Posts tagged "Palestine"

American Family Association talk show host Sandy Rios, like her colleague Bryan Fischer, enjoys repeating right-wing material — often based on email chains — as absolute fact without any evidence. Rios, who has previously repeated the widely debunked rumor (which probably originated from this chain email) that Obamacare has a specific exemption for Muslim-Americans, on her radio program today asserted that President Obama kicked off his first term as President by resettling thousands of Palestinian refugees in the U.S.

She made the false claim while criticizing the Michigan Department of Human Services for having an Arabic-language food assistance application and help-line. Rios also warned that Michigan is “brimming with Islamists”:

You may remember that President Obama ordered the resettling of thousands of Palestinians right after he became president, he brought them over at our expense and I don’t know if they all went to Michigan but tons of them did. Of course before that Michigan, certainly the Detroit area is just brimming with Islamists; it’s pretty frightening actually. I think it is frightening because they are Islamists and they are in the heart of our country, and now they are qualified for food stamps as well. We know that in Michigan, Muslim men have multiple wives even though we don’t allow that in this country. They do still practice it so they go in and sign up for food assistance…. Is Arabic going to be the new language—how many languages are we going to have that are going to be officially acknowledged in America?

Of course, her assertion about Obama resettling thousands of Palestinians was based on a discredited chain email. 


The majority of Arab-Americans are Christian, but of course the facts wouldn’t stop Rios from using the first myth about mass-resettlement of Palestinians to create a second conspiracy theory: that Obama is now giving food stamps to radical, polygamous Islamists. 

From the 08.14.2013 edition of AFR’s Sandy Rios In The Morning:

h/t: RWW


A Palestinian woman said she was assaulted while taking a late morning stroll with her baby daughter and friend by a man who accused her of being a terrorist. We thought someone would’ve been publicly attacked and berated for secretly planning the Boston Marathon bombings within hours of the explosions, but nope — racists managed to contain themselves for two days. Bravo.

Memo to the New York Post and other media outlets that told us to look out for “dark-skinned” suspects: baseless and racist claims prompt action, not just pageviews.

Heba Abolaban told Malden Patch that she and her friend, both wearing hijabs, were walking with their kids when a white male in his thirties punched her left shoulder and began shouting at them:

“He was screaming ‘F___ you Muslims! You are terrorists! I hate you! You are involved in the Boston explosions! F___ you!’” Abolaban remembered. “Oh my lord, I was extremely shocked.”

Abolaban, a doctor who just completed an observership at Mass General Hospital, said the incident “saddened me a lot.”

(via thepoliticalfreakshow)


Obama in West Bank: Palestinians ‘deserve a state of their own’

(Photo: NBC News)

President Barack Obama spoke critically of Israeli settlement activity in Palestinian territories and reaffirmed his commitment to the creation of “an independent and sovereign state of Palestine” in a Thursday news conference in the West Bank. 

Read the complete story.

About time that the two-state solution works.

Barack Obama is due to land at Tel Aviv airport on Wednesday for a three-day visit to Israel and Palestine that the White House – anxious to set low-to-zero expectations of tangible outcomes – has billed primarily as a listening exercise.

Talks between the US president and the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, are expected to focus on Iran, Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The president will also travel to Ramallah to meet Palestinian leaders.

Israeli air space will close for about an hour for the arrival of Air Force One. Obama will be greeted by Netanyahu, who was sworn in this week as leader of the new Israeli government; President Shimon Peres; other senior politicians and dignitaries; a contingent of Israeli soldiers; and a military orchestra.

The US president’s first task is to inspect an Iron Dome mobile missile defence unit – funded by the US – that has been brought to Ben Gurion airport. He will then fly to Jerusalem by helicopter, though most of his entourage of 600 will travel by road, requiring the closure of the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway.

The day will be dominated by at least five hours of talks between Obama and Netanyahu. Despite the lack of personal warmth between the two leaders it will be the tenth time they have met face to face since both took office in early 2008. No other world leader has clocked up as many meetings with Obama.

Some US and Israeli officials say the trip is also aimed at recalibrating the tetchy relationship between the two leaders at the start of their second terms and building trust on both sides.

The White House has said it is a “chance to connect with the Israeli people”, who are largely distrustful of Obama. A poll published last week in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv found that only 10% of Israelis had a favourable attitude towards Obama, with 17% defining their attitude towards the US president as “hateful”.

