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Friday, April 17

Your support is needed urgently Hands Off the Lancet
by The Blogger - 0

Dear everyone:

As you probably know, the attacks against Richard Horton and the Lancet have continued unabated since Jul 2014.

And at this stage, it is becoming necessary to go public with a response to the latest complaint to Reed Elsevier which summarizes the issue beginning July, in defense of Richard and the Manduca letter publication in the Lancet during the onslaught on the Gaza Strip  in the summer of 2014 (An open letter for the people of Gaza), and asserting the importance of not stifling  medical journal editors and debates.

Our response is now public, and we are soliciting supporting signatures.

Please go to the following website to read our response:

http://handsoffthelancet.com/

We urge you to endorse our response by signing on.

Should you be willing to endorse , please go to the indicated section on the website entitled SUPPORTING SIGNATORIES which follows immediately after the names of the Writing Group and click  the word 'here' to access the page ADD YOUR NAME TO THE LIST OF SUPPORTING SIGNATORIES.

Please distribute widely as we would appreciate as many supporting signatures as possible soon.

Many thanks.
Rita
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The Refugee Relief Campaign
by The Blogger - 0

Salam everyone:),

With great excitement and anticipation, I share with you the launching of an important fundraising campaign I've been working on to help support projects in the Aida Refugee Camps near Beit Lahem & Gaza Refugee Camp in Jarash. In a few short weeks, I will be visiting these camps where I will be participating first hand in the over sight of the projects your donations will be sustaining. 

Please help me reach my goal by contributing or by forwarding this posting to your friends & contacts. 
Thank you very much!

I hope this letter finds all in the best of health & spirits.
As a Palestinian in the diaspora, many of you know that I've always been eager to find ways to give back to our people and advance our cause in some of the best ways I knew how. One of the nearest and dearest issues to my heart has been to address the many challenges faced by the displacement of our Palestinian refugees specifically those directly impacted by occupation and the instability of our region. I decided to join Al-Awda The Palestine Right to Return Coalition organization over eight years ago with that focus in mind—I wanted to help raise awareness in our communities about the human and legal rights of Palestinian refugees, while organizing efforts that offer humanitarian aid and empower them with projects that nurture their autonomy. 
I've had the honor of organizing numerous relief efforts with my colleagues at Al-Awda and with several humanitarian organizations across the US. Together we managed to raise thousands of dollars that helped alleviate some of the suffering and hardships of our refugees in Gaza, Tanaf camp, Al-Waleed camp, Yarmouk camp & the Palestinian refugee community in Lebanon. This year I have new two new projects that I will be personally working on and fundraising for: Aida Refugee Camp near Beit Lahem and the Gaza Refugee Camp in Jarash. I’m seeking your help to achieve my goal of raising $40k. 
I chose to fund raise for these two specific camps because not only are they in dire need of support to execute their valuable programs, but also because of their highly appraised reputation and commitment to transparency. Lajee center in Aida, for example, is known to be one of the most active and transparent organizations in the West Bank; Last year they received a 9.4 out of 10 by the European Union for clarity in their financial reports. As a result, the EU funded the camp with a three-year program to work with 12 other refugee camps in the West Bank. I personally visited the Lajee center in 2010 & 2012 and was very impressed with their efforts and resourcefulness in combating the different challenges they've been facing—especially after Israel built the wall around the camp, which is home to over 6000 refugees, and where more than half of them are children under the age of 18.
I also chose the Gaza Refugee Camp this year after I learned about it from our Imam who has been generously supporting several of their projects for the past 3 years. The camp has an estimated 30,000 Gazan refugees who have no ID number in the country and have harder time obtaining jobs, therefore its very expensive for them to complete their education. In turn, I got connected with the Co-founder at “Hopes for Women in Education” who has been working tirelessly with her team to manage several vital projects in the Gaza Refugee camp, that hopefully your generous donations will help sustain.
Here are the projects your donations will be sponsoring: -
Aida Refugee Camp:
1- Lajee Center’s Music Project: 
2- Lajee Center’s Rooftop Gardens.
Gaza Camp’s project:
1.  Hopes for women in Education
2.  Sitti Soap project
I will be going in July to visit both refugee camps, and will personally make sure that 97 cents of every dollar you spent goes directly to help the project that you choose to support. The remaining 3% will be used for expenses such as wiring funds and preparing the reports that would verify how your donations were spent. Your donations are guaranteed tax deductible and you will be issued a receipt for the donated amount. And of course, I will update you with reports and photos on the progress of these efforts as they happen.
The good news is, I've already received one donation of $10,000 towards my goal of $40,000—With your generous support, we can help refugee children and families receive some of the relief and support they desperately need by way of someone you personally know and hopefully trust. 
Please don’t hesitate to help in anyway-- every dollar counts. Thanks so much in advance, your support will go a long way. To support, please click on this link http://igg.me/at/refugeerelief
Sincerely, 

