Saturday, May 19, 2007

Palestinian Civil War

I copied the following from my favorite web page: by Michael Rodriguez:

The civil war in Palestine is of course a long-held dream of the American and Israeli Right. Israel first secretly supported the sectarian Hamas in order to undermine the secular nationalists of Arafat's PLO; now they openly take sides with Arafat's successors in the Palestinian Authority against Hamas, which -- as always happens -- escaped the control of the puppet-masters who sought to exploit the group for their own ends. But the long-term aim has been achieved: a violently divided Palestinian society, broken down, killing each other off, leaving Israel free to continue its colonization of Palestinian land. As others have pointed out, it's no wonder that the United States so staunchly supports this policy: after all, it's what we did to the Native Americans.
Posted May 19, 2007 10:08 AM PST
Category: ISRAEL

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Courageous Open Letter to Laura Bush
Date: Wed, 16 May 2007 19:24:14 -0400

There is hope for America so long as there are Sharon Olds in this land
to speak out to those who have brought world condemnation upon us.
In a culture like ours, one sometimes forgets the power of a poet's
words...Here is an open letter from the poet, Sharon Olds, to Laura Bush
declining the invitation to read and speak at the National Book
Critics Circle Award in Washington, DC. Sharon Olds
is one of most widely read and critically acclaimed
poets living in America today.

Read to the end of the letter to experience her
restrained, chilling, eloquence:

Laura Bush
First Lady, The White House

Dear Mrs. Bush,

I am writing to let you know why I am not able to
accept your kind invitation to give a presentation
at the National Book Festival on September 24, or to
attend your dinner at the Library of Congress or the
breakfast at the White House.

In one way, it's a very appealing invitation. The
idea of speaking at a festival attended by 85,000
people is inspiring! The possibility of finding
new readers is exciting for a poet in personal terms,
and in terms of the desire that poetry serve
its constituents--all of us who need the pleasure,
and the inner and outer news, it delivers. And the
concept of a community of readers and writers has
long been dear to my heart. As a professor of creative
writing in the graduate school of a major university,
I have had the chance to be a part of some
magnificent outreach writing workshops in which our
students have become teachers.

Over the years, they have taught in a variety of
settings: a women's prison, several New York City
public high schools, an oncology ward for children.
Our initial program, at a 900-bed state hospital for
the severely physically challenged, has been running
now for twenty years, creating along the way lasting
friendships between young MFA candidates and their
students--long-term residents at the hospital who, in
their humor, courage and wisdom, become our teachers.

When you have witnessed someone nonspeaking and
almost nonmoving spell out, with a toe, on a big
plastic alphabet chart, letter by letter, his new
poem, you have experienced, close up, the passion and
essentialness of writing. When you have held
up a small cardboard alphabet card for a writer who
is completely nonspeaking and nonmoving (except for
the eyes), and pointed first to the A, then the B,
then C, then D, until you get to the first letter of
the first word of the first line of the poem she has
been composing in her head all week, and she lifts
her eyes when that letter is touched to say yes, you
feel with a fresh immediacy the human drive for
creation, self-expression, accuracy,
honesty and wit--and the importance of writing, which
celebrates the value of each person's unique story
and song.

So the prospect of a festival of books seemed
wonderful to me. I thought of the opportunity to talk
about how to start up an outreach program. I
thought of the chance to sell some books, sign some
books and meet some of the citizens of Washington, DC.
I thought that I could try to find a way, even as your
guest, with respect, to speak about my deep feeling
that we should not have invaded Iraq, and to declare
my belief that the wish to invade another culture and
another country--with the resultant loss of life and
limb for our brave soldiers, and for the noncombatants
in their home terrain--did not come out of our democracy
but was instead a decision made "at the top" and forced
on the people by distorted language, and by untruths.
I hoped to express the fear that we have begun to live
in the shadows of tyranny and religious chauvinism--the
opposites of the liberty, tolerance and diversity our
nation aspires to.

I tried to see my way clear to attend the festival in
order to bear witness--as an American who loves her
country and its principles and its writing--
against this undeclared and devastating war. But
I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you.
I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would
feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be
the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush

What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I
would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady
who represents the Administration that unleashed this
war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent
of permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people
to other countries where they will be tortured for us.

