Saturday, July 21, 2012

[Israeli] Settlers uproot [Palestinian] trees in Beit Ummar

file photo of Palestinian woman standing among the remains of Palestinian olive trees after they were cut down by Jewish Settlers south of the West Bank town of Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- A number of settlers from Beit Ain settlement damaged agricultural lands near Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, and uprooted 25 trees, a local activist said Thursday.

Mohammed Awad said the trees were owned by Hammad Abdul Hamid Slabee, who has lost more than 200 trees in six attacks since last summer.

The land is his only source of income, Awad said.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Islamophobia Threatens American Values and National Security

In the present moment, Islamophobic discourse is based on the explicit or implicit allegation that immigrant Muslim communities represent an alien and hostile political movement, in this case the so-called "jihadist" international terrorist front led by terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda. In other words, the idea is not just that Muslims are alien, other and "bad," but that, as an immigrant group, they are a stealthy vanguard of a hostile political and alien cultural movement that seeks to destroy American society and civilization.
Various tenets distinguish the Islamophobes from those offering meaningful insight into
the genuine extremist threat facing the United States.

  1. The categorization of Islam and its adherents as a fixed homogenous political entity for which the extremists set the agenda.

  2. Islam is some kind of unitary conspiratorial enemy committed to the destruction of the United States through overthrow and then implementation of sharia law.

  3. Muslims due to their innate hostile political agenda of conquering America can not meaningfully assimilate.

  4. A demographic time bomb of Muslim extremism exists through immigration and births that threaten the West.

  5. Muslim religious practices and any accommodation of it represents a threat

  6. Because Islam is a political entity at war with America, it should not be offered the protections of religious liberty mandated in the Constitution's First Amendment.

  7. President Obama's Christian beliefs are a false smokescreen to advance his Muslim overlord enemies of the United States.
Shifted Focus From Real Threats
These shotgun style broad screeds against Islam as a faith and Muslims in general, who are categorized as either terrorist sympathizers or naïve has the effect of marginalizing Muslims from meaningful participation in the civic life of America. It also has the effect of shifting resources and the spotlight from real recent events. Scurrilous attacks against all Muslims overshadowed important congressional hearings related to the money laundering capabilities of terrorists through mainstream banking, the potential terror threat from Iran, cyberterror risks, and the ability of undocumented persons to still get flight training in the United States a decade after 9/11. In addition it overshadowed other news like the ability of an Egyptian with apparent connections to a terror group to come to the United States in a diplomatic delegation, the alleged possession of a fake Michigan drivers license by the Bulgaria terror bomber and terror related cases in London and Manchester, England.

For the Islamophobes every Muslim who achieves meaningful participation in public life must be a stealth operator in a conspiracy to undermine the United States with the help of a gullible public of useful idiots. They point to several real and horrendous instances of disingenuous wrongdoing by mainstream criminal or terrorist enabler imposters like Abdurahman al-Amoudi, Sami al-Arian, Anwar al Alakwi and the Holy Land Foundation as evidence of a broad conspiratorial template that they conveniently apply to all Muslims they disagree with irrespective of the evidence.

History Revisited
In both the Red Scare of nearly a century ago, and decades later in the McCarthy era, threats were exploited not for the protection of the country but to its detriment and to the reputations of innocent Americans. Yesterday, CNN showed how far the damage can travel. Demonstrators in Egypt who pelted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's motorcade over the weekend relied on American bloggers for their information about a State Department Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy.

Almost 60 years ago on June 9, 1954, lawyer Joseph Welch stood up in the Halls of the Senate to Joseph McCarthy in hearings about Communists and the Army:
Senator, may we not drop this? We know he belonged to the Lawyers Guild. Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?...READ MORE

Thrill-seeking tourists take aim at West Bank range

An Israeli soldier supervises an American tourist firing a gun as she participates in an introductory course to handling firearms at the Caliber 3 shooting range located near the West Bank settlement of Efrat. The Caliber 3 shooting school is a major draw for American tourists. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)
AFP News: Norman Solomon is a 65-year-old real estate agent from Los Angeles, a world away from the West Bank settlement firing range where he is spending the day learning to shoot a gun.

