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In The West Bank's Stony Hills, Palestine Is Slowly Dying

In the West Bank's stony hills, Palestine is slowly dying
In the richest of the Occupied lands, Israeli bureaucracy is driving Palestinians out of their homes.
By Robert Fisk | The Independent

Area C doesn't sound very ominous. A land of stone-sprinkled grey hills and soft green valleys, it's part of the wreckage of the equally wrecked Oslo Agreement, accounting for 60 per cent of the Israeli-occupied West Bank that was eventually supposed to be handed over to its Palestinian inhabitants.

But look at the statistics and leaf through the pile of demolition orders lying on the table in front of Abed Kasab, head of the village council in Jiftlik, and it all looks like ethnic cleansing via bureaucracy. Perverse might be the word for the paperwork involved. Obscene appear to be the results.

Palestinian houses that cannot be permitted to stand, roofs that must be taken down, wells closed, sewage systems demolished; in one village, I even saw a primitive electricity system in which Palestinians must sink their electrical poles cemented into concrete blocks standing on the surface of the dirt road. To place the poles in the earth would ensure their destruction – no Palestinian can dig a hole more than 40cm below the ground. Read more.

Obama Gets Asked an Unapproved Question

Obama says Palestinians must renounce violence and recognize Israel, but Israel must recognize Palestinians (with no mention of renouncing violence).

Focus on Israel: Harvesting Haitian Organs

Focus on Israel: Harvesting Haitian Organs
By Stephen Lendman

On January 15, Haaretz reported that:

"The Israel Defense Forces' aid mission to Haiti left Israel overnight (January 14) with equipment for setting up an emergency field hospital. Around 220 soldiers and officers (were) in the delegation, including 120 medical staff (to) operate the hospital in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince."

According to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it includes "40 doctors, 25 nurses, paramedics, a pharmacy, a children's ward, a radiology department, an intensive care unit, an internal department and a maternity ward (able to) treat approximately 500 patients each day," including in two surgery rooms.

On January 20, Lebanon's Al-Manar TV reported on the mission, citing a damning You Tube video posted by an American named T. West from a group called AfriSynergy Productions.

"The video presents something to think about while exploiting the horrible tragedy that has befallen Haiti where Israeli occupation soldiers are engaged in organ trafficking."

Aid Workers ‘Being Pushed Out’ of Palestinian Areas

Aid workers ‘being pushed out’ of Palestinian areas
By James Hider | Times Online

Israel has stopped issuing work permits to foreign aid workers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, sparking fears about the future of relief operations in the Palestinian territories.

The Israeli Interior Ministry has issued only tourist visas to aid groups such as Oxfam, Médecins sans Frontières and Save the Children since before Christmas. They say that their legal situation is now precarious and that some staff have been denied entry by Israeli border officials who also control all entry to the West Bank.

The move came amid pressure from right-wing Israeli groups to crack down on non-governmental organisations, which are often seen as having a political, anti-Israeli bias. Early last year an Israeli group, NGO monitor, forced the New York-based Human Rights Watch to suspend a weapons specialist who had written a scathing report on Israel’s use of white phosphorus during its Gaza offensive. The group tracked down anonymous comments that the researcher had made on online discussions for collectors of Nazi memorabilia.

Some left-wing Israeli groups have accused Israel of “declaring war” on foreign groups such as Human Rights Watch and Oxfam, which have been critical of Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

Aid groups are now worried that the decision by the Interior Ministry could inhibit their work to provide medical support, welfare and basic supplies to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Read more.

Gaza Blockade Threatens Health of 1.4 Million, Aid Agencies Warn

Gaza blockade threatens health of 1.4 million, aid agencies warn
Israeli and Egyptian blockade means nearly one-fifth of requests to leave for treatment are refused or delayed, report says
By James Sturcke | Guardian.co.UK

The health of 1.4 million people is being put at risk by the ongoing Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza, a report by more than 80 humanitarian organisations warned today.

