Links for Jan.21.2010 special Nic Kristof edition

Handcrafted with love:

✪ Iran's Power Play in Iraq | Robert Dreyfus says Iran behind Iraqi decision to cut-off candidates on sectarian lines.
✪ Jordanian charged with defaming Egyptian president | Bikya Masr | Sordid.
✪ Lee Smith, American "extremists" and the Middle East - The Majlis | More of Smith's bizarre ideas.
✪ Israel Policy Forum Announces its Next Chapter with Middle East Progress | Israel Policy Forum
CAP and other foreign policy progressives: be careful when dealing with Israel lobbies, even if "soft", esp. if it doesn't have equivalent Palestinian groups on board.
✪ Norman Finkelstein: American Radical « P U L S E | I just watched this movie, review pending...
✪ When the Resistance Passes It's Expiry Date Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | Abdel Rahman Rashed: the prototypical Wahhabi-backed "Liberal".
✪ Islamic fundamentalism to be topic at Vatican synod | The RomCats blame the internet.
✪ Egypt Bans Citizens from Working as Housemaids in Saudi Arabia Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | What, were they being forced to or is it that the regime finds the profession so dishonorable? Will it provide substitute jobs?
✪ The Great Treasure Delusion Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | Zahi Hawass on antiquities rumors.
The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine) | Important story on three murders and a cover-up at Gitmo.
✪ Turkish man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981 released from prison after decades in jail | And now thinks he is a messenger of God.
✪ On Martin Luther... | Facebook | The NYT's Nic Kristof calls for "a Palestinian Ghandi" or "Palestinian MLK" on Facebook, gets grilled in comments.
✪ Israel 'collectively punishing' Gaza: Amnesty | Collective punishment against the Palestinian Ghandis.
✪ Israel accused of silencing political protest - AP | How's that for a Palestinian Ghandi, ya Nic Kristof?
✪ Egyptian MP insists Christians' murders were sectarian - The National Newspaper | Coptic MP appointed by Mubarak disputes the president's interpretation of events.
✪ Israel to push ahead with settlement university | More insults added to injury.
✪ London-based Jewish newspaper attacked by hackers | Stupid misuse and abuse of a Palestinian flag.
✪ EGYPT: Parliament member loses legal immunity after gambling incident | Babylon & Beyond | Los Angeles Times | Used fake foreign passport to get into casino.
✪ UN 'deeply concerned' about health system in Gaza (AFP) | More results of the blockade.
✪ BBC World Service Programmes - The Strand, Tuesday 19 January 2010 | Interview with Iranian writer Kader Abdolah in first part of program.
Also, this confirms everything we suspected about Mahmoud Abbas being threatened by Israel over the Goldstone Report:
The request by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the United Nations Human Rights Council last year to postpone the vote on the Goldstone report followed a particularly tense meeting with the head of the Shin Bet security service, Haaretz has learned. At the October meeting in Ramallah, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told Abbas that if he did not ask for a deferral of the vote on the critical report on last year's military operation, Israel would turn the West Bank into a "second Gaza." 

Diskin, who reports directly to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, threatened to revoke the easing of restrictions on movement within the West Bank that had been implemented earlier last year. He also said Israel would withdraw permission for mobile phone company Wataniya to operate in the Palestinian Authority. That would have cost the PA tens of millions of dollars in compensation payments to the company. 
But hey, what about that Palestinian Ghandi that Nic Kristof talked about?
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.