What Didn't Happen To Gilad Shalit

20 October 2011

Lawrence of Cyberia speaks on the release of Gilad Shalit:

Oh please. When did CNN ever run an article like this, on the difficulty of adjusting to daily life for a newly-released prisoner, about any of the three-quarters of a million Palestinians imprisoned by Israel since 1967?

Looking pale, thin and emotional, Gilad Shalit was reunited with his family Tuesday after more than five years in captivity. Now he faces what is likely to be a bewildering few days, weeks and months as he readjusts to a life of liberty. While no one yet knows exactly what he went through, other captives' experiences give an insight into his likely state of mind -- and suggest that although he has his freedom, other challenges lie ahead...

Let's get some perspective here. It might be true that "no one yet knows exactly what he went through", but the mere fact that he was able to walk to freedom after a quick once-over by Israeli doctors gives us a pretty good idea of some of the things he didn't go through. For example, we know that he wasn't tied up by his captors and beaten so viciously that his testicles had to be surgically removed.

"Benan Oudeh was 15 years old when that happened to him at the hands of Israeli soldiers who accused him of throwing stones, during the first intifada:. The Defense Ministry a few days ago gave NIS 2.4 million to 28 Palestinians who were tortured by the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service. The payment was made after an out-of-court settlement was reached with the plaintiffs, who agreed that suits brought to the Tel Aviv Magistrate and District courts would be turned down."

One of the plaintiffs, Benan Oudeh, 31, of Qalqilya, arrested a few years ago for throwing stones, told Haaretz yesterday that his testicles were beaten so badly in the interrogation room that they had to be amputated... -- "

Out-of-court deal awards Palestinians NIS 2.4 million; Ha'aretz, 1 Feb 2006.. And we know, for example, that he wasn't tied up then violently shaken over and over again by captors who thought shaking was a convenient means of torture because it left no marks, but forgot that if done too violently and for too long it leads to brain damage, coma and death.

Which is how 'Abd al-Samad Harizat, one of 8,000** Palestinian prisoners to undergo "violent shaking", was killed by members of the Israeli General Security Service during the Oslo "peace process": .

'Abd al-Samad Harizat, a 30-year-old computer expert from Hebron, was arrested around midnight on 21 April 1995 and fell into a coma soon after 4pm on 22 April; he died on 25 April without regaining consciousness. Physicians for Human Rights sent an expert, Professor Derrick Pounder, to observe the autopsy, carried out by two Israeli forensic pathologists. The autopsy found that 'Abd al-Samad Harizat had died from ''violent shaking'' which had caused a sub-dural haemorrhage within the skull. Pressure from the lawyer of the Harizat family later obtained information about his interrogation: he had been shaken 12 times between 4.45am and 4.10pm, 10 times by holding his clothes and twice by holding his shoulders.

There is no doubt whatsoever about the cause of death; it's very clear he has died from unnatural causes, and that he has died from torture”, said Professor Pounder. -- Amnesty International, Human Rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories, 1 September 1998

And we know for sure that Shalit wasn't left paraplegic by interrogators from the Israeli General Security Service who systematically tortured him, then told him:

"Now you are paralyzed, as we promised". Which is what happened to Luwaii Ashqar, while he was a prisoner at the Kishon detention facility, during the second intifada:. "We have to make you do a little sports," the Shin Bet interrogator said, launching four successive days of questioning accompanied by brutal physical torture. The result: Luwaii Ashqar can no longer stand on his feet. He sits in his wheelchair, dressed in a fashionable quasi-military suit, super-elegant, new Caterpillar-brand shoes on his paralyzed feet. ..

Was there a judgment by the High Court of Justice? There was. It banned precisely the types of torture he underwent: the "banana posture," the "shabah" (body stretching with hands tied to a chair), "invisible" blows and the "frog posture" (being forced to stand for hours on the toes in a crouching position) - all the way to a vicious kick to his chest that bent his body backward while he was tied to a chair with his arms and legs, and which was the probable cause of the partial paralysis of his legs. Throwing up with the vomit entering his nostrils, losing consciousness and being given only saltwater to drink, relieving himself in his pants, not sleeping or resting - all of that for four consecutive days and nights.

What does the interrogator Maimon tell his children when he goes home? What do Eldad and Sagiv tell their wives about their daily labors before they turn in? That they tortured another helpless prisoner until they turned him into a cripple? That they beat this charming young man brutally and that at the end of the interrogation he was tried for only marginal offenses?

And where is the Supreme Court, which in 1999 prohibited precisely the chain of torture that Luwaii Sati Ashqar, 30, who was married three years ago, underwent in the Kishon detention facility? - Now You are Paralyzed, as we Promised; Ha'aretz, 16 Jun 2007.

So whatever "challenges lie ahead" for Gilad Shalit, we can be sure they're not challenges of quite the same magnitude as those faced by thousands of Palestinians like Benan Oudeh, 'And al-Samad Harizat, and Luwaii Ashqar, none of whom ever got a sympathetic retrospective from CNN. Because, whatever he endured in captivity, Gilad Shalit at least endured it as an Israeli soldier in the hands of Hamas, and not as a Palestinian prisoner in Israel.

