June 29, 2004, Haaretz, The Palestinian literature vanished on the way to the classroom , by Omer Barak, Ha'aretz,
The Arab literature curriculum taught at Israel's Arab schools was last updated in 1981. This was the first time that Arab professionals, and not Jewish specialists in Arab affairs, had led the writing of the new curriculum, one of the main reasons it was viewed as bold and revolutionary. Dr. Mahmud Ghanayim, head of the Department of Arabic Language and Literature at Tel Aviv University and a scholar of modern Arab literature, recalls showing the curriculum to Egyptian colleagues in 1991. He says they were surprised to discover that it contained works by Ali Ahmed Said ("Adonis") and Salah Abd al-Subur - works that had yet to be taught in their own country. Some of this boldness, however, disappeared somewhere on the way from the curriculum to the literary anthologies used in Arab schools. So did some important literary works, such as poetry by Mahmoud Darwish and other prominent Palestinian poets, like Rashid Hussein and Samih al-Kassem. The committee that drew up the 1981 curriculum had tried to avoid controversy by choosing texts of a universalist nature. But the committee's only Jewish member, Immanuel Koplewitz, the head of the Education Ministry's Arab Education Department who later supervised the publication of the anthology, recalls having some doubts about what had been decided. He says he asked the publisher to remove from the anth
June 30, 2004, Haaretz, Embarrassing America, by Hasan Abu Nimah & Ali, Electronic Intifada 6/30/2004
Just when we thought the Bush Administration had reached the bottom of the ditch in its unprincipled behaviour, it surprises us by digging deeper. US Vice President Dick Cheney's use of the F-word to a senior Democratic Senator and political opponent during a ceremony in the United States Senate on June 22 demonstrated that the Bush administration no longer feels a need to cover up its thuggish behaviour with even the pretense of decorum that gives democratic government its authority. Rather than apologize, Cheney said he "felt better after I had done it." Was this an example of the kind of democratic discourse that the United States wants to teach the rest of the world?A few days later, Cheney's boss, President Bush, gave an interview to Irish television on the eve of his visit to Ireland for the US-European Union summit. What was notable was his impatience whenever interviewer Carole Coleman asked him any question that challenged his simplistic conception of the world and his role in it. Several times he admonished her not to interrupt him, displaying testiness that would be ruled out of order in a high school debate.
June 29, 2004, Haaretz, Separation fence forces expanded UN food program, by Amira Hass,
A Palestinian community's proximity to the separation fence is one of four criteria for determining an operational area for the United Nations' World Food Program Assistance in the Occupied Territories. Between August this year and September 2005, the WFP intends to reach 480,000 Palestinians who are not refugees, who will get a combined total of close to 80,000 tons of basic food products per month. In a complex assessment process, the WFP decided that a rural area with the least possibility for diversifying income that was adversely affected in a direct manner by the separation fence, and in which malnutrition rates run high, would be designated a geographic unit with a "high rating" for granting food aid to residents.WFP assessors took account of the fact that that the construction of the fence caused the loss of a substantial portion of the most fertile agricultural lands in the northern area of the fence. They had produced annual yields of $90,000 per hectare (10 dunams).
June 29, 2004, Haaretz, If they continue to shout 'transfer',
by Avirama Golan, 6/29/2004
The maneuver is not new, but now it is gaining momentum: spokespersons for the settlers are defining the future evacuation of Gush Katif as transfer. Yesha (the Hebrew acronym for Judea, Samaria and Gaza) rabbis are calling on "everyone involved in the matter ... not to lend a hand, heaven forfend, to the destruction of Jewish settlements and the exile of Jews." Both transfer and exile. This is an astounding description. What kind of exile it, if the exiles are moved a few kilometers, from one part of Israel to another? If a family from Gush Katif is moved, for example, to Jerusalem, does that mean that Jerusalem is exile? If we allow this dialectic, we are still left with the dramatic term "transfer," and must wonder why adherents of the Greater Land of Israel need it. The dictionary definition of "transfer" is "the transfer of a large population from one region to another, on the basis of race, nationality or religion," and it is described as a means that has not been considered legitimate since World War II.
by Ammar Abdulhamid, Daily Star 6
When you are stuck in the neck of a bottle, it doesn't matter how far you are from the bottom, or how close you come to the edge of freedom. There are no points of no return. As you struggle to free yourself, you can as easily fail and fall as succeed and climb out of the top. For those stuck in the neck, though, the option of not doing anything, of accepting their bondage, seems like the safest bet. But what happens when they realize that an overwhelming force may threaten to break the bottle? What is the safest bet then? The Arab League summit in Tunisia came and went. A bold statement was issued at the end, one that was meant to strike all the right chords with the forces of reform inside and outside the Middle East. Emancipation from the region's age-old authoritarian practices and notions, if we believe the summit statement, is forthcoming - and all we have to do is reach out for it.
by David Hirst, Daily Star 6/30/2004
On publishing his memoirs, former US President Bill Clinton told The Guardian that Yasser Arafat was responsible for the failure of the Camp David conference of July 2000, because, unlike then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who was ready for "enormous concessions," the Palestinian president couldn't "make the final jump from revolutionary to statesman."There is one reason why, even if Clinton believes that to be the case, he should not, even now, publicly proclaim it. Camp David was essentially Barak's brainchild. Desperate for a breakthrough in the moribund peace process, he conceived the fantastic gambit of telescoping the still-unaccomplished "interim phases" of the Oslo Accords and "final-status" issues into one grand, climactic conclave that would "end the 100-year conflict." Arafat was deeply reluctant to attend. And Clinton only persuaded him to do so by pledging that he would not blame him for an inglorious outcome.
by Adam Keller, Electronic Intifada 6/26/2004
It had been planned meticulously. The initiative came from the Al-Ram municipality -- a huge demonstration including as many Israelis as could be convinced to come on the weekend before the Supreme Court's decision over the fate of Al-Ram. But, from how it went it seems that somebody up there decided that it was not in their interest to have today an orderly demonstration of Palestinians together with Israelis. That, so short before the Supreme Court was to give its decision, it was much better to transform it into something in which "anything could happen.""Are you you going to Al-Ram" asked the border policeman at the roadblock. "Yes, that's where we are going." All of us were ready to jump out and go on foot should the bus again be prohibited, but the policeman just smiled and said: "Have a good day."
By Jonathan Cook, Electronic Intifada 6/29/2004
He was the last breakfast companion I was expecting. Separated from me by a rack of toast and a handful of marmalade sachets was Mordechai Vanunu, the man who 18 years ago revealed that Israel had amassed a secret stockpile of nuclear weapons. Breakfast at the St George's pilgrim guest house in East Jerusalem is usually a sedate affair, but on this occasion both he and I were skating unintentionally but dangerously close to arrest by Israel's security services.Vanunu, who found sanctuary in the grounds of the Anglican cathedral of St George's when he was released from jail two months ago, is under a severe gagging order imposed by the Israeli government. He is banned from talking to all foreigners and most especially foreign journalists as the former Sunday Times reporter Peter Hounam discovered a few weeks ago when he was arrested by the Shin Bet secret services, held in a cell for 24 hours and then deported. Hounam's crime was to arrange an interview for the BBC with Vanunu, trying to get round the restrictions by using an Israeli citizen to pose the questions
Editorial, Workers Word 7/1/2004
A recent study by Glasgow University on what the British public knows about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict turned up some damning answers. The majority thought that the Palestinians were occupying Israeli land instead of the reality, which is the other way around. Some 80 percent of the British people get their news through television, which has prompted a look at how television news ends up disinforming the public.We predict that if a similar study were made in the U.S., it would show similar results. The media here, if anything, is even more deceptive in concealing the roots of the longest-running conflict in the Middle East. That's because Washington has an even bigger stake in the struggle than London, having funded Israel's militaristic growth and expansion almost single-handedly. Similarly, in Anglo-U.S. domination of the region's oil resources, it is Wall Street that now holds by far the lion's share.It is only the stubborn resistance of the Palestinian people themselves that has brought this widespread media bias to light. They now are struggling to keep Ariel Sharon's apartheid wall from so fragmenting their communities that the people could be forced to leave their homes and land for lack of jobs and access to schools, hospitals and other necessary services. Every day Palestinian workers, students and people seeking medical help have to spend hours at Israeli checkpoints before they can reach destinations only a short distance from their homes--but now on the other side of the wall.
Israel's Intelligence Scandal - Part II , By Uri Avnery, Palestine Chronicle 6/28/2004
[Part 1: Irreversible Mental Damage CounterPunch 6/21/04]
-- This grave accusation raised a storm in professional circles. Intelligence operatives of undoubted integrity emerged from their anonymity in order to support Malka publicly. They were headed by the man who, at the relevant time, was in charge of the Army Intelligence section for Palestinian affairs, Colonel Ephraim Lavie, who was then responsible for the collection of all intelligence material about the Palestinian leadership. There is no doubt that in the professional confrontation between Amos and Amos, Amos Malka emerged as the victor. This means, in simple words: there was no intelligence material at all backing the assertion that Arafat is working for the destruction of the State of Israel, that Arafat had broken off the peace process in order to start a terror campaign, that Arafat is not ready for a reasonable compromise. All these assertions, uttered by diverse Israeli politicians and generals, were based on the "assessment" of one man who, while appearing to represent the intelligence department, was actually suppressing the considered professional reports of his own department, as well as of the General Security Service (Shabak).
