Palestinian envoy seeks to ‘relaunch’ relations in advance of UN vote

But confusion over Baird visit, opposition to UN motion tempers optimism.

In the lead-up to a potentially historic UN vote on statehood recognition in September, the Palestinian government has deployed dozens of envoys across the globe to lobby for the initiative.

Canada has been no exception, but Hanan Ashrawi also arrived with a secondary objective: to “relaunch” what have become strained relations between Canada and the Palestinian cause and people. (There is more on the site/Red.)

( c/ 03.08.2011)

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine denies participating in confronting protests in Syria

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine denies participating in confronting protests in Syria

DAMASCUS– The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) on Tuesday denied completely what some biased mass media sources – including al-Jazeera and some Syrian opposition figures – claimed about participating in confronting protests in some Syrian cities.

In a press statement, an official source at the PFLP said that these allegations are part of a campaign of instigation that aims at distorting the nature of the relation between Syria and its allies in the resistance, noting that those who made these allegations made similar claims regarding other sides.

The source said that these accusations constitute political and media deception to twist reality and distract from the nature of the foreign conspiracy that targets Syria and its unity and national and pan-Arab role.

The statement noted that those who take commands from the NATO in Benghazi already made the same accusations about the PFLP, claiming that the thousands of its members are participating in combat against the Libyan opposition, which proves that the political reference point of these allegations and the people behind them is the same reference point that some of those who are counted among the so-called Syrian opposition abroad.

( / 03.08.2011)

‘The State of Palestine’ – two briefing documents from the IPSC

n September the Palestinian Authority will ask the UN to recognise the State of Palestine within the borders of the 1949 ceasefire lines. This request is an attempt to mobilise the legitimacy of the international community to bring to an end the occupation of the Palestinian Territories and the associated violations of the human, political and democratic rights of the Palestinian people.

The two briefing papers below survey the ‘state’ of Palestine today, from both political and human rights perspectives. The papers outline the effect, and highlight the widespread, enduring and systematic nature of violations of Palestinian rights, and make recommendations for the Irish Government and the European Union follow in order to secure a just and lasting peace in Palestine/Israel.

1. Towards A Just Peace: How Ireland and the EU can help to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Recent events – in particular the failure of talks between Israeli and Palestinian representatives brokered by Washington, and the effort by the Palestinian Authority to seek recognition of a Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel since 1967 – have brought fresh attention to the need for Palestinian self-determination. The continuing denial of that right will inevitably lead to further violence and instability in the Middle East. This paper will discuss how the Palestinian right to self-determination might be vindicated in practice and the obstacles that stand in its way. It will also discuss the proposed Palestinian Authority plan to declare Palestinian statehood later this year, and argue that whatever the outcome of any vote on this at the United Nations, international pressure should be applied to Israel, to ensure Palestinians are granted their full human, national and democratic rights. Finally it will lay out the practical steps that can be taken by Ireland and the European Union to bring such pressure to bear. It is imperative that the Irish Government plays a leading role in pressing for action by the EU.

PDF – Towards A Just Peace: How Ireland and the EU can help to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Daniel Finn, May 2010)

2. The ‘State’ of Palestine: A survey of the main Human Rights Issues affecting Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

In September the Palestinian Authority will ask the UN to recognise the State of Palestine within the borders of the 1949 ceasefire lines. This request is an attempt to mobilise the legitimacy of the international community to bring to an end the occupation of the Palestinian Territories and its associated human rights violations. This paper outlines the effect of these violations and highlights their widespread, enduring and systematic nature.

PDF – The ‘State’ of Palestine: A survey of the main Human Rights Issues affecting Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Richard Irvine, May 2010)

( / 03.08.2011)

landelijke dua -dag 8-8-2011 voor wilders

maandag 8 augustus · 0:00 – 23:30


Gemaakt door:

Meer informatie
een dua/smeekbede van een vastende wordt sneller geaccepteerd, nou kan je een dua voor jezelf doen of voor je dierbaren….nou vraag ik mij af…met al die vastende moslims en de dua’s die sneller geaccepteerd worden, als we nou met zn allen een dua doen voor Geert Wilders dat die man moslim wordt, is hij gelijk verlost van zijn islamfobie….. 😉
8 augustus 2011, doe allen mee! en geef het door!!