** Eight thousand, according to Israeli former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Netanyahu's UN Bomb

This Press Release just out from Gush Shalom. A summary of Bibi Netanyahu's speech before the UN made clear that no Palestinian state will ever be established under his administration. In short, Israel's security will demand that a Palestinian state will only come into being if it remains under military occupation. Such a configuration simply means that Palestine can only exist as an Apartheid state, a status that the Palestinians will never accept. It is a plan to keep the Palestinians in bondage, to keep the status quo.

September 23, 2011

Uri Avnery: Palestine will not arise tomorrow – but this is a historical day.

Abu Mazen offered negotiations during a settlement freeze and peace based on the 1967 borders. Netanyahu rejected this, packing his intransigence in security rhetoric. By bending Obama to his will, Netanyahu disqualified the US as honest broker .

"Mahmud Abbas has taken the excuses out of Netnayhau's hands. The State of Palestine, under his leadership, is fully ready to make peace with the State of Israel on the basis of the 1967 borders, to resume negotiations if no settlement facts are created on the land subject to negotiations - but the Palestinians are not ready to continue to live under occupation" said former Knesser Member Uri Avnery - Gush Shalom.

"The State of Palestine will not arise tomorrow, and a long and hard road awaits all of us until this state becomes a reality and takes its rightful place as the Palestinians' national state and Israel's partner for peace. Still, today will be counted among the key historical dates in the history of our region.

Netanyahu's answering speech was nothing but a cheap compilation of propaganda, with rejection of the Palestinian offer and intransigent refusal to end the occupation packed in "security" rhetoric and clichés. The "Palestinian state" envisioned in Netahyhau's speech would be "demilitarized" but have a heavy Israeli military presence in its territory. In practice, <b>there is reason to doubt Netanyahu intends to let any kind of Palestinian state come into being or withdraw from any territory, and his speech in practice left nothing to negotiate about.</b>

By a blatant interference in American internal politics, Netanyahu has bent the US to his will. He forced the President of the United States to deliver at the UN a Zionist and cynical speech, contradicting and nullifying Obama's own previous positions, and assured a US veto and outright opposition to Palestinian aspirations. But it was a pyrrhic victory for Netanyahu – he has been shown the entire world that the United States is not suitable to serve as an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians. Even in the arbitration of a simple business dispute, it would be inconceivable for the arbitrator to be the older brother or business partner of one of the parties to the dispute.

If and when negotiations resume between Israel and the Palestinians, it will be necessary to find a mediator or mediators more appropriate and fair – which confirms the Palestinians in their decision to move the focus of diplomatic activity from the White House to the UN Headquarters.

Contact: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson 054-2340749

Dichter's Law (Sharia law coming to Israel)

Uri Avnery's latest piece on Israel's ethnocentric dilemmas.

August 12, 2011

"This haphazard collection of frustrated politicians has tried several times to outflank Binyamin Netanyahu on the right. Its members have co-signed almost all the racist bills introduced in recent months, including the infamous “Boycott Law” (though when public opinion rebelled, they withdrew their signature, and some of them even voted against.)"

“The People Demand Social Justice!” 250 thousand protesters chanted in unison in Tel Aviv last Saturday. But what they need – to quote an American artist - is “more unemployed politicians”.

Fortunately, the Knesset has gone on a prolonged vacation, three months. For as Mark Twain quipped: “No man’s life or property is safe while the legislature is in session.” As if to prove this point, MK Avi Dichter submitted, on the very last day of the outgoing session, a bill so outrageous that it easily trumps all the many other racist laws lately adopted by this Knesset.

“DICHTER” IS A German name and means “poet”. But no poet he. He is the former chief of the secret police, the “General Security Service” (Shin-Bet or Shabak). (“Dichter also means “more dense”, but let’s not dwell on that.) He proudly announced that he had spent a year and a half smoothening and sharpening this particular project, turning it into a legislative masterpiece. And a masterpiece it is. No colleague in yesterday’s Germany or present-day Iran could have produced a more illustrious piece. The other members of the Knesset seem to feel so, too – no less than 20 of the 28 members of the Kadima faction, as well as all the other dyed-in-the-wool racist members of this august body, have proudly put their name to this bill as co-authors.

The very name - “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People” - shows that this Dichter is neither a poet nor much of an intellectual. Secret police chiefs seldom are.

“Nation” and “People” are two different concepts. It is generally accepted that a people is an ethnic entity, and a nation is a political community. They exist on two different levels. But never mind. It is the content of the bill that counts. WHAT DICHTER proposes is to put an end to the official definition of Israel as a “Jewish and Democratic State”. He proposes instead to set clear priorities: Israel is first and foremost the nation-state of the Jewish people, and only as a far second a democratic state.