By Stephen Zunes, Palestine Chronicle 6/27/2004
The vote was 407 in favor of the resolution and only 9 opposed. -- On Wednesday, June 23, 2004, the U.S. House of Representatives, in an overwhelming bipartisan vote, endorsed right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's efforts to colonize and annex large sections of the Palestinian West Bank, seized by Israel in the June 1967 war. This was not just another "pro-Israel" (or, more accurately, "pro-Israeli right") resolution, but an effective renunciation of the post-World War II international system based upon the premise of the illegitimacy of the expansion of a country's territory by military force. House Concurrent Resolution 460, sponsored by right-wing Republican leader Tom DeLay, "strongly endorses" the letter sent by President George W. Bush to the Israeli prime minister in April supporting his so-called "disengagement" plan. This unilateral initiative calls for withdrawing the illegal Israeli settlements from the occupied Gaza Strip, but -- far more significantly -- would incorporate virtually all of the illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank into Israel, leaving the Palestinians with a series of non-contiguous and economically unviable cantons, each surrounded by Israeli territory, collectively constituting barely 10% of historic Palestine. (Even in the case of the Gaza Strip, Sharon's plan would allow Israel to control the borders, the ports, and the airspace, as well as having the right to conduct military operations inside Palestinian areas at will.)
Editorial, Miftah 6/28/2004
Israeli troops killed seven "most wanted men" during a raid in the old city of Nablus on Saturday, in one of the deadliest operations of the so-called Operation Full Court Press, thus affording themselves the dubious accomplishment of crossing off from their deadly "list" more than half of the 38 names initially on it. The Palestinians killed, all allegedly militants who, according to Israeli officials, had been "masterminds of suicide bombings," were caught unaware during the latest raid, which has claimed eleven lives and injured an additional twenty in less than 24 hours. Among those killed on Saturday was Nayef Abu Sharekh, the senior commander in the West Bank of Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a man who, according to a senior Fatah official, had been a vocal proponent of democratization and elections in Palestine, and who had even threatened, at times, to carry out elections "in defiance of the old guard." He had been known to be at odds with President Arafat, the personification of "the old guard," on account of his views.
By Mouin Rabbani, Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 15 - 21 October 1998
On 4 October 1992, El-Al cargo flight LY 1862, which originated in New York's John F Kennedy Airport, took off from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for Tel Aviv. Approximately 10 minutes later, the Boeing 747-200 ploughed into the Groeneveen and Kruitberg apartment buildings in Bijlmermeer, a southeastern suburb of the Dutch capital. In addition to all three crew members, 40 inhabitants of the buildings are known to have been killed. Since many undocumented Afro-Caribbean migrants are believed to have lived in the buildings, the actual death toll was almost certainly higher. Whereas the initial investigation concentrated on the causes of the disaster, and revealed disturbing information about the woeful condition of El-Al's aircraft and the recklessness of its pilots, a systematic yet incompetent tactic of obfuscation by the Israeli and Dutch authorities concerning the doomed flight's cargo led to mounting suspicion that LY 1862 was transporting more than the alleged "perfumes and gift articles". Indeed, the past six years have witnessed a steady series of disclosures in the Dutch media relating to Israel's use of El-Al passenger and cargo flights to transport "strategic military goods" from the US to Israel via Amsterdam, as well as routine fraud by Israel's state airline with freight documents. The most shocking revelation so far was made on 30 September, when editors Harm van den Berg and Karel Knip of the prestigious Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad published incontrovertible documentation that, in addition to military equipment and munitions, LY 1862 was in fact transporting three of the four components required to manufacture Sarin nerve gas. Sarin, a chemical weapon as lethal as it is illegal, was last used in the March 1995 Tokyo subway attack, in which several grammes of the gas killed 12 Japanese commuters and injured more than 5,000. It previously achieved notoriety when Saddam Hussein used it to wipe out the Iraqi Kurdish village of Halabja in 1988. According to documents uncovered by NRC Handelsblad, LY 1862 was carrying at least ten 18.9 litre plastic drums of Dimethyl Methylphosphonate (DMMP), and smaller amounts of Isopropanol and Hydrogen Fluoride. (No revelations have been made regarding thionylchloride, Sarin's fourth and final ingredient.) The 189 litres of DMMP, sufficient for the production of 270 kilogrammes of Sarin (but simply termed "flammable liquid" in freight documents subsequently provided to the Dutch authorities), had been supplied by Solkatronic Chemicals of Morristown, Pennsylvania, USA. Solkatronic also supplies Israel with the deadly CS and CN gases, which have been used by the military and police to kill dozens of Palestinian civilians (including many infants) in the Occupied Territories over the past decade. Indeed, "specialty gases" and "security-related products" are just a few of the items advertised on this death merchant's website (www.solkatronic.com). Although DMMP is, in view of its lethal applications, subject to stringent export controls by the US government (see box), John Swanciger, executive vice-president of Solkatronic, confirmed to journalists that his firm applied for and received the required Department of Commerce licences to export its deadly concoction to Israel. Swanciger added that this was the case not once, but twice: after the initial consignment was inadvertently scattered all over Bijlmermeer, and despite a subsequent tightening of American export regulations, Solkatronic was permitted to replenish the Jewish state's chemical arsenal with an identical second shipment. Swanciger also stated that Israel is the only foreign country to have ordered DMMP from his firm. According to the Shipper's Declaration of Dangerous Goods, revealed by NRC Handelsblad, the DMMP consignment was intended for use by the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR, see www.iibr.gov.il) in Nes Ziona, near Tel Aviv. (The second batch was however ordered by the Orwellian-sounding Shalom Chemicals of Nes Ziona, a firm which, according to the 6 October 1998 edition of the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, nobody has ever heard of and is presumably but a product of IIBR's fertile imagination.) Among those concerned with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, it is common knowledge that IIBR is the Israeli military and intelligence community's front organisation for the development, testing and production of chemical and biological weapons. And, as demonstrated by Mossad's botched murder attempt on Hamas leader Khaled Masha'al in Jordan last year (in which IIBR supplied both the lethal poison and its antidote), it is also a pioneer in the field of medical warfare. An anonymous biologist previously associated with IIBR, quoted by Uzi Nahmaini in the 4 October 1998 edition of The Sunday Times, states that "there is hardly a single known or unknown form of chemical or biological weapon which is not manufactured at the institute." Nahmaini adds that the highly secretive gas and germ factory is "surrounded by a 6ft-high concrete wall topped with sensors that reveal the exact location of any intruders, but [IIBR] is erased from local and aerial survey maps." He also notes that at least six of the installation's employees have been killed in "work accidents", and that even members of the Israeli parliament are denied entry to it. (In 1986, it was The Sunday Times which first published Israeli technician Mordechai Vanunu's documented revelations concerning Israel's massive nuclear weapons programme.) The common view of IIBR's unsavoury activities is shared by residents of Nes Ziona and, apparently, Israel's Supreme Court as well; at the end of last month, the Nes Ziona local council, arguing that the poison plant poses a potentially catastrophic public health hazard, successfully obtained a Supreme Court injunction barring it from expanding by 14 acres. LY 1862's cargo also explains why the doomed flight's pilot ignored instructions by Schiphol air traffic control to conduct an emergency landing in the direction of the nearby Ijsselmeer Lake, and instead made straight for Schiphol causing precisely the catastrophe ground personnel were desperately trying to prevent. According to chemical warfare experts, DMMP reacts "furiously" with water, and would have resulted in a catastrophe too frightening to contemplate. True to form, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's media adviser, David Bar-Ilan, immediately issued an angry and categorical denial in response to the NRC Handelsblad scoop, emphasising in the strongest possible terms that LY 1862 was not carrying Sarin precursors. The Israeli Ministry of Defence, which also makes statements on behalf of IIBR, issued a more cryptic declaration that the flight was carrying no dangerous goods, but that "this statement only concerns cargo intended for the Ministry of Defence". Given the sheer weight of evidence combined with intense Dutch media scrutiny, however, Bar-Ilan's outright fabrications and the military's deliberate half-truths served only to add insult to injury and this particular hasbara ("disinformation") campaign collapsed altogether some 12 hours later. At that point, El-Al spokesman Nachman Kleiman, who since 1992 had remained steadfast in his tongue-tied account that El-Al was both unaware of the specific items transported on LY 1862 yet had fully disclosed these specifics to the Dutch authorities immediately after the accident, was forced to concede that the flight in question was indeed transporting Sarin components. Rather pathetically, he concluded by claiming that El-Al's activities were entirely consistent with relevant regulations. Other Israeli government agencies gave the habitual response designed to prevent further examination, namely the announcement of an investigation. Among the immediate beneficiaries of the latest disclosures are the approximately 700 Bijlmermeer residents and emergency workers who continue to suffer from medical and psychological conditions not dissimilar to those experienced by soldiers and civilians after the 1991 Gulf War. Whereas initial suspicions have centred on exposure to incinerated radioactive material (presumed to be the depleted uranium used by Boeing in the construction process, although with El-Al one can never be sure), a major study is now underway to determine the role, if