Thursday, December 17

Today in Palestine! ~ December 16, 2009

Shadi Fadda brings us today's headlines relating to Palestine and other news from around the internet.

Land Theft and Destruction
UN: Much of West Bank closed to Palestinian building
Israel effectively allows Palestinians to build in only 1 percent of Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank over which it retains full control, according to a new report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Green Zone
"Green Zone - is a 20 minute long documentary, exploring Israel's discriminatory policies in occupied East Jerusalem. Since 1967 urban planning has been used by the Israeli establishment as a tool to contain the growth of the Palestinian population in the mixed city. The impact of these policies has been catastrophic for many Palestinian residents, resulting in an average of 100 house demolitions every year. The film incorporates interviews with Israeli and Palestinian residents, architects, journalists and politicians, in an attempt to present this complex situation, which has significant ramifications to the whole peace process."

What did the trees do?
Another incident of olive tree vandalism occurred in West Bank. Akram Na'san, a resident of the village of al-Mughayyir, north-east of Ramallah, discovered on Monday morning that approximately 260 Olive seedlings which he planted recently were uprooted and destroyed. Of them, approximately 190 were newly planted, and the rest were planted last year.

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment
Nine rounded up in Jayyus raid
December 16th, 2009-- Jayyus was the latest target in the ongoing campaign of night raids directed against villages resisting the Wall. Over the period of several nights, Occupation forces arrested 9 from the village, among them two 11-year-old and 12-year-old boys. Recently Jayyus has been subject to ongoing raids and attacks; these arrests are coming during a time of heightened escalation against activists and villages struggling against the Wall.

Third Prison Term for Conscientious Objector Or Ben-David
Or Ben-David returns to prison for a 34-day term, her third in a row. Full information and recommended action follow.

Resistance in Bethlehem's Villages, ELLEN CANTAROW
Christmas is coming. My e-mail has returned at least one plea to help Bethlehem – Christ’s birthplace crucified by Israel’s segregation wall; 25 foot-high concrete punctuated by militarized watch towers surrounds the entire town. PEACE BE WITH YOU reads a huge legend on the wall without (apparently) the slightest trace of irony; stenciled in English. Hebrew, and Arabic, it’s signed, ISRAELI MINISTRY OF TOURISM.

Settlement goods confiscated in Jericho
Jericho - Ma’an - Large quantities of settlement produce was confiscated and destroyed on Wednesday in Jericho, following a market inspection undertaken by customs officers, the Palestinian ministries of health and economy, in cooperation with the PA preventative security.

2 congressional letters against Gaza blockade unite new coalition
I was at a Gaza Freedom March meeting last night at which organizers mentioned two "Dear President Obama/Dear Sec’y Clinton" letters circulating in the Congress that support Gazans’ freedom from blockade, the emphasis in one being the materials that Gazans can’t get, in a form of "de facto collective punishment." In the other the emphasis is allowing young Gazans to get out to go to colleges. Here are the letters, signed by four brave congressmen, including Republican Robert Inglis of South Carolina; and here’s the Council for the National Interest’s urging of people to put pressure on their congressmen to sign the letters. And here is J Street urging the same action. Sign the letters. "Gaza in crisis. Act now," says J Street’s Isaac Luria.

Challenging Israeli Gaza Policy With a Freedom March, Massad, Halper, Wright
Israel's shame in Gaza is analyzed and condemned by Prof Joseph Massad, of Columbia, Jeff Halper, founder of ICAHD, Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, and Ann Wright, former US Army colonel and US diplomat who quit over invasion of Iraq, and active member of CODEPINK, with Abdeen Jabara moderating. They recruit for the upcoming Gaza Freedom March, flying to Cairo by December 27, and joining with more than 50,000 Palestinians marching into Gaza December 31.

‘A few years ago I used McCarthy tactics against a professor who criticized Israel. Now I’m going on the Gaza Freedom March’
It’s assumed if you’re Jewish you must be “Pro-Israel” and if you’re Arab/Middle Eastern/Muslim you must be “Pro-Palestinian”. There’s no possible way to be consistently “pro human rights”, and to simply be against the killing of children. The “side you take” in the “conflict” is based on nothing more than your religion and/or ethnic background. There is no objective truth available. Evidence is seen as “biased”, because no matter how damning it appears to be; there’s always “another side to consider”.