Amani Barakat
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PRESENTING Karl Sabbagh
by The Blogger - 0

I met many people in my short visit to Europe (and I am really home
sick to Palestine). The most interesting was Lebanese Soha Beshara.
Soha gave a talk on Gaza in France. It was very moving. Soha spent 10years in the infamous Al-Khayyam prison in South Lebanon during theIsraeli occupation. She was tortured like many who spent time in thatprison. She, a Lebanese Christian, had shot Antoun Lahd (the criminalwho worked as a subcontractor for the Israeli occupation). Reading her book in its Arabic version on the way from Geneva to Oslo was
educational. I had read the English version a few years ago. The book
puts the era of the occupation in perspective and gives us lessons
about today’s world (e.g. about security coordination and
subcontracting management of local population to local collaborators).
It is really fascinating. I also learned so much from talking to
people - those we agree with and those we don’t. Now in Oslo for the
Arab Film Festival just met Nadine Salib from Egypt (film “Mother of
the Unborn”) and we will have many good films to screen and discuss
including the one about my village called “The Wanted 18”. For more on
this festival see www.filmfrasor.no

Much work accumulated for us in Palestine in our many areas (the
clinical laboratory, the museum administration, the research, the
student papers, the visitors who will come see us, the writing, the
conferences, etc). So it is hard to be away but the time here is
important to reflect and reset some priorities while encouraging me to
proceed in other areas even in stronger. And the contacts we made are
always good and some collaboration likely will produce fruits to serve
Palestinian youth. I also recruited some volunteers who will come work
at the Museum.

Invitation: Lectures at the Palestine Museum of Natural History, Mar
Andrea Campus of Bethlehem University

Thursday April 23rd, 4 PM

Karl Sabbagh: Why the World Needs a Museum of the History of Palestine.

Although Palestinians know their own history only too well, many
people in the west have only the vaguest of ideas about the history of
the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. If they
understood the history better they would have a much clearer idea of
the rots of the dispute between the Palestinians and the Jews. Karl
Sabbagh presents a proposal for a Museum of the History of Palestine,
to be built in a major western capital.

Bio: Karl Sabbagh is a British Palestinian, the son of Isa Khalil
Sabbagh from Safad. He is a documentary producer, a writer and a
publisher, based in the UK. Among his many works “Palestine: A
Personal History” and “Britain in Palestine”.

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and Director
http://palestinenature.org
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Tuesday, April 14

Settlers and intelligence officers storm al-Aqsa courtyards
by The Blogger - 1

Occupied Jerusalem, ALRAY- Israeli settlers, and elements of the occupation intelligence stormed on Monday morning the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque from Mughrabi gate amid tight security of the Israeli police.
Media coordinator of the Foundation for Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem Firas al-Debes told "ALRAY" that 15 settlers spread over two groups including 6 elements of intelligence stormed the Al-Aqsa courtyards.
Al-Debes pointed out that the Palestinian worshipers confronted incursions’ settlers, and prevented them from performing religious rites and prayers of Talmudic within Aqsa.
He explained that the Israeli police seized the personal cards of a number of worshipers within Aqsa in an attempt to crack down on them.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is witnessing almost daily series of incursions and violations by settlers and Jewish extremist groups amid tightening the noose on the Palestinian worshipers, especially women.
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Monday, April 13

One of the reasons that Israel keeps the War on Gaza going
by The Blogger - 1

For Israeli arms makers, Gaza war is a cash cow!

This article from Haaretz | dated Aug. 11, 2014 says it all.


Factories worked around the clock turning out munitions as the army tested their newest systems against a real enemy. Now, they are expecting their battle-tested products will win them new customers.

By Shuki Sadeh






Far from the fighting in the Gaza Strip and the rocket attacks that have pummeled Israel from south to the Sharon, some 300 employees of Israel Military Industries in Nazareth haven’t left their assembly lines for a minute in the past four weeks. They have been working in shifts, 24 hours a day, to ensure a regular supply of 5.56 mm bullets to Israel Defense Forces soldiers. Others have been hard at work turning out highly sophisticated Kalanit and Hatzav tank shells for the Artillery Corps. The shells, which are fired above the heads of militants armed with anti-tank weapons, exploding in midair above them and releasing shrapnel, were both used on a massive scale for the first time in Operation Protective Edge.