any, of exposure to the nerve gas ingredients aboard LY 1862. Needless to say, the affected individuals are outraged that a possible cause of their illnesses has been kept hidden from them for six years. The investigation into the LY 1862 crash, which one Dutch researcher has likened to "a puzzle in which nearly half the pieces are missing, and most of the remaining pieces are heavily damaged," has already resulted in a number of official inquiries. Yet, on account of Israeli stonewalling and disinformation, and a campaign of obfuscation by Dutch government agencies, these inquiries have produced more questions than answers. Indeed, the LY 1862 investigation is reminiscent of the scandal surrounding the 1995 mass murders at Srebrnica, where a Dutch military battalion whose sole mission was to protect Bosnian civilians in a besieged United Nations enclave conducted itself so disgracefully that there was nothing left to protect except the careers of the Dutch officers and politicians responsible for the debacle. Thus, even before the latest disclosures, restive Dutch parliamentarians successfully passed a motion to begin a full inquiry into the El-Al affair. Among the questions that remain unanswered are why neither of LY 1862's indestructible flight data recorders (black boxes) have yet to surface, and the related matter of the "men in white suits" whose presence at the crash site immediately and several hours after the disaster has been alleged in affidavits submitted by Bijlmermeer residents, emergency crew members and law enforcement personnel. According to these accounts, one group wearing thick protective clothing and a second dressed as "astronauts", waded unhindered through the inferno and, shunting aside those in command of the relief operation, disappeared with pieces of debris. Although a June 1998 report by the then Justice Minister Winnie Sorgdrager (whose term was synonymous with mismanagement and scandal), did its best to minimise the allegations and dismiss them as figments of the imagination, it nowhere contains a clear and categorical denial of the actual allegations that have been made. The accounts, some of which claim that the second group arrived in vehicles bearing French licence plates, raise the possibility that operatives from Mossad's European headquarters in Paris were involved in the removal of evidence. Personnel attached to the Mossad station at Schiphol Airport, and covert Dutch (or NATO) emergency units may also be shown to have been involved if the allegations are ever seriously investigated. Another aspect requiring clarification concerns the multiple and contradictory freight documents supplied to the Dutch authorities. Dutch television's Nova news programme earlier this year featured statements by former El-Al employees at Frankfurt Airport and elsewhere, which revealed that they regularly tampered with such documents on behalf of their superiors. In one corroborating example from the LY 1862 affair, the Amsterdam engineering firm Omegam, which investigated the crash site, discovered extensive traces of Tributylphosphate (TBP) and concluded that at least several hundred litres of the liquid must have been aboard. Yet the chemical is not listed on the aircraft's freight documents. According to NRC Handelsblad, TBP is a fairly common industrial chemical which is also used to recycle uranium and plutonium from spent fuel rods, similar to the process the jailed nuclear technician revealed is used by Israel. The parliamentary inquiry is expected to concentrate on Israel's refusal to provide full and timely information to the Dutch authorities, including the fact that the nature of 20,000 kilogrammes of LY 1862's cargo has yet to be clarified. No less important, the Dutch government's own process of disclosure will also come under intense scrutiny. Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok's complaint about Israel's lack of cooperation in the wake of the latest revelations notwithstanding, there is considerable evidence that his government (and particularly the Ministry of Transport) at various points failed to make known the significance of technical and other information in its possession. Allegations that government and law enforcement agencies, perhaps in collaboration with their Israeli counterparts, worked to conceal the most explosive aspects of the affair may also be discussed. It remains unclear whether the role of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport as the key transit point for the "strategic military goods" routinely flown by El-Al from New York to Tel Aviv will be critically assessed by the parliamentary inquiry; Holland's reputation for zealous devotion to Israel is entirely deserved, and had El-Al transported its morbid cargo through rather than on to Dutch territory (as may well have been the case with the second DMMP consignment), it would scarcely have raised an eyebrow. For the same reason, the functional extra-territoriality enjoyed by El-Al and Mossad at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, where the Dutch authorities as a rule neither ask questions nor monitor anything to do with the activities of their Israeli guests, effectively exempting the Israeli's from the applicable national and international laws and regulations, is likely to be studiously ignored. It is, therefore, ironic that shortly after the LY 1862 disaster, The Hague was chosen as the seat of the United Nations Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. More scandalous, is the role of the US in this affair. It now appears that during the same period that Washington has been using Baghdad's possession of weapons of mass destruction as a pretext to prolong the sanctions against Iraq, it has itself been actively engaged in chemical weapons proliferation in the Middle East. Given that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children have died excruciating deaths as a result of UN sanctions, the point is more than academic. Other than the Dutch media, few people have expressed any interest in the LY 1862 crash and its implications. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, interviewed on 6 October 1998 by the Good Morning Egypt television programme, said the El-Al fiasco proves Israel has chemical weapons. Yet, he noted, "Nobody says a thing. It's as if nothing happened."
AMONG the cargo items known to have been aboard LY 1862 were three of the four final ingredients (precursors) required for the production of Sarin nerve gas. The consignment of 189 litres of Dimethyl Methylphosphonate (DMMP) would have been sufficient for the production of some 270 kilogrammes of Sarin. DMMP is classified as a "Schedule 2" substance by the UN Chemical Weapons Convention, which means it is essential for the production of chemical weapons and not used in large amounts for civil purposes. Although the Convention was adopted after the El-Al crash, DMMP had been on a "core list" of eight substances most conducive to chemical weapons proliferation since 1987, and was thus subject to stringent export controls. While DMMP is also used as a flame retardant in construction materials, chemical weapons experts cited in the Dutch media (on which this account is based) are unanimous in their view that the El-Al consignment was intended for the production of Sarin gas. They base their views on the amount of DMMP in question, its destination (the Israel Institute for Biological Research), and the presence of two additional Sarin precursors aboard LY 1862. The possibility that the consignment in question was intended for scientific research to detect and protect against Sarin was also dismissed. European institutes known to engage in such research consume only several hundred grammes, and at most a few kilogrammes, of DMMP a year. If Israel's entire stock of DMMP is limited to the 10 plastic drums known to have been aboard LY 1862, the resulting amount of Sarin would be considered "militarily insignificant" and best suited for "large-scale field experiments". The amounts of DMMP and other agents in Israel's chemical arsenal are, however, unknown. The export of DMMP to Israel will be criminalised in 1999, because Israel has refused to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention.
By Azmi Bishara, Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 6/24/2004
Nothing was left to chance in the scripting of the funeral rites of Ronald Reagan -- Reagan was the subject of many amusing, and not so amusing, stories simply because his presidency seemed so unreal. One commentator described his term in office as the long American daydream. No wonder; reality was so close to fiction. One of those stories has it that upon his return from his historic visit to Moscow a journalist asked him, "Mr President, did you happen to notice that the Russians are human beings with feelings, who weep and laugh just like us?" The journalist was making a veiled reference to Reagan's famous branding of the Soviet Union as the "evil empire". Reagan was quick on the mark. He answered, "that's right. I did notice that. They must have changed."President Reagan died recently after a long struggle with Alzheimer's. He was further away from reality than ever, but Washington acted as though he had remained an active statesman until the eve of his death; as though his passing were an unexpected shock. Such feigned bewilderment is not so much hypocrisy as it is part of the familiar trappings of state funerals everywhere. Hypocrisy in these instances is when the death of a former statesman is used by still living and active politicians to rewrite history towards their own personal ends. This was how Reagan -- a simple man who looked at reality as though it were fantasy and turned illusion into truth, who reduced the Cold War to a showdown between good and evil in a cowboy film -- was transformed into George Bush's personal electoral campaign manager...
By Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 6/24/2004
Palestinians are distrustful of Sharon's intentions in Gaza -- As the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Egypt continued to work out details of a comprehensive plan for the governance of Gaza following the prospective Israeli withdrawal, Palestinian political groups once again cautioned against "accepting at face value" the Israeli disengagement plan and giving Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon the benefit of the doubt.The warnings came in a statement issued on Monday, probably in Damascus, and signed by virtually all Palestinian political factions, including Fatah, Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and the Popular and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine. The statement stressed that "any Zionist withdrawal" from occupied Palestinian territory ought to be unconditional and should in no way be awarded or reciprocated with "security assurances and guarantees at our people's expense".Moreover, the statement warned against "dangerous byproducts" of the unilateral plan, including the seizure of more Palestinian land in the West Bank, neutralising the Gaza Strip and crushing Palestinian resistance.
