Category Archives: Israel

Israel Sidelined as Nations Pledge $5.4 Billion to Rebuild Gaza

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Israeli officials were unsuccessful in their attempts to condition the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, badly damaged during the summer Israeli invasion, on a full disarmament of Hamas and other factions within the strip.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly demanded the precondition, but it was ultimately sidelined, as the donor nations pledged $5.4 billion for reconstruction, solely on the condition that the ceasefire with Israel hold.’

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British parliament passes non-binding motion to recognize Palestinian state

Anshel Pfeffer reports for Haaretz:

‘The British parliament voted Monday in favor of a non-binding motion to recognize the state of Palestine, in a majority vote of 274-12.

The vote, which followed a debate that lasted nearly five hours, has no practical significance since it does not oblige the British government to change its current policy of recognizing Palestine only after a peace deal is reached between Israel and the Palestinians. The vote passed thanks to the Labour Party’s mobilization, as well as the Conservative Party’s virtual absence from the vote.

Outside the Palace of Westminster over the course of the debate, a small group of Pro-Palestinian demonstrators held a banner saying “Time to start giving back what we had no right to take” – a reference to the 1917 Balfour Declaration in which the British government committed itself to establishing a “national home” for the Jewish people in Palestine. Inside, many of the speakers in the debate, in which over 50 members of parliament asked to participate, mentioned the Balfour Declaration as well, and with it what they saw as Britain’s special responsibility to solving the Israel-Palestine conflict.’

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How Former Treasury Officials and the UAE Are Manipulating American Journalists

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - How Former Treasury Officials and the UAE Are Manipulating American Journalists‘The tiny and very rich Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar has become a hostile target for two nations with significant influence in the U.S.: Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Israel is furious over Qatar’s support for Palestinians generally and (allegedly) Hamas specifically, while the UAE is upset that Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (UAE supports the leaders of the military coup) and that Qatar funds Islamist rebels in Libya (UAE supports forces aligned with Ghadaffi (see update below)).

This animosity has resulted in a new campaign in the west to demonize the Qataris as the key supporter of terrorism. The Israelis have chosen the direct approach of publicly accusing their new enemy in Doha of being terrorist supporters, while the UAE has opted for a more covert strategy: paying millions of dollars to a U.S. lobbying firm – composed of former high-ranking Treasury officials from both parties – to plant anti-Qatar stories with American journalists. That more subtle tactic has been remarkably successful, and shines important light on how easily political narratives in U.S. media discourse can be literally purchased.’

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IAEA rejects Arab bid to curb Israel’s nuclear capabilities

The Jerusalem Post/Reuters reports:

Vienna ‘Member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency rejected on Thursday an Arab resolution criticizing Israel over its assumed atomic arsenal, in a diplomatic victory for Western states that opposed the initiative.

Arab states had submitted the non-binding resolution – which called on Israel to join a global anti-nuclear weapons pact – to the annual meeting of the 162-nation UN nuclear agency, in part to signal their frustration at the lack of progress to move towards a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.’

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Israeli envoy: Nuclear Iran ‘a thousand times’ more dangerous than Islamic State

Ron Kampeas reports for The Times of Israel:

‘Saying a nuclear Iran would be a “thousand times” greater threat to the world than the Islamic State, Israel’s ambassador to the United States warned against including Iran in any coalition to derail the jihadist group.

Ron Dermer, speaking Wednesday to guests at a pre-Rosh Hashanah reception at his residence in suburban Maryland, also cautioned the US against accommodating Iran during the current effort to degrade IS.His urgent tone was the latest sign of a split between the Obama and Netanyahu governments over how to deal with Iran’s role in stopping IS, which is seizing swaths of Iraq and Syria.’

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Israel’s N.S.A. Scandal

James Bamford reports for The New York Times:

‘In Moscow this summer, while reporting a story for Wired magazine, I had the rare opportunity to hang out for three days with Edward J. Snowden. It gave me a chance to get a deeper understanding of who he is and why, as a National Security Agency contractor, he took the momentous step of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.

Typically, when such sensitive information is transferred to another country, it would first be “minimized,” meaning that names and other personally identifiable information would be removed. But when sharing with Israel, the N.S.A. evidently did not ensure that the data was modified in this way.’

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John Pilger: Breaking the last taboo – Gaza and the threat of world war

John Pilger recently delivered a speech at the Edward Said Memorial Lecture in Australia:

C2t.jpg‘”There is a taboo,” said the visionary Edward Said, “on telling the truth about Palestine and the great destructive force behind Israel. Only when this truth is out can any of us be free.”