"We came to show the kids how the Israelis protect themselves and to have a good time," he tells AFP in between shots at white target paper and photos of men sporting the chequered keffiyeh scarf worn by many Palestinians.

Solomon, a Jewish American, is spending a couple of hours of his holiday at the Caliber 3 shooting school in the West Bank settlement bloc of Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem.

The school was set up in 2002 and has for years provided weapons training to security professionals including soldiers and bodyguards.

But in the past three years it has also opened its doors to civilians, offering a two-hour "tourist course" to those seeking an unusual holiday experience.

The company says it offers "the values of Zionism with the excitement and enjoyment of shooting which makes the activity more meaningful."

Its website touts the course as a "special encounter that can not be experienced anywhere else except on the battlefield."

It's a major draw for American tourists, with hundreds flocking to the site near the settlement of Efrat for a swift theoretical introduction to handling firearms followed by a hands-on shooting session supervised by instructors.

"It's a fun experience for the whole family," said Rachel Frogel, a young mother holding a baby in her arms.

Her three other children, all under the age of 10 years, follow the explanations of their instructors carefully before putting them to the test with guns that fire paintball pellets.

A relative decline in violence in the area in recent years has helped these courses become a local tourist attraction, pulling in entire families.

The local council of the Gush Etzion bloc of settlements, which lies between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Hebron, promotes Caliber 3 in its tourist brochures.

"It's a private company but it is also one of the attractions of the region," said council head David Perel.

Caliber 3 boss Sharon Gat says the centre is "an 'extreme tourism' site like many others in the world," but also "a Zionist attraction."...READ MORE

Land and Freedom... a map showing Jewish/Israeli and Arab/Palestinian control of land over time

New Statesman Chart of the day 

The maps below, from this week's issue of the New Statesman, indicate how control of land has changed over time, between Jewish/Israeli and Arab/Palestinian administration:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Latitude: A Palestinian in Jerusalem By Raja Shehadeh

Tourists tend to see Jerusalem's Old City as a model of tolerance. It's not.

Jerusalem — As a tourist visiting the Old City of Jerusalem, seeing Christians, Jews and Muslims walking side by side, hearing church bells ringing and Muslims being called to prayer, you might think the place is a model of tolerance.

As a resident of the Old City of Jerusalem, you think differently.

Last Sunday, I was taken on a tour by Nadera Shalhoub-Kervokian, a Palestinian and a professor of criminology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who has lived in the Old City for the past 30 years. Her home — a tastefully furnished second-floor apartment, where she and her husband raised three daughters — is in the Armenian quarter.

It’s also right at the edge of the Jewish quarter, which was rebuilt, expanded and repopulated after Israel’s victory in the 1967 war and its occupation of East Jerusalem. According to one study, [pdf] in 2006 37,060 people lived in the Old City, including 27,500 Muslims, 5,681 Christians, 3,089 Jews and 790 Armenian. To this day most groups live in their own quarters, but as Nadera explained, Israeli Jews have increasingly been moving into other areas as well.

As we walked around the Christian Quarter, Nadera pointed out all the buildings and single rooms that have recently been taken over by Israeli Jews. Exploiting the economic straits in which Arabs find themselves, Orthodox Jews (many with money from American relatives) have been buying a room here, a house there...READ MORE

Raja Shehadeh's Palestinian Walks won the Orwell Prize for books in 2008

 Congratulations to the successful high school students in Palestine

Poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941 – 2008)
Born in Al-Birwa (British Mandate Palestine 1941), Mahmoud Darwish was considered Palestine’s national poet for articulating the Palestinian people’s thoughts into poetic words.  His most famous early work was Identity Card.  Here’s an excerpt of that 1964 poem – a poem which became a rallying cry for Palestinian identity. 

