Israeli police lock up Haifa activist for Facebook statuses

Police detained and held Razi Nabulsi, a young Palestinian from Haifa for a week for statuses he posted to Facebook and Twitter, claiming they constituted incitement. The catch? Even though the statuses were posted publicly on the Internet, police declared them to be secret evidence and refused to publicly say in court what he was accused of writing.

Palestinian Activist Razi Nabulsi hugs his mother following his release from jail, in Haifa court, October 16, 2013.

Razi Nabulsi, a 23-year-old activist and student in Haifa, spent the last week in jail for statuses he publicly posted on Facebook and Twitter.

His detention was extended twice. In four different court hearings during the week (two remand extension hearings and two appeals) the Haifa court decided that his statuses constitute a danger to the State of Israel. The court extended his remand to custody on the grounds of “incitement.”

Razi was represented by attorneys Aram Mahamid and Hassan Jabareen from Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

The materials the police submitted to the judge were, of course, “secret.” What we were able to understand from what police investigators said in court in response to the defense attorneys, was that the allegations were based on statuses Razi supposedly posted on Facebook and some leaflets that were distributed in the streets of Haifa. He was also accused of possessing books by the Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani.

Police freely admitted that Razi was not accused of any violence and clarified that they do not suspect that any other person committed any offense as a result of Razi’s “incitement.” Police also told the court that Razi participated in demonstrations, as if that’s a crime.

The weirdest thing about Razi’s ordeal was that, with the exception of some translated texts (more on that below), the prosecution refused to say in court what Razi wrote in his statuses. All the protestations of the lawyers from Adalah, which claimed that statuses that you publish online can’t be defined as “secret” and that there is no logic to accusing somebody of “incitement” without relating it to specific statements, were in vain.

In one of his hearings, Razi’s attorney argued: “When the publication is the basis of the offense, it doesn’t make any sense that the published material itself is kept secret… and the publication itself was public.”

The judge rejected the argument.

According to what the Haifa police representative said in court, the State Attorney gave police special permission to open an investigation against Razi on July 10. Only now, after three months of an undercover investigation, did they decide to make the investigation public by searching Razi’s home and detaining the “target.”

For those unfamiliar with Israel’s legal system – it should be made clear that Razi was detained “for interrogation” and was not indicted for any crime. Israeli law allows such detention for purposes of interrogation to last for several weeks.

The art of police translation

In one of the remand extension hearings police presented some Hebrew texts it claimed were translation of statuses which Razi posted on his Facebook page in Arabic. The defense attorney requested to see the original Arabic texts, because translations by the police are sometimes misguided, biased or might distort the author’s intention. Police refused to allow the lawyer to see the original Arabic texts that they claimed to have “translated” – claiming that they were secret investigative materials.

Several years ago a group of protesters from the city of Allid (Lod) was accused of possessing a sign that says “كل الكرامة والعزة لشهدائنا الأبرار” (All the honor and glory of our innocent martyrs). The police translated it to “כל הכבוד לעזה והמחבלים המתאבדים” (“All the honor to Gaza and the suicide terrorists”). The detainees’ attorney argued strongly against the false and misleading translation, which violated his client rights. The judge (in this case eager to see justice) ordered the police to bring a professional translation by an academic expert in Arabic.

The protesters remained in jail for another week, until the authorized translation arrived.

The most dangerous Facebook status

You might understand that we were all deadly curious to know what was in Razi’s Facebook statuses.

So after full seven days in detention, when Razi was finally released on Wednesday, we went to his family’s home in ‘Iblin (in the Galilee), where he is under house arrest, to say Hamdillilah ‘A Salameh and ask what those dangerous statuses were all about.

Razi gave us many examples of the statuses he was interrogated about, divided between the foolish, misleading translations, ignorance, gossip, whatever. But at least in one case I could understand the horror his status aroused in the people that are responsible for state security.

“One day the nightmare will be over,” the status read.