The aid groups, including the World Health Organisation and UN agencies, said more than one-fifth of sick Palestinians who needed to leave the territory for treatment in Israel had either been refused or had their applications delayed. The groups called on Israel and Egypt to open the border crossings with Gaza.

Max Gaylard, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator for the Palestinian territories, said the blockade undermined the local healthcare system and put lives at risk.

"It is causing ongoing deterioration in the social, economic and environmental determinants of health," he said.

"It is hampering the provision of medical supplies and the training of health staff, and it is preventing patients with serious medical conditions from getting timely specialised treatment."

The agencies highlighted the case of a student, Fidaa Hijji, who died of cancer while waiting for Israeli permission to go to hospital for a bone marrow operation. Read more.

Israel Crushes Local Dissent, Attacks Global Criticism

Israel Crushes Local Dissent, Attacks Global Criticism
By Mel Frykberg | IPS

"The United States handles the settlements unfairly? We'll point an unloaded gun at the American ambassador's head and pull the trigger, just to scare him. We're not murderers. We're just trying to frighten, which, as is well known, creates respect. Just ask the Godfather," was Barel’s scathing comment.

RAMALLAH, Jan 20 (IPS) - Israel is lashing out at international criticism and attempting to crush local dissent in what appears to be growing sensitivity to reproach of its policies.
Several recent incidents have dominated media headlines, including the arrest of a Jewish-American journalist on the grounds of security, threats by an Israeli minister against international diplomats and the arrest of Israeli and Palestinian peace activists.

The raid on a foreign activist’s home in Ramallah, supposedly under full Palestinian control, by a large Israel Defence Forces (IDF) contingent allegedly for a visa infringement, and her subsequent arrest at gunpoint and deportation has also raised eyebrows.

"We will not allow a situation where every country will kick us. If there will be an attack on Israel, we will leave all options open, including the expulsion of ambassadors," Israel’s deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said on Saturday.

"We do not want to argue with anyone, but we will not sit idly by," he added. Ayalon’s outburst followed, amongst other incidents, a much publicised political confrontation with Turkey over a Turkish TV programme critical of Israel.

This outburst led Israeli analyst and journalist Zvi Barel to comment acerbically in the Israeli daily Haaretz, "Britain wants to boycott Israeli goods? We'll summon the British ambassador and have him sit on a bed of nails’’. Read more.

The Lessons of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)


The Lessons of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)
By Stephen Lendman

These initiatives along with a committed, grassroots global BDS movement is crucial to ending decades of subjugation under an oppressive occupier that won't quit until forced by committed pressure. BDS is the tool to do it.

Established in 1989, the MA'AN Development Center is "an independent Palestinian development and training institution....work(ing) towards sustainable human development in Palestine" through its various programs. On October 31, it released a publication on the Palestinian BDS campaign titled, "Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions: Lessons learned in effective solidarity."

It's another of the many BDS initiatives multiplying to support Palestine. In July 2005, a coalition of 171 Palestinian Civil Society organizations created the global movement for "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights" for Occupied Palestine, Israeli Arabs, and Palestinian diaspora refugees.

MA'AN covers BDS history and outlines current efforts and challenges to be overcome. Past Palestinian boycotts showed they work. The 1936 six-month strike against the British Mandate demanded a representative government in Palestine, prohibition of land sales to Jews, a cessation of Jewish immigration, and immediate elections. The strike brought the economy to a halt and got the Peel Royal Commission to recommend limited Jewish immigration and plans for eventual partition.

Gaza In The Eyes Of Israelis

Gaza In The Eyes Of Israelis - WARNING: This video contains graphic footage.

Israel Pays $10.5 Million to UN for Gaza War

Israel pays $10.5 million to UN for Gaza war | AFP | Google News

UNITED NATIONS — Israel has paid the United Nations some 10.5 million dollars in damages after its assault on the Gaza Strip last year, UN officials said Friday.

"The government of Israel has made a payment of 10.5 million US dollars to the United Nations, in respect to the losses sustained," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.

"With this payment, the United Nations has agreed that the financial issues ... are concluded."