My father . . . descends from the family of the plow
Not from a privileged class
And my grandfather . . .was a farmer
Neither well-bred, nor well-born!
Teaches me the pride of the sun
Before teaching me how to read
And my house is like a watchman's hut
Made of branches and cane
Are you satisfied with my status?
I have a name without a title!

As a child, his family was forced to flee to Lebanon when Israeli forces stormed Al-Birwa in 1948.  The “Catastrophe” a.k.a. the Nakba and the Palestinian homeland were underlying themes in much of his work.

Darwish was the winner of countless literary awards, including The Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters from France in 1993 and the Golden Wreath of Struga Poetry Evenings (an internationally-acclaimed poetry festival in Macedonia) in 2007. 

An unrelenting voice for Palestinian-Israeli co-existence, Darwish told the UK Guardian in 2002 of his belief in humanizing everyone.  A passage from the poem he wrote just after the 1967 war, “White Lilies,” was reprinted.  "I will continue to humanize even the enemy . . .The first teacher who taught me Hebrew was a Jew. The first love affair in my life was with a Jewish girl. The first judge who sent me to prison was a Jewish woman. So from the beginning, I didn't see Jews as devils or angels but as human beings."

National Poet Mahmoud Darwish
(1941 – 2008)
Credit: deSingel International Arts

Palestine: Beyond The Occupation


When you say you are going to a country in the Middle East, especially after the Arab Spring, people give you a look. If you say you are going to Israel/Palestine, then wow: you must be crazy! For most people, the Middle East is associated with desert, conflict, political strife, suppression of women and of course terrorism. This is also what’s reinforced in the media. Being located in the region, Palestine is seen no differently if not as the embodiment of all of these things.

To a certain extent, ugly politics and desert was what I used to think of Israel/Palestine. I never bought the “Arabs are terrorists” stereotype. Neither did I see Israel as the sole victim and Palestine as the aggressor in the conflict. To the contrary, I was aware of the injustices, discrimination and human rights violations Palestinians faced on a daily basis as a result of the occupation. I also knew of the double standards with which the international community especially the United States dealt with the conflict.

But coming to Palestine and witnessing firsthand the structural violence targeted at Palestinians and the challenges they face on a daily basis has been a different experience; structural violence in the form of obscured and unjust policies legalized as part of the Israeli military occupation. For example, a Palestinian can be imprisoned without trial under the pretext of “ administrative detention”; or people who have a West Bank “green ID” cannot go into east Jerusalem to pray, see family and friends, or for other business because they do not have a permit even though east Jerusalem is occupied West Bank territory captured in the 1967 war; or the fact that the separation wall is built on Palestinian territory (going beyond the 1948 Armistice “Green Line”) and has divided communities from their lands or from each other; or that there are illegal Israeli settlements inhabited by ideological settlers who think it’s their ultimate divine right to be on Palestinian land and engage in attacking Palestinians or encroaching on their land. And the list goes on.

Anyhow, the point of this account is not to talk about the structural violence perpetrated by the Israeli occupation. It’s to talk about how despite the political situation which often affects the social and other aspects of life, the strength of Palestinians trumps as life goes on in Palestine.

Just like any normal, vibrant, society there are markets, schools, universities and roads bustling with cars and people. People, laugh, sing, dance, work, learn, buy and sell, get married and have children. There’s a beautiful culture of loving the family, welcoming guests and eating healthy (yes the food is yummy and even the fast foods are relatively healthy). There’s variety in the fruits, vegetables, street foods, bread and spices. It all comes in abundance too. If you are a tea or coffee fan, this is the place for you. Not only can you drink coffee and tea multiple times a day, but you can also get it with different spices. If you’re not a fan, after living here for a while – trust me you will be.

