THE NEWS

The following are just a selection of news items involving Islam and Muslims. Any comments and views expressed about them are solely my own and are subject to modification.

19 January

Paris - Placed in the second row, [Netanyahu] did what Israelis do: he shoved aside a black African president in front of him and placed himself in the front row. Once there, he began waving to the people on the balconies along the way. He was beaming, like a Roman general in his triumphal parade…Netanyahu went to Paris as part of his election campaign. As a veteran campaigner, he knew that three days in Paris, visiting synagogues and making proud Jewish speeches, were worth more than three weeks at home, slinging mud. The blood of the four Jews murdered in the kosher supermarket was not yet dry, when Israeli leaders called upon the Jews in France to pack up and come to Israel. Israel, as everybody knows, is the safest place on earth. (Uri Avnery in the London Review of Books)



15 January

USA - President Barack Obama made clear Thursday in a closed-door session with Senate Democrats that he’s prepared to veto hostile legislation from the GOP-controlled Congress, including an Iran sanctions package. (politico.com)



UK - While the fear of religious extremists has reached a new high since the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, you might be surprised to learn how many instances of terrorism in the EU over the past five years were actually religiously motivated. According to statistics from Europol, less than two per cent of all recorded acts of terror were perpetrated with religious motivations, with an even smaller number being committed by Muslim extremists. (Metro)



10 January

Paris - ....ultimately the violence against Charlie Hebdo is not about Islam per se; it's about a contemporary world system that is particularly adept at grinding down whatever decent values exist in Islam and other faith systems (and in liberal capitalism as well). Decades of the combined onslaught of extreme capitalism and extreme religion have shaped a necropolitics of the oppressed that is the mirror image of the necropolitics of local and western governments, and the oppression and violence they've imposed....Mark LeVine, professor of Middle Eastern History at University of California, Irvine (AlJazeera)



9 January

Paris - “don't be surprised if people around the world, while condemning the despicable acts of the murderers in Paris and grieving for their families and friends, remain a bit cynical about the media-circus surrounding this particular outrage while the Western media quickly forgets the equally despicable acts of systematic murder and torture that Western countries have been involved in. Or perhaps a bit less convinced that Western societies are really the best hope for civilization when they condone this kind of hypocrisy, rather than responding equally forcefully to all such actions repressing free speech or freedom of assembly...” (Rabbi Michael Lerner writing in the Huffington Post)



8 January

Israel - Making Israel the focal point of his [Netanyahu’s] message of condolence [in Paris] was crass and vulgar. Sure, he correctly stated that the Charlie Hebdo massacre was an attack on the values of Western civilization, but he was wrong in assuming that Israel is a shining beacon of that civilization. “Never one to miss a self-serving opportunity, Benjamin Netanyahu issued an extraordinarily pompous and inappropriate statement in response to the massacre in Paris on Wednesday. Being the lofty expert in terrorism that he is, Israel's prime minister did not indulge in the regular human reactions of shock, horror and sadness that typically accompany an incident like the one in Paris. Such gawky emotions are for lesser beings who don’t grasp the big picture, as he does. Instead, Bibi took it upon himself to lecture France – and the rest of the world, while he was at it – about how to deal with Islamist terror; a prescription which seems to consist entirely of thinking as he does and supporting Israel, come hell or high water”. (Roy Isacowitz writing in Haaretz)



6 January

Israel - The decision by Binyamin Netanyahu to order the withholding of Palestinian tax revenues in response to Mahmoud Abbas’s application to join the international criminal court has been sharply criticised by Israel’s president and the US, as well as senior Palestinian figures. (Guardian)



Israel - The EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, called on Israel on Tuesday to immediately renew the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority, calling the recent freeze on the funds a violation of the Oslo Accords. (Haaretz)



5 January

Turkey - Turkey is getting a brand new church for the first time in nearly a century. The $1.5 million Virgin Mary Syriac church will be built in the Istanbul suburb of Yesilkoy, Daily Sabah reports.A government source said that this is the first church that the government has allowed Christians to build from the ground up since the republic formed in 1923, though other churches have been restored and reopened. Yesilkoy already has a Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Catholic church. (Huffington Post)



Germany - - Anti-Islam demonstrators were outnumbered by 10 to one in Cologne tonight as the city’s famous cathedral turned out its lights in a symbolic protest against the Pegida movement. (Independent)



4 January

UK - Nursery school staff and registered childminders must report toddlers at risk of becoming terrorists, under counter-terrorism measures proposed by the Government. The directive is contained in a 39-page consultation document issued by the Home Office in a bid to bolster its Prevent anti-terrorism plan. Critics said the idea was “unworkable” and “heavy-handed”, and accused the Government of treating teachers and carers as “spies”. (Telegraph)

You couldn't make it up. So what do the government propose to do about the incessant negativity which is more likely to make a toddler anti-Muslim than a terrorist

Israel - Israel to ask U.S. congressmen to halt aid to Palestinians: Recently passed American legislation states that if the Palestinians initiate any action against Israel at the ICC, the State Department would have to stop American aid to the PA, which comes to some $400 million annually.... The law regarding the Palestinians initiating action at the ICC is strongly worded and states that President Barack Obama cannot waive a decision to halt aid to the PA. (Haaretz)



3 January

Israel - Israel has halted the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinians following their bid to join the International Criminal Court, Israeli officials say. They said $127m (£82m; €106m) collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority last month would be held back. The Palestinians submitted documents to join the ICC on Friday in a move opposed by both Israel and the US. Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat condemned the Israeli measure, calling it a "new war crime". "Israel is once again responding to our legal steps with further illegal collective punishments," Mr Erekat said.Israel collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinians, and transfers about $100m (80m euros) per month, accounting for two-thirds of the authority's budget. It is not the first time Israel has frozen the monthly transfers. It imposed a similar sanction in April 2014 after PA President Mahmoud Abbas applied to join a series of international treaties and conventions. (BBC)

Well if applying to join international treaties and conventions doesn’t warrant collective punishment I don’t know what does.

Israel - The Israeli guns that took part in the Rwanda genocide: A Tel Aviv court has rejected a petition to reveal documentation of arms exports to the Hutu government in the '90s. Matter likely to proceed to the Supreme Court. (Haaretz)



2 January

India - There has been outrage in India after police in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat conducted mock security drills using fake "militants" dressed as Muslims. Critics say the videos stereotype Muslims, who make up nearly 14% of the country's 1.2 billion population. After the videos were shown on Indian TV channels, Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel admitted that the exercise was "a mistake". "It's wrong to link religion with terrorism. The issue has been resolved and the matter should be put to rest now. The mistake has been rectified," the chief minister said. (BBC)



USA/Iran - Iran and the United States have tentatively agreed on a formula that Washington hopes will reduce Tehran’s ability to make nuclear arms by committing it to ship to Russia much of the material needed for such weapons, diplomats say. In another sign of progress, two diplomats told Associated Press that negotiators at the December round of nuclear talks drew up for the first time a catalogue outlining areas of potential accord and differing approaches to remaining disputes. (Guardian)



Germany - One of Germany's most famous landmarks, Cologne Cathedral, will be plunged into darkness on Monday evening in protest at a march by a growing grass-roots anti-Muslim movement through the western German city, cathedral authorities said. The rise of the group, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA), has shaken Germany's political establishment, prompting Chancellor Angela Merkel to say in her New Year address that its leaders were racists full of hatred and citizens should beware being used. (Huffington Post)



UK - Twitter and Facebook are refusing to take down hundreds of inflammatory Islamophobic postings from across their sites despite being alerted to the content by anti-racism groups, an investigation by The Independent has established. (Independent)



USA - Why don’t Muslim leaders speak out?That question comes up every time terrorists purporting to be deeply religious Muslims carry out armed attacks that kill innocent people. Where, commentators ask, are the moderate Muslim leaders and why aren’t they decrying the horrors perpetuated by fellow Muslims?In fact, mainstream Muslims are speaking out, clearly and consistently. (Rabbi Marc Schneier in the Washington Post)



Sweden - A Muslim community in Sweden that faced a series of Islamaphobic attacks recently has been taken aback after residents ‘love-bombed’ the local mosque in an outpouring of support. After anti-Muslim rhetoric was scrawled into an Uppsala mosque wall yesterday hundreds of residents gathered to paste cut-out hearts and messages of support onto the entrance of the building, ahead of Friday’s prayers. (Independent)

However the same article contained this sentence “On Christmas Day five people were injured in Eskilstuna after a petrol bomb was chucked through the window of a mosque.” Chucked? Wonder if the same verb would have been used if the chucker was Muslim. It was a petrol bomb, not a snowball !!

1 January 2015

Egypt - An Egyptian court has ordered the re-trial of three journalists for the Al-Jazeera English television channel, six months after they were sentenced to between seven and ten years in prison in a case which won international condemnation. (Telegraph)



30 December

UK - When it comes to Muslim women, it’s still all about what we wear – and the last 12 months only serves to confirm this sad state of affairs. What we say, our achievements, opinions and self-determination continue to be brushed aside. Even as women’s movements around the world continue to gather momentum, Muslim women’s looks, clothing and bodies continue ever forcefully to be policed. We continue to be reduced to one-dimensional voiceless images. (Excellent piece by Shelina Janmohamed in the Telegraph)



Israel-Palestine - Breaking News! The UN Security Council has rejected a resolution demanding an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories within three years. (BBC)

No surprises there then. And so it continues...

UK - A rightwing think tank, accused of pushing an anti-Muslim agenda, has pulled funding for two parliamentary groups which focused on homeland and international security after refusing to disclose its donors to the Commons’ standards watchdog. In a ruling earlier this month the parliamentary commissioner for standards upheld complaints against the homeland security and transatlantic and international security parliamentary groups for taking secretariat support from a neoconservative think tank The Henry Jackson Society. (Guardian)



29 December

Sweden - Special security forces in Sweden are hunting suspected arsonists after fires at two mosques.The blazes follow a period of increased tension in the country, as politicians struggle to stem the rise of the anti-immigrant far right.The Säpo were called in after a blaze at a mosque in the southern town of Eslöv in the early hours of Monday morning. It followed a similar incident on Christmas Day in Eskilstuna, near Stockholm, in which five people were injured when a fire broke out during prayers.... There have been at least 13 suspected arson attacks on mosques in Sweden this year, according to Expo, an anti-racism magazine. (Guardian)



Myanmar - The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution Monday urging Myanmar to provide "full citizenship" to its Rohingya Muslim minority and to allow them to move freely throughout the country.The 1.3 million Rohingyas are denied citizenship under national law and are effectively stateless and have almost no rights. Myanmar authorities want to officially categorize them as "Bengalis," implying they are illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh. After Myanmar started a transition from dictatorship to democracy in 2011, newfound freedom of expression fanned the flames of hatred against the Rohingyas by the Buddhist majority. Violence by Buddhist mobs left up to 280 people dead — most of them members of the religious minority — and chased another 140,000 from their homes. The Rohingyas now live under apartheid-like conditions in camps or in restricted villages in Rakhine state. (Foxnews.com)



Israel - Europe is not headed for an Islamist apocalypse. Fear-mongering about the 'Islamification of Europe' nurtures the feeling that Israel is the last refuge in a sea of insane jihadis, equating Palestinian nationalism with the extremes of ISIS and making any territorial compromise a deal with the devil. (interesting piece by Daniella Peled in Haaretz)



Afghanistan - Taliban fighters in Afghanistan have declared the "defeat" of the US and its allies, a day after the coalition officially ended its combat mission. A Taliban statement said the US-led force had "rolled up its flag" without having achieved "anything substantial". (BBC)



28 December

UK - He is indelibly associated with the fight to preserve Britain and its Empire from Nazi invasion and his subsequent denouncement of Soviet totalitarianism’s Iron Curtain. In the public eye, Sir Winston Churchill’s long political career earned him a place among the greatest of Britons. But what may come as a surprise is that he was a strong admirer of Islam and the culture of the Orient — such was his regard for the Muslim faith that relatives feared he might convert. The revelation comes with the discovery of a letter to Churchill from his future sister-in-law, Lady Gwendoline Bertie, written in August 1907, in which she urges him to rein in his enthusiasm. (Telegraph)