So many Americans who had felt pride in our country
now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime
of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean
linens at your table, the shining knives and the
flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.


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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Now that the infamous Christian Zionist, Jerry Falwell, has died my favorite web page: has reposted an article from last year concerning Jerry Falwell and the Monica Lewinsky business. I think you will find it interesting reading. I read another interesting article last year that stated Monica's father, Dr. Lewinsky, was a former member of the Israeli Massad.

This brings back fond memories of my father, who was a radical disbeliever in the Christian right decades before it was called that having survived a childhood with a fanatical Baptist mother. After his retirement he would watch Jerry Falwell on his weekly TV show and become so angered by his sermons he would yell, "you lying SOB" and throw his shoe at the TV screen.

Falwell Confirms Lewinsky
Affair Linked To
Israeli Lobby Intrigue

By Michael Collins Piper

Television evangelist Jerry Falwell couldn't resist bragging and finally admitting the truth: he and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu did conspire-at a critical time-to trip up President Bill Clinton and specifically use the pressure of the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal to force Clinton to abandon pressure on Israel to withdraw from the occupied West Bank.

Falwell's confession didn't make national news-as it should have. Instead, the preacher's confession came buried in a lengthy story in the December 2005 issue of Vanity Fair. Entitled "American Rapture" the article (by Craig Unger) described the long-standing and still-flourishing love affair between American dispensationalist evangelicals such as Falwell and the hardline Jewish extremist forces in Israel then under the leadership of Binyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu.

The admission by Falwell confirms precisely what this author first revealed in a story published in The Spotlight on February 9, 1998 and later recounted in a lecture before the Arab League's official think tank, the Zayed Centre in Abu Dhabi, in March of 2003.

Although, following the lecture at the Zayed Centre, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B'nai B'rith, a lobby for Israel, denounced as a "bizarre conspiracy theory" the assertion by Falwell that the public unveiling of the Lewinsky affair forced Clinton to pull back on pressuring Israel confirmed exactly what was reported in documented detail in The Spotlight in an international exclusive.

Regarding Falwell's recounting of how he worked with Netanyahu in undermining Clinton's pressure on Israel, Vanity Fair reported:

On a visit to Washington, D.C. in 1998, Netanyahu hooked up with Jerry Falwell at the Mayflower Hotel the night before [Netanyahu's] scheduled meeting with Clinton. "I put together 1,000 people or so to meet with Bibi [Netanyahu] and he spoke to us that night," recalls Falwell. "It was all planned by Netanyahu as an affront to Mr. Clinton." . . . The next day, Netanyahu met with Clinton at the White House. "Bibi told me later," Falwell recalls, "that the next morning Bill Clinton said, 'I know where you were last night." The pressure was really on Netanyahu to give away the farm in Israel. It was during the Monica Lewinsky scandal . . . . Clinton had to save himself, so he terminated the demands [to relinquish West Bank territory] that would have been forthcoming during that meeting, and would have been very bad for Israel." (END OF VANITY FAIR EXCERPT)

What Falwell did not mention-at least as reported by Vanity Fair-is that his meeting with the Israeli leader took place on the very evening before the mass media in America broke open the Monica Lewinsky scandal with much fanfare. Nor did Falwell mention-as this author pointed out at the time- was that one of Netanyahu's leading American media publicists, neo-conservative power broker, William Kristol, the first American media figure to publicly hint (in the days before the scandal was officially unveiled) that there were forthcoming revelations regarding a White House sex scandal that was about to be unleashed.

In addition, this author pointed out that at least six days before the first news of the Lewinsky scandal began breaking in the media at midnight on Tuesday, January 20, 1998, an advertisement appeared in the January 15 edition of the distinguished Washington Jewish Week newspaper accusing President Clinton of having "turned his back on Israel."

What made the advertisement so striking was that it used a rear view of President Clinton (first captured on video in 1996) that had never been published but which, in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal, became very familiar. It was a view of the president, his back to the camera, clearly taken from the video in which he was seen hugging the soon-to-be infamous Miss Lewinsky when she was in a receiving line at the White House some two years before. This was an image that Miss Lewinsky had bragged about among her associates prior to the time that the scandal broke. So clearly, Clinton's critics among the hard-line pro-Netanyahu forces in the United States-who sponsored the advertisement in question-were already tuned in to the fact of the Lewinsky-Clinton liaison and of the fact that it was soon to be unleashed against the president to undermine him.

