Thursday, June 23, 2011

Saeb Erekat: Palestinians deserve Obama's support in September | Sabbah Report

Saeb Erekat: Palestinians deserve Obama's support in September | Sabbah Report

UN political chief calls for urgent resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

UN political chief calls for urgent resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

IBISHBLOG: Questions for Ikhras readers, if they actually have any

Questions for Ikhras readers, if they actually have any

Hussein Ibish: Is it not obvious that an anonymous website that attacks virtually any and every prominent Arab-American without restraint and at a deeply personal level without revealing its true identity or motivation is, by definition, not only non-credible but also malignant? You may enjoy the car-crash spectacle of the reckless and indefensible public smearing of everyone trying to do something useful for the community, but honestly, how do you know this isn't in fact the voice of the Zionist Organization of America, or some offshoot of Pamela Geller's operation? (Old-timers will remember Mark Bruzonsky, the former Washington Representative of The World Jewish Congress, who used to run a website and email list called “Middle East Realities” that specialized in outbidding and denouncing all noted Arab and Muslim American organizations, activists and individuals, exactly as Ikhras does, and in much the same language.)

I'll grant that Ikhras is probably not actually an extreme right-wing Zionist operation, but how do you know? Its relentless Arab-bashing hate speech certainly attacks their main targets and plainly serves their purpose of keeping the Arab and Muslim Americans marginalized and disempowered. Doesn't it leave a bad taste in your mouth to be told all these categorically and unrelentingly nasty (and typically false) things about a vast array of individuals and organizations who are trying to make themselves useful from a huge variety of approaches and perspectives, but not to be told who is making these accusations? Don't you wonder who they actually are and what they have to hide? Don't you wonder what they're afraid of? Don't you reflect on the character of people who would conduct themselves like this? Their postings are the equivalent of anonymous voicemail messages left during election campaigns about the “communist ties,” “sexual deviancy,” or “financial improprieties” of a given candidate left by anonymous supporters of their opponents. It's a perfect example of the classic political “dirty trick.”

Because of this inherent lack of credibility and seriousness, I deeply doubt that Ikhras has much of an audience, or impact on Arab-American thought or debate. For this reason, until now I have completely ignored this ridiculous website, but at this stage I think it has become important for somebody to have the gumption to stand up and ask the simplest, most obvious questions and point out how atrocious the intentions of this project truly are, no matter how marginal it undoubtedly has been and will remain.

It needs to be pointed out that whoever is responsible for the bile at Ikhras is deliberately taking a self-consciously destructive approach, but suggesting absolutely nothing constructive or serious as an alternative. If these individuals really think their views and opinions have any actual value or constituency, why restrict them to an anonymous website? Why not create an open, public organization and try to pursue some of these "ideas" in a proactive, purposeful manner? Of course that's hard to do when all you stand for is the (almost always unfair) criticism of all others, and when you won't even admit who you are. Give it a shot, and see what kind of constituency and credibility you end up with.

It must be obvious that anyone who isn't willing to sign their names to their own opinions, have the minimal courage of their convictions, take responsibility for their own words, and say what they think in their own goddamn names, should be the very first to ikhras. And when and if their identities are revealed or discovered, and should they indeed prove to be Arab Americans as they claim, the community should neither forgive nor forget this outrageous and cowardly website and its perpetrators. It's obvious that these people don't sign their names to their own writings because they are afraid of the consequences to their public standings and reputations, at the very least. Let's make sure that this fear is fully justified, because no one who engages in this behavior can, once exposed, hope to be regarded as anything other than a coward, a scoundrel and an individual beneath contempt. And they may well prove to be worse besides.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Roger Waters applauds Dave Randall and Maxi Jazz, and all the other musicians who came together to record 'Freedom for Palestine'

A note from Roger - June 21, 2011

by Roger Waters The Wall on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at 8:48pm

A note from me to all my friends on Facebook. I have been contacted by "The Russell Tribunal on Palestine" and asked to share a link with you all. The link will direct you to a new video of a song called "Freedom for Palestine". My position on Palestine is well known and I have already given my endorsement to these guys in other forums. I repeat it here:

"I applaud Dave Randall and Maxi Jazz, and all the other musicians who came together to record 'Freedom for Palestine'. I fully share, and endorse, the sentiments they express in their song, more power to them and to all who stand together in the fight for a free Palestine . We shall overcome."

However, in addition, I would urge any of you who are interested in the Israel/Palestine question and its legal and moral ramifications also to visit

The Russell Tribunal is a truly thought provoking and uplifting initiative that is largely ignored by the mainstream media. Check it out.

Love Roger

Keeping the "Arab Spring" from becoming a winter of discontent.