25 December

Israel - The Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer expressed support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election on a U.S. media program, contravening explicit civil service regulations. (Barak Ravid writing in Haaretz)



24 December

Israel - And what if Israel were to recognize Palestine? Should Israel negotiate with a Palestinian state or with the PA? The first one’s never been tried, so it’s worth a shot. (Haaretz)

interesting piece by Zvi Bar'el

12 December

USA - A UN expert on human rights has repeated his call for the US to live up to its international legal obligations and prosecute senior officials who authorised the use of torture. Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said Eric Holder, the US attorney general, is under an international obligation to reopen inquiries into senior officials alleged to have breached human rights.... He made the comments immediately after the report was released by the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday.The report found the CIA misled the White House, the Justice Department, Congress and the public over a torture programme, launched in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, that was both ineffective and more brutal than the agency disclosed. (Guardian)



11 December

UK/USA - The horrifying story of a London father incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay for 13 years can be told today. Amid global outrage at a US Senate report into the torture of terror suspects by the CIA, MPs last night demanded the immediate release of Shaker Aamer. The 46-year-old, whose family lives in South London, has been detained without trial or charge since November 2001, says he has been beaten and starved of sleep and food. Lawyers say he is still being held at the US base in Cuba only because intelligence officials fear he will expose more evidence of torture by the West. (Daily Mail)



10 December

USA - The Obama administration has urged a court to reject a request to disclose thousands of pages of documents from a Justice Department investigation into the torture of detainees by the CIA, including summaries of interviews with about 100 witnesses and documents explaining why in the end no charges were filed. The administration made the filing late Tuesday in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the New York Times, hours after the Senate Intelligence Committee made public a 524-page executive summary of its own investigation into C.I.A. torture. The committee based its report on a review of C.I.A. documents but did not conduct any interviews. (Charlie Savage in the NY Times)



UK - But last week, foreign secretary Phillip Hammond proudly declared that Britain would reverse its withdrawal from “east of Suez” of the late 1960s and open a navy base “for the long term” in the Gulf autocracy of Bahrain..... the failure of parliament even to debate the decision to garrison the Gulf is an ominous one. Britain’s new base isn’t in the interests of either the people of Britain, Bahrain or the Middle East as a whole – it’s a danger and affront to us all. (Seamus Milne in the Guardian)



9 December

USA - The full extent of the CIA’s interrogation and detention programmes launched in the wake of the September 11 terror attack was laid bare in a milestone report by the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday that concluded the agency’s use of torture was brutal and ineffective – and that the CIA repeatedly lied about its usefulness.The report represented the most scathing congressional indictment of the Central Intelligence Agency in nearly four decades. It found that torture “regularly resulted in fabricated information,” said committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, in a statement summarizing the findings. She called the torture programme “a stain on our values and on our history”. (Guardian)



17 November

Israel - Since Reuven Rivlin was elected President, in June, he has become Israel’s most unlikely moralist. Rivlin—not a left-wing writer from Tel Aviv, not an idealistic justice of the Supreme Court—has emerged as the most prominent critic of racist rhetoric, jingoism, fundamentalism, and sectarian violence, the highest-ranking advocate among Jewish Israelis for the civil rights of the Palestinians both in Israel and in the occupied territories. Last month, he told an academic conference in Jerusalem, “It is time to honestly admit that Israel is sick, and it is our duty to treat this illness.” (David Remnick writing in The New Yorker)



9 November

USA/Israel - Israel learned independently about the secret letter U.S. President Barack Obama sent to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, according to a Jerusalem official who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter. The official said Israel learned about the letter shortly after it was sent. The information arrived indirectly, through channels that are not part of Israel’s official contacts with the American administration. (Haaretz)

“independently” and “through channels that are not part of Israel’s official contacts”...is that what the rest of us call spying?

30 October

UK - Why I Quit the Government's Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group .Shortly after the re-launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Islamophobia in November 2011, I was invited to join the newly formed Cross-Government Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group hosted in the Department for Communities and Local Government. My understanding was that the Working Group would work closely with the APPG on common themes - as the Anti-Semitism equivalent had done previously - and was to be made up of members from Muslim and civil society organisations plus imams and academics with relevant expertise. ...With expectations high, I accepted the invitation and joined the group as an independent member, my time and involvement funded solely by my academic institution. Three years on and having personally submitted around half a dozen briefing papers to the group and associated politicians, I have now resigned my position, disillusioned by both group and government's shared inability to even begin to move forward the issue of tackling Islamophobia. (Dr Chris Allen in the Huffington Post)



18 October

Saudi Arabia - At a time when Saudi Arabia’s aged rulers worry about their Sunni-majority population being inspired by the jihadists of Islamic State (IS), it would hardly seem wise to antagonise the Shia who make up the remaining 10-15% of their people. Yet that is exactly what a Saudi court did on October 15th, when it sentenced to death Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, a prominent Shia cleric. The shock ruling instantly prompted street protests in the largely Shia populated Eastern Province, where most of the kingdom’s oil is produced. The move threatens to reignite sectarian violence that has erupted periodically over recent decades, as well as to sour efforts to sooth Sunni-Shia tensions across the wider region. The head of Iran’s armed forces warned Saudi Arabia that it would “pay dearly” if the execution were carried out. (The Economist)



15 October

IS - This struggle is not simply a religious conflict, but a terrible mix of ethnicity, economics, social unrest, injustice between rich and poor, limited access to resources, historic hatreds, post-colonial conflict and more. It is impossible to simplify accurately. We cannot tolerate the complexities and so we seek to hang the whole confusion on the hook of religious conflict. And because even to do that on a global scale is complicated, we focus on one area, at present Iraq and Syria, while others—Sudan, Nigeria and most recently Israel and Gaza—are forgotten. Or, equally dangerously, we deny it is religious, in the illusion that religion makes it unfixable. (Prospect Magazine)

Extract from a typically thoughtful analysis by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

14 October

USA - “People do not derive their values from their scriptures — they insert their values into their scriptures....In the United States, just two centuries ago, both slave owners and abolitionists not only used the same Bible to justify their conflicting viewpoints, they used the exact same verses. That’s the power of scripture, it’s the power of religion: It’s infinitely malleable. We do not read scriptures that were written 5000 years ago still because they’re true — we read them because they’re malleable, because they can address the ever-evolving need of a community, of an individual, because they can be shaped to whatever one’s political ideology is. You have Christians in the hills of Guatemala who view Jesus as a liberating warrior who takes up arms against the oppressor, and Christians in midwestern Chicago who believe that Jesus wants you to drive a Bentley. Who’s right? They both are!” (NYmag.com)

extract from fascinating interview with Reza Aslan

8 October

IS - Mr Erdoğan will want to make sure that whatever decision he takes serves him and his country politically. In the face of humanitarian disaster in Kobani, this may appear cold-hearted to western opinion. But Mr Erdoğan is no different from any of the other regional actors, be they in Damascus, Tehran, Riyadh or Abu Dhabi. All are consulting their own interests. We cannot blame Turkey, weighing momentous decisions, if it wants some clearer answers to the question of what the western endgame is in Syria and Iraq. (Guardian editorial discussing Turkey’s reluctance to intervene in Kobani)



30 September

Saudi Arabia - [now]no one could possibly describe Mecca as ancient, or associate beauty with Islam’s holiest city. Pilgrims performing the hajj this week will search in vain for Mecca’s history. The dominant architectural site in the city is not the Sacred Mosque, where the Kaaba, the symbolic focus of Muslims everywhere, is. It is the obnoxious Makkah Royal Clock Tower hotel, which, at 1,972 feet, is among the world’s tallest buildings. It is part of a mammoth development of skyscrapers that includes luxury shopping malls and hotels catering to the superrich. (Zia Sardar writing in the New York Times bemoaning the development taking place in Mecca)



19 September

UK - Posters warning women they should only walk on one side of the road have been taken down after they sparked a backlash. The notices, which were put up along streets in Stamford Hill, were removed after residents complained to Hackney Council. Written in both English and Hebrew, they read: "Women should please walk along this side of the road only". (London Evening Standard)

British values under threat again from those pesky Muslims. Oh hang on...

17 September

UK - More than 100 Muslim leaders today make an unprecedented joint appeal to the kidnappers of Alan Henning to release the aid worker unharmed or commit the “worst condemnable sin” against Islam. The statement to The Independent has been signed by dozens of Imams from across the UK as well as community leaders and other prominent Muslims. It has been passed on to Mr Henning’s family. (Independent)

Sadly it is unlikely to stop people asking why "moderate" Muslims do not speak up

13 September

IS - The prime minister and media should stop legitimising the terror group rampaging through Syria and Iraq by describing it as Islamic State, according to a coalition of imams and organisations representing British Muslims. Use of the jihadis' preferred title, they argue, gives credibility to the Sunni militants and slurs the Islamic faith. (Guardian)



12 September

Israel Forty-three former members of Israel Defense Forces intelligence Unit 8200, including some officers, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top military officials, saying they would refuse to do reserve service because of Israel's `political persecution' of the Palestinians.... The 43 unit members who signed the letter, some of whom serve in the reserves, say that the information that is gathered and stored in the army’s systems “harms innocent people. It is used for political persecution and to create divisions within Palestinian society by recruiting collaborators and driving parts of Palestinian society against itself.” (Haaretz)



8 September

Europe We realized that there were indeed many stories about heroic Muslims who defied the Nazis in Europe. Many of those tales led us to Paris, where we visited the Paris Mosque, which sheltered Jews during the Occupation, and the Franco-Muslim Hospital, which hid American and British airmen that had been shot down and wounded in battle. Then, as now, Paris was full of Algerian Muslim immigrants, many of whom joined the French Resistance, fighting against Nazi rule and dying for their country.Eventually, we came across and were deeply inspired by the story of Noor Inayat Khan, a remarkable Muslim woman who joined the British network of spies sending coded messages between England and the French Resistance – by Alex Kronemer, the co-founder of Unity Productions Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to "create peace through the media" by producing documentaries on Muslim stories. His latest film is "Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story," (Huffington Post)

If only more of this type of story was highlighted, imagine the effect on public perceptions

1 September

UK - Peter Oborne writes “The attack on Mr Galloway is beyond doubt an attack on British democracy itself…. Had an MP been attacked by some pro-Palestinian fanatic for his support of Israel, I guess there would have been a national outcry and rightly so. Why then the silence from the mainstream establishment following this latest outrageous assault on a British politician?” (Telegraph)

Why indeed?

Israel - Netanyahu continues to prove right the Palestinians’ claims that Israel has no interest in peace talks.... turns Israel into an internationally boycotted pariah state that sacrifices the possibility of peace on the altar of its imperialist and messianic aspirations and perpetuates the bloody conflict. This was expressed in the course of Operation Protective Edge, in which 2,200 people were killed. The “appropriate Zionist response” leads Israel from the frying pan into the fire, and eventually could lead to the end of the Zionist vision. (Haaretz editorial)



31 August

Israel - Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank yesterday announced the takeover of 988 acres (3,799 dunams) belonging to five Palestinian villages between the Etzion settlement bloc and Jerusalem. The move clears the way for construction of a new settlement named Gvaot. The announcement follows the cabinet’s decision last week to take over the land in response to the June kidnapping and killing of three teenage Jewish boys by Hamas militants in the area. (Haaretz)

Might seem radical but how about arresting the suspected murderers and prosecuting them instead of stealing more land?