Wherever democracy clashes with the Jewishness of the state, Jewishness wins, democracy loses. This makes him, by the way, the first right-wing Zionist (apart from Meir Kahane) who openly admits that there is a basic contradiction between a “Jewish” state and a “democratic” state.

Since 1948, this has been strenuously denied by all Zionist factions, their phalanx of intellectuals and the Supreme Court. What the new definition means is that the State of Israel belongs to all the Jews in the world – including Senators in Washington, drug-dealers in Mexico, oligarchs in Moscow and casino-owners in Macao, but not to the Arab citizens of Israel, who have been here for at least 1300 years since the Muslims entered Jerusalem. Christian Arabs trace their ancestry back to the crucifixion 1980 years ago, Samaritans were here 2500 years ago and many villagers are probably the descendents of the Canaanites, who were already here some 5000 years ago.

All these will become, once this bill is law, second-class citizens, not only in practice, as now, but also in official doctrine. Whenever their rights clash with what the majority of the Jews considers necessary for the preservation of the interests of the “nation-state of the Jewish people” – which may include everything from land ownership to criminal legislation –their rights will be ignored.

THE BILL itself does not leave much room for speculation. It spells things out. The Arabic language will lose its status as an “official language” – a status it enjoyed in the Ottoman Empire, under the British Mandate and in Israel until now. The only official language in the Nation-State etc will be Hebrew.

No less typical is the paragraph that says that whenever there is a hole in Israeli law (called “lacuna”’ or lagoon), Jewish law will apply. “Jewish law” is the Talmud and the Halakha, the Jewish equivalent of the Muslim Sharia. It means in practice that legal norms adopted 1500 years ago and more will trump the legal norms evolved over recent centuries in Britain and other European countries. Similar clauses exist in the laws of countries like Pakistan and Egypt. The similarity between Jewish and Islamic law is not accidental - Arabic-speaking Jewish sages, like Moses Maimonides (“the Rambam”) and their contemporary Muslim legal experts influenced each other.

The Halakha and the Sharia have much in common. They ban pork, practice circumcision, keep women in servitude, condemn homosexuals and fornicators to death and deny equality for infidels. (In practice, both religions have modified many of the harsher penalties. In the Jewish religion, for example, “an eye for an eye” now means compensation. Otherwise, as Gandhi so aptly said, we would all be blind by now.)

After enacting this law, Israel will be much nearer to Iran than to the USA. The “Only Democracy in the Middle East” will cease to be a democracy, but be very close in its character to some of the worst regimes in this region. “At long last, Israel is integrating itself in the region,” as an Arab writer mocked - alluding to a slogan I coined 65 years ago: “Integration in the Semitic Region”.

MOST OF the Knesset members who signed this bill fervently believe in “the Whole of Eretz-Israel” – meaning the official annexation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They don’t mean the “One-State solution” that so many well-intentioned idealists dream about. In practice, the only One State that is feasible is one governed by Dichter’s law - the “Nation-State of the Jewish People” - with the Arabs relegated to the status of the Biblical “hewers of wood and drawers of water”. Sure, the Arabs will be a majority in this state – but who cares? Since the Jewishness of the state will override democracy, their numbers will be irrelevant. Much as the number of blacks was in Apartheid South Africa.

LET’S HAVE a look at the party to which this poet of racism belongs: Kadima. When I was in the army, I was always amused by the order: “the squad will retreat to the rear – forward march!”

This may sound absurd, but is really quite logical. The first part of the order relates to its direction, the second to its execution.

“Kadima” means “forward”, but Its direction is backward. Dichter is a prominent leader of Kadima. Since his only claim to distinction is his former role as chief of the secret police, this must be why he was elected. But he has been joined in this racist project by more than 80% of the Kadima Knesset faction – the largest in the present parliament.

What does this say about Kadima? Kadima has been a dismal failure in practically every respect. As an opposition faction in parliament it is a sad joke – indeed, I dare say that when I was a one-man faction in the Knesset, I generated more opposition activity than this 28-headed colossus. It has not formulated any meaningful stand on peace and the occupation, not to mention social justice. Its leader, Tzipi Livni, has proved herself a total failure. Her only achievement has been her ability to keep her party together – no mean feat, though, considering that it consists of refugees (some would say traitors) from other parties, who hitched their cart to Ariel Sharon’s surging horses when he left the Likud. Most Kadima leaders left the Likud with him, and – like Livni herself – are deeply steeped in Likud ideology. Some others came from the Labor Party, arm in arm with that unsavory political prostitute, Shimon Peres.

This haphazard collection of frustrated politicians has tried several times to outflank Binyamin Netanyahu on the right. Its members have co-signed almost all the racist bills introduced in recent months, including the infamous “Boycott Law” (though when public opinion rebelled, they withdrew their signature, and some of them even voted against.)

How did this party get to be the largest in the Knesset, with one more seat than Likud? For left-wing voters, who were disgusted by Ehud Barak’s Labor Party and who dismissed the tiny Meretz, it seemed the only chance to stop Netanyahu and Lieberman. But that may change very soon.

