protection of Palestinians has never been greater. The former high commissioner for human rights, Mary Robinson has said that in Gaza, nothing short of a "civilisation" is being destroyed. Desmond Tutu has called it "an abomination". The humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Maxwell Gaylard, said that in Gaza there was a "massive assault" on human rights. Most recently, the European commissioner, Louis Michel, described the blockade of Gaza as a "form of collective punishment against Palestinian civilians, which is a violation of international humanitarian law".


Video / Prof. Avi Shlaim: Settlements turned Israel into apartheid state

By Haaretz Staff and

November 22, 2008


"....In his talk, entitled "Obsession with Territory Post-1967," Shlaim blasts the settlements, which he says have turned Israel into an apartheid state, as the primary source of failure for peace efforts with the Palestinians.

Shlaim believes Zionism was derailed from its course after the Six-Day war, when its universalist principles were replaced with "religious messianism and secular nationalism." Israel must give up land, he says, not just as a concession to the Palestinians, but because "a people that oppresses another cannot itself remain free." "


Dividing Jerusalem, one wall at a time

By Bradley Burston

November 19, 2008


"JERUSALEM - There is a new wall in the downtown heart of the Holy City. It is, in fact, a new security fence. It is not tall, nor built to last. But the wall, and what it protects, may do more to undermine Israel's moral claims to Jerusalem than the huge concrete structure that has marred the city's Arab eastern half for years...... "



Fifteen Palestinian fishermen still being held by Israeli authorities, three internationals fighting deportation with at least one engaging in a hunger-strike

November 18th, 2008
Posted in Press Releases, Gaza Region


'.....British MP Clare Short has made this statement in regards to today:

" If there is to be any hope of peace in the Middle East, international law must be upheld. This means that the siege of Gaza must be lifted and the constant attacks by the Israeli navy on Gazan fishermen halted. Those who have been arrested must be released and the UK must insist that these illegal attacks on Gazans, fishing peacefully within their own water must cease”

Baroness Jenny Tonge said:

“The time has come for the international community, and especially the European Union to take action against Israel’s consistent breaking of international law. The EU-Israel Association Agreement should be suspended until Israel complies with this law.

It was only last week that I personally met with the fishermen whose boats are illegally water-cannoned and fired upon by Israeli gunboats as they peacefully fish in Gaza waters. The fishermen and human rights observers who were today taken unlawfully by Israel should be released immediately.”....'



Stop beating the drums of war

By Haaretz Editorial
November 18, 2008

"The Qassam-rocket fire on western Negev communities, Grad missile fire on Ashkelon and mortar shells aimed at Negev kibbutzim return us to the reality of around five months ago. The shattering of the cease-fire - there is no more point in semantic squirming - is attributed to Israel's blowing up a tunnel that probably was intended for Hamas to kidnap Israeli soldiers. That was the turning point at which Israel unilaterally decided that it could not quietly ignore the clear and immediate danger.

This definition is essential to determine whether it was necessary to violate the truce and what the criteria are for breaking cease-fires, because the decision to blow up the tunnel, a move aimed at protecting soldiers' lives, puts residents of the western Negev in immediate danger.....

In the current situation between Israel and Hamas, there is no choice but to adopt the lesser of two evils and mend the shattered truce. Israel must open the border crossings and keep them open, and allow Gaza's residents to lead a normal existence.

The chorus of people encouraging war provides no reasonable alternative except political sloganeering. They had better listen carefully to the residents of the western Negev, because they know better than anyone what the truce is good for."



The fence, revisited

Last update - 08:19 28/10/2008

By Moshe Arens

"Is it out of habit or mental lassitude that we continue to build the fence, which was begun many years ago? It continues on its weary way, meter by meter, costing billions, causing anguish to many, damaging private property, keeping the High Court of Justice occupied with the complaints it arouses, stirring demonstrations against it, and keeping the Israel Defense Forces busy. Does anyone still remember what the original purpose was of this physical obstacle, hundreds of kilometers long, stringing across the country? Who is taking a second look to see whether it really serves its intended purpose?

Many of us prefer to forget those terrible days when Palestinian suicide bombers were roaming through our cities and murdering Israeli citizens daily. It was in those stressful days that the cry went out: "Keep them out! Build a fence, no matter what it costs! The fence around the Gaza Strip works, and we need a fence like it around Judea and Samaria!"

Then-Shin Bet head Avi Dichter said we needed such a fence, and Haim Ramon accused those who opposed it of being dinosaurs prepared to endanger human lives . . ."


Involve the Arabs

Last update - 08:12 26/10/2008

By Haaretz Editorial

"Of the 120 Knesset members, 10 belong to Arab factions - Balad, Hadash, and United Arab List-Ta'al. When coalitions are formed, these groups are usually left outside the camp, and outside the political discourse. Prime ministerial candidates from the right loathe these factions, while those from the left fear being overly associated with them.

The result is identical: The Arab factions, whose representatives were democratically elected by wide swaths of the population, are shunned and turn into nearly illegitimate entities.

Kadima chair Tzipi Livni is continuing this distasteful tradition. She, too, has not found time in her schedule to talk with representatives of the Arab factions, whose support could help her government build a tolerable majority . . "



Spotlight on the lesser evil

By Gideon Levy

"...The law enforcement agencies, the police, the prosecutors and the courts - those we blindly admire - have for some time now ceased to operate as a system of justice with equal rights for all. Rich and poor, Jew and Arab do not receive the same treatment. Can anyone seriously claim that a wealthy individual armed with a phalanx of high-priced lawyers is consigned to the same legal fate as that of "Buzaglo," the average Israeli? Would a Jewish child who hurled a rock at a car receive the same punishment as an Arab child who did the same? Do the Israel Defense Forces and the police investigate settler crimes against Palestinians with the same sense of urgency? Is it a coincidence that the trigger fingers of Israel's police officers become itchier time and again whenever their weapons are pointed in the direction of Arab lawbreakers?

Israel's legal system has already laid the groundwork for the legitimization of an apartheid regime. This is the real danger to the rule of law: The quasi automatic enlistment of the justice system by the defense establishment endangers the rule of law more than all this Olmertism. The IDF's ignoring of High Court rulings, much like the ban on the use of the "neighbor procedure" (soldiers using Palestinian civilians as human shields when arresting militants); the fact that the Shin Bet security service continues to torture suspects in contravention of a High Court ruling; and the failure to implement the court-ordered change to the route of the separation fence should have sent alarm bells ringing among the guardians of justice.

When settlers continue to rampage against Palestinians - not nearly a day goes by without a pogrom and there is no place where armed militias don't roam around, yet nobody investigates these acts nor is anyone tried in court - this threatens the state's character much more than all of Olmert's cash-stuffed envelopes. The situation in the southern Hebron Hills, for example, which for a while now has become abandoned territory, endangers the rule of law far more than all of Olmert's investigations...."



Provocateurs vs. defeatists

By Haaretz Editorial

July 29, 2008

"The outgoing commander of the northern West Bank, Colonel Amir Baram, says he is "not surprised" by the settlers' recent rioting. Nor were his predecessors. There is really nothing new under the West Bank sun - things repeat themselves.

Officials in the Israel Defense Forces, police and prosecution know mainly how to summarize events, warn of similar ones in the future, write reports and hold meetings summing up their failure to deal with the West Bank lawbreakers.

Colonel Baram named Kedumim council head Daniela Weiss and the rabbi at the Ma'aleh Levona religious girls' high school, Gadi Ben Zimra, as the "main provocateurs." ...The generations come and go - settlers, lawbreakers, yeshiva students, soldiers who guard them and get treated contemptuously, teachers drawing salaries from taxpayers, settlers' sons and grandchildren who do whatever they like. And some of them constitute an infrastructure for Jewish terrorism in the territories. Palestinian generations, meanwhile, also come and go as the settlers, their children and grandchildren rampage and plunder unhindered in a state that has seemingly given up...."



Tough Love for Israel?


New York Times, July 24, 2008

"On his visit to the Middle East, Barack Obama gave ritual affirmations of his support for Israeli policy, but what Israel needs from America isn’t more love, but tougher love.

Particularly at a time when Israel seems to be contemplating military strikes on Iranian nuclear sites, the United States would be a better friend if it said: “That’s crazy” — while also insisting on a 100 percent freeze on settlements in the West Bank and greater Jerusalem...."



An agenda for a friend of Israel

By Haaretz Editorial
July 24, 2008

"Barack Obama came to Jerusalem to deliver an old message on the need to "reaffirm the historic and special relationship between the United States and Israel, one that cannot be broken." Even if Israel's security is hinged on its close relationship with the U.S., this is not enough.

The significance of these ties is in their ability to serve as leverage for the goal of reaffirming Israel's security. Regional threats require more aggressive diplomatic activity, which the Bush administration has failed to propose or implement.....

....One should keep in mind that the interests of the Israel lobby in America do not always jibe with the interests of the State of Israel. Instead of talking about a "united Jerusalem," he needs to become involved in finding a realistic solution for Israel's torn and bleeding capital.

To survive as a Jewish and democratic state, Israel needs an American leader who does not fear the reaction of American Jews and non-Jews who do not believe in dividing the land to reconcile its two peoples."



'Worse than apartheid'

By Gideon Levy, Haaretz Daily News
 July 13, 2008

"I thought they would feel right at home in the alleys of Balata refugee camp, the Casbah and the Hawara checkpoint. But they said there is no comparison: for them the Israeli occupation regime is worse than anything they knew under apartheid. This week, 21 human rights activists from South Africa visited Israel. Among them were members of Nelson Mandela's African National Congress; at least one of them took part in the armed struggle and at least two were jailed. There were two South African Supreme Court judges, a former deputy minister, members of Parliament, attorneys, writers and journalists. Blacks and whites, about half of them Jews who today are in conflict with attitudes of the conservative Jewish community in their country...."



Too easy on settler crime

By Haaretz Editorial

July 9, 2008

"In the early days of Israeli occupation in the territories, Jewish settler leaders promised a life of "coexistence" with the Palestinian population, and they even employed Palestinian laborers in construction and service jobs. In recent years, as radical elements in the settlements and outposts have proliferated and become more powerful, the coexistence approach often seems to make way for a violent struggle that aims to deprive the Palestinians of their land.

Jews who presume to be upholding the duty of settling the land openly discuss their intention of making the lives of Arab residents a misery and pushing them out of what they call Judea and Samaria. In the last four weeks, the media have reported a series of grave incidents, most of them in the Hebron Hills area...."



When You Shoot the Messenger

By Mel Frykberg Inter Press Service
July 3, 2008

"GAZA CITY, Jul 3 (IPS) - The assault of IPS Gaza correspondent Mohammed Omer has left Israeli security personnel with a lot of explaining to do. And they are not doing a very good job of it.

Omer was abused and assaulted by Israeli security personnel at the Allenby border crossing into Israel from Jordan as he tried to return to his home last week in the Gaza Strip.

Omer was returning from Europe where he had addressed European parliamentarians on the situation on the ground in Gaza. In London he picked up a prize as joint winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism (along with IPS correspondent Dahr Jamail).

Omer, who also reports for The Washington Report, told IPS he was verbally abused, strip-searched at gunpoint and physically beaten. He was later hospitalised with broken ribs and related trauma.

Israeli officials denied to IPS in Jerusalem that the award-winning journalist had been mistreated. They said the Gazan journalist had "lost his balance" after being searched on "suspicion of smuggling in illegal items."

The officials were unable to explain how Omer, who is still hospitalised and in severe pain, "lost his balance" and then broke his ribs and severely bruised his arm in the "fall".

The Israeli officials could not explain what illegal items they suspected Omer could have smuggled in. He was assaulted after he had passed through the x-ray machine and his belongings had twice been searched. The officials said only that they would look into the matter further...."



Israel's split psyche

By Carlo Strenger

Haaretz, July 2, 2008

"Israel is falling apart, MK Avishay Braverman lamented at the Institute for National Security Studies' annual State of the Nation conference. Our education system, once Israel's pride, is in the dumps; public corruption is rampant; our universities are starving to death; and the income gap is almost as bad as Brazil's.....

In the past, Israel was sure of its moral rightness. The current feeling that Israeli society is crumbling reflects something essentially new: Israel is no longer sure of its moral foundation.

The paralysis reflects a pervasive sense of guilt about Israel's ongoing behavior. On the one hand, Israel is making a great effort to be a decent, democratic and creative society. On the other hand, in the West Bank, Israel continues building double road systems, expropriating Palestinian lands, cutting Palestinian villages in two with the security wall, and preventing Palestinian women from getting to hospitals to give birth...."



Israeli building seen as threat to peace

By Dior Nissenbaum - McClatchy Newspapers
June 29, 2008

"....In the six months since President George W. Bush launched his late-term diplomatic initiative at Annapolis, Md., Israel has dramatically accelerated the construction of homes on land central to any peace deal with the Palestinians.

In the 11 months before the Annapolis meeting, Israel sought bids to build fewer than 100 homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel took from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War, according to Israeli government figures. Since Annapolis, Israel has asked companies to start building more than 1,700 homes, a 1,600% increase....."



Putting an end to Israeli apartheid

Bill Fletcher Jr., San Jose Mercury News
Jun 25, 2008

"....The Israeli government has established in the Occupied Palestinian Territories a regime of systematic discrimination. It maintains two systems of laws, and a person's rights are based on national origin. Palestinian land is confiscated to build Israeli-only settlements and roads. Palestinians wait hours in line at more than 500 Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank, while Jewish settlers speed by on modern, well-lit highways.

As Carter, and many Israelis have said, as long as this dual system exists, any peace agreement between Israel and Palestine will be impossible. Palestinians compare Israeli policies to those of apartheid in South Africa. Former Israeli Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair wrote in 2002, "In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture. That regime exists to this day."

South Africans who led the fight against apartheid, like Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former United Nations envoy John Dugard, make similar comparisons.

To the detriment of both Israelis and Palestinians, we provide financial and diplomatic support to maintain these separate and unequal policies. Israel is the No. 1 recipient of U.S. foreign aid: roughly $2.5 billion last year alone. Our government has cast more than 40 vetoes in the United Nations Security Council to shield Israel from international condemnation.

Divestment from companies that benefit from the occupation is an opportunity for American citizens to do what our government leaders have refused to do: say that our money will not fund human rights abuses any longer...."



Rays of hope from the Gaza ceasefire

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada
20 June 2008

"After the unremitting hell that Israel has inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza, one can only feel relief and even joy at the ceasefire agreed between Hamas and the Jewish state that took effect this week. Its significance extends well beyond Gaza and opens new possibilities as the disastrous Bush Doctrine begins to lose influence.

Since the beginning of this year, Israeli occupation forces and settlers have killed over 400 Palestinians, including dozens of children and several babies, already exceeding the entire death toll for 2007. One hundred and fifty were killed during a few days of Israeli bombing of Gaza in early March. This year seven Israelis have been killed in conflict-related violence, including four by mortars or rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.

Some have sought to exclusively blame Hamas for the high Palestinian death toll, saying that the rockets resistance fighters were firing into Israel were "useless" and "toys," and gave Israel the excuse to "retaliate" implying that resistance itself was to blame for the occupier's violence. But the fallacy of this claim is exposed by the fact that the absence of rockets fired from the West Bank and the renunciation of resistance by the US-backed Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, has not spared Palestinian communities there from daily and escalating Israeli violence.

Israeli soldiers and settlers have killed dozens of Palestinians all over the West Bank and injured hundreds of others, including many civilians in their homes, or taking part in peaceful demonstrations..."

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli- Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006).