So yes –Palestine is a very safe place to be. No, I haven’t heard any grenades being fired; only fireworks for weddings and other festivities. Very far from the “war zone” or ”breeding ground of terrorism” image the media often portrays, Palestine is somewhere you can sleep well at night. Therefore, as we try to inform ourselves on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and even stand in solidarity with Palestinians, it’s crucial to think of Palestine as more than just an occupied territory. Let’s not forget that it’s a homeland for 4.4 million people who live with strength by resisting the occupation and refusing to be crippled by its structures set to limit and oppress them. It’s a beautiful place, with beautiful, hospitable people where everything in the life of a vibrant society is also evident here in Palestine.

Melkam Lidet 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

Daoud Kuttab: Three Countries, Two Weddings and One Couple


This week, family and friends crossed international borders and military checkpoints and overcame the usual political bureaucracies to attend my daughter's two weddings. Why two weddings? Let me explain.

Like me, my daughter Tamara is a Jerusalemite. The bridegroom, Alaa, lives in the Bethlehem-area town of Beit Jala. It takes minutes to move between these adjacent towns, but they are kilometres away because of the 45-year-old political and military situation caused by Israel's occupation of Arab lands.

The situation is further complicated by the unilateral Israeli decision to annex Jerusalem. So, according to Israeli law (which not a single country, including the U.S., recognizes), Jerusalem became part of Israel and therefore under civilian Israeli rule, Beit Jala is occupied territory and the two are separated by walls and checkpoints. Moreover, Israel provides residency to Palestinians in Jerusalem, but not citizenship. Well, one may apply for citizenship, but it is not guaranteed that one will get it, and if one gets it, life is further complicated (as thousands of East Jerusalemites have found out) because Jordan gives temporary passport to the stateless Jerusalemites and does not allow entry if one gains Israeli citizenship as an East Jerusalemite. Israeli residency is attested by the blue Israeli ID that Jerusalemites get once they reach the age of 16. This ID allows Jerusalemites to travel in and out of Jerusalem and Israel. However, this Israeli ID card is valid only so long as one lives in Jerusalem. If one leaves Jerusalem for an extended period, one loses the right to live or even visit Jerusalem, gets treated as a tourist, and the Israelis have the right to control what to visit. Which brings me to the crossing of international borders.

As with any wedding, guests come from near and far. Visitors from the U.S. made it, but after much grueling and unnecessary interrogation at borders. At Ben Gurion Airport, my sister and her Mennonite husband had to explain why one of her sons had the Arabic name of Jamil. My brother was detained for four hours, and called a liar because he accurately told Israelis that he was born in New Jersey.

While some family members were delayed and harassed, they did finally make it. Another group of family and friends living in Jordan escaped questioning at the border. Along with a church group of 28 Jordanians, they applied for a group visa to the holy land. The tour agency regularly conducts such tours and they insist that groups apply one month earlier. They did. However, one day before the wedding (two days after their scheduled tour) the Israeli interior ministry answered by allowing only 18 out of the group of 28 to visit. Among those refused were the pastor of the Amman Christian Missionary Alliance Church and his wife (who used to come many times), a 70-year-old Jordanian, a retired woman and two of our nieces. Out of the 18, only 10 decided to make the trip, many declining to come without the spouse or relative that was arbitrarily denied entry.

But why the two weddings? Tamara, our daughter, works in Jerusalem and uses a car with Israeli yellow plates (to be accurate, my car, which she has de facto commandeered). Tamara can drive between Jerusalem and Beit Jala without a problem. Alaa, who lives in Beit Jala, is not allowed to travel or live in Jerusalem without a permit. Neither is he allowed to sleep overnight in Jerusalem, or drive the car, unless he gets a special permit. These permits are next to impossible to get if one is not a Jerusalem resident.

To apply for family reunification so that he can travel and stay in Jerusalem and Israel is very complicated. The process which used to take a few years can now take more than 10 years and permit is not guaranteed. In order to start the process of bringing a spouse to live (and drive) into Jerusalem, one needs to prove that Jerusalem and/or Israel is the center of one's life.