For some years now the state-owned IMI has had an image problem, in part due to it enormous debts and management’s cozy ties with the union locals and the political establishment. Next to the two other big government-owned defense companies, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, until recently IMI looked decided dowdy, low-tech and crony-ridden. Three months ago the state signed a recovery accord with IMI, which offered a generous severance package of 1.3 million shekels ($370,000) to any employee who took voluntary early retirement. Early next year the government plans to hold a tender to privatize the company, and by early 2016 IMI should be in private hands.

Image aside, for several years IMI has very quietly been developing more sophisticated products than bullets, rifles or hand grenades. For example, its new, super-smart MPR-500 multipurpose rigid bomb, which is designed to penetrate reinforced concrete structures and other difficult targets, was first used operationally in Protective Edge. Today, back orders for the bomb total 5.6 billion shekels.

IMI has built the foundations for a more successful business, and in a market where violence erupts every few years a new round of violence erupts, a dependable customer with the IDF and a classroom to test its equipment.

“IMI cooperates with the IDF and the defense establishment in adapting quick solutions for changing needs,” says UMI chairman Maj. Gen. (res.) Udi Adam. “The defense industry is in a perpetual learning mode together with the IDF and the Defense Ministry to examine the weapons systems that were introduced for initial operational use in Operation Protective Edge, as well as weapons systems that have been in operational use for a long time.”

One unit of IMI has already been privatized. Israel Weapon Industries, which makes the Tavor assault rifle that is used today by most of the infantry, is owned by Samy Katsav and is considered one of the world’s six leading light-weapons manufactures. The SK Group comprises several companies that supply the IDF.

Israel Shipyards, for example, makes missile boats and the Shaldag patrol boat for the Israeli military, while Meprolight manufactures sights for sniper rifles and night-vision equipment. As is the case for all companies in the group, Meprolight’s most important customer is the IDF, even if 90% of the company’s sales are to foreign countries,.
“After every campaign of the kind that is now taking place in Gaza, we see an increase in the number of customers from abroad,” says Meprolight CEO Eli Gold, adding, “Of course, we marketing abroad aggressively, but IDF operations definitely affect marketing activity.”

Protective Edge’s marketing edge
“Battle-tested” is the best marketing slogan for defense industries the world over, so for Israeli military manufactures Operation Protective Edge has yielded a major competitive edge.

“For the defense industries this campaign is like drinking a very strong energy drink — it simply gives them tremendous forward momentum,” says Barbara Opall-Rome, Israel bureau chief for the U.S. magazine Defense News. “Combat is like the highest seal of approval when it comes to the international markets. What has proven itself in battle is much easier to sell. Immediately after the operation, and perhaps even during, all kinds of delegations arrive here from countries that appreciate Israel’s technological capabilities and are interested in testing the new products.”

That was also the opinion of veteran military correspondent Amir Rapaport, editor of Israel Defense, which covers the local defense industry. “From a business point of view, the operation was an outstanding thing for the defense industries,” he says. “There are two main reasons for that. First, the cloud of budget cuts and project cancellations has been lifted. I believe that after the operation, Israel’s defense budget will be increased and projects that were frozen will be revived. Second, during the weeks of the war, new products were introduced for the army’s use. The war is an opportunity to cut red tape. Weapons systems that have long been under development suddenly became operational during the course of the fighting.

Operation Protective Edge saw many weapons systems and other technology that had been under development since the time of the Second Lebanon War in 2006 enter the field of battle, for instance a unique communications system designed to link air, sea and ground forces to the same infrastructure. “It’s very difficult to defeat an enemy like Hamas, which is a guerrilla organization, but in terms of technology the victory is quite clear,” says Rapaport.

“The operation has a potential to promote defense exports, mainly systems that have proven themselves,” says Maj. Gen. (res.) Danny Yatom, who now deals in defense equipment and other business. “The industry will also benefits as the [Israeli] defense establishment rebuilds inventories. Also, in this war we saw that the army has new needs, especially in regards to tunnels. In my opinion, there will now be an accelerated process of development for that. There’s a financial incentive both for the developers and the manufacturers.”

