Archive | April 2nd, 2011

WATCH OUT MOOOZLEMS TRAITOR’S FOR ISRAHELL

Voice of hope in UK Muslims for Israel

March 31, 2011

 

The latest pro-Israel advocacy group emanates from an unlikely source, but is dedicated to turning the tables on the delegitimisation campaign.

British Muslims for Israel aims to challenge perceptions within the Muslim community about life in the country, according to one of its founders, Hasan Afzal.

Currently on a year’s leave from Birmingham University, Mr Afzal, 21, said the group had emerged as a result of young, professional Muslims’ concerns about the “dumbing down of rhetoric about Muslims and the Middle East”.

He said BMI would promote Israel’s right to exist and the belief in a peaceful solution with the Palestinians.

Mr Afzal said: “How has the debate switched from being about implementing a two-state solution, to the delegitimisation of Israel and a prologue that ends with the country’s destruction?

“We do not buy into the Islamist dialogue about a war against the West or Israel. It boils down to this: what sort of world do we want to live in? We say to the Muslim community ‘don’t be fooled by the Arab or Islamist rhetoric, that this will end in one all-out war’.”

The group was set up in January and Mr Afzal admitted progress had been slow. He said that the number of members could not be revealed “for security reasons”, but confirmed a number of meetings had already taken place.

Participating Muslims have included a doctor, a teacher and a journalist.

Mr Afzal said: “I knew a couple of British Muslims who felt like me, and we met to talk. They knew other people and we came together. I thought I was in a one-man minority, but there are Muslims out there who are liberal and believe in their religion. We have hit on a great treasure chest of human rights activists who believe in Israel.

“We discuss how we can advocate for Israel. We highlight the hypocrisy of Middle East countries. No-one talks about the treatment of Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia or some Muslim communities in Pakistan. People only want to talk about Israel and the Palestinians.”

The response from some Muslim groups has been overtly negative. Supporters of the anti-Zionist Muslim Public Affairs Committee called Mr Afzal “a traitor”.

He said: “We are up against it, but this is not an overnight campaign. If MPAC is calling me a traitor, I must have done something right. Your average Muslim on the British street is apathetic. But there needs to be a voice from the other side, or we will see mainstream Muslims moving towards the extreme.

“If we give the pro-Israeli side, we can have a discussion here and move people to our side without them feeling like a ‘traitor’. The UK is way behind other countries. There’s a massive liberal Muslim movement out there, just not so much in the UK.”

BMI is yet to have any contact with the Israeli Embassy, but is being supported by a number of think tanks and human rights organisations. Plans include linking with Christian Zionist groups, finding a presence in Westminster through collaboration with parliamentarians, and the publishing of reports about the standard of Muslim life in Israel compared to other Middle East countries.

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Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland PSC

Dear Friends,

This evening, all the radio and TV news commentary focused heavily on Goldstone’s seeming retraction of his well known report about war crimes in Gaza during Israel’s military campaign there in 2008-9.  While Lieberman and Netanyahu ‘I told you so-ed’ to the Israeli public, at least one commentator was sufficiently intelligent to ask ‘what made him retract’?  Good question, which I, however, will not deal with.  But will have one or two comments when we come to the retraction or partial retraction, which is item 5.

Of the 8 items below, the final 2 are action requests.  Please read them, distribute widely, and help if you can.

Item 1 relates that IAF air strike killed 3 militants in Gaza—just another sign that Israel’s leaders do not care about Israeli citizens or others who reside here, because it is obvious that the killing (and serious wounding of a 4th) will bring retaliation, which most likely means that Israelis whose communities border on Gaza, and even further away, are likely to have a sleepless night, waiting for the missiles to fall.  Was the killing necessary?  Even if Israel’s excuse is correct that the group was planning to kidnap Israelis over the Passover holiday, was there no way to handle the situation besides one that puts a large number of Israel’s citizens in potential danger?