Just after the December 2008 to January 2009 conflict, UN chief Ban Ki-moon indicated the world body was claiming some 11 million dollars in compensation for the damage to its buildings, warehouses, schools and vehicles.

Israel has always denied deliberately firing on UN property during the three-week conflict, launched after relentless militant Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza on the Jewish state.

Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the conflict, according to UN figures.

The Middle East peace process has stalled since the conflict, and the Gaza Strip, run by Hamas militants, remains under a crippling Israeli blockade.

US Security Company Offers to Perform "High Threat Terminations" and to Confront "Worker Unrest" in Haiti

Monday 18 January 2010
by: Jeremy Scahill | Rebel Reports

We saw this type of Iraq-style disaster profiteering in New Orleans and you can expect to see a lot more of this in Haiti over the coming days, weeks and months. Private security companies are seeing big dollar signs in Haiti thanks in no small part to the media hype about “looters.” After Katrina, the number of private security companies registered (and unregistered) multiplied overnight. Banks, wealthy individuals, the US government all hired private security. I even encountered Israeli mercenaries operating an armed check-point outside of an elite gated community in New Orleans. They worked for a company called Instinctive Shooting International. (That is not a joke).

These Are The People Israel Is Trying to Destroy

These Are The People Israel Is Trying to Destroy

The people living in Gaza are barely surviving after the blitzkrieg of a year ago….. but whatever they have they are willing to share with the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

Palestinians in Gaza set off for the Red Cross headquarters on Monday to offer donations and financial support for the victims of Haiti’s devastating earthquake on Tuesday.

Relatives of Palestinian prisoners also participated in the drive, with many offering financial donations and goods including blankets and covers, as well as food and milk for children....

The Red Cross director was only able to accept financial donations as transferring goods out of the Strip is near impossible, Al-Khudary added. Read more.

Martin Luther King's Legacy and Israel's Future

Tom writes: If these last years tell us anything, it’s that money follows fear. By 2006, for instance, the Department of Homeland Security, that second Defense Department, a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy created from the terror of terror, already had a mini-homeland-security-industrial complex growing up around it; and that, in turn, was part of a global security business aimed at “thwarting terrorists” then worth an estimated $59 billion. (If we had news media worth their salt and DHS was a real beat, we would undoubtedly have more recent, far more striking figures for this.)...

All of this might be dismissed as a joke, if American life weren’t filled with phantasmagoric terrors that are also money machines. Everywhere that fear rules, from the U.S. to Israel, there are people exploiting and making money off it -- and it’s in the nature of the beast for them to want the gift-that-never-stops-giving to go on forever. On this Martin Luther King Day, TomDispatch regular Ira Chernus takes a deep, dark look into what fear does to Americans and Israelis alike and the ways in which it drives us all. Tom

Martin Luther King's Legacy and Israel's Future
Stepping Beyond Fear
By Ira Chernus

Every year, apologists for Israel’s occupation of Palestine eagerly await Martin Luther King Day. Then they trot out these words, spoken by Dr. King shortly before his death: “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews; you are talking anti-Semitism."

King, who repeated the themes that really mattered to him -- justice, freedom, human dignity, nonviolence -- over and over again, mentioned anti-Semitism only once, in an informal question-and-answer session. Nobody asked him what he meant, and he never explained. (A lengthy letter of “his” expounding on the theme has been proven a hoax.) Yet, year after year, Israel’s apologists rush to use those once-spoken words as the capstone for a line of reasoning which goes something like this:

Israel uses violence in the “disputed territories” to protect its own security. If you criticize that violence, you don’t care about Israel’s security; so you don’t care if Israel ceases to exist; so you are against Zionism. And Martin Luther King himself said that that’s anti-Semitism. In other words, only anti-Semites oppose Israel’s occupation policies.

Of course it’s perverse. It’s hard to imagine King ever endorsing such an illogical justification -- or any justification -- for the violent abrogation of a whole people’s freedom and dignity. Read more.