UK - Government press release. Commenting on Israel’s decision on 31 August to expropriate almost 990 acres of privately owned Palestinian land near Bethlehem, the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: The UK deplores the Israeli government’s expropriation of 988 acres of land around the settlement of Etzion near Bethlehem. This is a particularly ill-judged decision that comes at a time when the priority must be to build on the ceasefire in Gaza. It will do serious damage to Israel’s standing in the international community. Our position on settlements is clear: they are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace and take us further away from a two state solution at a time when negotiations to achieve this objective urgently need to be resumed. All efforts should currently be focused on securing a durable ceasefire in Gaza and the lasting peace that the Palestinian and Israeli people deserve. We strongly urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision. (Gov.uk)



30 August

Israel - The Obama administration this week declassified papers, after 45 years of top-secret status, documenting contacts between Jerusalem and Washington over American agreement to the existence of an Israeli nuclear option. The Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), which is in charge of approving declassification, had for decades consistently refused to declassify these secrets of the Israeli nuclear program. (Haaretz)



UK - More women should be appointed to the highest levels of Britain's Islamic organisations to help prevent repetition of the child sex abuse scandal in Rotherham, according to senior Muslim figures.Last week a report by Professor Alexis Jay into grooming within the South Yorkshire town pinpointed a "macho culture" in the town as a factor in perpetuating the abuse, which involved 1,400 cases of child sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013. (Guardian)



29 August

Israel - Asher Schechter writes “Liberal Zionism never did have much influence on the grim reality of the Middle East. But as a narrative, it served as a powerfully convenient fiction, both for liberal diaspora Jews who wanted to be Zionists without some of the moral dilemmas involved, and for pro-Israeli lobbyists who tried to enlist the liberal intelligentsia in their fight to legitimize Israel.... In recent years, “liberal Zionism” has come to one thing, and one thing only: reluctantly supporting Israel, whatever happens, whilst criticizing it in soft tones. And then they wonder why Israel doesn't get the message. Israel today is more nationalistic, more bigoted, more separatist than ever, despite the best efforts of those identifying themselves as “liberal Zionists”.....all along, “liberal Zionism” was nothing more than a silly romantic notion. (Haaretz)



UK - Respect MP George Galloway was taken to hospital with a suspected broken jaw on Friday night after being attacked in the street. Police arrested a British man over the incident, which is believed to have been prompted by comments Galloway has made about Israel in past weeks. "George was posing for pictures with people and this guy just attacked him, leapt on him and started punching him," his spokesman said."It appears to be connected with his comments about Israel because the guy was shouting about the Holocaust. George is badly bruised but OK. He has bruising to his head and face and is in pretty bad shape." (Guardian)



28 August

UK - In an unprecedented joint statement, the Jewish Board of Deputies and Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) condemned Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. "In spite of the situation in the Middle East, we must continue to work hard for good community relations in the UK," the statement said. "We must not import conflict. We must export peace instead."Calling on Jews and Muslims to "redouble efforts to work together and get to know one another", the statement added: "We condemn any expression of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or any form of racism."The community leaders said there was more that united than divided followers of the two religions. (BBC)



27 August

UK - Mark Easton writes “The grooming and violent sexual abuse of hundreds of children in Rotherham by groups of predominantly Pakistani men led other local authorities to check whether something similar was happening in their area. They looked and they found. There have been convictions of similar gangs in Rochdale, Oxford, Derby, Telford, Peterborough and the list goes on. The uncomfortable truth is that the sexual abuse of children is commonplace. We will continue to look and we will continue to find. There will be other horrifying scandals. The only crumb of comfort from this deeply painful process is that our society is at last taking seriously an intensely damaging crime. It may not be easy to watch, but the hope must be that in exposing appalling behaviour our children will be a little bit safer. (BBC)



26 August

UK - Jamie Bartlett writes -“ As I wrote back in 2010, after I led a two-year study of European Islamists, many British jihadis are narcissistic, self-obsessed thrill-seekers, not doctrinaire fundamentalists. A significant part of the appeal, as it always has been in terrorist groups, is its anti-establishment chic, the thrill of infamy. In fact, the behaviour of several wannabe Holy Warriors is remarkably similar to those spoofed in Four Lions, Chris Morris' satire of home-grown terrorists. In a recent case in Canada, members of the Toronto 18 cell were discussing plans to decapitate the Canadian prime minister – before realising they couldn't remember what his name was. The latest bunch had even ordered Islam for Dummies. If we need to spend money to try to persuade people they shouldn’t be joining a murderous fanatical death cult, then we’ve already half lost. We should be winning that argument in our time, and at no cost. A good place to start is to let it be known these Islamist terrorists are not Holy Warriors worthy of imitation; they are often narcissistic, misguided, selfish individuals who know next to nothing about their religion and murder more Muslims than anyone else.” (Telegraph)



25 August

ISIS - The video of James Foley’s execution may have been staged, with the actual murder taking place off-camera, it has emerged. Forensic analysis of the footage of the journalist’s death has suggested that the British jihadist in the film may have been the frontman rather than the killer. The clip, which apparently depicts Mr Foley’s brutal beheading, has been widely seen as a propaganda coup for Islamic State miltant group. But a study of the four-minute 40-second clip, carried out by an international forensic science company which has worked for police forces across Britain, suggested camera trickery and slick post-production techniques appear to have been used. (Telegraph)



Israel - The full enormity of how many bodies have been ripped apart by Israeli bombs, when their deaths were not necessary for our legitimate self defense, has finally penetrated the Israeli bubble that I live in. (Times of Israel)

Powerful piece by Rabbi Arik Ascherman, the President and Senior Rabbi of Rabbis for Human Rights.

24 August

Pakistan - It was a historic day for Pakistan scrabble contingent taking part in the 6th Sri Lanka Interna¬tional Scrabble Champion¬ship when its youngest member, nine-year old Hasham Hadi Khan, created a new world record by scoring an eye-popping 878 points against Matheesha De Silva of Sri Lanka. According to the Guinness Book of world records the highest score ever recorded in a scrabble match was made by Toh Wei Bin of Singapore who scored 850 against Rick Kennedy of Scotland in 2012. No score of 800 plus has been witnessed in an international tournament. Reigning world champ Nigel Richards personally congratulated Hasham on his record while modestly mentioning that he himself has never gone past a score of 700 in a major event. (Dawn.com)



23 August

Israel - “For me, personally, Arabs are something I can’t look at and can’t stand,” a 10th-grade girl from a high school in the central part of the country says. “I wish them death”. The student’s comments appear in a chapter devoted to ethnicity and racism among youth from a forthcoming book, “Scenes from School Life” (in Hebrew) by Idan Yaron and Yoram Harpaz. The book is based on anthropological observations made by Dr. Yaron, a sociologist, over the course of three years in a six-year, secular high school in the Israeli heartland – “the most average school we could find,” says Harpaz, a professor of education... One conclusion that arises from the text is how little the education system is able – or wants – to deal with the racism problem.... One student relates that he heard in the synagogue on Shabbat that “Aravim zeh erev rav” [“Arabs are a rabble,” in a play on words], and also Amalek, and there is a commandment to kill them all,” (Haaretz)

Thought it was just Arab/Muslim kids who were “taught” to hate?

Israel - Hundreds of Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors have signed a letter, published as an advertisement in Saturday's New York Times, condemning "the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza" and calling for a complete boycott of Israel. According to the letter, the condemnation was prompted by an advertisement written by Elie Wiesel and published in major news outlets worldwide, accusing Hamas of "child sacrifice" and comparing the group to the Nazis. (Haaretz)



22 August

Israel - Antony Lerman in a powerful piece called The End of Liberal Zionism - “The attacks on freedom of speech and human rights organizations in Israel, the land-grabbing settler movement, a growing strain of anti-Arab and anti-immigrant racism, extremist politics, and a powerful, intolerant religious right — this mixture has pushed liberal Zionism to the brink.... The only Zionism of any consequence today is xenophobic and exclusionary, a Jewish ethno-nationalism inspired by religious messianism. It is carrying out an open-ended project of national self-realization to be achieved through colonization and purification of the tribe.... Pushed to the political margins in Israel and increasingly irrelevant in the Diaspora, liberal Zionism not only lacks agency; worse, it provides cover for the supremacist Zionism dominant in Israel today. Liberal Zionists have become an obstacle to the emergence of a Diaspora Jewish movement that could actually be an agent of change... They should know that Israel is not Judaism. Jewish history did not culminate in the creation of the state of Israel.” (New York Times)



Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia has beheaded at least 19 people since the beginning of August in a surge of executions, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said. The deaths relate to the period from 4 to 20 August and are included in the 34 deaths ordered since the beginning of January. According to HRW, international standards require that capital punishment should only be reserved for the “most serious crimes” in countries that still use it.Offences that resulted in the Saudi Arabian death penalties in August ranged from drug smuggling and sorcery. (Independent)



UK - Daniel Hannan in a piece entitled “What Makes Some British Muslims Become Jihadis?” - "The experience of many ages proves that men may be ready to fight to the death, and to persecute without pity, for a religion whose creed they do not understand, and whose precepts they habitually disobey." So wrote Thomas Babbington Macaulay, the Whig MP, historian and poet, in 1848; and, as usual, he was spot on. A leaked MI5 report on the profile of British jihadis made the same observation in more pedestrian prose. "Far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly." (Telegraph)

The opening lines of a very sensible analysis

21 August

UK - Ambreen Sadiq is a boxer. She’s a former UK national champion, has her own business teaching students how to box and coaches in her spare time. A play telling her story is being shown at the Edinburgh Festival. What's more, she’s only 20 years old. Oh, and a Muslim. Sadiq has faced serious prejudice from the British Muslim community, her neighbours, her school friends and even some members of her family. They have objected because of her religion, her sex - even what she wears. (Telegraph)



19 August

Israel - Chemi Shalev writes, “American Jewish leaders must be fully aware of the evil winds blowing in the Israeli public arena; of the rising intolerance, racism and xenophobia; of the efforts inside and outside the Knesset to stifle free speech and to inhibit freedom of the press; of the spreading use of violence and intimidation to instill fear among those who would stray from the government-inspired right wing line; of the ongoing delegitimization of liberal values and human rights and the organizations that safeguard them; of the increasingly vile and abusive language used in the public sphere and on social media against divergent views; of the growing official and unofficial intolerance and incitement directed at Israel’s Arab minority. But then the question must be asked: If they know all of this, why are they staying so silent?....” (Haaretz)



Israel - Lawrence Davidson writes about the “Liberal Zionist Dilemma” - In truth the term “liberal Zionist” has never made much sense. The only way to explain its survival is to consider the survival of the Zionist story line itself – the story of Israel as a democracy upholding the Western model in the Middle East. As long as one believed that this was true, one could dismiss Israeli brutality as just occasional slippage from progressive political and civil principles supposedly underlying the state. Within this context, there could be liberal Zionists privately decrying occasional Israeli bad behavior. But the Zionist story line was not true. We never were dealing with just occasional slippage but rather with the inherent brutality of a state with policies and practices designed to bring about racist ends (a nation exclusively for one group) – while conjuring up a remarkably durable cover story that it was, after all, a liberal democracy. The Israeli right, as well as the Palestinians, always knew the cover story was a sham. Now, with the recent Gaza slaughter, much of the rest of the world does too. That public unveiling, along with the Zionist demands for uncritical loyalty, leaves the liberals in a wholly untenable situation. (Sabbah.biz)



18 August

Israel - The international criminal court has persistently avoided opening an investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza as a result of US and other western pressure, former court officials and lawyers claim. In recent days, a potential ICC investigation into the actions of both the Israel Defence Forces and Hamas in Gaza has become a fraught political battlefield and a key negotiating issue at ceasefire talks in Cairo. But the question of whether the ICC could or should mount an investigation has also divided the Hague-based court itself. (Guardian)



Israel - According to Amira Hass, “Israel has been refusing to allow employees of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to enter the Gaza Strip in order to conduct their own independent investigations into the fighting, using various bureaucratic excuses. (Haaretz)



Israel - Jeff Halper, the head of The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) writes, “Operation Protective Edge was not merely a military assault on a primarily civilian population. As in its previous “operations” (Cast Lead in 2008-9 and Pillar of Defense in 2012), it was also part of an ongoing assault on international humanitarian law (IHL) by a highly coordinated team of Israeli lawyers, military officers, PR people and politicians, led by (no less) a philosopher of ethics. ......Israel’s strategy of lawfare rests on repeating illegal acts while continuing to justify them with “new military ethics.” “If you do something for long enough,” says Colonel (res.) Daniel Reisner, former head of the IDF’s Legal Department, “the world will accept it. The whole of international law is now based on the notion that an act that is forbidden today becomes permissible if executed by enough countries…. International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassinations thesis [that extra-judicial killings are permitted when it is necessary to stop a certain operation against the citizens of Israel and when the role played by the target is crucial to the operation] and we had to push it. Eight years later it is in the center of the bounds of legality.” “The more often Western states apply principles that originated in Israel to their own non-traditional conflicts in places like Afghanistan and Iraq,” says Asa Kasher (professor of philosophy and “practical ethics” at Tel Aviv University, and author of the Israeli army’s Code of Conduct), “then the greater the chance these principles have of becoming a valuable part of international law.” (Counterpunch.org)



