Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Activists say thousands of people, including Palestinian refugees, have been herded into a stadium in Latakia by the Syrian government. More than 80 members of Congress are visiting Israel during the current recess, funded by a group affiliated with AIPAC. Israeli cost-of-living protests ignore the question of the occupation. A Palestinian man is killed and seven injured in Israeli air strikes on Gaza. Palestinians are outraged by attacks by Syrian government forces on Syrian and Palestinian civilians. The PLO accuses Syria of crimes against humanity. Pres. Abbas appeals for more Arab financial and diplomatic support. Abbas appoints the chairman for a new constitutional committee. Sen. Leahy says the US should cut funding for Israeli military units guilty of abuses in the occupied territories. Critics say a proposed new Israeli law threatens democracy and Arab rights. The American Jewish Committee is divided over the distinction between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israeli policies. Egypt says Hamas is refusing to hand over suspects in attacks on the Sinai gas pipeline. COMMENTARY: Amir Oren says Pres. Obama will not save PM Netanyahu. Gershon Baskin says Israel's social justice movement must include Palestinian concerns. Eran Shayshon says in order to support Israel, Jews must have an "open tent.” Yossi Alpher says settler violence is an inevitable byproduct of occupation. Ghassan Khatib says Israel must be held accountable for settlement expansions. Matthew Bell looks at the US stance towards Palestinian UN initiatives. Carlo Strenger says FM Lieberman does not understand the Middle East. Mel Frykberg says Hamas executions reveal divisions in Palestinian society. Hussein Ibish says all national narratives, including Israeli and Palestinian ones, must be respected but should not be confused with historical truth.

Syria orders thousands into stadium in Latakia crackdown
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Borzou Daragahi, Roula Hajjar - August 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Syrian security forces seize IDs and cellphones from those gathered at the soccer arena, activists say. Five people are killed, and the U.N. is worried about Palestinian refugees in the area. Syrian security forces cracking down on opposition strongholds in Latakia herded thousands of people into a stadium and took away their identification cards and cellphones, activists said Monday.

A Recess Destination With Bipartisan Support: Israel and the West Bank
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
August 15, 2011 - 12:00am

Looking for your member of Congress? Try Jerusalem. More than 80 members of the House are visiting Israel this month as guests of the American Israel Education Foundation, a charity affiliated with the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It is the largest number of members of Congress ever to make the trip during a single recess, according to the organizers. The numbers reflect both the size of the freshman Congressional class, which accounts for 47 of the visitors, and the enduring efforts of Israel to court its most friendly ally, the United States Congress.

Israelis protest costly housing – but not cost of settlements. Why?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - August 12, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel yesterday announced new homes in East Jerusalem to ease a housing shortage. But critics argue that the cost of building in contested territory is partially to blame for Israel's economic woes. The Israeli government, facing unprecedented public protests over the soaring cost of housing, yesterday announced it is advancing plans for thousands of new homes in contested East Jerusalem.

Medics: 1 killed, 7 injured as Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 16, 2011 - 12:00am

One man was killed and seven others injured as Israeli warplanes struck targets in the central and southern Gaza Strip early Tuesday, Palestinian medical sources and the Israeli army said. Adham Abu Selmiya, spokesman for the Hamas-run emergency services in the Gaza Strip, said the strikes had killed one Palestinian and wounded seven. Several people were injured as Israeli forces fired at a group of people in the Az-Zaitoun neighborhood in Gaza City, Palestinian medical sources said. All of the victims were evacuated to Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Outrage after Palestinian camp attacked in Syria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
August 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Syrian forces killed three people on Monday a day after gunboats pounded Latakia, forcing thousands of Palestinians to flee a refugee camp in the port city, activists and a UN agency said. The Palestinians condemned Syria over the violence as the UN Relief and Works Agency reported that more than 5,000 refugees had fled Ramel camp in southern Latakia under fire and demanded immediate access to the site.

PLO official accuses Syria of crimes against humanity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
August 16, 2011 - 12:00am

An assault by Syrian security forces on a Palestinian refugee camp in the coastal city of Latakia amounts to a crime against humanity, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organisation said. "The shelling is taking place using gunships and tanks on houses built from tin, on people who have no place to run to or even a shelter to hide in," Yasser Abed Rabbo, the PLO secretary general, told Reuters. "This is a crime against humanity."

Abbas makes Arab aid appeal, sees risk to U.N. bid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
August 15, 2011 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday appealed for Arab financial support to help the Palestinians deal with "pressures and threats" from Israel and its allies which he said were a risk to his plan to seek U.N. approval for statehood in September. The Palestinian Authority faces a financial crisis which forced it to cut wages by half in July. Policymakers have identified a shortfall in Arab aid as the main cause.