Holocaust Survivor Heads to Gaza
It's strange to see President Obama accepting a Peace Prize as he escalates a war. As a Holocaust survivor whose parents perished at Auschwitz in 1942, I know all too well what war looks like. I also know what peace looks like and I can tell you this: Sending 30,000 more U.S. troops to fight in one of the poorest countries in the world, Afghanistan, is not making peace. As President Obama accepts a Peace Prize he does not deserve, it's a good time to model what real peacemaking looks like. That's why-at the ripe age of 85-I'll be joining the Gaza Freedom March on December 31. Over 1,000 peacemakers from around the world will join hands with 50,000 Palestinians in Gaza as we walk together to the Israeli border. As Jews, Christians, Muslims, atheists, and members of many faiths we will come together as one humanity to condemn the brutal invasion of Gaza one year ago and demand that Israel lift the siege that has brought 1.5 million people to the brink of disaster.

Galloway's Gaza convoy reaches Istanbul
Gaza – Ma’an – British MP George Galloway’s third “Viva Palestina” convoy arrived in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday on its way to Gaza. The convoy of 200 vehicles is winding its way from London across Europe and the Levant, planning to enter the besieged Gaza Strip through the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing on 27 December.

NGO Monitor’s campaign to silence dissent in Israel
We’ve covered NGO Monitor’s strategy to weaken the human rights infrastructure because they regard it as essentially a plot against Israel, rather than a necessary part of a healthy and functioning civil society. Israel’s Didi Remez sounds the alarm on their latest efforts to sideline human rights organizations through enacting new laws.

This week, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs is sponsoring a conference aimed at "combating antisemitism" in Jerusalem. It’s interesting to see a conference apparently about tackling racism being co-chaired by Avigdor Lieberman. The other co-chair is a Likud MK who lives in a settlement in the Occupied West Bank.

Violence and Aggression
Israeli occupation troops attack refugee camp in W. Bank
The troops boarding armored vehicles rumbled into the camp from several axes, opening fire at inhabitants of the shanty town and wounding two of them, the radio said, adding that the injured were whisked to hospital.

Chaos at Beit Jala checkpoint: 2 detained, accident injures several
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Beit Jala-Jerusalem checkpoint was closed Tuesday night as a car accident injured an unknown number of individuals and Israeli border police detained two youth from the Bethlehem area, sources said.

Israeli rightists plan Al-Aqsa intrusion
Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - Hundreds of right-wing Jewish Israelis are expected to descend on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on Thursday, groups told the Jerusalem Post. A report published on Tuesday in the Israeli daily cited an unnamed group of activists saying they hoped hundreds would show up for a day of organized tours and prayers at the Western Wall and the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The event is being termed a “mass pilgrimage” honoring the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

Israeli navy arrests five Gaza fishermen
GAZA CITY, Dec 16, 2009 (AFP) - Israel arrested five fishermen off the coast of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Wednesday after gunboats surrounded their vessel, according to witnesses and a Palestinian security official.

IDF raids Naalin photographer's home
Canaan family members say harassed by army following incident in which soldier was documented shooting bound Palestinian during anti-fence rally. Military source: A special force arrived to arrest one of the family members suspected of rioting.,7340,L-3820754,00.html

IOF troops round up 15 West Bankers
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up 15 Palestinians in the West Bank districts of Jenin, Bethlehem and Qalqilia at dawn Tuesday, radio Israel announced.

The Israeli Military kidnaps nine civilians from the West Bank
Nine Palestinian civilians were kidnapped by Israeli troops on Wednesday during morning invasions targeting a number of West Bank communities.

Elderly mother joins in prison her five sons, grandson and daughter-in-law
Palestinian Press Agency/Xinhua - Rab’a Belal became the oldest Palestinian woman detainee (and one of the oldest Palestinian detainees in general) when Israeli forces arrived to arrest her in a raid on the family home at Rafidya, western Nablus. Rab’a Belal is the widow of Sheikh Said Belal, one of the Hamas founders, who died five years ago. Her five sons are already in detention, as are a grandson and a daughter-in-law. No reason for the arrest, or specific charges against Rab’a Belal herself, were published.

Um Bakir: I tasted the real suffering of my sons after two days in prison
Um Bakir, a mother of five Palestinian prisoners, said Monday that she experienced the real suffering of her sons in Israeli jails after she spent only two days in detention.