The Lesson of the Fulbright Seven

New York Times Editorial

June 8, 2008

"Seven highly qualified and carefully vetted Palestinian students from the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip will come to the United States for advanced study after all. After reporting in The Times by Ethan Bronner drew high-level American attention, top State Department officials intervened to restore the students’ Fulbright fellowships that lower-level functionaries had notified them would be withdrawn. Israel has agreed to facilitate special exit permits.

...There are hundreds of other foreign fellowship winners still trapped in Gaza by the same Israeli policy that nearly blocked the Fulbright Seven. On Thursday, an Israeli official told The Times that the government would allow a very limited number of additional students to leave Gaza to study abroad. That is a clear step in the right direction, but not enough. Gaza is home to roughly 1.5 million Palestinians. Some 600 foreign scholarship winners have been barred from leaving.

The ban on student departures is part of the wider Israeli economic blockade imposed on the civilian population of Gaza in response to Hamas rule and a steady rain of rocket attacks. This also needs to be re-examined. Israel has a right and a duty to defend itself and to fight back against Hamas terrorism. But punishing students, and any other forms of collective punishment, will only sow more anger and hate."



From darkness into light

By Daphna Golan, Haaretz
May 6, 2008

"....Why not talk with all our neighbors, Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah, the presidents of Syria and Egypt and the Arab states, about releasing the abducted soldiers, about stopping the Qassam fire, about reconciliation?

Since 1967, Israel has imprisoned more than 700,000 Palestinians, about one-fifth of the Palestinian population. According to the last United Nations report, Israel is holding behind bars more than 11,000 Palestinian prisoners, including 118 women and 376 children, who are incarcerated - in violation of international law - outside the occupied territories. The Shin Bet decides which prisoners are to receive visits and which family members will be barred from entering Israel. ....

We could release first, as a goodwill gesture, some 800 "administrative" Palestinian prisoners, who have been jailed in Israel for months with no trial. These prisoners, who have not been charged and do not know why they are being jailed for months (sometimes years) with no trial, must be released as the first stage of releasing the political abductees and prisoners....... "



Tough Love for Israel

By Henry Siegman, The Nation
(May 5, 2008 issue)

"....The scandal of the international community's impotence in resolving one of history's longest bloodlettings is that it knows what the problem is but does not have the courage to speak the truth, much less deal with it. The peace conference in Germany will suffer from the same gutlessness that has marked all previous efforts. It will deal with everything except the problem primarily responsible for the impasse. That problem is that for all the sins attributable to the Palestinians--and they are legion, including inept and corrupt leadership, failed institution-building and the murderous violence of rejectionist groups--there is no prospect for a viable, sovereign Palestinian state, primarily because Israel's various governments, from 1967 until today, have never had the intention of allowing such a state to come into being.

It would be one thing if Israeli governments had insisted on delaying a Palestinian state until certain security concerns had been dealt with. But no government serious about a two-state solution to the conflict would have pursued, without letup, the theft and fragmentation of Palestinian lands, which even a child understands makes Palestinian statehood impossible...." 


It`s Time for a Declaration of Independence From Israel

By Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize winner and former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times.

Speech delivered on Thursday, May 22, 2008, at Princeton University

"....Israel was born at midnight May 14, 1948. The U.S. recognized the new state 11 minutes later. The two countries have been locked in a deadly embrace ever since.

Washington, at the beginning of the relationship, was able to be a moderating influence. An incensed President Eisenhower demanded and got Israel's withdrawal after the Israelis occupied Gaza in 1956. During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli warplanes bombed the USS Liberty. The ship, flying the U.S. flag and stationed 15 miles off the Israeli coast, was intercepting tactical and strategic communications from both sides. The Israeli strikes killed 34 U.S. sailors and wounded 171. The deliberate attack froze, for a while, Washington's enthusiasm for Israel. But ruptures like this one proved to be only bumps, soon smoothed out by an increasingly sophisticated and well-financed Israel lobby that set out to merge Israeli and American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Israel has reaped tremendous rewards from this alliance. It has been given more than $140 billion in U.S. direct economic and military assistance. It receives about $3 billion in direct assistance annually, roughly one-fifth of the U.S. foreign aid budget. Although most American foreign aid packages stipulate that related military purchases have to be made in the United States, Israel is allowed to use about 25 percent of the money to subsidize its own growing and profitable defense industry. It is exempt, unlike other nations, from accounting for how it spends the aid money. And funds are routinely siphoned off to build new Jewish settlements, bolster the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories and construct the security barrier, which costs an estimated $1 million a mile...."



The Roadmap Revisited

By Naomi Chazan

In Middle East Times (Pan Arab), Opinion
May 19, 2008

"The "Performance-Based Road Map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" highlights both the good intentions and the misplaced conceptions of its promulgators. Five years after its adoption, it lingers not as a tool for the achievement of a sustainable agreement but as a burdensome impediment to its realization...."



Celebrate those who work for equality

IBRAHIM FAWAL, Birmingham News
Sunday, May 18, 2008

"The Birmingham Jewish Federation is hosting a 60th birthday party for Israel this weekend with a tour of Israeli cities, but there is an undeniable reality that the festivities will likely conceal. As Birmingham residents travel through these cities, they would do well to ask their hosts how many such cities were built on the ruins of Palestinian life.

Most Americans who support the state of Israel seem completely unaware of the fact that when Israel was established in 1948, more than 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes, with little more than the clothes on their backs. They were doctors, farmers, students and businessmen, who instantly became refugees. Israeli forces depopulated more than 450 Palestinian villages and urban centers. Most were demolished....."



Peace will be Israel's greatest achievement

REDA MANSOUR, Birmingham News
Sunday, May 18, 2008

"It took 2,000 years to dream of it, 60 years to plan it and 60 more to bring it to life. The modern state of Israel is celebrating its 60th anniversary with great pride in its achievements and with the knowledge that its story, like that of any other democratic society, remains unfinished. We Israelis live in a region filled with great instability and anxiety, but we will never give up our hope for peace......"



Palestinian Suffering Dampens Israel Celebration

Bessy Reyna, The Hartford Courant
May 16, 2008

 "Early this month, I attended a panel dealing with the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It was organized by the group "We Refuse To Be Enemies," composed of Jews, Muslims and Christians. This group's main goal is the promotion of a peaceful and just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In light of Israel's 60th anniversary, and the lack of progress in resolving the conflict, this is an ever more urgent issue....",0,3405837.column



Remembering the Palestinian Nakba

Nasser Barghouti & Bassemah Darwish, The San Diego Union-Tribune
May 8, 2008

"Nearly 30 years since she had seen her Northern Galilee home in what she called "48 Palestine," Rasmiya Barghouti was finally given a permit by the Israeli military authorities to visit. She decided to take two of her daughters and four of her grandchildren with her.

It took less than three hours to reach Safad, renamed Tsvat by Israel after 1948. The van stopped in front of the white stone home that held her childhood memories. She proceeded to the familiar metal door, where she knocked....."



Israelis Are Talking To Hamas

By Marc Gopin

In Middle East Times (Pan Arab), Opinion

May 16, 2008


"There are Israeli Jews who have been talking to Hamas for years, especially Rabbi Menahem Frohman. In fact, even more Israeli Jews – official and unofficial – would be talking not only to Hamas, but also to Syria and Iran were the White House not pressuring them against dialogue with enemies of Israel. This is unprecedented: a third party, supposedly mediating for peace, that forbids two parties from talking to each other.

Sober intelligence analysts at the highest levels in Israel have been arguing the virtue of negotiation and a process of offers and counter-offers – not because they are nonviolence activists, but because they are realists seeking the path of least resistance to a more stable and safe Middle East. They have every intention of confronting the military threat from Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, but through a subtle combination of approaches, not the least of which is negotiation. They understand very well that an offer to an inveterate enemy that does not recognize your existence is not a capitulation, but rather a test. It is a test that will put constructive pressure on radicals to come to the table, or split among themselves. All good news for realists.

There are also religious Israeli Jews who have honed their negotiation skills with Hamas over many years now. Rabbi Frohman, along with Khaled Amayreh, a Hebron journalist close to Hamas, have come up with a ceasefire that is realistic, but also appealing to the religious frame in which Hamas exclusively operates. This was not an official document, but it has been followed by important statements released by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Syria, regarding interest in an agreement between Hamas and Israel to not target civilians, which would mean an end to suicide attacks. In addition, Meshaal has come out with a statement that appears to accept Israel's existence within the 1967 borders, which appears to meet a major criterion for Western acceptance of Hamas....."



Balanced policy the only way to peace

by Malcolm Fraser, former prime minister of Australia

The Age

10 May 2008

"TWO months ago, the Australian Parliament passed a resolution celebrating Israel's first 60 years. Until recently, Australia had preserved a balance in Middle East policy that asserted Israel's right to survival and security, but also the right of the Palestinian people to their own state. Under the previous government, in lock-step with the US, our policies veered to a more one-sided support for Israel. The vision of a Palestinian state seemed to slip from view.

US President George Bush claims that it is possible for Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate the establishment of a

Palestinian state before the end of this year. That ignores the realities of the current situation, which Bush has done a good deal to exacerbate.

It is a fact that Israel has persistently established more and more settlements on the West Bank and that it has ignored the US and the UN

Security Council, which have continuously branded these settlements, together with settlements in East Jerusalem, as illegal. However, the US has not exerted real pressure to stop them and the process continues. Through most of my life I have believed that Israel was a beacon of hope. But somewhere Israel's leadership lost its way...."



Signs of rapprochement

Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly
May 9, 2008

"With the US and Israel telling Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas that keeping away from Hamas is a sine qua non for the continuation of the "peace process," many in Fatah are now realising that Israel and its US guardian-ally are only utilising Palestinian national disunity to further weaken the Palestinian negotiating position.

Observers in the occupied Palestinian territories cite a number of recent signs indicating that a certain thaw in the Hamas-Fatah showdown is taking place...."



Bush should stay home

By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Daily, Israel
May 11, 2008

"If George Bush were a true friend of Israel, he would seize the investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as an excuse to stay home tomorrow. Unless he has a rabbit in his hat, this will be the third time in the past half year that the U.S. president shows the Palestinians and the entire Arab world that they are wasting their time by trying to end the occupation by peaceful means. Not only have matters not improved since he troubled dozens of leaders from around the world to come to Annapolis in late November, 2007; since then, the occupation has been progressing, while the vision of two states has been receding. The number of new buildings erected in the settlements in the last few months rivals only the number of roadblocks that have been added since Bush last visited Jerusalem, in January.

Bush is an accomplice to an offense far worse than all of the criminal offenses of which Olmert is suspected combined. Every speech made by the president is one more bit of exposure of the nakedness of the Palestinian circles who tied their collective fate to the Annapolis declaration, which pledged to "make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008." In light of the stasis in the negotiations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) seems likely to resign even before Olmert does. The failed gamble of the United States also undermines the standing of leaders in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan......

If Bush cared about Israel remaining a Jewish country, he would not have let Abbas leave the White House last month bruised and battered. The Palestinian president told him that when the Palestinian delegates to the talks saw the Israeli positions, they thought Olmert and Tzipi Livni were playing a joke on them. In addition to all of the "settlement clusters," including, of course, the territorial "fingers" of Ariel, Ma'aleh Adumin and Givat Ze'ev, the Israelis demanded to remain in control of the entire Jordan Valley, almost to the outskirts of Nablus, while leaving intact all of the Jewish settlements in that area - all in all, some 600 square kilometers, amounting to about 10 percent of the territories. Israel also demanded that all of Jerusalem,

including the Holy Basin surrounding the Old City and the Old City itself, would remain under Israeli sovereignty; Palestine would be given control only over the Temple Mount, which is held by the Muslim Waqf authorities in any case; not a single refugee would be allowed back under a Palestinian right of return, and Israel would not acknowledge any responsibility for the fate of the 1948 refugees...."



In praise of Palestinian steadfastness

Despite 60 years of hardship, real achievement, too.

By Ben White, Christian Science Monitor

"As Israel celebrates 60 years of statehood this month, Palestinians are taking the opportunity to remember the catastrophic shattering of their society in 1948. It is not simply a question of recalling the past; they continue to struggle for self-determination and to have their

rights recognized under international law."



Israel is suppressing a secret it must face

How did a Jewish state founded 60 years ago end up throwing filth at cowering Palestinians?

Johann Hari, The Independent
Monday, 28 April 2008

 "Across the occupied West Bank, raw untreated sewage is pumped every day out of the Jewish settlements, along large metal pipes, straight onto Palestinian land. From there, it can enter the groundwater and the reservoirs, and become a poison....only six per cent of Israeli settlements adequately treat their sewage.

Meanwhile, in order to punish the population of Gaza for voting "the wrong way", the Israeli army are not allowing past the checkpoints any replacements for the pipes and cement needed to keep the sewage system working. The result? Vast stagnant pools of waste are being held within fragile dykes across the strip, and rotting. Last March, one of them burst, drowning a nine-month-old baby and his elderly grandmother in a tsunami of human waste. The Centre on Housing Rights warns that one heavy rainfall could send 1.5m cubic metres of faeces flowing all over Gaza, causing "a humanitarian and environmental disaster of epic proportions".

This weekend, the elected Hamas government offered a six-month truce that could have led to talks. The Israeli government responded within hours by blowing up a senior Hamas leader and killing a 14-year-old girl."


We didn’t mean to kill them

Israel says it doesn’t mean to kill Palestinian children, yet they keep on dying

B. Michael
May 4, 2008

"We really didn’t mean to do it. Again we didn’t mean to do it. We have never meant to do it. Yet as usual, even though we didn’t mean it – we hit them. We hit them 1,000 times already without meaning to do it. We have killed a total of 1,000 Palestinian children since the second Intifada broke out on September 29, 2000. A thousand.",2506,L-3539098,00.html



We're not celebrating Israel's anniversary

The Guardian
April 30, 2008


In May, Jewish organisations will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. This is understandable in the context of centuries of persecution culminating in the Holocaust. Nevertheless, we are Jews who will not be celebrating. Surely it is now time to acknowledge the narrative of the other, the price paid by another people for European anti-semitism and Hitler's genocidal policies. As Edward Said emphasised, what the Holocaust is to the Jews, the Naqba is to the Palestinians.

In April 1948, the same month as the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin and the mortar attack on Palestinian civilians in Haifa's market square, Plan Dalet was put into operation. This authorised the destruction of Palestinian villages and the expulsion of the indigenous population outside the borders of the state. We will not be celebrating.

In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the Death March. We will not be celebrating.

In all, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. That did not end the ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Palestinians (Israeli citizens) were expelled from the Galilee in 1956. Many thousands more when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Under international law and sanctioned by UN resolution 194, refugees from war have a right to return or compensation. Israel has never accepted that right. We will not be celebrating.

We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land. We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations.

We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East.

Signed by 120 Israeli Jews



Deep regret would suffice

By Uzi Benziman

April 30, 2008

"On April 17, 1996, during the Grapes of Wrath campaign, Israel Defense Forces artillery fired a number of shells at the Lebanese village of Kanna. One hundred and two Lebanese villagers were killed in the attack. ....The tragic attack, two days ago, on the Abu Muatak family in Beit Hanoun shows that the IDF has not learned a thing but has forgotten a great deal....

The IDF's first reaction concerning the killing of the mother and her four children was one of denial of any involvement in the tragedy. Southern Command sources fed alternative information to radio broadcasters ....

This pattern of response - to cast doubt about the very information that arrives from Palestinian sources about the circumstances of the killing, to avoid accepting responsibility for an unfortunate event, to produce a version that describes the chain of developments in such a way as to place the source of the tragedy on the enemy, and to create a demonic image of the adversary as someone who is capable of purposely causing bloodshed among his own people so as to achieve diplomatic gain, or as someone who does not hesitate to stage a horrifying arena of death so as to besmirch Israel's name, repeats itself every time tragedies of this nature occur."