By Graham Usher, Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 6/24/2004
Omar Suleiman is working out Egypt's future role in Israel's disengagement. It is a tough assignment -- The waves made by Ariel Sharon's disengagement policy are starting to subside -- at least in Israel. Most Israelis back the plan and his minority government now enjoys a parliamentary safety net provided courtesy of the Labour Party. Even Labour's recent threats to vote against the government's social and economic policies seem to leave the prime minister unfazed. While most of his Likud Party is opposed to any policy that involves the evacuation of settlements, Sharon knows the majority of his Likud ministers are against any return of Labour to government. Dividing and ruling, Sharon should be able to keep his ship afloat until parliament's long summer recess in August.Where tremors are being felt is within the Palestinian and Arab arenas, triggered especially over the preeminent place Egypt has assumed in the disengagement. This, too, is a form of Sharon's policy of divide and rule.
By Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Palestine Monitor 6/8/2004
The pictures of American soldiers torturing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq have shocked the world. To the Palestinian people however, these photographs of hooded or naked figures come as no surprise. For the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have served time in Israeli prisons, the pictures only bring back memories of their own torture.In many cases, the treatment of the Iraqis in Abu Ghraib bear striking similarities to Israeli methods of torture. Accusations are now circling in the world's press that Israeli security officers have actually assisted in training private US security contractors being sent to Iraq.Regardless of whether there is any truth to these allegations, the world must recognize that torture is commonplace in Israel. It is not enough to condemn the actions of these American soldiers while ignoring the systematic human rights abuses imposed on the Palestinian people.
By Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 6/26/2004
The issue of "why it is so hard for outsiders to understand the Middle East?" should be stated more accurately as "why Americans and Israelis" find it so hard to grasp Arab perspectives - because most of the world other than the United States and Israel understands Arab sentiments and generally empathizes with them. This is a crucial issue to grapple with, because of the military power and political clout that Israel and the US exercise in the Middle East. Bridging Arab-American-Israeli differences and misperceptions is critical to ushering in a new era of conflict resolution, stability and prosperity in the region.Three principal reasons might explain why Americans, Israelis and random other outsiders have difficulty understanding the Arabs: culture, politics and history.The cultural gap is probably the most significant and least appreciated. Arabs and Americans share virtually identical values on core personal and political issues like community, family, justice, accountability, participation and human rights. However, these values are expressed very differently, due to the distinct cultural habits of each society. The key differences may be summarized as follows...
By Meron Rapoport, Palestine Monitor 6/24/2004
Israel's plan of attack is to close off the Gaza Strip before withdrawing to concentrate on expansionist policies in the West Bank. Ariel Sharon hopes this will annihilate the Palestinians politically, condemning them to work for poverty wages in industrial estates along the security wall. -- THE farmers of Irtah, a village near the West Bank market town of Tulkarem, can still see their land. But they haven't had access to it for more than a year because the trenches, walls and barbed wire of Israel's "security fence" lie between their hilltop homes and the fields. Now the Israeli army is threatening officially to confiscate the 500 dunams they are forbidden to access (1). The fate of this land is almost certainly determined: an industrial estate will be built astride the fence, funded jointly by the Israeli authorities and Palestinian entrepreneurs. The farmers, left without land, will have no choice but to work in the new factories for a minimum wage set at barely a third of Israel's official minimum. Tulkarem is not alone. While the fence is a long way from being finished (200km out of a planned 700km have been built), Israels minister for industry, trade and employment, Ehud Olmert, is pressing for a chain of industrial estates to be set up along its length. Some sections of the army, especially those engaged in patrolling the Palestinian territories, consider this project as a continuation of the fence.
By Hasan Abu Nimah & Ali, Electronic Intifada 6/25/2004
In February, press reports that cement imported from Egypt through Palestinian companies and ready-made concrete manufactured in the Palestinian village of Abu Dis were being used to build Israeli settlements and the apartheid wall provoked outrage among Palestinians. Israeli television showed trucks transporting cement from a factory originally owned by Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qureia to the Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, east of occupied Jerusalem. Qureia reportedly had transferred ownership of the plant to other members of his family.In an attempt to mollify public disgust, the Palestinian Authority (PA) ordered an investigation, even as the accusations were vigorously denied. The committee charged with the job, headed by Palestinian legislator Hasan Khreisheh, has now completed its work, according to a June 14 report in the Jordanian daily Ad Dustour.
By Nazir Majali, Ha'aretz 6/25/2004
I would like to believe that if those same people who expressed their desire to have the Arabs expelled from the State of Israel in a survey by the Center for the Study of National Security at Haifa University had been asked their opinion in public rather than in a pollster's questionnaire, the results would have been different. In that survey, 63 percent of the Jews said they support the idea that the government should encourage Arabs to emigrate; 45 percent said Arab citizens should be prevented from voting for the Knesset. In open discussions, on television or in public interviews, Jewish citizens would certainly be embarrassed to express such chauvinistic and racist opinions. We can assume that they would want to be portrayed according to the best tradition of "the only democracy in the Middle East," and of the Jewish people. As members of a nation that went through the Holocaust and suffered racial discrimination more than any other, they wouldn't be willing to be exposed as Arab haters, as people who have no trouble trampling the rights of the Arab citizens of the state, to the point of expelling them from their homeland.
By Mona Makram Ebeid, Daily Star 6/25/2004
Like flames coaxed from dying embers, proposals for the seemingly intractable imbroglio that is Middle East reform have become frequent. Yet there is something about the United States, whose latest reform proposal was presented to the recent G8 summit in Sea Island, Georgia, that is inspiringly, embarrassingly, quintessentially American: No other nation could be as hopeful to evangelize for regional democracy, yet also naive enough to do it so badly. There is animosity in the Middle East toward anything American because of the Bush administration's support for Israel and its actions in Iraq. The fact that Washington is pushing for regional democracy gives the effort a bad odor. The result is that Egyptian political reformers and advocates for change, whether liberal or religious, have lost the confidence they had following the Alexandria Declaration that reform would lead to real change. Nevertheless, many in Egyptian government circles and the official media contend the leadership recognizes the anger bubbling up in the society, but simply rejects far-reaching change as the answer. Amid the chatter about political and social reform, people are told that change must come slowly, and from within. No one argues with the latter statement, but the pace of reform is open to question. The question is: When does "slowly" become a farce?
George Rishmawi – Feature, June 23, 2004
On the occasion of the first anniversary for our wedding, my wife Fida and I decided to save some money of our monthly budget and go to the same place we went to on our honey-moon.The place where we went to last year was the Dead Sea, however, since there were many checkpoints this year we could not go and decided to spend the weekend in the Tourist Resort in Jericho, the oldest city in the world.We were told that a bus from Beit Sahour leaves the town as early as 7:00 am direct to the resort, which was very encouraging for me because of two things; one is that I hate going through the Israeli checkpoints, and second is that Fida is five months pregnant and it is hot, so I thought this is a good opportunity.
By Marc Lynch, Miftah 6/23/2004
Could the plan of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to "disengage" from the Gaza Strip "include a Jordanian presence" in the West Bank? So Sharon told his cabinet on June 1, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz. Since then, rumors about such a role for Jordan, farfetched as they seem, have spread like wildfire through Israeli and Arab political circles. Seeking to assuage fears that Hamas would dominate the Palestinian territories from which Israeli forces withdraw, Israel and the United States have approached Egypt about providing security assistance in Gaza. On June 17, Egyptian President Husni Mubarak met with CIA Director George Tenet, presumably to discuss the details. Reports that a Jordanian security team toured the West Bank in mid-June, without notifying Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, have fueled speculation that Jordan may be amenable to an arrangement similar to Egypt's. The prospect of Jordan's return to territory it occupied from 1948 to 1967 has been taken seriously enough that, on June 14, Jordanian spokeswoman Asma Khader found it necessary to repeat her government's long-standing opposition to the idea. Two days later, King Abdallah II is said to have told George W. Bush of his worry that the Israeli premier might be attempting to revive the "Jordan option."
By Geoffrey Aronson, Miftah 6/23/2004
The idea of one nation "occupying" another is of contemporary vintage. Most of world history has concerned itself with victory by one country or tribe over another and the loser's expulsion or assimilation. The French attempted to maintain this age-old tradition well into the 20th century, most notably in Algeria, as did the Nazis in Austria. However, already in the 19th century, Britain's conquest of countries like Egypt and India lead to a hybrid colonial administration aimed at the exploitation and control of subject peoples and loss of their economic and military sovereignty, but that stopped well short of their outright removal. In the Middle East today we have two occupations - in Palestine and Iraq - both of which originated in failed British colonial experiences. Both also were born in blood and treasure - in the former instance a battle for land, in the latter a less tangible if no less real will to power.