The interrogator claimed he clearly wrote it to express his wish that the state of Israel will cease to exist!

Razi has his own blog (Arabic) and I’m sure that he will write all the important details about his detention and interrogation. But as of now he is forbidden by court order from touching a computer or any other “media tool,” including a phone (until Sunday), a release condition the police didn’t even ask for.

(Source / 17.10.2013)

Gaza Salafists Killed in Syria

Palestinian Salafists shout slogans during a rally in protest of what they say are recent massacres committed against the Syrian people in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Aug. 22, 2013.
JABALIYA, Gaza Strip — Fahd al-Habbash sat in front of a laptop with Jabhat al-Nusra’s black banner behind him and recorded his will. The video was posted on YouTube by a Salafist group in Gaza, the Shura Council of Mujahideen, after Habbash died in Syria during a fight with regime forces.

Habbash started his video — which included photos of him participating in the fighting and photos of him after his death — by saying, “Jihad for the sake of God and for the support of [Islam] is not restricted to a certain class of Muslims. Every Muslim who is not from ‘the people of excuses’ has a religious duty to come to the support of [Islam] and help vulnerable Muslims everywhere. … [The decline of religion and the humiliation of Muslims], which we have been suffering for years, are due to [Muslims] leaving jihad and the absence of governance in accordance with Sharia. That led to the hardening of these tyrants around the necks of Muslims around the globe.”

“My message to my parents: If you hear news of my death or my departure from this transient world, rejoice and know that this is what I wanted,” he continued.

Habbash’s will and martyrhood video

Habbash’s YouTube video is but one of many posted by Palestinians from Gaza who were killed fighting in Syria. The videos were posted by a Salafist group at odds with the ruling Islamist Hamas. Some videos contain clear criticism of how the Gaza government is preventing fighters from “performing jihad against the occupation.”

Al-Monitor visited Habbash’s home in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip and met his father, Nizar, who was visibly saddened by the loss of his eldest son. Nizar thought that his son left Gaza to live abroad, not to fight in Syria.

“We didn’t know that he had traveled to Syria, and he didn’t tell his wife that. He told us that he was going to Norway via Turkey, to live there because of the poor living conditions in the Gaza Strip. He used to call us and tell us that he was in Turkey. [He last called us] 10 days before his martyrdom,” Nizar said.

Habbash was married and had two daughters, one of whom was born while he was in Syria. She is now four months old. He worked in a Palestinian police agency affiliated with Hamas in Gaza. Before that, he had worked in Hamas’ military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades. But, according to his father, he did not seem to have Salafist inclinations.

An informed source in a Salafist group in Gaza told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “Palestinian youths in Gaza are being contacted and urged to travel for jihad to Syria and join the legions of mujahedeen there who come from all corners of the globe.” That call is having some resonance among young Palestinians in Gaza.

Although the source declined to disclose the number of Palestinians who traveled to Syria from the Gaza Strip, he estimated them to be in the dozens. They left Gaza through Rafah, then went to Turkey, then crossed into Syria after receiving training near the Turkish-Syrian border at the hands of the mujahedeen.

“A number of young men fought in Syria and were martyred for the sake of God there. Some were wounded and receiving treatment in Turkey. Some are still fighting there. And some returned to the Gaza Strip,” the source added, noting that the closure of the Rafah crossing is preventing many from traveling to Syria.

“… Dozens of fighters were recruited from the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip or abroad, specifically refugees residing in Lebanon and Syria, to participate in the ongoing jihad between right and wrong. We are still preparing other groups as well,” the source said.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, has taken a supportive stance toward the Syrian opposition, but the group is — at least publicly — trying to steer clear of the fighting.

Hamas official Bassem Naim told Al-Monitor that Hamas only fights against the Israeli occupation and will not deviate from that, to not weaken the Palestinian resistance.

However, an informed Hamas source confirmed to Al-Monitor that a number of Palestinians are fighting in Syria. Some are with Jabhat al-Nusra, while others support the Syrian regime alongside Hezbollah.