16 August

UK - The Church of England has delivered a withering critique of David Cameron's Middle East policy, describing the government's approach as incoherent, ill-thought-out and determined by "the loudest media voice at any particular time". The criticisms are made in an extraordinary letter to the prime minister signed by the bishop of Leeds, Nicholas Baines, and written with the support of the archbishop of Canterbury. (Guardian)



UK - The government faces being dragged into the high court over the sale of military hardware to Israel in an unprecedented legal move that puts the UK's controversial export policy on a potential collision course with the EU. Law firm Leigh Day, representing the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), has written to the business secretary, Vince Cable, claiming that the failure by the British government to suspend existing licences for the export of military components to Israel is unlawful as there is a risk that they may have been used in Gaza. It says that it has been instructed to seek a judicial review of the government's reluctance to suspend licences unless it agrees to stop the export of the components. (Guardian)



15 August

Israel - A 91-year-old Dutch man who was awarded a prestigious honour by the State of Israel for his family's role in saving a Jewish child from the Holocaust has returned his prize after six of his relatives were killed in Gaza.... In a moving letter addressed to the Israeli ambassador and published in Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, Henk Zanoli said: "For me to hold on to the honour granted by the State of Israel, under these circumstances, will be both an insult to the memory of my courageous mother who risked her life and that of her children fighting against suppression and for the preservation of human life as well as an insult to those in my family, four generations on." (Telegraph)



UK - The editor of the Jewish Chronicle has apologised for publishing an advert placed by the Disasters Emergency Committee's Gaza appeal in its latest issue.... “Both I as editor and the JC are entirely supportive of Operation Protective Edge, as our coverage has demonstrated. Almost alone in the British media the JC has stressed Israel's right to defend herself and sought to explain why Israel was faced with no choice but to take action in Gaza.There is, clearly, a humanitarian cost to that action. But I do not accept the figures touted around much of the media about the level of civilian casualties – many are, I am sure, terrorists.” (Guardian)



14 August

UK - Russell Brand has gone one step further in his condemnation of the Israel-Gaza conflict than simply critiquing the way various media outlets have approached coverage. Now, the comedian is urging banks, pension funds and other big businesses to sever investment ties with Israel, or any deals that he feels “facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza”. (Independent)



Israel - Archbishop Desmond Tutu in an exclusive op-ed “Those who continue to do business with Israel, who contribute to a sense of “normalcy” in Israeli society, are doing the people of Israel and Palestine a disservice. They are contributing to the perpetuation of a profoundly unjust status quo.... Goodness prevails in the end. The pursuit of freedom for the people of Palestine from humiliation and persecution by the policies of Israel is a righteous cause. It is a cause that the people of Israel should support....Nelson Mandela famously said that South Africans would not feel free until Palestinians were free....He might have added that the liberation of Palestine will liberate Israel, too. (Haaretz)



Israel - Operation Protective Edge has not officially ended, but the IDF's Technological and Logistics Directorate (known as Atal in Hebrew) has released a number of figures it collected throughout the month-long conflict....For example, the IDF provided its combat brigades with 4.8 million bullets, 43,000 artillery shells and 39,000 tank shells. Sources in Atal estimate that 60 percent of the supply was used, while the rest was returned to storage. (Ynetnews.com)

So, based on 60% that means almost 26,000 artillery shells, 2.9 million bullets, and 23,400 tank shells! Now how many rockets did Hamas launch again?

12 August

UK - Muslim Council of Britain comments on Minorities in Iraq – “The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is increasingly disturbed by the serious and deteriorating humanitarian situation in northern Iraq. We reiterate our previous unequivocal condemnation of the violence perpetrated by ISIS with the “depth and scale of barbarity attributed to ISIS” being “particularly unconscionable”.In the last few weeks the violence has escalated, pushing the number of internally displaced Iraqis nationwide to over one million. This includes hundreds of thousands of Muslims of all sectarian affiliations who do not subscribe to ISIS’ ideology and an estimated 100,000 Christians who have fled towns such as Tal Afar, Mosul and Qaraqosh. There is also growing concern about tens of thousands of Yezidi civilians (pre-Muslim religious minority) who are trapped in the Sinjar mountains, surrounded by ISIS.The actions of ISIS and in particular their barbarity against minority groups, have been rightly condemned by all parts of the religious and political spectrum. The Muslim Council of Britain joins in their condemnation, and urges the British government to provide humanitarian aid to those suffering, as well as support efforts to prevent funding and arms reaching ISIS. We hope the Iraqi people from all backgrounds can unite to defeat this group.” (MCB)



Israel - Noga Sofer writes “My grandparents were born and raised in Iraq. They spoke Arabic and enjoyed Arab music and traditions but after 1951 they refused to view themselves as Arab Jews. It seems that when immigrating to Israel each person was forced to shed their cultural identity and begin to follow a new, Zionist one. This was a consequence of the Zionist mission to create a “Jewish nation”, where each Jew considered themselves part of the Jewish nation and Israeli. This was all done as a way to make Judaism a nation or ethnicity, where previously it had only been a religion. In the early years of the formation of Israel people were discouraged from speaking any language other than the new modern Hebrew.Children who spoke Yiddish, Arabic or Judeo-Iraqi Arabic, which my grandparents spoke, came under massive pressure by teachers and peers to stop.” (Socialist Worker)



Egypt - According to a meticulous, year-long investigation carried out by [Human Rights Watch], the [US] administration’s ally in Cairo is guilty of the “world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history” and deserves prosecution for crimes against humanity.... The Obama administration nevertheless treats the architect of the slaughter, Gen. Sissi, as a valued partner rather than the pariah he should be. The White House seems to believe that its unprincipled embrace of the regime and cynical promotion of the falsehood that it is “restoring democracy” will advance broader U.S. interests in the Middle East. It’s a bad bet. As Human Rights Watch President Kenneth Roth put it, “Egypt will not move forward until it comes to terms with this bloody stain on its history.” (Washington Post)



11 August

Israel - Peter Beinart writes “Who’s the Israeli government’s best spokesperson? Ron Dermer? Michael Oren? Bibi himself? Nope. It’s Hillary Clinton. In her interview on Sunday with Jeffrey Goldberg, Clinton offered the most articulate, sophisticated, passionate defense of Netanyahu’s conduct I’ve heard from a government official on either side of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, important chunks of it aren’t true.” (Haaretz)

Excellent analysis of what Netanyahu’s attitude to the “peace process” really is

Israel - 247 Jewish survivors and descendents of Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide have signed on to this letter condemning Israel’s massacre on Gaza and calling for an end to the genocide of the Palestinian people. In the letter, they also speak out against the abuse of their histories to promote the dehumanization of Palestinians. (International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, ijsn.net)

Bunch of anti-semites or decent human beings who are appalled at what is being done "in their name"?

10 August

Middle East - Chris Doyle, Direct of the Council for Arab-British Understanding. “All the pluralistic, democratic and liberal forces in the region have been crushed. Back in 2011, US and European ministers proclaimed their support for peaceful Arab protests but let every one down, handing the field to counter-democratic forces, sectarian extremists and men of violence. The West has simultaneously deserted its proclaimed values and endangered its interests. The situation can be turned around – but the flickering lamps will be kept alight only by a clear-sighted, well-informed and united international strategy. (Independent)



9 August

UK - Mehdi Hasan discusses the media’s treatment of Muslims – “To pretend that this "relentlessly hostile coverage" of a minority has no effect on community relations or on integration "is naive, if not disingenuous," he argued. "From a moral point of view it is wrong… to smear or stereotype minority communities, to pretend or give credence to the idea that the actions of a minority within a community are somehow representative or the fault of the majority of members of that community. That is the very definition of bigotry. It has to change, it has to stop and, frankly, it’s un-British," he concluded. (Huffington Post)



Turkey - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey is prepared to receive all Palestinian casualties of the Gaza offensive, "irrespective of their numbers." "We can accommodate all of them. We aren't worried about how many," he told an audience of women during a TV interview as part of his presidency campaign. He pointed out that Turkey has embarked on efforts to bring the casualties into Ankara or Istanbul, and that he already discussed with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas the possibility of transporting the victims to Turkey via Egypt or Israel. (Middle East Monitor)



Iraq - The 2003 invasion of Iraq contributed to the country's current disintegration and mounting crisis at the hands of Islamist militants, David Miliband has conceded, as he expressed fresh regret over Britain's involvement in the war. As US president Barack Obama authorised potential US air strikes against Islamic State jihadists, who have seized control of swaths of the country, the former foreign secretary said that the outcome of the war in Iraq "induces a high degree of humility". (Guardian)

Not quite the stance of our Middle East "Peace" Envoy

Australia - The former Chief of the Australian Army, professor Peter Leahy, has warned that Australia needs to prepare itself for a century-long war, both overseas and at home, against radical Islamic militants. (Daily Mail)



8 August

Israel - Noam Chomsky on Gaza – “It’s a hideous atrocity, sadistic, vicious, murderous, totally without any credible pretext. It’s another one of the periodic Israeli exercises in what they delicately call "mowing the lawn." That means shooting fish in the pond, to make sure that the animals stay quiet in the cage that you’ve constructed for them, after which you go to a period of what’s called "ceasefire," which means that Hamas observes the ceasefire, as Israel concedes, while Israel continues to violate it. Then it’s broken by an Israeli escalation, Hamas reaction. Then you have period of "mowing the lawn." This one is, in many ways, more sadistic and vicious even than the earlier ones.” (Democracy Now interview)



Israel - Amnesty International has published evidence that Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) specifically targeted hospitals, health workers and ambulance personnel during the attack on Gaza.As the ceasefire entered its third day, the human rights organisation published a series of disturbing testimonials by workers on the ground strongly suggesting Israeli forces broke the Fourth Geneva Convention."Such attacks are absolutely prohibited by international law and would amount to war crimes," Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International said."They only add to the already compelling argument that the situation should be referred to the International Criminal Court." (politics.co.uk)



ISIS - David Wearing on the USA’s plan to deal with ISIS –“....In the end, Islamic State will have to be defeated militarily but this can only be done by Iraqis themselves, on behalf of a credible national unity government. War waged by cynically self-interested foreign forces allied to a narrowly sectarian regime will exacerbate precisely the dynamics that created this situation to begin with. That, after all, is a major lesson of the post-2003 US-led occupation.” (Guardian)



7 August

Israel - Seamus Milne writes “Global public opinion has shifted decisively in favour of justice for the Palestinians. What’s needed is to turn that into unrelenting pressure for an end to support for occupation, an arms embargo and sanctions, from above and below. The horror of Gaza is a crime made in Washington and London, as well as Jerusalem.” (Guardian)



Israel - Vocal opposition to the war in Gaza can be hard to express in Israel, where campaigner Gideon Levy says people 'leave their liberalism' at the 1967 border. According to Levy “"What is different this time is the anti-democratic spirit. Zero tolerance of any kind of criticism, opposition to any kind of sympathy with the Palestinians," says Levy. "You shouldn't be surprised that the 95% [are in favour of the war], you should be surprised at the 5%. This is almost a miracle. The media has an enormous role. Given the decades of demonisation of the Palestinians, the incitement and hatred, don't be surprised the Israeli people are where they are." (Guardian)



Israel - Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appealed to American legislators to help Israel stave off what is likely to be a concerted global push to haul the country’s military and political leaders to international courts for alleged war crimes committed in Gaza, The New York Post reported on Thursday.According to the Post, during a meeting on Wednesday with members of Congress who are visiting Israel as guests of AIPAC, Netanyahu urged the American representatives to summon their powers in assisting Israeli officials who wish to avoid trial by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. (Jerusalem Post. Jpost.com)