In item 2, Amira Hass takes a pot shot at “Mighty Israel” and the money and energy it spends trying to quash non-violent protest.  I suspect that the IAF killing in Gaza and ‘mighty Israel’s’ heavy hand in the West Bank against Palestinian non-violent protest against the theft of their lands and homes, demolitions, and the rest all have a goal of forcing Palestinians to trade non-violence for violence.  With violence Israel knows how to deal!  Use force and more force.

Following Amira’s heavy commentary, comes a surprise:  a decent judge who has the sense to tell the police that they are overstepping their bounds, and who additionally apparently values freedom of expression.

Item 4 shows that the judge’s remarks to the police had little influence on their acts.  More arrests of activists protesting peacefully occurred today.

Item 5 is Richard Goldstone’s remarks.  What he says is that had he known when he wrote his report what he knows today, the report would have been very different from the one that now exists.  How different?  Mainly, apparently, it would have not accused Israel of war crimes, or at least with regard to fewer instances.  I cannot say that I find Goldstone’s turn-about entirely convincing.  To mention a few points: he takes much too much for granted that Israel is performing (has performed) a transparent and thorough investigation.  Hamas’s crimes, he says, were intentional—Israel’s not, at least not in all cases, for example the one in which 21 members of a single family were killed.  Goldstone claims that Israel has the right to defend itself, but not a word about Gaza having that same right.  He goes so far as to say that the fact that Hamas managed to kill only comparatively few Israelis does not relieve it of accountability, but says nothing about Israel having killed so many—intentionally or not—being accountable for their deaths.  Really!  Just to claim that Israel did not kill intentionally does not relieve it of responsibility!  Goldstone should have read testimonies of soldiers who participated in the killing fields of Gaza that are gathered in Breaking the Silence (the link to it follows Goldstone’s retraction).

And also it might have been useful for him to have seen a video showing how technologically advanced Israel is in the field of drones used to kill, but which nevertheless hit civilians—in one case a family in their yard having tea, in another 2 young women walking down the street (the link also follows the report).  And I hardly need remind you of the doctor’s 3 daughters and niece who were suddenly killed by tank shells while sitting in their room.  Do we say that a driver who killed a pedestrian is not responsible because he/she did not do it intentionally?  Goldstone’s report (the original one) was fair-handed.  His comments now sound as though he feels that his report conflicted with his support for Israel.  Read and see what you think.

Item 6 is pleasant reading for a change.  Gideon Levy meets an old friend from Gaza and spends the day with him.  Just goes to show how easily we could live together in peace.

Items 7 and 8, as I have said, are requests.  Please do your best to help.

Thanks,

Dorothy

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1. The Independent,

2 April 2011

Israeli air strike kills three militants in Gaza

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israeli-air-strike-kills-three-militants-in-gaza-2260387.html

By Maayan Lubell, Reuters

Israeli aircraft killed three Palestinian gunmen in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, medical officials and the Israeli army said.

Residents said the planes fired on a car in which the three men were travelling near the town of Khan Younis.

An Israeli military spokesman said the air strike was aimed at “a Hamas terrorist squad planning to kidnap Israelis over the upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover.”

Hamas, Gaza’s Islamist rulers, confirmed the men were members of its armed wing, but denied they were planning a kidnapping and threatened reprisal. “The enemy will pay for this assassination crime,” a statement said.

The air strike raised to 15 the number of people killed since a flare up of violence last month.

Israel and the Palestinians have signalled a readiness to return to a de facto ceasefire which has kept the border mostly quiet since the end of the December 2008-January 2009 Gaza war.

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2.  Haaretz,

March 28, 2011


Mighty Israel and its quest to quash Palestinian popular protest

The military has delegated its best soldiers, investigators and judges to safeguarding Israel against the organizer of Nabi Saleh’s popular uprising.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/mighty-israel-and-its-quest-to-quash-palestinian-popular-protest-1.352248

By Amira Hass

Tags: Israel news Palestinians

“Now that Abdullah Abu Rahma has been released from jail, the Israeli soldiers and the honorable military tribunal judges will have time for Bassem Tamimi.” Thus Tamimi, the coordinator of Nabi Saleh’s Popular Committee, was introduced to guests who came to congratulate Bil’in resident Abu Rahma on his release after serving 16 months on charges of incitement and organizing illegal demonstrations. Twenty-four hours later, late Thursday morning, Tamimi was arrested.