Our Defense Forces, our war crimes, our terrorism

By Bradley Burston

Haaretz Daily News
April 28, 2008

".....It is time for us to stop "understanding" why so many we kill so many Palestinian civilians. It is time for us to stop explaining away the deaths we excuse as the unfortunate and incidental by-product of a terrible war.

If it had been only an isolated incident, a tragic aberration, I would have kept my peace, said nothing, just moved on.

But the same crime, the same - let's call it by its real name - atrocity, has been committed time and again, under the same circumstances, for the same reasons, with the same indefensible result......

No more. Let soldiers and, especially, their commanders, know that there must be intensive, impartial investigations and severe consequences for the killings of Palestinian civilians.

No more. Let the Israeli who is stunned and stricken by Palestinian terror, begin to acknowledge that our killings of civilians are our shame, our war crime, our suicide bombs, the massacres for which we, virtuous as we believe we are, are directly to blame."



Carter’s Hamas Talks Could Aid Exodus to Peace

by Ira Chernus

Monday, April 21, 2008

"Jews around the world sat down to their Passover Seders this past weekend, commemorating their ancestors’ exodus from slavery to freedom. Yet right now the person who is doing more than anyone else to free the Jews is a devout Baptist, Jimmy Carter. The former president is meeting with leaders throughout the Middle East — including, most controversially, the top political leadership of the Hamas party. This has predictably angered the U.S. and Israeli governments and the U.S. mainstream press.

But they, like so many Jews, are still in slavery. The “Egypt” that enslaves them is a set of self-defeating beliefs in their own minds. They are enslaved to the notion that Hamas must be treated as pariah “terrorists,” and one must never talk with “terrorists.” That convenient tale prevents the Israeli government from entering peace negotiations. It keeps Israeli Jews trapped in the continuing risks and tensions of a state-of-siege mentality that prevents the exodus they need so badly now: moving from insecurity to genuine peace and security.

In a larger sense, the view of Hamas as a party so evil that no one may even talk with it keeps many Jews in a state of spiritual slavery. It reinforces their long-standing habit of defining Jewish identity primarily in terms of radical vulnerability, as if the only meaningful way to be Jewish were to stand firm against an enemy and always be ready to shoot at that enemy.

This slavery is especially tragic because ..."


Ira Chernus is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and author of Monsters To Destroy: The Neoconservative War on Terror and Sin.



Our debt to Jimmy Carter

Ha'aretz Daily Newspaper (Israel)

By Haaretz Editorial
April 15, 2008

"The government of Israel is boycotting Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, during his visiit here this week....Whether Carter's approach to conflict resolution is considered by the Israeli government as appropriate or defeatist, no one can take away from the former U.S. president his international standing, nor the fact that he brought Israel and Egypt to a signed peace that has since held. Carter's method, which says that it is necessary to talk with every one, has still not proven to be any less successful than the method that calls for boycotts and air strikes. In terms of results, at the end of the day, Carter beats out any of those who ostracize him. For the peace agreement with Egypt, he deserves the respect reserved for royalty for the rest of his life."


Hidden Agenda

Manifest Destiny and Israel

April 15, 2008

"NEXT MONTH, Israel will celebrate its 60th anniversary. The government is working feverishly to make this day into an occasion of joy and jubilation. While serious problems are crying out for funds, some 40 million dollars have been allocated to this aim.

But the nation is in no mood for celebrations. It is gloomy.

From all directions the government is blamed for this gloom. "They have no agenda" is the refrain, "Their only concern is their own survival." ...

BUT ANYONE who believes that the government has no agenda, and that the State of Israel has no agenda, is quite wrong. There certainly is an agenda, but is hidden. More precisely: it is unconscious."


To Create Something from Nothing

The Making of a Palestinian State

April 15, 2008

"Mavivi comes from South Africa and is for the first time in Gaza to speak with women's organisations, students, civil servants and political fractions. For 18 years she was part of the struggle against apartheid.

There are those who never understand despite having seen everything and having access to all knowledge. And there are those who only need a few hours to understand. Mavivi belongs to the second category.

I saw when Mavivi cried for the first time. Mavivi had then been in Gaza for less than 24 hours. During a day, she had spoken to 30 representatives from several women's organisations. She stands outside the hotel and looks out over the Mediterranean when she spontaneously exclaims, "South Africa was a picnic compared to the situation here."

24 hours later, she cries openly for the second time. She has spoken with doctors, architects, teachers, everyone who tries to create a tolerable situation for the masses inhabiting the Gaza Strip. Again she compares South Africa with Israel/Palestine--"apartheid was stupidity, but here one has sophisticated the stupidity."

But it is when she cannot keep her tears back for the third time that many should have had the opportunity to listen to her. ..."


Mats Svensson, a former Swedish diplomat working on the staff of SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, is presently following the ongoing occupation of Palestine. He can be reached at

Remembering Palestine
On Israel’s anniversary, Palestinians commemorate Al Nakba—the Catastrophe
By Dana Olwan, PhD ’09, Contributor
The Queen's Journal

"On May 15, Israel will celebrate its 60th anniversary. Palestinians around the world will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba or the “Catastrophe.” Among other things, Al-Nakba marks the forced expulsion and destitution of 750,000 Palestinians from their indigenous homeland and the destruction of 418 villages in 1948. Its aftermath effectively decimated Palestinian identity, culture and life.

While Israelis are exhorted to remember this day and mark the sixth decade of Israel’s creation and independence as a celebratory occasion, Palestinians are encouraged to forget their past and their historic link with their homeland."...

Dana Olwan is national chair of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights.


Should the U.S. End Aid to Israel?
Funding Our Decline


"It was highly appropriate that this debate was held two weeks before tax day, since in Israel's sixty years of existence, it has received more US tax money than any other nation on earth.

During periods of recession, when Americans are thrown out of work, homes are repossessed, school budgets cut and businesses fail, Congress continues to give Israel massive amounts of our tax money; currently, about 7 million dollars per day.

On top of this, Egypt and Jordan receive large sums of money (per capita about 1/20th of what Israel receives) to buy their cooperation with Israel; and Palestinians also receive our tax money (about 1/23rd of that to Israel), to repair infrastructure that Israeli forces have destroyed, to fund humanitarian projects required due to the destruction wrought by Israel's military, and to convince Palestinian officials to take actions beneficial to Israel. These sums should also be included in expenditures on behalf of Israel.

When all are added together, it turns out that for many years over half of all US tax money abroad has been expended to benefit a country the size of New Jersey.

It is certainly time to begin debating this disbursement of our hard-earned money. It is quite possible that we have better uses for it.

To decide whether the US should continue military aid to any nation, it is essential to examine the nature and history of the recipient nation, how it has used our military aid in the past, whether these uses are in accord with our values, and whether they benefit the American taxpayers who are putting up the money.

1. What is the history and nature of Israel?"...


The Gaza Bombshell
by David Rose
April 2008

Vanity Fair

"After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, David Rose reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever."




The Silent Violence of Gaza's Suffering That Candidates and Congress Ignore


"The world's largest prison—, Gaza prison, with 1.5 million inmates, many of them starving, sick and penniless— is receiving more sympathy and protest by Israeli citizens, of widely impressive backgrounds, than is reported in the U.S. press.

In contrast, the humanitarian crisis brought about by Israeli government blockades that prevent food, medicine, fuel and other necessities from coming into this tiny enclave through international relief organizations is received with predictable silence or callousness by members of Congress, including John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The contrast invites more public attention and discussion...."



The Gaza Strip blockade could seriously harm Israel's economy
By Meron Rapoport, Haaretz Correspondent
February 10, 2008

....."One and a half million people live in Gaza. They are hungry and they have hardly any orchards. The citrus groves have almost completely disappeared because of the Israel Defense Forces' activities. We are the only source of food for them. And they pay well, and in cash."

The Gazans buy from Israel between 60 and 80 tons of fruit per year - bananas, apples, pears, peaches and avocados. Eshel estimates that some 10 percent of the Israeli fruit harvest goes to Gaza. This statistic can be misleading. "There are producers for whom it is 100 percent of their harvest," Adiri says. .....

An estimate by the Palestine International Business Forum shows that cutting off economic ties between Israel and the Palestinians would bring down the standard of living in the PA by one-third. Income per capita would fall to $500, the lowest in the Arab world, even lower than Sudan or Yemen.

Israel, according to this research, would lose around $2 billion per year. Some 76,000 jobs would be lost." 



Open the Rafah crossing
By Haaretz Editorial

 "Following a brief and sporadic hiatus, the cycle of violence recently resumed on both sides in the Gaza Strip. During the past three days, Israel killed at least 16 Palestinians, and heavy barrages of rockets slammed into Sderot and other communities bordering Gaza in response to Israel's retaliation for the suicide bombing in Dimona. The Israel Defense Forces used ground and air forces in the northern and southern Gaza Strip.

This cycle of bloodshed has already proved pointless. The Palestinians gain nothing by firing Qassam rockets, but Israel is not helping itself with its extensive operations in the Strip.


Politics Of Illusions
By Alon Ben-meir

In The Middle East Times (Cyprus), Opinion

February 7, 2008

"I have just returned from an extended trip to the Middle East, hoping that I would come back feeling recharged by the progress made in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, especially in the wake of the Annapolis peace conference. To my dismay, not in Israel or in Jordan or in talking to Palestinian and Egyptian officials, have I felt or seen much optimism.

Those who still believe that an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is possible by the end of 2008 – U.S. President George W. Bush's stated desire – are few and far between."



The strangulation of Gaza
Saree Makdisi, The Nation
Feb 2, 2008

"The people of Gaza were able to enjoy a few days of freedom last week, after demolition charges brought down the iron wall separating the impoverished Palestinian territory from Egypt, allowing hundreds of thousands to burst out of the virtual prison into which Gaza has been transformed over the past few years - the terminal stage of four decades of Israeli occupation - and to shop for desperately needed supplies in Egyptian border towns.

Gaza's doors are slowly closing again, however. Under mounting pressure from the United States and Israel, Egypt has dispatched additional border guards armed with water cannons and electric cattle prods to try to regain control...."


People power in Gaza

Ramzy Baroud, IMEU
Feb 1, 2008

"In a radio interview prior to the US invasion of Iraq, David Barsamian asked Noam Chomsky what ordinary Americans could do to stop the war. Chomsky answered, "In some parts of the world people never ask, 'What can we do?' They simply do it." For someone who was born and raised in a refugee camp in Gaza, Chomsky's seemingly oblique response required no further elucidation.

When Gazans recently stormed the Strip's sealed border with Egypt, Chomsky's comment returned to mind, along with memories of the still relevant -- and haunting -- past....."



It's Not About Iran
By Shibley Telhami

In The Washington Post

January 14, 2008

"As President Bush travels through the Middle East, the prevailing assumption is that Arab states are primarily focused on the rising Iranian threat and that their attendance at the Annapolis conference with Israel in November was motivated by this threat. This assumption, reflected in the president's speech in the United Arab Emirates yesterday, could be a costly mistake...."


Bush Peace Hallucinations Continue

By Sam Bahour (Sam Bahour is a Palestinian American businessman living in Ramallah.)
January 10, 2008

"U.S. President George Bush landed in Israel yesterday on his first Presidential trip to the country. He participated in a press conference in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in what both men termed a “historic” and “monumental” occasion. After listening to both so-called leaders make their opening comments and fielding questions from journalists, the only groundbreaking revelation I could register was that the naiveté of President Bush, either real or a charade, only served the agenda of one party in the region – Hamas. The radical Islamists at Hamas could not have recruited a better cheerleader for their movement if they tried.

My opinion may be extreme, but then again, I live in an extremely violent limbo under Israeli military occupation, shaped by a policy both men continuously refuse to call by its true name – state terror...."



Ungenerous Occupier: Israel's Camp David Exposed
January 05, 2008

By Jonathan Cook in MIFTA

"After seven years of rumors and self-serving memoirs, the Israeli media has finally published extracts from an official source about the Camp David negotiations in summer 2000. For the first time it is possible to gauge with some certainty the extent of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's "generous offer" to the Palestinians and Yasser Arafat's reasons for rejecting it.

In addition, the document provides valuable insights into what larger goals Israel hoped to achieve at Camp David and how similar ambitions are driving its policies to this day...."



The occupied Palestinian territories: Dignity Denied
International Committee of the Red Cross

Throughout the occupied Palestinian territories, in the Gaza Strip as well as the West Bank, Palestinians continuously face hardship in simply going about their lives; they are prevented from doing what makes up the daily fabric of most people's existence. An ICRC report.


Our violent presence
By Amira Hass in Ha'aretz
January 3, 2008

"......The presence of every Israeli in the West Bank is based on a regime of privilege that developed out of that primary act of occupation. We have the privilege of hiking in Palestinian areas to our heart's content, of buying subsidized housing for Jews only on the lands of Bethlehem, of raising cherries and grapes in the wadis of Hebron, of quarrying on the mountain slopes, of driving on roads whose land was expropriated from the indigenous inhabitants for public use. 

.... The regime of travel permits that has been in place since 1991 deprives all Palestinians of the right to freedom of movement in Israel while the system of roadblocks limits their movement in their own territories...."


US Must Re-evaluate its Relationship with Israel
By Scott Ritter

In Arab News (Saudi Arabia), Opinion

December 31, 2007

"The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has embarked on policies that are questionable at best when one examines them from a purely Israeli standpoint; they are nothing less than a betrayal of the United States when examined from a broader perspective....

Israel at present can have no friends, because Israel does not know how to be a friend. Driven by xenophobic paranoia and historical grievances, Israel is embarked on a path that can only lead to death and destruction. This is a path the United States should not tread. I have always taken the position that Israel is a friend of the United States, and that friends should always stand up for one another, even in difficult times. I have also noted that, to quote a phrase well known in America, friends don't let friends drive drunk, and that for some time now Israel has been drunk on arrogance and power. As a friend, I have believed the best course of action for the United States to take would be that which helped remove the keys from the ignition of the policy vehicle Israel is steering toward the edge of the abyss. Now it seems our old friend is holding a pistol to our head, demanding that we stop interfering with the vehicle's operation and preventing us from getting out of the car. This is not the action of a friend, and it can no longer be tolerated.

It is time for what those who are familiar with dependency issues would term an intervention. Like a child too long spoiled by an inattentive parent, Israel has grown accustomed to American largess, to the point that it is addicted to an American aid package that is largely responsible for keeping the Israeli economy afloat. This aid must be reconsidered in its entirety. The day of the free ride must come to an end. The United States must redefine its national security priorities in the Middle East and position Israel accordingly. At the very least, American aid must be linked to Israeli behavior modification. The standards America applies to other nations around the world when it comes to receiving aid must likewise apply to Israel...."§ion=0&article=105132&d=31&m=12&y=2007



What's the hurry?
By Aluf Benn (Jerusalem) & Shmuel Rosner (Washington)


"The Annapolis summit and the efforts to revive the peace process have exacerbated the tension that already existed between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Olmert's personal charm doesn't work on Rice, and the Prime Minister's Office is anxious about her tendency to push ahead too quickly with political contacts.....

In private conversations - and as she said in Annapolis - Rice tends to compare the Israeli occupation in the territories to the racial segregation that used to be the norm in the American South. The Israel Defense Forces checkpoints where Palestinians are detained remind her of the buses she rode as a child in Alabama, which had separate seats for blacks and whites. This is an uncomfortable comparison, of course, for the Israelis, who view it as "over-identification" on her part with Palestinian suffering. For some leaders of American Jewish organizations, who weren't all that fond of Rice to begin with, her use of this image was the last straw. Rice is now marked as an enemy. It's also easier for them to blame her, rather than the president, for an approach that's not to their liking.