Israel lobby dictates who may run for Ireland’s president

Until recently, I was convinced that the tiny pro-Israel lobby in my native Ireland was of little significance. When the first Gaza Freedom Flotilla was attacked last year, the best that lobby could do was wheel out two guys named Tom. Both Tom Carew and Tom Cooney competed with each other on the TV3 channel to see who could make the most absurd argument in support of Israel’s murder of nine peace activists onboard the Mavi Marmara.

On a quick visit to Dublin last week, I was surprised to hear that one of this wacky duo is now working for the national government. In April, Cooney was named an advisor to Alan Shatter, the Irish minister for justice and defense. A statement announcing the appointment indicated that Cooney, a law lecturer in University College Dublin, was something of an iconoclast, alluding to his track record of championing civil liberties at home and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

There was no mention of his views on Israel, a curious omission given that his new boss Shatter is a committed Zionist. Whereas the Irish government was generally more balanced in commenting about the Freedom Flotilla II than many of its EU counterparts over the past few months, Shatter was openly hostile to the effort, declaring it was “something of a mystery” to him why anyone could feel the need for a “political protest” against the Gaza blockade. Worryingly, Shatter has been put in charge of the department of defense by Ireland’s relatively new prime minister Enda Kenny; that department has awarded contracts to Israeli weapons firms in the not-so-distant past.

My trip also coincided with a protracted debate about who should be Ireland’s next president. Even though the role of the president in Ireland is largely ceremonial and the holder of that office has no executive power, elections for the position can be vicious affairs.

According to opinion polls, the front-runner in the race (the election is still several months away) was David Norris, a scholar of James Joyce who undertook an eventually successful legal challenge against Ireland’s ban on homosexual relations in the 1980s. This week, however, Norris withdrew from the contest after it emerged he had written a letter to an Israeli court in 1997 urging that it be lenient in sentencing his former partner Ezra Nawi, who was convicted of statutory rape of a 15 year old Palestinian.

Don’t get me wrong. I am horrified by the very idea of an adult having sex with a child. Unquestionably, Norris showed poor judgment in making his appeal, particularly by writing it on official headed paper supplied by the Irish Senate, of which he is a long-standing member.

Nonetheless, there is no evidence than Norris did anything more sinister than seek mercy for somebody he loved.

It is telling that it was not child protection advocates that drew attention to Norris’ relationship with Nawi. Rather, it was Zionist blogger John Connolly, an Irish law graduate living in London.

Connolly stated that his “main problem with Norris in recent times has been his outspoken criticism of Israel”. Among the alleged misdemeanors he cited were that Norris had invited Ilan Pappé, the dissident Israeli historian, to address his colleagues in the Oireachtas, Ireland’s parliament.

Connolly’s blog post inspired journalists with the reactionary Irish Independent to delight in Norris’ difficulties. Kevin Myers, one of Ireland’s best-paid columnists, inferred that Norris wouldn’t dream of writing to Arab governments demanding that they treat gay men or lesbians fairly. This was a patently ludicrous claim as Norris has been a consistent champion of human rights throughout the world.

Despite being few in number, Irish Zionists appear to be growing in clout to such a degree they can determine who may and may not stand in elections. The conclusion that they have no qualms about undermining democracy seems inescapable.

( / 03.08.2011)

U.S. Muslims More Tolerant, Opposed to Violence than Other Faiths

WASHINGTON, Aug 2, 2011 (IPS) – Muslims in the United States express greater tolerance for members of other faiths than any other major religious group, according to a major new survey and report released here Thursday by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center.

They are also more likely than any other religious group to oppose violent or military attacks against civilians, according to the survey, “Muslim Americans: Faith, Freedom, and the Future”.

Nearly four out of five (78 percent) U.S. Muslims say that military attacks against civilians can never be justified. That compares with less than two of five Protestants (38 percent) and Catholics (39 percent) and just over four out of Jews (43 percent) who take that position, the poll found.

Similarly, 89 percent of Muslims said attacks by “an individual person or a small group of individuals to target and kill civilians can never be justified”. Between 71 percent and 75 percent of Christian and Jewish respondents agreed.

The survey also found that Jewish and Muslim Americans shared many views, including how best to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Eighty-one percent of Muslims and 78 percent of Jews queried by Gallup said they supported a two-state solution.

Jewish respondents were also more likely than any other group, including Muslims themselves, to believe that Muslims face prejudice in the U.S.

While 60 percent of Muslims agreed with the proposition that “most Americans are prejudiced against Muslim Americans,” that was less than the 66 percent of Jews agreed with it. Protestants and Catholics, in contrast, were roughly evenly split on the question.