Israel and Egypt Continue to Squeeze the Lifeblood Out of the People of Gaza

Israel and Egypt continue to Squeeze the Lifeblood out of the People of Gaza -
Israeli Airstrikes and Tank Shelling and Egyptian Underground Walls and Maritime Blockade
By Ann Wright

Two weeks ago, almost 2,000 internationals came to Egypt and Gaza in a massive show of civil society support for the people of Gaza. 1,362 persons representing 44 countries in the Gaza Freedom March and over 500 persons with the Viva Palestina Convoy let the people of Gaza know of their concern for the tragic consequences of the actions of their governments in support of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade.

Yet, two weeks later, with the apparent approval of governments (United States, European Community and Canada) who support the quarantine, blockade and siege of Gaza, Israel and Egypt have tightened the squeeze to wring the lifeblood out of the people of Gaza.

U.S. Military Make Underground Wall Construction Visit

IOF Open Rainwater Dam Towards Gaza Strip

IOF open rainwater dam towards Gaza Strip | Palestine Press Agency

The Israeli Occupation Forces opened today evening a dam used for harvesting rainwater towards Gaza Strip in Gaza Valley, Mughraga and Nussayrat areas.

Our correspondent said that residents of these areas were surprised by floods of water sweeping their homes from the Israeli side, adding that residents appealed for their saving.

Israel: Global NATO's 29th Member

Israel: Global NATO's 29th Member
By Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site

"Whereas Israel's geopolitical location could offer an 'external base' for the defence of the West, NATO's military and economic status could provide added security and economic benefits for the host state.

"In a rapidly changing strategic environment, Israeli policy makers are recognising definite advantages, especially in security affairs, in developing closer ties with NATO. The present Israeli government's enthusiasm for this project can be seen in an ambitious set of proposals submitted to the Alliance," which included "joint military training [and] future joint development of weapons systems." [11]

As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is pressuring its 28 member states and dozens of partnership affiliates on five continents to contribute more troops for the war in Afghanistan, the Jerusalem Post reported on January 13 that "Israel is launching a diplomatic initiative in an effort to influence the outcome of NATO's new Strategic Concept which is currently under review by a team of experts led by former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright." [1]

NATO is crafting its updated Strategic Concept to replace that last formulated in 1999, the year of the military bloc's expansion into Eastern Europe and its first full-fledged war, the 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

Madeleine Albright, arguably the individual most publicly identified with orchestrating both NATO's absorption of three former Warsaw Pact members, including her native Czech Republic, and in launching Operation Allied Force, co-chairs NATO's Group of Experts with Jeroen van der Veer, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell until June of 2009.

Why They Hate Us? It's Not A Secret

Why they hate us? It's not a secret
By Ron Smith | Baltimore Sun

You'll remember that shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush said the motivation of the hijackers was that they hated freedom. Hating freedom seemed then and now to be a pretty weak reason to give up one's own life to inflict death and destruction on others. People who had been paying attention knew what the real reasons for the Islamist radicals' actions were -- Osama bin Laden himself had laid them out in detail. They included America's support of Israel in its subordination of the Palestinians and its attacks on Lebanon; the propping up of pro-American kleptocracies in Muslim lands; and the presence of U.S. forces on the "sacred soil" of Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War.

In an audiotape released on Sept. 13, a voice attributed to bin Laden said President Obama is no different than his predecessor and warned that anti-American attacks will not cease unless the United States ends its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to The New York Times of Sept. 15, the message, which appeared on an Arabic-language Web site, was reported and translated by two groups in the U.S. that monitor jihadist Web sites. The message offered reasons for al-Qaeda's attacks on New York and the Pentagon, and offered advice on how the conflict between it and the United States could come to a close: "The time has come for you," said the purported voice of Mr. bin Laden, "to liberate yourself from fear and the ideological terrorism of neoconservatives and the Israeli lobby; the reason for our dispute with you is your support for your ally, Israel, occupying our land in Palestine." Read more.