This author can now reveal, for the first time, that two figures at the very highest level of the Clinton White House were personally given copies of The Spotlight's articles regarding these matters and that, at the time, they quietly acknowledged that the articles were "probably right."

The fact that Jerry Falwell's acknowledgment of how the Lewinsky affair was used as a club against Clinton-in tandem with "Bibi" Netanyahu's appearance at the White House, following the meeting with Falwell-was published in Vanity Fair is interesting in and of itself. That magazine is owned by the far-flung publishing empire of the billionaire Newhouse brothers ("Si" and Donald) whom Forbes dubbed the 25th richest family in America and who are known to be generous contributors to the Anti-Defamation League and other elements of the pro-Israel lobby. --

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A friend of mine who has formed an organization to promote the sharing of Jerusalem by all three faiths, Christian, Jew, and Muslim, and to promote a two state solution forwarded this article on to me. The author, Ali Abunimah, argues that the only viable solution is a one state with Jews and Muslims living side by side as they did for centuries before the creation of modern Israel. It is an intriguing idea. I doubt if it could happen in my lifetime.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor
Subject: CSM:A political marriage of necessity: a single state of Palestine-Israel
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 13:08:37 +0000

from the May 14, 2007 edition -
A political marriage of necessity: a single state of Palestine-Israel
The case of South Africa shows that a unity government can succeed.
By Ali Abunimah

As Israel celebrates 59 years of independence, Palestinians on May 14 commemorate the Nakba, the catastrophe of expulsion and decades of exile that continue to this day.

When my mother was 9 years old, she and her family mounted the back of a pickup truck and left their village of Lifta, adjacent to Jerusalem, under threat from Zionist militias. My grandmother covered the furniture in the family home that my grandfather had built. Anticipating a short absence until fighting in the area died down, they took only a few clothes. That was almost six decades ago. Like hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians, they were never allowed to return, and their property was seized by Israel.

My mother remembers her early childhood and the Jewish neighbors who rented the apartment her father owned. She recalls helping them on the Sabbath and playing with their daughter after school. A life such as this is no more than a distant memory for most Palestinian refugees, who, with their descendants, now number more than 5 million.

But a better life needn't be just a memory. It is feasible for Palestinians to return to their homeland while peace with Israelis is built at the same time. Another diplomatic push will not bring about the fantasy of neat separation of Israelis and Palestinians into two states. This would only perpetuate inequality and division. Instead, international pressure should be put on Israel to drop its insistence on supremacy over Palestinians. Then both parties can come together to begin building a single, multiethnic state where Jews and Palestinians can again live side by side.

One of the hard – but not impossible – tasks will be convincing many Israelis of the viability of a single-state solution. In 2004, for example, Israeli historian Benny Morris, who has written several books documenting the forced expulsion of the Palestinians, said that a "Jewish state would not have come into existence without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them." But Mr. Morris is no bleeding heart. He added, "There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing." If Israel's founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, could be faulted, Morris said, it was because he "did not complete the transfer in 1948."

Millions of Palestinians live in squalid camps under Israeli military rule and in surrounding countries. Israel has refused to allow these refugees to return home as required by international law.

The reason is simple: From its inception, the Zionist movement set out to turn a country where the vast majority of people were not Jewish into a country that gives special rights and privileges to Jews at the expense of non-Jews. If Palestinian refugees were black Africans, no one would dispute an "apartheid" label that former US president Jimmy Carter has used to describe the situation.

But while some see Israel as a miracle, many Israelis themselves recognize that the Zionist project has been far from a success: Today the number of Israeli Jews and Palestinians inhabiting the country is roughly equal at about 5 million each. Just more than 1 million Palestinians live as citizens of Israel, albeit with inferior rights, while almost 4 million live under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. Their high birthrate means that in a few years, Palestinians will once again become the majority as they were prior to 1948.

To assert, as Israel does, that it has a right to be a "Jewish state" means to recognize that it has a right to manipulate demographics for the purpose of ethnic domination. This outlook violates fundamental human rights.

