On any given weekend, Israeli and Lebanese citizens can be found standing together in an orderly line before a Cypriot magistrate. They shuffle forward, couple by couple, in line to get married. The distance to Cyprus is roughly the same for an Israeli or a Lebanese couple, as is the reason why these couples choose to get married there. And no, it is not due to the beautiful weather, the beaches, or the nightlife in Cyprus, which most Israelis and Lebanese would insist to the reader, with a swish of nationalist bravado, are inferior. These are not marriages between Lebanese and Israelis. Rather, these couples leave their countries and travel by boat or by plane to a country that has what Israel and Lebanon both lack: a civil marriage law. To put it more simply, they do not have a marriage law that is adjudicated by secular, and not religious, authorities. Despite the fact that interfaith marriages cannot take place in either country, in Lebanon the lack of civil marriage is understood to index both the lack of secularism and liberalism and the primordial and patriarchal nature of the Lebanese state, while Israel continues to enjoy the ideological capital that its status as “the only [secular] democracy in the Middle East” ensures and unleashes.

Hotline for Migrant Workers, an organisation supporting undocumented migrant workers, refugees and victims of trafficking in Israel has published a report detailing accounts of torture, rape and murder of migrants at the hand of smugglers and traffickers in the Sinai Desert in Egypt, en route to Israel. According to the report and testimonies collected approximately 5,000 women were smuggled into Israel through the Sinai Desert in recent years and the majority of the ones who were held by the smugglers in the desert in 2010 were raped.

"I stopped counting after I had received 50 death threats. I told my secretary not to tell me about them any more," Arab-Israeli Knesset (parliament) member, Haneen Zoabi told IPS. "As a result of the death threats I’ve been given personal body guards both within the Knesset and outside," adds Zoabi. Zoabi, a member of the Arab-Israeli political party Balad, was on board the ‘Mavi Marmara’, part of the Free Gaza (FG) flotilla, when it was attacked by Israeli commandos in international waters as it tried to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza several weeks ago.

A few days after saying he intends to take action against Israeli professors who call for an academic boycott of Israel, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar is scheduled to appear on Monday before the Knesset Education Committee to discuss the limits of freedom of expression in schools. Sa'ar refused to provide Haaretz with details of what action he plans to take. His statements, made in the Knesset plenum Wednesday, "speak for themselves," a spokesperson said.

This is getting damned strange. The Obama administration and Israel have been haggling for a week over the nature and composition of the supposedly independent commission which will investigate the Gaza flotilla disaster. We hear that the U.S. demanded that someone of judicial “stature” like a Supreme Court justice be appointed as chair. Bibi finally acquiesced and appointed Justice Yaakov Tirkel. But there’s one problem. The incoming panel chair doesn’t seem to believe in the panel.

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies called upon the United Nations to conduct immediate investigations that would comply by international law standards in relation to the appalling attacks that Israel committed against the humanitarian aid flotilla.

شدد مركز القاهرة لدراسات حقوق الإنسان على أنه يتعين على الأمم المتحدة إجراء تحقيقات فورية تنطلق من معايير القانون الدولي الأساسية بشأن الهجوم الوحشي الذي شنته إسرائيل على "أسطول الحرية"، ووضع حد لنهج الإفلات من العقاب الذي يشجع إسرائيل على مواصلة جرائمها المنافية للقانون الدولي الإنساني، مشيراً فى ذلك إلى ضرورة التنفيذ الكامل لتوصيات لتقرير جولدستون بشأن جرائم الحرب والجرائم ضد الإنسانية إبان الحرب الأخيرة على غزة

Early Monday morning, we woke up to the horrible news of the Israeli raid on the peace activists of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which killed more than 10 people and injured dozens. Many of the hundreds of activists, who were on the boats, are still imprisoned by Israeli security forces, awaiting their deportation. The flotilla was carrying 10,000 tons of food, medicine and other supplies to Gaza, which has been placed under siege by Israel since 2005 (with harsher restrictions since June 2007).

Sisters In Islam is shocked and saddened with the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla on a humanitarian mission to Gaza. SIS condemns the attack on the humanitarian boats and calls for the immediate implementation of U.N resolution 1860 which calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian aid to Gaza’s more than 1.5 million people.

The UN Security Council Calls for Impartial, Credible Investigation of Israeli Boat Raid. The raid in international waters, on the aid convoy headed to Gaza left at least 16 civilians dead. After an emergency session wrapped up in the early hours this morning, the council agreed to language condemning the acts that resulted in the deaths and injuries aboard the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmaraand the European Campaign’s vessel Spendoni. Update on Israel: Outlaws of the Mediterranean

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