For many people, the truth is out now. At last, they know. Those once intimidated into silence can’t look away now. Staring at them from their TV, laptop, phone, is proof of the barbarism of the Israeli state and the great destructive force of its mentor and provider, the United States, the cowardice of European governments, and the collusion of others, such as Canada and Australia, in this epic crime.

The attack on Gaza was an attack on all of us. The siege of Gaza is a siege of all of us. The denial of justice to Palestinians is a symptom of much of humanity under siege and a warning that the threat of a new world war is growing by the day.’

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Gideon Levy: ‘Holocaust makes Israelis think international law doesn’t apply’

Lara Marlowe writes for The Irish Times:

‘Gideon Levy is preaching in the wilderness. Week after week, the columnist for Haaretz newspaper tells his compatriots what they do not want to hear: that the siege of Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank are immoral and counter-productive; that the continued seizure of Palestinian land and the construction of settlements is a “criminal enterprise” intended to foil any chance for peace.

[...] Levy is grateful to Amos Schocken, the third-generation owner of Haaretz, for standing by him. Some 2,000 readers cancelled subscriptions because of his July 14th column criticising Israeli air force pilots who bombed Gaza… During the war, Levy was threatened, heckled and spat upon. Haaretz hired bodyguards to protect him. Yariv Levin, the leader of the Likud Yisrael Beiteinu coalition in the Knesset, said he should be tried for treason, which carries the death penalty in time of war.’

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Jerusalem teachers warn of increase in racism after Gaza war

Yarden Skop reports for Haaretz:

‘Teachers in Jerusalem say they are concerned about facing more racism than ever before in the capital’s schools, especially following Operation Protective Edge. As the school year opens, the Education Ministry has published lesson plans on racism to be taught during the first two weeks, but many teachers say that is not enough.’

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Losing the Plot: Israel’s Premier to Face New Gaza Reality

Ramzy Baroud writes for The Palestine Chronicle:

‘Netanyahu’s war-turned-genocide in Gaza has backfired badly – his strategy has helped resurrect Hamas, the very movement he tried desperately to crush

Aside from being a major military setback, Israel’s war on Gaza has also disoriented the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu like never before. Since the announcement of a ceasefire on 26 August, his statements appear erratic and particularly uncertain, an expected outcome of the Gaza war.’

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Netanyahu eyes big increase in Israel’s defense spending

Xinhua reports:

‘Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he supports largely increasing defense spending in the upcoming 2015 budget in opposition to the stance of the finance minister, which may lead to the collapse of his political coalition.

“The billions we’ve invested in Israel’s defense in recent years saved the Israeli economy … Due to the threats in our area we need a substantial increment of billions in the defense budget, and we must do so in a responsible way without a great deficit,” Netanyahu said at the fourth international cyber convention held at the Tel Aviv University.’

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War is a racket: $6 billion Gaza reconstruction aid will be ‘made in Israel’

EurActiv reports 

How did we miss that one? Destruction in Gaza, July 2014. Photo: Oxfam International via Flickr.‘As the world gears up to finance Gaza’s $6bn reconstruction after Operation Protective Edge, an EU source has revealed that Israel will earn billions of euros by making sure that all the steel, concrete and other materials and other aid are sourced in Israel and benefit Israeli companies.

At least 65,000 people in the Gaza Strip are homeless after the recent seven-week conflict. Infrastructure ranging from water desalination centres to power plants lies in ruins.

No formal Israeli ban prevents the import of reconstruction materials that were not made in Israel, but EU sources speaking on condition of anonymity say that in practice, Israeli security demands present them with a fait accompli.’

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The Untold Story of the Shejaiya Massacre in Gaza: A Former Israel Soldier Speaks Out

Did Certain Foreign Governments Facilitate the 9/11 Attacks?

Justin Raimondo writes for Antiwar:

‘Some thirteen years after the event, the shadow of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhattan and the Pentagon still darkens our world. The legacy of that terrible day has impacted not only our foreign policy, bequeathing to a new generation an apparently endless “war on terrorism,” it also has led directly to what is arguably the most massive assault on our civil liberties since the Alien and Sedition Acts. Getting all the information about what happened that day – and why it happened – is key to understanding the course we have taken since.

This was supposed to have been the purpose of the 9/11 Commission, whose massive report is now looked to as the primary source on the subject. Yet there is another, far more specific investigative report, the one issued by the intelligence committees of both houses of Congress, entitled “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.”

If you actually take the time to read the report, all goes along swimmingly (except for occasional redactions) until you get to p. 369, whereupon the text is blacked out for the next twenty-eight pages.

