Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to protect Christians in holiday season

29 December 2011

Copts demonstrating for rights.

CAIRO: Last year. The year before. Attacks on Christian churches in Egypt during the holiday season have been common. This year, however, the country’s popular Muslim Brotherhood said it would protect Christians as they prepare for Coptic Christmas on January 7.

“We have decided to form Muslim Brotherhood committees to protect the churches so that the hands of sin do not ruin the festivities like they did several times under the old regime,” the group said in a statement.

The Brotherhood, which has seen its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), take nearly half of all votes in the first two rounds of parliamentary elections, called on the military junta currently in power, to secure churches across the country during new year celebrations and Christmas the week after.

“We call on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the police to protect the churches in the same way they protected polling stations during the elections,” the Brotherhood said.

Last year, at least 21 people were killed when a car bomb exploded outside the All Saints Church in Alexandria as worshipers were leaving a New Year’s Eve mass.

It has since been made public that the interior ministry was likely responsible for the attack, which galvanized Christians anger toward the government for fomenting sectarian tensions.

In January 2010, six Copts were shot dead as they emerged from a Coptic Christmas Eve mass in the southern Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi.

A Muslim security guard was also killed in the shooting.

Coptic Christians, who account for some 10 percent of Egypt’s 82 million population, have been the target of frequent attacks and complain of systematic discrimination.

On October 9, thousands of Christians marched to the state television building in Cairo demanding justice for a church attack in Aswan and greater rights, but were instead met by the military, which opened fire on the protesters and ran them over with armored vehicles.

At least 27 people were killed in what has become known locally as the Maspero Massacre.

Joseph Zaki, a Christian from Alexandria, told that the situation in Egypt only needs a few outspoken leaders to change sentiment toward the second largest religious community.

“You know, we talk all the time about how to end sectarianism, but the reality is that all we really need is to have leaders speak out and talk about the fact we are all Egyptians,” he said.

“I know it sounds cheesy, but many of my friends, Muslim and Christian, have been at the front of all protests. We have all died together, so why not live together,” he added.

( / 04.01.2012)

Israeli students to get $2,000 to spread state propaganda on Facebook

Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Wed, 01/04/2012 – 17:53

The National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS) has become a full-time partner in the Israeli government’s efforts to spread its propaganda online and on college campuses around the world.

NUIS has launched a program to pay Israeli university students $2,000 to spread pro-Israel propaganda online for 5 hours per week from the “comfort of home.”

The union is also partnering with Israel’s Jewish Agency to send Israeli students as missionaries to spread propaganda in other countries, for which they will also receive a stipend.

This active recruitment of Israeli students is part of Israel’s orchestrated effort to suppress the Palestinian solidarity movement under the guise of combating “delegitimization” of Israel and anti-Semitism.

The involvement of the official Israeli student union as well as Haifa University, Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University and Sapir College in these state propaganda programs will likely bolster Palestinian calls for the international boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Paying students to spread Israeli propaganda online

This is our opportunity, as Israeli students, to provide hasbara [state propaganda] that is correct and balanced, to help in the struggle against the delegitimization of the State of Israel and against hatred of Jews in the world.

That is one of the exhortations in a Hebrew document issued by NUIS, and translated by The Electronic Intifada, inviting Israeli students to apply for a program to help spread Israel’s message.

The project seeks to take advantage of the fact that “Many students in Israel master the Internet and are proficient at using the Internet and social networking and various sites and are required to write and express themselves in English.”

The paid scholarship will allow them to get training and then work from home for five hours per week for a year to “refute” what it calls “misinformation” about Israel on social networking sites.

Among the stated goals of the scholarships is “to deepen and expand hasbara activities of students in the State of Israel.” The document explains:

The Internet allows uncontrolled access to content from marginal groups and therefore can influence many audiences who are exposed to such information, particularly young people who are more easily influenced.