But Rice's anger at Israel really derives from more current events: She was deeply offended at the height of the Second Lebanon War, while preparing to leave for Beirut to pull together a cease-fire, when the IDF killed Lebanese civilians during the bombing of Kafr Kana. Her trip was canceled at the last minute, the war went on for more than another two weeks, and some who know her say that Rice never forgave Israel for this slap in the face.

In recent months, she's been heard grumbling about Israel's foot-dragging in carrying out good-will gestures toward Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas....."



Meanwhile, in the West Bank
Gideon Levy, Haaretz
Dec 25, 2007

"Don't let the quiet fool you: It is imaginary. While all eyes are on Gaza, the impression has been created, under the aegis of a media turning a blind eye, that the West Bank is quiet... Well, that is not the case. The lives of the Palestinians in the West Bank are also intolerable, blood is being shed there too. For the Israel Defense Forces it is business as usual, with a frighteningly quick finger on the trigger.... Every week, innocent people are killed in the West Bank, and nobody talks about them..... "'Meanwhile,%20in%20the%20West%20Bank'&dyn_server=



So what have we done to them?
By Nehemia Shtrasler, Ha'aretz
December 20, 2007

"An old Jewish joke tells of a devoted mother who briefs her son before he sets out to battle: "Kill a Turk and rest," she advises. But the son asks: "And what happens if in fact the Turk tries to kill me?" She opens her eyes wide in surprise: "Why would he want to kill you? What have you done to him?"

This is exactly the kind of self-righteousness that accompanies our attitude toward the Palestinians. It is evident in the reports on the television, radio and in the newspapers - which paint only a partial picture of the conflict. Because when considerations of ratings and just plain cowardice determine coverage, the information the public gets is biased. In this way an extremist public opinion is created, which believes that all of the justice is on our side only, because "what have we done to them?"...."



Another Peace Scare. Boy, That Was Close.

by William Blum
December 11, 2007

The US intelligence community's new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) --
"Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities" -- makes a point of saying up front (in bold type): "This NIE does not (italics in original) assume that Iran intends to acquire nuclear weapons." The report goes on to state: "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program ."

"Isn't that good news, that Iran isn't about to attack the United States or Israel with nuclear weapons? Surely everyone is thrilled that the horror and suffering that such an attack -- not to mention an American or Israeli retaliation or pre-emptive attack -- would bring to this sad old world. Here are some of the happy reactions from American leaders: .."



Ahmadinejad Has Screwed Us Again! How They Stole the Bomb From Us
December 10, 2007

"It was like an atom bomb falling on Israel. The earth shook. Our political and military leaders were all in shock. The headlines screamed with rage. What happened?

A real catastrophe: the American intelligence community, comprising 16 different agencies, reached a unanimous verdict: already in 2003, the Iranians terminated their efforts to produce a nuclear bomb, and they have not resumed them since. Even if they change their mind in the future, they will need at least five years to achieve their aim. SHOULDN'T WE be overjoyed? Shouldn't the masses in Israel be dancing in the streets, as they did on November 29, 1947, sixty years ago? After all, we have been saved!.....

Gone is the excuse for an American military attack on Iran, the dream of the Israeli government and the neocons. Gone is even the pretext for more stringent sanctions. God knows, perhaps even the existing feeble sanctions will be abolished tomorrow.THE FIRST reaction of the Israeli leadership was vigorous and determined: total denial......"



London's burning for Dichter

By Gideon Levy

Haaretz Daily News
 December 10, 2007

"Avi Dichter will not be going to London. The Israeli dream of taking in year-end sales, the new production of Othello or the sights of Oxford Street vanished before the public security minister's very eyes. The Foreign Ministry advised Dichter not to participate in a conference there, because he could be arrested for involvement in the assassination of Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh, when he was Shin Bet security service head. The one-ton bomb used to target Shehadeh in 2002 left 15 people dead......"



Institutionalized evil

By Haaretz Editorial

"......Israel's real policy is to do everything to block the entry to the country of non-Jews because they are non-Jews. The insufferable bureaucratic bottleneck and the via dolorosa traversed by those seeking naturalization assure that the gates are blocked. . ..

Due to the desire to close Israel's gates to non-Jews, the officials at the Population Administration are ignoring the law, their own regulations and humanitarian considerations, and are creating countless human tragedies. Thus has the administration itself become an apparatus that institutionalizes evil. The fact that we accept this shows how much our hearts have become hard and insensitive.




The Har Homa test

By Akiva Eldar

Haaretz Daily, December 10, 2007

"It is difficult to think of a place more suitable than Har Homa for holding the first test in the spirit of Annapolis. The comparison between Har Homa Crisis No. 2 and the development of Har Homa Crisis No. 1 can teach us whether the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has indeed started a new track or whether all the players are stuck on the old line.

Does Ehud Olmert, who pressed for the establishment of the new neighborhood in East Jerusalem, really see something different from the Prime Minister's Bureau than what he saw from the office of the mayor of Jerusalem? Will President George W. Bush pay lip service and eventually have to eat his words, just as Bill Clinton did 10 years ago?...."





Problem and Hope

By Hussein Shobokshi

In Asharq Alawsat (Pan Arab), Opinion

December 5, 2007

"The troubled Palestinian situation has reached an alarming deadlock with the passage of time, while the chasm continues to widen between Hamas in Gaza on one hand, and government authority and the PLO in the West Bank on the other.

In light of the state of immobility between the two main blocs in Palestinian society, it seems that the time has come and the conditions are appropriate to find a way out of this crisis situation. Perhaps discussion about a “third alternative” is due, at least in hope of bringing about a moral and psychological impact whilst attempting to break free of the deadlock with a serious solution.

Today, the name of a famous Palestinian businessman, Munib al Masri, has surfaced as a practical and non-politicized leader. Al Masri, 72-years-old, no longer hides his political ambitions and has moved into his palace in Nablus even though he is financially capable of living in London or Paris....."



The Devastation Our Disunity Has Created

By Joharah Baker

In Miftah (Palestine), Opinion

December 5, 2007

"This morning, Israeli forces killed yet another three Hamas activists in an air strike on Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip. Over the past two weeks, some 30 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli military forces, mostly in the Strip, even as Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak insists his army continues to hold out on wide scale military action there.

Israel claims it is defending its citizens from the rocket attacks into their towns and cities just outside of the Gaza Strip. And Israel doesn’t mince its words. “It is time to kill those who carry out attacks against Israelis,” Barak said. In turn, Israel has tacked a number to its argument, perhaps to offer more credibility and hence justification for these targeted killings. According to Israeli government sources, some 2,000 homemade Palestinian rockets have been fired into Israeli territory in the past year. Sounds scary, no doubt until one realizes just how inaccurate if not virtually innocuous these rockets really are. In this past year, two Israelis actually died as a result of these rockets, by admission of Israel itself. According to an Israeli ministry of foreign affairs website named, “Victims of Palestinian Violence and Terrorism since September 2000”, two Israeli citizens died in May of this year after a Qassam rocket hit their town of Sderot.

Still, Israel continues to cut down Palestinians even if on suspicion that they belong to a military group, especially those affiliated with Hamas. What is so shocking is that almost no one blinks an eye anymore at the news of these ongoing assassinations...."




Palestinian Civilians As Political Currency

By Jessica Montell

In The Jerusalem Post (Israel), Opinion

December 4, 2007

"....In the past six months, dozens of critical patients who cannot receive the treatment they needed in Gaza have been trapped by Israeli authorities, denied access to any country that can offer them the lifesaving treatment they need.

Israel cannot pretend it is not responsible for these people. After decades of Israeli occupation, the Gazan healthcare system is only beginning to put the severe de-development behind it. Services have significantly improved since the Oslo Accords, but there is still no adequate treatment available in Gaza for cancer patients, children with heart disease and people in need of organ transplants. Professional training is scarce and given that Israel prevents young people from leaving Gaza to attend medical school, the number of medical practitioners in Gaza is not expected to rise in the near future.

Although it "disengaged" from the Gaza Strip two years ago, Israel remains the key player in vital aspects of daily life. Controlling all sea, ground and air exits from the Strip and with its irritable finger on Gaza's main power switch, Israel can hardly be absolved of responsibility for people whose lives depend on its mercy..."



Will peace cost me my home?
Any Mideast pact must give Palestinians the right to return home.
By Ghada Ageel
December 1, 2007

"Sixty years ago, my grandparents lived in the beautiful village of Beit Daras , a few kilometers north of Gaza . They were farmers and owned hundreds of acres of land.

But in 1948, in the first Arab-Israeli war, many people lost their lives defending our village from the Zionist militias. In the end, with their crops and homes burning, the villagers fled. My family eventually made its way to what became the refugee camp of Khan Yunis in Gaza . We were hit hard by poverty, humiliation and disease. We became refugees, queuing for tents, food and assistance, while the state of Israel was established on the ruins of my family's property and on the ruins of hundreds of other Palestinian villages...."

* Editor's note:  Ghada Ageel spoke several times in Rhode Island in 2006, and stayed in my home.  She is a wonderful human being and a treasured friend.  Her talks were sponsored by the Interfaith Peace Initiative and other organizations.,0,7237674.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail



When the Roadmap is a One Way Street:
Israel's Strategy for Permanent Occupation
November 28, 2007

"One may well think that the struggle inside the Jewish community of Israel is between those of the political right, who want to maintain the settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank so as to "redeem" the Greater Land of Israel as a Jewish country, and those of the left who seek a two-state solution with the Palestinians and are thus willing to relinquish enough of the "territories", if not all, in order that a viable Palestinian state may emerge.

This is not really the case....The vast majority of Israeli Jews, stretching from the liberal Meretz party through Labour, Kadima and into the "liberal" wing of the Likud, excepting only the religious parties and the extreme right-wing led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the current minister of strategic affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, share a broad consensus: for both security reasons and because of Israel's "facts on the ground", the Arabs (as we [Israelis] call the Palestinians) will have to settle for a truncated mini-state on no more than 15-20 per cent of the country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River...."


As Peace Conference Begins, Palestinians Fear Land-Grab in Progress
By Fareed Taamallah, AlterNet
November 27, 2007

"Even while peace talks are underway, the illegal expansion of Israeli "settlements" will continue.

This week in Annapolis, Maryland the United States government is hosting a conference between Palestinian and Israeli leaders to launch peace talks on a permanent agreement. A vital component of the peace proposals involves exchanges of territory that would allow Israel to keep its West Bank "settlement blocs" while compensating Palestinians with land inside Israel.

But my community of Qira, like many others, cannot survive in a Palestinian state divided by Israel's settlement blocs. The settlement blocs are built on Palestinian agricultural land and water resources, and carve the West Bank into disconnected Palestinian bantustans...."



A Halt, Not a Suspension
by Haaretz Editorial

".....In April 2004 the government promised the Americans that there would be no more construction "beyond the outside line" of each settlement. That outside line has never been set. Annapolis will not lead Israel to any solution with the Palestinians unless Israel stops cheating and learns to restrain its expansion eastward."


Demands of a Thief

by Gideon Levy

"The public discourse in Israel has momentarily awoken from its slumber. "To give or not to give," that is the Shakespearean question - "to make concessions" or "not to make concessions." It is good that initial signs of life in the Israeli public have emerged.  It was worth going to Annapolis if only for this reason - but this discourse is baseless and distorted. Israel is not being asked "to give" anything to the Palestinians; it is only being asked to return - to return their stolen land and restore their trampled self-respect, along with their fundamental human rights and humanity. This is the primary core issue, the only one worthy of the title, and no one talks about it anymore."



Still a Democracy?
By Shulamit Aloni
In Haaretz (Israel)
November 15, 2007

"The government of Israel, with all due respect, does not represent the Jewish people but rather the citizens of the State of Israel who elected it. Israel is a sovereign state, which is still considered to be a democracy. In other words, it is a state for all of its citizens. Therefore it must not demand of the Palestinians to recognize it as a Jewish state, because in that way it would be declaring that any citizen whose mother is not Jewish or who did not convert with our strict Orthodox rabbis is a second-rate citizen, and his rights as a human being and a citizen are not ensured." 



Who wants a Jewish state
By Haaretz Editorial

"....It is easy to speak about a Jewish state, but difficult to find the political courage required to do what it takes: Settlements scattered in the heart of the Palestinian population make it impossible to separate between Israel and Palestine along a plausible and viable border. With each passing day and each passing year, every settlement expansion, every outpost and every road built to reach it disrupt the chance to separate the two nations..."



Palestinian Security Paradox
By David Ignatius
In The Washington Post
November 15, 2007

"Here's a safe prediction in advance of the Annapolis peace conference scheduled to take place in a few weeks: The Palestinians won't be ready to fulfill their obligation to provide security in the West Bank under the "road map to peace." The Palestinian Authority simply doesn't have the people, the training or the equipment to maintain order in the territories.

Why is this so? The answer, in part, is that the Palestinians haven't built up their security forces because the Israelis haven't permitted them to do so. And they haven't trained or equipped these forces, as envisaged under the road map, because the United States has failed to provide the necessary funds...."



Annapolis at the Crossroads
By George S. Hishmeh

In Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
November 14, 2007

"...Israel has never in the past declared its readiness to execute its all-important "parallel" obligation which is to "immediately dismantle(s) settlement outposts erected since March 2001" and "freeze all settlement activity including natural growth of the settlements." But in a last-minute gesture it has been reported that Israel is now willing to undertake this meaningless freeze.

But what is more disturbing is the absence of any reference to an Arab role other than the desired presence of senior Arab officials at the "meeting for few hours", as described by Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

What about the Arab Peace Initiative which expressed for the first time Arab readiness to accept Israel provided it, too, is willing to agree to a sovereign Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip along with implementation of international resolutions covering "final status" issues such as Palestinian refugees, borders and continued Palestinian presence in occupied East Jerusalem.

Of late, there has been an alarming crescendo of voices maintaining that the Annapolis meeting is actually a disguised attempt at creating an anti-Iran bloc in the region to facilitate an eventual strike against Tehran, as advocated by some Israeli officials and its supporters in the US and, lately, in Nicolas Sarkozy's France."


Sick but dangerous
by Danny Filk
chairman of Physicians for Human Rights

Decision to exert pressure on Hamas by denying entry to sick Palestinians immoral, inhumane

".... Israel’s security situation is apparently so unstable that six very sick Palestinians residing in Gaza threaten Israelis to such extent that public and media pressure is required in order to prompt the defense establishment to let them leave the Strip in order to receive medical attention.

All these cases were examined by senior Israeli oncologists and cardiologists who ruled that treatment is urgently needed and postponing it endangers the lives of the patients. The State of Israel rejected the requests...... ",2506,L-3470830,00.html


Acting Out of Frustration in Gaza
In Haaretz (Israel)
October 30, 2007

"One can appreciate the frustration behind the defense establishment's proposal to sporadically cut the electricity supply to the Gaza Strip: Powerful Israel stands by helplessly while Qassam rockets continue falling on Sderot and the Negev. And these are attacks that in the not-so-distant future may become increasingly more accurate and effective.

The operations carried out by Israel Defense Forces units in Gaza - in which a paratrooper was killed and a Golani Brigade soldier was seriously injured yesterday - are becoming more complicated, according to briefings, because they are increasingly encountering better organized and trained foes.

It is easier for Israel to attack a reactor in Syria than hit nearby Beit Hanun, because it is difficult, if not outright impossible, to avoid civilian casualties there. Cutting off the supply of electricity, fuel and baby food is also a blatant blow against civilians - and only against them...."