“We tried hard, through some of the sheikhs close to them, to prevent a number of young al-Qaeda followers from traveling to Syria, because it affects the Palestinian cause and the support it gets from the Arab and Muslim world,” the source added. However, he did not say how successful those efforts were.

Al-Monitor tried to reach some of the young men who returned from fighting in Syria through intermediaries. But they refused to speak and only said, “We are not allowed to talk to the media about it.”

Hamas is trying to restore its relations with Iran after a cooling period and cessation of Iranian support resulting from Hamas’ position on the Syrian crisis. Hamas political bureau Vice President Mousa Abu Marzouk told Al-Mayadeen TV that Hamas wishes to reopen channels with Damascus, although this was flatly rejected by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

(Source / 17.10.2013)

Gaza: the noose tightens

CDS Stocks Of MAP Supplied Drug

One of the essential drugs supplied by MAP at the CDS in Gaza City.

Gaza has teetered on the brink of disaster for years as a result of Israel’s blockade, which is in violation of international law. It has managed to avoid becoming a full-scale humanitarian catastrophe largely due to the resourcefulness of its people and the more than 300 illegal  tunnels linking it with Egypt – which have been Gaza’s lifeline.

With almost all of the tunnels now closed by the Egyptian officials, as well as partial closures of the Rafah crossing – and no expectation of Israel’s blockade coming to an end soon – there is an air of anxiety in this tiny, densely populated stretch of land, which is cut off from the West Bank almost as much as it is from the rest of the world.

Last week, driving from Erez crossing into Gaza, the first obvious sign of the tunnel closures that I observed was the small number of cars on its usually congested streets. (There were queues of men, young and old, at a UNDP warehouse, where rice, flour, oil and other food essentials were being distributed, but this is nothing new in this highly food-aid-reliant population.)

Imports of heavily subsidised Egyptian fuel had stopped, and only petrol from Israel, costing twice the price, was available in petrol stations. As a result, petrol stations were largely empty, in contrast to recent images of queues lasting hours as people waited to fill up vehicles and jerry cans with cheaper Egyptian fuel.

The queues had now migrated from petrol stations to service taxi stands, as more people turned to these out of necessity to get around Gaza.

One petrol station manager said that ordinary people, already severely cash-strapped, were calculating the absolute minimum amount of petrol needed to complete an essential journey, purchasing petrol in very small volumes. He said the fuel restrictions, and the high cost of Israeli petrol, were killing his business.

Below the station manager’s office, on the forecourt, a boy was filling several plastic Sprite bottles with fuel for the family generator. Another enterprising customer was filling his small tanker with fuel to sell in other locations in Gaza to the minority who are able to pay above-average prices.

Elsewhere on Gaza’s streets, tunnel closures were most apparent in the number of partially completed buildings and gravel roads, with work frozen due to the huge drop in the quantity of construction materials coming through the tunnels.

In every neighbourhood I visited up and down the enclave, construction sites were lifeless, with roads, universities, homes and other buildings left unfinished. Prior to June, some 7,500 tonnes of construction materials were delivered through the tunnels each day. That figure currently stands at just 150 tonnes a day.

I visited two families, one of whose home was completely destroyed during last November’s eight-day assault on Gaza by Israeli forces. Situated in a poor Bedouin community outside of Gaza City, this family of 10 was relying on the support of neighbours. I interviewed the family amid the rubble of their former home.

Another home, that of Sana Abu Jazar and her family, suffered major structural damage during November’s attacks. Their corrugated metal roof would routinely jump during the bombing raids, she said, and almost every wall showed major cracks or gaping holes.

Given the blockade and its impact on Gaza’s economy, neither family can afford to rebuild or repair their home, and with the prospect of a wet and cold winter in the offing, both families expressed deep concern about their welfare.

Some 12,000 people in Gaza remain displaced as a result of extensive damage caused to their homes in Israeli attacks and the restrictions on construction materials.