The Internet, then, is used as a major tool for the dissemination of anti-Semitism, hatred of Israel and of Jews and thus the Internet is also the place to battle against such sites, pull the ground from under them and to provide reliable and balanced information.

Work from the “comfort of home”

The NUIS program document explains:

After training, the student will begin his activities. The student will do the activities in the comfort of his home, where every week he will be obligated to about 5 hours of activities for a period of one calendar year (not academic year). Students will be paid a total of NIS 7,500 [$2,000] to perform the tasks of the project, at least 5 hours weekly for a total of 240 hours of activities under the project umbrella.

What is completely missing from the program is any indication that criticism of Israel could be valid. Rather the National Union of Israeli Students apparently seeks to indoctrinate Israeli students that every criticism of Israel is “hate” and “anti-Semitism” and that the Internet should be seen as a battlefield on which they are foot soldiers.

Using e-learning tools for government propaganda

An interesting aspect of the NUIS program is that it uses the common open source virtual learning environment Moodle as its interface with program participants. This interface can be found at

Whereas Moodle was designed for education – to spread mind-opening learning beyond the constraints of geography – the Israeli innovation here is to use it for mind-narrowing propaganda: getting students to be uncritical, to not think for themselves, but rather to spread Israel’s state-sponsored propaganda.

See the world, spread more propaganda

NUIS has also partnered with the Jewish Agency, the Israeli state body that encourages Jews from around the world to settle on stolen Palestinian land, to spread propaganda on college campuses around the world.

The Jewish Agency website announces, as translated from Hebrew by Dena Shunra for The Electronic Intifada:

For the first time in Israel – a unique, world-encompassing scholarship, in cooperation between the Student Union and the Jewish Agency.

Every year the Jewish Agency of Israel sends approximately 150 emissaries to various places around the world – North America, England, South Africa, Australia, Germany, Italy and South America, who engage in Jewish education and hasbara in three main streams – Hillel emissaries (to campuses around North America), community emissaries and youth movement emissaries.

Training for these overseas missions for successful applicants will take place at Haifa University, Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University and Sapir College, after which the would-be missionaries “will set off for a one-year mission in the various Jewish communities around the world, and will also receive a scholarship of up to NIS 5,000 [$1300].”

Applications are open to Israeli citizens who have lived in the country for three years, those who have completed service in the Israeli army, and those who speak foreign languages, among other criteria.

A student union in the service of the state

In most countries student unions often find themselves at odds with state authorities, fighting for the rights of students. But it would appear that Israel’s “student union” does not so much represent students and fight for their rights, but represents the state in the state’s efforts to recruit students to do its political bidding.

In this sense, the NUIS functions in a very similar way to Israel’s “trade union” the Histadrut.

(Rest of story on: / 04.01.2012)

Report: “Israeli Jews Will Lose Majority By 2015”

Israeli paper, Haaretz, reported that recent Israeli and Palestinian statistics revealed that the demography of the country will significantly change by 2015, and the Jewish majority will sharply decline and the number of Arabs and Palestinians will exceed the number of Jews.Map Of Historic Palestine - Image By Arabs48

Map Of Historic Palestine

The paper stated that, according to Palestinian statistics conducted by the Palestinian Census Bureau, the number of Palestinians in the Palestinian territories is currently 4.2 Million; 2.6 of them are living in the West Bank, and 1.6 in the Gaza Strip. In addition to 1.4 million who live in the 1948 territories (Israel), which brings the estimated total to 5.6 Palestinians.

Israeli statistics revealed that the population of Israel is now 7.8 Million; 5.9 million Jews, 1.6 million Palestinians and 325,000 of different nationalities.

Statistics regarding the natural growth of the population revealed that by 2015, the Jewish population will be demographically equal to the number of Palestinians (6.3 Million Jews and 6.3 Million Palestinians).

According to the statistics, there will be a Palestinian majority in the land by 2020, as the number of Palestinians is expected to rise to 7.2 million while the number of Jews is expected to rise to 6.8 million.