Israel - Amnesty International has appealed for "an immediate investigation" into "mounting evidence" that the Israeli military conducted "apparently deliberate attacks against hospitals and health professionals in Gaza", strikes which left "six medics dead".The global human rights organisation has published "disturbing testimonies from doctors, nurses, and ambulance personnel" that depict health professionals trying to save lives even as "bombs and bullets" are "killing or injuring their colleagues"."The harrowing descriptions by ambulance drivers and other medics of the utterly impossible situation in which they have to work, with, paint a grim reality of life in Gaza", commented Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.Luther added that targeting health facilities and professionals are "absolutely prohibited by international law and would amount to war crimes". (Middleeastmonitor.com)



Israel - When Ahmed Owedat returned to his home 18 days after Israeli soldiers took it over in the middle of the night, he was greeted with an overpowering stench. He picked through the wreckage of his possessions thrown from upstairs windows to find that the departing troops had left a number of messages. One came from piles of faeces on his tiled floors and in wastepaper baskets, and a plastic bottle filled with urine.... "Burn Gaza down" and "Good Arab = dead Arab" were engraved on a coffee table. The star of David was drawn in blue in a bedroom. (Guardian)



Israel - More than half of 15 to 18 year olds in Gaza show signs of full or partial post-traumatic stress disorder after seeing dead bodies and witnessing heavy shelling, according to a new study. The study by a team of British and Palestinian academics demonstrates the long-lasting and harmful effects that exposure to war has on the psychological wellbeing of teenagers in the coastal enclave. The study, entitled ‘Trauma, PTSD, Anxiety and Coping Strategies among Palestinians Adolescents Exposed to War in Gaza’, examined the effects that the 2008-2009 ‘Cast Lead’ war between Gaza and Israel had on teenagers' well-being. (Telegraph)

Israel’s killing of children in the current conflict is well-documented but little is said of the consequences for those who survive. PTSD, physical and psychological disabilities, the burden on families on having to care for such, the lack of resources (bombed hospitals etc) with which to provide the care; the list is endless

6 August

Israel - Sefi Rachlevsky writes “The psyche of most Israelis seems to have been kidnapped and possessed by a fascist-religious-messianic-racist entity. Netanyahu’s story appears to have won..... In the early 1980s, the right wing specifically built Hamas against the Palestine Liberation Organization to prevent an agreement. In 2005, a Likud government insisted on withdrawing from Gaza without an agreement with Abu Mazen -- who was well in control of the entire Palestinian Authority -- and while trampling the Arab initiative of 2002 to make peace based on the 1967 borders.” (Haaretz)



UK - Mira Bar Hillel writing on anti-semitism, “The reality is that those who really need bodyguards do not live in London, Manchester or Leeds. They are my brave Israeli friends and colleagues who have attempted to do nothing more than protest peacefully against the Gaza massacres.” (Independent)



5 August

Israel - Palestinian political leaders are poised to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the aim of putting Israel in the dock on war crimes charges, officials said today. "Israel has left us with no other option," Riad Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister, told reporters after meeting ICC officials in The Hague to discuss the implications of signing the Rome Statute. It would make the Palestinian state a member of the court with the authority to call for an investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. (Guardian)



4 August

Israel - Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson writing on behalf of The Elders, an international body of elder statesmen - “This tragedy results from the deliberate obstruction of a promising move toward peace in the region, when a reconciliation agreement among the Palestinian factions was announced in April. This was a major concession by Hamas, in opening Gaza to joint control under a technocratic government that did not include any Hamas members. The new government also pledged to adopt the three basic principles demanded by the Middle East Quartet comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia: nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements. Tragically, Israel rejected this opportunity for peace and has succeeded in preventing the new government's deployment in Gaza..... Unity between Fatah and Hamas is currently stronger than it has been for many years. We believe this is one of the most encouraging developments in recent years and welcome it warmly. (Foreignpolicy.com)



USA - Unprecedented numbers of Jewish Americans are organizing to call for an end to Israel’s devastating assault on Gaza. In a coordinated effort in dozens of cities across the US, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) chapters have organized street protests, demonstrations and civil disobedience actions to call for an end to the invasion, an end to the 7-year-old siege, and an end to the 47-year occupation of Palestine. Since the initiation of the most recent assault on Gaza on July 7, upwards of 1822 Palestinians including at least 377 children and 67 Israelis, 3 of them civilians, have been killed. “Every time Israel engages in high-profile repression of civilians, we get inundated. But we have never seen anything like this. Our mailing list grew by 50,000 in 3 weeks and we can’t keep up with the demand for new chapters. This is the final straw for many Jews, who have decided that their silence implies consent,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise, JVP Co-Director of Organizing and Chair of the JVP Rabbinical Council. Activists in Jewish Voice for Peace chapters across the US are targeting American companies that profit from the occupation, Congressional leaders, and Jewish institutions that rally behind Israel’s violence against civilians in Gaza. (Jewish Voice for Peace)



Israel - letter from Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights - “The ceaseless use of overwhelming military force on Gaza by Israel’s military in complete disregard for any reasonable interpretation of international humanitarian and human rights law is an outrage of unspeakable proportions.... This deliberate and systematic targeting policy is an obscenity against humanity and clearly appears to amount to the commission of war crimes, and further to crimes against humanity, due to its apparent serious violation of the basic laws of war principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. We urge the UK government to publicly condemn Israel’s policy of directly targeting family homes in Gaza, and indirectly targeting whole families, confirming such actions as being unlawful, given that no such homes constitute a legitimate military target. We further urge the UK government to lead the international community in ensuring that credible investigations and full legal accountability is secured for all serious violations of international humanitarian law during this horrific conflict. (Guardian)



2 August

Israel - Open letter to the Lancet by 24 signatories. “We are doctors and scientists, who spend our lives developing means to care and protect health and lives. We are also informed people; we teach the ethics of our professions, together with the knowledge and practice of it. We all have worked in and known the situation of Gaza for years. On the basis of our ethics and practice, we are denouncing what we witness in the aggression of Gaza by Israel..... Weaponry known to cause long-term damages on health of the whole population are used; particularly non fragmentation weaponry and hard-head bombs. We witnessed targeted weaponry used indiscriminately and on children and we constantly see that so-called intelligent weapons fail to be precise, unless they are deliberately used to destroy innocent lives. We denounce the myth propagated by Israel that the aggression is done caring about saving civilian lives and children's wellbeing. Israel's behaviour has insulted our humanity, intelligence, and dignity as well as our professional ethics and efforts. Even those of us who want to go and help are unable to reach Gaza due to the blockade. (The Lancet, Volume 384, Issue 9941, Pages 397 - 398, 2 August 2014)



UK - Islam is rejuvenating “British values”, the former Archbishop of Canterbury has claimed in a speech at the annual Living Islam Festival, while lambasting sections of the press for presenting Muslims as “un-British”. (Independent)



Israel - Chris Hedges writes “All governments lie.... including Israel and Hamas. But Israel engages in the kinds of jaw-dropping lies that characterize despotic and totalitarian regimes. It does not deform the truth; it inverts it. It routinely paints a picture for the outside world that is diametrically opposed to reality. And all of us reporters who have covered the occupied territories have run into Israel’s Alice-in-Wonderland narratives, which we dutifully insert into our stories—required under the rules of American journalism—although we know they are untrue. (Truthdig.com)



1 August

Israel - The Times of Israel has been criticised for publishing an article entitled "When Genocide is Permissable", by Yochanan Gordon, the son of the founder of American paper the Five Towns Jewish Times. The post was later removed from The Times of Israel, but is still live on the homepage of the Five Towns Jewish Times. (ITV.com)



USA - Musician Brian Eno writes an open letter to America – “....I was in Israel last year with Mary [a mutual friend]. Her sister works for UNRWA [the UN agency for Palestinian refugees] in Jerusalem. Showing us round were a Palestinian – Shadi, who is her sister’s husband and a professional guide – and Oren Jacobovitch, an Israeli Jew, an ex-major from the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] who left the service under a cloud for refusing to beat up Palestinians. Between the two of them we got to see some harrowing things – Palestinian houses hemmed in by wire mesh and boards to prevent settlers throwing shit and piss and used sanitary towels at the inhabitants; Palestinian kids on their way to school being beaten by Israeli kids with baseball bats to parental applause and laughter; a whole village evicted and living in caves while three settler families moved on to their land; an Israeli settlement on top of a hill diverting its sewage directly down on to Palestinian farmland below; The Wall; the checkpoints… and all the endless daily humiliations. I kept thinking, “Do Americans really condone this? Do they really think this is OK? Or do they just not know about it?....” (Independent)



UK - Deputy PM Nick Clegg – “It is time for the Israeli government to talk to the Hamas political leadership in Gaza. Israel’s refusal to engage with President Mahmoud Abbas’s new unity government, because it includes Hamas, must be reversed. In 2008, the former Israeli intelligence chief Efraim Halevy called for engagement with Hamas, recognising that, in spite of heavy losses, it would not be cowed into submission. Three military operations later, the case for direct talks is all the more pressing...” (Guardian)



31 July

Israel - “Why did Gazans elect Hamas, instead of a moderate leadership? Because the moderates have been trying for years to achieve something, anything, and all they have received is humiliation and Israeli rejectionism. Has Israel given the Palestinians a reason to choose the Palestine Liberation Organization’s route of diplomacy over Hamas’ violent resistance? Has the PLO brought them an inch closer to statehood or freedom?... What has Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas brought his people? Nothing. A photo op with Barack Obama.” (Gideon Levy in Haaretz)



Greece - A Greek court's decision to acquit farmers who admitted shooting 28 Bangladeshi strawberry pickers when they asked for months of back pay has sparked outrage in the country. Politicians, unions and anti-racist groups condemned the verdicts, describing them as a black day for justice in a case that had shone a light on the appalling conditions in which migrant workers are often kept in Greece. "I feel shame as a Greek," said the Bangladeshis' lawyer, Moisis Karabeyidis, after the ruling in the western port city of Patras. "This decision is an outrage and a disgrace … the court showed an appalling attitude toward the victims." (Guardian)



USA - Chris McGreal writes “Here are a few questions you won’t hear asked of the parade of Israeli officials crossing US television screens during the current crisis in Gaza: • What would you do if a foreign country was occupying your land? • What does it mean that Israeli cabinet ministers deny Palestine’s right to exist? • What should we make of a prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who as opposition leader in the 1990s addressed a rally under a banner reading “Death to Arafat” a year after the Palestinian leader signed a peace accord with Israel?” (Guardian)



USA - Israel has come under heavy pressure from the US to curtail civilian deaths after concluding that its forces were likely to have been behind the shelling of a UN school. In what amounted to the strongest and most explicit condemnation of Israel since the Gaza conflict began, President Barack Obama's press secretary on Thursday called the attack "totally unacceptable" and "totally indefensible". He also said the administration was urging Israel to do more to avoid civilian deaths and said US officials were taking issue with "specific military decisions" by Israel. "It is clear that we need our allies in Israel to do more to live up to the high standards they have set themselves." The EU issued a similar statement. (Guardian)



UK - David Cameron and Ed Miliband have been urged by senior MPs within their own parties to demand more forcefully that Israel stops its bombardment of Gaza. (Guardian)



USA - It is perhaps the last taboo in Hollywood but the carnage in Gaza is prompting an increasing number of artists and celebrities to do the unthinkable: criticise Israel. (Guardian)



Israel - “The Netanyahu government is paying the price for having sedulously avoided real negotiations with the Palestinians through a long series of subterfuges and distractions culminating in the recent barren passage that, over many months, wore down even the ever- patient and optimistic John Kerry.” (Guardian editorial)



