The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged settlements
The law in these parts

From a long piece by Eyal Press in the New York Review of Books Blog, How the Occupation Became Legal:

In 1979, a group of Palestinian farmers filed a petition with Israel’s High Court of Justice, claiming their land was being illegally expropriated by Jewish settlers. The farmers were not Israeli citizens, and the settlers appeared to have acted with the state’s support; indeed, army helicopters had escorted them to the land—a hilltop near Nablus—bringing along generators and water tanks. The High Court of Justice nevertheless ordered the outpost dismantled. “The decision of the court… proved that ‘there was justice’ in Jerusalem and that Israel was indeed ruled by Law,” exulted one Israeli columnist.

But the frustration of the settlers did not last very long. As revealed in The Law in These Parts, an engrossing new Israeli documentary making its American debut at the Sundance Film Festival, just hours after the ruling was handed down, Ariel Sharon, a keen supporter of the settlement project who was then Israel’s Minister of Agriculture, organized a meeting to discuss how to circumvent it. Alexander Ramati, then a legal advisor to the West Bank military command, raised his hand to tell Sharon about an Ottoman concept known as “Mawat land.” The Ottomans, who had controlled Palestine until World War I, had used the term to designate land far enough from any neighboring village that a crowing rooster perched on its edge could not be heard. Under Ottoman law, if such land was not cultivated for three years it was “mawat”—dead —and reverted to the empire. “With or without your rooster, be at my office at 8:00 in the morning,” Sharon told Ramati, who was soon crisscrossing the West Bank in the cockpit of a helicopter, identifying tens of thousands of uninhabited acres that could be labeled “state land” and made available to settlers, notwithstanding the Geneva Convention’s prohibition on moving civilians into occupied territory. In the years that followed, a string of new settlements was built on this territory, eventually prompting another challenge before the Israeli High Court. This time, the Court denied the challenge, ruling that settlement construction was permissible while Israel served as the temporary custodian of the territory. This provided a legal basis for land expropriation that has since enabled hundreds of thousands of Israelis to relocate to the West Bank.

Read the rest, which is about a new Israeli documentary on the legal justifications for the settlements, The Law In These Parts.

Living with the enemy in the Gaza Strip

Yousef Bashir, 22, lives with a bullet lodged near his spine.  “When I imagine myself without the bullet in my back I ask myself would I be the same?” he said. “That bullet talks to me and I talk to it everyday. It is a very personal thing that I go through,” he continued. “I know that it was put there to destroy my life. I look at it and I say I am not destroyed yet.”

Bashir has very personal ties to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. He grew up in the Gaza Strip next to the Israeli settlement Kfar Darom, which was evacuated in 2005. The battle lines ran right through his house. When the second Palestinian Intifada broke out, Israeli soldiers moved into his home. Bashir was 11 years old at the time. His father, Khalil Bashir, refused to leave the house and so the family - Yousef Bashir, his grandmother, parents and his siblings - spent five years living with the soldiers, who occupied the top two floors.

The soldiers tried to make Khalil Bashir leave the house so many times, Yousef Bashir said. But his father would say, “Why don’t you leave this house, this is my house.” His father was afraid if they left they would never see their home again.

The Israelis divided his house into areas A, (full Palestinian control ), B (Palestinian civil control and joint security control with Israel) and C (near full Israeli control) - just as the West Bank had been divided as part of the Oslo Agreements. In Bashir’s house, Area A was the room in which they were allowed to stay on the ground floor. Area B included the bedrooms, kitchen and bathrooms. Area C was the second and third floors of the house. Bashir never asked for permission from his parents to do anything, he said. But he had to get permission from the Israelis to go outside or to watch a soccer game on television, he said. “I had to negotiate with them.”

It was not an easy time. Most of the soldiers were extremely rude. “Most of them were harsh,” Bashir said. “Most of them were at war.” Camouflage and barbed wire covered the roof and there was a machine gun and security camera posted on top of the house. Bashir said he had seen the bodies of a number of young dead Palestinian men near his home. The circumstances of their deaths unclear. Violence was no stranger. His second oldest brother was shot in the leg, his father too was shot.

Then it was his turn. On February 18, 2004, workers from the United Nations visited Bashir’s family to see how they were coping with their living situation. After 20 minutes, the Israelis ordered the U.N. to leave. Bashir and his father walked the U.N. workers back to their car. “As we were slowly reversing we heard a single shot fired,” said Stuart Shepherd, who had the time was with the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “Yousef basically just fell to the ground immediately, just crumpled.” He was 15 years old at the time. The bullet stopped near his spine. “Yousef had his back to the Israeli observation tower and was waving goodbye…at the time when the shot was fired,” according to Shepherd. (Disclosure: I worked with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, but not at the time Yousef Bashir was shot.)

Bashir does not know the Israeli soldier who shot him. According to media reports, the Israeli Army apologized for the shooting.

That tragedy allowed Bashir to escape the hell that the Gaza Strip has become. After Bashir was stabilized in a Gaza hospital, he was transferred to an Israeli hospital. Bashir credits the Israeli doctors with saving his life and giving him the ability to walk again. He went on to study in Ramallah, which is where I met him years ago. He later went to the United States, where he is currently studying international affairs and diplomacy. He fundraises to pay for his college tuition. He still needs physical therapy twice a week and takes pain killers.