"To protect the rights of minorities, women and individuals from the excesses of a potential Islamist-dominated or -brokered Egyptian parliament with broad powers on domestic issues, the other two centers of power – the military and the presidency – will also have to play the role of watchdog, drawing red lines around a parliamentary majority that begins to exhibit extremist tendencies. It is therefore essential that the emerging Egyptian constitution and system allow for the full participation of such religious parties, but not their use of possible legislative powers to abuse or oppress vulnerable groups.

The broader Arab world could not have higher stakes in Egypt’s ability to develop a functional power-sharing system that includes the division of authority, the participation of all peaceful parties including reactionary religious ones, and the protection of the rights of individuals, minorities and women. Egypt’s influence on the political direction of much of the rest of the Arab world will be enormous, if not decisive. If the Egyptian experiment disintegrates into chaos, direct or indirect protracted military rule, or the emergence of a tyrannous Islamist parliamentary majority, the “Arab Spring” will have well and truly become a winter of discontent.
" Hussein Ibish

An outline of the coming Egyptian power-sharing arrangement

Collective Apathy About Collective Punishment By Meg Walsh for MIFTAH

Collective Apathy About Collective Punishment
Date posted: June 22, 2011
By Meg Walsh for MIFTAH

It feels like my surroundings are rapidly closing in on me. The metal bars in which I am enclosed are ugly and the ground is littered with trash. Desperate children are trying to sell me gum and candy. Candy is the last thing I want right now; I want to escape. Bodies are pressing up against me as people struggle to make it through the revolving gate that only lets a few through at a time. If I am not aggressive, I will never get through. A teenage boy is getting yelled at by a soldier for some unknown reason, and a father is denied although his wife and children are granted passage. An old man in the car lane is taking out his groceries one by one from his trunk as a young soldier stands inspecting, finger on the trigger. Cars are backed up and people are getting impatient. I am angry.

I must pass through the checkpoint every time I wish to enter Jerusalem from Ramallah, even though east Jerusalem is Palestinian territory. I have to answer the familiar questions such as “What were you doing in the West Bank?” or “Do you have any Palestinian friends?” I hate being forced to lie. Having Palestinian friends should not be looked at as criminal. And I hate that they almost – almost make me feel that I am truly doing something wrong. Most of all, I hate the way the Palestinians are treated, and although I am uncomfortable, chances are I will get through without much problem. Their reality is much different. Any random checkpoint encounter could mean harassment, detainment, or worse. It seems to mostly depend on the mood of the soldier.

I had underestimated the anger and anxiety that I would feel in these scenarios. Some people around me appear visibly upset while others just look bored. Because of the freedom that I have enjoyed my entire life, I refuse to accept this dehumanizing process. As I stand there, I vow to never adjust, to never become desensitized to this. For me, that would signal complicity in the face of the injustice that is occurring: a complete domination of one group of people over another—a betrayal of humanity. Threat levels are determined by the color of your ID card and the language that you speak. I will not thank the soldiers when they return my passport. I will not grant legitimacy to their role by acting like they are doing me a favor. I will not be forced to equate human rights with privilege.

When they ask, I tell the interrogators that I have been in the city of Nablus, visiting Jacob’s Well, which is the biblical site where Jesus is believed to have had encountered a Samaritan woman. This falls in line with my Christian tourism story that most visitors have to use if they are planning on having any contact with Palestinians. Although with suspicious looks, I am allowed to pass through the gates with the others like herded animals.

When you witness the policies that are in place and the apartheid system that is occurring, it is hard to stay outside the cycle of hatred. It is hard to see the ‘other’, the one who is enforcing the rules, as human—they become robots, trapped inside a system that teaches you to follow orders, not to ask questions. It denies all natural laws of humanity, so the challenge then becomes to stay human in an inhuman situation. People are not meant to be kept in cages, both figuratively and literally, and race and religion should not be prioritized. The ironies are many in this ‘Holy Land’.

But how do I communicate to others what I have seen and felt when most people choose the comfort of ignorance over awareness in our unjust world? If words could accurately describe this oppression, I do not believe it would be allowed to continue unchecked. The gap between words and lived experience is vast, and those who may actually have the power to change things may never understand the reality—the reality of the nightmare that is occupation. It was only through my experience in this region that I was ultimately changed. It was from looking it in the eye, from feeling powerless, from experiencing a fear that the unexpected could happen at any given moment.

In Palestine, where most days I feel useless rather than useful, I still somehow feel that I have to be here no matter how outside of my comfort zone it lies. I cannot continue to be complicit or neutral, because I have seen what that means in this conflict and how collective apathy has embarrassingly allowed the occupation of Palestine to continue for 44 years. I am standing on a bridge between two worlds—one in which the powerful are silent, and the other in which the powerless are screaming, yet ignored. It is through this paradox that I am seeking answers. And some degree of hope.