"More than any defensive or deterrent effect, this policy is simply about revenge. It is understandable, in view of the continued attacks, but it cannot be accepted as a policy that was conceived in a rational manner by the Defense Ministry. The role of the defense establishment is to defend the country, not to avenge on its behalf, and not to dampen the frustration of the residents of Sderot by announcing operations stinking of spin. Moreover, the power that these civilians supposedly have to influence the Hamas government and make it stop the rocket fire against Israel is minimal...."


Public Opinion and the Peace Process
By Ziad Abu Zayyad
In The Daily Star (Lebanon), Opinion
October 30, 2007

"The importance of public opinion stems from the fact that in democratic regimes it can play a determining role in the shift of power between the different political forces. Political leaders and parties must always bear in mind that, come election day, it is the voters who will be judging their performance and deciding whether they deserve to be reelected, or whether they should be voted out for having disappointed their electorate. Thus the agenda of political parties must always take into account the wider public agenda and concerns.

This principle does not apply in the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

On the Palestinian side, this process has been hampered from the outset and, eventually, blocked. For the first time, Palestinian public opinion was instrumental in replacing the Fatah regime with the new Hamas regime that promised transparency...."


Giuliani is Mideast's Worst Nightmare
By Linda S. Heard
In Gulf News (United Arab Emirates), Special Report
October 29, 2007

"President George W. Bush's approval ratings may be in the doldrums and he's only got just over another year to go, but before we order the celebratory fireworks here's a thought. The next American president could make this one look like a boy scout.

As the months pass, the next election looks like a race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and the former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani for the Republicans. I'm no fan of the coolly calculating Clinton but given the alternative, she's the one I'll be rooting for.

At the same time, I have serious doubts as to whether certain American states are ready for a woman president and although the American voters have shown they're fed up with Republicans they may reluctantly settle for the usual middle-aged white man over a former First Lady, no matter how bright and formidable she may be.

But here's the problem...."


Creating the Jerusalem Paradigm
By Daniel Seidemann
In Bitterlemons , Opinion
October 29, 2007

"Sit any Friday afternoon on the corner of el-Wad St. and St. Stephen's Road in Jerusalem's Old City, just opposite the Austrian Hospice. Thousands of Muslim worshipers throng to the mosques on Haram al-Sharif. Additional thousands of Orthodox Jews flock to prayers at the Western Wall. And the brown-robed Franciscans bearing the cross turn the corner and proceed to the Third Station of the Cross. Lest this picture appear overly idyllic: CCTV security cameras are ever present, as are patrols of the Israel Border Police, while a handful of messianic Jewish settlers dart out of the Muslim Quarter alleys.

In that one small scene, you can see it all. Three mutually incompatible religious narratives--Judaism, Christianity and Islam--and two mutually incompatible national narratives, the Israeli and the Palestinian, cohabit the same sacred and secular space, not larger than three sq. km. in size..."


ANALYSIS: Israel's real intention behind sanctions on Gaza Strip
By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff , Haaretz Correspondents

"There is an enormous gap between the reasons Israel is giving for the decision to impose significant sanctions against Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, and the real intentions behind them. Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized Thursday a plan for
disrupting electricity supply to the Gaza Strip
, as well as significantly shrinking fuel shipments. This is supposed to reduce the number of Qassam rocket attacks against Sderot and the other border communities. In practice, defense officials believe that the Palestinian militants will intensify their attacks in response to the sanctions.

As such, the real aim of this effort is twofold: to attempt a new form of "escalation" as a response to aggression from Gaza, before Israel embarks on a major military operation there; and to prepare the ground for a more clear-cut isolation of the Gaza Strip - limiting to an absolute minimum Israel's obligation toward the Palestinians there."


Christians in Gaza: An Integral Part of Society
By Mounir Abu Rizk

"Gaza, Asharq Al-Awsat- Abu Saeed, a vendor selling electrical appliances in Gaza City’s Rimal district says he that it only occurs to him that the vendor selling foodstuffs next door, Abu Hana is Christian during the Christian holidays. They have been working together in their neighboring shops for over 30 years, exchanging greetings and pleasantries, as well as praying in the nearby mosque and church respectively...."


Jerusalem: “Sharing” Not “Dividing”
by MJ Rosen, IP Forum
Oct. 19, 2007

"Here is the only thing you need to know about Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan to divide Jerusalem: there is no such plan. There never was one and it is safe to say that there will never be one. Nor is there a plan by any other Israeli leader to divide Jerusalem. Additionally, neither Mahmoud Abbas nor the Palestinian Authority he heads favors the division of Jerusalem. From Olmert to Ramon to Beilin to Abbas and Fayyad, there is not a single proposal to divide the city....

So what is all the yelling about?
The Israeli far right and its backers in this country do not want an end to the conflict on any terms -- other than perhaps “transfer” or “ethnic cleansing.” They seize on the emotional issue of Jerusalem to build a consensus against peace....."




When It Comes To Diplomatic Contests, Israel Tends To Win By Default
In The Daily Star (Lebanon)
October 19, 2007

"....It is true that Israel derives tremendous benefit from the slavish backing it receives from the United States, but it supplements this by missing no opportunity to state its case to other nations around the world as well....In fact, far from being effectively punished for its promiscuous violations of international law, Israel is generously rewarded for the contempt it shows the rest of the world. Its influence over the United States is such that Washington actually makes a policy of ignoring its own laws to support the Jewish state - and of encouraging its citizens to do the same by giving them tax breaks to subsidize illegal colonies on occupied Arab land. On issues great and small, Israeli officials maintain a steady stream of contacts with governments far and wide, ensuring that their country's influence remains out of all proportion to its size and population..."



Palestinians' lives invisible to Israelis
Seattle Post Intelligencer

"On a visit to Tel Aviv last month, I asked some Israeli friends what people in Israel were saying about the Palestinian situation. Not much, they told me....  Palestinians and their issues, my friends told me, are becoming more and more invisible to the Israeli people."



Bitter olive harvest / Justice falls short in the West Bank
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Daily Newspaper
October 19, 2007

"Abed Al-Fatah Al-Hindi, a resident of the Nablus-area village of Tal, reaches the main highway between the Hawara and Git junctions, near the Gilad Farm. An International Red Cross crew stands waiting for him. He is bleeding from a large scalp wound, and his left eye is swollen. A paramedic bandages his head, and a volunteer from Rabbis for Human Rights cleans his face. 'Every year there's a mess,' the villager tells Haaretz. 'It's just the first day of the olive harvest, and six settlers attacked me. There wasn't much we could do.' "


Provocative Ma'aleh Adumim land confiscation lays bare the government intentions
Press release from Gush Shalom
October 9, 2007

In government of the two Ehuds, the mouth speaks peace, the hands conduct war and oppression.


“In the government of the two Ehuds, the mouth of Ehud Olmert spews peace cliches in highly-publicized meetings with Abu Mazen, but the hands of Ehud Barak conduct ceaseless war and oppression: night raids and detentions deep into the Palestinian cities, daily killings in the Gaza Strip and outright rejection of any Palestinian cease-fire proposal, and ceaseless extension of settlements and robbery of Palestinian lands” says Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc.


“The latest example is the confiscation of 1100 dunums of the lands of Abu Dis, Arab al-Sawahra, Nebi Musa and Talhin Alhamar. Not only does this confiscation directly rob many villagers of their sole livelihood, but its main purpose is to facilitate the big annexation plan known as ‘E-1’, which is aimed at linking the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim with Jerusalem and cut the West Bank in two.  The present confiscations are aimed at constructing ‘a Palestinian bypass road’ which would push the Palestinian traffic between Bethlehem and Ramallah deep into the desert and effectively bar them from the central part of the West Bank. With such policies enacted by the government, the famous Annapolis Conference is emptied of all meaning, long before it convenes.”



Exam failure: the price Gaza's children are paying for international blockade
By Donald Macintyre in Gaza City
The Independent
06 October 2007

"....'The cumulative impact of years of violence, and closures, of disrupted schooling and endemic poverty is clear from the stark exam results,' says John Ging, UNRWA's operations director in Gaza, adding that despite all the challenges 'we are determined to ensure that our reforms and our drive to excellence in UNRWA schools will be successful'.

It will be an uphill struggle, especially while the isolation imposed on Gaza by the international community and Israel continues. It's hard to over-estimate the impact on a generation of Gaza schoolchildren whom UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness says are being 'bred in despair'. He adds: ' We risk radicalising people who show every sign of wanting only a measure of prosperity and dignity'."



Can Annapolis Forge a Mideast Peace?
By Scott MacLeod for Time Magazine
Saturday, October 6, 2007

"....The skepticism has been reinforced by Arab perceptions that Olmert will eventually decline to make the politically difficult compromises on core issues like territorial withdrawal, refugees and control over Jerusalem that Palestinians believe are necessary to end the nearly 60-year-old conflict. "The devil is going to be in the detail," says an Arab official. "The gaps are going to be huge." Moreover, in talks with Rice in New York two weeks ago, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal complained that Israel's failure to halt the construction of West Bank settlements raised questions about its good faith going into negotiations. Addressing reporters later, he said that to prove Israel's seriousness about reaching a deal "there should be a moratorium" on settlements as well as construction on Israel's separation wall. As Arab sources see it, the lack of such an Israeli gesture is one of the signs that Rice has not finished preparing the way for the conference's success....",8599,1669093,00.html?xid=rss-topstories



Dissenting at your own risk
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
October 2, 2007

“Last year, I agreed to speak to a Jewish youth group about my organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, and our opposition to Israel's occupation. My talk was to follow one from a member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which calls itself "America's pro-Israel Lobby."  A week before, a shaken program leader said the AIPAC staffer had threatened to get the entire youth program's funding canceled if I was allowed in the door. The threat worked, and in disgust, they canceled the whole talk..........

Many groups that started with the important work of fighting real anti-Semitism now rely on anti-Semitism to insist that to show one's love of Jews, one must offer uncritical support to Israel. They are especially displeased by Jews who believe that enabling Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights is not good for anyone.  Unless this atmosphere of intimidation is confronted, Americans will continue to lack access to information and perspectives necessary to formulate effective Middle East policies, virtually ensuring that Israel and the United States will be at war for many years to come.” 



No One is Guilty In Israel
By Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz
September 30, 2007

"Nineteen inhabitants of Beit Hanun were killed with malice aforethought. There is no other way of describing the circumstances of their killing. Someone who throws burning matches into a forest can't claim he didn't mean to set it on fire, and anyone who bombards residential neighborhoods with artillery can't claim he didn't mean to kill innocent inhabitants. Therefore it takes considerable gall and cynicism to dare to claim that the Israel Defense Forces did not intend to kill inhabitants of Beit Hanun."


Gaza: One and a Half Million People Collectively Punished
By: Luisa Morgantini
International Middle East Monitoring Center
23 September, 2007

"Gaza is a strip of land of less than 400 square kilometres in which 1.5 million people live as prisoners due to the closure and the consequential economic isolation imposed unilaterally and illegally by the Israeli authorities.  Gaza is a cage from which very few manage to escape or enter:  hundreds of sick people in need of treatment abroad are forced to wait, and more than 600 students with scholarships in these last days of total closure are trapped here, losing out on their future."



Who needs the JNF?
By Haaretz Editorial
September 23, 2007

"Tomorrow the High Court of Justice will hear a petition against the Jewish National Fund (JNF) from Arab citizens who have been barred from acquiring land in Carmiel, because the JNF does not lease land to non-Jews. That the heart of an Israeli city holds land intended for Jews only 60 years after the establishment of the state is inconceivable. The petition opposes wrongful state discrimination against Arab citizens by means of the JNF.....almost two million dunams (approximately 500,000 acres) out of 2.5 million dunams (approximately 625,000 acres) owed by the JNF were not purchased with contributions, but simply taken from Arabs who fled during the War of Independence." 


Palestine: democracy not Zionism
by John V. Whitbeck
The Christian Science Monitor
14 September 2007

"A decent two-state solution to the 'Palestinian problem' has become impossible.....Traumatized by the Holocaust and perceived insecurity as a Jewish island in an Arab sea, Israelis have immense psychological problems in coming to grips with the practical impossibility of sustaining forever what most of mankind views as a racial-supremacist, settler-colonial regime founded upon the ethnic cleansing of an indigenous population."


Checkpoint checking
The Jerusalem Post

"....Welcome to rush hour at the Bethlehem checkpoint, where the difference between a day's paid work or a wasted morning's queuing followed by a mournful trudge home all rests on the whims of the bored teenagers manning the turnstiles inside their bullet-proof sentry boxes...."


First, evacuate the outposts
by Haaretz Editorial, September 4, 2007

"Israeli leaders frequently cast doubt on the ability of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to implement any diplomatic agreement, due to his political weakness. But Israel also has a long-standing commitment - to evacuate illegal outposts in the West Bank - that it has evaded carrying out for years, each time on a different pretext..."

Five children in one week
By Haaretz Editorial, August 31, 2007 

Three Palestinian children were killed by Israeli fire in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday. The three were cousins from the al-Ghazale family - Yihiye, 12, Mahmoud, 10, and Sara, 10. The Israeli public reacted to these killings, just like it did to the killing of two other children several days earlier, with near complete apathy. It might as well be an act of god, or an acceptable price that balances out the frustration at the continued Qassam rocket attacks.


Starving Gaza
Chris Hedges, Truthdig, Aug 22, 2007

Gaza has become the Sarajevo of the Middle East. Israel, in an action similar to that of the Serbs in Bosnia, has surrounded and cut off nearly a million and a half Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since the Islamic militant group Hamas took control in June. Electric fences and watch towers manned by Israeli soldiers keep the Palestinians trapped inside the strip. The land and sea blockade, the halting of all but minimal humanitarian aid and the refusal to allow Gaza to receive financial support are crushing Gaza’s industry, farming and infrastructure.

The tactic is clear: Israel and the United States will strangle Gaza by cutting off all money and goods, including fuel and most food, to reduce one of the most densely populated places on the planet to an impoverished ghetto.
This article was originally published by Truthdig and is republished with the author's permission.

Lobbying for a foreign country
Ron Forthofer, The Palestine Chronicle, Aug 27, 2007

"...The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), dozens and dozens of other pro-Israel political action committees (PACs), and groups such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that work on Israel’s behalf, are known simply as ‘the Lobby’, reflecting their clout. Senator William Fulbright, then chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, conducted hearings on foreign influence-buying in Congress in the 1960s. He later said: "I hadn’t realized before the hearings that the Jewish lobby was so powerful. … I didn’t know they were subverting the Congress." He also said: "The lobby can just about tell the President what to do when it comes to Israel. Its influence in Congress is pervasive and, I think, profoundly us and ultimately to Israel itself..."


Outposts and peace don't mix
Haaretz Editorial, August 27, 2007

Aside from the legal problem, the expansion of the settlements, particularly the outposts, clearly contradicts the prime minister's talk of peace. What significance could there possibly be to negotiations with the Palestinians on an agreement of principles for ending the occupation if the government is at once holding negotiations with the settlers on legalizing outposts in the very heart of the West Bank?


Addressing the root problem
Jordan Times Editorial, August 26, 2007

"Has the world completely forgotten the Palestinians? In the past week, Israel killed some 20 Palestinians, among them three children and one elderly woman.  Thus the belligerence of the Israeli occupation continues unabated. Yet there is no word of protest, no complaint from world leaders. Apparently, Israel can do as it pleases, when it pleases and say whatever it likes afterwards....
Nothing has changed on the ground in the West Bank. Palestinians still can’t travel freely, and the Israeli army invades cities and towns relentlessly and mercilessly. And in such a situation, Abbas is somehow supposed to face his own people and tell them that continued negotiations with Israel are meaningful, that they somehow will lead to independence, freedom, peace and security.....

Israel wants land and it wants this land empty of the people to which it belongs. This is the ethos on which Israel was created and the way the country continues to behave.  If the US wants peace in the Middle East, it is time it addressed the root problem."

