Gaza children deaths ‘accident’

Posted in Uncategorized on September 3, 2007 by Karin

The three cousins – two boys aged 10 and 12, and a 12-year-old girl – were playing near rocket launchers outside Beit Hanun, a military statement said.
An internal army investigation found soldiers had detected “unidentified movement and opened fire”, it added.

The army initially said militants had sent the children to get the launchers.

Both the Israeli military and Palestinian witnesses have said children have been used to retrieve launchers after rockets have been fired.

Surveillance footage

But army aerial surveillance videos of the incident proved the children were simply playing tag.

“They were playing right next to the launchers, including touching them,” the army statement said.

The soldiers used the aerial video to direct the tank fire, the army said.

“At the very last second, it was apparent that they were children, but it was impossible to stop the explosion,” it added.
Israeli troops near the Gaza Strip are ordered to only fire at rocket launchers when militants approach them, as the launchers are cheap and easily replaceable.
Two other children were killed in a similar incident last week, when soldiers fired at figures near a rocket launcher.

Daoud Dirawi, a Palestinian human rights lawyer, said both Israel and the militants were culpable for the deaths.
“Israel certainly bears responsibility for attacking civilian areas, and killing civilians is a war crime,” he told the Associated Press

“At the same time, the Palestinian factions bear responsibility for avoiding any harm to Palestinian civilians and children in their military operations. Having children next to the rocket launchers endangers the children.”


Bush’s great ambition: wealthy boredom

Posted in Uncategorized on September 3, 2007 by Karin

· President tells of regrets in office and retirement plans·

. Dead Certain author given rare vision of private life

Ed Pilkington in New YorkMonday September 3, 2007

The Guardian

Jimmy Carter has dedicated his life after the White House to conflict resolution around the world. Presidents George Bush the elder and Bill Clinton have campaigned together on behalf of communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina. So how does President George Bush junior imagine spending his retirement years?
“I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch,” he says. He also has big plans for making money. “I’ll give some speeches, to replenish the ol’ coffers,” says Mr Bush, who is already estimated to be worth $20m. “I don’t know what my dad gets – it’s more than 50-75 [thousand dollars a speech], and “Clinton’s making a lot of money”.

The insights into Mr Bush’s ambitions once he steps down from the most powerful job on Earth in January 2009 are contained in a series of interviews he gave to a journalist from GQ magazine. It may be that the writer, Robert Draper, comes from Texas, like his subject, but whatever the reason, Mr Bush has chosen to be singularly open with the author and provide a rare glimpse into the inner life of a very private president.
During the course of six one-hour interviews, Mr Bush, feet up on his desk, munching on low-fat hotdogs, tells Draper of the loneliness of the US commander-in-chief. “Self-pity is the worst thing that can happen to a presidency. This is a job where you can have a lot of self-pity,” Mr Bush says.
When it all gets too much for the president, his wife Laura storms to the rescue. “She reminds me that I decided to do this,” he tells Draper.
The interviews came after Draper lobbied the president for several years to give him access, arguing that he would write the first draft of history on the Bush presidency.
The book to emerge from their conversations will be published tomorrow, but an early taste was given in yesterday’s New York Times.
The book’s title, Dead Certain, is ominously ambiguous, given the 3,728 US personnel – and by some estimates more than 70,000 civilians – who have died in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. For those around the world who are already perplexed by Mr Bush’s strategy in Iraq, his comments to Draper will not be reassuring.
The president says to the writer that one of the failings of his prosecution of the war was that Saddam Hussein’s army was broken up, in contravention of Washington policy and leading to looting and chaos across Iraq. “The policy was to keep the army intact; [it] didn’t happen,” Mr Bush says.
But, Draper points out, it was Paul Bremer, the man chosen by the president to administer country after the invasion, who ordered the disbandment of the Iraqi army. What did Mr Bush think when he learnt of that?
“Yeah, I can’t remember. I’m sure I said: ‘This is the policy – what happened?'”
It gets worse. Mr Bush reveals that whenever he feels depressed about the death toll in Iraq, he turns to God for comfort. “I’ve got God’s shoulder to cry on, and I cry a lot,” he says. “I’ll bet I’ve shed more tears than you can count.”
Mr Bush says when his time in office is up, he will be only 62 and “really young”. Apart from the joy of getting bored, he is looking forward to setting up a “fantastic freedom institute in Dallas” for young democratic leaders around the world.
There is at least one point on which the president and his detractors will agree. In a moment of breathtaking candour, Mr Bush laments the fact that the media no longer listens to him. “I’ve been here too long,” he says.

The Undeclared War on Arab Cuisine

Posted in Uncategorized on September 1, 2007 by Karin

By George S.Hishmeh
August 31, 2007 / MIFTAH

My niece, Irene, called me a few days ago indignant that some of her American friends, including some Jews, keep describing typical Arab foods such as falafel, hummus and shawarma, among others, as Israeli.