What is in the twenty-eight censored pages? You aren’t allowed to know that, but members of Congress can read them provided they write to the heads of the Senate and House intelligence committees and get permission. If such is granted, they are escorted into a soundproof carefully guarded room in the company of various spooks, where they get to read the material: they aren’t allowed to take notes.

Do you get the impression someone has something to hide?’

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Netanyahu suggested pitting ISIS against Iran

Michael Wilner reported for The Jerusalem Post in late June:

‘Threatening a borderless conflict between “extremist Shi’ites,” funded by leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and equally extreme Sunnis— a soft “alliance” between ISIS and al Qaeda— the Israeli prime minister suggested the United States should largely stay out of the fight, and instead allow the parties to weaken one another.

“Don’t strengthen either of them. Weaken both,” Netanyahu said.’

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Editor’s Note: What Netanyahu suggested is something a lot like the eight year blood bath that was the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980’s, a war which cost Iraq 500,000 lives and Iran over 750,000. Israel played a secret role by selling $75 million worth of weapons to Iran during Operation Seashell in 1981. The following year the United States started providing Iraq with weapons after Ronald Reagan removed them from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. Everyone remembers the famous when Rumsfeld met Saddam moment from 1983. It’s a very dirty game and clearly the same kind of thinking still exists today, let your enemies kill each other while you sit back and enjoy the show. You can watch a documentary on the Iran-Iraq War here.

Who is Lev Tahor, the ‘Jewish Taliban’?

Elon Gilad writes for Haaretz:

Shay Fogelman‘[...] The group’s leader, Helbrans was born in 1962 as Erez Shlomo Elbarnes. He was raised by secular parents in Jerusalem, but “found religion” during his teens and left to study at yeshiva.

After moving between different ultra-Orthodox schools, he found himself in the Satmar sect. He also adopted the anti-Zionist Satmar ideology, which is why he changed his name to Shlomo Helbrans, shedding the Zionist name Erez and taking a more diaspora spelling of his last name.

In the late 1980s, Helbrans began to attract a following in Jerusalem, mostly among secular Jews converted to the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle. By the decade’s end he was preaching the destruction of the evil State of Israel, based on biblical prophesies.’

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Newly declassified documents show how US agreed to Israel’s nuclear program

World Bulletin reports:

Files show how US agreed to Israel's nuclear program‘Declassified documents from 45 years ago have revealed how cabinet secretaries and senior advisers to the then US president Richard Nixon withdrew from a plan to block Israeli nuclearization ahead of a meeting with then Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir at the White House in September 1969.

The files, that were made public by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), not only shows how American delegates agreed to Israel’s refusal to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but also how they came to terms with allowing Israel to refuse an American inspection of the Dimona nuclear facility and a deal which would have seen the delivery of strategic ground-to-ground Jericho missiles to Israel in exchange for their signing of the treaty.

Although the details of Nixon’s meeting with Meir remain classified, the declassified files state that officials had on the eve of the talks advised Nixon to show restraint with regard to the Israeli nuclear program, and to abandon efforts to get Israel to cease acquiring 500-kilometer-range missiles with one-ton warheads developed in the Marcel Dassault factory in France, if it could reach an agreement with Israel on these points, the daily Haaretz reported.’

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A War on Gaza’s Future? Israeli Assault Leaves 500 Kids Dead, 3,000 Injured, 373,000 Traumatized

‘As the Israeli offensive in Gaza resumes, we look at the impact the military campaign has had on the children of Gaza. More than 467 Palestinian children have died since July. That is more than the combined number of child fatalities in the two previous conflicts in Gaza. According to the World Health Organization, more than 3,000 children have been injured, of which an estimated 1,000 will suffer from a life-long disability. The United Nations estimates at least 373,000 children require direct and specialized psychosocial support. And, based on the total number of adults killed, there may be up to 1,500 children orphaned. Gazan children’s right to an education has also been severely compromised with at least 25 schools reportedly damaged so severely that they can no longer be used. We speak to Pernille Ironside, chief of UNICEF’s Gaza field office. “There isn’t a single family in Gaza who hasn’t experienced personally death, injury, the loss of their home, extensive damage, displacement,” Ironside says. “The psychological toll that has on a people, it just cannot be overestimated, and especially on children.”’ (Democracy Now!)

Gaza counts cost of war as more than 360 factories destroyed or damaged

Harriet Sherwood reports for The Guardian:

Gaza‘s economy will take years to recover from the devastating impact of the war, in which more than 360 factories have been destroyed or badly damaged and thousands of acres of farmland ruined by tanks, shelling and air strikes, according to analysts. Israeli air strikes on Gaza have resumed since a temporary ceasefire brokedown on Tuesday after rockets were fired from Gaza. The Israeli Defence Force said it launched air stikes on 20 sites on Friday morning and Gaza health officials said two Palestinians were killed in an attack on a farm.