For full article, see:



First Word: Can the new peace push work?

The powers-that-be in Washington, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo, Amman and maybe Riyadh are now embarked on a major diplomatic and strategic endeavor the like of which has never been attempted in living history. It is an effort to craft the principles of a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with the full knowledge that these principles, if agreed, cannot be translated into action-orientated implementation in the immediate future.



Commentary: Embarrassing history
UPI Editor at Large

"Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian and Haifa University lecturer, whose ninth book is titled 'The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,' documents how Israel was born with lands forcibly seized from its Palestinian inhabitants who had lived there for hundreds of years.... Jewish leaders gave the order to drive out as many Palestinians as possible on March 10, 1948. The terror campaign ended six months later. Pappe writes 531 Palestinian villages were destroyed, and 11 urban neighborhoods in cities were emptied of their Palestinian inhabitants...." 





By Stephanie Koury

The Daily Star, Opinion ( Lebanon )

July 27, 2007

"....While these recent initiatives suggest seriousness on the Quartet's part, its efforts will once again amount to naught unless it immediately tackles Israel's construction of settlements and the separation wall in the occupied West Bank, and revises its approach to isolating Hamas. To date, the Quartet has been reluctant to do either.....

Hamas arguably met the Quartet's conditions, albeit indirectly, by ceasing suicide attacks, participating in PA elections, agreeing to review existing agreements, and signaling its willingness to negotiate with Israel to end its occupation. However, the Quartet failed to adjust its policy in return. It continued to boycott Hamas even after the Hamas-Fatah national-unity government was formed earlier this year, and the US covertly sought to strengthen Fatah financially and militarily. This approach culminated last month in violent clashes and Hamas' takeover of Gaza...."


By Barry Lando
July 21, 2007

"Forget about Hamas, the wall, Gaza and the occupied territories. There can be no peace in the Middle East until Israel and the Palestinians deal with one key issue: the Palestinian demand that Israel recognize their right of return.  That demand is based on the Arab charge that the Zionist state created the refugee problem in the war of 1948-49 by a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing. It’s an accusation that Israel’s leaders have consistently rejected. Jewish soldiers could never commit such crimes. It was the Arabs themselves, they say, who created the refugees. 

It has become increasingly evident, however, that the Israeli position is, in fact, a self-serving myth created when the Jewish state was born, perpetuated ever since by the country’s leaders and still blandly accepted by Washington....."

Barry M. Lando, a graduate of Harvard and Columbia University, spent 25 years as an award-winning investigative producer with 60 Minutes.


Yes, Bush Is Naked, What of It?
On the Middle East Catwalk with the Bush Administration

By Tony Karon   July 19, 2007 

President Bush's announcement of a new Middle East summit is being dutifully reported as a move to "revive" the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, designed to culminate in a two-state solution. But the meeting, if it ever comes about, will be nothing of the sort. U.S. officials have already made clear that the gathering's purpose will be "to review progress toward building Palestinian institutions, look for ways to support further reforms and support the effort going on right now between the parties together."


Institutions, order and hypocrisy
Haaretz - July 25, 2007
By Amira Hass

"Even in this region, where diplomatic platitudes don't begin to disguise the preferential treatment afforded Israel (although it is the occupier), the mandate of the new Quartet envoy Tony Blair rings particularly hollow. His role is reported as being "to help create viable and lasting government institutions representing all Palestinians ... and a climate of law and order for the Palestinian people."
Internal Palestinian negotiations between Hamas and Fatah may yet stop the disintegration of the Palestinians' civil institutions and the complete severance between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, at the last moment. These institutions functioned during the most difficult times under Israeli military attacks, but started to crumble after January last year when the West, Israel and some Fatah elements tried in vain to topple a Hamas government founded on democratic elections....."



In search of justice in the Middle East
Ali Abunimah, Chicago Tribune
Jun 22, 2007 

The bitter conclusion for many Palestinians following the crisis in the Gaza Strip is that the US is not interested in supporting real democracy, and will intervene relentlessly to overthrow leaders it does not support, regardless of the will of the Palestinian people.


Hamas acted on a very real fear of a US-sponsored coup
Jonathan Steele
Friday June 22, 2007
The Guardian

"Washington's fingerprints are all over the chaos that has hit Palestinians.....Arming insurgents against elected governments has a long US pedigree and it is no accident that Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser and apparent architect of the anti-Hamas subversion, was a key player in Ronald Reagan's supply of weapons to the Contras who fought Nicaragua's elected government in the 1980s. ",,2108926,00.html



The Palestine follies
By Jeffrey D. Sachs

American foreign policy in the Middle East experienced yet another major setback this month, when Hamas, whose Palestinian government the United States had tried to isolate, routed the rival Fateh movement in Gaza. In response, Israel sealed Gaza’s borders, making life even more unbearable in a place wracked by violence, poverty and despair.



Martyrs or traitors
A choice the West must be careful not to force on the people of the Middle East
Jun 21st 2007
From The Economist print edition

"THE Arab world has long been criss-crossed by feuds and rivalries. But if there is one point on which Arabs have agreed for more than half a century it is the justice of the Palestinian cause."



The CIA and Fatah; Spies, Quislings and the Palestinian Authority
by Mike Whitney
Global Research
June 21, 2007

"When Hamas gunmen stormed the Fatah security compounds in Gaza last week they found huge supplies of American-made weaponry including 7,400 M-16 assault rifles, dozens of mounted machine guns, rocket launchers, 7 armored military jeeps, 800,000 rounds of bullets and 18 US-made armored personnel carriers. They also discovered something far more valuable--- CIA files which purportedly contain "information about the collaboration between Fatah and the Israeli and American security organizations....If the documents prove to be authentic, they will confirm what many critics of Fatah believed from the beginning; that US-Israeli intelligence agencies have been collaborating with high-ranking members of the PA to help crush the Palestinian national liberation movement."




Robert Fisk: Welcome to 'Palestine'
The Independent
16 June 2007

"How troublesome the Muslims of the Middle East are. First, we demand that the Palestinians embrace democracy and then they elect the wrong party - Hamas - and then Hamas wins a mini-civil war and presides over the Gaza Strip. And we Westerners still want to negotiate with the discredited President, Mahmoud Abbas...."


A setback for the Bush doctrine in Gaza
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada
 14 June 2007

"The dramatic rout of the US and Israeli-backed Palestinian militias in Gaza by forces loyal to Hamas represents a major setback to the Bush doctrine in Palestine...Ever since Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in the occupied territories in January 2006, elements of the leadership of the long-dominant Fatah movement, including Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his advisors have conspired with Israel, the United States and the intelligence services of several Arab states to overthrow and weaken Hamas..."  (An important explanation of events this week in Gaza)

Speech to the South African Parliament
by Jewish MP Ronnie Kasrils

June 6, 2007

Here is a powerful and important statement on the Palestinian issue given by an anti-Zionist Jewish Minister in the South African Government on the 40th Anniversary of Israel's victory in the Six Day War.

Excerpt: Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, stated in the 1950s: "Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: We have taken their country.  Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them. Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, its true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis ... but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we came here and stole their country."



Fanning the flames in Gaza
Laila El-Haddad
May 16, 2007

"The US is arming Fatah in the hope of defeating Hamas. Meanwhile, everyone suffers."


Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.
Jeff Halper
Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Jeff Halper offers a revealing analysis of a new plan being formulated by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Condoleeza Rice to move toward a Palestinian mini-state with "provisional borders."  He discusses the role President Bush and Congress have played in rendering a meaningful Palestinian State impossible, and examines the remaining alternatives: one state with equal rights for all or apartheid.


On Israel, America and AIPAC
The New York Review of Books - April 12, 2007
By George Soros

The Bush administration is once again in the process of committing a major policy blunder in the Middle East, one that is liable to have disastrous consequences and is not receiving the attention it should. This time it concerns the Israeli–Palestinian relationship. The Bush administration is actively supporting the Israeli government in its refusal to recognize a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas, which the US State Department considers a terrorist organization. This precludes any progress toward a peace settlement at a time when progress on the Palestinian problem could help avert a conflagration in the greater Middle East.



Is Israel Falling Apart?
By Dror Wahrman
George Mason University's History News Network

"Foreign observers of Israel tend to focus so intently on the dangers the country faces from its Arab neighbours that they have largely missed an astonishing story that has been accelerating over the past few months: that of the Jewish state’s possible move toward internal collapse...."


The ball is in Olmert's court
Feb. 19, 2007 By GERSHON BASKIN
The Jerusalem Post

"...June 5 will mark 40 years of occupation. Enough is enough! Until the first intifada at the end of 1987, less than five percent of Israelis supported the two states for two peoples solution to the conflict. Now, too many years later, a large majority of Israelis understand that it is a primary Israeli national security interest to create the Palestinian state next to Israel. An even larger number of Israeli politicians understand that this is the best option for Israel; any other option is next to national suicide.
If it is not clear to everyone, it should be - time is running out on the two-state solution. This option for peace will only be relevant for as long as there is a majority of Palestinians who support it. There is still a considerable majority of Palestinians who do support this solution, but as their lives continue to be more and more miserable and there is no sign of any political horizon for them, more and more Palestinians will come to the conclusion that they stand a much better chance of winning an international battle against Israel by demanding full democracy within a single binational state.
Olmert, Abbas and Rice have no choice but to provide the horizon for both peoples. If they fail to do this, they do not deserve to continue to serve their people. No one has any faith in empty processes any more. The leaders must actually achieve results that will have a direct impact on peoples' lives. There must be two parallel tracks moving forward, one political and one of positive developments on the ground. These will enhance each other and help to increase the chances of success.
ON THE political front there is no escaping the need to renew the permanent status talks on the basis of where they ended with the Taba understandings of 2001 and the Clinton parameters.
The on-the-ground track must include steps both of an immediate nature and of the kind that provide hopes and ignites dreams of a better tomorrow. What's needed is well known: Freeing up movement in the West Bank, increasing the numbers of work permits in Israel for Palestinians - something that would also help the Israeli farmers - allowing goods to move between the West Bank and Gaza, improving and increasing the movement of people and goods through border check points, etc...
The Gaza seaport project should be restarted. Gaza international airport should be renovated and activated. A cargo terminal should be constructed at the Rafah crossing to Egypt. Prince Hassan of Jordan has proposed the creation of a solar energy project and water desalination plant on the Gaza-Egypt border. A rail link from Gaza to the port of Ashdod should be constructed. The list can go on and on.
There is no shortage on good ideas for building a more normal life for Palestinians and Israelis alike that would have a direct impact on real people. What is in dire shortage is the political will and the political directive of the decision-makers to move forward without delay...."


Mecca deal an opportunity
Palestinian national unity government can mark fresh start if Israel changes policy

Mecca opens the way for Europe
Gidi Greenstein

Published:  02.16.07, 08:16 / Israel Opinion

Israel has put itself in two kinds of a catch-22 situation in its relationship with the Palestinians. The first one has to do with the question of partner: it was decided not to talk with Hamas, and demand that it transform its ideology – or give up power. However, Hamas is the only body on the Palestinian side that can serve as an "address."

We're talking about a disciplined movement that has refrained from engaging in terrorism lately. On the other hand, Israel is willing to talk to Fatah, because it recognizes Israel and existing agreements. Yet Fatah cannot serve as an "address," because it's an undisciplined, split movement that lacks a master.

The al-Aqsa Brigades, which belong to Fatah, carry out numerous terror attacks and have been greatly influenced and penetrated by Hizbullah.

The second catch-22 situation has to do with the two contradictory objectives Israel aims to achieve. On the one hand, those same demands from Hamas, yet in the same breath, a desire to avoid a Palestinian Authority collapse or the emergence of a humanitarian crisis in its territory.

The contradictions inherent in the Israeli policy are clear. Hamas won't change. Therefore, the diplomatic and economic pressure will only make the Authority's situation worse. Hamas will also refuse to give up power, and if it does do so, it will go back to the path of the armed struggle.

A Fatah-led Palestinian Authority will not have the desire or ability to stop Hamas. The expected result is the PA's deterioration, to the point of collapse.

Genuine existential threat

Those who think that Israel is only gaining from the intra-Palestinian fighting are bitterly mistaken. The PA's collapse and crumbling of the international aid system will hold strategic implications that would dwarf the political, diplomatic, military, and economic fallout of the last Lebanon war.

Here, we're talking about a genuine existential threat to Israel's ability to guarantee its future as a Jewish and democratic state. Therefore, the question isn't whether Israel should recognize Hamas or vice versa – currently this is a tactical matter.

In a reality where the end of Israeli control over the West Bank is not in sight, the strategic question is different. The fundamental question is what political, legal, and security framework should be applied in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the coming years. The current policy means that the PA is dying out, along with the framework of current agreements.

The only way out of this entanglement is the PA's rehabilitation. This is the only body that has a chance to ensure that the Palestinian population's basic needs are met while also enforcing security.

Such rehabilitation requires Israel to manage itself vis-à-vis a political entity with a considerable Hamas component. In other words, Israel will have to give up on explicit recognition by Hamas and an explicit ratification of existing agreements.

There's no other way, unless Israel is willing to take the risk of a PA collapse and a return to square one in the diplomatic process, as it was before the Oslo declaration or principles in 1993.

In light of the above, the Mecca deal and Palestinian national unity government constitute an opportunity for Israel to emerge out of the catch-22 situation, leave behind a failed policy, and choose a new diplomatic path.

The current path of power isn't the only way, and is not bearing fruit. We must recall that Hamas can also be fought using political means premised on the responsibility to be imposed on it as the leading faction of the PA government.,7340,L-3365864,00.html

The writer is the director and founder of the Reut Institute

Mecca opens the way for Europe

Herald-Tribune, February 14, 2007

Henry Siegman, The International

....Every time there emerged the slightest hint that the United States may finally engage seriously in a political process, Elliott Abrams, who handles the peace-process portfolio for the White House, would meet secretly with Olmert's envoys in Europe or elsewhere to reassure them there exists no such danger.

The Europeans should announce immediately the end of their boycott of Hamas and open a dialogue with a new unity government on conditions that would enable them to end sanctions imposed by the Quartet on the Palestinian Authority. These conditions should recognize that Hamas should not be asked to do that which the international community is not prepared to ask of Israel. Hamas should be asked to declare its willingness to recognize Israel if and when Israel declares its recognition of Palestinian rights within the pre-1967 border.... 

Challenging Israel to become democratic
Amal Helow,, Jan 30, 2007

With the release of a highly anticipated document, the "Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel", the Palestinian community within Israel has taken its first steps toward full empowerment. The document, which lays out a broad, if not comprehensive, map of relations between the state of Israel and its Palestinian Arab citizens is unique in that it has broad backing within the population and is meant to provide an urgently needed impulse in the discourse currently taking place in this country. Almost 60 years after the state of Israel was created on the ruins of Palestine and its people, the descendents of those who somehow remained on their land have moved toward actively changing their status from "tolerated" and overlooked outsiders to becoming an integral part of Israeli society on equal terms.

In order to understand the yearnings articulated in the document, it is important to recognize the mostly silent suffering that Israel's Palestinians have endured since 1948. Upon the creation of the state, the indigenous population found itself stripped of its rights and land, even the right to protest what was being done to it. Subject to military rule from 1948 until 1966, Palestinians within Israel were forced to sit by helplessly as every aspect of their lives changed. They had become an enemy in their own land........



Silencing critics not way to Middle East peace
Joel Beinin, San Francisco Chronicle, Jan 26, 2007
This article was originally published by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Last Sunday in San Francisco, the Anti-Defamation League sponsored "Finding Our Voice," a conference designed to help Jews recognize and confront the "new anti-Semitism." For me, it was ironic. Ten days before, my own voice was silenced by fellow Jews.