Lawyers strongly encourage couples to document their connectivity to Jerusalem, and marrying in Jerusalem is one such act. However, since Ala'a family and friends live in Beit Jala, this tends to be a problem, while it is possible to get a permission for some family members to attend a Jerusalem wedding, it is very hard to get permits for everyone and thus the idea came to have two back-to-back weddings -- one at 4 p.m. in Beit Jala followed by a 6:30 p.m. wedding in Jerusalem, and then back to a reception/dinner party back in Bethlehem.

Carrying out such logistical nightmare can only have been done by a film producer who can juggle four watermelons at the same time. Thankfully my son Bishara was able to do such a feat. Using the wedding invitation, permits of course were sought and received from the Israeli civilian administration in Etzion for the groom, the best man and close family members. Traveling from Beit Jala to Jerusalem was not easy. Permit holders, including groom and family, had to use the Rachel's Tomb (much longer) crossing point. Others with foreign passports or Jerusalem IDs (including the Jordanian smaller contingency) could use the much faster tunnel checkpoint (frequently used by settlers). I was on the bus using the tunnel but we were still stopped and a soldier went up to the bus and checked every single traveler. The young soldier took his time and got stuck questioning one rather good-looking female relative. When we intervened with his officer who came up to ask him the reason for the delay, he replied in Hebrew using the term mazgan (air conditioning). It seemed that in the heat of the day the soldier preferred the coolness of the air conditioned bus than the sweltering heat of the outdoor checkpoint. As we were delayed we had to figure out what the best (and cheapest) way to communicate everyone had cell phone but Palestinian's Jawwal and Wataniya cell phones don't work in Jerusalem and certain Israeli cell companies have no agreement with the Palestinian companies.

Thankfully our logistics chief has a two sim card cell phone with Jawwal and Orange and we succeeded in getting word of our delay at the checkpoint and made to the Nazarene Church on Nablus Road by 6:45. The groom being transported by a friend waiting on the other side of the checkpoint made it almost at the same time. The bride in an air conditioned car of a Jerusalem friend got to circle around the church until groom and our bus arrived and we had the second wedding and then headed back to a wonderful party that lasted till after midnight.

After two weddings and scores of checkpoints, nerves and difficulties, the happy couple decided to spend their honeymoon in Thailand. And since the groom is not allowed to use the Ben Gurion Airport, that means one more difficult crossing point: the King Hussein Bridge.

Follow Daoud Kuttab on Twitter:  

Was Yasser Arafat Poisoned?

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the founder of the Fatah movement
Cecily Hilleary
Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died in 2004 of a sudden illness, which led to a fury of conspiracy theories that have never died down.  The rumors surrounding his death were revitalized recently after a the Lucerne-based Swiss Institute of Radiophysics found traces of the deadly radioactive agent polonium  on Arafat’s clothing and personal effects.  So what has prompted this investigation into Arafat’s death - and could an autopsy of his remains finally put a rest to this enduring mystery?

A perfect little poison

Polonium is one of the world’s rarest elements and what Dr. Peter Cummings, a forensic pathologist and staff medical examiner for the U.S. State of Massachusetts calls “the perfect little poison.”

“It’s extremely rare,” said Cummings.  “You have to commercially produce it in a controlled type of environment, like a nuclear reactor.  Most of it is produced in Russia and then brought to the United States.”

Polonium has been used as a poison before, most notably in the case of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 shortly after drinking tea infused with the poison.

Cummings, who has studied the effects of gamma radiation on the human body, explains why polonium is unique from other forms of radiation. “As an alpha particle, meaning when it decays, it gives off two neutrons and two protons, it has high energy, but it also has this really big mass, so it can’t really penetrate anything," he said.

That, he explains, makes it safe and easy to transport.  “You can carry it around in a vial of water or in an envelope, and it won’t penetrate your skin," he said.  "It’s perfectly safe to carry around, and you can’t get detected in any airport.”