As part of his overture, Obama will deliver his keynote speech of the visit to an invited audience of Israeli university students at the International Convention Centre in Jerusalem on Thursday.

He will travel to Ramallah to meet the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the prime minister, Salaam Fayyad. The seven-mile journey will be made by heliicopter, thus avoiding crossing the 24ft-high concrete separation wall that snakes through Jerusalem, separating off parts of the east of the city and the West Bank. However, the president will have a bird’s-eye view of the barrier and some of the 130-plus Jewish settlements that punctuate the West Bank landscape.

Many Palestinians are hostile to Obama, believing he failed to live up to early pledges to halt Israeli colonisation of the West Bank and tried to obstruct their quest for recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations. On Tuesday, scuffles broke out between anti-Obama protesters and police near the Muqata, the presidential compound in Ramallah where Thursday’s meeting is due to take place. Many posters bearing Obama’s face have been torn or painted over.

Both Israelis and Palestinians are sceptical about the chances of any real movement on the decades-old conflict. A poll published in the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday suggested eight out of 10 Israelis do not believe that Obama will succeed in brokering a peace deal in the next four years.

Obama’s itinerary for his 50-hour visit includes visits to the Israel Museum to view the Dead Sea Scrolls, Israel’s haunting Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, and the graves of Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, and the assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Obama will make a second trip – again by helicopter – to the Palestinian territories on Friday to visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

His entourage has taken over the historic King David hotel, which overlooks the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.

h/t: The Guardian

For the vast majority of readers who tune into Israel every so often but are not obsessive about it, the country’s election on Tuesday appears to have delivered a rare moment of mild encouragement. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, deservedly cast as a peace rejectionist, has been weakened and the overall right-wing bloc unexpectedly lost seats, creating the narrowest margin of victory of the right over the non-right of 61–59 (down from 65–55 in the previous Knesset), when polls had predicted the margin to grow further (although describing the split this way is not a helpful guide, of which more later).

Moderate Israel has also found itself a new champion in the staggering success of newbie centrist party leader Yair Lapid, whose Yesh Atid (There Is a Future) party claimed nineteen seats. If one counts Labor as being left (despite its protestations to the contrary), then the Meretz-Labor left camp has scored an impressive revival, from sixteen to twenty-one seats. By this accounting, Israel’s rightward march appears to have been stalled, at least for the time being, itself quite a feat given Israeli demographic trends (higher ultra-Orthodox and national-religious birthrates) and the debilitating disunity among the non-rightist opposition, which failed to agree on an alternative candidate to Netanyahu in this election.

This is where a pause from breathless optimism (or a read of Max Blumenthal’s take on the election) is very much in order. First of all, the right may have shrunk slightly, but the remaining and significant cohort has veered appreciably rightward. Far more of the Knesset’s now forty-three Zionist-right MKs take an overtly anti-democratic approach toward Israel’s non-Jewish minority and dissenting voices, prioritize settlement expansion and support annexation of a large part or all of the occupied territories. These views are represented in both the much-enlarged national religious Jewish Home party, led by Naftali Bennett, and within the Likud faction itself.

More important still, it is the Zionist right that will form the next government and be a clear majority of Netanyahu’s next coalition—yes, that Netanyahu. He will still be PM. But if the Zionist right is again not a majority and has lost seats, and the non-right beats the right by forty-eight seats to forty-three, why is it that a non-right government is so inconceivable?

At this point, a word of explanation is required regarding Israel’s political camps. In addition to the Zionist right and the non-right, the remaining seats needed to form a governing majority are split between the other two blocs in Israeli politics: the ultra-Orthodox, or Haredim (Knesset seats: eighteen), and the largely Palestinian Arab parties (eleven).