Israel - Martin Shaw (research professor of international relations at the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI) and the University of Sussex, and professorial fellow in international relations and human rights at the University of Roehampton) explains his change of attitude towards sanctions against Israel – “....Many will say, as I might have said before, that isolating Israel will only reinforce the deep reactionary trends in its politics. This may be true in the short term, but it seems as though only a sharp challenge and dislocation will turn this society and state in a different direction. Israel is radically overplaying its hand locally, regionally and globally by spurning the opportunities for settlement with Palestinian leaders which are on offer. If its present course continues, it is probably only a matter of time before the state experiences a radical shock which will present it with the existential crisis that its leaders' rhetoric has long invoked to justify its atrocities. Such a shock may come about through the accelerating instability of the wider Middle East, which hardly promises a safe environment for this outpost of the west. It would be better for everyone if it came through western states’ pulling the plug on Israel's support-mechanisms. Boycotting Israel is not just a way of helping the Palestinians: it could also be the best way to save Israelis from the consequences of their own folly.” (Opendemocracy.net)



30 July

UK - HSBC closes some Muslim accounts - Anas Al Tikriti was born in Baghdad but has lived in the UK for several decades. He runs the Cordoba Foundation, a think tank on Islamic issues set up in 2005 in order to address, he says, the relationship between Europe and the Middle East. He, his wife and his sons aged 16 and 12 all received separate letters this week from HSBC informing them that their accounts would be closed in September. No reason was given. Mr Al Tikriti says he has banked with HSBC since the 1980s and has rarely been overdrawn."It is unsettling. I am not used to being addressed in those terms. It's like I have done something wrong. The involvement of my family disturbs me. Why the entire family?""I can only speculate - and I wish someone from the bank could explain [why the accounts were closed]. The organisations are mainly charities and the link is that many of them if not all of them are vocal on the issue of Palestine." "It would be a great shame if that was true. As I'm left to speculate, that's the only reason I can come to." His think tank, the Cordoba Foundation, which also banks with HSBC, was also told that its account will close. (BBC News)



Israel - Israel attacked a UN-run school housing refugees in Gaza despite warnings that civilians were there, the UN has said. UN spokesman Chris Gunness said "the world stands disgraced" by the attack, in which 15 died and dozens were hurt.The UN says this is the sixth time that one of its schools has been hit by shellfire since this conflict began. Mr Gunness, from the UN Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), told the BBC that Israel had been told 17 times that the school in the Jabaliya refugee camp was housing the displaced. (BBC News) Pierre Krähenbühl, commissioner-general of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said the shelling of the school was a "serious violation of international law by Israeli forces". Krähenbühl said: "Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN-designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced." (Guardian)



Libya - Rebel infighting makes almost everywhere unsafe. Assassinations are routine, robbers stalk the roads, while water and electricity supplies are regularly interrupted. Abundant reserves of oil and gas, which had attracted multinational companies to Libya and whose profits helped educate a sizeable middle class, are all going up in smoke – literally. Millions of litres of fuel were set ablaze on Sunday during clashes between rival militias, before another depot was rocketed on Monday. All of this a few miles from Tripoli airport, which is under constant fire. France’s current Socialist president, François Hollande, does not even mention Libya, and nor does Barack Obama. Cameron is now similarly lacklustre about the growing crisis in a country he was once so proud to visit in person. The barbaric manner in which Gaddafi was killed should surely have provided him, and indeed the entire international community, with a stark warning about what was to follow. (Guardian)



Israel - Battling Palestinian militants in Gaza two years ago, Israel found itself pressed from all sides by unfriendly Arab neighbors to end the fighting. Not this time. After the military ouster of the Islamist government in Cairo last year, Egypt has led a new coalition of Arab states — including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — that has effectively lined up with Israel in its fight against Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip. (David Kirkpatrick in the New York Times)



Bolivia - Bolivia on Wednesday renounced a visa exemption agreement with Israel in protest over its offensive in Gaza, and declared it a terrorist state. President Evo Morales announced the move during a talk with a group of educators in the city of Cochabamba. It "means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state," he said. In mid-July, Morales filed a request with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prosecute Israel for "crimes against humanity." (Middle East Eye)

I wonder what other Arab nations make of this.

USA - Democracynow.org interview with American Jewish leader Henry Siegman who from 1978 to 1994 served as executive director of the American Jewish Congress, long described as one of the nation’s "big three" Jewish organisations."When one thinks that this is what is necessary for Israel to survive, that the Zionist dream is based on the repeated slaughter of innocents on a scale that we’re watching these days on television, that is really a profound, profound crisis — and should be a profound crisis in the thinking of all of us who were committed to the establishment of the state and to its success," Siegman says. Responding to Israel’s U.S.-backed claim that its assault on Gaza is necessary because no country would tolerate the rocket fire from militants in Gaza, Siegman says: "What undermines this principle is that no country and no people would live the way that Gazans have been made to live. … The question of the morality of Israel’s action depends, in the first instance, on the question, couldn’t Israel be doing something [to prevent] this disaster that is playing out now, in terms of the destruction of human life? Couldn’t they have done something that did not require that cost? And the answer is, sure, they could have ended the occupation."(Democracynow.org)

Very powerful interview which really should be read in full.

29 July

USA- Americans were outraged to learn they were being spied on by the National Security Agency, but many support law enforcement profiling of Muslims, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Arab American Institute. The survey, conducted by Zogby Analytics for the advocacy group, found that 42 percent of Americans believe law enforcement is justified in using profiling tactics against Muslim-Americans and Arab-Americans. The survey also shows American attitudes toward Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans have turned for the worse since the Arab American Institute first began polling on the subject in 2010. The new poll found favorability toward Arab-Americans at 36 percent, down from 43 percent in 2010. For Muslim-Americans, favorability was just 27 percent, compared with 36 percent in 2010. (Huffington Post)



UK – Moeen Ali played the third Test against India wearing wristbands carrying the words “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” until the International Cricket Council’s match referee David Boon intervened, banning the gestures on the basis that the regulations “do not permit the display of messages that relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes during an international match”. That might seem clear cut but it is rather undermined by the detail that today the England team is playing wearing the logo of the charity Help For Heroes, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the first world war. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has backed Ali, arguing that both gestures are humanitarian rather than political. But it has been overruled by Boon. (Guardian)



Israel - Magic Johnson and other past and present NBA stars, who were slated to attend the inauguration ceremony of Jerusalem's new multi-purpose sports arena in September, have called off their visit to Israel. (Ynet news)



26 July

Israel - Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott – "Imagine a country claiming the lives of nearly three times as many as were lost in the MH17 plane tragedy in less than three weeks.A nation which blasted a hospital, shelled and killed children from a gunboat as they played football on the beach and was responsible for 1,000 deaths, at least 165 of them children, in just two weeks. Surely it would be branded a pariah state, condemned by the United Nations, the US and the UK. The calls for regime change would be ¬deafening. But these howls of protest are muted. The condemnation softened. For this is Israel." (Mirror)



25 July

Israel - Thousands of Palestinians took part in demonstrations in the West Bank after more than 15 women, children and United Nations staff were killed and around 200 injured when a UN shelter for those fleeing the Israeli bombing was hit in Gaza. The Israel Defence Forces insisted it had given the occupants of the shelter time to leave before shelling the area. But the UN flatly contradicted that, saying it had made repeated attempts to negotiate a window during which people could safely leave the area but none was granted. It said it had given the IDF precise co-ordinates of the location of the school. (Guardian)



Israel - Shawan Jabarin, General Director of Al-Haq, an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organization based in Ramallah, Palestine writes, "And while Israel withdrew its settlers and military from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it continues to occupy the territory in a manner that still allows for exploitation and control of gas reserves off the coast of the territory. The illegal naval blockade imposed by Israel has not only prevented the development of the Gaza Marine Zone, depriving the Palestinian economy of billions in much needed gas revenues, but also forces the Occupied Palestinian Territory to maintain its dependency on Israel for gas supplies, thus bolstering the Israeli economy.

Yes, billions !! According to the Centre for Research on Globalisation extensive gas reserves were discovered off the coast of Gaza in 2000. British Gas signed an agreement for oil and gas exploration rights with the Palestinian Authority and drilled two wells in 2000, following which it "estimated reserves to be in the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine's gas reserves could be much larger".

Israel - Etgar Keret – "It's become clear during this operation that the right wing has lost its patience in all matters regarding that elusive term, "freedom of speech." In the past two weeks, we've seen right wingers beating left wingers with clubs, Facebook messages promising to send left-wing activists to the gas chambers, and denunciations of anyone whose opinion delays the military on its way to victory. It turns out that this bloody road we walk from operation to operation is not as cyclical as we may have once thought. This road is not a circle, it's a downward spiral, leading to new lows, which, I'm sad to say, we'll be unlucky enough to experience." (The New Yorker)



24 July

Israel - Dov Lior, the rabbi of the settlement of Kiryat Arba, has issued a religious ruling permitting the total destruction of Gaza if Israel's military leaders deem it necessary. After the ruling was published, the head of a left-wing party, Meretz's Zahava Gal-On, asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to launch an investigation. "Rabbi Dov Lior's racist comments long ago lost the protection of the right to free expression," Gal-On wrote to Weinstein. (Haaretz)



Israel - Gideon Levy writes "The website "Walla!" published talkback comments on an article about the four children killed on the Gaza beach. Shani Moyal: "I couldn't care less that Arab children were killed, too bad it wasn't more. Well done to the IDF." Stav Sabah: "Really, these are great pictures. They make me so happy, I want to look at them again and again." Sharon Avishi: "Only four? Too bad. We hoped for more." Daniela Turgeman: "Great. We need to kill all the children." Chaya Hatnovich: "There isn't a more beautiful picture than those of dead Arab children." Orna Peretz: "Why only four?" Rachel Cohen: "I'm not for children dying in Gaza. I'm for everyone burning." Tami Mashan: "As many children as possible should die." (Haaretz)

And yet the impression we have is that it is only the barbaric Muslims who call for the death of "infidels". These comments are from the "only democracy in the Middle East".

23 July

Israel - Jews Say End the War on Gaza – ".... it is but the latest chapter in more than a century of Zionist colonialism, dispossession, ethnic cleaning, racism, and genocide -- including Israel's very establishment through the uprooting and displacement of over 750,000 Palestinians during the 1947-1948 Nakba. Indeed, eighty percent of the 1.8 million people sealed into Gaza are refugees....Like any colonial regime, Israel uses resistance to such policies as an excuse to terrorize and collectively punish the indigenous population for its very existence. But scattered rockets, fired from Gaza into land stolen from Palestinians in the first place, are merely a response to this systemic injustice." (Huffington Post)

The piece concludes with a list of prominent Jewish people who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

22 July

Israel - "The only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped." This assertion was made by Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University about three weeks ago on an Israel Radio program. (Haaretz)

One can only imagine the international outcry if an Arab/Muslim professor had said something of this nature.