Palestinians, many of whom are already being forcibly displaced by the cruel wall that snakes through the West Bank, fear another 1948-like expulsion. At the last Israeli election, parties that explicitly endorse ethnic cleansing of Palestinians made major gains, including the one led by Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Palestine/Israel is as unpartitionable as was South Africa and Northern Ireland, where similar ethnic conflicts had also defied resolution for generations. In both places, it was only when the dominant group dropped its insistence on supremacy that a political settlement could be reached. What was once unimaginable happened: Nelson Mandela's African National Congress and F.W. de Klerk's National Party joined hands in a national unity government in 1994. Leaders in Northern Ireland made similar progress this year.

Neither political marriage came about through love, but through necessity and with outside pressure. In time, social reconciliation may come, but it has not been the prerequisite for political progress in South Africa or Northern Ireland. Such pressure on Israel as the strongest party is necessary, which is why I support the growing movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions modeled on the antiapartheid campaign. At the same time, we must begin to construct a vision of a nonracial, nonsectarian Palestine-Israel, which belongs to all the people who live in it, Israeli Jews, Palestinians, and all exiles who want to return and live in peace with their neighbors.

• Ali Abunimah is cofounder of the online publication The Electronic Intifada and author of "One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse."

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

I received this article today from my activist friend, Bob. I find it heartening. Today I heard a radio commentator say that whereas the Vietnam war created a peace mmovement, the Iraqi war has produced an entire country, the US, who is against the war. Perhaps the recent invasion of Lebannon by Israel has produced a similar reaction in Israel. Can we dare to hope that peace is about to break out? I believe if we in the US passed legislation making war profiteering a federal crime punishable by death we would probably have fewer wars.

Date: Thu, 10 May 2007 00:28:09 -0500
Subject: Exercise in Escapism by Uri Avnery


Exercise in Escapism

I HAVE BEEN to many demonstrations in Tel-Aviv's Rabin Square , even when it was still called "Kings of Israel Square ".

I was at the legendary "Demonstration of the 400 thousand" after the Sabra and Shatila massacre (actually, there were around 200 thousand, which is still an impressive number). I was there when Yitzhak Rabin was shot. I was there when masses of young people sat on the ground, weeping silently and lighting candles for the murdered leader (It was said at the time that the young generation had finally woken up. But the young generation dried its tears and went on its way together with the cameras). I was there when 100 thousand streamed to the square quite spontaneously and erupted in an outburst of joy after Ehud Barak won the elections and delivered Israel from the nightmare of Benjamin Netanyahu (even if many of them regretted it later).

But the demonstration in which I took part the day before yesterday was different from all its predecessors. There were people from the Left and Right, religious and secularists, Orientals and Ashkenazim, settlers and peace activists, young (many young) and elderly. At one point I passed MK Effi Eitam, whom I consider the No. 1 fascist in Israel , and who may well consider me the No. 1 Destroyer of Israel . We ignored each other, but we were both there.

It was an uprising of citizens who came together to shout: Enough chutzpa! After the shameful fiasco in Lebanon , the leaders should have resigned at once. The more so after the scathing report of the Winograd commission. As the writer Meir Shalev, one of the speakers at the rally, declared: "Mr. Olmert, you said that you work for us. You are fired!"

It was a show of force of Israeli democracy. 120 thousand citizens (at least) assembled in the square in order to express frustration and anger. Some of them had a partisan interest in toppling the Olmert government, but most of those present simply came to say that they were fed up.

THE DEMONSTRATION was aimed at three persons: the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense and the Chief-of-Staff at the time of the war.

Dan Halutz has already drawn the conclusion and resigned. True, in the Book of Proverbs (24,17) the Bible commands us: "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth", but, frankly, I permitted myself to rejoice and verily mine heart was gladdened.

The story started when Halutz was commander of the Air Force. In order to kill the Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh, he ordered the dropping of a one-ton bomb on his house, which also killed 15 civilians, including nine children.

We sent him and his colleagues letters, warning them that we may sue them for war crimes. When Halutz was asked how he feels when releasing such a bomb, he answered that he feels a slight bump on his wing. He added that we were traitors, and that we should be brought to trial. (Treason is the only crime still punishable by death under Israeli law.)

When Halutz was appointed Chief-of-Staff, we protested in front of the General Staff building. The protest was not only motivated by moral considerations, profound as they were. We also warned against giving the command of the army to a person whose boastful style testified to his being reckless, irresponsible and devoid of judgment.