But Bashir said everyday he chooses not to be angry, something he learned from his father who died recently from a stroke. Everyday, Bashir chooses to forgive, but it is challenge. “I hear the news, I see how the Palestinians are treated,” he said. “But deep inside me I can never find any reason to hate.” Bashir cannot return to Gaza to see the rest of the family he left behind because he is afraid the Israelis would not allow him to leave once in the occupied territory. He does not want to risk his education in the U.S. Perhaps if the Palestinians had their own state things would be different.

“We should have had a state a long time ago,” Bashir said. A state would mean more responsibility and perhaps more problems he thinks. But once you are a state, “you are responsible for everything that happens within your territory,” he added. “But it is a good thing to show the world that we want to live in a democracy… We are willing to live in peace.”

“I was never a child,” Bashir said. He was seven years old the first time the Israeli settlers came into his house. They hit his mother and destroyed everything inside the house, burning things. His family locked themselves in the living room, but his oldest brother - who was in the sixth grade then - was not able to make it into the room in time and the settlers broke his teeth.

What should happen to the settlers should the Palestinians get a state? Bashir said he is not interested in what would happen to the settlements. “I am interested in knowing how long would it take for the settlers to realize that the ultimate price for their lifestyle is my freedom.”

Bashir said that when the last group of Israeli soldiers left his family’s house in the Gaza Strip, two of the soldiers thanked his father for his unwavering determination to be a peaceful man even in the most trying times.

“At the end we got the house back and they left,” Bashir said. “We did not fight, we did not carry a weapon, we did not fire anything,” he added. “We just believed in peace… and that is how it should be in the future.”

Dissecting the settlers' agitprop
Israel National News is a favorite news outlet of the Israeli right and the settler movement more generally. It now seems to be busy preparing a propaganda war. 

Israel National News: "First Arab 'September Attack': Convoy Approached Negohot; September attacks have begun: Arabs in 40-50 vehicles drove along Jewish community's fence, taunted and jeered."

Presumably, this will be used as evidence to suggest that the Arabs "started it," like how they "started" the Six Day War. But for a minor incident, it is rather illustrative of the settlement project as a whole:
  1. Hilltop (Double) Standards - The protesters did not, at least based on what INN has reported, attempt to enter Negohot, a West Bank settlement founded in 1982. Nor did they exit their vehicles or direct anything more than words and posters at the fenced-in settlement. Nevertheless, such actions constitute an attack (not a protest - an attack), according to the settlers. Whereas attacks against Palestinian property and lives are always acts of self-preservation: Remember the Alamo!
  2. The Spineless Security Forces - The IDF is criticized for not being more proactive, especially since they have declared there are "red lines" Palestinians must not be allowed to cross around the settlements. According to the article, IDF soldiers nearby simply stood by and watched the convoy slowly drive by. The article asserts that settlers must not rely on a supine IDF in the coming weeks, but rather, on themselves, because Palestinians are hopelessly foolish (but, at the same time, ingenious connivers). The IDF is a potential enemy in the eyes of the settlers, as is the PA. 
  3. The Arabs' Useful Idiots - The "anti-Jewish" Israeli Supreme Court is again castigated for a decision made in 2009 that reopened Israeli Route 443 between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to Palestinian drivers such as these. The road, built on "expropriated" Palestinian land located within the West Bank, was closed to Palestinian traffic during the Second Intifada because of attacks on Israeli motorists. With support fromIsraeli human rights groups, suits to reopen by Palestinian villages made it to the Supreme Court, which overturned the military ban on Palestinian traffic because a panel of 3 justices decided the ban was a form of collective punishment. But if the road was still closed to non-Israelis, this provocation would never have happened, it is suggested. The Arab-loving left throws away Jewish lives.
  4. The Opinion War: Essentially, "leftist" opinion is just as dangerous, if not more so, than any number of al Asqa Brigadists. It is an "enabler," even, and must be changed. "Being right isn't enough, selling it is" - and the main talking points must be the Holocaust and the Torah. Changing the way the government appoints Supreme Court justices and licenses Israeli NGOs activities was on the legislative agendas of far-right Israeli parties during this past Knesset session. Neither effort succeeded, but the far-right has vowed to keep trying to wrest humanitarianism in the West Bank away from a far-left minority (in favor of their own far-right minority, of course - parliamentarianism, everybody!).
So as Israel National News noted, Negohot is only the beginning this September.
Illegitimate... but not illegal?

That phrase precisely describes the Obama administration's claim to leadership in the Middle East. It is also the factually wrong and conceptually confused defense of its decision to veto a Security Council resolution against Israel's settlement expansion that had wide support:

The Obama administration issued its first UN Security Council veto Friday, when U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice voted alone against a resolution declaring Israeli settlement activity to be illegal.

The 14-1 vote failed after Rice raised her hand alone to vote in opposition to the resolution, which had several dozen co-sponsors, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, Serbia, China, etc.

Rice said the U.S. vote against the resolution should not be misunderstood as U.S. support for Israeli settlement activity.

"On the contrary, we reject in the strongest possible terms the legitimacy of continued settlement activity," Rice told the Security Council after the vote. "For more than four decades, [Israeli settlement activity] has undermined security ...corroded hopes for peace and security ... it violates international commitments and threatens prospects for peace."

But, Rice said, "this resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides."

The British, Russian, and Chinese ambassadors were among those who rose to speak in favor of the failed resolution after the vote.