( / 04.01.2012)

Israeli exports to Arab states growing

According to official data published in Tel Aviv, Israeli exports to the Arab countries in the Gulf region boomed by 108 per cent in 2010 compared with the previous year. All in all, the value of Israeli exports to these countries amounted to more than US$25 million.

According to the Union of Manufacturers in Israel, the value of Israeli exports to Arab countries rose by 31 percent compared with the previous year and reached US$380 million. According to the data, the Arab countries, which increased their imports from Israel were: Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait.

The data also indicated that Israeli exports to Indonesia last year rose by 37 percent and reached US$12 million, while exports to Malaysia decreased by 55 percent and to Pakistan they fell by 21 percent.

( / 04.01.2012)

Civil society calls for new policies after unity deal

Palestinians protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah calling for a unity government and an end to the fighting between Hamas and Fatah.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Members of an umbrella group of Palestinian civil society organizations called on Wednesday for the reopening of institutions closed during the years of divided Hamas and Fatah government.

The groups slammed the policy of “politically-conditioned funding,” a statement from the Palestinian NGO Network conference in Gaza City said.

Stressing their support for the reconciliation deal between former rivals Hamas and Fatah, the conference called for a unified body to pass laws.

The Palestinian Legislative Council, last elected in 2006, has been defunct since the 2007 explosion in violence between the parties that separated the Hamas-run Gaza Strip from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Party leaders signed a deal to end the division in May 2011, but implementation stalled as the sides struggled to implement its key tenets, including a unity government to oversee the path to elections.

A fresh push was launched in late November after party chiefs met again in Cairo, and officials say they expect elections to take place in May.

( / 04.01.2012)

Queen Rania visits with underprivileged children and orphans at Al Hussein Social Institution

Large View
Amman, Jan, 4 (Petra)–Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah stressed the need to treat orphans and underprivileged children with the dignity and respect they deserve and provide them with utmost standards of social care possible; this came during a visit Her Majesty paid to Al Hussein Social Institution in Amman today.

The visit comes in line with Her Majesty’s continuous efforts to check up on the status of orphans and under privileged children in Kingdom, and the services and facilities provided for them. This is Her Majesty’s second visit to the institution following up on an earlier visit in 2008 with His Majesty King Abdullah II.

Her Majesty accompanied by Ms. Mira Abu Ghazaleh, Director of Al Hussein Social Institution, toured the institution’s facilities, including the Newborn division, the two households and the services division which includes tailoring, laundry, psychologist and nutritionist’s rooms in addition to a multipurpose hall.

Her Majesty joined a group of children during a musical activity that they were participating in with some volunteers.

Al Hussein Social Institution was founded in 1953 as a centre to educate and provide care for boys and girls up to 12 years of age who are living in hardship.

A large number of the children at the institution are either orphans, abandoned children, or come from broken homes and impoverished families. The institution’s capacity is 150 and is currently housing 108 children.

( / 04.01.2012)

US Troops going to Israel

January 2, 2012. Jerusalem. In one of the most blacked-out stories in America right now, the US military is preparing to send thousands of US troops, along with US Naval anti-missile ships and accompanying support personnel, to Israel. It took forever to find a second source for confirmation of this story and both relatively mainstream media outlets are in Israel. With one source saying the military deployment and corresponding exercises are to occur in January, the source providing most of the details suggests it will occur later this spring.

Calling it not just an “exercise”, but a “deployment”, the Jerusalem Post quotes US Lt.-Gen Frank Gorenc, Commander of the US Third Air Force based in Germany. The US Commander visited Israel two weeks ago to confirm details for “the deployment of several thousand American soldiers to Israel.” In an effort to respond to recent Iranian threats and counter-threats, Israel announced the largest ever missile defense exercise in its history. Now, it’s reported that the US military, including the US Navy, will be stationed throughout Israel, also taking part.