Meg Walsh is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at

Israel: Halt Home Demolitions

“Israeli authorities refuse permits to Palestinians, tear down homes, and then turn around and give Israeli settlers the right to build homes nearby,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The international community should press Israel to immediately end this blatantly discriminatory treatment.”

Israel: Halt Home Demolitions


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Our Picasso will be changed by its journey to Ramallah..."

"The academy quoted Charles Esche, director of the Van Abbe Museum, as saying it was a historic event not only for the Palestinians.

"Our Picasso will be changed by its journey to Ramallah, it will take on extra meaning and the story will remain a part of the history of the painting from this moment on," it said.

"It feels like we are constructing new histories with such a project as well as preserving old ones," it added."

Ramallah museum to show Picasso for first time

Foreign staff hang Picasso's 1943 canvas "Buste de Femme", which was lent by The Van Abbe museum in Eindhoven, Netherlands to the Palestinian Art Academy museum in Ramallah. The Ramallah art museum has become the first in the West Bank to take delivery of an artwork by Picasso, which will go on view to the public for a month, beginning on Friday (AFP/Abbas Momani)

My letter PUBLISHED in the LATIMES June 20 2011: Lessons of the 'Gay Girl' hoax,0,5103672.story?page=2
Lessons of the 'Gay Girl' hoax

Foolishly, I too got taken in by the compassionate calls to care about Amina, who turned out to be nothing but a sock puppet for a misguided writer.

However, I do not believe that this well publicized blogosphere incident should be used as an opportunity to discredit and dismiss the Palestinian refugees' very real right to return to original homes and lands, a cause Goldberg points out this "Amina" supported.

United Nations Resolution 194 from 1948, clearly affirming the Palestinian refugees' right to return, is not a figment of anyone's imagination. The photographic records and documents following the plight of the Palestinians for the past 60-plus years are about very real, oppressed, impoverished and displaced men, women and children.

Anne Selden Annab

Honoring Heritage, Embracing Originality ... The American Task Force on Palestine

ATFP Sixth Annual Gala

The American Task Force on Palestine is pleased to announce that the theme of this year’s annual gala will be:

Honoring Heritage, Embracing Originality


Save the date!

The American Task Force on Palestine Sixth Annual Gala Dinner

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Ritz Carlton—Washington D.C.
1150 22nd Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037

For more information:

This will be a black tie event.

Sign up to receive the World Press Roundup!

June 21, 2011

NEWS: Pres. Obama says the United States may have “tactical disagreements” with Israel. Pres. Abbas reiterates that Palestinians want to resume negotiations, will go to the UN in September and will have a government headed by PM Fayyad. Fayyad says he refuses to continue as prime minister, even though a new poll shows him to be the popular choice. Obama assures Jewish donors he strongly supports Israel. Settlers use tourism to tighten their grip on the occupied territories. Gazans are not feeling much relief from the border opening. Turkey and Israel hold secret talks to repair relations. PM Netanyahu says Israel must separate from the Palestinians. Outgoing Israeli military chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi says a Palestinian state is “inevitable” and urges resuming negotiations. Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan has been stripped of his diplomatic passport after remarks critical of the Israeli government.

COMMENTARY: Sefi Rachlevsky says that because of religious fanaticism, the Israeli military is leading Israel to destruction. Daoud Kuttab says Palestinians need a holistic strategy for independence. Gerald Auerbach says Israel was founded amidst a legitimacy crisis and had to fight its own extremists. Gershon Baskin says Palestinians need energy as well as political independence. Khalaf Al Habtoor says more Arab commitment to the Palestinian cause is required. Jeff Halper says even a symbolic show of support for Palestine at the UN will be a significant victory. Yossi Alpher says that rather than trying to resuscitate talks, the international community should turn UN efforts into a win-win situation. Ghassan Khatib says Europe is the key to what happens in September. Roger Hercz says Israel is torn over the Arab Spring.

ATFP Resources on Palestinian State and Institution Building ATFP's unique collection of online resources on Palestinian state and institution building, including hundreds of relevant documents

FB FYI ATFP's Hussein Ibish is honored and deeply humbled to be included in Foreign Policy's Twitterati 100: A who's who of the foreign-policy Twitterverse in 2011 -

Postcards from Hell, 2011 Images from the world's most failed states... ISRAEL/WEST BANK

Postcards from Hell, 2011

Images from the world's most failed states.



