Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nora Barrows Friedman, worst basic living conditions I have ever seen in Palestine: Slim chance for serious peace talks

Talk Nation Radio for March 11, 2010
Nora Barrows Friedman, worst basic living conditions I have ever seen in Palestine: Slim chance for serious peace talks

UPDATE: Palestinian leader Abbas pulls out of peace talks over announcement by Israelis of 1,600 more settlements.
Mazin Qumsiyeh returns to Palestine under threat of arrest: Peaceful protest in Israel can lead to arrest, Written by Mazin Qumsiyeh, THIS week, when I return to my village in the occupied West Bank, I face possible arrest by Israel for engaging in nonviolent protests against abusive Israeli policies opposed by our own government. continue reading...

Produced by Dori Smith
TRT: 29:45

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We speak with award winning reporter Nora Barrows Friedman, Senior Producer at Flashpoints Radio. She arrived in Bethlehem in February and has been reporting regularly for Flashpoints, her daily news program produced at Pacifica Radio station KPFA-FM 94.1 in Berkeley, California. (See bio) First some background on how peace talks are once again stalled by continued Israeli settlement construction:

In May of 2009 Vice President Joe Biden called on Israel to halt settlement construction at an AIPAC meeting. Israel continued to build, and make announcements of still more building of new and massive housing complexes for Jews on occupied Palestinian land. The White House officially opposed the construction. Yet, in November of 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a confusing message. She agreed to work with Israel despite their continued settlement construction.

After the US media noted her statements were in conflict with the White House, Secretary Clinton reversed her position. But the Netanyahu government appears to have heard her the first time.

Since January of 2010 there have been regular announcements of new Israeli settlements planned for East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Israeli peace group, Peace Now, issued a report on 30 new settlements going in on the West Bank and Israel has begun evicting Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Protests have been held regularly with as many as 5,000 Jews and Palestinians turning out in a show of support for Palestinians camped outside the homes they were forced to leave.

There have been stories of new Israeli settlements going into either East Jerusalem or the West Bank throughout 2009 and 2010. Still, Vice President Biden announced the start of new, and hopeful peace talks between Israelis and a proxy for Palestinians, and as he arrived in Israel Tuesday, March 9th, Biden celebrated his long standing friendship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At approximately 11:00 AM Eastern Standard Time, the White House submitted Biden's remarks as he shared a podium with Netanyahu. Biden said:

"Over the last year, Mr. Prime Minister, you have taken significant steps including the moratorium that has limited new settlement construction activity. And you have significantly increased freedom of movement across the West Bank."

At 8:07 PM on the same day the White House issued another statement from Biden, and this time he criticized the Netanyahu government over a statement released that day on plans for even more Israeli settlements, 1,600 Jewish residences. It is reminiscent of attempts at peace talks in 2009. Then too Israeli leaders insisted that they would create settlements regardless of world opinion.

In terms of freedom of movement in the West Bank, a former Connecticut resident, Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, has been threatened with arrest when he returns to his West Bank home in Beit Sahour. Qumsiyeh's Connecticut supporters are asking people to contact the State Department on his behalf. The well known educator has been on a speaking tour of Connecticut, discussing the increasingly harsh treatment peaceful protesters have gotten at the hands of the Israeli Defense Forces. In a film on YouTube, the Israeli Defense Force shoots tear gas canisters into a small gathering of protesters who are just standing around. As Professor Qumsiyeh tries to get the IDF to stop firing the canisters, protesters are seen trying to protect their children from tear gas.

When Nora Barrows Friedman arrived in Palestine she reported that Israel had actually tightened all borders, for the West Bank and Gaza.

Flashpoints Radio, stories by Nora Barrows Friedman on Israeli police arrest, detention, beating, of two boys ages 10 and 12.
Israeli Settlements, Right Wing Settlers, combined, mean there are only slim hopes for peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
At the Al Aqsa Mosque, Palestinians have been protesting the presence of Jewish settlers, we look at meaning of this site to ultra nationalists working for Israel. (The 'end days' believer, Rabbi Y. Eckstein, discusses how these 34 acres are most important thing to the world.)
And V. P. Joe Biden calls on Israel to stop building settlements, again, after they didn't hear him the first time. Biden in Israel to promote peace talks, seems unaware that Israel has been continuing to announce settlements and then ironically they announce construction of 1,600 more illegal Jewish only homes in East Jerusalem even as he is praising their restraint.

See related links:

Reaction in Israel to Vice President Biden and announcement of new settlements here Matthew Kalman, 'Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, has pulled out of planned peace talks in the wake of Israel’s announcement it is to build 1,600 new homes in the occupied West Bank. -- The Palestinian move came only days after they succumbed to heavy American pressure to conduct indirect talks with Israel in an attempt to kick-start the logjammed Middle East peace process. --However, Israel today said the announcement of the settlement was a mistake and Mr Netanyahu has reprimanded Eli Yishai, the Interior Minister, over the timing. "

Fall out from Ariel Sharon's visit to Al Aqsa Mosque,
Non-Muslims Banned From Visiting Jerusalem's Temple Mount. Publication: Israel Faxx, Friday, August 1 2003, 'Israel has reimposed a ban on non-Muslims visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, one of the most sensitive religious shrines in the Middle East. The move followed fears that the site could become a flashpoint for renewed violence in the region.'

Who benefits from making land struggles appear to be about nationalism and religion?

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein: Talk2Action story by Bill Berkowitz, Christian Zionists Gain Israel's Inner Sanctum

Noted Jewish Leader Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein Defends Joe Lieberman against Attackers for Senator's...Publication: Business Wire, Tuesday, July 1 2008
Yechiel Eckstein’s Mission to the Evangelicals Richard Silverstein, Jul 28, 2005.
'Back in the old days of those old-fashioned, red-blooded Christian missionaries, there were missions to just about every land and faith imaginable: mission to the heathen, mission to the Jews and even a mission to the world. Now, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, who largely deserves credit for the incredibly exploitative alliance forged by right-wing Israelis and American Jews with Christian evangelicals, has created his very own Mission to the Evangelicals. The difference being that Eckstein doesn’t want to make them Jews. He wants to make them Christian Zionists and he wants to use their money to support the Greater Land of Israel phenomenon represented by the settler movement. See this previous post I wrote about Eckstein.

Ze’ev Chafets wrote an illuminating profile of Rabbi Eckstein and his work with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. I came away from reading it thinking of him as the Jimmy Swaggart of the Jewish people.'

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