Though the U.S. vetoed the measure, given the seeming unanimity of other countries supporting the resolution, coupled with Rice's unhappy statement after her veto, Israel appeared increasingly isolated, as its neighborhood is in turmoil and changing rapidly in ways the United States cannot control.

It's rather morbid to read the detailed justification for this. From a State Dept. briefing:

QUESTION: Yes, Ambassador Rice, you say that you reject the continued building of settlements on the West Bank as being illegitimate. Yet you vote that no on a resolution that calls it illegal. Why is that, considering that the State Department, as far back as 1978, considered settlement activities illegal?

AMBASSADOR RICE: The United States has not characterized settlement activity as illegal since, I believe, 1980. And – but what we do believe firmly and have reiterated forcefully, including today, is that continued settlement activity is not legitimate. It’s corrosive to the peace process. It poses obstacles to achieving the goal that we think is vitally important of a two-state solution. And we were very clear that we have – we are in unity with the rest of the Security Council on the issue of the illegitimacy of settlements. The difficulty from our point of view is that a resolution on that issue at this time, which was unbalanced and one-sided, was most likely to harden positions and leave the two parties more entrenched and less willing to return promptly and constructively to the only vehicle that can achieve the goal of a two-state solution, and that’s direct negotiations.

QUESTION: Ambassador, why does that conflict? Why both of them are mutually exclusive, one another, in the peace process and voting for a settlement – declaring settlement activities as illegal?

AMBASSADOR RICE: Because any time you have a one-sided resolution that is aimed at trying to adjudicate core issues that need to be resolved and can only be resolved between the two parties, you are, at worst, setting back and complicating the efforts to achieve peace. And it is counterproductive to do so. Our aim had been, rather than end up with something that would have set the process back, was to put forward something that would have been a win-win and move the process forward in very concrete ways, increasing the effort and the attention of the Security Council, speaking with one voice on core issues in the manner that we hadn’t before. And unfortunately, that was not possible.

But the reality is that the goal of a two-state solution can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties, and we will continue our efforts to achieve that goal with great intensity.

Ben, is there anything you want to add?

MR. RHODES: Yeah. Yeah, I’d just add to that that with regard to settlements, I think from the very beginning of this Administration, the Presidents made it very clear and the Administrations made it very clear that we don’t accept the legitimacy of settlements. It’s a statement he’s made in Cairo, it’s a statement he’s made twice before the UN General Assembly, and it informs our approach to these issues. It takes place within the broader context of our efforts, and our dogged efforts, on behalf of a two-state solution and a comprehensive and lasting peace between a secure Israel and a sovereign Palestine. And right now, what we’re focused on is not simply one particular issue but the broader context that is necessary to move the parties toward peace. And our judgment is that we are going to use our efforts and our influence, again, to service that final goal.

And so that in that context, we put forward this package and we’ll go back again to roll up our sleeves and continue our persistent pursuit of peace going forward, because again, to us the issue is not, again, fixating on one particular issue, but rather looking at what we can do as the United States and as an international community to support a process that leads to two states living side by side in peace and security. So that’s the focus of U.S. policy, and within that context, we continue to see settlements as illegitimate and as corrosive to the process. And what we want to do is be creative and be dogged in working with the international community and working with Israelis and Palestinians to move in pursuit of what is our shared goal and a vision that the parties have mutually agreed to, which is a common pursuit through direct negotiations of two states living side by side in peace and security.

I can't stand the bullshit line that the resolution was damaging to the peace process (what peace process?). Not talking to Hamas is damaging to the peace process. Preventing Palestinian reconciliation is damaging to the peace process. Not speaking out against settlement expansion is damaging to the peace process. For once, I'd like the US Ambassador to the UN just clearly state: we are vetoing this not because of any rational reason or principle, but because most of Congress is scared of the Israel lobby and because the president's campaign financers includes major Zionist donors and we don't want to upset them. Some clarity and honesty, please. We have a Zionist problem in American politics and it's time to address it head-on.

Also, HRW outlines how damaging this is to the international law and positions the US had previously agreed with: Israel: US Veto on Settlements Undermines International Law | Human Rights Watch

I'm with him: The Magnes Zionist: Thank You, Mr. President

Criminalize the settlements

It may seem very difficult to convince the Israelis to stop settlements expansion and give up the settlements they've built over the years, but there is another idea worth pursuing in the West: to criminalize any activity that encourages the settlements or transmits money to them.

Governments would not need to engage in any discussion with the Israeli government over this; they would merely be required to enforce international law and recognize the illegality of settlements, and therefore ban any promotional efforts for them among the Jewish diaspora and their financing from abroad. After all, this has been a, if not the, major contribution to the last two decades mushrooming in West Bank settlements. Just read this post on Mondoweiss to understand how groups like the Jewish Agency act to perpetuate and expand the settlements:

Just this past June, the Jewish Agency hosted a real estate expo in the Times Square Marriott, where property on both sides of the Green Line was for sale—with no mention of the 1967 borders in sight.  Notice how the Anglo-Saxon real estate agent in the video has an American accent? She's probably from New York. 

I'd love to see not only fund transfers criminalize, but also the very fact of living in a settlement. Life should be made impossible for this people, and those who fund them.