Yatom contends that the course of Operation Protective Edge shows that future weapons systems must be designed to combat guerrilla organizations rather than conventional armies. One example of the likely change is increased demand for thermal-imaging night-vision equipment, rather than the Starlight technology, based on available light, that is currently more common in the IDF. “Thermal-imaging night-vision equipment is not affected by glow of bombs and by urban lighting, so it makes identification easier,” he explains.

Gold confirms that the army is already thinking about this issue. “During the war the IDF took an interest in this subject,” he says. “But still it’s hard to estimate how things will turn out, because the IDF has yet to formulate a view on the matter. The product itself is not new, and we’ve already sold it to various armies worldwide.”

On the other hand, not everyone thinks that a successful campaign means an increase in defense exports. Maj. Gen. (res.) Isaac Ben Yisrael, a former director of the Defense Ministry’s Research and Development Directorate, cautions that the success in Israel of a certain military system does not necessarily carry over to foreign sales.

“Iron Dome, for example, is one of the main developments in this war,” he says, “but there’s no demand for it in the world, because other countries don’t face a similar threat. Besides, after the war most of the money channeled into the defense budget will be used for restocking inventories, so that the money that would normally be directed toward developing combat systems will decrease.”
He says that despite the criticism being heard about the size of the defense budget, Israel has no choice but to increase the army’s R&D spending. That should be done by channeling profits from the government defense industries into the IDF’s R&D units, he says, rather than handing them over to the Finance Ministry, which funnels this money into the general state budget.
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Sunday, April 12

UN OFFICIAL SLAMS CANADIAN GOVERNMENT INACTION ON YARMOUK CATASTROPHE
by The Blogger - 1

Senior UN official Chris Gunness was sharply critical of the Canadian government this week over its refusal to give humanitarian aid to starving civilians trapped in Yarmouk, Syria. 
Read more.
April 8th. In a lengthy interview today on CBC’s flagship program “The Current”, Chris Gunness, chief spokesman for the United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees discussed the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Yarmouk. Yarmouk is a Palestinian refugee camp located near the centre of Damascus, Syria.
The Yarmouk Camp was created for Palestinian refugees in 1948, just outside the centre of Damascus. It is now a neighbourhood in the middle of a greatly expanded city.
“The Palestinian refugees trapped by the desperate fighting in Yarmouk are literally starving. On average, they have been living on less than 400 calories a day for over a year”, indicated Gunness. He pointed the finger at countries such as Canada, which voted to create the refugee agency, but refuse to provide necessary funding.
Gunness indicated that The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) faces several obstacles to providing much needed food and medical supplies to desperate civilians. The fierce fighting between opposing forces has resulted in a sharp deterioration in the conditions for thousands trapped in Yarmouk. In addition, UNRWA faces a desperate financial crisis on several fronts as the situation in Syria comes at the same time as there is great need for assistance in Gaza.
”Today, we ran out of food, and now it’s the first day without water. No aid at all is getting into the camp.  We have been under siege here for 750 days.’ – PALESTINIAN IN YARMOUK CAMP, A FEW DAYS AGO
“An inconceivable human tragedy”, is the way the Israeli daily paper Ha’aretz described the situation, calling on the Israeli government “to put politics aside” and help the desperate people. However, Haaretz proposed that the refugees be allowed to enter the West Bank, which is under the control of the Palestinian Authority. The paper avoided mentioning that the Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk are actually from today’s Israel. They were expelled from the Galilee in 1948 when it was incorporated into the new State of Israel and have been trapped in refugee camps in Syria ever since.
Canada has historically been an important funder of UNRWA, providing about $11 million annually. However, the Harper government stopped all funding for the agency in 2010.
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Thursday, April 9

Deir Yassin to Yarmouk and beyond
by The Blogger - 0

On 9 April 1948, my mother’s friend in school (both 18 at the time in
teacher school in Jerusalem) chose to go back to her village of Deir
Yassin. That was the last time my mother saw Hayah Balbisi was dead in
a massacre. April 9th is a day before good Friday on our Eastern
Christian Traditions. My mother now 82 years old told me not to travel
and that she has been having bad dreams. I reassured her even though
my own heart sends me negative signals. Deair Yassin was not the first
or the largest massacre committed by Zionist forces during that era of
ethnic cleansing. But it was prophetic and emblematic for us because
its deliberate effect was magnified to scare the villagers (even some
survivors were paraded in the streets of Jerusalem and loudspeakers
told of more impending massacres). Dozens of massacres were indeed
committed just in the six weeks leading up to Israel’s creation and
more after. 534 villages and towns were depopulated in the bizarre
20th century attempt to transform a multicultural/ multireligious
Palestine to become the “Jewish state of Israel”. 67 years later
massacres are still being committed whether in Gaza last year or in
the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk. Yarmouk was home to 160,000
Palestinian refugees. It was the largest Palestinian refugee camp. It
was besieged and starved. People ate grass and over 200 died of
starvation. Now the fanatical forces calling themselves the Islamic
state entered the camp, burned Palestinian flags, and spread their
terror on the remaining civilians. Necks were cut and women were
raped. Different but connected perpetrators.