Almost 10% of Gaza’s factories have been put out of action, said the Palestinian Federation of Industries. Most other industrial plants have halted production during the conflict, causing losses estimated at more than $70m (£42m), said the union of Palestinian industries. The UN’s food and agriculture organisation (FAO) said about 42,000 acres of croplands had sustained substantial direct damage and half of Gaza’s poultry stock has been lost due to direct hits or lack of care as access to farmlands along the border with Israel became impossible. More than 9% of the annual fishing catch was lost between 9 July and 10 August, it added.’

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Israel Mobilizes 10,000 More Reservists for Gaza War

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘With signs the ongoing Israeli war on the Gaza Strip is again escalating, the Israeli government has ordered the mobilization of another 10,000 reservists, bringing the number called up so far during the war to 96,000.

Israeli military officials say that the 10,000 will replace other reservists who are being temporarily sent home for rest, which also suggests that they are planning the war to be long enough they have to do troop rotations.’

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Holocaust survivors and their descendants accuse Israel of ‘genocide’

The Independent reports:

‘Dozens of Holocaust survivors, together with hundreds of descendants of Holocaust survivors and victims, have accused Israel of “genocide” for the deaths of more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza since the conflict erupted in July. In an open letter released by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and published as an advert in The New York Times, the group calls for a full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel over its “wholesale effort to destroy Gaza”.

“Genocide begins with the silence of the world,” the statement reads, “We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people.” The statement also condemns the United States for its financial and diplomatic support of Israel. The signatories express alarm at “the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever pitch.”’

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Netanyahu warns Gaza civilians after Israel destroys apartment block

Reuters reports:

Image AP Photo/Adel Hana‘Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Palestinian civilians on Sunday to leave immediately any site where militants are operating, one day after Israel flattened a 13-storey apartment block in Gaza. Israeli aircraft fired a non-explosive rocket at the building as a signal to residents to get out before attacking it on Saturday. Seventeen people were wounded in the strike on the structure, which Israel said had housed a Hamas command centre.

“I call on the inhabitants of Gaza to evacuate immediately from every site from which Hamas is carrying out terrorist activity. Every one of these places is a target for us,” Netanyahu said in public remarks at a cabinet meeting. With no end in sight to fighting in its seventh week, Netanyahu’s tough talk seemed to indicate a move towards bolder strikes against Hamas targets in densely populated neighbourhoods, even at the risk of raising more international alarm.’

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Iran displays Israeli drone allegedly shot down near nuclear facility

The Jerusalem Post/Reuters reports:

‘The Iranian media released footage Monday of the Israeli spy drone it claimed to have shot down Sunday as it was heading for its Natanz nuclear enrichment site. The Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) claimed Monday that it was working to extract intelligence and data from the drone’s remains. According to an Iranian military official, the drone was a Hermes model with a combat radius of 800 kilometers.

IRGC’s Public Relations Department General Ramezan Sharif was quoted by Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency as saying that some of the parts of the downed aircraft are working, “and our experts are studying the information and intelligence of these parts. We are now analyzing the information of this plane. The downed aircraft was of the stealth, radar-evasive type and it intended to penetrate the off-limits nuclear area in Natanz … but was targeted by a ground-to-air missile before it managed to enter the area,” state news agency ISNA said, citing a statement by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.’

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What links Gaza, Iraq and Ukraine? US and NATO foreign policy

Chris Nineham writes for Stop The War:

NatoUN agencies and leading charities confirmed over the weekend what many people are thinking and feeling about the state of the world – we are witnessing  an unprecendented  level of global  turmoil and violence. The UN added a series of countries to its extreme crisis list and a senior foreign policy advisor at Oxfam briefed “I haven’t seen anything of this scale before…across the board, the humanitarian community sees this as one of the worst moments we’ve ever had to confront in terms of simultaneous, mostly man-made crises.” This follows a UN announcement a few weeks ago that for the first time since World War II, the number displaced people worldwide exceeded 50 million.

This is the disturbing context in which the leaders of the Western world will be coming to Newport in South Wales for a high-profile NATO summit. The crises in Gaza, Iraq, Eastern Europe and beyond tend to be reported as entirely separate cases with little or no investigation of either wider context or history.  Palestinian representatives – on the few occiasions have been given air time – have argued that the long history of Israeli expansionism backed by Britain and the US is key to comprehending current events. Invariably they have been brusquely brought up to date, told that ‘we are where we are’ and that they should concentrate on finding  solutions. But there is no prospect of solutions to any of these terrible crises without understanding what is driving them.’