Israeli Democracy or Hypocrisy

Israeli Democracy or Hypocrisy
By Stephen Lendman


An October 2007 Haaretz editorial titled "Democracy or hypocrisy" contrasted the "occupying Land of Israel to the democratic Israel" in calling for a "debate about Israel's control over the lives of Palestinians deprived of civil rights," saying its democracy is flawed and not addressing it is hypocrisy.

Throughout history, regimes rhetorically embraced democracy as cover for more despotic policies, no different today throughout the world in countries like India, Pakistan, America and Israel practicing what Michael Parenti calls "democracy for the few," (the) "shadier sides of US political life (in which) proponents of the existing social order have tried to transform practically every deficiency into a strength."

He asked, "Who gets what, when, how and why?" Why do so few benefit at the expense of the many? Why are peace, social justice, and real democracy illusions in a nation embracing the opposite of what they represent? Why instead do poverty, racism, sexism, exploitation, rapacious capitalism, and imperialism, in fact, define how America and Israel are governed?

Indian writer Arundhati Roy says her country's model is "designed to uphold the consensus of the elite for market growth (and has) metastasized into something dangerous" in her book titled, "Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers." She admits to being "hysterical" about where India is heading, sabotaged by religious nationalism and political expediency, "genocide" in the bloody 2002 Gujarat riots, "ecocide" for greater profits, and corruption at the highest levels. She compares Hindu right wing persecution of Muslims to Hitler's persecution of Jews and asks:

"What kind of India do they want? A limbless, headless, soulless torso left bleeding under the butcher's clever with a flag driven deep into her mutilated heart?"

Is it less true for America or in how Israel treats Muslims, many its own citizens yet denied virtually all rights afforded Jews, and in Palestine none under military occupation.

Israeli Prohibitions Against Free Expression and "Enemy Alien" Contacts

Israeli Prohibitions Against Free Expression and "Enemy Alien" Contacts
By Stephen Lendman

Adalah is the legal center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel advocating on their behalf in a nation affording rights only to Jews. In September 2009, its report titled "Prohibited Protest" exposed how Israel's law enforcement authorities restricted free expression protests against Operation Cast Lead.

It shows how police, the State Prosecutor's Office, General Security Services (GSS or Shabak), the courts, and even academic institutions used or supported arrests and imprisonments to stop Israeli Arabs and supportive Jews from protesting against the war.

Researchers collected data from the police spokesman, political and social activist testimonies, Adalah legal complaints during and after the war, an analysis of court decisions on detainee arrests, and general information reported by the media and various other Israeli human rights organizations.

Israel's law enforcement apparatus acted repressively, "far beyond any reasonable criterion." For example, on December 30, 2008, after 200 Arab demonstrator arrests, the commanding officer of the Northern District of the Police, Maj. Gen. Shimon Koren, declared that while protests could take place, police would show zero tolerance for law breakers.

Yet wherever peaceful ones occurred, authorities reacted harshly with violence and arrests to keep nonviolent resistance from spreading. This time against war. Earlier against both Intifadas, and always on Nakba Day, Land Day, against the Separation Wall and home demolitions, and other legitimate demonstrations of dissent.

Iran Uses Fear of Covert Nuclear Sites to Deter Attack

Iran Uses Fear of Covert Nuclear Sites to Deter Attack
Analysis by Gareth Porter | IPS

WASHINGTON, Jan 10 (IPS) - The New York Times reported Tuesday that Iran had "quietly hidden an increasingly large part of its atomic complex" in a vast network of tunnels and bunkers buried in mountainsides.

The story continued a narrative begun last September, when a second Iranian uranium enrichment facility near Qom was reported to have been discovered by U.S. and Western intelligence. The premise of that narrative is that Iran wanted secret nuclear facilities in order to be able to make a nuclear weapon without being detected by the international community.

But all the evidence indicates that the real story is exactly the opposite: far from wanting to hide the existence of nuclear facilities from the outside world, Iran has wanted Western intelligence to conclude that it was putting some of its key nuclear facilities deep underground for more than three years.