More links on Biden's Jerusalem trip
Here's a collection of material on Israel's settlement expansion and the recent Biden fiasco, in no particular order:
Instead of embracing Mr Biden, Israel showed him the finger, choosing the very day of his visit to announce the construction of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem. That counts as an in-your-face insult to a US administration that has demanded Israel freeze all settlement activity in the territories conquered in 1967, which include East Jerusalem. Little wonder that President Obama was said to be "incandescent with anger", spending 90 minutes on the phone to his deputy drafting a statement of condemnation rare for its ferocity.
The incident, which Mr Netanyahu brushed off as a problem of timing rather than substance, has caused something close to despair among Mr Obama's supporters. The impression that the US president can simply be pushed around both at home and abroad appears to be getting stronger by the week.
"That Israel would do this is almost mind-boggling given everything that has gone before," Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution and deputy secretary of state in the Clinton administration, told the Financial Times.
"While in reality, President Obama has scored quite a few points in foreign policy during his first year-plus in office, he has a problem with the growing perception that every time he shoots for the net, the ball bounces around the rim and doesn't go in."
"The secretary said she could not understand how this happened, particularly in light of the United States' strong commitment to Israel's security, and she made clear that the Israeli government needed to demonstrate not just through words but through specific actions that they committed to this relationship and to the peace process," Crowley said, later adding, "We accept what Prime Minister Netanyahu has said. By the same token, he is the head of the Israeli government and ultimately is responsible for the actions of that government."
Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Feltman and Special Envoy George Mitchell have been working the phones hard, trying to save the initiative for "proximity talks." They spoke with President Abbas, Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit of Egypt, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh of Jordan, Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabir al-Thani, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa.
In addition to the 1,600 units announced this week for ultra-Orthodox families in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, the Israeli government has plans for a total of 50,000 more housing units in east Jerusalem in the coming years, Haaretz reported this week.
"Beyond the embarrassment and the condemnation, which could fade with time, a problem has developed here in the relations between the countries, which were in any case shaky already," said one diplomatic observer, who is very familiar with what is happening in Washington. 
"Netanyahu's behavior only further diminishes [the Americans'] desire, motivation and trust with respect to holding a real discussion with him about Iran. They see him as unreliable, someone who is not serious - as 'tricky Bibi.' Even if they believe him when he says he didn't know [about the housing units in Gilo] and was surprised - this still doesn't get him out of trouble. Now they are certain no one is in charge here, there is no one to work with. And even if they do reach satisfactory agreements with Netanyahu, someone from the coalition, or some official or bureaucrat, always comes along to torpedo things and pour oil on the fire." 
The gall of some people:
The U.S. based Anti-Defamation League said late Friday that it was "stunned" by Clinton's "dressing down" of Israel. 
"We cannot remember an instance when such harsh language was directed at a friend and ally of the United States," said Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in a statement. 
The ADL called Clinton's remarks a "gross overreaction" to a "policy difference among friends." 
"One can only wonder how far the U.S. is prepared to go in distancing itself from Israel in order to placate the Palestinians in the hope they see it is in their interest to return to the negotiating table," Foxman said. 
And unbelievably Biden is apologetic about having been insulted:
“Now, some legitimately may have been surprised that such a strong supporter of Israel ... how I can speak out so strongly given the ties that I share, as well as my country shares, with Israel,” Biden continued. “But quite frankly, folks, sometimes only a friend can deliver the hardest truth.” 
A very important point:
The statement issued by Netanyahu's bureau said that in light of the ongoing dispute between Israel and the United States over construction in East Jerusalem, the plans for new housing in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood should not have been approved this particular week. It also said the premier had ordered Yishai to draft procedures that would prevent a recurrence. In other words, Yishai is welcome to submit more plans for Jewish construction in East Jerusalem next week, when U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will no longer be here. 
Based on Biden's reaction, it seems that he (and, presumably, his boss) has decided that it is better to leave with a few sour grapes than to quarrel with the vineyard guard. In his speech at Tel Aviv University, he said he appreciated Netanyahu's pledge that there would be no recurrence. But what exactly does that mean? That next time he comes, the Planning and Building Committee will be asked to defer discussion of similar plans until the honored guest has left? 
With the media storm dying down, Netanyahu can breathe a sigh of relief. 
In a sense, the uproar actually helped him: To wipe the spit off his face, Biden had to say it was only rain. Therefore, he lauded Netanyahu's assertion that actual construction in Ramat Shlomo would begin only in another several years. 
Thus Israel essentially received an American green light for approving even more building plans in East Jerusalem
Gregg Carlstrom of The Majlis on Aaron David Miller's reaction to the Biden-settlements fiasco:
Suffice it to say that his argument -- Obama shouldn't pick a fight with Israel over East Jerusalem settlements, and instead should focus on restarting proximity talks -- is the triumph of process over peace. Miller literally encourages both sides to "continue the dance," to perpetuate the untenable status quo.
Looks to me that, as far as the US is concerned, the real problem is the inability to face the lobby at home or the willingness for the executive to take what steps it can (bypassing Congress) to actually punish Israel for its behavior. There has to be consequences. I'm not sure what's possible that wouldn't be blocked by Congress, but the White House and State Dept. do have a range of options at hand, such as delaying loans, putting red tape on other forms of funding, canceling Israel defense sub-contracting, opening investigations into the lobby and Israeli companies operating in the US. 
Meeting with Mitchell doesn't constitute much more than Middle Eastern hospitality; both sides are recipients of massive amounts of U.S. aid, and neither is likely to turn him down if he wants to pay a visit. But holding separate conversations with Mitchell is hardly a "peace process" - it may be little more than political theater.
Links for Jan.10.10 to Jan.11.10
“Lorsque je commençais mon enquête sur le tourisme au Sahara marocain, je n’imaginais pas être prise à témoin d’échanges sexuels” « Ibn Kafka's obiter dicta – divagations d'un juriste marocain en liberté surveillée | On sexual tourism in Western Sahara.
What the "Eurabia" Authors Get Wrong About Islam in Europe - By Justin Vaïsse | Foreign Policy | Critique of Eurabia theory.
The Trials of Tony Judt - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education |
U.S. to store $800m in military gear in Israel - Haaretz | To keep in mind in context of Iran.
Israel and Iran: The gathering storm | The Economist | Interesting story with background on Osirak bombing, Israeli prospects against Iran.
Executive | Magazine has new books section.
Strong reaction to warning of coup - The National Newspaper | Iraqis react to UK ambassador's testimony to Chilcot Enquiry that coup to purge Iran influence still possible in Iraq.
the arabophile | New blog.
Joe Sacco: Graphic History | Mother Jones | Interview with the cartoonist and author of "Footnotes from Gaza."
High cost of living means more unmarried in Egypt | Bikya Masr | Stats on why Egyptians are marrying later.
Arab Reform Initiative | Report on constitutional reforms in the Arab world.
The architecture of apartheid | SocialistWorker.org | On the bantustanization of Palestine.
The Venture of Marty Peretz’s bigotry: Arabs, Muslims, Berbers and more « The Moor Next Door | Kal on the New Republic editor's Islamophobia.
The Forgotten Recantation — jihadica | Interesting post on the recantation of Abbud al-Zommor.
'Bush sold Arab states arms in violation of deal with Israel' - Haaretz - Israel News | Obama, more pro-Israel than Bush: "The Bush administration violated security related agreements with Israel in which the U.S. promised to preserve the IDF's qualitative edge over Arab armies, according to senior officials in the Obama administration and Israel."