By Crispin Blunt, Miftah 6/23/2004
[Crispin Blunt is a British Member of Parliament and chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council] -- On Friday I enjoyed, if that is the right word, being a first-hand witness to an example of policy failure in action. The Israeli Defence Force deployed on the border between Egypt and Gaza saw fit to open fire on a group of unarmed people inspecting the area, who had arrived in clearly marked UN vehicles. The fact that three of us were British politicians, from the three main parties, and included a Labour Friend of Israel made the event newsworthy. The same treatment had been meted out to representatives of Save the Children 48 hours earlier and, of course, fatally to Tom Hurndall and James Miller last year. The 104 Palestinians who died in Gaza in May alone attracted rather less attention. We were fortunate in that the aim of the fire was to drive us away. While it succeeded, we had already borne witness to the destruction being wrought by the Israelis to people's homes along the border. What is so depressing is that the Israeli people seem prepared to accept policies not only of such moral and legal bankruptcy, but also so self-destructive in the long term. It is the moral high ground that has been abandoned since 1967, and this cannot but be a cancer in the soul and identity of any society. Aside from the moral issue, it surely cannot be sensible to manufacture hatred that will take generations to dissipate.
International Press Center 6/3/2004
TULKAREM, Palestine, June 3, 2004 (IPC)-- The construction of the Israeli Apartheid Wall through the lands of the Deir Al Ghosoon Village in Tulkarem province continue to leave scars on the daily life and suffering of the villagers there, increasing the psychological and economic burdens on their shoulders.Most of the villagers in Deir Al Ghosoon have lost parts of their lands or all of them to the Israeli Apartheid Wall. The village, which used to be the largest agricultural area in the province, depended mainly on farming and a large percentage of the population have lost their source of livelihood without any consideration for their legal rights or future prospects.The Israeli Apartheid Wall has so far expropriated 3,000 dunums of land from the village's 7,000 inhabitants, which constituted 20% of the total area of the village.Emad Ghanem, 30, looked in torment at his land that was expropriated by the Israeli occupation; the land that he inherited from his forefathers. 30 dunums have been expropriated from his lands "like 30 pieces of my body have been ripped off," Ghanem said.
By Neil Sammonds, ZNet 10/11/2002
The tenth anniversary of the crash of El Al flight LY1862 in the Netherlands passed virtually unnoticed by the world's media. On 4October 1992, a Boeing 747 airliner of the Israeli airline El Al crashed into apartment blocks at Bijlmermeer, near Schiphol Airport, south-east of Amsterdam, en route from New York to Tel Aviv (MEI 585, 598). At least 47 people were killed and over a thousand local residents fell ill to respiratory, neurological and mobility ailments and experienced a rise in cancer and birth defects.Facing official Dutch and Israeli stone-walling, an independent Dutch nuclear research group discovered that the plane used depleted uranium as ballast. In 1998 the Dutch daily Handelsblad revealed even deadlier material in the cargo: flight LY1862 was carrying 10 tons of chemicals, including hydrofluoric acid, isopropanol and dimethyl methylphosphonate (DMMP) --- three of the four chemicals used in the production of sarin nerve gas. A belated Dutch parliamentary enquiry into the crash discovered unpublicized weekly flights from New York to Tel Aviv stopping off at Schiphol, where cargoes were not inspected and --- as the Dutch attorney general testified -- El Al security staff worked for Mossad. In the words of an investigator working on behalf of the Bijlmermeer survivors, Schiphol had become, and continues to be, "a hub for secret weapons transfers". "Invisible" facilities -- The DMMP was supplied by Solkatronic Chemicals Inc. of Morrisville, Pennsylvania, and was destined for the Israeli Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) at Nes Ziona, near Tel Aviv. As MEI noted in 1998, the IIBR is "the Israeli military and intelligence community's front organization for the development, testing and production of chemical and biological weapons". A "senior Israeli intelligence source" told the Sunday Times: "There is hardly a single known or unknown form of chemical or biological weapons which is not manufactured at Nes Ziona." The IIBR is not shown on maps, and access to it was denied even to members of the Knesset's foreign affairs and defence committees, who were concerned about health risks to the neighbourhood.The 1993 report by the US Office of Technology Assessment for Congress states that Israel has "undeclared offensive chemicalwarfare capabilities" and is "generally reported as having an undeclared offensive biological warfare programme". The Sussex- Harvard Information Bank on Chemical and Biological Warfare Armament reports that Israel allegedly used poison gas in the 1960s and early 1980s, chemical warfare against Egyptian forces in 1948, and against Palestinians in 1969 and during the first Intifada. The Sunday Times reported in 1998 that Israel's F-16s had been equipped to carry chemical and biological weapons manufactured at Nes Ziona, and that crews were trained to fit an active chemical or biological weapon within minutes of receiving a command.The newspaper also reported that it was at Nes Ziona where research into an "ethno-bomb" was carried out. One of the most disturbing revelations made during the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee hearings was that the apartheid regime and its ally Israel were cooperating on such a project. Scientists reportedly pinpointed a particular characteristic in the genetic profile of certain Arab communities, particularly in Iraq, and were trying to engineer deadly micro-organisms that attack only those bearing the distinctive genes. The disease could be spread by spraying the organisms into the air or putting them in water supplies.Israel's nuclear weapons programme is better documented than its biological and chemical weapons programme but remains as "invisible" as the Nes Ziona plant. There is no doubt that Israel's nuclear capability was developed from the 1950s at Dimona in the Negev, with French and then American and South African assistance. In 1986 the Moroccan- born Israeli scientist Mordechai Vanunu blew the whistle on the activities at Dimona, claiming it had produced "over 200" nuclear warheads. Five years later a US Strategic Air Command report said Israel had between 75 and 200 nuclear weapons. The Bulletin of Atomic Scienti
By Cynthia Cotts, Village Voice November 13 - 19, 20
...The Washington Post and Newsday have tried in vain to determine the exact nature of the gas used in Russia. Maybe Congress should be asking the Pentagon who makes this lethal gas and what countries possess it. After all, Israel used fentanyl gas in 1997. In an assassination attempt widely reported at the time, two Mossad agents approached a Hamas political leader and sprayed a variation of fentanyl into his ear. (The Baltimore Sun mentioned that story recently, but no one else has.) Israel isn't the only U.S. ally with access to secret drug weapons: The Sunshine Project has evidence that the United Kingdom has looked into developing incapacitating gases. On October 31, the Times of London and Financial Times reported that the British government admits doing such research in the past, but says the research has now stopped. (Don't look for the U.K. connection in the U.S. media.) .....
Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre/Palestine Report 6/16/2004
FOR RESIDENTS of Jerusalem, the week was dominated by the start of construction of a concrete wall which will split the neighborhoods of Dahiet Al Barid and Al Ram down the middle and off from Jerusalem, leaving an estimated 80,000 residents isolated from Jerusalem and the medical and educational services there, as well as from their jobs and places of worship. In two days, one entire side of the road that runs from the Qalandia checkpoint into Jerusalem -- the side of the road that ferries traffic in that direction -- was torn up from the checkpoint to Dahiet Al Barid. Some three-four kilometers worth of tarmac was destroyed. Residents of the neighborhoods have been fighting the construction in Israeli courts. On June 10, the Israeli High Court decided to hold an emergency session on the construction after a petition was filed on behalf of residents that they had not been given sufficient notice or information on the construction and had not been provided with maps of its route. On June 13, the High Court ruled that while the actual infrastructure of the wall ]-- leveling of roads and pavements could continue -- the placing of the eight-meter high concrete blocks would have to wait. Hundreds of people held noon prayers on what had become a dirt road in Al Ram on June 11, in protest of the construction. "Anyone who helps build this damned, racist wall, or supplies material for building it is a sinner...a traitor, and should be shunned, or made to leave our country," said Sheikh Tayseer Al Tamimi, who preached Friday's sermon. On the same day, Jerusalem's Grand Mufti Ikrima Sabri, issued a fatwa against any Palestinians helping Israel build the wall, and branded them "traitors." But the beginning of construction of that section of Israel's West Bank barrier was completely overshadowed by the beginning of construction on another part, around the Ariel settlement deep in the West Bank. Construction of the Ariel segment began last week, and residents of the nearby Palestinian village of Al Zawiyah have been informed that 4,500 acres of their land is being confiscated by the Israeli occupation authorities. This segment of the barrier will cover an area some 3.5 kilometers long and 100 meters wide and will run between Ariel and Salfit. Protests have been ongoing in the region, since residents of Al Zawiyah and neighboring villages took to the streets on June 10. On that day, more than 120 residents, according to Al Quds newspaper, suffered tear gas inhalation, as the Israeli army tried to break up demonstrators. The following days saw a repeat of those events and in five days of demonstrations at least 200 have been injured and dozens detained, including an American peace activist. By June 12, accusations that the Israeli army used illegal nerve gas started surfacing. On June 14, town officials told Al Ayyam newspaper that the Israeli occupation troops were using an illegal substance that caused nerve spasms and that several cases had been transferred to Nablus hospitals. The construction near the illegal settlement also brought international protests, even from the US. The administration of George W Bush has said that it does not object to the barrier in principle, but believes that it should be on, or very close to, the Green Line. "We accept Israel's right to build a fence for security, but when the route goes deep into the West Bank, it has political dimensions, and we have concerns about that," said Paul Patin, a US embassy spokesman, quoted by the New York Times on June 15. Also on June 15, US State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher said the American position that the barrier is problematic because it defines permanent boundaries, confiscates Palestinian territories and makes daily life more difficult for civilians is very clear. Boucher said this stance has been presented to Israel. But US protests notwithstanding, according to Israeli press reports on June 16, the building of this segment of the barrier is part of a promise Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has extended to Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his support for the unilateral withdrawal plan from Gaza. The construction around Ariel as well as the Immanuel and Kedumim settlements is slated to be finished before May 2005, ahead of any withdrawal from Gaza. In fact, Israel is considering moving settlers slated for evacuation from Gaza to expanded West Bank settlements despite US objections, the Israeli daily Maariv reported on June 15. The newspaper said Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz had ordered plans drawn up for hundreds of new homes at the Gush Etzion bloc for use by 7,500 Gaza settlers. A senior Israeli security source confirmed to the newspaper that the Gush Etzion idea was "being studied," but said it had not yet received approval. On June 14, the Israeli army started removing some barricades around the West Bank, saying a security "re-evaluation" had deemed it possible. Some 40 dirt barricades were removed and the iron gate on the Tulkarm-Nablus road was also taken away. But the security "reevaluation" did not stop the violence. One person was killed in an Israeli army incursion into the Balatah refugee camp in Nablus on June 15. The incursion came four hours after an earlier incursion during a funeral injured three mourners. The wounded had been attending the funerals of commander of Fateh's military wing, Al Aqsa Brigades, Khalil Abu Marshoud, and Awad Abu Zeid, of no affiliation, who were killed on June 14 when missiles from Israeli helicopters blew up the taxi they were in. Another Aqsa Brigades activist was injured in the attack. Three people were killed on June 10, including a 14-year-old boy in Nablus, and a stone-throwing youth in Beit Fajjar. An Aqsa Martyrs Brigades activist was killed in Jenin. On June 12, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights released a report counting 177 assassinations since the Intifada, killing a total of 374 people. Of those, only 239 were the actual targets. Of the 135 others, 45 were children, 14 women and 18 elderly men. Seven hundred and eighty seven people were injured in these attacks.-Published 16/6/04 (c)Palestine Report http://www.palestinereport.org/article.php?article=398
By Jennifer Loewenstein and Angela, Electronic Intifada 10/9/2003
Here is a disturbing ordeal that has not yet been mentioned in any mainstream US papers or media. It exposes some shocking aspects of Israel's treatment of Palestinian political prisoners, including the use of a gas that impacts the nervous and respiratory systems. It should be noted that Israel has denied using nerve gas against Palestinians, even though one account of its use has already been documented in James Longley's searing film, "Gaza Strip."The source of the following information, Muhammad Burgal, a Palestinian lawyer and member of the Israeli Bar who lives in London, but is currently visiting East Jerusalem, is reliable. His brother Mukhles, a prisoner, was one of the victims of a gas attack in Ashkelon prison last week. (Muhammad was able to visit his brother in prison on August 4th.)Mukhles Burgal was sentenced to life in 1988. He had recently been moved from Shatta to Ashkelon prison. There, he was kept in a crowded room with 14 other prisoners. The guards kept conducting unnecessary searches every five minutes. There may have been other accompanying forms of harassment, which Muhammad can clarify.In response, the prisoners mounted a protest and put a mattress against the door to minimize the guards' harassment. Alarmed by this act of defiance, about 50 guards forced their way into the crowded cell, spraying two canisters of a some type of gas. Some of the 14 prisoners passed out. Mukhles did not lose consciousness. They were all beaten with long sticks, including the ones who had lost consciousness.Muhammad reports that his brother Mukhles has 16 stitches in his head following the gassing and beating. He has been moved to Ramle prison for medical treatment. One of the other prisoners has a similar number of stitches in his head, and another prisoner has a very bad injury to his eye. According to Muhammad, there is a risk that he may lose it.The effects of the gas were severe muscle spasms and an overwhelming sensation of not being able to breathe.Of the 14 prisoners attacked by the guards, four have life sentences. Apart from Mukhles, there was 'Emad Asfour, Mahmoud Zaghal, and Yahia Ramadan. Journalists or human rights organizations seeking more information about this incident can reach Muhamamd Burghal in East Jerusalem at 00972 54 211-031.Angela Gaff is a British lawyer and human rights activist; Jennifer Loewenstein is a writer and human rights activist. They filed this report from London.Related Links: Transcripts of interviews, Khan Younis IDF February 2001 gas attack. Interviews with patients, doctors, ambulance drivers and others describing this incident in detail. These interviews were recorded by James Longley during production of his documentary film, Gaza Strip.
By Jennifer Lowenstein, FromOccupiedPalestine.org 10/9/2003
...But in Gaza City, Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi spoke on Al-Jazeera after relieving his newest bodyguard of duty. Rantisi offered to give himself up to Israeli authorities at Erez if they promised to leave Hamas' spiritual leader, Sheikh Yassin, alone. Rantisi now faces a life sentence in an Israeli prison close to Nes Tsiona. Family members might be allowed to visit him, we are told, but have been cautioned to purchase gas masks before entering any ward since prison guards, practicing state-of-the-art subduing techniques on their prisoners, routinely spray an agent similar to nerve-gas into the prison cells before beating up unrepentant convicts. [The Israeli Supreme Court recently ruled that these guards, however, must not kill any unconscious victims as that constituted cruel and unusual punishment inconsistent with the Jewish State's humanitarian track record. Pundits in the US have uniformly lauded this case as yet another example of Israel's moral and legal superiority over its Arab neighbors and even some western European nations.]....
By Laura Gordon, International Middle East Media Center 10/14/2003
Then the streets started screaming and we were running almost without thinking, down the edges of the street around the people who had lost their fear, around donkey carts loaded full, ran until we fround a corner to turn into and then we ran past families and children, through narrow streets far enough from the main street not to know the worst, far enough that we were the ones spreading the news that the army had come back.Old men's eyes opened wide and mothers pulled their children inside, casting weary gazes in the direction from where we had come. We found Sea Street and a taxi and headed towards Block J. A machine gun fired from a tank as it entered Yibneh. It was maghreb time. The sun burning a hole in the sky as it fell behind the wall at the edge of town.When we'd come to Yibneh the camp was already in exodus mode. Donkey carts piled high with furniture, men removing the doors of their homes from the hinges, children holding the keys to their homes on neon green keychains, the modern picture of a refugee descended from refugees, meeting exile every other generation. The army had come during the night leaving a city stripped bare, the broken bones of houses like twisted bodies reaching up to heaven. Trees and streets, power lines and water pipes, broken, twisted around each other, uprooted. A graveyard of life things. The real dead had been carried out on stretchers, mostly after lying on the street for hours between tanks and the fearful closed doors of curfew, while the ambulances negotiated with the army to gain access. It was a perfect autumn day, soft clouds dotting a sky blue as swimming pools.The army had come during the night in the sound of thunder rumbling down the border frightening the whole town. It left, not through the streets as it had come, but by creating a path through the homes still standing in Yibneh, demolishing anything in its way and driving over the remains.It left 10 people dead and upwards of 80 injured; over 100 homes demolished and 2,000 people homeless, according to the UN's estimate. And even then, the army left incompletely and provisionally, remaining stationed along the border, and Moshe Allon calling to deploy more reserves. The word on the street is that the army has left just long enough for the frightened families to leave the camp, an empty shell for the army to finish demolishing.That night I stayed with Noura and the family down by Salah el-Deen gate. In the morning we peeked over the balcony. A tank was still sitting by the Block O tower. It didn't stop shooting either. All day in spurts.Most of the dead were teenage boys with more curiosity than fear who went outside just to see what was in their street keeping them inside their homes. They were wheeled out on stretchers to sit in the hospital refrigerators for days, waiting for their family to identify them, some unidentifiable. Held in limbo waiting for the army could leave so their families could bury them. When they did hold funerals it was not in the camp where the army was threatening to reinvade, but far away, in the center of the city, in Hay Il-Ijnena. But not far enough. An Apache dropped a missile on an empty field next to a funeral on the second day of invasion, the funeral for someone who lives in Hay Il-Ijnena, the most expensive part of town, known for its distance from the border. They died when an Apache fired explosive bullets through the roof of his home.When the army entered we were on the roof passing aroung stories and dreams. The Apaches came in like a foreboding signal of the end of the world, dropping fist-sized bombs -- boom boom boom, explosions every several minutes from the planes and the tanks. We spent the night in the office waking with fear and coffee, every bullet sounding like it was coming through our windows. We are in the center of the city. All the shooting comes from the borders, and even if it doesn't reach our walls it shoots in our direction, it sounds awful, like wretching rain.People filled up the hospital and in the morning it was already low on supplies. Nobody could get to the European Gaza Hospital, the only descent facility in the area, where tanks had been parked for days not letting anyone out or in. The dead waited in the refrigerators for identification. The beds were full and overflowing.My friend Adwan was the first to identify his friend since 12 years. 