She wanted to know how she can convince them this is not the case.

I am quite familiar with this problem since many Americans have been aware of this undeclared war at many unsuspecting restaurants specialising in Mediterranean cuisine, or coverage in the media. My first confrontation with this issue came in 1969 when the late Leah Rabin, wife of the assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin who was then his country’s ambassador in Washington, discussed in a New York Times interview Israeli cuisine, and praising labneh (strained yogurt) as healthful food.

My first impulse was to tell my niece that Israel was almost 60 year old and these food items have obviously existed long before then. My curiosity prompted me to “google” Israeli foods. The internet yielded tens of references, including the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website which carried a feature on Israeli foods.

I couldn’t believe my eyes and wished the Arab governments would do the same, but knowing their ineptitude at explaining more life-and-death issues I doubted they will tackle this quiet Israeli attempt at usurping Arab foods. So I did not bother to check but I would like to be proven wrong.

As a matter of fact, Arab-Americans are used to reading sometimes the wildest of statements made against Arabs or Muslims. Two such items appeared in the press this week.

In an Op-Ed column published in The Washington Post, Nina Shea complains about the alleged “cleansing campaign” now underway against non-Muslim minorities in Iraq. Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Centre for Religious Freedom and a commissioner on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, saw this action as similar to what happened “sixty years ago (to) Iraq’s flourishing Jewish population, a third of Baghdad, (that) fled in the wake of coordinated bombing and violence against them”. Of the 125,000 only 6,000 remained in Iraq and the remainder settled in Israel.

You would think that Shea would have checked her facts before making these outrageous and disputed allegations.

Naeim Giladi, an Iraqi Jew who fled to Israel and later settled in the US, maintains in an article that appeared in The Link (April – May 1998) and his book, Ben Gurion’s Scandals: How the Haganah & the Mossad Eliminated Jews that “the terrible truth is that the grenades that killed and maimed Iraqi Jews and damaged their property were thrown by Zionist Jews”. He also pointed out that Wilbur Crane Eveland, a former senior officer in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), wrote in his book, Ropes of Sand, published in 1980, that “in attempts to portray the Iraqis as anti-American and to terrorise the Jews, the Zionists planted bombs in the US Information Service library and in synagogues (and) soon leaflets began to appear urging Jews to flee to Israel.”

The second incident this week involved New York’s newest public school in memory of a world-famous Lebanese-American philosopher and poet, Gibran Khalil Gibran, a Christian, and the city’s first to offer instruction in Arabic and on Arab culture. Consequently, it has been has been targeted by critics who alleged that the school will serve as “a potential radical-Islam training ground”.

The school’s original principal, Debbie Al Montaser, an Arab-American, had to quit for her failure to condemn the use of the word “intifada”, a term used by Palestinian Arabs to describe their uprising against Israeli occupation. Danielle Salzberg, a Jewish woman who does not speak Arabic, has been named her interim successor.


To cite but one of many distortions and claims about the authenticity of Israeli cuisine, Joan Nathan, author of The Foods of Israel and whose writings and recipes appear on, maintains that falafel is “the ultimate Israeli food”.

On the other hand, Daniel Rogov, the restaurant and wine critics of Haaretz, the leading Israeli newspaper, acknowledges that “despite these longstanding myths, there is nothing Israeli about falafel, shawarma, borekas or hummus ….” and added that “in order to set the culinary record straight, let it be known that falafel …. outdates the existence of the State of Israel by several thousand years, archeologists having discovered the remains of ground chickpeas in the tombs of several of the Pharaohs. Shawarma … (is) Turkish in origin, as are borekas … As for hummus, most food historians agree the dish originated some 4,000 years ago, probably in North Africa.” Interestingly, his lengthy review titled The International Israeli Table which appears on the

Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was written three years ago.

Now that the record is hopefully set straight, I am just leaving to have a falafel sandwich at the best falafel and shawarma sandwich in the Washington, D.C. area, prepared by two Palestinian Arab cooks from Israel and working at a neighbourhood Jewish (kosher) restaurant.


The Birthday Party that Captured Israel’s Heart

Posted in Uncategorized on September 1, 2007 by Karin

Hydrotherapist Abbe Gindin (C) holds Maria Amin during a therapy session at a rehabilitation hospital in Jerusalem August 29, 2007. An Israeli rehabilitation centre is defying an order from the Defense Ministry to transfer Maria, who was paralysed from the neck down after Israeli attack on militants in Gaza in May last year, to a Palestinian hospital in the West Bank. She had been travelling in a vehicle with her mother, grandmother and older brother, who were killed.

REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Date posted: September 01, 2007
By Eric Silver

Maria Amin, a chubby-faced Palestinian girl with gleaming brown eyes, celebrated her birthday yesterday like any pampered six year old. Doting aunts decked her out like a princess in a gauzy white chiffon dress, spotted with pink hearts and topped with a toy tiara.