LAST SATURDAY’s huge protest demonstration was the largest in Israel’s history (including the legendary “400,000 demo” after the Sabra-Shatilah massacre, whose real numbers were slightly lower). It may be the beginning of a new era. It is impossible to describe the sheer energy emanating from this crowd, consisting mostly of 20-30-year-olds. History, like a gigantic eagle, could be felt beating its wings above. It was a jubilant mass, conscious of its immense power.

The protesters were eager to shun “politics” – reminding me of the words of Pericles, some 2500 years ago, that “just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean that politics won’t take an interest in you!” The demonstration was, of course, highly political – directed against Netanyahu, the government and the entire social order.

Marching in the dense crowd, I looked around for kippa-wearing protesters and could not spot a single one. The whole religious sector, the right-wing support group of the settlers and Dichter’s Law, was conspicuously absent, while the Oriental Jewish sector, the traditional base of Likud, was amply represented.

This mass protest is changing the agenda of Israel. I hope that it will result in due course in the emergence of a new party, which will change the face of the Knesset beyond recognition. Even a new war or another “security emergency” may not avert this. That will surely be the end of Kadima, and few will mourn it. It would also mean bye-bye to Dichter, the Secret Police poet.

By permission.

The murder of the Palestinian Juliano Mer-Khamis, in his own words

Well not exactly in his own words. But we have filmmaker and activist Jen Marlowe speaking for him: Don’t ask why this peace activist had to be murdered presumably by Israel. I never heard of him before now. Why is that so? I can’t explain the fear that haunts the American press when it comes to Israel.

Jen Marlowe speaks,


Dear friends,

Many of you may have already heard about the murder of Juliano Mer-Khamis. The co-founder and director of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, he was gunned down (five bullets to the head) this afternoon outside the theatre by an unknown assailant.

I first met Juliano in 2006, when I began working with a group of activists in New York to support the Freedom Theatre. I have visited the Freedom Theatre multiple times over the years, watching Juliano teach and direct young acting students. Most recently, I watched Juliano as he coached acting students three months ago, preparing for the much-acclaimed production of “Alice in Wonderland.”

I have no words at this moment to describe Juliano, the work of the Freedom Theatre and the scope and scale of this horrific event, both for his family (Juliano leaves behind two children, one still a baby, and a pregnant wife), for the theatre, for the community in Jenin Refugee Camp and for Palestine as a whole.

I can only offer this video, which I made in collaboration with my colleagues in ‘Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre’.



The Video.

Ayman's horse killed by Israeli settlers

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Sad and gruesome tales about the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians are many, but this one involving the death of a horse seems to reach out because it speaks to the inhumanity that pernicious ethnocentricism can instill in people. The Israeli settlement of Maskyyot is located in Jordan Valley. It is illegal but that doesn't seem to matter to the Israeli military forces that occupy the land, Palestinian land.


Three days ago, Ayman, a boy of eleven years old from Ein Il Hilwe, was attacked by three settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Maskyyot. The settlers arrived in a blue car when Ayman was playing with four friends near the spring water.

This spring water is 30 meters far from his home, however, Ayman, his family, and all the Palestinian living in the Jordan Valley, are banned to use them and usually threatened and attacked by settlers when they are around.

 The dead horse:


In this occasion, the settlers who attacked Ayman, took his horse, tied a cable around its neck and after tried to asphyxiate the animal, the settlers broke its head. The settlers carried out all this brutality in front of the eyes and horror of Ayman and his friends.

Ayman’s sisters were attacked in the same place when they approached the spring water to give water to their cows. Also two month ago, Ayman’s mother was also beaten by settlers.

During the alleged settlement freeze, Israeli occupation forces were working with bulldozers preparing the land for expanding the illegal Maskyoot settlement.

The J Street Scam

Is J Street just another pseudo-peace org, a false hope, a distraction from right wing Israeli colonialism, or is it a real alternative to AIPAC?

How many times, and in how many ways, have we been deceived by alleged Israeli peace efforts going back at least to the Oslo Accords of the early 90s? But this latest expose about J Street, the supposed alternative pro-peace pro-Israel lobby group to the despised right wing pro-Likud org AIPAC, takes the cake.

We are stunned by yet another Israeli peace deception. As we have learned over recent years, J Street meant a different kind of political group that could bring peace in the Middle East. But the evidence keeps accumulating that J Street is really just an innocuous name for a high powered Israel First special interest group, which wraps itself in the cloak of being a "moderate" alternative to the hard core American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In this article by Phil Giraldi, we now learn that nothing could be further from the truth.

"J Street" and AIPAC are two tentacles of the same lobby.

Phil Giraldi, Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest (CNI), lays out the story in an article published today appropriately entitled, The J Street Scam (http://www.cnionline.org/the-j-street-scam/).