Past its due date?

If, for the sake of discussion, Arafat were poisoned eight years ago, what are the chances that any traces of polonium would remain in his body after all these years? After all, polonium has a half-life of only 138 days, and when radiation combines in a biological system such as the human body, according to Cummings, the half-life can drop to as few as 40 days.

That doesn't mean, however, that polonium disappears altogether. “It can take decades for this stuff to completely vanish,” said Cummings. Moreover, polonium leaves footprints.  “When polonium breaks down, it forms byproducts - typically, lead,” he said.  “So you’re not necessarily testing specifically for polonium - you’re looking for something else.”

Cummings explains that it doesn’t naturally occur to doctors to test for polonium - first, because it is rare, and second, because most medical facilities are not equipped to test for it.  “Most of the equipment that hospitals have look for gamma radiation, which is an entirely different type of radiation.  So you have to specifically go looking for it,” said Cummings.

May have died natural death

Some observers, like Hussein Ibish, senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, doubt there is any mystery to Arafat's death at all.

“I look at the situation and I see a 75-year-old man who had led a very difficult life, and who was not well,” said Ibish. He points out that Arafat had a known blood disorder and jaundice.  Ibish also points out Arafat never fully regained health after surviving a 1992 plane crash in the Libyan Desert. "They’re going to have to present me with a good reason to think this wasn’t a natural death," he said.

At the time he fell ill, French doctors initially blamed acute gastroenteritis, and in their final report, they concluded the cause of death was a massive stroke.
"This is what happens to people.  They grow old, the fall ill and then they die.

Looking for leadership

Why, after so many years, do rumors surrounding Arafat’s death persist?  Khaled Elgindy, visiting fellow at the Brookings Saban Center for Middle East Policy, served with the Palestinian Negotiations Support Unit and was in Ramallah at the time of Arafat’s death.  He admits that Arafat’s decline was sudden and that it was viewed with suspicion at the time.

“If you zoom out a little bit,” said Elgindy, “this is precisely the kind of thing that fills the void when there is no diplomatic process happening and no credible political movement happening.”

But Elgindy believes there is more to it than that. “I think that Palestinians are so enthralled with this story,” says Elgindy, “is indicative of the fact that their current leadership is so underwhelming, and so there is a bit of romanticization of Yasser Arafat as a leader.  To know or believe that he was poisoned would only add to this kind of heroic image of their former leader.”

Elgindy adds, with some irony, "Frankly, it’s better to see this kind of thing happening than a resurgence in the violence."

Ibish cautions that the mystery may never be solved.  “I think everyone should brace themselves for the idea that we may never know,” he said.

Arafat’s widow, who refused an autopsy of her husband eight years ago, will shortly file a legal complaint in France, where her husband died. Her lawyer Marc Bonnant told a French newspaper this past weekend that Suha Arafat will press charges "against persons unknown for poisoning."

Despite reports that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has given the go-ahead for an autopsy, Palestinian Justice Minister Ali Mohanna now says Nasser al-Qidwa wants to examine newly-released medical reports before making any decision.

Earlier, China’s Xinhua news reported that the U.S. had urged the Palestinians not to pursue any further investigation, for fear it could derail any chances for peace in the Middle East.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Washington Post: Premier Palestinian medical school graduates struggle to work in Jerusalem

LEFTERIS PITARAKIS/ASSOCIATED PRESS - With the eight-meter-high cement wall, part of Israel's separation barrier, partially seen outside the Palestinian flag-decorated tent, Palestinian students of the Al-Quds University prepare diplomas for graduates in the West Bank town of Abu Dis on Aug. 1, 2004.

Basel Nassar, a young Palestinian doctor from this city, is not allowed to practice medicine here. So he flew to Houston last week to take the last phase of a licensing exam that will qualify him to work in the United States.