Siege/Humanitarian Crisis
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory 10 - 15 Dec 2009

Medical sources: 3 Palestinians of one family killed in tunnel collapse
Three Palestinian citizens were killed on Monday night after the tunnel they were inside collapsed over their heads in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, medical sources said on Tuesday.

Industrial Fuel – Needs Vs. Supply – Nov 15 – Dec 12

Goods – Needs Vs. Supply – Nov 15 – Dec 12

Has Obama made a Devil's Bargain with Israel?
"According to a recent U.N. report, 70 percent of Gazans subsist on less than a dollar a day and 60 percent have no daily access to water. Because of the Israeli blockade it takes 85 days to get shelter kits into Gaza, where 20,000 people remain homeless. Pediatric hygiene kits face delays of at least 68 days, and truckloads of paper and textbooks have been “stranded indefinitely,” which means 130,000 children are being denied basic school materials."

Gazans turn to painkillers to avoid reality - Samar Dremly
Gaza – Ma’an – In the besieged Gaza Strip, many have turned to analgesics to avoid a harsh reality in the aftermath of the Israeli military offensive last winter, coupled with factional violence and joblessness.

Israel bans tourists from key West Bank bus line
Bethlehem – Ma'an – Just days before Bethlehem's busiest tourist season begins, Israeli authorities implemented a ban on foreign-passport holders traveling to Jerusalem on Palestinian buses. On 11 December, tourists began to report being pulled off line 21, a route used predominantly by holders of East Jerusalem residency cards, as they stopped for inspection at the Jerusalem tunnel entrance into Israel.

Good news to report: smuggling, and more smuggling
Smugglers along the border of Egypt and the Gaza Strip will continue moving goods through tunnels despite the recent construction of an underground wall. "Let the Americans and the Israelis pay for the wall," Ismail*, a smuggler, told Al-Masry Al-Youm. "The tunnels are minimum 20 meters underground. We can make it 40 meters."" I want to start a political movement that aims at spreading smuggling throughout the Middle East region, especially into Palestinian lands. We can call it the Smugglers' Support Movement (or SSM).

Israel's Arab Helpers
The (new) Gaza wall
al-Masri al-Youm English has what may be the first close-up picture of the new wall being constructed at the border between Egypt and Gaza, revealed last week by Haaretz. The wall appears to consist of an underground portion (rumored to go as deep as 20 or 30 meters) as well as an above-ground portion, which has long existed (although it had been partially destroyed in the January 2008 breakthrough by Hamas, which allowed thousands of Palestinians to resupply in Sinai).

Palestine refugees face service cuts due to UNRWA financial crisis
The United Nations agency Palestine refugees (UNRWA) faces a severe deficit that could lead to cuts of essential services to more than 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. According to UNRWA, the agency's 2009 funds are already exhausted and it faces a shortfall of US $140 million for 2010. Rami Almeghari reports from the occupied Gaza Strip.

War Criminals

Norman Finkelstein: Israeli perpetrates war crimes in Gaza
December 16, 2009 (Pal Telegraph) - Professor Norman Finkelstein, accused Israeli of perpetrating war crimes in the Gaza strip through the ongoing siege and January war. His accusation came within an International Conference titled, "UNRWA and Future of Palestinian Refugees", organized in London.

Israel furious at Livni arrest warrant
Israel yesterday reacted furiously to the news that a warrant had been issued in Britain for the arrest of its former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, warning that the move by a London court threatened bilateral relations, and issuing a threat to end official visits to Britain unless there was a change in the law.

Israeli women's group tells Livni to turn herself in
Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Women's Coalition for Peace sent a letter on Wednesday to Israel’s former Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, calling on her to cooperate with international investigations into her role in the assault on Gaza last winter, after a British court issued an warrant for her arrest on Monday.

Political Developments

Abbas' presidential term extended
The Palestinian president will remain in office until new elections are held.

Aluf Benn / Obama will back dialogue with Hamas
Barack Obama's speech upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize should be called "the realist manifesto." The U.S. president summed up his political worldview in seven words: "I face the world as it is." Not a messiah, not a prophet and not a dreamer. Rather, a leader who recognizes the limits of human nature and sees statecraft as a power game. A leader who envisions the highest ideals but understands that they cannot be attained through willpower and persuasion alone. A leader who believes in evolution and does not receive divine inspiration for his political moves like his predecessor George W. Bush.