Now comes the Winograd commission and repeats almost the same words. But in the meantime 119 Israeli soldiers, forty Israeli civilians and about a thousand Lebanese have been killed - because the pitiful political leadership was mesmerized by this winged nincompoop.

THE CROWD in the square directed its anger at Ehud Olmert, and to a lesser degree at the pathetic Amir Peretz. As is usual in the era of television, when the cameras can only focus on faces and not ideas, everything is personal. The entire protest was focused on individuals.

That was quite justified. This man Olmert has proved to be an arrogant and foolhardy leader, who rushed into a war with minimal knowledge of the situation in Lebanon , the capabilities of the army, the vulnerability of Israel 's civilian population to rockets. He did not consider any alternatives. His only field of expertise is party manipulations, as he is proving again now.

What is Olmert accused of? That he decided to go to war rashly. That the war had no clearly defined political and military goals. That he did not mobilize the reserves in time and did not make sure that the forces were properly trained and equipped. That he did not deploy the ground forces in time. That he decided on a big ground attack at the last moment, after the UN had already adopted the cease-fire resolution, and thus squandered the lives of 40 more soldiers.

All these accusations are accurate. But they also include a large measure of escapism.

That is a trait of the Israeli people (and perhaps of all peoples): they do all they can to avoid discussing the real disease and busy themselves with secondary, sometimes trivial, symptoms.

After the 1973 war, the people did not ask: Why did Golda Meir not respond to Anwar Sadat's peace offer before the war? Why did we spend, after the 1967 war, six long years on victory festivals, vainglorious speeches and putting up settlements, instead of seizing a unique opportunity for making peace? Why was the Ship of State run like a Ship of Fools?

Instead of posing these questions, the Israeli public focused its frustrations, anger and protests on two questions: "Why were the reserves not called up? Why were the instruments (meaning tanks and artillery) not moved forward (on the eve of the war)?" Valid questions, but secondary ones. The Agranat Commision also focused on them. The masses demonstrated because of them. Menachem Begin rode on them to victory.

The same happened after the First Lebanon War. The condemnation was rightly focused on the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Because of it the Kahan Commision was appointed. Because of it, the legendary mega-demonstration in Kings of Israel square took place. Because of it, Ariel Sharon was driven out of the Ministry of Defense. But the main question was not asked: Why did Begin and Sharon invade Lebanon at all? Why did they prefer the Golan Heights to peace, as Moshe Dayan had previously preferred Sharm-el-Sheikh to peace? Why did they start an adventure that lasted for 18 years, at the price of more than a thousand Israeli soldiers, a war whose only lasting result was the rise to power of Hizbullah?

NOW IT is happening again.

Should we topple Olmert? Perhaps it would be better to replace Olmert with Tzipi Livni or Shimon Peres? (No, I'm not joking.) Or maybe it would be better to hold new elections, even if Netanyahu might win them? Is the failed Netanyahu better than the failed Olmert, or must we bring back the failed Barak? Or perhaps we should leave Olmert in place after all, in the hope that he won't start any more wars without thinking?

But the real question is not why Olmert started the war in haste, but why he started the war at all.

Every right-thinking person understands that Hizbullah can be neutralized only by making peace with Syria , a peace for which we must give back the Golan Heights . What is more important for us - peace or the Golan? The Golan (and the God-forsaken Shebaa Farms) or peace with Lebanon ?

About that no serious debate is being held - not in the Knesset, nor in the media, nor in public discussions. That was not the reason the masses assembled in the square. That is too complicated. That is too controversial. That needs cool thinking, drawing conclusions from what has happened. It is easier to shout "Olmert Go Home!"

Yes, Olmert must indeed go home. We need a new leadership, one that understands that Israel will know tranquility only if we make peace with the Palestinians, even when the price is the dismantling of settlements. Is this being discussed seriously? Would this demand draw hundreds of thousands to the square? Of course not.

In Thursday's demonstration, Meir Shalev brought up the subject of the occupation and the settlements, much to the displeasure of the organizers who wanted to preserve unity. Some of the demonstrators protested (while others applauded). After all, that is controversial. So why talk about it on this festive occasion?