19-year-old Mabrouk, whose name means "congratulations", was shot three times in the head and five in the back while walking home.In the mosque, men gathered for prayer and sharing information. Mohammed came back with news. The sheikh at the library, the one we all know, had been killed while walking down the street, a bullet in the heart. One of the ambulance drivers that drove Rachel Corrie to the hospital had also been killed on his way to rescue the injured. His was one of two ambulances the army shot at that night.Down the street from my friend Feryal in Block J, an eight-year-old boy -- her neighbor's son -- was killed at the door of his home when a tank backed into his home and then shot him as he ran out, and then denied the ambulance entrance for two hours while he bled to death. Feryal was pregnant and expecting her fifth child any day. Four tanks were parked at each corner of her block....I went with the municipality workers to negotiate with the army to let them fix the water and electricity on a street that hadn't had for days. The real heros here are the municipality workers and the ambulance drivers who have lost their fear in order to keep the city together. I spoke from a distance of ten yards with a soldier in an APC, to see if the workers could fix the water system. He gave me a thumbs up sign. He appeared to be trying to understand. Parallel universes colliding. I couldn't believe I was talking with a real person inside this massive machine, I was so hungry for human contact, to put a face with the military machinery. We shouted to each other from opposite sides of a road block the army had put up, the divide was a gulf none of us could cross. I stood for too long, gawking at him, wishing I could talk to him for hours until he left his tank, feeling naive and silly in the afternoon sun.The army had uprooted the entire street. Water was filling the sand everywhere in the places water pipes had been broken. People had run out of food, had no water or electricity for two days at that point. Two women who wanted to bring clothes for their children inside the militarized area were denied entry. The municipality, who wanted to bring food relief to the people in the sealed-off area and to fix the water and electrical systems there, was denied entry.The night before I had slept with Naela's family. The invasion was one day old. Jenin was the word on everyone's lips, Bb'eyn Allah ("God sees").My friend Anees' house was partially demolished. Abu Ahmed, the carob juice vendor, his house was demolished.The army used some kind of nerve gas for the first time in Rafah, leaving people in convulsions for days.And last night, I ran from Yibneh's streets as the army came back in and found my way directly to Feryal's house in Block J, better to be with her under curfew than to worry from outside. The army didn't come as it had before but drove in enough to scare the people into exodus and then shot all night long. I began to mix all loud noises with gunfire, the way I used to when I first arrived here.We slept incompletely. Outside, everything around had been demolished. The morning was still. Families were sitting on the doorsteps of their neighbors' homes gazing at the damage. The area had gone from a crowded lively neighborhood to a strange antique gallery, children rummaging through the best climbing spots of twisted cars and broken homes. A few more weeks and the army will finish its work and "clean" the area -- dig away the dead bones of the city - until nothing remains but a flat, sandy expanse, a military parking lot. Even the ghosts will leave the area, searching for better horizons.Even as I sit by Feryal now in the crowded clinic benches full of pregnant women and screaming children, tanks shoot into the camps. It hasn't stopped all morning or all night, and there are four new injuries. The whole town is frightened, afraid to let out its breath. The sadness is dry and wordless. People are staying in tents on the street, some families have room to take in the new homeless.The army is lying as usual, saying only 10 homes were destroyed and that the people killed were gunmen. Journalists are trying to get here but with difficulty and under the guidelines that they follow military instruction. The ultrasound machine sounds like gunfire to my frightened ears. Feryal looks forward, eyes cynical, sarcastic, watching from a distance.Laura Gordon is a 20-year-old American Jew who came to Israel in December 2002 with the Birthright Israel program and proceeded, three months later, to begin work with the International Solidarity Movement in Rafah. (All Photos by: Rafah Today MM)
By Toine van Teeffelen, Electronic Intifada 6/22/2004
5 May 2004 -- The view from the Bahai temple on the Carmel mountain of Haifa is on a beautiful day simply beyond description. Green plateaus covered with flowers form a huge, inviting staircase waving down from the mountain towards the sea. The horizon shows little boats imperceptibly moving foreword. The temple itself is surrounded by a large garden with trees and plants that are extremely well taken care off. The little things that deviate from the harmonious order, such as an orange fallen down on the ground, appear like the finishing touch of a painting. We - three Dutch visitors, educators - silently watch, almost with reverence, a spectacular tree out of which colorful hanging plants straddle down along the stem. The tree of life.That morning we had visited a school in Haifa to explore the possibility of Dutch, Palestinian and Israeli schools conducting a computer exchange. One of our interlocutors was an Israeli school student with 'Seeds for Peace' experience, an American sponsored Palestinian-Israeli exchange project. The boy harbored youthful enthusiasm for our newly proposed project. (His teacher gently told him not to speak too fast). He asked whether there was really a need to have the Dutch included. After all, we, the Israelis and Palestinians, had to live together, not the Dutch and Israelis, he said, and why not having contact with the Palestinians directly, face to face, instead of all this distant communication through the Internet? He was aware of the existing inequality in almost any contact between Palestinians and Israelis but thought it could be dealt with, as long as intentions were good. I made the point that good intentions in such exchange projects can be easily undermined....
Glasgow University Mass Media Unit June 2004
This is a study of TV new coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and of how this coverage relates to the understanding, beliefs and attitudes of the television audience. The work was undertaken with support from the Economic and Social Research Council whose help we would like to acknowledge. In producing this study out intention was not to 'monitor' the media or to criticise individual journalists. Our intention was to discuss the pressures and structures within which they work to show the effects of those on new content and to examine the role of the media in the construction of public knowledge. It is a very extensive study with an audience sample of over 800 people and a detailed analysis of TV news over a two-year period. This work also raises a series of important theoretical issues in mass communications. The main focus of the book is on giving a clear exposition of our methods and results, but the theoretical concerns are latent and there is a more detailed discussion of them in other work by the Media Group. (For a discussion of issues in popular culture and audience response, including the active audience, resistance and post-modern accounts see Philo, G. and Miller, D. Market Killing Pearson / Longman. 2001). The study suggests that television news on the Israel/Palestinian conflict confuses viewers and substantially features Israeli government views. Israelis are quoted and speak in interviews over twice as much as Palestinians and there are major differences in the language used to describe the two sides. This operates in favours of the Israelis and influences how viewers understand the conflict. The study focused on BBC One and ITV News from the start of the current Palestinian intifada, the Glasgow researchers examined around 200 news programmes and interviewed and questioned over 800 people. The study is unique in that for the first time it brought senior broadcasters together with ordinary viewers to work in research groups, analysing how the news informs people and how it could be improved....
By Tim Llewellyn, The Guardian 6/20/2004
For 10 years Tim Llewellyn was the BBC's Middle East correspondent. In this passionately argued polemic he accuses British broadcasters, including his former employer, of systematic bias in covering the Arab-Israeli conflict, giving undue prominence to the views of Jerusalem while disregarding the roots of the crisis -- Since the Palestinians began their armed uprising against Israel's military occupation three years and eight months ago, British television and radio's reporting of it has been, in the main, dishonest - in concept, approach and execution. In my judgment as a journalist and Middle East specialist, the broadcasters' language favours the occupying soldiers over the occupied Arabs, depicting the latter, essentially, as alien tribes threatening the survival of Israel, rather than vice versa. The struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is shown, most especially on mainstream bulletins, as a battle between two 'forces', possessed equally of right and wrong and responsibility. It is the tyranny of spurious equivalence.
By Arjan El Fassed, Electronic Intifada 6/22/2004
A majority of Israeli Jews - 63.7 percent - believes the Israeli government should encourage Palestinians to leave the country, according to a poll conducted by the Haifa University, which was released yesterday. This poll comes at a time when Ariel Sharon, Israel's Prime Minister is working on his unilateral "disengagement plan". While various governments are trying to influence the process, contribute to security, and debating their own role, they fail to see developments on the ground.Last year, Tony Judt, the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of European Studies at New York University, known for his writings on European history, published a 2,900 essay in the October edition of The New York Review of Books, in which he argues that the "true alternative" facing the Middle East in coming years will be "between an ethnically cleansed Greater Israel and a single, integrated, binational state of Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians."
By Ken O'Keefe, Jerusalemites 6/14/2004
Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "PREAMBLE - Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,..."P10K FORCE Mission: Step 1 - Expose the Truth/Protect LifeMobilise 10,000 Western Citizens, the P10K Force, to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) for September 11, 2004 and document all acts of terrorism, as defined by law.Effect a negotiated Hudna (conditional ceasefire from the Militant Palestinian Resistance contingent on P10K presence in the OPT). Call for Israel to honour the Hudna in order to assure security for it's citizens.Step 2 - Compel JusticeHonour the Hudna until together (citizens of Palestine, Israel & the world), we non-violently compel the application of International Law thereby ending the Unlawful Occupation; the root cause of the conflict.Step 3 - Effect Peace"Fight Terrorism" by igniting global respect for Inherent Human Rights. Use the P10K Model to end all oppression (with Iraq as the next priority). Spark the dawn of global Truth Justice & Peace.