Jewish respondents (80 percent) were also more likely – besides Muslims themselves (93 percent) – to see Muslim Americans as being loyal to the United States, compared to less than 60 percent of Christian respondents. Conversely, more than a third of Protestant and Catholic respondents questioned Muslims’ loyalty, as did 19 percent of Jews.

The survey, which was based on nearly 2,500 interviews with respondents, 475 of whom said they were Muslim, poses a major challenge to efforts, primarily by right-wing Christian and Jewish groups in the U.S., to depict Muslims – and Islam as a religion – as fundamentally alien, if not actively hostile, to “Judeo-Christian” or “Western” values and U.S. society.

Those efforts reached a high point over the past year in the form of a largely successful effort to derail the construction of a Muslim community centre – the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” – two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan and an ongoing state-by-state campaign led by the neo-conservative Center for Security Policy (CSP) to outlaw the application of Sharia, or Islamic law, in U.S. courts.

The latter campaign, headed by a former resident of a Jewish settlement on the occupied West Bank, has claimed that Sharia is part of plot by the Muslim Brotherhood to transform the United States into an Islamic, “totalitarian” state.

Those campaigns – as well as Congressional hearings chaired by Republican Rep. Peter King this year on threats allegedly posed by Muslim extremism in the U.S. – have affected the public’s perceptions of U.S. Muslims. Their perceptions of the U.S. was not addressed by the survey, which is based on interviews conducted early last year and again last October, according to Mohamed Younis, a senior analyst at the Washington-based Gallup Center for Muslim Studies and main author of the survey analysis.

“I really can’t speculate on the impact of those events,” he told IPS.

The survey also didn’t break down differences of views – based on ethnicity or other factors – among U.S. Muslims who make up the most racially diverse religious community in the country.

Asian Muslims, who comprise about 18 percent of the total Muslim population, enjoy particularly high incomes on average, for example, while African-American Muslims – about 35 percent of the total – are least well off, according to the last major Gallup survey, ‘Muslim Americans: A National Portrait,’ published in 2009.

Overall, Muslim Americans expressed more optimism about their lives, including their economic well-being, than all the other major religious groups, according to the survey.

They felt especially positive about President Barack Obama, the first president with Muslim roots. Eighty percent said they approved of his performance, compared to 65 percent of Jews, and only 37 percent of Protestants.

On the more-negative side, nearly half of all Muslim respondents (48 percent) said they had experienced discrimination over the past year, compared to an average of 20 percent of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, and 31 percent of Mormons.

And while, of all religious groups, Muslim respondents were most likely to express confidence in the honesty of elections (57 percent), they were the least likely be registered to vote (65 percent), and to express confidence in the military (70 percent) and in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (60 percent), no doubt because they have been the target of repeated investigations, especially since 9/11.

Four out of five Muslims said they do not believe it is possible to profile a terrorist based on his or her gender, age, ethnicity or other demographic traits. Slightly less than half of the other major religious groups agree with that view.

According to a “religious tolerance index” devised by Gallup, in which respondents assess how strongly they identify with other religions, the survey found that Muslims and Mormons were the most accepting or “integrated” – defined as going “beyond a live-and-let- live [or “tolerant”] attitude (to) actively seek to know more about and learn from others of different religious traditions.”

Forty-four percent of Muslim respondents fit that definition, compared to 34 percent of Catholics, 35 percent of Protestants, and 36 percent of Jews.

Asked whether U.S. Muslims were sympathetic to Al-Qaeda, 92 percent of Muslim respondents, 70 percent of Jews, 63 percent of Catholics, and 56 percent of Protestants responded negatively. Nonetheless, about one third of Christian respondents did not dismiss the possibility of Muslim Americans holding some sympathy for Al-Qaeda.

On foreign policy in the Muslim world, U.S. Muslims tended to be more sceptical than other religious groups. Eighty-three percent of Muslims said they the Iraq war was a mistake, compared to 74 percent of Jews, and an average of 47 percent of Christian respondents. Muslim Americans (47 percent) were also the most likely to see U.S. military action in Afghanistan as mistaken, compared to about one third of Jews and Catholics and 29 percent of Protestants.

While most respondents of all religious groups said the U.S. suffered a negative image in Muslim world, Muslim Americans (65 percent) were the only group that attributed it to “what the U.S. has done”, as opposed to “misinformation …about what the U.S. has done”. Seventy percent of Catholics, 65 percent of Protestants, and 55 percent of Jews attributed Washington’s negative image to misinformation.