“I am forced to do this,” Nassar, 33, said on the eve of his departure. “Israel is so close, but it is making trouble for us for some trivial reason. I can’t work 15 minutes from my house, where they accepted me in a specialty I was dreaming to get. I simply can’t understand it.”

Nassar’s predicament, shared by dozens of Palestinian doctors from East Jerusalem, is the result of a bureaucratic impasse linked to the long-standing struggle over this contested city.

The doctors in question received their medical degrees from Al-Quds University, a prominent Palestinian institution of higher learning. Although it is the leading Arab university in the Jerusalem metropolitan area, graduates of its medical school are not allowed to take the Israeli licensing exam needed to work in the city.

As a result, a heavily burdened health-care system in the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, where specialists are sorely lacking, is deprived of an infusion of new physicians to help serve a population of about 300,000.

On the face of it, the problem, which is set to be considered this month by Israel’s Supreme Court, stems from a technical dispute.

The scattered campuses of Al-Quds University lie both within and outside Jerusalem’s city limits. Most departments, including the medical school, are concentrated at the main campus in Abu Dis, a Jerusalem suburb in the West Bank, beyond the city line. Others are in East Jerusalem.

The banned doctors assert that they have the right to take the Israeli licensing exam like any other resident of Jerusalem with a foreign medical degree, noting that they studied in a West Bank area under the administrative control of the Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli Health Ministry says that because Al-Quds University also operates in East Jerusalem, which has been annexed by Israel, it cannot be recognized as a foreign institution and its medical school graduates cannot take the licensing exam like other foreign-trained doctors.

Moreover, university departments operating in East Jerusalem do not have the approval of the Israeli Council for Higher Education, which must sanction colleges and universities in Israel...READ MORE

Monday, July 16, 2012

Palestinians celebrate nonviolence Hebron 2012


Palestinians celebrated the fifth annual festival of nonviolent popular resistance in the south Hebron hills on Saturday in the village of Um Fagarah.

In the tiny hamlet nestled between Israeli settlements and a closed military zone, children released balloons and performed traditional dances, marking the end of a summer camp.

Israeli forces arrived amid the celebrations, prompting local elders to send the children back into the heart of the village to continue their festivities, but events passed peacefully.

Mideast peace slips to second billing for US

A drought affected corn crop is seen near Paris, Missouri July 13, 2012. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
JERUSALEM (AP) — Mideast peace, America's defining issue for decades of dealings with Israel and its Arab neighbors, was just a postscript Monday as Hillary Rodham Clinton made perhaps her final visit to the region as secretary of state.

Three years after President Barack Obama declared the plight of the Palestinians "intolerable," his administration no longer sees the failing Arab-Israeli peace efforts with the same immediacy. U.S. interests are focused now on Iran and Syria, though the deep differences between Israel and the Palestinians are not ignored.

"Peace among Israel, the Palestinian people and all of Israel's Arab neighbors is crucial for Israel's long-term progress and prosperity," Clinton said following discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country's president, foreign minister and defense minister.

Clinton also met Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, but she couldn't report any progress toward an accord that might secure an independent Palestine and an Israel at peace with its neighbors.

In a departure from the usual pattern for top U.S. diplomats, she did not travel to the Palestinian Authority's West Bank seat of government in Ramallah.

The Palestinians said a visit was unnecessary because Clinton had met with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, just a few days earlier in Paris.

Israel has defied Obama's call to halt settlement construction in occupied lands, and the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank has refused to resume negotiations, leaving peace hopes in a tense status quo with no breakthrough in sight....READ MORE

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Adventures in Conflict

Take words- lay them on thick
punch them into passages

As there is a murderer
and a murderee...

Shock the poemee
Shake the poemee

Take them into a tangle
a Gordian knot

Tied into ancient symbols
and modern politics

narratives tightening
rage into religion

Deploying the past
to implode


                                                                                      poem copyright ©2012 Anne Selden Annab