The truth is, though, that regardless of Abu Rahma’s release, the military has delegated its best soldiers, investigators and judges to safeguarding Israel from 44-year-old Tamimi and from the spreading virus of popular uprising.

Bassem Tamimi arguing with soldiers at Nabi Saleh.

Photo by: Bilal Tamimi

We met several times in the past two weeks – in Ramallah, not in Nabi Saleh. Facing the suppression of that village’s weekly demonstrations is a challenge best reserved for the experienced. Huge quantities of tear gas, rubber-coated bullets flying between buildings, gas canisters with (illegally ) extended ranges, beatings, shovings and home invasions – this is what the Israel Defense Forces employs against the small village of 500. Since the demonstrations began in 2009, 155 of the residents have been injured, 40 percent of whom are children. Thirty-five houses have been damaged in the process of dispersing demonstrations, and seven caught fire.

The Civil Administration does not shy from taking action. It has distributed 11 demolition orders for home additions in Area C (about half of the village is in that area, meaning it is under full Israeli administrative and security control ).

In straightforward terms, that is where Israel forbids Palestinians from building and developing. On the other side of the road, also in Area C, the settlement of Halamish is expanding and building houses on land belonging to the villages of Nabi Saleh and Dir Nizam.

Some 13 percent of Nabi Saleh’s residents – 63 people – have been arrested and jailed since the end of 2009. All but three were tried for participating in demonstrations against the army. Bassem Tamimi is number 64. Of those imprisoned, 29 were minors. Four were women, including Nariman Tamimi, Bassem’s wife.

To complete the picture there are night raids on homes, access to the village is blocked and scores of others have been detained for a few hours at a time.

Tamimi had not been staying at home for almost two weeks – he knew the army wanted to arrest him. As a Fatah member, he had been arrested repeatedly since his youth.

Now he hoped to postpone this predicament. He had spent three years in administrative detention (without a trial ). During an interrogation in 1993, he was shaken and lost consciousness for eight days. Paralyzed, he was taken from the hospital to jail. After 40 days in solitary confinement, he was released.

“I didn’t kill so I didn’t have anything to admit,” he said.

We met for a long talk a few days after the Fogel family members were murdered in the settlement of Itamar. His colleagues in Bil’in’s Popular Struggle Committee had published a statement condemning the murder. Tamimi did not think it was right to initiate a condemnation of “something that never has represented us. But if I’m asked, I obviously respond that murdering children is murdering children, whatever their nationality, color, religion or race. It doesn’t matter if the child is named Hadas Fogel or Iman Hijju or Abir Aramin. The murder of Hadas Fogel, even without knowing who the murderer is, goes against our humanity. The occupation has occupied our reason and consciousness. Due to the conflict we started to make excuses for acts that are not humane, that harm the Palestinians more than they harm the Israelis.

“Our strategic choice of a popular struggle – as a means to fight the occupation taking over our lands, lives and future – is a declaration that we do not harm human lives. The very essence of our activity opposes killing. Therefore there is no need to condemn something that from the start does not represent us and is contrary to our way of thinking.

“The popular uprising is not a reaction. The problem is not expropriated land or a spring the settlers took over – that is merely an expression of the problem, which is foreign rule. If Benjamin Netanyahu genuinely wanted to save lives and end the conflict, he would not declare that houses are being built in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, houses that are actually graves for Palestinians and Israelis.

He would announce that homes are being built to move the settlers to Tel Aviv, within Israel, on 78 percent of our historical land that we have agreed will be the State of Israel, so that we will have a state in the remainder of the territory. As members of Fatah, we supported peace negotiations. But it merely led to more settlements and settlers. During the peace process, we lost more than at any other time.

“We want to offer our people an example and model of popular struggle. From the start of the revolution (the establishment of Fatah ) and the armed struggle, we committed cumulative mistakes that the Israelis exploited against us, even though they were merely reactions to Israeli repression. We don’t have a military response to Israel. History has taught us that only popular uprisings were successful, albeit partially: in 1936 and 1987. Through a popular struggle we can prove our moral superiority.”