These and other thoughts race through the mind from 11,000 meters
above the ground on my way to Paris. A flight was canceled and I had
to fly to Athens then Larnaca (Cyprus) then Paris. Larnaca airport is
full of Israelis because that is the closest European airport to Lod
(renamed BenGurion) Airport. Cyprus is used also as a transit point
for the tens of thousands of Mossad agents that travel back and forth
to some 140 other countries. Countless teams of assassins passed
through this airport I left behind. I also think of other massacres
committed in places I know well (like Kenya) or places I do not know
well (like the deliberate downing of an Iranian civilian aircraft by
the US and that of a German airplane by a terrorist on French soil).
But then I thought how can I gain a bigger perspective on our lives
and all these tragedies? Here in we are tiny creatures among 7 billion
“humans” that have spread around and damaged this beautiful blue
planet. A planet that is small in a small inconspicuous solar system,
one of billions of solar systems in this galaxy, itself a small galaxy
among billion and billions of galaxies. Maybe we take ourselves too
seriously, I thought. How can I help get people to know that there is
enough resources to feed everyone (now over a billion go hungry). The
scientist in me want to find logical explanations for why people kill
each other and do not simply share and care for one another. I try to
convince myself with my own words to visitors to Palestine: lighting a
candle better than cursing the darkness, first do no harm, travel the
path of your conscience even if few are doing it, etc. Maybe lack of
sleep makes my mind wonder into Budhist philosophies (Joyful
participation in the sorrows of this world) and to mystic philosophies
(Rumi’s words come slushing around my brain). These thoughts are like
shields to help us in this stark reality. The reality is that the vast
majority of people on this airplane and the thousands I left behind at
the airport do not know and do not care. Yarmouk, Deir Yassin,
Tantura, Sabra and Shatila and others represent a heritage for us
Palestinians and the few other humans who care. A country was robbed,
7 million of us are refugees or displaced people. Zionists are happy
they succeeded in getting Arabs and Muslims to kill each other whether
in Yemen or Syria.As the pilot announces descent to Paris, I think of
the French equivalent of the Balfour declaration (Jules Cambon
declaration of French support for Zionism also issued 1917). But I
know I am a minority and most people on this airplane are thinking of
their next meal, of sex, of work obligations, of other thoughts.
Perhaps that is how it was and how it will be. Perhaps all we can do
is try our best (successfully or not) to create a ripple effect for a
better more peaceful world. Perhaps that I and fellow volunteers at
the Palestine Museum of Natural History are trying to do. Perhaps, as
the old song says: in the end only kindness matters.

It is good to be here in beautiful Paris with Eitan and Tal and all
the other good people. But I already miss my mother and miss
Palestine.

Mazin Qumsiyeh
http://qumsiyeh.org
http://palestinenature.org
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Jewish Australian lawyer: Death to all “Palestinians” and death to anyone who stands in the way of the Jews
by The Blogger - 4


Time of Israel published and deletes 

article by Jewish Australian lawyer who 

wants to “wipe out Palestinians” read the 

article! read how he closes his article:

Whenever I’m asked how many “Palestinians” Israel 
has killed, I know the answer instantly: not nearly 
enough. Until there is not a single “Palestinian” left 
breathing, that answer will remain the same. 
“Palestinians” are a plague upon Israeli civilisation, 
and they’re a plague that needs to be wiped out. My 
friends, the time to kill “Palestinians” is long overdue. 
Grab your weapon today and let’s take out this 
“Palestinian” scum. The “Palestinians” are parasites 
and pigs. It’s time to take the pigs to the slaughter. 
Death to all “Palestinians” and death to anyone who 
stands in the way of the Jews.
Click the link to read full article: 
 https://archive.today/bUarE#selection-1197.0-1197.604

Stay updated with this post whereas we will upload a pdf copy of the article in case of removal.
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Wednesday, April 8

Israel expects hundreds of civilian casualties in next war with Hezbollah
by The Blogger - 0

(Reuters) - Israel could suffer hundreds of civilian dead and damage to its vital infrastructure from Hezbollah rockets if it fights another war with the Iranian-backed Lebanese guerrilla group, according to Israeli military assessments.
The scenario, published by Israeli media on Wednesday, reflected concern among security planners that since the last Lebanon war, in 2006, Hezbollah has expanded its rocket arsenal and gained battle experience helping Damascus fight the insurgency in Syria.
The publication of the assessments could help build a case for more INVESTMENT in Israeli civil defenses and in U.S.-backed rocket interceptors like Iron Dome, which has proven effective outside Gaza, and the longer-range David's Sling, which is in final testing stages.
 