Israel - "But my impression of Hamas is different from Netanyahu's. I saw no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel's accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields." (Jeremy Bowen writing in the New Statesman)



21 July

Israel - Glenn Greenwald quotes Benjamin Netanyahu who said on CNN yesterday "They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better." (firstlook.org)



Israel - Paul Mason discusses the impact of social media in the Gaza conflict with particular reference to the IDF's attack on Shujaiya. "The incident shows who is winning the social media war over Gaza. It is evidence of a massive change in the balance of power between social media and the old, hierarchical media channels we used to rely on to understand wars...... now, for the first time in a major Arab-Israeli conflict, the American public has other sources of reality." (Channel4.com)

A very perceptive article discussing the major difference in the reaction to Israel's latest round of "mowing the lawn" from reactions to its previous attacks on Palestinians

20 July

Israel - The Israeli military is using flechette shells, which spray out thousands of tiny and potentially lethal metal darts, in its military operation in Gaza. Six flechette shells were fired towards the village of Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis, on 17 July, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Right. (Guardian)



Israel - Sixty-four public figures, including seven Nobel Peace Prize winners, have called for an international arms embargo on Israel for its "war crimes and possible crimes against humanity" in Gaza. The statement came in a letter published in Britain's The Guardian. The signatories included Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach as well as Israeli academics Ilan Pappe and Nurit Peled. (Haaretz)



Israel - At least 67 people – some fighters but many civilians – were killed in a night of intense violence in Shujai'iya that has been described by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, as a massacre. Hundreds more were injured. (Guardian)



19 July

Israel - Avi Shlaim, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Oxford University, writes that "When Hamas and Fatah reached an accord in April, Netanyahu went on the offensive, denouncing it as a vote not for peace but for terror. For him any sign of Palestinian unity or moderation is a threat to the existing order with Israel as the dominant power. The unity government produced by the accord in early May was in fact remarkably moderate both in its composition and in its policies. It is a government of Fatah officials, technocrats and independents without a single Hamas-affiliated member. To escape isolation and bankruptcy, Hamas handed over power to the Fatah-dominated, pro-Western Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. The unity government explicitly accepts the three conditions of the United States and European Union for receiving Western aid: recognition of Israel; respect for past agreements; and renunciation of violence. Israel responded to this promising development by what can only be described as economic warfare." (Al Jazeera)



Israel - Barnaby Raine writes “Jews like myself oppose Israeli state violence. Some of us are firm anti-Zionists. Others long considered themselves supporters of Israel but cannot abide the barbarism of its latest killing spasm. All of us refuse the Israeli framing that sees a conflict between Jews and Arabs. That framing can only give rise to anti-Semitism. Instead, we insist that this is a battle between an occupying army and an occupied people seeking to live in freedom, and the religion of each side is totally irrelevant to the conclusions we should draw. Tapping into a profound collective memory of discrimination and dispossession, we can feel no solidarity with Israel's occupation. Our solidarity is firmly with the Palestinian people.” (Stopwar.org)



Israel - USA organisation Jewish Voice for Peace – “While most mainstream American Jewish organizations have long abandoned moral responsibility when it comes to Palestinians, we insist upon holding Israel accountable for its crimes, which include a nearly fifty-year occupation, a denial of Palestinian self-determination, repeated war crimes, and systematic human rights abuses.” (San Diego Free Press)



Israel - Thousands of protesters gathered in London today to call for an end to Israeli military action in Gaza and "justice and freedom" for Palestine. (Guardian)



18 July

Israel - Nurit Peled-Elhanan of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem writes “ To this day, the international community has not done enough to stop Israeli settlements. European countries have profoundly criticised them while continuing to co-operate fully with Israel, economically, politically and militarily. As a result, Israel does not pay any price for seriously violating international law. On the contrary, Europe also pays for much of the humanitarian damage of the occupation, making it even easier for Israel to maintain.... As a laureate of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Human Rights, and as a mother and a human being, I call on the EU to use all the diplomatic and economic tools at its disposal to help save my country from the abyss of eternal occupation and injustice. (EUObserver)



Israel - Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said "I have to say now that the Israeli response appears to be deliberately disproportionate. It is amounting now to a disproportionate form of collective punishment. It is leading to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza which is just unacceptable.He added: "I would really now call on the Israeli government to stop. They have made their point." (Huffington Post)

So much for Israel’s right to defend itself. According to Mr Clegg all this death and destruction is simply to “make a point”

17 July

UK - Myriam Francois-Cerrah discusses whether or not banning Shariah courts/councils would actually be short-sighted and detrimental to Muslim women. “Lawyer and rabbi Alex Goldberg believes a ban would be counterproductive. He says it would “bolster underground councils rather than those who are seeking to work within the English legal framework, and recognise they are subservient to the English law. Why would you want to reward underground councils?” Goldberg maintains these councils offer a legitimate avenue for resolving conflicts.” (Telegraph)



Israel - Nathan Thrall’s assessment of the current events in Gaza “The current escalation in Gaza is a direct result of the choice by Israel and the West to obstruct the implementation of the April 2014 Palestinian reconciliation agreement. The road out of the crisis is a reversal of that policy.” (New York Times)

He goes on to discuss how the Palestinians’ reconciliation could actually have worked to Israel’s advantage but those “Israelis opposing a two state solution realise that Palestinian unity is a prerequisite for any lasting peace”. Better to undermine it then !

16 July

Israel - Excellent piece by Matt Rowland Hill about Netanyahu choosing war over peace when confronted by reasonable overtures by Hamas. (Independent)



Israel - Seamus Milne writes “The latest violence is supposed to have been triggered by the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the occupied West Bank in June, for which Hamas denied responsibility. But its origin clearly lies in the collapse of US-sponsored negotiations for a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the spring.That was followed by the formation of a “national reconciliation” government by the Fatah and Hamas movements, whose division has been a mainstay of Israeli and US policy. Israeli incursions and killings were then stepped up, including attacks on Palestinian civilians by armed West Bank settlers. In May, two Palestinian teenagers were shot dead by the Israeli army with barely a flicker of interest outside the country.” (Guardian)

Putting events into context rather than blindly adopting one side’s narrative

13 July

Israel - Several dozen right-wingers interrupted a leftist demonstration against the Israeli operation in Gaza, beating and threatening several demonstrators on Saturday evening in central Tel Aviv. (Haaretz)



Israel - Gideon Levy writes “Since the first Lebanon war, more than 30 years ago, the killing of Arabs has become Israel’s primary strategic instrument. The IDF doesn’t wage war against armies, and its main target is civilian populations.... Retired generals and commentators on active duty compete to make the most monstrous proposal: “If we kill their families, that will frighten them,” explained Maj.Gen. (res.) Oren Shachor, without batting an eyelid...” (Haaretz)



UK - People in Britain are in danger of becoming "too hysterical" as a "national culture of fear" develops about the threat posed by radicalised Muslims, the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has warned.Some radicalised young people are travelling to Syria but Welby said the number was "extraordinarily small". (Guardian)



11 July

UK - Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday vowed to fight Hamas and other Gaza terror groups until Israel was safe from the threat of missile attack, and then launched a highly unusual and extremely bitter verbal assault on would-be peace-brokers, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, who have been urging Israel to relinquish security control of the West Bank to a Palestinian state…Amid the current conflict, he elaborated, “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan” — a reference to the Jordan Valley and the West Bank — as Kerry had urged during a US-led peace effort that collapsed in April. (Times of Israel)

So much for peace based on a two state solution! So there you have it. There will be no end to the occupation according to the Israeli Prime Minister. At least we know now why Israel has never shown any interest in negotiating about its borders. It also makes sense of Phillip Gordon’s concerns above. Perhaps more importantly, why has the world’s media ignored Netanyahu’s comment?

10 July

UK - Simon Jenkins writes “It is easy to say the agonies now being experienced from the shores of Lebanon to the borders of Pakistan and India are self-inflicted and "Muslim on Muslim", but all have been fuelled by western meddling. Invading armies, bloodthirsty occupations and drone bombings have been extremism's most potent recruiting sergeants. They must rank as the most counter-productive military adventures of recent times..... We have done more damage to the Muslim world than it has ever done to us. We should leave it alone. (Guardian)



9 July

UK - BBC opts for the Orwellian "Israel under renewed Hamas attack". “The macabre truth is that Israeli life is deemed by the western media to be worth more than a Palestinian life” according to Owen Jones writing in the Guardian. “The BBC is a public broadcaster, duty-bound to provide balanced reports that accurately reflect the reality on the ground. It is failing to do so, and it is up to licence payers – to whom it is accountable – to demand that it does” (Guardian)



UK - interesting piece in the Guardian asking Muslim bloggers what it is like living as a Muslim in the UK today.



Israel - In an unusually harsh major foreign policy address, Philip Gordon, a special assistant to US President Barack Obama and the White House coordinator for the Middle East said Israel’s ongoing occupation of the West Bank is wrong and leads to regional instability and dehumanization of Palestinians, hinting that the current Israeli government is not committed to peace. (Times of Israel)



8 July

UK - The government and media have blown the Islamist terrorism threat out of proportion, giving extremists publicity that is counter-productive, a former head of Britain's intelligence service has said. Sir Richard Dearlove, chief of MI6 at the time of the Iraq invasion, said that Britons spreading "blood-curdling" messages on the internet should be ignored. He told an audience in London on Monday there had been a fundamental change in the nature of Islamist extremism since the Arab spring. It had created a major political problem in the Middle East but the west, including Britain, was only "marginally affected". (Guardian)



Israel - “The Arab Peace Initiative, first proposed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and adopted by the Arab League in 2002, still provides a template for peace – a formula for a just and comprehensive solution to Israel’s conflict, not only with the Palestinians but also with the Arab world, in the firm conviction that no military solution can give countries in the region the peace and security they all desire. The API says that all the Arab countries will establish normal relations with Israel once Israel withdraws from the territories occupied in the June 1967 war, and accepts an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem. Exact borders and the achievement of a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees would, of course, have to be agreed in negotiations in accordance with international principles. Like others in the region, I remain saddened, too, as to why there has never been an Israeli government response to the API, despite the Arab world’s continuing to endorse it at every Arab League summit over the last 12 years, and at every summit organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and by the Gulf Cooperation Council. An Arab delegation went to Israel to deliver it directly to the Israeli people. Many times, there were those among the Arabs who said that it has not worked and should be discarded and abandoned. But we have stuck by it and continue to stick by it; and it is still very firmly on the table....” (HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal in Haaretz)

So who is it that doesn’t want peace?

7 July

Myanmar - In front of the massive crowd that included Hollywood film star Richard Gere in northern India, the Dalai Lama said the violence in Buddhist-majority countries targeting religious minority Muslims was unacceptable.“I urge the Buddhists in these countries to imagine an image of Buddha before they commit such a crime,” Tibet's exiled spiritual leader said on the outskirts of Leh, high in the Himalayas....Buddha preaches love and compassion. If the Buddha is there, he will protect the Muslims whom the Buddhists are attacking.” (Dawn)



Israel - An Israeli Jew’s Apology - I owe you an apology. I owe you many, in fact. Many more than I have space for here. But a person has to begin somewhere. So I'll begin with what's right in front of me, right now. I want to apologize for the unforgivable. For the boy whose face in the photograph I can see even with my eyes closed. The face of the boy before he was wrestled into a car by people on my side, who charred him to death. I want to apologize to the loved ones of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir, his family in Shoafat ..... For Mohammed's 15-year-old cousin Tariq, the one whose straight-A grades in his Tampa, Florida high school earned him a summer vacation to visit family in the Holy Land – where Border Police troops from my side punched him and dragged him on hard ground and soccer-kicked him until they fractured his jaw and his nose. I want to apologize for the unconscionable. For the people on my side who, the night before Mohammed's murder, attacked and tried to kidnap Musa Zalum, only nine, but were forced to flee when his mother and others fought them off. I want to apologize for those on my side who will never do so, who believe that it is wrong to do so. Weak to do so. A betrayal of my side, my people, to do so. I want to apologize for what's in the air. I want to apologize for those on my side who can speak with appropriate condemnation about brutal kidnap-murders - but who feel they must add, as Prime Minister Netanyahu did this week, that the moral high ground is my side's alone: "This is what differentiates us from our neighbors. There the murderers are welcomed as heroes, and squares are named for them."He went on to say that my side jails and puts on trial those who incite, while your side makes incitement part of the work of officialdom and educators. I want to apologize for those on my side who are guilty of incitement, and whom we neither jail nor try, but rather furnish salaries as cabinet ministers, heads of youth movements, civil servant chief rabbis, and commentators ...... I want to apologize for those on my side who suggest that you imbibe murderous vengeance with your mother’s milk, I want to apologize for the tens of thousands of people on my side who, in anger over your side's murder of our three teens, are promoting revenge as a value for Israeli Jews. Some of these same people will demand that only you have something to apologize for. That only my side is owed an apology. If you do offer an apology, though, expect these same people to dismiss it as nothing more than empty words, servants of a darker agenda. And one last apology, perhaps the one which should have come before all the others: For sometimes forgetting that, where actual people are concerned - actual children, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons - my side and your side are the same. It may be, in the end, that the only message we've really needed to hear over the past unbearable weeks, my side and yours, was a simple one..... "Sane people on each side, unite!" (Haaretz)

At a time when the bombing of Gaza and resultant civilian death toll is escalating, this unbelievably moving letter shows the humanity that needs to transcend religious and national differences.