Links for Jan.06.10 to Jan.07.10
Video: Egyptian police clash with Gaza aid convoy | guardian.co.uk | Another good video about clashes between Viva Palestina and Egyptian security.
Rebuilding Afghanistan « London Review Blog | Narcotecture = Drug-financed ugly houses in Kabul.
Israeli television confrontation is ‘a metaphor of the moral crisis in which Zionism is found today’ | Fascinating video argument - must watch.
Israel to deploy Gaza rocket interceptor by June - Haaretz | So no more need for blockade, I guess?
Ainsi disait Laroui à propos de la politique. Extraits politiques « min diwan Assyassa ». « Des maux à dire | On new book on M6 era in Morocco.
Security Experts: Administration Overstates Domestic al-Qaeda Threat « The Washington Independent | Sounds familiar.
Pro-ElBaradei campaign seeks collective proxies | Al-Masry Al-Youm | Interesting list of backers for ElBaradei campaign, includes Amr Moussa!
Palestine Vivra! The French Heroes of the Gaza Freedom March | A nice account.
Jerome Slater: On the US and Israel | New blog by academic.
The Settlement Freeze That Isn't | The American Prospect | "The freeze is really a very thin layer of ice atop the river of settlement growth."
BBC News - Egypt police clash with Gaza aid convoy activists | Unbelievable - Viva Palestina convoy sent through Kerem Shalom.
Egypt to import natural gas from Iraq | Al-Masry Al-Youm | I wonder how much it costs compared to the gas sold to Israel.
Saudi Arabia backs Egyptian plan for renewed peace talks - Haaretz | This peace plans sounds dodgy, esp. in its treatment of settlements.
t r u t h o u t | Egypt: Rooftops Empower the Poor | Nice story on clean energy for the poor on Cairo's rooftops.
Support the Cairo Declaration of the Gaza Freedom March Petition |

Links for Jan.05.10
akhbare-rooz (iranian political Bulletin) | List of organizations considered "subversive" by Iranian ministry of inteligence [in Farsi].
The Daily Star - The Gaza scorecard, one year later | Rami Khouri.
Israel approves east Jerusalem building project | Yet another new settlement.
Library of Congress on Islam in Early America « Anonymous Arabist وين الناس | Fascinating.
Tweet freedom | On Twitter activism in Egypt, unfortunately confuses arabawy.org for arabist.net.
Cairo's US Embassy is Worse by Far | Mamoun Fandy: "The embassy has become an embodiment of the meaning of disgracefulness in Cairo, in terms of people's behavior, rudeness, and impoliteness."
gary's choices - The Decade's First Revolution? | Gary Sick on Iran.
لا لحجب الإنترنت بالجزائر - Non à la censure de l'Internet en Algérie - No to Internet Censorship in Algeria Petition | Petition.
Egyptian minister slams Al-Jazeera for 'instigating civil war' - Ynetnews | Over Gaza wall.
Video: Gaza war: One year on, Palestinians struggle to rebuild life from the rubble | guardian.co.uk |
CIA Bomber a Jihadi Blogger? — jihadica | Interesting background on Abu Dujana, as the bomber was allegedly known.
Dear Metallica | Letter asking the metal band not to perform in Israel.
Free Barghouti Now - Haaretz | OK.
The Daily Nuisance | News From The Frontier | New online site from Israel/Palestine
Three days in Iran - The Big Picture - Boston.com | Great pics of Iranian protests.
Links for Dec.10.09 to Dec.12.09

Daily News Egypt - Editorial: The Illusive Metal Barrier | On Egypt's denial that a wall is being built.