U.S. planning to restart Israel-PA talks based on '67 borders, By Akiva Eldar
The United States and Egypt, along with France, are planning a joint move to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks on the basis of the June 4, 1967, borders, territorial exchanges and a complete freeze of construction beyond the Green Line, including East Jerusalem. The freeze would not be announced publicly.

Hamas support
Khaled Meshaal, the Syriabased leader of Hamas, said the Islamist group that controls Gaza would support Iran if Israel launched a military strike on its nuclear facilities, writes Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran.

Abbas: Peace in 6 months if Israel freezes all settlements
RAMALLAH - If Israel completely halts construction in the settlements, negotiations with the Palestinians on a final-status agreement can be completed within six months, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Haaretz Tuesday.

Hamas blames Israel for breakdown in Schalit talks (AP)
AP - Israeli intransigence caused a breakdown in negotiations to release an Israeli soldier held by the militant Palestinian group Hamas, its leader said Tuesday.*

Other News

When Will It Be Our Time?, By MUSTAFA BARGHOUTHI

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK — I have lived my entire adult life under occupation, with Israelis holding ultimate control over my movement and daily life. When young Israeli police officers force me to sit on the cold ground and soldiers beat me during a peaceful protest, I smolder. No human being should be compelled to sit on the ground while exercising rights taken for granted throughout the West. It is with deepening concern that I recognize the Obama administration is not yet capable of standing up to Israel and the pro-Israel lobby. Our dream of freedom is being crushed under the weight of immovable and constantly expanding Israeli settlements.

Palestinians in Bir Idd win the right to use local road

It seems that a major victory has been won regarding Palestinians using their road to get to and from town. Israeli settlers have demanded that only Jews be allowed to use the Palestinian road. For the most part, Israeli soldiers have been following setter orders, not the orders of their superiors or the Israeli courts.

Hamas bans smoking in Gaza public places
GAZA, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- The deposed Hamas administration on Wednesday issued a smoking ban in public places in the Gaza Strip. The banning is applicable to all education and health institutions, clubs, restaurants, conference halls, public transportation and "any place the ministry considers public," the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Anti-Zionist Jews denied entry to Salfit mosque
Salfit – Ma’an – Members of Neturei Karta, Orthodox Jews United Against Zionism, were prohibited by Israel on Wednesday from visiting the remains of the Yasuf Mosque, allegedly burned down by settlers last week.

Officer, settler injured during clashes in Tzofim

Civil Administration inspectors enforcing construction moratorium arrive at West Bank settlement to seize excavator; female Border Guard officer sustains moderate wounds in ensuing violence, settler lightly hurt. 'Due to Barak's political whims officers being instructed to injure innocent civilians,' Tzofim resident says.,7340,L-3820480,00.html

Israeli policewoman wounded in clash with settlers (AFP)

AFP - An Israeli border policewoman was wounded on Tuesday in clashes with Jewish settlers protesting a 10-month moratorium on new building permits for settlers in the occupied West Bank, officials said.*

Jewish activist seeks meeting with Mash'al to talk peace
Bethlehem – Ma’an – “The Israeli occupation is the largest example of terrorism in the world” prominent American Jewish activist and member of the Bereaved Families Forum Isaac Frankental said in an interview Tuesday.

Spymaster sees Israel as world cyberwar leader
Using computer networks for espionage -- by hacking into databases -- or to carry out sabotage through so-called "malicious software" planted in sensitive control systems has been quietly.

U.K. court rules Jewish school racially discriminatory

The British supreme court ruled on Wednesday that a London Jewish school was guilty of racial discrimination by refusing entry to a boy whose mother was a Jew by conversion and not by birth.

Mahmoud Dabdoub The Photographer
Mahmoud Dabdoub was born in Lebanon in 1958 and worked from 1976 to 1982 in the Palestinian cultural office in Beirut. He went to the German Democratic Republic in 1981 and studied at the College for Graphics and Printing in Leipzig. Since 1987, he has continued to work there as a freelance journalist and photographer.

Zionist Wahhabis
Factions clash over Israel's buses | Seth Freedman
Orthodox Jews and secularists are embroiled in an increasingly bitter row over gender-segregation on Israeli public transport. With the gulf between the secular and religious camps in Israel continuing to widen, the issue of gender segregation on public transport has become the latest bone of contention. Activists from both sides are eagerly awaiting a ruling – due at the end of the month – from the minister for transport, whose decision will either bring an end to the forced separation of men and women on state-run buses or enshrine the partition in Israeli law.