A make-up girl primped her hair, rouged her cheeks and painted her lips. With a pout and a shake of the head, Maria rejected a plain lipstick and demanded a glittery gold one. She insisted on being sprayed with a favourite scent. When the make-up girl held up a mirror, she cooed: “How pretty!”

But Maria was no ordinary birthday girl. She came to the party in a wheelchair, which she navigates with her chin against a joystick. She was paralysed from the neck down in May last year when the car she was in was caught in an Israeli missile strike on an Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza. Her mother, grandmother and older brother were killed.

She celebrated her birthday party in the Israeli Alyn hospital and rehabilitation centre for handicapped children, where she is hooked to the respirator she will need for the rest of her life.
Her father, Hamdi Amin, who is on call 24 hours a day, supervised the festivities. The Israeli army allowed his father, grandfather and sundry cousins to visit from Gaza. The hall, overlooking the Jerusalem forest, was awash with balloons.

Reporters who had followed Maria’s story, turned up with their own children, bearing gifts, as did Arab and Jewish friends. The birthday girl thanked them in her native Arabic and the Hebrew she has picked up from the hospital staff.

But the celebrations were overshadowed. The Israeli Defence Ministry has paid for Maria’s rehabilitation at Alyn and for a small flat on the premises for her father and younger brother. Now, however, the ministry says she must move to the Abu Raya Rehabilitation Centre in Ramallah. It will continue covering expenses.

The Palestinian doctors say that they cannot provide the care Maria needs. They don’t have the equipment; they don’t have the trained staff. The Israeli hospital is defying orders and refusing to discharge her. The case will come before the Israeli Supreme Court on 25 September.

Hamdi Amin is a father in limbo. He can’t work, even if the Israelis give him a permit. Maria needs him constantly. “Until the judges decide,” he said, “I don’t know how we’ll live or where we’ll go. Maria’s condition is still very grave. For her it’s a matter of life or death. She can’t move her arms or legs. She can’t breathe on her own. There’s nowhere in Gaza or the West Bank that can look after her. How can the Defence Ministry say the Ramallah hospital has to treat her?”

The family has seen the worst and the best of Israel. Hamdi declines to blame or to praise. “I don’t care about wars, I don’t care about Hamas, I don’t care about America,” he explained. “I grew up in a family where you worked to put food on the table for your children. I believe that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”

A support group of Israeli and Palestinian activists has rallied to the Amin family’s side. Dalia Becker, a chain-smoking Israeli matron, said: “We’re Hamdi’s second family. Anything he needs, he turns to us. We’re paying for the lawyers who will represent Maria at the Supreme Court. It’s hard to believe that once the judges see her, they will send her away.”

Back in Gaza, the undeclared war goes on. Children are still paying a price. An Israeli shell killed two Palestinian boys and a girl near Beit Hanoun on Wednesday. A military spokesman said the troops targeted several Qassam rocket launchers aimed at Israel. It expressed “sorrow for the cynical use the terror organisations make of the active participation of teenagers in terror attacks”.

The army said yesterday that it had arrested a 15-year-old Gaza boy on his way to a suicide bombing against Israeli soldiers.

Walking in Palestinian Shoes

Posted in Uncategorized on September 1, 2007 by Karin

Palestinians walk through a gate as they cross at the Hawara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas tackled the biggest issues dividing the two sides at a meeting on Tuesday — final borders, Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees, an Israeli official said. It was the first time the two men discussed these matters in depth, the official said.

(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Date posted: August 29, 2007
By Joharah Baker for MIFTAH

Many times, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict deserves lengthy and deep analyses. There are historical, cultural, political and religious considerations that need to be picked apart before reaching some sort of theory as to why this tiny slice of earth is so tormented.

Then there are those times when a simple glance at the obvious is enough to clarify the complete injustice of the Israeli occupation. This is not even about the more significant issues such as political assassinations, home demolitions, prisoners or military operations that claim scores of lives. No, this is about everyday matters, most often taken for granted, which when one takes a moment to contemplate, show just how sinister a military occupation can be.

Take an innocuous trip to the coastal town of Herzeliya. One of the more ritzy areas in Israel, the main mall in the town center is picture perfect. Not only is the actual structure aesthetically appealing, but the spacious piazza onto which the mall opens is breathtaking, overlooking the equally picturesque port, lined with sailboats, motorboats and luxurious yachts.

MORE >>>

Posted in Uncategorized on August 28, 2007 by Karin

A Palestinian man picks grapes in the West Bank village of Al-Khader, where construction of the Wall threatens to separate farmers from their land.

(Haytham Othman, Maan Images)

Posted in Uncategorized on August 28, 2007 by Karin

A Palestinian man picks grapes in the West Bank village of Al-Khader, where construction of the Wall threatens to separate farmers from their land.

(Haytham Othman, Maan Images)