BBC News - Egypt starts building steel wall on Gaza Strip border | Video report has some more details, but the whole thing is rather hazy.


Israel National Survey | Survery of Israeli attitudes on various topics.


Libya still jailing dissenters: Human Rights Watch | New HRW report.


'Egypt is one of the freest states in the entire Arab world' - The Irish Times - Sat, Dec 12, 2009 | Ismail Serageldin engages in apologia.


Palestinian leader speaks from prison - CNN.com | Interview with Marwan Barghouti.


Swiss Man Builds Minaret to Protest Ban - WaryaTV | Good for him.


Israel court: Deported Palestinian student can't return - CNN.com | Everyday misery from Gaza blockade.


ENVIRONMENT: Darkness at Noon Clouds Cairo Skies - IPS ipsnews.net | On the black cloud - which I thought was not as bad this year.


The Language of Food | Ceviche and Fish & Chips | Fascinating on the Persian and Arab origin of escabeche, ceviche, and fish and chips.


The Language of Food | Ceviche and Fish & Chips | Fascinating on the Persian and Arab origin of escabeche, ceviche, and fish and chips.


‘Sultan wants children to be God-fearing’ | The ridiculousness of the al-Sauds.


No real "freeze" on settlement: Israeli minister - Yahoo! News | No kidding: "JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The population of Jewish settlements in the West Bank could grow by 10,000 in the coming year despite a declared "freeze" on Israeli building in the occupied territory, an Israeli Cabinet minister has said."


On Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Lobby: A response to Peter Beinart | Walt on Obama's Afphan policy and the lobby.


Middle East Report 253 contents: Apartheid and Beyond | New issue.

Links for Dec.08.09 to Dec.09.09

Les voix de la nation : chanson, arabité et caméléonisme linguistique | Culture et politique arabes | Very interesting post on Arab singers adopting accents and styles of different countries -- has great clip of Abdel Halim Hafez trying out a traditional Kuwaiti song.


✩ Comment l’Algérie a exporté sa « sale guerre » au Mali : Algérie-Maroc | How Algeria exported its dirty war to Mali: AQIM conspiracies.


Fatwa Shopping « London Review Blog | On Nakheel and Islamic finance.


The women who guard other women in conservative Egypt | On female bodyguards.


Yemen’s afternoon high - Le Monde diplomatique | On the drug Qat.


US Congress frets over anti-Americanism on TV in Mideast | The leading inciter of anti-Americanism in the ME is Congress itself, when it keeps voting for wars for Israel.


Baladna English | New newspaper launched in Syria, but nothing on its site yet.


EU Action Plan on combating terrorism | Document on EU CT strategy.


What the US Elite Really Thinks About Israel « P U L S E | Most Council of Foreign Relations members think US favors Israel too much - v. interesting analysis of foreign policy expert poll by Jeffrey Blankfort.


‘The Battle for Israel’s Soul’ – Channel 4 on Jewish fundamentalism « P U L S E | British documentary on Jewish fundamentalism.


BBC News - Dubai crisis sparks job fears for migrant workers | On South Asians in Dubai.


FT.com / Comment / Opinion - Israel must unpick its ethnic myth | Tony Judt.


The Interview Ha’aretz Doesn’t Want You To See « P U L S E | Interview Ali Abunimah not published by Haaretz.


Attention Christmas Shoppers: Top Ten Brands to Boycott | Sabbah Report | Brands to boycott at Christmas.


FT.com / Middle East / Politics & Society - Egypt’s media warn ElBaradei off politics | On the campaign against ElBaradei.


✩ Flourishing Palestinian sex trade exposed in new report - Haaretz | Amira Hass: "Young Palestinian women are being forced to into prostitution in brothels, escort services, and private apartments in Ramallah and Jerusalem..."

Links for 11.30.09 to 12.02.09
Why they hate us (II): How many Muslims has the U.S. killed in the past 30 years? | Stephen M. Walt | 288,000, Walt estimates.
Libya convicts Swiss pair in apparent revenge for arrest of Gaddafi's son | World news | guardian.co.uk | Good timing.
Israel strips more Palestinians of Jerusalem status (Reuters) | "Reuters - Israel stripped Palestinians of Jerusalem residency status last year at a faster rate than at any time in the history of the Jewish state, an Israeli rights group said on Wednesday, citing official Israeli statistics."
Dubai model was the vision of one man | Reuters | Andrew Hammond's writes: "The "Dubai vision," which has suffered a crushing blow from the freewheeling Gulf emirate's sudden debt crisis, is the creation of one man who failed to apply the rules of open governance."
Arab disappointment with Obama | Marc Lynch | Arabs disappointed with mideast policy, not democracy. Americans disappointed with everything.
Spreading Shiism to the Moon Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | This is about Iranian ambitions over the Comoros Islands, but I link because the intro is funny.
Jewish Nationalists and Palestinians Clash in East Jerusalem - NYTimes.com | This headline makes it sounds like the Jews are the natives. Plus it's in East Jerusalem, which is Palestinian under international law.
Obama's Middle East Policies: the Persistence of the Bush Doctrine on Vimeo | A lecture by the Angry Arab, Asa'ad Abu Khalil.
Israel attacks Sweden on Jerusalem plan | I think this Swedish position on Jerusalem, if the EU takes it up, is important.
What to listen for in Obama's speech | What Walt says on Afghanistan.
The New Inquisition | Laila Lalami in The Nation.
Arab journalist throws shoe at Iraqi shoe thrower - Yahoo! News | He missed, too.
Views from the Occident: Hizbullah Announces New Party Platform | Hizbullah peddles its national vision.
ei: "We will have to kill them all": Effie Eitam, thug messiah | Buffalo, NY Jews welcome Elie Eitam, murderer and Eretz Israeler.
Super Emo Friends | Diskursdisko | Comic book humor - should appeal to those emos in Egypt.