Israel - ‘’The hatred of Arabs in Jewish society is not a question of this attack or another. It is linked to the educational system and can be found in all parts of society,’’ according to Israeli novelist Nir Baram. (Independent)

Interesting observation given the charge often levelled at Palestinians that they are brought up to “hate Jews”

6 July

Israel - Israeli police have arrested six Jewish suspects in connection with the abduction and murder of a Palestinian teenager in East Jerusalem last week.The prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, swiftly issued a statement denouncing Jewish extremism as "terrorism" after the arrests in the early hours. "We do not distinguish terror from terror," he said.The suspects, including some minors, are being held by the Shin Bet security agency. They are being represented by lawyers hired by a rightwing legal action group. (Guardian)



UK - Michael Gove has called for a "robust" defence of liberal values in the face of the challenge from Islamist extremists.The education secretary said it was essential that extremists were denied a platform in schools and other public institutions to push their agenda. (Guardian)

Just to be sure Mr Gove, do you mean liberal or neo-liberal? I’ve heard you described as a lot of things but “liberal” isn’t one of them.

The Palestinian youth who was caught on video earlier this week being beaten by members of the Israeli Border Police is a United States citizen from Florida, the U.S. State Department confirmed on Saturday.State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki named the youth as Tariq Khdeir, 15. He was a cousin of Muhammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian whose burned body was found Wednesday in the Jerusalem Forest. "We are profoundly troubled by reports that he was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly condemn any excessive use of force," Psaki said. "We are calling for a speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force." (Haaretz)

Well let’s wait and see shall we?

4 July

UK - Religious leaders have called on British Muslims not to travel to Syria and Iraq, amid ongoing fears of jihadis fleeing the country to take part in terrorism. An open letter signed by more than 100 imams from across major theological backgrounds and cultural groups has urged British Muslim communities "to continue the generous and tireless effort to support all of those affected by the crisis in Syria and unfolding events in Iraq", but to do so "from the UK in a safe and responsible way". (Huffington Post)



Iraq - Mehdi Hasan writing in the New Statesman explores the deluded nature of ISIS and its declaration of an Islamic state stating, “Let me make a prediction. The so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria will be totalitarian, won’t be Islamic and, in the words of the former US state department spokesman Philip Crowley, “has as much chance of survival as an ice cream cone in the desert”. By declaring statehood, Isis may have sown the seeds of its own destruction.” (New Statesman)



Iraq - Prominent Sunni Muslim scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi has said that the declaration of an Islamic caliphate by Sunni rebels fighting the governments in Syria and Iraq violates sharia law. (Al Jazeera)



3 July

USA - This year’s “Iftar in the Synagogue” will take place at the Chicago Sinai Congregation on the 17th July. “Iftar” is the breaking of the daily fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. “Iftar in the Synagogue” – a unique interfaith gathering – was first celebrated in 2005. Since then this inspiring annual event has grown tremendously and become an important annual event in both Jewish and Muslim communities. The evening includes Jewish and Muslim prayers, engaging speakers, conversation and a kosher/halal dinner.Since 2005, Jews and Muslims have gathered annually for "Iftar" in Chicago synagogues to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Ramadan and the Jewish High Holidays. (Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative)

The other, seldom-reported side of Jewish-Muslim relations

Europe - Europe's most senior rabbi says a court ruling upholding France's ban on the burka amounts to the traditional concept of religious freedom "unravelling before our eyes". Pinchas Goldschmidt, Chief Rabbi of Moscow and president of the Conference of European Rabbis said he was “deeply suspicious of claims that a ban on the burka is designed to promote intercommunal relations. (Telegraph)



2 July

Israel - Zvi Bar’el notes the irony of the call for an expansion of settlements in response to the Israeli murders saying “From the moment their deaths were announced, they were kidnapped into the settler community in the name of the monopoly on “national responses.” At a time of national mourning, replete with frustration and the desire for vengeance, who would dare stop the bulldozers and cement mixers that will expand the settlements? Who would agree to be the traitor who does not realize that only new apartments will stop the terror attacks and the kidnappings? After all, those who oppose terrorism must be in favor of construction in the territories.”(Haaretz)

As is so often the case the brave dissenting voices emanate from the Israeli press itself

Italy - As Jewish communities across the world mourn the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank, tensions are rising in Rome, home to Italy’s largest Jewish community. On Monday night, after the discovery of the teens’ bodies was reported around the world, these tensions erupted in two separate violent incidents in the past few days between pro-Israelis and pro-Palestinians. Seven supporters of the Palestinians were hospitalized, two of them with serious injuries, after allegedly being assaulted by supporters of Israel. (Haaretz)



Israel - Tens of thousands of Israelis are calling for attacks on Palestinians in a new Facebook group formed in the aftermath of the abduction and murder of three Israeli youths in the West Bank last month. The responses, consisting of racist comments and demands for revenge, urge people to take violent action against Arabs. By Wednesday evening, over 35,000 people had joined a Facebook group named “ The People Of Israel Demand Revenge,” which was set up after the bodies of the teens were found Monday. (Haaretz)

The Israeli Army has said it will take a “heavy hand” against soldiers found to be involved in the group, although given its track record when it comes to disciplining its own soldiers the army’s assurance may not be as convincing as it would like to think

Israel - A Palestinian teenager, (Muhammad Abu Khdeir), from annexed East Jerusalem has been kidnapped and killed in a suspected act of revenge for the murder of three Israeli youths, army radio reported.The radio said the youth was seen being forced into a car in the Arab eastern half of the city. (Guardian)



France - The ECHR upheld the niqab ban in France in rejecting an appeal by a French Muslim woman. The Court concluded by a majority that rights under Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and 9 (right to respect to freedom of religion)had not been violated and ruled unanimously that Article 14 (right to protection from discrimination) had not been infringed.While the court rejected the French government’s arguments defending the ban on grounds of “respect for gender equality” and “respect for human dignity”, the court upheld the government’s claims in defence of “respect for the minimum requirements of life in society” or of “living together” arguing that this falls under the ““legitimate aim” of the “protection of the rights and freedoms of others””. The Court ruled that the niqab ban was justified in this respect because of the “barrier raised against others by a veil concealing the face” and the consequent impact on “open interpersonal relationships”. In judging the claim that a niqab undermines the notion of “living together” the court found that there is little consensus among Member States of the Council of Europe on the issue and specific factors in France rendered the ban “proportionate to the aim pursued”. The Court stated that as France had a “wide margin of appreciation” for the law, the Court had a “duty to exercise a degree of restraint in its review of Convention compliance” given the introduction of the ban by means of “a democratic process”.The ECHR ruling has been widely criticised by human rights organisations including those which were invited by Court to make third party interventions; Amnesty International, Open Society Foundation, Article 19 and Liberty. (Various)



Israel - The secretary-general of World Bnei Akiva,(Jewish Youth Movement) Rabbi Noam Perel, called for revenge of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens, the bodies of whom were found Monday. "An entire nation and thousands of years of history demand revenge...... an army of avengers that will not stop at 300 Philistine foreskins” Perel posted on his Facebook page.(Haaretz, Huffington Post)

Makes some of the demands of the Islamic nutters appear a bit tame in comparison!

Egypt - On the first anniversary of the 30 June demonstrations, which paved the way for the military coup which ousted President Mohammed Morsi under the pretext of fulfilling the will of the masses, a state of sorrow and regret is dominating a large number of celebrities and leaders who took part in the protests. Political and human rights activists have expressed their sorrow for taking part in the Tamarrod campaign and for signing the petition that withdrew confidence in President Morsi. (Middle East Monitor)



1 July

Israel - Susan Abulhawa examines reactions to the deaths of the three Israeli youths in the “Searing Hypocrisy of the West” at The Hindu.Com, noting, inter alia, the seeming difference in value placed on an Israeli life as compared to an Arab one



UK - Author Michael Rosen takes Mr Gove to task in a piece in which he asks what is so “British” about the values that schools should be required to teach. (The Guardian)



Myanmar - In Mandaly City, Myanmar, rioters take to the streets to attack Muslim properties after the publication of a false story about Muslims spread by US resident Ko Di on his blog. Police officers were said to have attended the rioting but stood by and took no action. (M-Mediagroup.com)



30 June

Israel - Three teenagers kidnapped in the West Bank are found dead. Prime Minister Netanyahu blames Hamas and states they will “pay the price”. Hamas denies any involvement in the deaths and states it will retaliate if attacked.



27 June

UK - A headline in the Mail reads as follows: “Muslim man murders pregnant prostitute because she was working near a mosque”. The rest of the piece then gives further details of the offence which, in fact, show that his religion played no part in the crime and neither did her proximity to any mosque. Investigating officer DI Richards said of the offender, “He had already threatened and robbed a vulnerable man with a knife earlier that night, and he was hanging around the Ilford Lane area, looking for another victim. He killed Mariana because she was there, because he thought he could get away with it.”

Revealing how some “journalists” can’t even be bothered to try and hide their prejudices. Sign of the times?

25 June

Germany - A group of Christians, Muslims and Jews is trying to crowdsource funds to build a place where they can all worship: Berlin's "House of One" is aiming to become the world's first building to combine a church, a synagogue and a mosque under one roof. (Guardian)



24 June

UK - As three men were convicted of murdering his wife and three children in a revenge arson attack which mistakenly targeted the wrong house, Dr Muhammad Taufiq said he had no hatred for the killers. “You hate the crime. You don’t hate individual people”. Assistant Chief Constable of Leicestershire, Roger Bannister said of Dr Taufiq - "My hope is that he can begin to move on from this devastating tragedy and continue to draw the immense strength from his religion to be the inspiring man I believe he is." (Independent)

May God bless you Dr Taufiq and grant you patience and fortitude

UK - Nick Clegg assures the Muslim Council of Britain “Being Muslim does not contradict being British, nor is it in tension with it. A person can uphold their religious and cultural identity as well as British identity”.

Thank you. But not sure if it’s actually us you need to be telling.

23 June

UK - Tony Blair is facing calls to step down from his role as Middle East envoy after a scathing letter signed by former British ambassadors and politicians that accuses him of trying to “absolve himself” of responsibility for the crisis in Iraq, and referring to his achievements in the role as “negligible”. (Independent)

What would they know?

UK - Michael Mansfield QC, speaking after the death of Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford Four, says “If you look at the attitude to the Muslim community, it is almost exactly the same as the attitude that was struck in relation to the Irish community in the 1970s. They are, in fact, being tarred with the same brush, they are being criminalised”. (BBC)



Israel - Rabbi Shalom Cohen, Shas’ new spiritual leader, recently came out against higher education for ultra-Orthodox women saying ““The material studied in the colleges is based on scientific research and methods that fly in the face of Torah-based views! Therefore, women students should not even think of enrolling in academic studies in any setting whatsoever, since that is not the way of Torah.” (Haaretz)

I’m sure the Taliban are feeling either a) vindicated or b) aggrieved that they are not as unique as previously thought.

USA - Elizabeth Nugent makes some interesting observations in the Washington Post in a piece exploring the difficulties inherent in the term “Islamism” :

“Islamists can range from those that advocate for quietism, effecting gradual political change through internal individual reform, to political parties advocating for societal reform through social welfare and electoral contestation, to revolutionary militants that seek to overthrow illegitimate states and implement revolutionary change. Islamists range from those who root justifications of their political behavior in personal and literalist interpretation of the textual tradition, to those who rely on interpretations derived from independent reasoning and decision-making with a firm basis in established schools of Islamic legal theory.”

Many, if not most, Muslims would struggle to define a word that is often imposed on them

21 June

UK - Peter Oborne of the Telegraph recommends two new books “Inside British Islam” by Innes Bowen, and “The Muslims are Coming” by Arun Kundnani. He states that Bowen’s book dispels a long list of myths and “is a desperately needed antidote to the hare-brained commentary from politicians and writers who ought to know much better”.

Ed Husain, co-founder of Quilliam, uses the occasion of the brutal murder of a Saudi student in Essex to state that it was time to rethink the wearing of hijab. After the inevitable criticism he deleted the offending tweet and replaced it with “Yes, deleted. Debate in UK too immature to handle pluralism”.

Good save Ed !! I suppose you would have an opinion on mini-skirts and rape too? How do you describe yourself again? Oh yes... “a loner at school, occasionally bullied and frequently sworn at, a misfit, with no white friends”. Who’d have thought it? Never mind, chin up, at least you are now a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.