Analysis/Op-ed/Human Interest
Propaganda of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, As`ad Abukhalil
So the Israeli Foreign Ministry of occupied Palestine sends out propaganda press releases. For some reason, I am on that mailing list and I receive those announcements addressed to me as "Angry Arab News Service." Obviously, the propagandists of the Zionist entity are so desperate in their attempt to distract attention from the war crimes and racism of the state, that they went out collecting every possible newspaper's email and every possible news service's email. In the mix, they could not distinguish between real news services and satirical or ironic news services. And I could not take myself out of the email list, because doing so would require communication with an official representative of the Zionist entity, against which we all adhere to a boycott until the full liberation of Palestine. Don't get me wrong, once we liberate Palestine, and once Israel-is-no-more (I like that slogan), we can then abandon the boycott. So yesterday, I wrote to you about the mouthpiece of Prince Salman publishing an open letter to the Arabs by an Israeli politician from the ultra-right-wing party that wants to impose a loyalty oath on Arab citizens of the state usurping Israel. [continued]

Lies of the Times: the case of Ethan Bronner, As`ad Abukhalil
I got my NYT this morning and was pissed to read a big headline of an article by Ethan Bronner. The headline said that Israelis and Palestinians are "pondering" Netanyahu as a "peace maker." And I made a mental note to say something about the headline because the long article could not produce ONE single Palestinian who was willing to "ponder" Netanhayu as a peace maker. Not even the chief PA buffoon, Sa'ib `Urayqat. So I go to the website to link to it, and suddenly the headline was changed from the paper edition. The entire debate in the article is an Israeli debate, in which the Palestinians are not a party. Yet, Bronner takes the Israelis as representatives of the Palestinians. Why should that be surprising? The US and Israel wanted the Hashemite lackeys of Jordan to speak for the Palestinians. I read in Ashton book on King Husayn that the latter's feeling was deeply hurt when he read the text of a flying by the command of the first Palestinian intifada against the Hashemites. [end]

What David Miliband should say to Tzipi Livni | Daniel Machover
According to news reports, David Miliband plans to call the leader of the Israeli opposition, Tzipi Livni, to explain the British government's stance on the grant of an arrest warrant against her when she had been due to speak at a Jewish National Fund meeting in Hendon.

Does Lieberman have an Israel angle in his healthcare roadblock?
I find Lieberman’s behavior in this affair unconscionable, and I share [Ezra] Klein’s anger with him, which produced his dust-up with Chuck Lane on this blog. Klein is right that there is not a shred of principle in Lieberman’s opposition to the proposal to allow people 55 and over to buy into Medicare. Again: Lieberman supported the idea just three months ago.

Is Joe Lieberman Protecting Israel?
Sen. Joe Lieberman’s latest threat to scuttle health-care reform – vowing to join a Republican filibuster to block an over-55 buy-in to Medicare, a proposal that he has long championed – is raising questions about his motives. But no one is mentioning the unmentionable, the cause that has come to define Lieberman’s career: Israel.

MIDEAST: Occupation Eats Away Israel's Heart and Soul
JERUSALEM, Dec 15 (IPS) - After Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank torched a mosque and desecrated copies of the Quran in the Palestinian village of Yasuf, last Friday morning, they ran into a wall of condemnation.

The Race Against Israeli Expansionism: Can the Two-State Solution be Saved?
Citing the foreclosure of his diplomatic options, Palestinian President Abbas announced last month that he will not seek reelection, while senior Palestinian officials spoke of dissolving the Palestinian Authority and shifting the national strategy to seeking a single democratic state for all Israelis and Palestinians. The PA is sounding the alarm bell on the perishing viability of the two-state solution.

Europe’s road to a new Jerusalem
Europe can play a particularly valuable role in preventing the splintering of Palestine and in establishing a functioning Palestinian authority, ready to morph into the government of a future state. …We should state clearly that Europeans will accept the results provided the process is fair. Our preference should be the emergence of a government of national unity. We should go further and say explicitly that we will deal with and support such a government, if it unequivocally supports a cease-fire and keeps to past commitments (it is a pity that Israel has not done so). Moreover we should encourage such a government to negotiate a settlement with Israel and undertake to put the results of any agreement to all Palestinians in a referendum, abiding by the result.,dwp_uuid=73adc504-2ffa-11da-ba9f-00000e2511c8,print=yes.html