Links for 11.16.09 to 11.18.09
ضغوط أمريكية لزيادة الغاز المصري لإسرائيل وخفض أسعاره - بوابة الشروق | al-Shurouk reports that US is asking Egypt to increase gas deliveries to Israel, and at cheaper price.
US rebukes Israel on settlement plans - Yahoo! News | ... but will do nothing about it.
Nubian fury at 'monkey' lyric of Arab pop star Haifa Wehbe | World news | The Guardian | The Haifa Wehbe / Nubian scandal.
The Obama admin is selling the peace process, but the press is not buying it. | Phil Weiss has surreal transcript from State Dept. over new settlements.
Readability - An Arc90 Lab Experiment | Very nice bookmarklet for reading long articles.
Palestinians say they will ask UN to recognise state - Yahoo! News | Doesn't the UN already accept previous resolutions with the 1967 line? Regarding my previous comment on US senators' call for a veto, the Palestinians do appear to want to take it to UNSC, not UNGA.
Le Figaro - Conjoncture : Le grand Monopoly mondial des terres agricoles | Nice chart accompanying this article on the sale of arable land to food importing nations.
U.S. "would veto" Palestinian state move: Senators - Yahoo! News | I suspect recognition by the UN would take place by the General Assembly, not the Security Council, so that turncoat Lieberman can take his veto and shove it...
The pro-Israel lobby in Britain: full text | openDemocracy | Report on UK Israel lobby by documentary filmmaker Peter Oborne.
FT.com - Inflation rears its head again in Egypt | Mostly affecting food prices ahead of Eid.
Egyptian Blogger Beaten | "During the mayhem of a major soccer match, Egyptian blogger Kareem el-Shae’r was kidnapped and beaten. El-Shae’r moderates the Free Egypt blog and is a member of Ayman Nour’s el-Ghad party and the April 6 Youth movement. For his activism, el-Shae’r has been arrested several times and beaten before. The Egyptian interior ministry refused to comment on the incident."
Gaddafi hires 200 young Italian women – to convert them to Islam | And tries to convert them to Islam.
Israel must end Gaza blockade, evictions, alleged abuse of Palestinian children - Ban | "Israel should end the blockade of Gaza, cease evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes, and ensure that the rights of children are respected and that all allegations of torture and ill-treatment are promptly investigated and perpetrators prosecuted, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in an annual report released today."
Yemen Finds Dreamland of Architecture - NYTimes.com | On Yemen's traditional architecture.
The Arabs by Eugene Rogan | Book review | The Guardian | Robert Irwin reviews this book, which I am currently reading.

