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The Invisible Walls of Occupation: Burqah, Ramallah District, A case study

October 28, 2014

We think a thousand times before we build, go on vacation, study, work, trade, or grow crops. It’s not because of laziness, or inability. It’s because of concerns about the obstacles, about harassment and attacks by the Israeli military or by settlers. It’s as if we live in a big prison, with invisible walls, as a result of the restrictions imposed on us.
From Lana Kan'an's testimony, taken by Iyad Hadad on 21 March 2014

This report concerns the village of Burqah, Ramallah District. A rather unremarkable village, Burqah has never taken center stage in the fight against the occupation, and has not been subjected to extreme punitive measures. In fact, we chose to focus on Burqah precisely because it is unexceptional, as a case in point demonstrating what life under the occupation is like for residents of Palestinian villages. It is a small, picturesque village, surrounded by fields. Like many other villages, it endures severe travel restrictions which isolate it from its surroundings. It is also subject to massive land-grabs and stifling planning, all of which have turned it into a derelict, crowded and backward village with half its population living at or below the poverty line.

Burqah residents may live in Area B, but despite the illusion created when powers were transferred to the Palestinian Authority, Israel’s full control of Area C means it has the power to influence many aspects of life in Areas A and B, even allowing it to freeze the day-to-day routine of Palestinians living in those areas:

Road Closures: Early in the second Intifada, the Israeli military closed the main road from Burqah to Ramallah. The road has remained closed ever since, transforming the short trip to Ramallah from a few minutes’ ride into a 45-minute journey through winding bypass roads ill-equipped to accommodate substantial volumes of traffic. The road closures have converted Burqah into an isolated, remote village, despite its geographic proximity to Ramallah. Road closures have also limited access by Burqah residents to all the services provided in Ramallah, the district’s major urban center: employment, medical services, shopping centers, institutions of higher education and leisure facilities.

remainder: http://www.btselem.org/publications/201410_invisible_walls_of_occupation

New book by Norman Finkelstein explores Israel’s assault on Gaza

Method and Madness: The hidden story of Israel’s assaults on Gaza

“Mr. Finkelstein['s] … research is certainly thorough. His characterizations, too, can be brilliant, and he spares nobody …”
—The Economist

Perceptions about the Israeli-Palestine conflict are changing. The UK recently voted to recognize Palestine as a state, and other European countries are clambering to follow suit. The New Yorker ran a cover story on the changing sentiment in the American-Jewish community towards Israel’s right-wing stance. “American audiences,” a New York Magazine article begins, “are seeing the story of the conflict, perhaps more than ever before, through Palestinian eyes.”

While the mainstream is only now becoming critical of Israel’s actions, Norman G. Finkelstein has long been an outspoken opponent of all violence in the Middle East. His latest work, Method and Madness: The Hidden Story of Israel’s Assaults on Gaza, upholds his reputation as one of the area’s most insightful commentators.

Looking at Israel’s major military operations of the last six years, Finkelstein reveals that Israel’s “defensive” measures have been motivated by political calculation: a desire to keep Palestine politically fractured and a need for Palestinian pleas to be seen and dismissed as terrorist demands. Perhaps even more vital than his scholarship of the recent past is Finkelstein’s prescription for peace. He concludes his book with an argument that only global nonviolent protests lead by Palestinians can put an end to the madness. Providing context and possible solutions, Finkelstein’s latest book is vital, pithy, and required reading for any interested in the Middle East.


Saudi Arabia: As executions rise, allies must focus more closely on warring anti-IS forces

World View: In many respects the situation in Saudi Arabia is getting worse rather than better, as if the government feels it must compete with the IS

Patrick Cockburn

Sunday 26 October 2014

A Specialised Criminal Court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a prominent Shia clergyman, Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, to death on vague charges of “breaking allegiance to the ruler” and “encouraging, leading and participating in demonstrations.”

It is a sentence that is creating rage among Saudi Arabia’s two-million-strong Shia minority that has long claimed to be persecuted and discriminated against.

