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Despite the many requests from the Obama administration that the Congress hold off on any new legislation on Iran, yesterday, Foreignpolicy.com learned that top senate democrats (Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez) and one republican senator (Mark Kirk) began circulating a new Iran sanctions bill. If the bill passes, it will certainly tank the delicate negotiations currently underway between Iran and the major world powers.

Poll

How about Congress extend unemployment insurance instead of ****ing up these negotiations?

90%40 votes
9%4 votes

| 44 votes | Vote | Results

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The members of the American Studies Association have endorsed the Association’s participation in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. In an election that attracted 1252 voters, the largest number of participants in the organization’s history, 66.05% of voters endorsed the resolution, while 30.5% of voters voted no and 3.43% abstained...

...The resolution is in solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and it aspires to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians. The ASA’s endorsement of the academic boycott emerges from the context of US military and other support for Israel; Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights; and finally, the support of such a resolution by a majority of ASA members.

Full text of the ASA press release
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Guess which side they're pressing? If you guessed pro-war, you're right! On Tuesday, The Daily Beast reported that a senior official with AIPAC said the organization was deploying in order to lobby congress for support for war authorization in Syria. According to the AIPAC official,

the organization’s leadership received a phone call from a senior White House official on Saturday, after the president’s surprise announcement that he would be seeking congressional authorization for a Syria strike, asking what AIPAC's position would be on a congressional resolution. This official said the lobby received similar calls from Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate...the message was clear that AIPAC’s participation in the lobbying effort to pass the authorization “would be helpful.”
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In what one Israeli official called an "earthquake," the Guardian reports that

The European Union has dealt a harsh blow to the Israeli settlement enterprise in a directive that insists all future agreements between the EU and Israel must explicitly exclude Jewish colonies in the West Bank or East Jerusalem...

..In order to secure agreements with the EU in the future, the Israeli government will be required to concede in writing that settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are outside the state of Israel.
The Guardian

The directive took effect last Friday and applies to the 2014-20 financial framework. Full text is here (pdf).
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The Guardian UK reported on Tuesday:

Professor Stephen Hawking is backing the academic boycott of Israel by pulling out of a conference hosted by Israeli president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem as a protest at Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

Hawking, 71, the world-renowned theoretical physicist and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, had accepted an invitation to headline the fifth annual president's conference, Facing Tomorrow, in June, which features major international personalities, attracts thousands of participants and this year will celebrate Peres's 90th birthday.

Hawking is in very poor health, but last week he wrote a brief letter to the Israeli president to say he had changed his mind. He has not announced his decision publicly, but a statement published by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine with Hawking's approval described it as "his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there".

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MLK March from Selma to Montgomery, March 25th, 1965
On March 25th, 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr., led thousands of nonviolent activists on the 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The march, which King described as "a shining moment in the conscience of man," was the culmination of a three-month campaign to eliminate African American disenfranchisement in Alabama.

The five-day march ended at the steps of the capitol in Montgomery, where King told the crowd, "There never was a moment in American history more honorable and more inspiring than the pilgrimage of clergymen and laymen of every race and faith pouring into Selma to face danger at the side of its embattled Negroes."

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Wonderful news: The 220th Presbyterian Church General Assembly just voted 457-180 (with 3 abstentions) to boycott products made in the illegal Israeli settlements. This was their resolution #15-02.

A vote last night (resolution 15-11) to divest the US Presbyterian Church from three companies that profit from the Israeli occupation --Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions--failed by a razor-thin margin: 333-331 with 2 abstentions. However, another vote today allows individuals with pensions with the Church to screen the three companies.

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This September, the Palestinian leadership intends to go to the UN General Assembly to ask for recognition as an independent state on the 1967 borders.

Having lived under occupation for 40+ years and having participated for 20 years in a fruitless peace process, they have been slowly taking independent steps to achieve their goal of freedom and self-determination. They have been building up their civil institutions, Fatah and Hamas, the two rival leadership factions, have signed a reconciliation deal, Mahmoud Abbas has trekked the globe lining up international support, and has gotten it.

In response, today Israeli Likud MK Danny Danon told prime minister Netanyahu that "we will need to annex the West Bank Settlements."

Poll

Recognition of Palestine at the UN General Assembly

68%73 votes
13%14 votes
16%18 votes
1%2 votes

| 107 votes | Vote | Results

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Mon Jan 31, 2011 at 08:49 AM PST

Egypt Liveblog: Sub-Diary #21

by Flyswatterbanjo

Photobucket

You are in the the 21st Child Diary of the Liveblog of the 2011 Egyptian Uprising and other uprisings spreading throughout the Mideast.  We stand with our Egyptian friends and their courageous struggle for freedom.

DO NOT REC THIS DIARY!  Rec the Mothership here.

(The idea is to keep the Mothership visible on the rec list, with links therein to the child diaries where we can discuss the events.  This prevents multiple liveblog diaries taking up slots on the rec list.)

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Fri Jan 28, 2011 at 09:21 AM PST

Egypt Child Diary #3

by Flyswatterbanjo

FINAL UPDATE 3:00PM EST: Child Diary #4 is now up here.

Have at it people. I will post updates as I get them. Just wanted to throw this up to start a new thread.

  1. Please don't rec this one, rec the mothership diary instead if you haven't done so already.
  1. Also, please unrecommend the now-full 2nd child diary, http://www.dailykos.com/...
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A group of Jewish activists from the UK, Germany, Israel and the United States have set sail from a Turkish Cyprus port in an attempt to reach Gaza.

This group of brave activists includes 82 year-old Reuven Moskovitz--a survivor of the Holocaust,  Lillian Rosengarten--a New Yorker who escaped Nazi Germany as a little girl, Yonatan Shapira-- the former captain in the Israeli Air Force Reserves and refusnik,  Ramı Elhanen (husband to to Nurıt Peled-Elhanen), father of Smadar, who was killed by a suıcıde bomber in Jerusalem in 1997, and Edıth Lutz who ıs a German Jew and co- coordınator of the Jewısh boat.

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Two days ago, Newsweek Magazine published an online article entitled, "Don't Boycott Israel. They Very Idea is Repellent," authored by Jacob Weisberg, an editor at Slate. The article itself isn't particularly revelatory, save for the mild air of desperation about it.

But what is no less than stunning is the comment section of this milquetoast, middle-of-the-road publication. Newsweek's online readers just aren't buying it, confirming what republican pollster Frank Luntz found regarding American attitudes toward Israel in a poll commissioned by The Israel Project following the Flotilla raid:

56% of Americans agree with the claim that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza;
43% of Americans agree with the claim that people in Gaza are starving;
[Only] 34% of Americans support the Israeli operation against the Flotilla;
[Only] 20% of Americans “felt support” for Israel following announcement of easing of Gaza closure.

Israel is losing the PR war for America.

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