The ultra-Orthodox parties (Shas and United Torah Judaism) make for more natural partners of the Zionist right—a discourse of universal rights is alien to them, certainly as applied to Palestinians, and they are socially very conservative. But the ultra-Orthodox can also switch sides. Their economic outlook more approximates that of the left—they see a role for government and social safety nets, and their greatest focus is financial benefits and allowances and a degree of autonomy for their own community (for instance, running their own education system). Anyone willing to pay that price is a potential ally. The ultra-Urthodox parties are also, strictly speaking, not Zionist. Their interpretation of Jewish law makes for an uneasy relationship with the idea of a sovereign Jewish state in pre-messianic times; this is partly why their rabbinical leaders vehemently oppose military service for their community. Other than a (not unproblematic) tendency toward intolerance and racism, and the fact that the two largest settlements (Betar Ilit and Modi’in Ilit) provide cheap housing near Jerusalem for the ultra-Orthodox, ideologically they are not really part of the settlements and Greater Israel camp. Territorial pragmatism and peace overtures have been justified by Haredi rabbinical authorities in the past—mostly predicated on the command to save lives and even on the need to avoid confrontation with the world—and there’s no reason why they couldn’t do so in the future.

From the perspective of centrist Zionist Israeli Jews, the non-Zionism of Israel’s Palestinian citizens is apparently much harder to accept than the non-Zionism of the ultra-Orthodox. Yair Lapid, the new face of moderate Israel, used his first post-election appearance in front of the TV cameras to rule out forming any kind of parliamentary bloc with the Arab parties, even one that might put him in the prime minister’s seat. This reality of exclusion also helps suppress Palestinian voter turnout (up to 15 percent lower than turnout among Israeli Jews), another factor that, if it were to change, could add a handful of seats to the non-right camp.

Rabin was indeed the last Israeli prime minister to achieve overall progress with the Palestinian leadership (then led by Yasir Arafat’s PLO) and to advance equality for the Palestinian citizens of Israel—and his premiership was the last time Israel was governed from the center-left. Rabin led by forming a blocking alliance with the non-Zionist Palestinian parties and a governing coalition with the non-Zionist ultra-Orthodox of Shas. It was Rabin’s government, of course, that produced the 1993 Oslo Accords with the PLO. There have been negotiations since then, but never a government of the non-right that produced and implemented peace deals (the Lebanon and Gaza withdrawals, under Ehud Barak in 2000 and Ariel Sharon in 2005, respectively, were both unilateral); that governed without a strong pro-settler coalition presence; that avoided bouts of war and harsh military escalations; and that addressed domestic inequality in a serious way.

First, the ideological change. The fact that other than the small and proudly leftist (and growing) Meretz party, the non-right parties (Yesh Atid, Labor, Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua and the now-shrunken Kadima, led by Shaul Mofaz) all insist on defining themselves as center parties, not left, and have ruled out adopting a new branding—progressive or liberal or democratic—already hints at the problem. The Zionist center too often sounds and acts like a less vicious, more huggable version of the Zionist right, bereft of its own vision or beliefs, still undemocratic for its non-Jewish citizens, and still indulgent of settlements, occupation and injustices vis-à-vis the Palestinians beyond the Green Line. It should not be surprising, for example, that Kadima MKs supported anti-democratic legislation in the outgoing Knesset.

And finally, one cannot absolve the United States, Europe and other outside powers from their responsibility for having pursued policies that indulge Israeli violations of international law and that fuel Israeli escapism. Handwringing in Western capitals about continued pro-settlement Israeli policies is an evasion. Alongside the failures of the Israeli non-right, the other key reason the right has been winning the argument in Israel is because there have been no negative consequences for the steady expansion of Israel’s grip on the West Bank and East Jerusalem. If Yair Lapid—and the large centrist, urban-based middle-class sector that he represents—is to make the switch and escapist Israel is to wake up, it will be the result of smart and targeted international pressure and the fear of international isolation. Western signals of impunity and indulgence toward the occupation are the oxygen of escapism, and the off-switch for that oxygen needs to be found rather urgently.

H/T: Daniel Levy at The Nation


NPR’s Andy Carvin:


CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt announced on Wednesday that a ceasefire had been reached to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, starting later in the day.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr made the announcement in a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The ceasefire would come into effect at 15:00 EDT, said Amr, whose country has been at the heart of efforts to broker an end to the conflict.

"Egypt has made great efforts … since the start of the latest escalation in the Gaza Strip," Amr said.

h/t: Yahoo! News

News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch criticized the “Jewish owned press” for its coverage of the conflict in Gaza in a November 17 tweet:

Murdoch tweet

The Anti-Defamation League writes of the “anti-Semitic lie” that “Jews control the banks, the media, and the government”:

This myth originates with The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, a proven forgery. The forgery continues to promote the stereotype that Jews own the banks and control the media. The reality is, in societies, like the United States, individuals who identify as Jews have succeeded. But in almost every other country where Jews have lived, they have been a small minority and experienced centuries of persecution.