International Press Center 6/20/2004
June 20 marks the World Refugee Day, a day to raise awareness about the plight of refugees and displaced persons, highlight the situation of 'forgotten' refugees and refugee situations, and reinforce the obligation of states to protect refugees. Palestinian refugees and displaced persons today are one of the largest groups of displaced in the world. Throughout the 56th years of the Palestinian refugee issue, the thorniest outstanding issue has been the core of resolving the Israeli - Palestinian conflict, as the outset of the problem began with the displacement of third-quarter millions of the registered Palestinian refugees and the creation of Israel in 1948.
By Uri Avnery, CounterPunch 6/21/2004
Israel's Intelligence Scandal -- Two weeks ago, the international community made a shocking declaration. Giving in to a demand by George Bush, the "Quartet" accepted the "Revised Disengagement Plan" of Ariel Sharon. This means that the United Nations, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States confirmed this document. I wonder if any one of the honorable diplomats has read the document with their own eyes.In the first paragraph of the "plan", the following words appear: "Israel has come to the conclusion that at present, there is no Palestinian partner with whom it is possible to make progress on a bilateral peace process." That is to say, the international community has confirmed that the Palestinian people has no right to take part in the determination of its own fate. Everything will be decided by the Government of Israel alone, with the backing of the United States, whose position will be automatically accepted by the other partners of the "Quartet".
By Samer Elatrash, Palestine Media Center 6/21/2004
Of the two issues that have preoccupied the Israeli media over the past fortnight, only one has attracted the attention of the North American media: Ariel Sharon's much publicized indictment for corruption charges ended last week after Israel's Attorney General cleared Sharon and his sons of any wrongdoing. The debate following comments by Amos Malka, the former head of the intelligence division of the Israeli army MI-was largely ignored by the media in Canada and the US. Opposition members of the Knesset are calling for an inquiry after the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an interview with Amos Malka. In the interview, Malka accused Amos Gilad, an advisor to Ariel Sharon who headed MI's research department at the start of the Intifada, of "retroactively rewrit[ing] MI's assessments" to bolster the impression that the June 2000 Camp David negotiations had failed because Yassir Arafat never intended to achieve a peace deal with Israel.
By Akiva Eldar, Daily Star 6/21/2004
In winter 2001, shortly before Ariel Sharon defeated Ehud Barak in elections for prime minister, I had the opportunity to personally hear Sharon's vision of a Palestinian state. Sharon removed a large map of Israel from a corner cabinet in his modest Likud headquarters office in Tel Aviv and pointed to the areas he proposed to annex to Israel. Moving from north to south, the pointer in his hand went from the Ariel bloc deep in the West Bank to greater Jerusalem, and from there to the Etzion bloc and Hebron. Then the pointer hovered over the Jordan Valley, from Bet Shean to the Dead Sea. These regions, Sharon explained, were vital to Israel's security. They could not be conceded even in return for the best of peace agreements. I asked Sharon if he knew any Palestinian who would accept a state made up of three enclaves bereft of territorial contiguity. He replied that that problem had preoccupied Mahmoud Abbas when he examined the very same map during one of his visits to Sharon's Sycamore Ranch. "I told him," Sharon related, "that there are places where we drive underneath Palestinian territory, such as the tunnel road to the Etzion bloc. We can implement the same arrangement - tunnels or bridges - in other places as well."
By Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker 6/28/2004
In July, 2003, two months after President Bush declared victory in Iraq, the war, far from winding down, reached a critical point. Israel, which had been among the war's most enthusiastic supporters, began warning the Administration that the American-led occupation would face a heightened insurgency---a campaign of bombings and assassinations---later that summer. Israeli intelligence assets in Iraq were reporting that the insurgents had the support of Iranian intelligence operatives and other foreign fighters, who were crossing the unprotected border between Iran and Iraq at will. The Israelis urged the United States to seal the nine-hundred-mile-long border, at whatever cost. The border stayed open, however. "The Administration wasn't ignoring the Israeli intelligence about Iran," Patrick Clawson, who is the deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and has close ties to the White House, explained. "There's no question that we took no steps last summer to close the border, but our attitude was that it was more useful for Iraqis to have contacts with ordinary Iranians coming across the border, and thousands were coming across every day---for instance, to make pilgrimages." He added, "The questions we confronted were==Is the trade-off worth it? Do we want to isolate the Iraqis?---Our answer was that as long as the Iranians were not picking up guns and shooting at us, it was worth the price."
Electronic Intifada 6/18/2004
[edited version of a speech EI's Nigel Parry gave at the "Palestine: Perception and Reality" panel at the 21st National Convention of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington DC, on Sunday 13 June 2004.] -- I just want to thank the ADC for inviting us here this year. It's been a very good conference this year. What has been especially encouraging is seeing this younger generation of Palestinians using art to communicate realities about the conflict to non-traditional audiences. Comedians Dean Obeidallah and Maysoon Ziyad are doing exactly the kind of thing that we are hoping to do with EI in that, if you do stuff in a non-traditional format, in a creative way, you can reach a whole bunch of people who we don't have the ears of at the moment but hope to.I've also been impressed by the honesty and directness with which people are communicating the realities of the conflict. Last night, poet Suheir Hammad read a moving and razor sharp poem inspired by images we have seen in the last months -- Abu Ghraib and the suffering of people in Rafah.
By Gideon Samet, Ha'aretz 6/18/2004
We can't be certain of anything anymore. Even guesswork has become difficult. About Sharon's plan, his son's business dealings, about the quality of the State Prosecutor's Office and the motives of Edna Arbel and Menachem Mazuz, about the real abilities of the head of Military Intelligence or those of the man who headed the research section in this sensitive institution. One can't tell if it means "yes" when the National Religious Party says "no," and even when the Labor Party answers "no" for the time being. The facts are drowning behind an asphyxiating wall of spins and suspicious, even dark, intent. Under normal conditions, which are as far removed from here as the facts themselves, such mess in the daily life of a country would result in depression and protest. For us, mess is what makes the nation go round. Why should one know, for sure, whether the Sharon family is OK, when some scandalous, ugly quarrel is available over this pressing question? Who wants to know clearly whether the Palestinians may have been willing to negotiate? It is best to stick the answer between the geysers of blood spurting from the semi-entertaining cockfight between the heads of Military Intelligence. Turmoil and scandal are a good deal for a street that does not really care to face up to the truth. The ones who first understood the passing of the facts, this national desire to feed on doubt, were Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival in the art of spin championship, Ariel Sharon. It is no coincidence that the two, both after and in spite of everything, continue to lead on all blockbuster lists of the battle for the leadership.
By Brian Whitaker, The Guardian 5/24/2004
Brian Whitaker explains why a book packed with sweeping generalisations about Arabs carries so much weight with both neocons and military in the US -- Consider these statements: "Why are most Africans, unless forced by dire necessity to earn their livelihood with 'the sweat of their brow', so loath to undertake any work that dirties the hands?" "The all-encompassing preoccupation with sex in the African mind emerges clearly in two manifestations ..." These statements, I think you'll agree, are thoroughly offensive. You would probably imagine them to be the musings of some 19th century colonialist. In fact, they come from a book promoted by its US publisher as "one of the great classics of cultural studies", and described by Publisher's Weekly as "admirable", "full of insight" and with "an impressive spread of scholarship". The book is not actually about Africans. Instead, it takes some of the hoariest old prejudices about black people and applies them to Arabs.[Seymour Hersh:] "The Patai book, an academic told me, was 'the bible of the neocons on Arab behaviour'. In their discussions, he said, two themes emerged - 'one, that Arabs only understand force, and two, that the biggest weakness of Arabs is shame and humiliation'." Last week, my own further enquiries about the book revealed something even more alarming. Not only is it the bible of neocon headbangers, but it is also the bible on Arab behaviour for the US military.
By Laura Knight-Jadczyk, Rense.com 6/9/2003
The other day I was scanning the news reports and came across a rather mundane item that really got me to thinking. It simply read: Cloudcroft, New Mexico Police Chief Stops Israelis With Suspicious Cargo...Well, don't that just beat all? Yet another "moving company" with Israeli drivers with bad papers, and nobody even noticed... Well, I noticed. Not only did I notice, I remembered a strange story about a similar event: On May 7, 2002, local police authorities pulled over a Budget rental truck in Oak Harbour, Washington near the Whitney Island Naval Air Station. The driver and his passenger were Israeli nationals, one of which had entered the country illegally. The other had an expired visa. Tests performed on the vehicle revealed that there were traces of TNT on the gearshift and RDX plastic explosives on the steering wheel. But no actual explosives were reported to have been found in the truck. [Fox News, 5/13/02]