Hani Almadhoun: Israel Traps Itself: How Netanyahu's Israel is Less Safe
At this moment, most countries in the European Union are not too fond of Israel's policies nor the country's leadership, for that matter. The United States is not happy either: the Obama administration does not want another distraction right now and the State Department has had harsh words for Israel's wild settlement policies. The UK just issued an arrest warrant Tzipi Livni, Israel's former foreign minister. And Arab states that signed peace treaties with Israel constantly criticize their lack of commitment to peace and their open appetite for grabbing yet more land from the Palestinians, endangering the very essence of the two-state solution. The Palestinian leadership, on the other hand, isn't looking too great right now, either, even though it seems to be empowered by support from the international community. But back to Israel, here is what Netanyahu's genius brought upon Israel.

Occupation Threatens Secularism in Israel
After Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank torched a mosque and desecrated copies of the Koran in the Palestinian village of Yasuf last Friday morning, they ran into a wall of condemnation. The attackers were consensually branded as extremists, even by the usually uncompromising settlers and their representatives in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Palestine's Guernica
Palestine Monitor is pleased to announce the publication of "Palestine's Guernica". One year on from the tragedy of Gaza, Palestine Monitor has realised Palestine's Guernica, a detailed account of the causes and consequences of Israel's brutal assault.
Using eyewitness testimonies, expert analysis and a collection of articles and photography from Palestine Monitor, Guernica provides a new level of insight and humanity to a massacre that shamed the world.

Christmas in the Holy Land - 2009
When celebrating Christmas, it would be a good idea to think about the birthplace of Jesus. What is like in the Holy Land under occupation, injustice and racism? How does Christmas feel when the Holy Land is under siege?

Iraq security forces involved in bombings - PM
BAGHDAD, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Dozens of Iraqi security force members were involved in attacks that killed up to 112 people in Baghdad last week, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Wednesday. There is widespread suspicion in Iraq that the police and armed forces have been infiltrated by militants, take bribes to allow insurgents to mount attacks, or may be colluding with militants to undermine Maliki before a March 7 general election.

In Baghdad, more blasts near Iraq government center
As six people are killed in attacks near government ministries, Iraqi soldiers speak of their frustration in trying to provide security. As their superiors inspected a car mangled by one of three blasts that rocked Baghdad's government center Tuesday, two Iraqi soldiers nearby scoffed at the military's shortcomings in protecting the capital.,0,6928386.story

Tuesday: 12 Iraqis Killed, 63 Wounded
Bombs targeted Baghdad governmental institutions today, exactly a week after “Bloody Tuesday” left hundreds dead or wounded. Mosul was equally affected, but those attacks were directed at Christian targets instead. At least 12 Iraqis were killed and 63 more were wounded across the country. The attacks also indirectly affected Camp Ashraf as a number of journalists heading to the immigrant camp were awaiting transport together near a blast site. Also, the ongoing PKK difficulties claimed two more lives in Turkey.

Baby among five killed in Iraq attacks

An eight-day-old baby was among five people killed in separate attacks Tuesday in Iraq, including car bombs in Baghdad and bombings that struck two churches in the main northern city of Mosul.

Mass grave in Iraq Al Anbar province

Security Sources said that a mass grave was found in Al Anbar Province. The Mass grave contains the bodies of 25 people which were probably shot dead in a desert region near the town of Hit. Medical sources said that the grave dates 3 years ago.

Iraq to offer up to $85,000 for car bomb tip-offs (AFP)

AFP - The Iraqi cabinet has approved a plan to offer rewards of up to 85,000 dollars for tip-offs about car bombs, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Wednesday, a day after a new wave of bombings.*

Iranian dissident group defies order to leave Iraq (McClatchy Newspapers)

McClatchy Newspapers - CAMP ASHRAF, Iraq — An Iranian dissident group vowed Tuesday not to abandon its besieged camp north of Baghdad despite an Iraqi military ultimatum to pull up stakes or face an eviction that could turn bloody.*

"Spoils of Babylon"

THE FATE of Iraq may well rise or fall on Kirkuk as Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen .and Christians grapple for control of the province and the safety of their people. Oil riches abound in this land that straddles the border of Arab and Kurdish Iraq. And command of these resources is the prize for the taking. As the powers that be in Baghdad fight to hold on to the tenuous peace wrested from civil war, deciding the political fate of Kirkuk is treacherous enough to bring down the state. So far, the battle has largely taken place in a never-ending political drama, but if compromise cannot be reached-and soon-bloody conflict may well be the next step.