Unlike the West Bank, Palestinians living in Gaza have access to the sea – though the blockade has also severely undermined its utility. Fuel shortages and fishing limitations imposed on fishermen by the Israeli military have made their livelihood largely unsustainable and risky.

Jihad, a 45-year old fisherman and father of five, with three disabled children, was born into the trade – his grandfather and father were both fishermen. We spoke as he mended and prepared his fishing nets for another night of fishing within the six nautical mile limit imposed by Israel (it should be 20 nautical miles, according to the terms of the Oslo agreements).The price of fuel has made fishing unviable for many fishermen, particularly those with larger boats, he says.

“Beyond six miles you find big fish that bring money, but less than six miles the fish are small and don’t generate any money, and I can’t feed the family with the money the small fish bring. I have to factor in the risks of crossing the six mile radius and the violent Israeli response.”

The Egyptian navy has also started attacking Gazan fishermen who drift into Egyptian waters, Jihad adds.

I ask how sustainable the current situation is.

“What can I do? I can’t do anything,” Jihad says. “We try to live and adapt. If we have money, we will provide for our family – if we don’t, we can’t.”

The blockade also means that 90 million litres of untreated and partially treated sewage are pumped into the sea each day, creating public health hazards.

Mohamed al Jafarawi, a civil enginner with Gaza City municipality, points to several areas along Gaza’s coast, indicating a number of pump stations.

“With the power cuts, the pump stations can’t transport the sewage away from the centre here to the south. People in the sea often find themselves suddenly covered in sewage around these pumps,” Mohamed says, as we look at dozens of people swimming in the sea, many of them fishing.

Off the streets, in Gaza’s hospitals and medical warehouses, the effects of increasing isolation are visible. Over 30% of essential drugs and 50% of essential medical disposables are at zero stock levels in Gaza, with more nearing zero stock levels. The partial border closures at Rafah are exacerbating this shortfall.

Dr Ashraf, who heads the Central Drug Store at Gaza’s main hospital, al Shifa, says the shortages mean that patients are suffering.

“All Ministry of Health services are affected by shortages, some more than others. About half of chemotherapy agents for cancer patients are at zero stock level. If one item in the protocol is absent, the whole protocol has to be stopped, with a direct impact on the patient.

Ophthalmology, psychotropic agents and orthopaedics are also affected, all in varying proportions,” Dr Ashraf adds.

“The impact is that patients are suffering because we can’t offer drugs and disposables, so patients are having to provide them themselves. Sometimes they have to go outside of Gaza to find the service, but it’s very difficult currently via Rafah. Sometimes operations are cancelled except for absolute emergencies because of the shortages of medicines and medical disposables,” he adds.

The system, and patients, are having to stretch current supplies, Dr Ashraf Abu Mhadi says, which is counterproductive and puts patients’ welfare at greater risk.

“We hope that MAP and other organisations can help provide drugs that are very much needed. For example, medicines for kidney transplant – a patient must take them or the kidney will be rejected. They will lose the kidney and then their life. Take haemodialysis as an example: haemodialysis must take place or else kidney failure results. The patient must clean their blood 3 times a week, but often we can only do it two times, sometimes once, a week, depending on stock availability. We have to make it last, depending on the levels available and demand,” says Dr Ashraf.

“It affects the patient and the cost of care, as they’ll need additional medicines to address the problems arising from increased toxins in system,” he adds. “The actual cost increases dramatically for the patient.”

In the neighbouring, MAP-supported burns unit – the main burns facility for all of Gaza – Dr Nafaz, the unit’s director, says that the blockade has caused an increase in the number of burns victims. The fuel shortages mean that the Central Power Plant is only working at half capacity, so power cuts average 12 hours a day, and are up to 16 hours long in other areas of Gaza.