The reason for that surprising conclusion is simple: Iran’s primary problem in regard to its nuclear programme has been how to deter a U.S. or Israeli attack on its nuclear sites. To do that, Iranian officials believed they needed to convince U.S. and Israeli military planners that they wouldn't be able to destroy some of Iran's nuclear sites and couldn't identify others. Read more.

Lessons from the Gaza Freedom March


Lessons from the Gaza Freedom March
By Joshua Brollier

When I traveled to Cairo to participate in the Gaza Freedom March, I hoped to enter Gaza to contribute toward ending the siege and preventing future air assaults and invasions, such as the 22-day Operation Cast Lead that Israel launched against Gaza at the close of 2008.

I was also keenly looking forward to meeting a young Gazan who had greatly assisted my co-workers on a Voicesdelegation to Gaza during last year’s Operation Cast Lead. At considerable risk to himself, this young man met members of Voices at the border, arranged housing, translated, and assisted in bearing witness to the devastation caused by the Israeli military assault. Due to the callousness of the Egyptian authorities, I was not able to meet this man or deliver much needed material aid to his community. Early this morning, my co-workers and I received an email from our friend in Gaza, saying that the Israeli military is once again bombing near the Rafah border. One Palestinian was killed and others were injured.

Given Israel’s continuing siege and bombardment of Gaza, I am eager to learn lessons from our experience in the Gaza Freedom March, regroup and continue in the struggle to end the siege and occupation. Here are several of the lessons which I think are most important to communicate to the wider U.S. public.

The first is that the United States and Egyptian governments have been actively colluding with the Israeli government to maintain the siege of Gaza. All three are working together and they do not plan to stop imposing collective punishment on Gazans any time soon. This punishment is carried out through forbidding Gazans to exchange goods or travel outside of Gaza. What’s more, all three governments are complicit in promulgating Israel’s greater program of apartheid and displacement of the Palestinians. The second lesson is that the worldwide movement in solidarity with Palestine is alive and growing. The movement is at a critical point where we must apply pressure on all three governments through a variety of nonviolent tactics.

Obama's Yemeni Odyssey Targets China

Obama's Yemeni odyssey targets China
By M. K. Bhadrakumar, Ambassador Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. | Asia Times Online

An engrossing struggle is breaking out. The US is unhappy with China's efforts to reach the warm waters of the Persian Gulf through the Central Asian region and Pakistan. Slowly but steadily, Washington is tightening the noose around the neck of the Pakistani elites - civilian and military - and forcing them to make a strategic choice between the US and China. This will put those elites in an unenviable dilemma. Like their Indian counterparts, they are inherently "pro-Western" (even when they are "anti-American") and if the Chinese connection is important for Islamabad, that is primarily because it balances perceived Indian hegemony.

The existential questions with which the Pakistani elites are grappling are apparent. They are seeking answers from Obama. Can Obama maintain a balanced relationship vis-a-vis Pakistan and India? Or, will Obama lapse back to the George W Bush era strategy of building up India as the pre-eminent power in the Indian Ocean under whose shadow Pakistan will have to learn to live?

A year ago, Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh made the startling revelation that his country's security forces apprehended a group of Islamists linked to the Israeli intelligence forces. "A terrorist cell was apprehended and will be referred to the courts for its links with the Israeli intelligence services," he promised.

Saleh added, "You will hear about the trial proceedings." Nothing was ever heard and the trail went cold. Welcome to the magical land of Yemen, where in the womb of time the Arabian Nights were played out.

Combine Yemen with the mystique of Islam, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Israeli intelligence and you get a heady mix. Read more.