( / 03.08.2011)

Head of Coptic Assembly Praises Muslim Brotherhood in Meeting With Freedom and Justice Party Officials

Dr. Sherif Doss, professor of internal medicine and head of the Coptic Assembly, affirmed that the Assembly met with leaders of Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) at least three times, first time was two months ago to settle some pending issues between the two parties.

Dr. Sherif Doss, professor of internal medicine and head of the Coptic Assembly, affirmed that the Assembly met with leaders of Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) at least three times, first time was two months ago to settle some pending issues between the two parties.

During his telephone interview in the Amr Adib show  “Cairo Today” on “Orbit Channel”, Sunday, Dr. Doss described his meeting with Dr. Mohamed Morsi, Chairman of the FJP, and Dr. Saad el-Kettany, Secretary General of the Party, as a useful and fruitful. He expressed his happiness regarding this first meeting which brought the two parties closer on several issues.

Dr. Doss said that the second meeting was for the purpose of issuing “al-Azhar Document”, which was released on June 19, bearing the foundations of a consensus of various parties on the civil state based on the legal reference and having the grounds for justice and rights.

Doss stated that  “We have agreed that the Islamic Sharia is a fundamental principle for legislation, because Islam is the religion of the majority. Al-Azhar document also included assurances regarding the freedom of non-Muslims to follow their own rules and rituals.”

He added that the third meeting was aimed to discuss plans for the future relations, pointing out that the Muslim Brotherhood is a living and true model to be followed, adding “I hope this model would continue and sustain.”

With respect to the potential candidate for the presidency who would be accepted and approved by the Copts, Dr. Doss said that they discussed that matter, yet, in an informal session. He also said that the name of Dr. Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh was mentioned as the best candidates who would be accepted by the Copts in case the final candidate for the presidency was a religious one.

( / 03.08.2011)

U.N. Rights Committee Breaks 43-Year Israeli Taboo on Gaza

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 29, 2011 (IPS) – When the United Nations General Assembly created a three- member special committee to investigate Israeli human rights violations in occupied territories back in December 1968, the Jewish state reacted with obvious anger.

And not surprisingly, the committee was barred from entering any of the occupied territories – forcing the three members to hold sittings in Cairo, Amman and Damascus where Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza were given a hearing twice a year.

But geopolitics in the region has dramatically changed the political climate – much to the chagrin of the Israelis.

For the first time in 43 years, members of the ‘U.N. Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices in Occupied Territories’ gained entry into Gaza last week, through Egypt which has ousted its Israeli-friendly president, Hosni Mubarak.

The new Egyptian government facilitated the visit via the border crossing at Rafah, breaking the longstanding Israeli taboo.

The visit further reinforced the continued criticism by the committee of the horrible living conditions in the occupied territories and the devastating impact of the Israeli economic blockade, as chronicled in several of the committee’s previous reports.

In a critical report released Friday, the committee expressed dismay at Israel’s “continuing disregard of its obligations under international law”.

“Unfortunately, what we found [in Gaza] was that the oppressive restrictions imposed on Gaza by Israel have the effect of collectively punishing the population,” it said.

With around 35 percent of Gaza’s land area excluded from agriculture due to Israel’s vague buffer zone along the border, and its fishing areas limited to only three nautical miles from the coast (85 percent of fisheries), the people of Gaza could hardly feed themselves, much less revive a decimated economy through exports, the committee said.

“We were alarmed by allegations that Israel enforces these policies employing live fire, including in some instances against children and the elderly,” said the committee.

The committee – comprising Ambassador Palitha T.B. Kohona, permanent representative of Sri Lanka to the U.N. (chair); Ambassador Hussein Haniff, permanent representative of Malaysia; and Ambassador Fod Seck, permanent representative of Senegal to the U.N. based in Geneva, is expected to submit a more comprehensive report to the 193- member General Assembly in September.

Ambassador Kohona told IPS the conditions in the Gaza, “to say the least, are very unsatisfactory, and the blockade is to be blamed for this”.

“The economic, educational, psychological, health and social conditions are affected by the blockade,” he asserted.

The lifting of the blockade will have an immediate and positive impact on the people of Gaza, both economically and psychologically, and will contribute to confidence building, he added.

Israel’s continuing blockade of Gaza contravenes the human rights of the people of Gaza and international humanitarian law and standards, said Kohona, a former chief of the U.N. Treaty Section.