“Previously, the most common cause of burns in Gaza was domestic trauma – burns in children and women,” says the soft-spoken specialist. “But over the past few years, due to the electricity cuts, people have had to use candles and primitive stoves, lighters and generators, and these are responsible for about 30% of major burns,” he says.

The blockade and its economic impact is also contributing to chronic malnutrition among some of Gaza’s youngest generation, says Dr Adnan Wheidi, medical director of Ard al Insan. Stunting in these children will have life-long repercussions. he says, affecting the development of their organs, including their intellectual development.

There is a deepening gloom among those I spoke to as the situation in Gaza is likely to deteriorate further in the months ahead if the situation in Egypt doesn’t change.

For the 1.7 million people of Gaza, effectively trapped in the enclave, this means even further shortages of essential medicines and medical disposables, further power cuts, and further inflation.

“We believe that God won’t abandon us,” Dr Ashraf says stoically. “If the situation continues as it is, the coming days will be more difficult and the suffering will increase. We are still receiving some medicines and supplies that we were meant to receive months ago, so we are able to replenish some zero stock items that we’re running low on. But in the months ahead, we won’t have them. Patients will suffer further.”

(Source / 17.10.2013)

Egypt coup regime hires Israel-linked Washington lobby firm

Days before Egyptian forces stormed it on 14 August killing hundreds of people, a man held a sign protesting the military coup in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya square.

Egypt’s military regime, which overthrew elected President Muhammad Morsi on 3 July, has hired a Washington, DC, public relations firm with close ties to the Israel lobby and President Obama’s Democratic Party.

Last week, the Glover Park Group (GPG) filed lobbying registration forms with the US Department of Justice, stating that the firm will “provide public diplomacy, strategic communications counsel and government relations services” for the Egyptian regime headed by General Abdulfattah al-Sisi, The Hill reported.

As Middle East Monitor points out, a managing director of GPG is Arik Ben-Zvi.

“Ben-Zvi served in the Israeli Defense Forces and received his degree in History and Political Science from Tel Aviv University,” according to GPG’s website.

He also served as the “chief communications consultant on national and local elections in Israel, Bulgaria and the British Virgin Islands.”

But Ben-Zvi is not the only senior GPG person with close professional ties to Israel. Other members of the leadership team include senior vice president Jason Boxt who is former national deputy political director at the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Matt Mandel, now vice president at GPG, previously worked in the AIPAC legislative department.

Mandel also served as a legislative assistant to current US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Republican of Virginia).

As one of the largest and most “experienced” lobby firms, according to the Hill, GPG currently represents Apple, Coca-Cola and arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

Colombia, another US-allied government with an atrocious human rights record, has also previously turned to GPG.

Ties to Democratic Party

GPG also employs several former senior government officials including Clinton administration alumni Susan Brophy and DeeDee Myers.

The firm’s founding partners include top Democratic Party operatives Carter Eskew and former Clinton advisor and spokesman Joe Lockhart.

Good fit for coup regime

GPG is a natural fit for the Egyptian military regime, given the close ties and cooperation it maintains with Israel, and the fact that a Democratic president is in the White House.

AIPAC itself has worked hard to lobby the US government to not designate the Egyptian military takeover as a coup, thus avoiding a legally-mandated cutoff of US military aid to Egypt.

A “suspension” of some US military aid to Egypt announced by the Obama administration last week was purely symbolic and exempted aid required to help Egypt assure Israeli security and maintain the siege of Gaza.

When announcing the measures, US officials were at pains to emphasize they would maintain their close, high-level relations with Egyptian army top brass.

Precise execution

One of the services GPG offers its clients is “crisis management.”

“When a client faces a crisis – from a product recall, to litigation, to activist attacks,”GPG’s website proclaims, “we strive to be a resource, helping drive fast, thoughtful decision making, tight internal coordination and precise execution.”

Since the July coup, activists have been under attack by the military regime and more than 2,000 people arrested.

More than 1,000 people have been shot in cold-blood, killings that amount to summary and precise execution.

