Operetta in 5 Acts

Uri Avnery

The master magician has drawn another rabbit from his top hat. A real and very lively rabbit.

He has confounded everybody, including the leaders of all parties, the top political pundits and his own cabinet ministers.

He has also shown that in politics, everything can change – literally – overnight.

At 2 a.m. the Knesset was busy putting the finishing touches to a law to dissolve itself – condemning half of its members to political oblivion.

At 3 a.m. there was a huge new government coalition. No elections, thank you very much.

An operetta in 5 acts.

ACT ONE: Everything tranquil. Public opinion polls show Binyamin Netanyahu in absolute control. His popularity is approaching 50%; nobody else’s even approaches 20%.

The largest party in the Knesset, Kadima, sinks in the polls from 28 seats to 11, with all indications that it will continue to fall. Its new leader, former Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz, gets even less points as candidate for Prime Minister.

Netanyahu could sun himself on the roof of his luxury villa and contemplate the future with equanimity. All is well in the best of all Jewish states.

FBI Wants Greater Surveillance Powers

Stephen Lendman

Federal agents sworn to serve and protect, in fact, are menacing. They stalk, target and terrorize.

FBI Director Robert Mueller wants Congress to enact greater surveillance powers following the false flag underwear bomb plot blamed on Al Qaeda.

In May 9 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, he said:

"We've seen over the last several days, particularly with regard to the IED that was recently recovered, that terrorism is and should be and continues to be our No. 1 priority and the No. 1 priority of a number of our intelligence agencies."

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance provisions expire at yearend. National Intelligence Director James Clapper and Attorney General Eric Holder call renewing them the intelligence community's top legislative priority.

So does Mueller. He also wants more. His May 9 testimony suggested it. He stopped short of specifics. He'll engage lawmakers privately.

False flags create opportunities. That's why they're staged. Mueller plans taking full advantage.

The absurdity of equating opposition to Israel with anti-Semitism

Khalid Amayreh

If international indifference, powerlessness and outright acquiescence to the human rights violations and killings continue, will Israel proceed to exterminate the entire Palestinian people?

In a shameless effort to criminalize criticisms of Israel, pro-Israeli circles in some western countries have been trying to equate criticisms of Israeli policies and actions with anti-Semitism. The brazen effort is clearly intended to intimidate and silence the increasing awareness, especially among younger generations on college campuses, that Israel is in fact a racist country that is disguised as a democracy.

In recent weeks, Israel firsters organized letter-writing campaigns and published advertisements in leading newspapers in North America lumping criticisms of Israel and anti-Semitism. The letters, targeting college administrations, demanded a stringent action against students and professors "bad mouthing Israel."

Unfortunately, some pusillanimous officials readily caved in to Zionist intimidation, an intimidation amounting to intellectual terrorism. Only those willing to confront the Zionist golem display steadfastness and refuse to budge.

I believe writers and intellectuals around the world have a moral responsibility to destroy, once and for all, the taboo of criticizing Israel in western countries, especially the United States, Canada, France and Germany. The recent criticisms of Israel by the German poet Gunter Grass are undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

Israel is a nation-state and ought to be treated like any other nation-state. That is to say, Israel must not be treated as above the laws and norms of humanity and should therefore be severely condemned when it indulged in actions and behavior deemed by the rest of mankind as criminal and nefarious. Needless to say, constant aggression, bellicosity and recalcitrance have always constituted Israel modus operandi.

Israeli and Palestinian Protests

Stephen Lendman

Palestinian Prison Protests for Justice Continue

Mass Palestinian prisoner hunger strikes continue. Freedom, dignity, and respect for their rights are at issue. Strikers want horrific Israeli prison abuses ended. More on that below.

On Saturday, thousands of Israelis rallied nationwide for social justice. They picked up where they left off last summer. Major grievances remain unaddressed. They include:

(1) Unaffordable housing.
(2) High food and energy prices.
(3) Low wages and eroding social benefits.
(4) Onerous taxes on working households.
(5) Lack of free education and better healthcare benefits.
(6) Weak labor rights.
(7) A disproportionate amount of construction funding for settlement development. Too little remains for affordable housing in Israel.
(8) The "high cost of raising children" most Israelis face.

In Shapira, Levinsky, Hatikva, and other neighborhoods, marches converged on Tel Aviv's Rabin Square.

Empty Stomach Warriors: Thaer Halahleh - All in The Name

Linah Alsaafin

On Monday May 7, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the appeals for the release of Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Thiab, who are imprisoned by Israel without charge or trial. The men are on their 70th day of hunger strike.

Thaer’s father came to Ramallah from Hebron, and sat in the prisoners’ solidarity tent at Clock Square with a photo of his son hanging from his neck. His daughter Fathiya sat by his side, the gravity of her brother’s bleak situation apparent on her face.

The Halahleh family found out about the court’s appeal rejection through the media, before the lawyer Jamal Khatib had time to properly inform them. Thaer’s wife Shireen had a nervous breakdown and had to be taken immediately to hospital. The family home was filled with visitors once the news was heard, but there was a conscious decision not to tell Thaer’s mother the truth because of her frail health. “We are here to wait for Thaer’s release,” was what they told her.

“The court’s decision was expected,” Thaer’s father said. “It was expected from the [Israeli] occupation. They told the media first so we could find out the hard way, which just proves that this wicked occupation is determined to make us suffer.”

The first time 33 year old Thaer was arrested by the Israeli occupation army was just before his senior year in high school. He was held for three months on administrative detention, again not being charged with anything. In 1999, he was arrested again and sentenced for two years for belonging to the Islamic Jihad group. Because of his frequent arrests and time spent in prison, Thaer only managed to study for one year at Hebron University. Later on he managed to open a used furniture store. Thaer’s exact words were

“I am a man who loves life, and I want to live in dignity. No human can accept being in jail for even one hour without any charge or reason.”

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