Taba Border Crossing: Entering Israel from Egypt

Taba Border Crossing: Entering Israel from Egypt
By Will Covert

I arrived at this border crossing about 4:30 PM this afternoon. After my luggage had passed through the x-ray machine I was asked if it was my luggage and if I was carrying any weapons. I responded that it was in fact my luggage and that, no, I am a Veteran For Peace and that I was not carrying any weapons of any kind. I was then asked to open my largest piece of luggage. I was somewhat confused and I couldn't imagine what the problem might be. I was very careful when packing in Cairo for the return trip to Israel not to include anything which might "raise an eyebrow" on the part of the so called "Israeli Security Forces" including anything which might associate me with the Gaza Freedom March. We had been told, or more to the point, we had heard rumors that people attempting to cross into Israel from Egypt at the Taba crossing had been detained and/or refused admittance into Israel. After my luggage had exited the x-ray machine the so called "Israeli Security Forces" immediately opened the compartment which contain all of the literature I had collected in Israel and Palestine before traveling to Egypt. Although the literature (books, pamphlets, brochures, magazines, CDs and DVDs) was predominately pro-Palestinian a portion of the literature was pro-Zionist. I am very much interested in hearing both side of this conflict.

Two additional "Israeli Security Force" officers then joined in perusing the literature and commenting to one another in Hebrew. Occasionally they would discuss a particular piece of literature and in an accusatory fashion ask where I had gotten it. "Is this yours?" "Where did you get it?" I didn't refuse to answer but I was vague and very general in my answers followed by "Do you see any bombs, guns or weapons of any kind in my literature or luggage?" "Does any of this literature pose a threat to the security of Israel?" "Why are you doing this?"

More "Israeli Security Force" officers were called and now there were now 6 or 8 of them rummaging through my luggage which was still packed at this point. As I stood by watching the proceedings two "Israeli Security" officers approached me and ask me to follow them into a small room a few feet away which did not have a door but did have a curtains. I asked "Why?" and they said "For a full body search." I said I refused to be separated from my luggage and where I go it must go. [This was, after all, the border crossing where a few weeks ago a young women had been separated from her computer and the the "Israeli Security" took it outside and shot it three time.] They then zipped up all of my luggage compartments and brought the two suit cases and back pack containing my computer into the room with me. "Empty your pockets." "Remove your shoes they must go through the x-ray machine." "Remove your belt."

Charges of Palestinian Child Torture in Israeli Prisons

Charges of Palestinian Child Torture in Israeli prisons
By Maysaa Jarour | Palestine Telegraph

Defence for Children International/Palestine Section (DCI/PS) on Wednesday submitted 13 cases to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture for investigation....

...In each case, boys between the ages of 16 and 17, report being held in 'Cell No. 36' at the Interrogation Centre. 'Cell No. 36' is described as measuring approximately 2x3 metres in which the child is forced to sleep on a concrete bed or a thin mattress on the floor. Meals are passed to the child through a flap in the door depriving him of all human contact. One child reports being held in solitary confinement in 'Cell No 36' for 65 days....

...Children held in Al Jalame for interrogation are denied access to a lawyer and do not receive family visits, in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention and multiple human rights treaties. No education is provided to the children at this facility. Further, the detention of Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territory in Al Jalame is in clear violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), which states that an occupying power must detain residents of occupied territory in prisons inside the territory i.e. in the West Bank....Read more.

Israeli F16s attack Northern, Western, Southern and Middle Gaza Now

Israeli F16s attack Northern, Western, Southern and Middle Gaza Now
By Sameh A. Habeeb | Palestine Telegraph

A massive explosion took place few moments ago western Gaza City, in Tal Al Hawa neighborhood. Eyewitness reported that Israeli F16s launched an aerial attack midnight. The attack was followed by a series of air raids.

Palestine Telegraph reported that a number of air raids took place northern Gaza Strip while no new reported about the attacks yet. The attacks also targeted the southern and middle areas of Gaza Strip. Read more.

George Galloway MP Deported From Egypt, Say Activists

George Galloway MP deported from Egypt, say activists | BBC

British MP George Galloway has been deported from Egypt, say activists working with him to take an aid convoy into Gaza.

The Bow and Bethnal Green MP had been with international activists trying to take 200 aid trucks into the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Egypt had refused some of the vehicles access and there have been protests and clashes on the Egypt-Gaza border.

The state news agency says Mr Galloway has left Egypt and returned home.