Though that is not what GPG meant by “activist attacks” and “precise execution,” it is what they will now be paid to defend.

(Source / 17.10.2013)

Prisoner Alaa Hammad: Either Freedom or Martyrdom


Iyad Al-Dababseh, the prisoners’ lawyer, confirmed that prisoner Hammad, who is currently in Soroka hospital, is suffering a serious deterioration in his health status as a result of continuing a hunger strike since 02/05/2013 (163 consecutive days of hunger strike). Hammad is taking only water and vitamins, suffering severe weakness in his body and undergoes tight security procedures especially with regard to going to water cycle and when changing clothes. He is shackled both in his hands and feet while in his bed and also when he is being transferred from a place to another despite his deteriorating health. Al-Dababseh has pointed out that the Jordanian Embassy didn’t intervene to rescue Hammad’s life and its officials didn’t visit to check on his health since he started his hunger strike 4 months ago.

Al-Dababseh has conveyed prisoner Hammad’s message in which he considered that the delay in the Jordanian embassy’s moves towards his case is like a death sentence for him because hunger strike for this long period will cause dire consequences. Al-Dababseh also confirmed that Hammad is determined to continue his hunger strike until the achievement of his demand to be released and relieved of one-third of his imprisonment period in accordance with the laws of the Israeli prisons, where he spent more than two-thirds of his sentence, or to be deported to Jordan to complete his sentence there. Al-Dababseh has said that there is a negotiation between the administration of prison and prisoner Hammad, but what is being offered by the prison administration does not meet his demands as the prison administration refused to pledge in a written statement to release him or deport him.

Hammad was born in Jerusalem city on 20/10/1978 and lived with his family in the Jordanian capital Amman as he holds the Jordanian citizenship. After his visit to Jerusalem in 2006, he was arrested there on 24/11/2006 and was accused of multiple charges that include thinking of kidnapping an Israeli soldier for the sake of a prisoner exchange, and contacting a hostile country which is Syria. Hammad was forced to acknowledge these charges because of the torture practices and threats against him. Hammad was sentenced to 12 years in prisons where he was being moved from one prison to another. In the first six years of his arrest, he was deprived from any contact with his family except through mail letters, whereas his mother was allowed to visit him every six months because she carries a Jerusalemite identity. On the other hand, his sons were not allowed to visit him. He went through many hunger strikes in order to be allowed to contact his family.

In the 2nd of May, 2013, Alaa carried an open hunger strike along with four Jordanian prisoners under the name of “Al-Karama Martyrs’ Strike”, in order to demand the Jordanian government to move to release them or to be deported to Jordan to complete their sentences as well as revealing information of the missing Jordanians. Four of the hunger strikers ended their strike after more than 100 days of hunger and after serious deterioration in their health. An agreement was reached in which their demands, guaranteeing their visit rights and improving their arrest conditions, were met. Prisoner Hammad insisted on continuing his hunger strike amid the ongoing negligence of his case by the Jordanian government. Alaa has married in 1998 and he has three boys and three daughters; Maryam (14 yrs), Maram (13 yrs), Rim (12 yrs), Yousef (10 yrs), Ibrahim (8 yrs) and Issa (7 yrs).

(Source / 17.10.2013)

Saudi king calls for unity in the Muslim world

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz said on Wednesday that Muslims should put their differences aside and open a dialogue between the difference sects of Islam.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz said on Wednesday that Muslims should put their differences aside and open a dialogue between the difference sects of Islam.

“Our goals are for the interests of Muslims and because of the fear of division among Muslims. Dialogue between Islamic sects is the best way to unite and understand each other. Our differences should not affect the unity of the Islamic Ummah,” read a statement from King Abdullah, which was read out by Crown Prince Salman at the annual reception held in Mina to welcome the heads of international hajj missions.

In the statement, the Saudi king also said that Muslims must put aside all the differences and rivalries by establishing a center of dialogue between Islamic sects in the holy city of Madina, a plan which was adopted by the Conference of Islamic Solidarity in Makkah during the month of Ramadan earlier this year.