U.S. Creates Its Antithesis in Iraq
Nowhere it is more obvious than in Iraq that the existence of an election law, elections themselves and the constitution they are based on are not indicators of democracy or legitimacy, because these mechanisms are merely symbols of the antithesis of the mechanisms of democracy as practiced back home by the U.S. occupying power.

Hezbollah denies that Nasrallah visit Riyadh soon: report
BEIRUT, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- A source within Hezbollah denied a local news agency report that the group's chief Hassan Nasrallah's upcoming Saudi visit, local OTV reported on Tuesday. Local news agency Al-Markazia reported on Tuesday that Nasrallah will visit Saudi Arabia right after Lebanese Prime Minster Saad Hariri's visit to Syria, which is expected to take place soon.

Lara Deeb, "Lebanese Shia Women: Temporality and Piety"
Shia women's public piety is central to their signifying their community's modernity within a transnational discursive field. The status and image of Muslim women is one of the most consistent and contentious issues that arose during my field research, in passionate and often, unsolicited responses to Western discourses about Muslim women. Gender norms are critical because of both local and international concern, as well as local concern about international concern. As one woman put it, "a woman is the example for everything. A culture is judged by the level of its women." Public participation has come to provide an externally visible marker of morality and modernity by which women can be judged within the community, and by which the community can be judged internationally. The social importance of this is magnified because women's participation and its promotion are taking place in a discursive field where gendered notions of modernity are negotiated. Piety and modernity are thus linked on two levels: in the first, because the forms of piety that require women's public participation are locally understood as both modern and as a crucial aspect of community progress. And in the second, because those same forms emerge in response to, or dialogue with, transnational discourses about gender and modernity.

Is Robert Fisk suffering from the Bernard Lewis syndrome?
Lebanon, December 16, 2009 (Pal Telegrah) - Twice I met him, and as many times he delighted me. I can credit Robert Fisk with getting me interested in Lebanon. I have always read his books and articles passionately, and those who know me grew weary of my continuous references to him. But no more. The Fisk I admired is no longer the Fisk that the world knows today. His last article in which he equates Hezbollah, the Lebanese Resistance, with a bunch of anti-Semites is the figurative drop. The reason for this outrageous accusation? Hezbollah's opposition to the teaching of the Anne Frank diary in the schools in the south of Lebanon. Robert Fisk has lived in Lebanon for more than 30 years, and most importantly throughout the savage period of the civil war. It is, nor should it be a secret that Robert Fisk is one of the best western journalists dealing with the Middle East, but that should not impede us from criticizing him on certain critical issues.

Other Arab News
Yemen rebels say air raid kills 120, accuse U.S.
Yemeni Shi'ite rebels accused the U.S. air force Tuesday of joining attacks against them, and killing at least 120 people in a raid in the north of the poor Arab state.

Harassment across Arab world drives women inside
The sexual harassment of women in the streets, schools and work places of the Arab world is driving them to cover up and confine themselves to their homes, said activists at the first-ever regional conference addressing the once taboo topic.Activists from 17 countries across the region met in Cairo for a two-day conference ending on Monday.

Gulf Arabs agree on joint military force
The US-allied six-nation bloc is located across the Gulf from Iran and includes the world’s top oil exporter Saudi Arabia. They share Washington’s concerns over Iran’s nuclear plans.

U.S. and other world news

Transfer for Guantanamo detainees - 16 Dec 09
The Obama administration has said it will transfer nearly 100 prisoners from the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay to a prison in the US state of Illinois. In addition to holding detainees, the prison near Chicago, will be the site of military trials. The Obama administration says it will be the safest prison in the United States. Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan reports.

US: Guantanamo Prisoners Not ‘Persons’
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal Monday to review a lower court’s dismissal of a case brought by four British former Guantanamo prisoners against former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the detainees’ lawyers charged Tuesday that the country’s highest court evidently believes that "torture and religious humiliation are permissible tools for a government to use."

Democracy (Part I): 'People's Power' Usurped by Elites, Jim Miles
(Part I examines the business values - globalization, free trade, corporations and capitalism - that define the workings of our democracy today.)

Democracy (Part II): Communalism and Occupation Subjugation, Jim Miles
(Part II looks at how theological considerations, meritocracy, and the fear of social democracy influence perceptions on democratic values and influence actions justified as democratic, from Palestine and Israel through to U.S. actions around the globe.)

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