I was to give a talk about our Middle East policy to high school students at the Harker School in San Jose. With one day to go, my contact there called to say my appearance had been canceled.......


Why discredit, defame and silence those with opposing viewpoints? I believe it is because the Zionist lobby knows it cannot win based on facts. An honest discussion can only lead to one conclusion: The status quo in which Israel declares it alone has rights and intends to impose its will on the weaker Palestinians, stripping them permanently of their land, resources and rights, cannot lead to a lasting peace. We need an open debate and the freedom to discuss uncomfortable facts and explore the full range of policy options. Only then can we adopt a foreign policy that serves American interests and one that could actually bring a just peace to Palestinians and Israelis......


What 'Israel's right to exist' means to Palestinians
Recognition would imply acceptance that they deserve to be treated as subhumans.
The Christian Science Monitor
  February 02, 2007
Since the Palestinian elections in 2006, Israel and much of the West have asserted that the principal obstacle to any progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace is the refusal of Hamas to "recognize Israel," or to "recognize Israel's existence," or to "recognize Israel's right to exist." 
These three verbal formulations have been used by Israel, the United States, and the European Union as a rationale for collective punishment of the Palestinian people. The phrases are also used by the media, politicians, and even diplomats interchangeably, as though they mean the same thing. They do not...... 
"Recognizing Israel's existence" appears on first impression to involve a relatively straightforward acknowledgment of a fact of life. Yet there are serious practical problems with this language. What Israel, within what borders, is involved? Is it the 55 percent of historical Palestine recommended for a Jewish state by the UN General Assembly in 1947? The 78 percent of historical Palestine occupied by the Zionist movement in 1948 and now viewed by most of the world as "Israel" or "Israel proper"? The 100 percent of historical Palestine occupied by Israel since June 1967 and shown as "Israel" (without any "Green Line") on maps in Israeli schoolbooks? ......


The key lies in Gaza
By Danny Rubinstein


....Israeli governments are also to blame for what is happening in Gaza. The Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip began about 17 years ago, in the wake of vigilante knifings and the first Gulf War. In the Oslo Accords Israel promised to maintain territorial contiguity between Gaza and the West Bank. There were several attempts to create such contiguity, but they were not implemented. On the Israeli side this was a blatant violation of the accords. Because of security fears, Israel prevented the regular operation of the airport in Gaza, and piled obstacles in the way of the construction of the seaport. The result: Besieged and impoverished Gaza became an economic, social and political pressure cooker.

The partially open border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt does not help Gaza economically; its only chance is forging some kind of connection to Israel. A regular connection between Gaza and the West Bank is, in effect, the only way of restraining the power and influence of Hamas, which is strong in Gaza and weak in the West Bank. The more Gaza has become disconnected from the West Bank, the more the Hamas regime has become entrenched there.....


Twenty-two partners

Jan 15, 2007

On her way to the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice used a refueling stop in Ireland to let loose the following ground-breaking insight about the Arab-Israeli conflict: "There are too many important stakeholders, and any progress on the Palestinian-Israeli front is going to require all of the parties.".......

It is too bad that on her way to the region Rice could not find the time to stop in Madrid and drop in on the peace conference being held there, where she would have found a huge array of parties dying to be part of the solution to the conflict: Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians, Jordanians, Egyptians, Saudis, Europeans and Russians....... 

Truth at last
George Bisharat, Philadelphia Inquirer
Jan 2, 2007

Americans owe a debt to former President Jimmy Carter for speaking long hidden but vital truths. His book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid breaks the taboo barring criticism in the United States of Israel's discriminatory treatment of Palestinians. Our government's tacit acceptance of Israel's unfair policies causes global hostility against us.

Israel's friends have attacked Carter, a Nobel laureate who has worked tirelessly for Middle East peace, even raising the specter of anti-Semitism. Genuine anti-Semitism is abhorrent. But exploiting the term to quash legitimate criticism of another system of racial oppression, and to tarnish a principled man, is indefensible. Criticizing Israeli government policies - a staple in Israeli newspapers - is no more anti-Semitic than criticizing the Bush administration is anti-American." ...........



Ramalla provocation

January 5, 2007 – from Israeli peace group, Gush Shalom 

The deadly raid in Ramallah is an aggressive and dangerous provocation.  This is not the way to build a cease-fire, nor anyway helpful to advance peace.


At the very hour when the Prime Minister of the State of Israel and the President of Egypt held a meeting which is supposed to bring us back on to the route to peace, somebody decided to send soldiers, bulldozers and helicopter gunships to conduct a deadly midday raid into Ramallah. The largest Israeli force to enter this city in the past four years conducted a prolonged gun battle in Ramallah’s main square, in front of international TV crews, and killed four Palestinian inhabitants. It was an act of heavy-handed aggression which immediately wiped out Olmert’s so-called “gestures” to President Abu Mazen (none of which, incidentally, was carried out).

Either somebody deliberately intended to create a deadly provocation, or it was an unbelievable show of stupidity and incompetence. In either case, the dire result is the same, as is the conclusion: this is not the way to build a ceasefire, and certainly not the way to advance towards peace. If the deadly IDF raids into the West Bank cities are not stopped, there will also be no quiet in Sderot and on the Gaza Strip border, and all of us will sink deeper into the abyss of hatred and bloodshed

For further information: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson


Worse Than Apartheid
by Chris Hedges
(former New York Times Middle East Correspondent
and Pulitzer Prize winner)

December 18, 2006

Israel has spent the last five months unleashing missiles, attack helicopters and jet fighters over the densely packed concrete hovels in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army has made numerous deadly incursions, and some 500 people, nearly all civilians, have been killed and 1,600 more wounded. Israel has rounded up hundreds of Palestinians, destroyed Gaza's infrastructure, including its electrical power system and key roads and bridges, carried out huge land confiscations, demolished homes and plunged families into a crisis that has caused widespread poverty and malnutrition.

Civil society itself-and this appears to be part of the Israeli plan-is unraveling. Hamas and Fatah factions battle in the streets, despite a tenuous cease-fire, threatening civil war. And the governing Palestinian movement, Hamas, has said it will boycott early elections called by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, done with the blessing of the West in a bid to toss Hamas out of power. (Remember that Hamas, despite its repugnant politics, was democratically elected.) In recent days armed groups loyal to Abbas have seized Hamas-run ministries in what looks like a coup.

The stark reality of Gaza, however, has failed to penetrate the consciousness of most Americans, who, when they notice the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, prefer to debate the merits of the word "apartheid" in former President Jimmy Carter's new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." It is a sad commentary on the gutlessness of the U.S. press and the timidity of the Democratic opposition that most Americans are not aware of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis they bear so much responsibility in creating. Palestinians are not only dying, their olive trees uprooted, their farmland and homes destroyed and their aquifers taken away from them, but on many days they can't move because of Israeli "closures" that make basic tasks, like buying food and going to the hospital, nearly impossible. These Palestinians, after decades of repression, cannot return to land from which they were expelled. The 140-plus U.N. votes to censure Israel and two Security Council resolutions-both vetoed by the United States-are blithely ignored. Is it any wonder that the Palestinians, gasping for air, rebel as the walls close in around them, as their children go hungry and as the Israelis turn up the violence?

Palestinians in Gaza live encased in a squalid, overcrowded ghetto, surrounded by the Israeli military and a massive electric fence, unable to leave or enter the strip and under daily assault. The word "apartheid," given the wanton violence employed against the Palestinians, is tepid. This is more than apartheid. The concerted Israeli attempts to orchestrate a breakdown in law and order, to foster chaos and rampant deprivation, are on public display in the streets of Gaza City, where Palestinians walk past the rubble of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Economy, the office of the Palestinian prime minister and a number of educational institutions that have been bombed by Israeli jets. The electricity generation plant, providing 45 percent of the electricity of the Gaza Strip, has been wiped out, and even the primitive electricity networks and transmitters that remain have been repeatedly bombed. Six bridges linking Gaza City with the central Gaza Strip have been blown up and main arteries cratered into obliteration. And the West Bank is rapidly descending into a crisis of Gaza proportions. The juxtaposition of what is happening in Gaza and what is being debated on the U.S. airwaves about a book that is little more than a basic primer on the conflict reinforces the impression most outside our gates have of Americans living in a distorted, bizarre reality of our own creation. (See link for complete article)



ILAN PAPPÉ, Journal of Palestine Studies issue 141, published in Fall 2006,

ON A COLD WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON, 10 March 1948, a group of eleven men, veteran Zionist leaders together with young military Jewish officers, put the final touches on a plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine1. That same evening, military orders were dispatched to units on the ground to prepare for the systematic expulsion of Palestinians from vast areas of the country2. The orders came with a detailed description of the methods to be used to forcibly evict the people: large-scale intimidation; laying siege to and bombarding villages and population centers; setting fire to homes, properties, and goods; expelling residents; demolishing homes; and, finally, planting mines in the rubble to prevent the expelled inhabitants from returning. Each unit was issued its own list of villages and neighborhoods to target in keeping with the master plan. Code-named Plan D (Dalet in Hebrew), this was the fourth and final version of vaguer plans outlining the fate that was in store for the native population of Palestine3. The previous three plans had articulated only obscurely how the Zionist leadership intended to deal with the presence of so many Palestinians on the land the Jewish national movement wanted for itself. This fourth and last blueprint spelled it out clearly and unambiguously: the Palestinians had to go.

The plan, which covered both the rural and urban areas of Palestine, was the inevitable result both of Zionism's ideological drive for an exclusively Jewish presence in Palestine and a response to developments on the ground following the British decision in February 1947 to end its Mandate over the country and turn the problem over to the United Nations. Clashes with local Palestinian militias, especially after the UN partition resolution of November 1947, provided the perfect context and pretext for implementing the ideological vision of an ethnically cleansed Palestine.

Once the plan was finalized, it took six months to complete the mission. When it was over, more than half of Palestine's native population, over 750,000 people, had been uprooted, 531 villages had been destroyed, and 11 urban neighborhoods had been emptied of their inhabitants. The plan decided upon on 10 March 1948, and above all its systematic implementation in the following months, was a clear case of what is now known as an ethnic cleansing operation.  (See web address for complete article. ) 

Stop the Siege of Gaza
By Rela Mazali - December 2, 2006 - Tel Aviv

Translated from the Hebrew by Rela Mazali. (Rela is a Jewish Israeli who spoke in Providence, Boston and Newport during the New England tour of Jerusalem Women Speak. One of her talks was sponsored by the Interfaith Peace Initiative.)

Let's be clear about this: Israel's fire at Gaza has not ceased. There is no Israeli ceasefire in Gaza. There is no Israeli ceasefire even when Israel's soldiers aren't shooting a single bullet in Gaza.  

There are food shortages in Gaza. Israel is denying Gaza food.  70% of the families in Gaza do not have enough food. The prices of food have risen, are rising. The price of flour is up by a third. Israel prohibits fishing off the Gaza coast, denying a source of protein that is central to many in Gaza. Food shortages kill.  Denying food is fire.  

There's a shortage of potable water in Gaza. Israel obstructs the regular provision of water there, both for drinking and for hygiene. Water shortages kill. Denying water is fire.  

There are medicine shortages in Gaza. Israel is denying Gaza medicines. A friend's brother, a physician who works in a hospital, is now calling himself a photographer. He x-rays patients' conditions but cannot offer them treatment. Mostly, medicine shortages take the lives of infants, of children, of elderly and sick people. Denying medicines is fire.

There are power shortages in Gaza. Israel denies Gaza electricity. Power shortages take the lives of kidney patients who do not get regular dialysis treatments, of patients who depend on respirators, of diabetics who depend on refrigerated insulin, of babies whose food rots. Denying electricity is fire.  

There is no reasonable economy in Gaza. For nine months now Israel has denied the Palestinian Authority tax revenues amounting to half its annual budget. Israel is withholding the salaries of 165,000 employees in both Gaza and the West Bank, 60,000 of them from Gaza, representing 40% of the employed workforce there. In Gaza and the West Bank over one million and seventy thousand people now subsist without basic living conditions. For nine months both Israel and the world have also withheld additional funds from the Palestinian Authority. Agriculture, production and commerce are dying within the Authority and with them, people are dying too. Economic siege is fire.  

There is no freedom of movement in Gaza. Denying free movement kills those in need of life-saving medical treatment; those who depend on work away from home; women who are forced to give birth without vital assistance and babies born to such women. More than ever today, unemployed workers are confined to their homes, to frustrating humiliation, to enraging helplessness. More than ever today women exposed to domestic violence are imprisoned within the danger zones of their families. Denying free movement is fire.  

The siege of Gaza is fire in disguise. Its victims aren't counted among Israel's casualties. It creates a dominion of creeping, blind death; it doesn't even pretend to distinguish combatants from civilians. But first of all it kills the helpless.  (See address for complete article.)



Israelis adopt what South Africa dropped

Published on: 11/29/06 by the Atlanta Journal/Constitution

"......Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories has many features of colonization.  At the same time, it has many of the worst characteristics of apartheid. The West Bank has been fragmented into three areas — north (Jenin and Nablus), center (Ramallah) and south (Hebron) — which increasingly resemble the Bantustans of South Africa.

Restrictions on freedom of movement imposed by a rigid permit system enforced by some 520 checkpoints and roadblocks resemble, but in severity go well beyond, apartheid's "pass system." And the security apparatus is reminiscent of that of apartheid, with more than 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons and frequent allegations of torture and cruel treatment.

Many aspects of Israel's occupation surpass those of the apartheid regime. Israel's large-scale destruction of Palestinian homes, leveling of agricultural lands, military incursions and targeted assassinations of Palestinians far exceed any similar practices in apartheid South Africa. No wall was ever built to separate blacks and whites....."

Soon, Gaza will look like Darfur
Gideon Levy, Haaretz, Nov 19, 2006
The settlements must be returned to Gaza. Anyone who cares about the fate of those living in the Gaza Strip should wish for the re-establishment of Netzarim and Kfar Darom. If I were a Palestinian, I would dream of seeing Dugit and Nisanit resurrected. They could serve as the last human shield for a million and a half residents who now comprise one of the most helpless populations in the world. Incarcerated, without any assistance, they are liable to starve to death. Exposed, without any protection, they fall prey to the Israel Defense Forces' operations of vengeance.

Burying its 350 dead since the summer, Gaza threatens to become Chechnya. There are thousands of wounded, disabled and shell-shocked people in Gaza, unable to receive any treatment....
As legend has it, Israel left Gaza, the occupation came to an end, and a liberated and free Gaza is launching Qassams at us in exchange for our generosity. There is no greater lie, yet look at how Israelis, almost all of them, buy it with eyes closed. "Instead of building up their country," the Israelis cluck with their tongues, "the Palestinians fire at us." The truth is completely opposite: Gaza continues to live under an inhumane occupation, which has only relocated its base of operation. The Qassams are a bloody reminder of this.....

Soon Gaza will look like Darfur, but while the world is giving some sort of assistance to Darfur, it still dares to play tough with Gaza. Instead of boycotting the one who is abusing the residents of Gaza, the world is boycotting the victim, blocking assistance that it so desperately needs. Tens of thousands of workers who are not receiving their meager wages because of the boycott are the world's gift to Gaza, while Israel is not only killing them, but also stealing their money, locking them in from all sides and not allowing them any chance to extricate themselves. (More at

Provocation in Lebanon's skies

By Haaretz Editorial

In recent days, Israel Air Force aircraft have repeatedly flown over Beirut to signal Israel's dissatisfaction with the diplomatic situation that emerged following the war and with the nonimplementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which brought an end to the fighting after it was accepted by all sides. The assumption that a provocation of this sort over Lebanon's airspace will somehow further Israel's interests has been part of Israel's security policy for years. Using supersonic booms as a menacing harassment has become part of the Israeli government's operational arsenal: a sort of forceful message that is supposed to hint that Israel is capable of much more, but for now is making do with the minimum.