J Street is seductive.  Americans have been bombarded with propaganda about Israel ever since the foundation of the country over sixty years ago.  More recently, the United States has been designated by the media and the chattering classes as the protector of the Jewish state with little regard for those actions undertaken by Tel Aviv that impact negatively on US interests.  This is because the Israel Lobby is the most powerful foreign lobby in the United States by far.  The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which has become the ugly side of the Lobby, has rightly drawn criticism for its bullying tactics and its alignment with extreme right-wing parties in Israel.  Progressives and some conservatives in the United States who support Israel as a homeland for the world’s Jews have been eager to find a more respectable alternative lobby.  That alternative is J Street.

J Street, which recently completed its third annual conference in Washington, is a self-proclaimed kinder and gentler advocate of Israeli interests.  It favors peace on equitable terms with the Palestinians and also with Israel’s Arab neighbors.  It opposes expansion of the Israeli settlements on the West Bank because they are an obstacle to peace.  It calls itself “pro-Israel, pro-American, and pro-peace.”  If one judges by the enemies it has attracted, including nearly all leading neoconservatives, J Street has to be considered a breath of fresh air and the best option for sustainable peace in the Middle East.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  But somehow the parts don’t quite add up.

J Street really only differs from AIPAC in tone, not in substance.  It advocates continued and unlimited United States support for Israel, militarily, economically, and politically.  J Street wants Israel to have an overwhelming military advantage over its Arab neighbors and it wants that margin to be provided by Washington.  It wants Republicans and Democrats together to provide political cover for Israel when it attacks Lebanon or bombs the Gazans.  It does not object when Israel exercises a military option against its neighbors. In spite of the fact that the United States is in deep trouble economically while Israel is one of the richest countries in the world and is enjoying an economic boom, J Street was one of the first organizations to complain when Senator Rand Paul called for an end to all foreign aid.

J Street also believes that Israel is and should be a Jewish state with unlimited right of “return” for Jews from anywhere in the world and no such rights for Christians or Muslims who lived in the country before 1948.  A Jewish state, by definition, would have limited rights for the 20% and growing segment of the current Israeli population that is Christian or Muslim.  J Street quixotically supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, even though it knows that the half million Israeli Jews living in settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank cannot be moved and will make two states impossible.  It does not accept a one-state solution, the only one likely to work, that would make the followers of all religions equal citizens in a unified state embracing both Arabs and Jews.  J Street’s Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami has called a one-state solution a “nightmare.”

J Street seems a lot better than AIPAC, but much of what it advocates sounds familiar.  Ben-Ami has criticized the highly acclaimed John Mearsheimer-Stephen Walt book on the Israel Lobby for its scholarship and refers to the authors as anti-Semites. J Street opposed Israel’s bloody incursion into Gaza, but only because it was disproportionate, and then rejected the UN’s Goldstone report that detailed the war crimes that were committed.  When Israeli commandoes killed nine Turkish citizens on the Mavi Marmara ship trying to break the blockade of Gaza, J Street mourned the loss of life but blamed the victims for deliberately “using the media coverage to further damage Israel’s standing in world opinion.”  J Street supports military action against Iran as a “last resort” to incapacitate the country’s nuclear program and denies to Tehran the right to enrich uranium for any purpose.

Supporters of J Street claim that its positions will become more nuanced as its influence grows, but one of the panels at the just-concluded convention debated “Is the Settlement Enterprise Destroying Israel’s Democracy?”  One might well ask why there was a question mark at the end since it is well documented that the settlements bring with them every imaginable evil. Fifteen months ago, J Street sponsored a speaking tour by an Israeli general Danny Rothschild who was advocating a two-state solution with the Palestinians.  He made the rounds in Washington arguing that demographics and common sense dictate that Israel must come to some kind of settlement.  But then, he added, there is “Islamofascism” and also Iran, genuine threats that must be dealt with by force.  So what was the real message, peace with the Palestinians (on Israel’s terms, it might be added), or expand the war against extremism while bombing Iran?

But the real problem with J Street is that it exists at all.  Why should there be a new and powerful lobby in Washington composed of American citizens arguing for a special relationship with any country?  Why should the United States be providing unlimited support to a nation that claims to be a democracy but which limits rights based on religion?  If J Street truly wants to fix Israel it should be working in Israel, not in the United States, because the settlers and hard line right-wing parties are Israeli problems. J Street knows perfectly well that Congress, the White House, and the media will not challenge the Israel status quo so, at best, it is a bit of scam designed to support Israel while making progressives feel more comfortable in lining up behind the effort.

The United States already has too many special interest lobbies promoting policies that do absolutely nothing good for the American people.  If Israel has become a rogue state, which it has, the problem must be resolved by the Israelis themselves and the diaspora Jews who believe that they have a stake in the outcome.  If the latter really want to have an impact, they should turn in their US passports and move to Israel.  From the American perspective, which should be the only one that matters to US citizens, not the Israeli one, the best policy for the United States is to disengage from the Arab-Israel conflict, not to become even more deeply involved from another, slightly more palatable perspective offered by J Street.

