Plato's Guns

M i d e a s t Newsstand

Mozart and the Stone Thrower: The Redemptive Power of Music – Nancy Graham Holm/HuffPo

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https://i2.wp.com/images.huffingtonpost.com/2015-06-08-1433788577-1734236-bookjacket.jpg

Sandy Tolan knows Palestinian life. His first book, The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew and the Heart of the Middle East (2006) was followed up by his popular blog, Ramallah Café: Facts on the Ground in the Middle East. Now he gives us Children of the Stone where we hear more about some of the people we’ve met at his café.

What we also get is an unexpected “symphony” in four movements with magical Interludes; a blend of biography and politics with a literate discussion of music. The book’s subtitle: The Power of Music in a Hard Land refers to the profound influence music can have on people who live in a perpetually punishing environment.
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BDS: A Legitimate and Moral Response to Israeli Policy – James Zogby/HuffPo

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The Israeli government response to the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” (BDS) movement has been predictable. Being incapable of engaging in any reasonable form of self-criticism or even self-reflection, Israeli leaders have, instead, turned their wrath on their accusers and their victims.
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Egypt opens borders with Gaza for the first time in months – AP

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RAFAH, Gaza Strip  — Egypt opened its borders with the Gaza Strip for the first time in months Saturday, allowing Palestinians to enter and leave the isolated coastal strip.

The Rafah border crossing will operate for six hours a day for the coming three days and 15,000 people Palestinians have applied to exit to Egypt, said Maher Abu Sabha, head of the Gaza side of the crossing. He said those were humanitarian cases and included medical patients, students and Arab residents whose residency permits were about to expire. However, he said only 1,500 of those were actually expected to pass through.
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Israel’s arrest of Palestinian lawmaker ‘a farce’ – Patrick Strickland/ Al Jazeera English

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Ramallah, occupied West Bank – Yafa Jarrar, 28, says she was surprised when she learned that her mother had been arrested by a large contingent of Israeli soldiers from her home in al-Bireh, a Ramallah-area town in the occupied West Bank.

“It was late at night here in Canada when I heard the news and I couldn’t believe it at first, but nothing this occupation does is shocking,” she told Al Jazeera.
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Declassified 9/11 Documents Show Bitter Dispute Between CIA Officials – Reuters

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WASHINGTON, June 12 – Top CIA officials fought bitterly in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks over whether U.S. intelligence agencies could have done more to stop the deadliest terrorist strikes in American history, documents released on Friday show.

The once-secret documents include a more complete version of a 2005 report by the spy agency’s inspector general, which found that the CIA did not have a comprehensive strategy or marshal adequate resources to combat al Qaeda before hijacked planes hit New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11.
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Israel: A new kind of war – FT.com

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Israel is not at war, but its political leaders are showing rare unity over what they see as a potent new threat to the survival of the Jewish state.

That threat is Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), an umbrella campaign of international activists that models itself on the movement that helped topple apartheid in South Africa. Though a decade old, BDS’s message — that Israel should be isolated economically for its occupation of Palestinian lands — has appeared to come into its own in recent weeks. A series of votes by overseas groups condemning Israel and a high-profile flap between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and Orange, the French telecoms group, have contributed to the sense that BDS is becoming a force to be reckoned with.
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Who’s afraid of America? – The Economist

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The military playing field is more even than it has been for many years. That is a big problem for the West.

SINCE the end of the cold war one simple geopolitical rule has endured: do not take on America. The country’s armed forces have been so well resourced and so technologically superior that it would be utterly foolish for any state to mount a direct challenge to the superpower or its allies. This rule still holds—but it is no longer quite as compelling as it once was. Although America still possesses by far the most capable armed forces in the world, the technological advantage that guarantees it can defeat any conceivable adversary is eroding rapidly.
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Activists gather in West Bank to show solidarity

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U.S. Has No Idea How Long It Will Keep an ISIS Bride Locked Up – The Daily Beast

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She’s the first high-level detainee of America’s ISIS war. And U.S. forces don’t know how long they’ll hold her, or where she’ll go next.

The U.S military is indefinitely detaining the wife of a high-level ISIS leader, raising new questions about the Obama administration’s strategy for attacking the militant group and the legal and political challenges it could face if more fighters are taken into American custody with no plans to release them.
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‘Israel conspired in massacre of Syrian Druse,’ Lebanese officials say – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

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 (image: pro Bashar Syrian Druze: resistance flag)

Walid Jumblatt, the prominent Lebanese Druse leader, said on Friday that Israel’s intervention was not needed to help his community in Syria just days after a massacre by Nusra Front gunmen claimed the lives of 25 Druse villagers in Idlib.
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Why Saudi Arabia can’t get a nuclear weapon – Farid Zakaria/The Washington Post

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Of the many unnerving aspects of the future of the Middle East, a nuclear arms race would top the list. And to feed that unease, Saudi Arabia has been periodically dropping hints that, should Iran’s nuclear ambitions go unchecked, it might just have to get nuclear weapons itself. This week, the Saudi ambassador to London made yet another explicit threat, warning that “all options will be on the table.”

Oh, please! Saudi Arabia isn’t going to build a nuclear weapon. Saudi Arabia can’t build a nuclear weapon. Saudi Arabia hasn’t even built a car. (By 2017, after much effort, the country is expected to manufacture its first automobile.)
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NY Times helps Israel whitewash the killings of four boys playing soccer on Gaza beach – James North/Mondoweiss | PLUS: US declines comment on IDF closing file into deaths of 4 Gazan children (double article)

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Here’s yet another sad example of how the New York Times has dropped even the pretense of fair reporting about Israel. Jodi Rudoren acts as a stenographer for an Israeli government report that whitewashes the military of war crimes in last summer’s invasion of Gaza, in an article titled “Israeli Report Backs Tactics by Military in Gaza War.”

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