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Syrian rebel commander says he collaborated with Israel in confession video

Elhanan Miller reports for The Times of Israel:

Syrian opposition commander Sharif As-Safouri confesses to collaborating with Israel (photo credit: Youtube screen capture)‘A Free Syrian Army commander, arrested last month by the Islamist militia Al-Nusra Front, told his captors he collaborated with Israel in return for medical and military support, in a video released this week

In a video uploaded to YouTube Monday by the Executive Sharia Council in the eastern Daraa Region, an Islamic court established by Al-Nusra in southern Syria, Sharif As-Safouri, the commander of the Free Syrian Army’s Al-Haramein Battalion, admitted to having entered Israel five times to meet with Israeli officers who later provided him with Soviet anti-tank weapons and light arms. Safouri was abducted by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front in the Quneitra area, near the Israeli border, on July 22.’

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UN Announces Members For Gaza Probe Panel, Angers Israel

Avaneesh Pandey reports for The International Business Times:

‘The United Nations Human Rights Council, or UNHRC, in a statement released Monday, announced the appointment of three experts to an international commission of inquiry that will investigate allegations of war crimes and violations of “international humanitarian and human rights laws” during the Israeli military’s assault on the Gaza Strip.

[...] The international commission of inquiry, which was launched on July 23 after 29 countries voted in its favor, is slated to submit its report by March 2015. Israel, responding to Monday’s announcement, reiterated its earlier stance and denounced the UNHRC panel as a “kangaroo court,” Al Jazeera reported… Hamas, on the other hand, said that the formation of the commission was an important step forward… The UNHRC announcement came on the second day of a 72-hour cease-fire between Hamas and Israel during which the two sides have resumed indirect talks in Cairo, mediated by Egypt.’

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If the Nobel Peace Prize can be handed to Obama, why not hand it to the Israeli Defence Force?

Robert Fisk writes for The Independent:

‘But seriously. Is Dermer, one of Benjamin Netanyahu’s most trusted advisers, simply delusional? At one point in his extraordinary address, he even referred to the RAF’s carpet-bombing of German cities in the Second World War – as if this was the template for Israel’s “restraint”. It was like the old Blair refrain that whatever mistakes we made in Iraq, we weren’t as bad as Saddam. Well, I should hope not. But then Dermer went on: “I especially will not tolerate criticism of my country at a time when Israeli soldiers are dying so that innocent Palestinians can live.” These soldiers, according to Dermer, were being sent “into the hornet’s nest of Palestinian terror” – but WERE TRYING TO SAVE “INNOCENT” PALESTINIAN LIVES!’

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John Pilger talks Gaza, Ukraine & Western media bias

Are we creating personalized propaganda bubbles?

Mark Strauss writes for i09:

The Biggest Source of Disinformation On The Gaza Conflict Is Ourselves‘New data visualizations give a startling picture of online activity during the latest conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. And they reveal just how much online media and social networks help us to create our own information bubbles, customized to reinforce our political beliefs.

Gilad Lotan is the chief data scientist at betaworks, which has launched high-profile companies that include SocialFlow and bitly. Looking at Lotan’s network graph of Twitter traffic from his blog i love data, I can’t help but feel that we really are living in a version of The Matrix. The media constructs our reality and we’re plugged into it 24/7. Except here, in theory, we have the freedom to make our own decisions.

In Lotan’s view, however, that’s a big part of the problem…’

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ICG’s Nathan Thrall: Likely solution for a lasting ceasefire was on the table before Israeli assault and over 1,800 dead

‘Is a lasting ceasefire in Gaza possible — and on what terms? Our guest Nathan Thrall has laid out a possible plan for a ceasefire in his new article in the London Review of Books, “Hamas’s Chances.” Thrall writes: “The obvious solution is to let the new Palestinian government return to Gaza and reconstruct it. Israel can claim it is weakening Hamas by strengthening its enemies. Hamas can claim it won the recognition of the new government and a significant lifting of the blockade. This solution would of course have been available to Israel, the U.S., Egypt and the Palestinian Authority in the weeks and months before the war began, before so many lives were shattered.” Speaking to us from Jerusalem, Thrall is a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, covering Gaza, Israel, Jordan and the West Bank. He also addresses Hamas’ accusation that Israel misled the world about the alleged capture of an Israeli soldier. On Friday, Israel said one of soldiers, Lt. Hadar Goldin, had been captured near Rafah. His suspected abduction led to an Israeli offensive in Rafah that killed more than 100 people and the collapse of a U.S.- and U.N.-brokered ceasefire.’ (Democracy Now!)