According to the military assessments, between 1,000 and 1,500 rockets could hit Israeldaily in the next full-blown conflict, killing hundreds of people and potentially paralyzing key installations like airports, sea ports and power stations.
The 2006 war killed around 160 Israelis, most of them troops fighting Hezbollah inside Lebanon, while 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, died in Israel's military barrages.
Another conflict could see Israeli attacks 15 times more devastating for Lebanon, Israel's air force chief, Major-General Amir Eshel, said in a speech last year aimed at keeping Hezbollah in check.
While not making details public, Hezbollah says its military capabilities have been significantly boosted since 2006. Neither side appears keen on resuming hostilities. The restraint has been tested, however, by occasional flare-ups in fighting.
Worried that Hezbollah was entrenching forces on its Syrian front, Israel carried out a Jan. 18 air strike that killed six of the Lebanese guerrillas - one of them a field commander - and an Iranian general. Hezbollah retaliated with a cross-border guided-missile salvo that killed two Israeli troops.
Since its July-August war with Palestinian Hamas guerrillas, where eight Iron Dome batteries helped fend off rockets from the Gaza Strip, Israel has been trying to improve those interceptors. It has also accelerated the development of David's Sling, a system designed to shoot down the more potent missiles of Hezbollah, Syria and Iran, with hopes of deploying it by 2016.
Israeli officials last month asked U.S. lawmakers for $317 million in additional FUNDINGfor David's Sling and other Israeli missile defense programs, on top of $158 million in FUNDING already requested by the Obama administration in its fiscal 2016 budget.
A group of 32 U.S. senators last week urged fellow lawmakers to fully meet Israel's missile defense funding request. The issue was expected to be on the agenda of John Boehner, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, who arrived in Israel on Tuesday at the head of a delegation of Republican lawmakers.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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AIPAC: The Israeli Lobby
by The Blogger - 0

The United States supports Israel in a variety of ways. We give them all sorts of military and economic support, roughly 3 billion dollars a year. Israel, despite the fact, it is a relatively rich country, receives more foreign aid than any other other country in the world. We veto resolutions in the United Nations all the time that are critical to Israel. Is one allowed to question that reality, or is the pro-Israel lobby so strong, financially and politically, that the relationship with Israel is taboo and therefore unmentionable? And what happens to those who dare expose the unmentionable?
In March 2006 the American political scientists John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) and Steve Walt (Harvard) published the controversial article 'The Israel Lobby and US foreign policy'. In it they state that it is not, or no longer, expedient for the US to support and protect present-day Israel. Together with the power shifts in Congress and the increasing doubts about the current Middle-East policy, this could become the fuse in the powder keg. Backlight talks to the people concerned in this 'new realism' debate.
The documentary sheds light on both parties involved in the discussion: those who wish to maintain the strong tie between the US and Israel (Neocon Richard Perle, televangelist John Hagee, and lobby organization AIPAC), and those who were critical of it and not infrequently became 'victims' of the lobby. Member of Congress Earl Hilliard from Alabama advocated a rapprochement with the Arab world and was promptly ousted by a political adversary who had the support of Aipac MONEY. Historian Tony Judt, who tried to maintain that Israel was becoming a belligerent and intolerant ethno-state, driven by religion, found a lecture cancelled at the last minute. And Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth was personally attacked after he had criticised the violence Israel had used in the mini-war against Lebanon last summer.
Finally the question arises to what extend the pro-Israel lobby ultimately determines the military and political importance of Israel itself. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (Colin Powell's ex chief-of-staff) explains how the lobby's influence affects the decision-making structure in the White House. The lobby, Congress, the White House and Israel itself seem to have ended up in a suffocating embrace: will it ever change and how could it?Tony Judt and Richard Perle conclude by raising the crucial matters: what is the alternative? And what other friends can Israel count on?
Watch the full documentary now
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Tuesday, April 7

The Online War Against Israel For A Free & Just Palestine Continues
by The Blogger - 0