Because in the absence of a discussion of the issues that will determine our fate, everything else turns into an exercise in escapism.

STANDING IN the square, between men wearing knitted kippas and men wearing T-shirts, orthodox women with long sleeves and women wearing very un-orthodox tight jeans, I could not avoid a bitter thought: Where the hell were you when your voices could have saved so many lives? Were you saluting Olmert the avenging Hero, when he sent you into the war?

And you journalists who, almost all of you, called upon the people to come and protest, didn't you call upon the people with the same enthusiasm to go to war?

What do we need now: to prepare for the next war - or to prevent the next war? To set up a government that will invade Lebanon again, and perhaps Syria , too, in order to "restore the deterrent power of the army" - or a government that will start serious negotiations to achieve peace?

My answer to myself was something like this: Even if it does not look like this on the surface, our people have already moved a long way - from "there is no Palestinian people", "Greater Israel", "United Jerusalem for all eternity" and "Our brothers the settlers", towards the recognition of reality. In spite of the brain-washing. In spite of the cult of power. In spite of the anxieties.

If you watch the hands of a clock, they do not seem to move. But after looking away for a while, you notice that their position has indeed changed.

In time, the people will assemble in the same square and demand the end of the occupation and peace with the Palestinians, the Syrians and the Lebanese. Most of the crowd will applaud and, perhaps, even sing. Amen.

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The concluding sentence in this article is: It is unclear how hard Washington is prepared to push the parties to complete the list of so-called benchmarks on schedule.

The answer is it depends on what the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) dictates. With the presidential race gathering steam the predictable wooing of AIPAC by the candidates has led their agendas. I feel more and more like I live in the United States of Israel.

Subject: West Bank split into isolated enclaves: World Bank
Date: Wed, 09 May 2007 21:10:25 +0000
West Bank split into isolated enclaves: World Bank

Reuters - Wednesday, May 9 05:06 am

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli restrictions have divided the occupied West Bank into 10 economically isolated enclaves, severing financial links and denying Palestinians access to some 50 percent of the land, the World Bank said.

The Washington-based international lending agency, in a report released on Wednesday in Jerusalem , said Israeli security concerns were "undeniable and must be addressed".

But the World Bank said Israel 's West Bank barrier and system of road and zoning restrictions were aimed at "protecting and enhancing the free movement of settlers and the physical and economic expansion of the settlements at the expense of the Palestinian population".

The West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been hard hit economically by a year-old Western embargo of the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

A freeze on direct financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority has prevented it from paying full wages to its work force since Hamas Islamists came to power in March 2006.

The World Bank report said the damage was compounded by Israeli restrictions that prevent Palestinian businesses from functioning and stymie investment.

"Palestinian economic revival is predicated on an integrated economic entity with freedom of movement between the West Bank and Gaza and within the West Bank," said David Craig, the World Bank's country director for the West Bank and Gaza .


According to the World Bank report, Israeli restrictions deny Palestinians access to large segments of the West Bank, including all areas within the municipal boundaries of settlements, the Jordan Valley , East Jerusalem , restricted roads and other "closed" areas.

These restrictions have "fragmented the territory into ever smaller and more disconnected cantons," the report said. "Estimates of the total restricted area are difficult to come by, but it appears to be in excess of 50 percent of the land of the West Bank ."

"While Israeli security concerns are undeniable and must be addressed, it is often difficult to reconcile the use of movement and access restrictions for security purposes from their use to expand and protect settlement activity and the relatively unhindered movement of settlers and other Israelis in and out of the West Bank ," the World Bank added.

About 270,000 Jewish settlers live in the occupied West Bank among some 2.5 million Palestinians. The World Court has ruled that settlements built on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War are illegal.

Israel says the travel restrictions and the barrier, a mix of wire fencing and concrete walls up to 18 feet (5.5 metres) high, stop suicide bombers from reaching its cities.

Israel's closest ally, the United States, has proposed easing restrictions in the West Bank and recently presented a timeline to remove specific checkpoints and roadblocks to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

In return for Israel allowing greater freedom of movement, the U.S. timeline asks Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by mid-June to start deploying his forces to halt rocket fire and smuggling by Gaza militants.