While American troops will be stationed in Israel for an unspecified amount of time, Israeli military personnel will be added to EUCOM in Germany. EUCOM stands for United States European Command.

In preparation for anticipated Iranian missile attacks upon Israel, the US is reportedly bringing its THAAD, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and ship-based Aegis ballistic missile systems to Israel. The US forces will join Israeli missile defense systems like the Patriot and Arrow. The deployment comes with “the ultimate goal of establishing joint task forces in the event of a large-scale conflict in the Middle East”.

The Jerusalem Post reports that US Lt.-Gen Frank Gorenc was in Israel meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Brig.-Gen Doron Gavish, commander of the Air Defense Division. While there, the US General visited one of Israel’s three ‘Iron Dome’ anti-missile outposts. The Israeli Air Force has announced plans to deploy a fourth Iron Dome system in the coming months. Additional spending increases in the Jewish state will guarantee the manufacture and deployment of three more Iron Dome systems by the end of 2012. The Israelis are hoping to eventually have at least a dozen of the anti-missile systems deployed along its northern and southern borders.

In a show of escalated tensions in the region, Iran test fired two long range missiles today. One, called the Qadar, is a powerful sea-to-shore missile. The other was an advanced surface-to-surface missile called the Nour. According to Iranian state news, the Nour is an ‘advanced radar-evading, target-seeking, guided and controlled missile’. Additionally, the Iranian military reportedly test-fired numerous other short, medium and long-range missiles. Yesterday, Iranian authorities reported that they test-fired the medium-range, surface-to-air, radar-evading Mehrab missile. Today is supposed to be the final day of Iranian naval drills in the Straits of Hormuz.

Iran recently made global headlines when it threatened to blockade the Straits of Hormuz if Europe and the US went ahead with their boycott of Iranian oil and the country’s central bank. One-quarter of the world’s oil passes through that waterway every day. President Obama has announced that a closure of the Straits was unacceptable and vowed to take whatever measures are necessary to keep the vital shipping lane open.

In response to the Iranian missile tests this weekend, French authorities were the first to respond, calling it a, “very bad signal to the international community.”We want to underline that the development by Iran of a missile program is a source of great concern to the international community,”the French Foreign Ministry said in a written statement. Israeli officials suggested the flamboyant Iranian military drills this weekend were a sign that international sanctions on the country were taking a heavy toll and that any additional boycotts, on its banks or oil industry, would be crippling.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the large missile tests showed, “the dire straits of Iran in light of the tightening sanctions around her, including the considerations in the last few days regarding the sanctions of exporting petroleum as well as the possibility of sanctions against the Iranian Central Bank.” While the chances of Iran going through with its threat of closing the Straits of Hormuz are slim, the deployment of thousands of US troops and naval ships to Israel shows the US isn’t taking any chances.

( / 04.01.2012)

Factions Slams Palestinian-Israeli Meeting In Amman

Several Palestinian factions slammed the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) in the West Bank for accepting to attend a meeting with Israeli representatives in Jordan’s capital, Amman, on Tuesday.Image Reprinted From Wikipedia

Image Reprinted From Wikipedia

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) stated that the meeting will be used to weaken the position of the P.A. and its decision to reject any direct peace talks with Israel before clear standards and goals are set.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) stated that this meeting is a serious mistake, adding that this meeting will only serve Israel and its illegal
policies and occupation.

The Islamic Jihad said that the meeting is only a waste of time, and an attempt to drag the P.A. into endless and fruitless talks.

The Palestinian National Initiative stated that the meeting in Amman will not lead to any positive results, adding that Israel will just use it to pretend that the peace process is ongoing, while Tel Aviv continues its violations and settlement activities.

The Hamas movement said that the meeting is a waste of time and comes only to give Israel another chance to “Judaize Jerusalem”, and to continue its assaults and offensives against the Palestinian people, their rights and their holy sites.

Hamas also stated that Israel does not want the Palestinians to achieve unity and reconciliation, and that these meetings are “organized by the U.S. administration and the Quartet Committee to give Israel more chances to continue its crimes”.