Hackers target Israeli websites after Anonymous Sends out Special Message

Pro-Palestinian hackers have targeted Israeli websites following threats from a hacking collective known as Anonymous that it would carry out an “electronic Holocaust”.
The hacking campaign, called #OpIsrael, has been taking place every April 7 in recent years and is a protest against Israeli policies towards the Palestinians.
Israel’s Computer Emergency Response Team, a civilian
cyber security group, said Anonymous attacked a few dozen websites belonging to Israeli musicians and non-profit organisations on Tuesday.
Israeli website Ynetnews reported that the sites hacked included an educational centre and an association for urologists.
No major government websites were affected.
The hackers replaced websites with photos of a Muslim holy site in Jerusalem and of fighters holding the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, and posted a message stating the site had been “Hacked by AnonGhost”.
A video message by Anonymous said its campaign was responding to “crimes in the Palestinian territories,” including last summer’s Gaza war…
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The U.S and Israel: Diverging interests
by The Blogger - 0


Lawrence Davidson says the US’s interests in the Middle East have diverged from Israel’s, with Washington prioritising the jihadist threat while Israel and Saudi Arabia see the jihadists as allies against Iran.
By Lawrence Davidson

Shared concerns and interests?

It is often alleged that the basis for US-Israeli relations lies in “shared concerns and interests”. However, what really holds the relationship together is a systemic aspect of American politics: the system of special interest lobbying and the money that underlies it. That practice is just about as old as the country itself, and the Zionist lobby is a past-master at exploiting this system. With the Supreme Court rulings telling us that political spending and donations are forms of free speech, this rather perverse aspect of US politics is not going to change in the foreseeable future.
Therefore, one would assume that the present deterioration in relations between the Obama White House and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, as refreshing as it is, only represents a temporary glitch rather than a permanent breach in the alliance between the two countries. Well, perhaps, but getting the relationship back to the status quo ante may be harder than many expect.
For example, on 29 March 2015 the New York Times reported that Hillary Clinton met Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations, to let him know that she wants to “improve relations with Israel”. That sort of statement is a standard prerequisite for anyone planning to run for the presidency in 2016. While there was no elaboration on the meeting coming from Clinton’s office, Hoenlein was quite forthcoming. According to him, “Secretary Clinton thinks we need to all work together to return the special US-Israeli relationship to a constructive footing, to get back to basic shared concerns and interests”.
Wishful thinking aside, is that really possible? While Clinton is attuned to her political interest in keeping the Zionist lobby bipartisan in 2016, Hoenlein seems blind to the fact that the US and Israel no longer have any “shared concerns and interests” in the Middle East. In fact, looked at objectively, their “concerns and interests” are now in opposition.

A major foreign policy goal since 2001

Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, a major foreign policy goal of the US government has been the pursuit and destruction of the Sunni extremist organisation al-Qaeda and its offshoots. To that end, the Americans invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and, more problematically, Iraq in 2003. The popular frustrations that resulted from those wars brought Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008 in order change tactics, but not the goal. In other words, the American public still approved of going after al-Qaeda, but was tired of the costly war-making approach characteristic of the Bush Republicans and their neo-conservative advisers. In truth, the Bush approach of invasion and “regime change” proved disastrously counter-productive. It caused the collapse of political stability in both Afghanistan and Iraq thus creating power vacuums that became breeding grounds for al-Qaeda.
Obama rationalised the anti-al-Qaeda campaign. He ended the unpopular American occupation of Iraq and wound down the Afghan war. In their placeshe substituted drone warfare. Drones kill jihadists (and a lot more folks as well) with no great risk to American lives (though harm to the psychological health of the computer jockeys guiding these weaponised model airplanes is certainly a cost). You just remotely steer the drones to the place where your informants say your target happens to be (dinner party, family visit, wedding, etc.) and launch the drone’s missiles into that spot. Straightforward, except for the fact that, on average, drones kill 28 civilians for every enemy individual they target. In fact, that is what the US was doing in Yemen before the Saudis started their present, much more indiscriminate, bombing campaign (using real airplanes) throughout that country.
The US’s allies in the region, specifically Israel and Saudi Arabia, had no problem with the drone attacks against al-Qaeda until 2011. That was when civil war broke out in Syria and when al-Qaeda and its offshoots showed up to fight against the embattled Assad regime in Damascus. Keep in mind that Assad was seen as an enemy of Israel. Syria called for help from Shi’i Iran and Hezbollah (also enemies of Israel). Soon the fighting spread across the border into northern Iraq, and the Iraqi government also called for help from Iran.
From an American, anti-al-Qaeda perspective, things began to look really bad. Islamic State (IS, formerly known as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – ISIS – or Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – ISIL), an al-Qaeda inspired movement operating in both Syria and Iraq, declared itself the “new caliphate” and started to take and hold territory while cutting off the heads of anyone who got in the way. The Obama administration did not want to go back into another Middle East war (it still had residual troops on the ground in Afghanistan) but fortunately “boots on the ground” proved unnecessary. Why? Because there was another power right in the region willing to pick up the slack – a power which was just as much an enemy of al-Qaeda as the US was. That power was Iran.
That meant that certainly by 2014 the United States and Iran understood that they were on the same side of a struggle that, in the US, represented a primary concern of the American people for the past 15 years. On the Iranian side the concern was even more immediate, because the aggressive behaviour of IS threatened Iran’s western border as well as its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah. Given this situation, the last thing both countries wanted was open hostilities with each other. That encouraged both parties to work hard to settle the dispute over Iranian nuclear power.