FSI Score: 84.4

Israel may boast one of the world's most dynamic, high-tech economies, but in June 2010, Save the Children, a British-based charity, released alarming figures describing the humanitarian situation in the occupied West Bank. For example, nearly half the children growing up in Area C, the portion under full Israeli control, suffered from water-borne diarrhea, a major contributor to malnutrition.

Here, Palestinian children play on a swing in the village of Fasayel in the West Bank on June 14, 2011.



The Embroidery and Identity

Monday, June 20, 2011

"...until the refugees’ voices have been heard, their grievances addressed, there cannot be a just and lasting peace in the Middle East."

Interview on BBC Radio World Today to mark World Refugee Day

20 June 2011

Well joining me now from Jerusalem is UNRWA Spokesman, Chris Gunness. Chris, UNRWA has put on a short film competition and is premiering the results tonight in Ramallah to mark World Refugee Day, what were you attempting to achieve in this competition?

By putting on this competition with the support of one of our largest donors, the European Union, we are hoping to achieve two things:
Firstly, to have the refugees’ voices heard. This is a forgotten and dispossessed people and they have a voice with which the peacemakers need to engage. So through these films, we hope that the voice and the vision of the refugees can shine through.

Secondly, we wanted to humanise and showcase the talents of the refugees. So what you have here are beautiful and rather moving films about the existences of the refugees – first prize for example about a family returning to its house in the Nahr el-Bared camp in northern Lebanon, which was destroyed in mid 2007. And the third prize film I particularly like which simply features faces in the camps in Syria – which considering what’s been happening there, is remarkable .. but the Syria film is beautiful, moving but also very humanizing, which is what this competition is all about.

Q: These refugees find themselves at the centre of the world’s most intractable conflict, they’ve lived stateless and in exile for 63 years, what’s their future likely to be?

Well if you look at what is happening in the Middle East with the Arab spring in which people are crying out against social exclusion, and crying out for justice and dignity, then one can only hope that things will change for the Palestine refugees who have been denied justice and dignity for far too long, for 63 years. And we have seen stirrings of that with two demonstrations on Israel’s borders recently.

But one has to be empirical here and admit that if you look at a place like Gaza where there about a million refugees, and if you contrast the levels of suffering with the failure of the international community to prevent the fighting, the violence, the collective punishment, the blockade then one has to be slightly more realistic, but I refuse to be pessimistic.

Moreover one of the lessons of the Arab spring, and indeed the regime change that saw the end of the Cold War, is that when change does come, it is often very quick and unexpected. The vast Soviet empire collapsed in just a matter of months as long-held assumptions suddenly evaporated, so perhaps all is not lost for the Palestine refugees, though it’s very hard to predict how and when change might come for them.

Q: There’s increasing talk of a Palestinian state being recognised by the UN in September, will that change their situation?

Well we can only hope that their situation will change, because one thing is for sure and that’s having nearly five million people, stateless, dispossessed and living in exile in a region wracked by instability can only make that region more unstable. But I would go further and utter a truth that rarely dares speak its name and that is that until the refugees’ voices have been heard, their grievances addressed, there cannot be a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

So though its difficult to say where the recognition debate is headed, it’s a fact that’s rarely admitted but quite indubitably the case, which is that it makes no sense to force the refugee issue back into the future as some problematic thing that cannot be resolved by the parties to the conflict.

What’s needed to break what the UN Secretary General calls the “unsustainable status quo in this conflict” is courage and vision among world leaders, of the sort that world leaders have shown historically during periods of great change. They need the courage and vision to grasp the refugee issue and resolve it, because failure to do so means further instability in which peace is likely, sadly, to remain illusive. So the current climate offers risks certainly, but also an opportunity for peace if the courage and vision is there.

REFUGEES & RoR SECTION @ Palestine Online Store

Inalienable, sacred, possible, and the cornerstone of any possible peace settlement.
@ Palestine Online Store

This section was launched on the occasion of World Refugee Day (June 20, 2011), for the purpose of highlighting resources about Palestinian refugees.

Palestinians constitute the oldest largest refugee population in the world. The right of return is a basic and inalienable human right enshrined in international law, and Palestinian refugees still await the fulfillment of this right.

A portion of the proceeds from sales of these items will be donated to organizations assisting refugees and advocating for the right of return; for orders placed on World Refugee Day, that include at least one item listed on this page, we are donating $5 to Al-Awda, the Palestinian Right of Return Coalition.

We have selected what we felt were the most relevant materials, including:
> 7 book titles
> 8 film DVD's
> 5 music CD's
> 2 t-shirts and 2 buttons
> 1 poster, 1 map...READ MORE

Click here for Al-Awda's factsheet about refugees.