The new insight: J Street is just AIPAC with a progressive smile, a false hope. 



The Palestine Papers ad nauseum

The Palestine Papers

Thanks to Mondoweiss for this collection of material about the Wikileaks and otherwise leaked information about the reality in the Middle East. Don't be surprised if life over there is not what it seems to be.

PA official: Leaked memos authenticNabil Shaath, former member of Palestinian negotiations team, admits documents published by al-Jazeera are real. Former Fatah strongman Dahlan points finger at Israel. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4018817,00.html

Al-Jazeera documents are authentic, claims former Olmert adviser The media adviser to Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that the documents leaked by Al-Jazeera are authentic. Winky Glenti pointed out that the leaked papers prove that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is a "genuine partner" of the bilateral political process, despite repeated claims to the contrary by Israel. http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/news/middle-east/1990-al-jazeera-documents-are-authentic-claims-former-olmert-

Palestine papers: Abbas admits refugee return 'illogical' Palestinian president prepared to compromise on crucial issue of right of displaced millions to return to Israel http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/palestine-papers-documents/4507

Papers reveal how Palestinian leaders gave up fight over refugees • Negotiators agreed just 10,000 to return • PLO agreed Israel could be a 'Jewish state' • US suggested Palestinians live in Latin America http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/24/papers-palestinian-leaders-refugees-fight

Al Jazeera English Video: The Palestine Papers: Refugees' right of return on bargaining table Since 1948, millions of Palestinian refugees have held out the hope of returning to their own state one day. But the Palestine Papers reveal that their leaders were willing to make major concessions on the issue of the Palestinians' right of return. Al Jazeera's Barnaby Philipps reports from Shatila Refugee Camp in Lebanon. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2WlJe4mlSY&feature=youtube_gdata

PA selling short the refugees Palestinian Authority proposed that only a handful of the nearly six million Palestinian refugees be allowed to return. http://english.aljazeera.net/palestinepapers/2011/01/2011124123324887267.html

Palestine papers: Tal Becker, The Israeli negotiator in 2008 held detailed talks with his Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erekat on the refugee issue http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/24/palestine-papers-tal-becker-israel

Palestinians agreed only 10,000 refugees could return to Israel Secret papers reveal Palestininian negotiators privately accepted Israeli offer of 1,000 refugees a year over 10 years http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/24/palestinians-10000-refugees-return-israel

Condoleezza Rice: send Palestinian refugees to South America Palestine papers show US secretary of state told negotiators that Chile and Argentina could be asked to give land to displaced http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/24/condoleezza-rice-palestinian-refugees-south-america

Expelling Israel's Arab population? Israeli negotiators, including Tzipi Livni, proposed "swapping" some of Israel's Arab villages into a Palestinian state. http://english.aljazeera.net/palestinepapers/2011/01/2011124105622779946.html

Jordan, PLO clash on refugee issue Leaked documents reveal that Jordan had a serious disagreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) over the latter's approach to negotiating with Israel over the rights of Palestinian refugees. Jordanian officials felt the PLO's approach could compromise Jordan's and the refugees' rights to seek full remedies under international law. In early September 2008, the Jordanian government drafted a letter, to be sent to Israel, expressing objections to the potential solutions to the refugee issue that were being discussed between Israel and Palestinian negotiators. http://english.aljazeera.net/palestinepapers/2011/01/2011124122125339673.html

Al Jazeera English Video: Palestine Papers anger East Jerusalem residents Palestinian negotiators apparently put forward East Jerusalem, the area of Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinians but occupied by Israel, in negotiations for a Palestinian State, according to documents obtained by Al Jazeera. These revelations from The Palestine Papers have particularly angered Palestinans living in East Jerusalem. Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher spoke to some of the residents. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQEnVIJmHvM&feature=youtube_gdata

The Palestine papers: 'You want to help Hamas?' The Palestinians and Israelis appear as far apart as ever on the major issues in talks after the 2007 Annapolis summit http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/palestine-papers-documents/3027

Barack Obama lifts then crushes Palestinian peace hopes Secret papers reveal Palestinian frustration at lack of decisions but Middle East envoy warns against blaming US president http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/24/barack-obama-palestinian-peace-hopes

US threat to Palestinians: change leadership and we cut funds Obama administration told Palestinian Authority its leaders must remain in office if it wants to retain US financial backing http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/24/us-threat-palestinians-leadership-funds

Palestinian negotiators accept Jewish state, papers reveal Tzipi Livni told she can call Israel what she wants, but her demands to move Arab Israelis to Palestinian state are rejected http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/24/palestinian-negotiators-jewish-state-papers

Queri to Livni: "I'd vote for you" The Palestine Papers reveal that Kadima's leaders refused to compromise on even the most basic issues. http://english.aljazeera.net/palestinepapers/2011/01/20111241517890936.html