Abbas names PNC speaker to form constitution
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from
August 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday nominated Salim Za'noon, speaker of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), as the chairman of a committee to form the Palestinian constitution. Nabil Shaath, a member of Fatah's central committee, was nominated as Za'noon's deputy, the state-run Wafa News Agency reported. The Palestinians will approach the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly in September to gain a recognition of an independent Palestinian state established in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.

U.S. Senator seeks to cut aid to elite IDF units operating in West Bank and Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - August 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Senator Patrick Leahy claims Shayetet 13 unit, undercover Duvdevan unit, and the Israel Air Force Shaldag unit are involved in human rights violations in occupied territories. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy is promoting a bill to suspend U.S. assistance to three elite Israel Defense Forces units, alleging they are involved in human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Leahy, a Democrat and senior member of the U.S. Senate, wants assistance withheld from the Israel Navy's Shayetet 13 unit, the undercover Duvdevan unit and the Israel Air Force's Shaldag unit.

Knesset Set To Define ‘Jewish State’, Critics See Threat to Democracy and Rights of Arabs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
August 16, 2011 - 12:00am

A proposal likely to pass the Knesset would for the first time clarify what it means that Israel is a Jewish state, sparking controversy over its potential to clash with principles of equality and civil liberties.

Line Between Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic Protests Splits AJC
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Rex Weiner - August 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Group's Top Ranks Divided Over How To Respond to Campus Demonstrations As campus protests have continued against Israeli policies towards the Palestinians, and sometimes, against Israel itself, Jewish groups have been at odds over how to distinguish legitimate debate about Israel from anti-Semitism, and beyond that, at what point such protests may arguably constitute a violation of Jewish students’ civil rights.

Hamas ignored requests to hand over Arish suspects
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Masry Al-Youm
August 15, 2011 - 12:00am

Egyptian authorities on Monday presented an official request to the acting government in Gaza to arrest several armed Palestinians who participated in a recent attack on the Sinai police station in the city of Arish and returned to Gaza by way of tunnels. However, the authorities in Gaza have so far failed to respond to the Egyptian request.

Obama will not save Netanyahu
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amir Oren - (Opinion) August 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Newly born Israel arose while suffering a surprise blow. On the morning of May 15, 1948, Egypt's air force dared attack Israel's sleepy air force at Sde Dov. Sometimes, however, the surprised is the one that pulls a surprise. During the Six Day War it was one way, during the Yom Kippur War it was another.

Encouraging Peace: The summer of discontent
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Gershon Baskin - (Opinion) August 15, 2011 - 12:00am

One month has passed since the onset of the middle-class uprising of summer 2011. One month from now, the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly will open in New York. At this mid-point, looking back and looking forward one thing is clear – the State of Israel is standing at the crossroads of its most important decision since June 1967. For me and many others, the summer uprising has provided a great sense of hope. Apathy is gone, activism is in. People have taken to the streets to raise their voices in demands for change. All is not well in the State of Israel.

To help Israel, Jews must broaden the tent
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
(Opinion) August 14, 2011 - 12:00am

Amid global events of the past few years that are changing the world -- the rising power of the BRICs economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China), the global economic crisis, the rise of social networks and, most recently, the popular uprisings in the Middle East -- Israel and the Jewish world are facing a uniquely difficult challenge with the ongoing assault on Israel’s right to exist. This year, the assault coincides with the Palestinian campaign to secure U.N. recognition of statehood.

Mixed Views on Palestinian’s UN Recognition Plans
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Public Radio International (PRI)
by Matthew Bell - (Opinion) August 15, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinians are gearing up for their plan to go to the United Nations in September to seek recognition as a state. No one doubts the Palestinians could win broad support at the UN in a vote to recognize the state of Palestine. In fact, they already have. Back in 1988, the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s chairman, Yasir Arafat proclaimed a Palestinian state. A UN resolution to recognize the move got 104 yes votes. Two countries voted no: Israel and the United States.

How (not) to think about the Arab Spring
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Carlo Strenger - (Blog) August 16, 2011 - 12:00am

Both Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman made up their minds about the Arab world long ago, and no facts will confuse them.

Divided We Execute
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Mel Frykberg - (Opinion) August 16, 2011 - 12:00am

The execution of a Palestinian father and son by Hamas security forces in Gaza throws up a sharp difference over the death penalty between Gaza and the West Bank. In the West Bank a temporary moratorium is in place. The executions were carried out despite pressure from Palestinian and international human rights organisations for the death penalty in the occupied Palestinian territories to be rescinded.

Fetishizing nationalism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from NOW Lebanon
by Hussein Ibish - (Opinion) August 16, 2011 - 12:00am

For those in the grip of its authority, a clearheaded understanding of how nationalist ideology actually operates seems extremely difficult. All contemporary nationalisms are based on constructed and imagined narratives about history, geography, culture, ethnicity and religion. Such narratives invariably involve a great deal of what can only be described as fiction. In particular, reading the past—whether real or imagined—as a justification for present-day political projects is, by definition, intellectually treacherous territory.

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