Links for 11.09.09 to 11.12.09
Report: Angelina Jolie planning to adopt child from Syria - Haaretz - Israel News | Jolie and Pitt thinking of adopting an Iraqi refugee baby in Syria. They also met with Bashar and his wife, apparently. United Colors of Adoption... this will cause a stir.
Israel & Palestine: Can They Start Over? - The New York Review of Books | Malley & Agha's latest, in which they criticize the two-state solution, criticize alternatives to it (notably one-state), and sketch out the alternative: a hudna, a long-term interim truce while work on fundamental questions is carried out. Not entirely convincing, too vague at times, but there's something interesting there nonetheless. I wish they could be more straightforward.
UN: Gaza needs construction material before winter - Yahoo! News | Even greater humanitarian crisis looming.
Palestinian borders could solve settlements row: Fatah - Yahoo! News | Muhammad Dahlan picks up Daniel Levy's line about deciding on borders. Worrying.
Israeli flights over Lebanon break resolution: UN - Yahoo! News | "UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – All Israeli military flights over Lebanon break a resolution aimed at ending the 2006 hostilities between the two neighbors, a UN envoy said Tuesday." So let's have the UN set up air defenses, then!
Abbas slams Israel on settlements at mass Arafat rally - Yahoo! News | Funny pic of Abbas alongside this story. Well he's shown he can have some balls, at least, and highlight the dismal failure of the Israelis and Americans on the settlement question.
Israel mulls draft refugee law - Yahoo! News | "JERUSALEM (AFP) – A draft law stipulating that any Middle East peace treaty must mention compensation for Jews forced to leave Arab states has passed a preliminary reading in the Israeli parliament, a spokesman said on Wednesday."
Gaza, Gilad Shalit, Hamas, and Israel : The New Yorker | Somewhat flawed piece by Lawrence Wright, but nice descriptions of the misery of Gaza. Too much Gilad Shalit for my taste.
Arab Reform Bulletin - Brotherhood Faces Leadership Challenge | Ibrahim al-Hudaiby about the MB's internal dispute and its need to institutionalize decision-making.
Memo From Riyadh - Influence of Egypt and Saudi Arabia Fades - NYTimes.com | An interesting story on Egypt and Saudi Arabia's dwindling relative power to influence regional affairs. Except I would not put Cairo and Riyadh in the same basket: Egypt is in absolute decline, Saudi in relative decline. Also interesting stuff on differences between the two on how to handle Syria.
6 Guantanamo detainees resettle in Palau Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | The absurdities of the war on terror: "KOROR, Palau (AP) - Six Chinese Muslims released from Guantanamo Bay but still wanted at home as separatists arrived Sunday on their new tropical island home of Palau after the tiny Pacific nation agreed to a U.S. request to resettle the men."
Géopolitique des médias arabes (1/2) : Rotana, mondialisation et normalisation | Culture et politique arabes | First post in a series of the geopolitics of Arab media. This one largely focuses on Kingdom Holdings and Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal.
الرئيس جمال عبد الناصر، الصفحة الرئيسية | Gamal Abdel Nasser archives at the Alexandria Library.
In Turkey, fertile ground for creationism - washingtonpost.com | On Islamist creationists in Turkey.
Al-Ahram Weekly | Egypt | Obituary Amin Howeidi (1921-2009) Vexed, not villainous | Gamal Nkrumah's obituary of former Egyptian spy chief Amin Howeidy.
Links for 10.29.09 to 10.31.09
Daily News Egypt - In Focus: The Brotherhood Crisis | Khalil al-Anani's take on the Brothers' troubles.
Frontlines: Who will be the next leader of Egypt? | Front Lines - the week that was | Jerusalem Post | Funny how much traction Amr Moussa's comments have made in Israel, where they remember vividly his criticism of Israel.
Is this the man to follow Mubarak as Egypt's next president? | World news | guardian.co.uk | On Amr Moussa.
Powerful Islamic movement sees leadership struggle | On MB's woes.
War and Peace | New blog from Rob of Arabic Media Shack, focusing on war, history and strategy.
Lesson Unlearned | Foreign Policy | Nir Rosen says the 1983 attacks on Us Marines in Beirut was the fault of senior Reagan officials who intervened in Lebanon's civil war on the side of Christian militias.
A Witness In Palestine | Anna Baltzer, Jewish-American pro-peace activist.
A search engine with a mind on settlements | Antony Loewenstein | I'm switching to Bing, and I hate Microsoft: "Jewish Billionaire, Sergey Brin, one of the founders of Google, donated $1 million to the so-called Hebrew national Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) which heavily encourages Jews around the world to immigrate to Israel and the United States. The organization is one of the biggest supporters of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories."
In Afghan Village, French Outreach Yields an Ambush - WSJ.com | On French Foreign legion in Afghanistan: "Some Legionnaires, like a pensive Italian art history graduate, had enlisted for adventure. Others, like a thin Estonian, signed up to escape potentially lethal problems at home. The Legion wipes out minor criminal records and provides new identities and a French passport in exchange for a five-year contract. "Believe me, I feel safer here in Afghanistan," the Estonian said."
Alaa Al-Aswany: When women are sinners in the eyes of extremists - Commentators, Opinion - The Independent | On Somalia and extremism, among other things.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Egypt seeks ethical mobile users | Code says "don't annoy people by having loud conversations", "choose non-annoying ringtone", etc. Akhiran! Wonder if it says, "Don't sit at qahwa trying different ringtones for an hour" or "Answer phone quickly or put it on silent rather than stare at it for 10 rings".
Squaring the circle and erasing the margins | Good commentary on the recent J Street conference.
YouTube - ‫لقاء اليوم - ريتشارد غولدستون‬‎ | Khaled Daoud interviews Richard Goldstone on al-Jazeera.
Lebanon: Israel arranged Katyusha fire to keep tensions high - Haaretz - Israel News | Suleiman was praised by West before, will he be listened to now: "Lebanese President Michel Suleiman on Thursday suggested that Israel had arranged for collaborators in his country to fire Katyusha rockets at the Galilee earlier this week, in a bid to keep tensions high in the area."
'Israel's Self-Described Greatest Concern' - Jeffrey Goldberg | More poisonous Jeffrey Goldberg: anti-Zionist Jews are not real jews, they're anti-Zionists with Jewish parents; the Leveretts are apologists for Tehran. No sense of irony here about Golberg's sycophancy towards Bibi Netanyahu here.
West Bank land belongs to Jews, says Israeli army judge | These people are insane: ""But over the past quarter of a century, the Israeli army lawyer and then military judge at the forefront of arguably the most significant battle in the occupied West Bank – the confiscation of Palestinian land for the construction of Jewish settlements – has come to see himself as in service of a higher duty. In an unusually frank interview, which offers insights into the melding of religion, politics and law that underpins land seizures in the occupied territories, Agassi has laid out his belief that Israel has a biblical claim to territory beyond its borders and that he, even as an immigrant, has a right to live on it when those born there do not. `When we [Israelis] say that this is a political conflict, then we lose the battle,` he told the Guardian, adding that it should be remembered that the ancient land of Israel is `given to us by the Bible, not by some United Nations`.
Tens of Thousands of Palestinian Children at Risk of Forced Displacement in OPT | "Whilst most attention has focused on home demolitions and community evictions, new research by the children`s charity Save The Children has revealed intolerable living conditions are driving families to abandon their land and homes, even though most will be worse off once they do so."