Al Jazeera English Video: The Palestine Papers: Obama envoy shunned Bush parameters The Palestine Papers also reveal that US president Barack Obama's administration refused to build upon agreements made under his predecessor George Bush. The documents show that they wanted to start negotiations from scratch. And as Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna reports, that is something that the Palestinian negotiators found extremely frustrating. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrN5aGybadM&feature=youtube_gdata

Deep frustrations with Obama Obama pressured PA negotiators to restart talks and refused to honour one of the Bush administration's key promimses. http://english.aljazeera.net/palestinepapers/2011/01/2011124113952425385.html Palestine papers: Condoleezza Rice The US secretary of state displayed the patience needed for the long-haul frustrations of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/24/palestine-papers-condoleezza-rice-us

Condi Rice on the Naqba: “Bad things happen to people all the time” Like the Wikileaks documents, the Palestine Papers are interesting not just because of their revelations (some of these scoops were known before), but also, and perhaps even mostly, because of the tone and style of statesmen behind closed doors. http://www.promisedlandblog.com/?p=3716

Palestine papers: George Mitchell US special envoy from 2009 combines resolve to bring Israelis and Palestinians together, with realistic take on likelihood of deal http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/24/palestine-papers-george-mitchell-envoy

Palestinians agreed to have settlers live under their rule Documents show Chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia had offered his Israeli counterpart, Tzipi Livni, to keep Israeli settlements, including Ma'aleh Adumim, inside the Palestinian state, the negotiation documents leaked to Al Jazeera reveal. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/palestinians-agreed-to-have-settlers-live-under-their-rule-documents-show-1.338994

A dangerous shift on 1967 lines US position on borders perhaps opens the door to dangerous Israeli ambitions to transfer non-Jewish citizens. http://english.aljazeera.net/palestinepapers/2011/01/201112411450358613.html

Palestinian map of dividing Jerusalem 'out of touch with reality', says cartographer Shaul Arieli, Yair Assaf-Shapira say leaked maps show Palestinians agreeing to divide Jerusalem based on the Clinton peace plan, the Geneva Initiative maps, with slight modifications. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/palestinian-map-of-dividing-jerusalem-out-of-touch-with-reality-says-cartographer-1.338995?localLinksEnabled=false

Misunderstanding Israeli motives Why is there no Palestinian state? Because the Israeli government's objective is not a Jewish state, but a Zionist one. http://english.aljazeera.net/palestinepapers/2011/01/201112412224387862.html

"We can't refer to the past" Israel refuses to take responsibility for creating the Palestinian refugee crisis. http://english.aljazeera.net/palestinepapers/2011/01/201112412266583548.html

Lieberman criticizes Olmert for not exploiting PA generous concessions Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman criticized the former Israeli government of Ehud Olmert for not exploiting the "generous" concessions offered by Abbas's authority. http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bc

The Palestine papers: 'Netanyahu is a master of ambiguity' Palestinians discuss strategies for dealing with the hawkish Israeli prime minister http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/palestine-papers-documents/4558

Netanyahu's aides: Leaked papers prove Palestinian demands for Jerusalem are 'ridiculous' Details of negotiations during Olmert's tenure reveal that Palestinian negotiators had secretly agreed to concede most Jewish areas of East Jerusalem; U.S.: We cannot vouch for veracity of the documents. http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-s-aides-leaked-papers-prove-palestinian-demands-for-jerusalem-are-ridiculous-1.338962?localLinksEnabled=false

Zahhar calls for massive rallies, Khatib blasts PA concessions Political bureau member of Hamas Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar has called for massive Arab demonstrations demanding an end to the frivolous negotiations and concessions. http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd8

Al Jazeera English Video: Senior PLO official Nabil Shaath interview Senior PLO official Nabil Shaath talks to Al Jazeera about the Palestine papers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9k7py7w203s&feature=youtube_gdata



Russian president calls for Israeli freeze

Yesterday, Dmitry Medvedev did what President Obama dare not do: back a Palestinian state including the claim to East Jerusalem, and did so right in Israel's backyard, the West Bank.

Well, at least the Russians are not intimidated by Netanyahu as is Obama, and Clinton before him.

JERICHO, West Bank — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gave a political boost to the Palestinians on Tuesday, backing their claim to east Jerusalem as a capital and their demand that Israel must freeze all settlement construction before peace talks can resume.

Medvedev delivered the supportive message during his first visit as president to the Palestinian areas, at a time of corrosive deadlock in U.S.-led Mideast peace efforts. While practically on Israel's doorstep, he did not visit Israel because of a strike by Israeli diplomats.

The Palestinians, who say they are ready for independence, hailed the visit as a chance to showcase their progress toward building their state.


In the meantime, Ehud Barak, heretofore leader of the Labor Party of Israel, showed his right wing stripes by resigning his position on the same day as Medvedev's West Bank visit. He is now free to be as right wing as he has always been and Washington can stop being deceived by listening to him.

Could US Foreign Policy in the Middle East Be Worse? Thanks Democrats.