The Saudi authorities are nervous about how the verdict handed down on 15 October will be received; the court arrested Sheikh Nimr’s brother, Mohammed Nimr al-Nimr, after he announced the outcome of the trial on Twitter. Local activists believe this was to prevent him speaking to the media after sentencing. Harsh though the sentence is, it is less than the prosecution’s demand for execution by “crucifixion”, a punishment that in Saudi Arabia involves beheading.

Sheikh Nimr had been under arrest since 2012 when he was shot four times in the leg by police, who claimed that he resisted them with a weapon when they were trying to arrest him. His family dispute this, saying that he did not own a weapon and accusing the Saudi authorities of not providing adequate medical treatment for his wounds. Sheikh Nimr had earlier said in an interview with the BBC that he looked to “the roar of the word against the Saudi authorities rather than weapons … the weapon of the word is stronger than bullets, because authorities will profit from a battle of weapons”. At the time of his arrest there were riots in Eastern Province, the site of much of Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth, in which three people were killed.


UN Issues Statement on Human Rights Violations in Detroit

Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire says mass struggle against the powers that be is required in Detroit

October 22, 14


Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire, an electronic press agency that was founded in 1998. He has worked as a broadcast journalist for the last 14 years, and has worked for decades in solidarity with the liberation movements and progressive governments on the African continent and the Caribbean. Azikiwe is the co-founder of several Detroit-area organizations including: The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice, and the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs. Between 2007-2011 Azikiwe served as the chairperson of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights(MCHR) and is currently the president of the organization.
UN Issues Statement on Human Rights Violations in DetroitPERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

Detroit is undergoing large-scale water disconnections. This year alone at least 27,000 households have had their services disconnected. The scale of the water shutoffs carried out by a third-party company has reached unbearable proportions for people living in Detroit. Let's have a look at what some of them had to say.


DETROIT RESIDENT: I'm a single mother mother of five children, so going without water is a major, major problem, major issue.

DETROIT RESIDENT: So my water has been cut off three times. I [incompr.] water company, and she just told me I owed them $135. They turned my water off for $135.

PROTESTERS: Water is a human right! Stop the water shut offs!

PROTESTERS: [snip] the water. No more shutoffs! One! We are the people! Two! We are united! Three!


PERIES: The conditions are so bad that two United Nations special rapporteurs were invited to Detroit by a number of community groups: the special rapporteur on human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, and the other one on adequate housing and standard of living without discrimination. They heard from residents, council members, the mayor, and congressmen. In their joint statement, they said that the human rights to safe drinking water, sanitation, and adequate housing both derive from the right to an adequate standard of living protected under Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

in full: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=12551


Ankara bombs PKK rebels inside Turkey while Kurds in Kobani face Isis


Turkish aircraft have attacked Kurdish rebel positions inside Turkey for the first time in two years as relations between the Turkish government and the Kurds deteriorate because of Turkey’s failure to help the Kurdish defenders of Kobani under attack by Isis.

F-16 jets struck at a target they claimed was held by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984, but has had a ceasefire since 2013. The Turkish military said it was responding “in the strongest possible way” to the shelling of an outpost by PKK forces. The PKK say they were responding to a military strike.

The Turkish government appears to calculate that the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan does not want the faltering peace process to end and that the PKK cannot fight in both Syria and Turkey. Mr Ocalan says, however, that if Kobani falls then it will be the end of the peace process.

Today, US-led forces said they had conducted 21 airstrikes focused on halting Isis advances at Kobani in the last two days. That came as Barack Obama held talks with military leaders from some 20 countries, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia. “It is part of ongoing efforts to build the coalition and integrate the capabilities of each country into the broader strategy,” said a White House spokesman.



Iraq descends into anarchy: Shia militias 'abducting and killing Sunni civilians in revenge for Isis attacks'

The re-emergence of the militias and the failure to rebuild the Iraqi army is torpedoing the US and British policy of supporting a more inclusive and less sectarian government


Liberalism and Gentrification

by Gavin Mueller

Gentrification isn’t a cultural phenomenon — it’s a class offensive by powerful capitalists.