It is unclear how hard Washington is prepared to push the parties to complete the list of so-called benchmarks on schedule.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Subject: Scientific Breakthrough: Densest Element

Densest element discovered

A major research institution has just announced the discovery of the
>densest element yet known to science.

The new element has been named "Bushcronium."

Bushcronium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and
224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 311. These
particles are held together by dark forces called morons, which are
surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

The symbol for Bushcronium is "W".

Bushcronium's mass actually increases over time, as morons randomly interact
with various elements in the atmosphere and become assistant deputy neutrons
in a Bushcronium molecule, forming isodopes. This characteristic of
moron-promotion leads some scientists to believe that Bushcronium is formed
whenever morons reach a certain quantity or concentration. This hypothetical
quantity is referred to as "Critical Morass".

When catalyzed with money, Bushcronium activates Foxnewsium, an element that
radiates orders of magnitude more energy, albeit as incoherent noise, since
it has 1/2 as many peons but twice as many morons.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Subject: BBC: Huge gulf in Mid-East narratives
Date: Thu, 03 May 2007 13:49:36 +0000

Huge gulf in Mid-East narratives

By Claire Bolderson
BBC News, Tel Aviv

If you watch the introductory video at Tel Aviv's Independence Hall Museum you will hear barely a mention of the Arabs who lived in Palestine before Israel became a state.

If you look at a map in an Israeli school text book you are unlikely to find the Green Line, the ceasefire line which until 1967 separated Israel from the Palestinian territories.

Israel stretches to the border with Jordan . It is as if the Palestinians don't exist.

And you won't find the word "Nakba", the "disaster", as Arabs call what befell the Palestinian people when the Israeli state was created in 1948.

As Dr Ruth Firer, a historian at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem , says, every country is guilty of telling its own version of history and of being the hero of its own story.

"But every narrative has to be flexible enough to let others live by it. If one's own history is written in a way that doesn't let others live by it then we have a problem".

And the problem isn't just on the Israeli side.

Garbled picture

At a girls high school in Ramallah in the West Bank a civics class concentrates on the birth of Palestinian nationalism.

Asked what they know about the history of the Jewish people on the other side of the security barrier, few show much interest or understanding.

"Yes we know their history, that they used to cause problems in Britain ," says one 16-year-old of why the Jews came to Israel .

"They wanted to get rid of their problems. So they sent them to us because we didn't have anyone to protect us. "

It's a rather garbled picture of the past and when the discussion turns to the subject of the Holocaust, the girls are dismissive.

Yes, they say, they know the Jews were oppressed. But, adds one, "that doesn't give them the right to do the same thing to us".

One-man mission

Does it matter that the Palestinian teenagers treat one of the pivotal events in Jewish history so casually?

Certainly, according to Khaled Kasab Mahameed. He runs the Arab Institute for Holocaust research and education, in Nazareth .

Its walls are lined with graphic photos of Jewish suffering that he got from Israel 's official Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem .

Khaled, an Israeli Arab, takes them with him when he goes on his one-man missions to educate Palestinians in refugee camps.

"We have to understand this picture to understand who we are dealing with," he says.

He believes the Holocaust affects the Israeli character deeply. "There is no way to deal with the Israelis if we deny the element that constructs 90% of their personality."


Dr Ruth Firer agrees. The memory of persecution in Europe is very strong she says.

"It is rooted in our personality". She adds that she wishes the Palestinians understood the Jewish "tragedies" better. But what about understanding theirs?

Eyal Danon works on a project with Israeli Arabs documenting the Arab and Jewish history of Jaffa .

He says that's even more important, but it is also much harder.

"If you ask people in Israel about the Nakba the majority don't know what it is."

He adds that Israelis should study the Nakba, the events surrounding the birth of Israel that resulted in an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fleeing, because it was their responsibility.

Only after Israel 's dealt with that he says, can there be dialogue with the Palestinians.

In the 1980s a new generation of Israeli historians started writing about some of the more brutal aspects of their country's origins including expulsions and violence against Arab villagers.

But most of that still hasn't made it into the mainstream narrative.

And today, young people on either side of the conflict have little chance to find out more about each other's present lives let alone the past.

