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  • Palestine's battle for hearts and minds in the Arab world

    A new Palestinian PR campaign attempts to recast the conflict by comparing Israeli violence against Palestinians to methods used by Islamic State. By Jacob Wirtschafter CAIRO — Eager to re-enlist Egyptian public opinion to their cause, the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo hosted a rare press conference Thursday outlining Ramallah’s current diplomatic agenda. The agenda includes a definitive UN Security Council resolution with a timeline for two states, deployment of international forces to protect the population of the West Bank, and an international fact-finding mission to determine the “root causes” of the current phase of the conflict. [tmwinpost] It’s a hard…

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  • Five years on: Why the Arab Spring is here to stay — and win

    Despite highly destructive counter-revolutionary forces like a-Sisi in Egypt and ISIL in Iraq and Syria, there are grassroots movements across the region demanding governments that serve the people — all of the people. By Yoav Haifawi* On Friday, August 28, 2015, demonstrators in southern and central Iraq (those parts of the country not under “Islamic State” control) held their fifth consecutive “Friday protests” against government corruption, lack of basic services and the sectarian structure of power sharing. On Saturday, August 29, Lebanon’s “You Stink” movement held its largest demonstration yet in “Martyrs’ Square” in the middle of Beirut – undeterred…

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  • In Sisi's Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood are the new Jews

    Weighted down by historical, religious and linguistic inaccuracies, Egyptian television series 'The Jewish Quarter’ nevertheless tells an intriguing story of the political, social and religious changes that have transformed Egypt — in 1948 and in 2015. An Egyptian Ramadan television series called “The Jewish Quarter”* has attracted quite a bit of international media attention for its sympathetic portrayal of Jewish Egyptians during the years immediately following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, up until 1954. Set in Cairo, the ongoing multi-episode drama takes its name from one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, where Jews, Muslims and Christians…

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  • Why is Israel concocting ties between Hamas and ISIS?

    By dreaming up an association between Hamas and Islamic State, Netanyahu hopes Israel will have it easy the next time it goes to war against Gaza. The head of Israel’s military government in the territories, Maj.-Gen. Yoav “Polly” Mordechai, spearheaded the latest round of Israel’s fantastical, anti-intellectual conflation between Hamas and ISIS this past week. Taking advantage of the horrendous attacks by an ISIS affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Mordechai told Al Jazeera Arabic that Hamas is aiding the world’s most terrifying terrorist organization—by bringing its wounded fighters into Gaza for medical treatment. The attempt to make a connection between the…

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  • Why I took my family to Sinai for our Passover vacation

    While Sinai used to be one of the most popular tourist destinations for Israeli Jews, today it is nearly abandoned. But neither the threat of Al-Qaida attacks, ISIS kidnappings or her friends' pleading could stop Orly Noy from going back to her own private heaven. The bottom line is this: we went to Sinai for our Passover vacation, we had a great time and returned unharmed. Does this justify an entire article on the exprience? Well, if you take into account the number of requests for television and radio interviews that I received while there, the answer is yes. The…

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  • Do Israelis have any idea how bad it is in Gaza?

    Nearly two million Gazans are living in a state of poverty and shortages, with few options of leaving and even fewer options for work. Nearly two million people who live in a giant prison, and Israelis cannot even begin to fathom how terrible their situation is. "I'm extremely concerned that if you leave Gaza in the state it's currently in, you'll have another eruption, and violence, and then we're back in a further catastrophe, so we've got to stop that," warned Quartet envoy Tony Blair during a visit to the Gaza Strip on Sunday. It was his first trip to the…

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  • What Egypt's multicultural past teaches us about Israel's present

    Jacqueline Kahanoff’s novel, 'Jacob's Ladder,' strips 'multiculturalism' of its cold, academic veneer, displaying instead the reality of a Jewish, multicultural lifestyle. But the novel also directs a powerful question toward Israeli society: can the Arabs that live among us today ever live in Israel the same way Jews lived in Egypt? By Ktsiaa Alon (translated from Hebrew by Shaked Spier) Several decades after its publication, Jacqueline Kahanoff’s great novel, “Jacob’s Ladder,” has finally been translated into Hebrew. The novel portrays a vivid picture of a Levant of multiculturalism, as Kahanoff called it in her intellectual essays. After a delay of over…