Meanwhile, Chief Palestinian negotiator, Dr. Saeb Erekat, stated that the meeting does not mean resuming peace talks with Tel Aviv.

Erekat added that the Palestinian stance is clear regarding refusing to resume peace talks with Israel until it halts its violations and settlement activities.

He also stated that the P.A. accepted an invitation from Jordan’s king, Abdullah II, to meet with Israeli delegates and with representatives of the Quartet Committee.
The meeting in Amman is connected to a meeting that was held in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, on Monday, between Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and the U.S. Middle East envoy, David Hale, the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera reported.

Al- Jazeera stated that Abbas said that the P.A. is committed to a serious peace process that is based on solid and clear grounds, such as halting all Israeli settlement activities.

Both Israel and the P.A. stated that the meeting is not considered a resumption of the peace process that the Palestinians quit in September 2010 after Israeli resumed its illegal settlement activities in the occupied territories, including in occupied East Jerusalem.

Erekat said that the P.A will not resume peace talks with Israel before is halts its settlement activities, and urged Tel Aviv to accept the two-state solution, and to refrain from any measures that jeopardize peace efforts.

The Palestinian Authority and Israel are supposed to present their individual visions for the issues of borders and security, as asked by the Quartet Committee that hopes to end the decades-old conflict by the end of the year.

On the internal Palestinian level, the Fateh and Hamas movements have been engaged on talks to ensure the implementation of the unity and reconciliation agreement, in order to achieve real unity on the ground.

Last week, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, stated that the option to retract the recognition of Israel is a valid one as Israel is ongoing with its settlement activities and violations, Al Jazeera reported.

( / 04.0.2012)

Barak claims West Bank is stable because of security coordination with the PA

Barak claims West Bank is stable because of security coordination with the PAThe lack of significant progress does not diminish the meeting’s importance, Barak said.

Israel’s Minister of Defence, Ehud Barak, has claimed that the security situation in the occupied West Bank is relatively stable at the moment. He attributed this to the security coordination between the Israeli army and the Palestinian Authority’s security forces.

In an interview with Israel Army Radio on Monday, 2 January, Barak added that this calm is in place “while Hamas continues to grow and focus its control over the Gaza Strip”.

Mr Barak told the interviewer that the meeting between Israel and the Palestinian Authority scheduled to be held in Amman today (Tuesday) is “very important”. The two sides are due to meet in the Jordanian capital in the presence of representatives of the Middle East Quartet. The lack of significant progress does not diminish the meeting’s importance, Barak said. He stressed that his country is ready to return to negotiations in order to achieve a breakthrough consistent with Israel’s interests and in light of the “bad alternatives”.

( / 04.01.2012)

Israeli Forces Raid Khan Yunis, Distribute 169 confiscation Orders, Selfit

On Wednesday, Israeli forces raided al-Farahin village east of Khan Yunis in Gaza Strip, and vandalised several agricultural lands, they also distributed consification orders for several agricultural lands in Salfit governarate.
Eyewitnesses said that several Israeli bulldozers raided more than 300 meters of the area, and vandalized several agricultural lands belonged to some families:  Abu Argileh, Abu Anzeh, Abu Duqeh and Tabash.
Locals said that they are afraid that the Israeli destruction processes would reach their houses and their lands, saying that the Israeli forces are used to do such cruel procedures.
In Selfit, the Israeli authorities distributed new confiscation orders for some lands in Eskaka town, East Selfit, in order to expand Ariel settlement and the Apartheid wall.
The head of the village’s council, Ali Samoudi, said that the distributed orders show the confiscation of 169 Dunums, from the three sides of the village.
Samoudi also said that the Israeli authorities increased the attacks on the villages of Salfit, especially Eskaka and Yasouf, as they attempt to confiscate huge areas of the agricultural lands for the expansion of Ariel settlement.
( / 04.01.2012)