1866 Mitchell Map of Washington, DC

When I want to examine the limits of liberal ideology, I look for class struggle; when I want to find some class struggle, I simply step outside my door. You don’t have to live in Washington, DC, like I do, but it helps.

Like a lot of cities, Washington is really two cities in the same space. We’ve got “Washington,” the place of popular imagination, gleaming white marble monuments and Aaron Sorkin speechifiers, the mostly-from-out-of-town professional class keeping the rusty wheels of state administration turning.

We’ve also got “DC,” the city distinct from the operations of the federal government, made up of “residents,” who are mostly poor and mostly black. These two cities are locked in a one-sided war of attrition, with affluent “newcomers” and their local allies conducting clear-and-hold operations against their less well-heeled neighbors. I can watch from what Forbes magazine, that barometer of bohemianism, has labeled the sixth-hippest neighborhood in the US, where I live.

This is gentrification, which, if you’re reading this and live in a city, is a process you’re caught up in. There’s a violent side of gentrification — think Rudy Giuliani and his “broken windows” alibi for crackdowns on petty crime. But there’s a softer side to this war as well, the liberal project of city governance whose patron saint is the activist Jane Jacobs, author of Death and Life of American Cities.

remainder: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/09/liberalism-and-gentrification/

Why the Right Is So Freaked Out about the Inconvenient Truths of Actual U.S. History

Conservatives are going bonkers over "unpatriotic" history tests. Time for a little tutorial.

October 7, 2014 |

Conservative hero Ben Carson is worried about American teenagers joining ISIS. But it’s not because of “radical Islam.” It’s because of new high school history standards.

American’s right wing, you see, is terrified of history because it is always sentimentalizing it. Many of its arguments rely on a feeling of nostalgia for “good old days,” that appeals almost exclusively to aging whites. That means that a more accurate history, one that considers groups that are traditionally marginalized — women, people of color, Native Americans, immigrants and the poor — don’t necessarily sit that well. Their stories, the stories of the downtrodden, crush the false narrative that many conservatives like to imagine — that of a idyllic past marred by the New Deal, women’s liberation and civil rights.

In Jefferson County, Colorado, a school board recently tried to limit the historical curriculum to only events that would, “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights.” Needless to say, much of American history — the Great Depression, the Trail of Tears and the internment of Japanese-Americans — would, under those parameters, need to obfuscated. The Republic National Committee, meanwhile, has issued a statement calling the new Advanced Placement U.S. History standards ”radically revisionist.” But conservatives may want to take the plank out of their own eye before examining the speck in their neighbors. Here are the most important distortions of history the right has promoted recently.

Before Welfare, Everything Was Awesome

Example: Marvin Olasky’s “Tragedy of American Compassion,” which argues, “Americans in urban areas a century ago faced many of the problems we face today, and they came up with truly compassionate solutions.”

in full: http://www.alternet.org/education/why-right-so-freaked-out-about-inconvenient-truths-actual-us-history

Isis an hour away from Baghdad with no sign of Iraq army able to make a successful counter-attack


US air strikes are failing to drive back Isis in Iraq where its forces are still within an hour’s drive of Baghdad.

Three and a half months since the Iraqi army was spectacularly routed in northern Iraq by a far inferior force of Isis fighters, it is still seeing bases overrun because it fails to supply them with ammunition, food and water. The selection of a new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, to replace Nouri al-Maliki last month was supposed to introduce a more conciliatory government that would appeal to Iraq’s Sunni minority from which Isis draws its support.

Mr Abadi promised to end the random bombardment of Sunni civilians, but Fallujah has been shelled for six out of seven days, with 28 killed and 117 injured. Despite the military crisis, the government has still not been able to gets its choice for the two top security jobs, theDefence Minister and Interior Minister, through parliament.

The fighting around Baghdad is particularly bitter because it is often in mixed Sunni-Shia areas where both sides fear massacre. Isis has been making inroads in the Sunni villages and towns such as in north Hilla province where repeated government sweeps have failed to re-establish its authority.

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