“It is oppressive and diminishes the lives of the people of Gaza and must be ended now,” he declared

In its report, the committee said it listened to victims, witnesses and U.N. officials who underlined the dire impact on human rights of the Israeli blockade.

Homes, schools and other infrastructure that were destroyed by Israeli attacks in December 2008 and January 2009 could not be rebuilt due to restrictions on the import of building material.

The economy declined significantly and is sustained by illegal imports through tunnels.

“It would be the occupying powers responsibility to assist with the reconstruction of Gaza”, noted the committee.

Beyond the homes, schools and businesses that were destroyed, there is an urgent need for water treatment facilities, roads, sewage treatment and the restoration of power, it said.

The committee also noted the valuable services provided by local and international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), and especially the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East(UNRWA).

For many of Gaza’s children, life is difficult and the future is hopeless, the committee pointed out, referring to testimony concerning worrying health, psychological and social problems, increasing school dropout rates, and an increasing incidence of child labour.

“We hope the government of Israel will seriously consider the potential consequences of a generation of Gazan children being raised in an environment of near-total deprivation and a lack of opportunities to lead a productive and hopeful life,” it said.

The policies and practices of the government of Israel which violate the rights of Palestinian children was a constant theme throughout the hearings in Gaza.

Witnesses and officials reported that Palestinian children’s access to education is being impeded through, among other things, restrictions on freedom of movement, constraints on access due to the security wall, a lack of schools especially in East Jerusalem and Gaza, and threats and actual violence by Israeli settlers.

The committee said its attention was drawn to the large number of children detained, and in this regard, a range of practices of serious concern, including harsh interrogation techniques, torture, and expulsion from their villages.

The committee also underlined its deep concern regarding reports that Israeli security forces are raiding Palestinian homes in the middle of the night to detain children, allegedly as young as seven years old.

The committee’s nine-day investigative visit to the region also included hearings in the Jordanian capital of Amman, where it met with victims, witnesses and officials working on human rights in the West Bank and the Syrian Golan Heights.

Asked about security and his personal impressions of Gaza, Kohona told IPS, “We travelled in armoured vehicles and were provided high- level security cover by the United Nations.”

From the hotel terrace, he said, “We could imagine what Gaza would be like without the current blockade.”

“Families joyfully dining on the terrace while the red orb of the sun was slowly descending in to the Mediterranean, whiffs of shisha (bubbly hubbly) drifting in the air, children playing, fishing boats heading in the sea, etc. Perhaps one day!”

( /03.08.2011)

Knesset approves new restrictions on Palestinian prisoners

NAZARETH, (PIC)– The Israeli Knesset has approved in its first reading a law empowering all prison administrations with the right to prevent Palestinian prisoners from meeting with their lawyers for three days.

Right group sources say the move comes to pressure prisoner bodies into meeting the demands of the Israeli prison authority.

Many more restrictions have recently been tightened on Palestinian prisoners.

( / 03.08.2011)

Israeli minister urges attack on Gaza

Israeli military forces and tanks in northern border with the Gaza Strip.
An Israeli minister has called for a major military offensive against the Gaza Strip, hours after the regime carried out an airstrike on the impoverished coastal sliver.

Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aaronovitch, whose remarks were aired by the Israeli public radio and the regime’s Channel One TV, claimed that “the steady shower of missiles” from Gaza is not tolerable and Israel must retaliate with a “broad military action,” AFP reported on Tuesday.

The hawkish remarks of the Israeli official came amid a recent surge of violence, including airstrikes on Gaza and arrests of Palestinian civilians in the region.

On Tuesday, Israeli fighter jets pounded a tunnel under the enclave’s border with Egypt.

The Israeli army frequently bombs the tunnel network in Gaza, claiming that Palestinian resistance fighters use the tunnels to store and smuggle in weapons.

Palestinians, however, dismiss such allegations, insisting that they were forced to resort to the underground tunnels to bring in basic living supplies to the impoverished Gazans because the territory has been sealed off to the outside world by a punishing Israeli blockade for over three years.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli military forces shot dead two Palestinians in the Qalandia refugee camp in the occupied West Bank after the two hurled stones at Israeli troops who were making arrests in the camp.

In another incident on Friday, at least 15 Palestinians were injured when Israeli soldiers were trying to disperse peaceful protesters demanding the reopening of the main entrance of Kafr Qaddum village in northern West Bank.

Israel also launched an all-out military offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip three days before the turn of 2009. The ensuing three-week war killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, including many women and children.

( / 03.08.2011)