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  • Ceasefire: Israel, Hamas reach open-ended deal to end fighting

    Israel and Hamas announced Tuesday evening that they had agreed to an Egyptian-brokered, open-ended ceasefire, after seven weeks of fighting left more than 2,200 people dead and tens of thousands wounded, the vast majority Palestinians. Although the ceasefire went into effect at 7 p.m., both sides engaged in violence until the last minute. In Israel, a mortar attack killed two men in Kibbutz Nirim. Palestinians reported that an airstrike destroyed a seven-story building in Beit Lahiya. Officials from both Hamas and Islamic Jihad stated that the ceasefire included an Israeli agreement to ease its blockade of Gaza to allow relief…

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  • As violence rises, Muslim moderates must do more

    My colleagues at 'Let Us Build Pakistan' and I have discovered various overlapping interests on certain issues and we occasionally cross-post material that we think our audiences would find relevant. Here is one such article I found interesting. Against the background of a fresh wave of violence in the Middle East, a Muslim writer calls for introspection. By Asif Zaidi The following book review in The Telegraph addresses two recently published books mainly defending British Muslims. A friend sent me the article, hoping that it will help me “see the light.” But I believe the review downplays some significant problems.…

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  • Hamas: Missing soldier likely killed in Israeli air strike

    Israel continued to bombard Gaza overnight, as the Palestinian death toll rose to more than 70 after the collapse of Friday's UN and U.S.-brokered 72-hour ceasefire that was supposed to lead to negotiations to end the Israel-Hamas war. Rockets continued to be fired from Gaza into Israel early Saturday morning, with the Iron Dome intercepting some over Tel Aviv and Be'er Sheva. Hamas' armed wing stated Saturday that missing soldier Hadar Goldin may have been killed in Israeli air strikes following the incident in which he was captured and two other soldiers killed Friday. The group claims it has lost contact…

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  • 129 Palestinians, 3 Israeli soldiers killed; U.S. approves Israeli request for ammunition

    Wednesday saw a particularly deadly day of violence in the Gaza Strip, while diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire continued with urgency.  According to officials at the Palestinian Health Ministry, 129 people were killed and more than 200 wounded in Gaza throughout Wednesday. Israel's Operation Protective Edge has killed a total of 1,400 Palestinians and wounded more than 7,500. The high death toll comes after a bloody day on Tuesday, which saw more than 120 people killed by Israeli airstrikes in the Strip. The Israeli army announced that three of its soldiers were killed on Wednesday afternoon, pushing the military…

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  • Why Israel won’t sign any ceasefire that’s fair

    A fair ceasefire would bring major relief for Gaza, which would mean Hamas wins the war. The ceasefire that the world is now pushing for – one that, as UN chief Ban Ki-Moon put it, not only ends the fighting but also ends Israel’s “chokehold on Gaza” – is one that the Netanyahu government will not accept. It should accept it, because Gazans have the right to be free, but it won’t. Its rejection of John Kerry’s offer on Friday – which reportedly would have allowed the Israeli army to go on destroying Gazan tunnels even during a week-long ceasefire…

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  • Why there is no room for diplomacy in Gaza

    With or without a ceasefire, the brutality of the last week will be revisited upon the Palestinians of Gaza – a fact that, unsurprisingly, leaves no room for diplomacy. It should come as no surprise that Hamas Tuesday de facto rejected what by all accounts was an Israeli diktat – disguised as an Egyptian ceasefire proposal – to end Israel's relentless assault on the organization and its base of operations, Gaza. Following a week of near-constant Israeli bombing, the brunt of which has been borne by Palestinian civilians, the Egyptian proposal featured none of the demands on which Hamas had been most vocal, chief…

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