Bringing Lieberman into Cabinet will dispel hopes for peace
The Daily Star, Oct 29, 2006

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is on the verge of including a notorious hatemonger in his Cabinet - and therefore of pushing the Middle East back toward the abyss of destruction that has been its companion for almost 60 years. Making MP Avigdor Lieberman deputy premier and handing him a new and powerful portfolio to deal with "strategic threats" is obviously a cynical move designed to shore up a weak government at the expense of the country's reputation and security. But the repercussions would not be restricted to the domestic sphere, because such a move could not help but send all the wrong messages to the all the wrong people.


Musharraf describes Palestine as 'core issue'

Pakistan - Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf has described Palestine as a "core issue" and said its resolution would have effects on Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

"This issue (Palestine) is ripe for resolution," General Musharraf told a private television channel in an interview aired Saturday night.....


The rule of law, Lieberman-style
By Akiva Eldar

MK Avigdor Lieberman promises that when he accedes to power, or at least the Ministry of Public Security, he will impose law and order on the country and take appropriate action against criminals. Just imagine the head of Yisrael Beiteinu adding the disclaimer, "with the exception of the laws and orders that hinder the theft of Jewish-owned land with state assistance," ...


Not an internal Palestinian matter

By Amira Hass

The experiment was a success: The Palestinians are killing each other. They are behaving as expected at the end of the extended experiment called "what happens when you imprison 1.3 million human beings in an enclosed space like battery hens."
These are the steps in the experiment: Imprison (since 1991); remove the prisoners' usual means of livelihood; seal off all outlets to the outside world, nearly hermetically; destroy existing means of livelihood by preventing the entry of raw materials and the marketing of goods and produce; prevent the regular entry of medicines and hospital supplies; do not bring in fresh food for weeks on end; prevent, for years, the entry of relatives, professionals, friends and others, and allow thousands of people - the sick, heads of families, professionals, children - to be stuck for weeks at the locked gates of the Gaza Strip's only entry/exit.
Steal hundreds of millions of dollars (customs and tax revenues collected by Israel that belong to the Palestinian treasury), so as to force the nonpayment of the already low salaries of most government employees for months; present the firing of homemade Qassam rockets as a strategic threat that can only be stopped by harming women, children and the old; fire on crowded residential neighborhoods from the air and the ground; destroy orchards, groves and fields.
Dispatch planes to frighten the population with sonic booms; destroy the new power plant and force the residents of the closed-off Strip to live without electricity for most of the day for a period of four months, which will most likely turn into a full year - in other words, a year without refrigeration, electric fans, television, lights to study and read by; force them to get by without a regular supply of water, which is dependent on the electricity supply.
It is the good old Israeli experiment called "put them into a pressure cooker and see what happens," and this is one of the reasons why this is not an internal Palestinian matter.
The success of the experiment can be seen in the miasma of desperation that hangs over the Gaza Strip, and in the clan feuding that erupts almost daily there, even more than in the battles between Fatah and Hamas militants. One can only wonder that the feuding is not more frequent, and that some bonds of internal solidarity have been maintained, which saves people from hunger.
In contrast to the feuding between clans, Sunday's battles in Gaza and campaigns of destruction and intimidation, mainly in West Bank cities, were not the result of a momentary loss of control. They are generally viewed as battles between two militias, each of which represents one half of the population, but they were initiated by groups within Fatah to put a few more nails into the coffin of the elected leadership.
The security forces of the Palestinian Authority - in other words, of Fatah, or in still other words, the ones that Mahmoud Abbas is in charge of - are hiding behind the genuine distress and protests of public employees who have not been receiving regular salaries. And they are doing so despite the fact that everyone knows that the failure to pay salaries is not a managerial failure, but is above all due to Israeli policy. These forces were dispatched in order to sow organized anarchy, as taught in the school of Yasser Arafat.
And why is this, too, an Israeli matter? Because those who dispatched these militants have a shared interest with Israel in regressing to a situation in which the Palestinian leadership collaborates with the appearance of holding peace talks, while Israel continues its occupation and the international community sends hush money in the form of salaries for the Palestinian public sector.
And there is another reason why this is also an internal Israeli issue: Whatever the outcome, the Palestinian feuding and the risk of civil war directly affect about 20 percent of Israeli citizens, the Arabs. They affect the Arabs, and also those segments of the Israeli public that have not forgotten that Israel will remain the occupying and ruling force over the Palestinians as long as the goal of establishing a Palestinian state in all of the territories occupied in 1967 is not realized.                       


Why Hamas Resists Recognizing Israel

Tuesday, Sep. 26, 2006
Viewpoint: The West is betting that continued Palestinian misery will force Hamas leaders to recognize Israel. But the strategy is as misguided as it is cruel 


Genocide in Gaza
Ilan Pappe, The Electronic Intifada, 2 September 2006

A genocide is taking place in Gaza. This morning, 2 September, another three
citizens of Gaza were killed and a whole family wounded in Beit Hanoun. This is
the morning reap, before the end of day many more will be massacred. An average
of eight Palestinian die daily in the Israeli attacks on the Strip. Most of them
are children. Hundreds are maialign paralyzed....


You don't see, you don't feel, and you don't look" 

An Israeli Combat Soldier Breaks the Silence  

By Daniel Sturm, The Walruss (Youngstown, Ohio) 

Aug. 30, 2006


The Lobby, the U.S. and the Israeli War on Hezbollah
August 30, 2006
by Terry Walz, CNI Staff


Annan: Israel must stop killing Palestinians

In meeting with Palestinian President Abbas in Ramallah, UN secretary-general slams Israel, says more than 200 Palestinians killed since the end of June. He also calls on Israel to lift blockade on Gaza, allow free transfer of goods
Ali Waked
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan visited Ramallah on Wednesday afternoon. In a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas he slammed Israel for hurting civilians and for the ongoing blockade on Gaza.
More than 200 Palestinians have been killed since the end of June and this must stop immediately, he said.
Annan called for the establishment of a Palestinian state, saying that was the solution for the problems in the region.,2506,L-3297757,00.html


Stop the Cancer, End the Occupation
Good Morning, Elijahu!
August 24, 2006

The occupier defines justice

Wars of great miscalculation
By H.D.S. Greenway  |  August 22, 2006
The Boston Globe

Caught in a Net of Delusion
After Lebanon, Israel is Looking for More Wars
Nazareth. August 21 , 2006

The kidnapped, please
  By Zvi Bar'el
Let's assume Hezbollah announced before the war that it was holding Ron Arad and was ready to give him to Israel in exchange for 600 prisoners of all types.

The occupation is still occupation
By Haaretz Editorial
The Lebanon war has not proved the unilateral withdrawal was a failure. Neither has it made occupation any more reasonable or moral.

Editorial: Heed the Warnings
4 August 2006

The US and the West have good friends in the Middle East — but for how much longer? Two weeks ago Turkey’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul warned that even moderate Turks, angry at US support for Israel’s actions in Lebanon, were becoming anti-American.
By Daniel Levy
Haaretz, Opinion (Israel)
August 4, 2006


The real estate war

By Gideon Levy

This miserable war in Lebanon, which is just getting more and more complicated for no reason at all, was born in Israel's greed for land. Not that Israel is fighting this time to conquer more land, not at all, but ending the occupation could have prevented this unnecessary war. If Israel had returned the Golan Heights and signed a peace treaty with Syria in a timely fashion, presumably this war would not have broken out.

A Time To Act

By Warren Christopher
Friday, July 28, 2006; Page A25
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's just-concluded trip to Lebanon, Israel and Rome was an exercise in grace, bravery and, to my regret, wrongly focused diplomacy. Especially disappointing is the fact that she resisted all suggestions that the first order of business should be negotiation of an immediate cease-fire between the warring parties.....


Prisoners are no asset

Analysis from Jewish Voice for Peace
Jewish Voice for Peace

Look who's been kidnapped!
Hundreds of Palestinian 'suspects' have been kidnapped from their homes and will never stand trial
Arik Diamant,7340,L-3271505,00.html


The dangerous liaisons of Hamas' exiles
by: Ziad Asali  date: 2006-07-06

A thirst for West Bank water
Fareed Taamallah, The Nation, Jul 13, 2006 

Take It from the French, the Way Jefferson Did
Israel Creates Humanitarian Crisis

July 4, 2006

Two Invasions, One Reasoning
 by Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb
Maan News Agency
June 30, 2006

Israel's Appalling Bombing in Gaza
Starving in the Dark


הודעה לעתונות בעברית מצורפת
International release
- Gush Shalom press release - translated from Hebrew
Arrogant speeches and threats endanger captive soldier' life

Translation of Gush Shalom press release, June 27, 2006 sent out in Hebrew in the early morning (Hebrew version attached).  Gush Shalom is an Israeli peace organization.

The arrogant and inflammatory speeches of Prime Minster Olmert, with their bald and crude threats, endanger the life of the captive soldier. Ever since there are states and wars, a side whose people had been captured is in the habit of negotiating for their return. Replacing negotiations with endless threats and the concentration of tanks along the Gaza Strip border is a far from refreshing innovation.

We should remember that in the Gaza Strip, as in other parts of the Palestinian Territories, thousands of families await the return of their loved ones from the Israeli prisons and detention camps - just as fervently as the family of the captive Corporal Gil'ad Shalit prays for his safe return. During Israel's "disengagement" last year, it was decided to hold on to all prisoners from the Gaza Strip and keep them in captivity. This was a severe mistake, which contributed considerably to the escalation in which we find ourselves, and now might be a good time to rectify that mistake.

The term "kidnapped soldier", current in the Israeli media and the speeches of government speakers is highly misleading. A soldier, captured by the other side's fighters in the course of a battle, is a Prisoner of War and should be so considered.

For more information call:
Adam Keller +972-3-5565804, +972-506-709603
Uri Avnery +972-505-306440

PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS MUST BE ABLE TO MEET TO TALK PEACE By Benjamin Pogrund Daily Star, Commentary (Lebanon) June 26, 2006

By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
Haaretz (Israel)
June 26, 2006

By Danny Rubinstein
Haaretz (Israel)
June 26, 2006


The Israel-US-EU Strategy Toward Hamas:
The Aim of the Quartet and Israel is to bring about the Collapse of the PA
June 25, 2006
by Terry Walz, Council for the National Interest Staff

The success of Israel, the Untied States and the European Community in bringing about the collapse of the Palestinian Authority – now led by Hamas – depends on the fortitude of the Palestinian people to stand up to the world in the face of severe shortages and internal disruption. This view emerged from a public hearing sponsored by the Council for the National Interest on "The Politics of Starvation: The Humanitarian Crisis in Palestine" held on Capitol Hill on June 23.

Tim Rothermel, former UNDP chief for the Occupied Palestinian Territories and a resident of the West Bank for almost ten years, deplored the potential impact of the financial sanctions placed on the PA. He warned that the recently agreed upon "mechanism" by which Quartet members – the EU, the UN, Russia, and the US – would be able to provide some financial assistance to the PA would in fact have a "limited effect" and would have "no real effect to bring about peace." He said that in his years of living in the area, he was amazed at the spirited response to development that the Palestinians had made, despite many obstacles, chief among them the Israeli occupation.

Speaking as someone who has experienced the impact of the financial sanctions on the ground in Gaza, Laila el-Haddad, a journalist working with and western newspapers, including the Guardian, told the packed Senate room in the Capitol where the hearing was held, that there was a "lot to gain or lose by all the major players –including the US – in this new crisis." The attempt could provoke the Palestinians into a third Intifada, which would be in no one's interest.

She pointed out that despite the fact that the Israelis had evacuated the settlements last August, and Gazans initially believed they were free, it has become clear that the occupation controls are still in place on the borders, in the air, and on the sea. Access to the outside through Rafah, has been sporadic at best; the borders between Gaza and Israel remain closed; little produce produced in Gaza is allowed outside, and little food is coming in. Gaza fisherman are permitted only to fish six miles into the Mediterranean, although the Oslo Accords established their fishing rights 20 miles offshore.

Rafi Dajani, executive director of the American Task Force on Palestine and moderator of the hearing, suggested that the Quartet had a phased plan for the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. The first would be a humanitarian crisis, which is now embraced. The second would be the breakdown of security systems, followed by a collapse of the governing structure. He quoted an Israeli Army chief of staff saying that isolating Hamas was not the way to resolve the problem. It would mostly like end with ordinary citizens turning more and more to extreme answers, not to democratic solutions, and thus the politics of starvation, which the House of Representatives and now the Senate have approved, will lead to greater, not less, Middle East insecurity.

This was the 18th in a series of public hearings that CNI has organized on Capitol Hill. The next one will be on July 11 and will focus on the fate of Bethlehem, now surrounded by a Separation Wall.

For the full gext of Tim Rothermel's remarks, see


Analysis / Haniyeh's moment

By Danny Rubinstein

Haaretz (Israel)
June 26, 2006

Senior figures in Gaza suggested yesterday that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh may use the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit as a chance to serve as a mediator and to bring about the soldier's release in exchange for the release of prisoners - to establish his status as a can-do leader.

Despite Israeli declarations that there will be no negotiating with kidnappers, these sources believe the Israeli government will not be able to withstand public pressure to bring the soldier home.



Haniyeh, who has said a number of times that he does not fear for his own life, is the only one who can broker a deal, as the kidnappers do not trust PA chair Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah people.

If the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service cannot locate and free Shalit using military means - there will be no alternative to negotiations, and the Palestinian premier is the only person to turn to in such a case.

There is no doubt that Haniyeh is interested in this possibility. Since his election, Ismail Haniyeh has been trying to present himself as the prime minister of the entire Palestinian people and not just a representative of Hamas. He behaves just like a seasoned diplomat, speaking cautiously. Yesterday his spokesman, Dr. Ghazi Hamad, asked the kidnappers to safeguard the life of the soldier, but did not demand his release.

There were already early indications yesterday of appeals to Haniyeh by various entities including senior Egyptian and Jordanian officials, who had until now either expressed doubts about or totally ignored the Hamas government. It was reported last night, for instance, that Egyptian deputy intelligence chief Mustafa Buheiri is coming to Gaza to deal with the problem and he will have choice but to approach Haniyeh.

Yesterday's attack was announced by a young masked man known as Abu Obeida, a well-known spokesman for Hamas military wing Iz al-Din al-Qassam, who acted according to the Hezbollah "model" and said no information on the kidnapped soldier would be provided for free.

This operation will have an important influence on internal Palestinian politics. Although Abbas, through aide Nabil Rudeineh, expressed concern about the IDF's reoccupation of the Gaza Strip, journalists in Gaza reported satisfaction among the masses, who had been calling recently for revenge in light of the recent assassinations of residents of the Gaza Strip.

One associate of the Hamas leadership said yesterday that movement's military people, who are controlled by Khaled Meshal in Damascus, had almost no choice but to carry out a harsh military operation against Israel.

During the recent election campaign, Hamas activists promised the electorate they would act on two fronts: first, it said it would fight Fatah's corruption and waste, and second, unlike Fatah, it determined that "opposition" fighters working against the occupation would not be arrested. After the recent IDF assassinations of civilians, including children, many in Gaza have asked the Hamas leadership: Where are you? How can you sit quietly in the face of the killings and the slaughter of children?

Against this backdrop, it is likely Hamas' political status is gaining strength. The movement did make some concessions to Abbas on some clauses of the "prisoners' document." But its way back to popularity was effected through yesterday's operation.