There have also been reports the Respect MP has been declared "persona non grata" and will not be allowed to enter Egypt again, following his criticism of Cairo over delays to the aid convoy.

The activists have accused the Egyptians of heavy-handed policing. Egyptian officials counter that Mr Galloway has tried to embarrass the government.

In a speech last year Mr Galloway described Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak as a "criminal" and "outlaw of the Arab world" and called for his overthrow. Read more.

More Cause and Effect In Our Ever-Expanding "War"

More cause and effect in our ever-expanding "war"
By Glenn Greenwald | Salon

(updated below - Update II - Update III)

If it is taboo to discuss how America's actions in the Middle East cause Terrorism -- and it generally is -- that taboo is far stronger still when it comes to specifically discussing how our blind, endless enabling of Israeli actions fuels Terrorism directed at the U.S. An article in yesterday's New York Times examined the life of Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, the Jordanian who blew himself up, along with 7 CIA agents, in Afghanistan this week. Why would Balawi -- a highly educated doctor, who was specifically recruited by Jordanian intelligence officials to infiltrate Al Qaeda on behalf of Western governments -- want to blow himself up and murder as many American intelligence agents as possible? The article provides this possible answer:

He described Mr. Balawi as a "very good brother" and a "brilliant doctor," saying that the family knew nothing of Mr. Balawi’s writings under a pseudonym on jihadi Web sites. He said, however, that his brother had been "changed" by last year’s three-week-long Israeli offensive in Gaza, which killed about 1,300 Palestinians. Read more.

US, Arabs Press for Shift in Mideast Peace Talks

US, Arabs Press for Shift in Mideast Peace Talks
US, Arabs Urge Quick Resumption to Peace Talks With Deadlines, Focus on Borders, Jerusalem
By Matthew Lee, Associated Press Writer | ABC News

The Obama administration on Friday laid out a bold shift in its Mideast peace strategy, stepping up pressure on Israel and the Palestinians to resume stalled talks by moving immediately to negotiations on the toughest issues dividing them, like the borders of a Palestinian state and the status of Jerusalem.

On its face, a move to tackle those two defining and difficult issues that Israel has long refused to budge on would appear to be a major turnaround in long-standing American policy to push for incremental Mideast progress.

But U.S. officials stressed that the shift does not abandon the administration's comprehensive approach to peace and said their overall aim is get the parties beyond daily disagreements and back to the negotiating table, where all issues would be discussed.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that dealing with those matters first would eliminate Palestinian concerns about continued construction of Jewish settlements in disputed areas.

After a meeting at the State Department, Clinton and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh called for negotiations to begin as soon as possible and be bound by deadlines. Read more.

Mainers Standing Up Against Injustice in Gaza: One Way To End The Year and Decade!

Mainers standing up against injustice in Gaza, one way to end the year and decade! | December 31, 2009
By Roger Leisner | Radio Free Maine

Along with over 30 hearty Mainiacs on an overcast 20 degree day with an approaching nor'easter, I attended a GAZA FREEDOM MARCH SOLIDARITY RALLY, sponsored by CODE Pink Maine and the Waterville Area Bridges for Peace & Justice wabpj.org, at Castonguay Square in Waterville, Maine for two hours on New Year's Eve. Lisa Savage and Chris Rusnov organized the rally to coincide with world-wide demonstrations against the year long siege and blockade of Palestinian Gaza by Israeli Armed Forces.

With an excellent sound system provided by Andy LeBlanc, who specializes in Celtic and French-Canadian music, this rally provided a very unique ending to the decade, and beginning at midnight, the start of a decade of the 50th anniversary of everything that happened in the "60s".

Tom Sturtevant, who shares the same birth date with Noam Chomsky, gave me a ride from Augusta to Waterville. On this wintry trip, I shared a WWII history magazine article with Tom about "friendly fire" casualties during WWII. The article, which described the deaths of over 300 paratroopers in one night and the accidental bombing of a Lt. General inspecting the front lines, noted that the military had always acknowledged a 2 per cent figure for "friendly fire" casualties, but the true figure may be as high as 14 percent.

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