The Daily Beast’s Peter Beinert writes that Murdoch’s comment is offensive to journalists as well as to Jewish people and suggests that Murdoch believes reporters for his publications should conform their reporting to his political views:

It’s offensive to journalists because it implies that institutions of the “press” should reflect the ideological biases of their owners. Reading Murdoch’s tweet, it would be logical to conclude that he believes that any newspaper he owns should reflect his right-wing views, even in its news coverage. The FCC might want to consider that when evaluating Murdoch’s reported bid to buy the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

h/t: MMFA


I told my Russian friend yesterday about war in Gaza and said it was a war of aggression, and he agreed that was the case. This is different from the mass media, as Electronic Intifada reports: “international academics who recently participated in a conference on linguistics…

On Monday and Tuesday Mother Jones published exclusive video that captured Mitt Romney speaking to donors at a May 17 fundraiser, which was held at the home of private equity mogul Mark Leder. Responding to a question about the “Palestinian problem,” Romney said peace in the Middle East is not possible and a Palestinian state is not feasible, telling donors that Palestinians have “no interest whatsoever in establishing peace and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.” At another point, the GOP presidential nominee told attendees of this $50,000-a-plate dinner that 47 percent of Americans—those who back President Obama—are “victims” who are “dependent upon government” and “pay no income tax.” He noted: “my job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” These comments set off a media firestorm and generated headlines around the world.

Romney’s remarks, denigrating nearly half of the electorate, sent the Romney campaign—already roiled by infighting—into panic mode. The campaign hastily convened a late-night press conference to address his controversial statements, and Romney stood by his “off the cuff” comments, while conceding that they were “not elegantly stated.” He claimed his comments where merely a “snippet” and not the “full response.” That was not true; his comments were shown in full. He added, “I hope the person who has the video would put out the full material.”

h/t: David Corn at Mother Jones

Mitt’s in even bigger trouble.

Mitt Romney argued that the Palestinian people ultimately don’t want a peaceful settlement with Israelis and that pursuit of such a peace process would ultimately be feckless during a private fundraiser last May.

The video of his comments is the latest to emerge from a talk the Republican nominee made before a crowd of donors at the home of Marc Leder a wealthy private equity executive. The first to emerge had Romney accusing 47 percent of the country of being tax-avoiding, government-dependent, self-identified victims who would he could ignore because they would never support his candidacy. The latest, uncovered by Mother Jones, has Romney offering similarly blunt assessments with respect to foreign policy.

He went on:

I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say, “There’s just no way.” And so what you do is you say, “You move things along the best way you can.” You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem. We live with that in China and Taiwan. All right, we have a potentially volatile situation but we sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it. We don’t go to war to try and resolve it imminently. On the other hand, I got a call from a former secretary of state. I won’t mention which one it was, but this individual said to me, you know, I think there’s a prospect for a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis after the Palestinian elections. I said, “Really?” And, you know, his answer was, “Yes, I think there’s some prospect.” And I didn’t delve into it.

An even fuller transcript is available at Mother Jones' website.

The comments aren’t exactly that far removed from conservative talking point with respect to the Middle East peace process, though the cynicism and directness is not usually what you get from Romney on the stump. The candidate had gotten in trouble for declaring that “culture” was what made Israeli’s more successful that Palestinians. This seems to affirm his dim view of the Palestinian people.

h/t: Sam Stein at HuffPo

JERUSALEM (AP) — Mitt Romney would respect an Israeli decision to make a unilateral military strike against Iran aimed at preventing Tehran from obtaining nuclear capability, a top foreign policy adviser said Sunday as he outlined the aggressive posture theRepublican presidential candidate will take toward Iran in a speech in Israel later in the day.

Romney has said he has a “zero tolerance” policy toward Iran obtaining the capability to build a nuclear weapon.

Democratic U.S. President Barack Obama has also affirmed the right of Israel to defend itself, but in contrast to Romney, Obama has warned of the consequences of an Israeli strike on Iran.

"Already, there is too much loose talk of war," Obama told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March. “Now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in and to sustain the broad international coalition we have built.”