Is it wrong to say that major elements of the US Congress, namely Nancy Pelosi and the House of Representatives, have appropriated an AIPAC view of the Middle East conflict, and that, as a consequence, Democrats are now formally supporting an extreme right wing Likud party perspective on Palestine? And is it safe to say that as Democrats, we support the funding of Israel’s quest for a Greater Israel that would nullifying a Palestine state? Are we Democrats abetting the creation of a new Apartheid nation in the world, Israel as the host of Palestinian bantustans?

Well, yes we are.

Stephen Zune, professor of politics and chair of Middle Eastern studies at the University of San Francisco, makes the case. He published this article on Friday 31 December 2010.

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other hawkish Democratic leaders have left their mark on the Middle East during their four years of leadership in Congress, namely support for militarism and repression, and punishment for moderation.

Most notably, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders refused calls from a variety of peace and human rights organizations for conditioning US military aid to Israel, Egypt, and other countries in the region on their adherence to internationally recognized human rights standards. In addition, in reaction to the United Nations Human Rights Council raising concerns about human rights abuses by Israel and other US allies in the region, Pelosi's continuing resolution on the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill bars the use of any US funds to be appropriated as part of the annual contribution of UN member states to support the council's work.

Also problematic is that - while Congressional Democrats formally dropped their longstanding opposition to Palestinian statehood in the 1990s - the Democratic-sponsored Foreign Operations Appropriations Act contains a series of measures which appear to be designed to prevent the emergence of a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel. http://www.truth-out.org/could-us-foreign-policy-middle-east-be-worse-yes66443

Reading on through the subheadings (copyright prevents further quotation), it is evident that the US Congress has appropriated a right wing Likud perspective in support of Israel and has taken a whatever-it-wants stance.

Fueling the Arms Race

Sabotaging a Palestinian Unity Government

Other Anti-Palestinian Provisions

Roadblocks for Palestinian Statehood

It is not just Netanyahu and his right wing government that is preventing peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, but the US Congress and Democratic leaders such as Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer.

While we are used to blaming the Republican party for its failure to support peace in the Middle East, it is really the Democratic leadership that is proactively following the Likud line of no Palestinian state, which is to say, many more years of conflict.

Please read the full article. Stephen Zune’s piece is truly an indictment of our Democratic leaders when it comes to the Middle East.

The Likud Charter: wiping Palestine off the map

This diary is a rerun for those wishing to understand the mind of Netanyahu and his Likud Party, why the colonization of Palestine is continuing today in broad daylight, and why the Palestinians are not taking it any more: freeze the colonizers or go to hell.

When my attention was drawn to the article quoted below by Diane Nakamura, I suddenly realized that it is not Iran that intends to "wipe Israel off the map," but it is Israel that intends to "wipe Palestine off the map." And that is not just a threat. It is the reality.

Observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often talk about the Hamas Charter, and the earlier PLO Charter, but no one speaks of the intents of the Likud Charter, the Bible of Israel's Likud party now in power to wipe Palestine off the map. But that is precisely what has been happening for the past 60 years.

The Likud Charter


PEACE AND SECURITY chapter of the Likud Party Platform

1. Declaration of a Palestinian State: A unilateral Palestinian declaration of the establishment of a Palestinian state will constitute a fundamental and substantive violation of the agreements with the State of Israel and the scuttling of the Oslo and Wye accords. The government will adopt immediate stringent measures in the event of such a declaration.

2. Settlements: The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria [West Bank] and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.

3. The Permanent Status: The overall objectives for the final status with the Palestinians are: to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of a stable, sustainable agreement and replace confrontation with cooperation and good neighborliness, while safeguarding Israel's vital interests as a secure and prosperous Zionist and Jewish state.

4. Self-Rule: The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel's existence, security and national needs.

4. Jerusalem: Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem, including the plan to divide the city.

5. The Jordan River as a Permanent Border: The Jordan Valley and the territories that dominate it shall be under Israeli sovereignty. The Jordan River will be the permanent eastern border of the State of Israel. The Kingdom of Jordan is a desirable partner in the permanent status arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians in matters that will be agreed upon.

6. Security Areas: The government succeeded in significantly reducing the extent of territory that the Palestinians expected to receive in the interim arrangement.


The Likud Charter wipes Palestine off the map for good, leaving the Palestinian people in a kind of limbo, which some (like Jimmy Carter) propose is nothing less than an Apartheid existence, a collection of bantustans, within an Israel that extends from the Jordan River to the sea, not unlike what existed for Black South Africans under the Afrikaaner government in the 1980s.

Likud's intent to nullify Palestinian freedom and self-determination was previously also found in the document, A Clean Break, a plan developed by American Neocons for the first Netanyahu government in 1996.

I have said before that Orwellian concepts abound among Israeli plans for the Palestinian territories, and one of the best is Netanyahu's solution to the conflict: no land for peace, peace for peace, and it is what drives Likud policy today.

As a side note, A Clean Break also projected the future invasion of Iraq, and the future take down of Iran, yet to be implemented.


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