He also said in his address that the kingdom will not allow any offence or interference in its internal or foreign affairs.

“From the land of the Prophet’s message, we are telling the world that we are a nation that will never compromise its religious and moral values and we will never allow anyone to offend the sovereignty of our nation or interfere in its internal or foreign affairs,” the king’s statement read.

The king also expressed hopes for mutual respect and friendship between countries regardless of any interests and benefits.

“In this era of rivalries, we must reject authoritarianism and arrogance and if we realize this, then our hearts will have all the values of friendship and whoever disagrees is on his own, as we have the pride and dignity of our people.”

(Source / 17.10.2013)

Ex-Shin Bet chief: ‘Price tag’ could lead to assassinations

A boy stands near a car burnt by settlers in Nablus
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Ex-Shin Bet security chief Carmi Gillon said Wednesday that ‘price tag’ attacks in the occupied West Bank are laying the foundation for a political assassination in Israel, news site Ynet reported.

“Today they call it ‘price tag’ because there is no actual threat of returning territories, but this is where the foundations lay for the next (political) murderer,” Gillon was quoted as saying.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the 18th anniversary of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s murder by a Jewish extremist, Gillon criticized Israel’s law enforcement establishment and radical right-wing rabbis for contributing to a continuation in attacks.

“Behind the Jewish underground, such as Yigal Amir, were rabbis. We know who they are but it requires courage to deal with them. Everyone says it is a political (issue) and we may be criticized for it.”

“When the Latrun monastery is spray-painted, it troubles the entire Protestant world, and we cry about antisemitism? Those who seek to destroy and devastate us come out of us,” Gillon said.

Settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank is routine.

Israeli rights group Yesh Din says settler violence is part of a “sophisticated, wider strategy designed to assert territorial domination over Palestinians in the West Bank.”

In 2012, there were 353 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The UN group said that one Palestinian was killed and over 1,300 injured by settlers or Israeli security forces in incidents directly or indirectly related to settlements.

Over 90 percent of investigations by Israeli police into settler violence fail to lead to an indictment.

(Source / 17.10.2013)

Israel settlements in West Bank up 70%

The construction site of a new project at the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Homa, East al-Quds (file photo)

The construction site of a new project at the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Homa, East al-Quds
A new report says Israeli settlement construction on the Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank has increased by about 70 percent.

Israeli organization Peace Now said on Thursday that the Tel Aviv regime began the construction of 1,708 new settler units in the West Bank between January and June of 2013, compared with 995 units during the same period in 2012.

The organization also stated that the new illegal settlement activities were “drastic,” and that some 50 percent of the new construction projects were started in “isolated settlements.”

Most of the settlement projects were carried out within the 1967 borders, the organization added.

“Since the signing of the Oslo Accords, the Israeli population in Judea and Samaria has tripled, with a majority of settlers residing in the so-called settlement blocs,” Peace Now also said.

The Israeli regime has been under fire from the international community, including its own allies, over its expansionist policies.

However, the Tel Aviv regime defies calls to abandon its illegal settlement activities.

Over half a million Israelis live in more than 120 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.

(Source / 17.10.2013)

Muslim Americans more popular than the Tea Party

Tea Party favorites Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and Larry Klayman spent most of last week bashing Muslims and introducing the “Quran” and “Allah” to the shutdown and debt ceiling debate that they are losing in Congress.

Unfortunately for them, Muslims are in fact more popular and viewed more favorably by Americans than the far right movement.

Having failed at governance and the basic task of securing an operational government, the Tea Party leaders had to retreat to ugly screams of Islamophobia in order to distract attention from their downfall and to drum up support with fear tactics. Larry Klayman, a clownish figure who started the Tea Party group Freedom Watch, brought a whole new dimension to the budget and debt ceiling debate last weekend, claiming that the U.S. is “ruled by a president who bows down to Allah” and who needs to “put the Quran down.” Klayman is not alone, 17 percent of Americans -mostly his constituency,  according to a Pew poll – believe that U.S. President Barack Obama is a Muslim.