Pentagon officials have spoken publicly about the difficulty of such a strike and American officials have expressed concern about the destabilizing effect such military action could have in the region, even if carried out successfully.

Romney, like Obama, believes the option of a U.S. attack should also be “on the table.” He has said he will do “the opposite” of what Obama would do in his approach to Israel.

"Make no mistake: the ayatollahs in Tehran are testing our moral defenses. They want to know who will object, and who will look the other way," Romney plans to say later Sunday in a speech in Jerusalem. "My message to the people of Israel and the leaders of Iran is one and the same: I will not look away; and neither will my country."

The Obama administration hasn’t ruled out the military option, but Obama has so far been relying on economic sanctions and diplomatic negotiations to discourage Iran from building a nuclear bomb.

For its part, Iran says it is not interested in nuclear weapons and its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian purposes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday welcomed Romney as “a representative of the United States” and told the Republican presidential candidate he agrees with his approach to the threat of a nuclear Iran.

Netanyahu said he listened to Romney’s speech in Reno, Nev., where the likely GOP nominee said that Iran possessing nuclear capability is the greatest danger facing the world.

Romney faces high stakes as he begins his talks with top Israeli officials and meets with the Palestinian prime minister. Mindful of polls back home that show a tight presidential contest, the former one-term Massachusetts governor is looking to burnish his foreign policy credentials and prove his mettle as a possible commander in chief.

The trip is a chance for Romney to draw implicit contrasts with Obama and demonstrate how he would lead America on the world stage.

But Romney arrived in Jerusalem Saturday night after a difficult few days in Britain, where he made the mistake of criticizing the country’s Olympic Games and raised the hackles of his hosts. The gaffe undermined the stated goal of his weeklong journey through Britain, Israel and Poland: emphasizing America’s ties with longstanding allies.

Romney has pledged not to criticize Obama while on foreign soil, honoring longstanding American tradition of leaving politics at the water’s edge. But his aide’s announcement of Romney’s willingness to express support for an Israeli strike while in Jerusalem represents an effort to contrast the two presidential opponents.

In addition to Netanyahu, Romney met with other Israeli officials and will also sit down with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

h/t: Yahoo! News

Representative Michele Bachmann is using her position on the House Intelligence Committee topromote a conspiracy theory that government officials, including State Department official Huma Abedin, are part of a Muslim Brotherhood plot to infiltrate the U.S. government. Bachmann also claimsthat Rep. Keith Ellison is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. Bachmann has refused to apologize or back down, even after prominent Republicans like Senator John McCain demanded that she stop.

As Rep. Ellison has noted, he and Abedin are in positions of relative power; even greater than our concern for them should be our concern that the political participation of Muslim-Americans will be chilled by anti-Muslim McCarthyism attacking the role of Muslim-Americans in our country’s political life.

We need the voices of Muslim-Americans to help us reform U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world. If Muslim-American voices are silenced, reforming U.S. policy is going to be much harder. Urge your Representative to help draw a line by speaking out for sanctions on Bachmann, including — as People for the American Way has called for — her removal from the Intelligence Committee, for her attacks on the political participation of Muslim-Americans.

It’s indisputable that many Muslim-Americans have cultural ties to and heightened concern about countries where U.S. foreign policy is especially controversial.

h/t: Robert Naiman at Huffington Post

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is courting the Republican Jewish vote with a series of statements showing his unwavering support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pro-Israel American conservatives. On Wednesday, he declared that he would appoint former U.N. ambassador — and outspoken über-hawk — John Bolton to be Secretary of State if elected president. In an interview released today, he struck out an even more extreme position by declaring Palestinians “an…invented people.”

He told The Jewish Channel:

We’ve had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs and are historically part of the Arab community and they had a chance to go many places. And for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel since the 1940s. It’s tragic.

Watch it:

Gingrich, much like former Senator Rick Santorum, is effectively denying the right of Palestinians to a state, a position that goes against the policy positions of the Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations.

With this assertion comes questions as to where Gingrich thinks the Palestinian — or “Arabs” as he refers to them — should go. Will residents of the West Bank gain full voting rights in a unified Israeli state? Will Israel allow them to stay as second-class citizens with limited voting and legal rights? Or is he in favor of forced deportation?

Gingrich is a moron.

H/T: ThinkProgress Security