Divergence

Unfortunately, Israel, and by extension the American Zionist lobby, had lost interest in US concerns about al-Qaeda. Indeed, Tel Aviv had come to take the opposite point of view, seeing some merit in Islamic terrorists as long as they were Sunnis. One has to keep in mind that the Israelis are obsessed with Shi’i Iran and its nuclear energy programme, which Netanyahu has hysterically proclaimed a danger to the survival of Israel. From that point of view, any enemy of Iran is a friend of Israel – even if it is al-Qaeda.
Indeed, in 2013 Michael Oren, then Israeli ambassador to the United States (actually, he grew up in West Orange, New Jersey), told the Jerusalem Post, “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” A year laterhe was at an Aspen Institute Conference and declared that Israel would prefer the victory of IS to the continuation of an Iranian-backed Assad. Nor have the Israelis been shy about acting on this preference. They have established a non-aggression pact with an al-Qaeda Syrian affiliate called the al-Nusra Front, cared for al-Nusra wounded in Israeli hospitals, and mounted attacks on the Lebanese and Iranian forces opposing al-Nusra.
So, at least in Syria, Israel is actively supporting a group that had, in an early incarnation, attacked the US – one that represents forces that still pose a major worldwide risk to US security. Perhaps someone ought to update Congress on this point.
This rearrangement of allies has made for strange bedfellows – not only the US and Iran, but also Israel and Saudi Arabia. And that brings us to the present situation in Yemen. Until the recent Saudi air strikes in Yemen, that country was the most active site of US drone attacks against al-Qaeda operatives. But the Saudis don’t see the war on al-Qaeda as any more important than the Israelis. Their main concern is, once more, Shi’i Iran whom they see as much more an enemy than either jihadists or Zionists. So the Saudis have thrown a temper tantrum over the recent deal over Iran’s nuclear programme. Part of their acting out was to tell Washington to pull its drone operators out of Yemen because the Saudis were going to bomb that country and particularly its Shi’i Houthi population to ruination. Ruination of course, means the creation of a power vacuum in Yemen, and just as in Syria and Iraq, power vacuums create the ideal breeding ground for extremist groups like al-Qaeda. Finally, there areunconfirmed reports that at least some of the munitions the Saudis are dropping on Yemen are made in Israel.

Conclusion

Obviously, the real “concerns and interests” of the United States in the Middle East have noticeably diverged from those of Israel. As a consequence Israel is now loudly complaining that Washington has abandoned it. Well, Washington might do well to play the same game – to loudly complain about Israel’s traitorous behaviour. After all, the US gives that country a lot of money and weaponry and now the Israelis chose to support their benefactor’s enemy.
We can count on the Zionist lobby to try to obfuscate this fact. And, given that their financial and ideological power helps shape self-serving political interests in Congress, they may be able to pull it off, at least in that venue. They are also financially backing the Republicans when it comes to the 2016 presidential race. Can those politicians who support the Israeli perspective win that election?
Hopefully, the Israeli point of view will now prove to be a hard sell when it comes to the American voter. The recent agreement with Iran has created a new reality for the country’s foreign policy – one that is consistent with the popular desire for no further US military involvement in the Middle East. It is going to be difficult for bought-off politicians, even those allied with Fox TV, to throw everything into reverse and declare al-Qaeda an ally and Iran still the mortal enemy. Hopefully, that will translate into political failure in 2016 for anyone who wants to undo the new accord with Iran.
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