Nakba - Philly Against War Third Friday protest
20 May 2011

We began the action by unscrolling the very lengthy chronology of Israeli-Palestinian relations since 1948. This was directly opposite Philadelphia's Israeli consulate. All photos in this photostory were taken by Sainatee Suarez.

Juan Cole gives us a summary of the latest on Palestine and the back and forth between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Media Matters points out that the conversation between Obama and Netanyahu seems overly dramatized as Obama is essentially giving Netanyahu everything he wants. The actual, real-life differences between Bush's policies and Obama's are quite small and really seem to boil down to Obama's use of specific word choices. Right Web describes Jeffery Goldberg (An IDF veteran) as someonw "whose writings on Middle Eastern affairs have been criticized for being heavily biased towards Israel" but Goldberg is quite critical of Netanyahu's stance, suggesting Netanyahu should be happy with what he's getting and is demanding far too much.


Mahdi Sabbagh posts on Uruknet about the Nakba protests over in Palestine:

This Nakba day, unlike previous Nakba days, constituted a regional, synchronized act of awakening: an act of defiance and non-violent protest, self-consciously playing on the psyche of both Israelis and Palestinians. For the general Israeli public, the protests created a symbolic yet very real 'threat’ to the Israeli bubble: daunting natives coming in from 'enemy’ territories from every direction, flooding Israel with fear and anxiety. For the entire Palestinian population the protests represented a re-birth; a renewal in their ability to be actors and not merely victims, a comforting signal that the Palestinian plight has not come to a halt.

marching to City Hall
We march over to the City Hall plaza.

From the Palestinian News Network:

The appointment of George Mitchell as Special Envoy for Middle East Peace for the newly-sworn-in U.S. president was a source of much hope in the Middle East.


But for the past six months it has been clear in the region that Mitchell practically made the decision to quit the job once it was clear that his advice was no longer being heeded in the White House.

Mitchell’s advice appears to have been rejected twice and both times the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank seemed to have caused the break in trust between Mitchell and the White House.

setting up

What's the current status of negotiations between Israel and Palestinians? From Al Jazeera's section on the Palestinian Papers released by Wikileaks:

Clearly, the dwindling number of promoters of the two-state solution are in a post-Cairo, post-Palestine Papers attempt to keep afloat what is, in the end, a sinking ship: A bad deal that even the weak Palestinian negotiating team would not accept.

Erm, okay, so how about a one-state solution? Israelis regard such a solution as a serious threat to Israel's continued existence, but:

Round after round of failed peace talks and a simultaneous increase in illegal Jewish settlements have left the Palestinians desperate for an alternative solution. The one-state approach has therefore evolved from a mere threat to a serious option for many Palestinians.

at City Hall plaza

It's a popular idea that Obama is honoring the ideas expressed by Arabs in the Arab Spring that began in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year, but:

If the future of the United States is really connected to the Middle East as President Obama said. Why President Obama and his administration did not move a bit against the Israeli occupation to the Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian lands. Did he forget what he said during his Cairo speech when he said that the conflict in the Middle East is connected to the National Security of the US? Maybe he forgets in contrary to what he said in his speech that he is committed to his past promises.


And what's up with the boats heading to the shores of the Gaza Strip?  The American boat has been purchased, it will carry 50 people and

As writer and Pulitzer prize winner Alice Walker says, "This is the Freedom Ride of this era."

The complete flotilla is 15 boats strong.

Updated news on the flotilla.

Ray McGovern asks President Obama to ensure safe passage to the flotilla to Gaza. McGovern is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Israel remains on the offensive:

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has approved the construction of 294 new illegal Jewish settler units in the occupied Palestinian land.

The units are to go up in the Beitar Ilit settlement in the occupied West Bank, AFP reported on Sunday.


Al Jazeera rounds up Mideast opinions on Obama's recent speech on the Middle East and North Africa. A typical opinion:

My prediction on Obama's (Middle East) speech: Arab leaders won't like it much. Arab reformers won't like it much.

This is the Obama style: Try to appeal to everyone & end up disappointing everyone.

Obama says US core interests align with Arab hopes. Well, why didn't they align for five decades?

Obama says it will be US policy 'to support reform across the region.' Reform, of course, is not same thing as democracy.



Palestinians plan a fresh protest for 5 June.

The rallying call is likely to be given added impetus by Israel’s rejection on Friday of Barack Obama’s explicit backing for a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders.

The committee, which said last weekend’s protests were “just the beginning”, said thousands would march to the pre-1967 “green line” between Israel and the West Bank, the border with Gaza, the fence between the occupied Golan Heights and Syria, and Israel’s international border with Lebanon.