Klayman was speaking at the World War II memorial, a site that bears the names of American soldiers who lost their lives during the war. Those names include Muslims and Christians and Jews, who, unlike Tea Party zealots, thrived and fought the fascists and the Nazis for a pluralistic society, and on behalf of a country that espouses one vision for all its inhabitants.

Islamophobia is a strategic distraction stemming from the legislative blunders that the Tea Party movement is facing in Washington

Joyce Karam

The same Islamophobia was demonstrated a few days before at the Values Voters Summit where rising Republican Senator Rand Paul spoke of a “worldwide war on Christianity” from “Boston to Zanzibar,” declaring that the terror act in Boston “was against us as a people, a Christian people.” The senator obviously missed the fact that some of the 144 injured in the bombing were Muslims, including a Saudi student, and the dead suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was denounced by the Muslim community and denied burial by a Boston mosque.

But these kinds of details don’t help Tea Party leaders in shoring up their base and spewing division to cover up their political failure in Washington. The Tea Party star Sarah Palin wants “Allah to sort out” the Syrian conflict, while Congresswoman Michele Bachmann sees in the war and Obama’s strategy a sign of “the end of times.”

Less favorable than Muslims

Islamophobia is a strategic distraction stemming from the legislative blunders that the Tea Party movement is facing in Washington. Their positions are out of touch with mainstream Americans and the vast majority of the electorate who are looking for economic recovery and not bankrupting the country. This trajectory has made the Tea Party even less popular than Islam in the view of most Americans.

According to a Wall Street Journal-NBC poll released on Friday, the popularity of the Tea Party has hit its lowest since 2010, with a favorability of 21 percent among Americans. No party in American politics has been that unpopular since 1992, and on a scale close to that of the Congress. Such numbers would make the Tea Party even less popular than colonoscopies and root canals (PPP poll).

Don’t get me wrong, Muslims’ and Arab Americans’ popularity is not skyrocketing by any means, but they are viewed more favorably than the Tea Party. A Zogby poll in August of 2012 puts favorability of Muslims at 40 percent, almost double that of the Tea Party. A Pew Poll right after the Boston bombing last May reveals that 46 percent of Americans don’t think that Islam encourages violence, while 42 percent think it does. The same poll finds that nearly two-thirds of U.S. Muslims, 63 percent, say there is no inherent contradiction between being devout and living in a modern society such as the U.S., and only 1 percent find that violence against the innocent is justifiable.

These numbers should be an eye-opener for Tea Party leaders, whose movement today is more isolated and detached from the American political mainstream than any time before. Spreading falsehoods about Muslims or claiming that Obama is one will not help in cutting the deficit or balancing the budget or reforming healthcare. If anything, the Tea Party should look closer at the record of the Founding fathers that it claims to represent. They would find in Thomas Jefferson’s Quran a true symbol of what America is: An exceptional experiment in pluralism and tolerance.

(Source / 17.10.2013)

Israeli forces shoot, kill Palestinian at West Bank army base

Israeli media published photos of the aftermath.

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Thursday shot and killed a Palestinian man who drove a tractor into an army base north of Jerusalem, according to Israeli media and a military official.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that soldiers confirmed a “direct hit” after firing at the Palestinian, who she said had driven a tractor into an army base in al-Ram, near Jerusalem.

“The Palestinian made it into the base which posed a life threat to the soldiers nearby,” the spokeswoman said.

Israel’s Walla news site reported that the unnamed man died after resuscitation efforts failed at a hospital in Qalandiya, near Ramallah. It said he suffered five bullet wounds.

Palestinian security officials named him as Yusef Ahmed Radaida, 28, AFP reported.

The Israeli army said a soldier was lightly injured by the tractor.

(Source / 17.10.2013)