Apart from a few official school exchanges youngsters from the two sides have virtually no contact at all.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/05/02 10:29:32 GMT




Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Date: Wed, 02 May 2007 00:32:37 -0500
From: Bob
Subject: Amanda Gelender: "Occupation Defies Social Justice" (STANFORD DAILY)

This is a profound and courageous young Jewish perspective on the Israeli occupation and its inconsistency with Jewish religious values, epecially those expressed so strongly by the ancient Hebrew prophets (where are they today in Israel?). Her email is at the end of the article if you would like to send her your comments.




Occupation defies social justice

The Stanford Daily

2 Apr 2007

By Amanda Gelender

I attribute my deep sense of social justice to my Jewish upbringing. Active in my congregation as a child, I have fond memories of attending Jewish summer camp, Shabbat services and Purim carnivals. And, of course, I have perhaps not-so fond memories of studying relentlessly for my Haftorah portion and bat mitzvah ceremony. As a young person, I eagerly absorbed Jewish culture and values, harnessing the lessons of tikkun olum, the Judaic principle which translates to "repair the world." As I came of age, I became increasingly committed to this principle in my daily life as an activist for social change.

As a trusting and uninformed child, I never questioned my exuberant, unequivocal support for Israel . Looking back on this period of my life, I marvel at my own naivete. After more than a decade of pro-Israeli indoctrination, it took a long time for me to unravel and ultimately rebuild my belief system in accordance with Jewish values of social justice. Today, I stand in full opposition to the Israeli occupation and the plethora of atrocious human rights violations committed by Israel and supported by the United States . I believe that it is my right and responsibility to speak out against the actions of the Israeli government - not in spite of being Jewish but because I am Jewish.

Jews are uniquely positioned in this conflict. Chiefly, we as a people have experienced an exorbitant amount of oppression and have always had to fight for recognition, equality and freedom. Undeniably, Jews throughout the world still face extreme discrimination and struggle for these basic liberties. We, of all people, know injustice and the many ways that it can devastate and even destroy the lives of innocent people.

However, our actions - as represented by the Israeli government - distort the essence of our core values of peace and social justice. Israel 's despotism has turned Jews into the very oppressors we have struggled against for thousands of years. We are killing. We are demolishing homes. We are denying basic human rights. I refuse to tolerate the unequivocal endorsement of these brutalities to compose the predominant voice of the Jewish community at Stanford. A Jewish upbringing informs my system of values, and I will not betray my notions of social justice merely because those committing the atrocities are fellow Jews.

Jewish culture embodies the struggle for peace and equality, selflessness in serving others and liberation from oppression. The treatment of Palestinian people by the Israeli government is ethically depraved. It is in direct violation of both internationally recognized human rights standards and our stated ideals. No, I do not support acts of Palestinian terror, and I condemn all forms of violence against civilians. However, these fringe acts of terrorism in no way justify the horrific actions of collective punishment and severe repression perpetrated by the powerful Israeli military and government. We as Jews are not "repairing the world" in Israel and the Occupied Territories - we are destroying it along with the integrity of our faith and culture.

I refuse to stand idly by while the supreme injustices committed by Israel occur in my name. I refuse to allow fellow Jews to hijack our peaceful, resilient religion by supporting the occupation of Palestine under the guise of anti-Semitism and national security. For those of you who feel stifled and angry at this usurpation of Jewish values, I encourage you to join Jews for Justice in Palestine and become advocates for justice, human rights and peace in Israel and the Occupied Territories . For those of you who are afraid to stand in solidarity with Palestinians out of fear of offending the Jewish community, know that there are many Jews who are repulsed by the stifling of legitimate critique of Israel based upon unfounded claims of anti-Semitism. There is real anti-Semitism in the world, but employing the term in this manner is a disgrace to the legacy and current manifestations of prejudice and discrimination against Jews. Unlike others outspoken on this issue, I do not claim to represent the Jewish community. I do, however, represent myself, and I refuse to be spoken for.

Now is the time for Jews to be the loudest, strongest advocates against occupation and in support of equal rights for Palestinians - not in spite of our Judaism but because of it. The Talmud says, "On three things the world stands: On Justice, on Truth, and on Peace." Judaism taught me to fight for integrity, so it is in the name of Judaism that I call upon all Jews to end the destruction, inequality, and oppression committed by the Israeli government.

Amanda Gelender is a sophomore majoring in drama and political science and a co-founder of the student group Jews for Justice in Palestine . She can be reached at .

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