On Thursday, March 24, Tamimi thought that a visit by European diplomats to his village would protect him from arrest.

He left Ramallah and had 10 minutes to spend at home and embrace his children. Just when he asked his wife to “prepare a delicious meal that I miss so much,” the IDF with all its resourcefulness sent five jeeps and 15 soldiers. We’ve got Tamimi.

==============================

3.  Haaretz,

April 01, 2011

HomePrint EditionNewsPublished 00:52 01.04.11


Court releases Israeli leftist activists, slams police for limiting free speech

Leftist activists were detained while demonstrating near the Havat Maon outpost on Saturday to protest the stabbing of a Palestinian days earlier.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/court-releases-israeli-leftist-activists-slams-police-for-limiting-free-speech-1.353402

By Chaim Levinson

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court released on Sunday leftist activists detained while demonstrating outside a West Bank outpost, stressing specifically that police had no authority to limit their freedom of speech.

The activists were detained after a demonstration near the Havat Maon outpost on Saturday to protest the stabbing of a Palestinian days earlier. Police and Army forces presented them with a document declaring the area a closed military zone, leading to an argument in which 15 people were arrested.

After questioning them at the Hebron police station, police offered to release the activists in exchange for a promise to stay away from the area, which they refused.

Representing the detainees, attorney Nery Ramati told the court they were not met with any opposition by the settlers and that therefore there was no risk to anyone.

“Their stated purpose was a quiet, non-violent vigil against the non-enforcement of the law on the Jewish settlers in the area,” the lawyer said.

Judge Yoel Tsur decided to immediately release all the detainees. “The release of detainees must not be based on conditions that may harm the right for freedom of opinion and freedom of expression,” he wrote.

Police took flack from the right as well yesterday for taking a resident of the settlement of Itamar in for questioning at 5:30 A.M. to investigate the killing of a Palestinian in Arak Borin.

Yesha Council chairman Danny Dayan accused the police of insensitivity.

A police spokesman said that after investigating the complaint, he had found that the officers acted properly.

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4.  Ynet,

April 02, 2011


Protesters on road near village Photo: Elior Levy

IDF arrests leftist protesters

Demonstrators protest blocking of entrance to Beit Ommar following stone-throwing incidents

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4051026,00.html

Yair Altman

The IDF detained for questioning Saturday 17 left-wing activists from the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement who protested at the West Bank village of Beit Ommar. Four of the activists remain in custody.

The activists were rallying in honor of the Palestinian Land Day and protesting against the army’s blocking of the entrance to the village.

They claimed the soldiers at the checkpoint had refused to show them orders declaring the village a closed military zone and that they had beaten them.

The IDF said in response that no closure had been imposed on Beit Ommar but that “precautions are being taken in order to lessen stone-throwing at Israeli vehicles in the area”. The village is located close to Hebron.

The villagers claimed earlier this week that the IDF had closed off the entrance to Beit Ommar, effectively imposing “collective punishment” on its residents due to a number of stone-throwing incidents on a nearby road.

“This is a policy of an army that imposes collective punishment on all the residents,” Biet Ommar council head Nasri Sabarna told Ynet Thursday.

“It is true that there is a small group of youngsters who throw stones, and we are vehemently against this,” Sabarna said, “But why do all of Beit Ommar’s residents have to suffer because of it? Also, blocking the entrance only increases the hostility… We are trying to lower the level of violence, but when a settler throws stones at Palestinians does the army block the entrance to his settlement?”

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5.  Washington Post,

April 1, 2011

Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/reconsidering-the-goldstone-report-on-israel-and-war-crimes/2011/04/01/AFg111JC_story.html

By Richard Goldstone,

We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.

The final report by the U.N. committee of independent experts — chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis — that followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report has found that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza” while “the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”

Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.

The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.

For example, the most serious attack the Goldstone Report focused on was the killing of some 29 members of the al-Simouni family in their home. The shelling of the home was apparently the consequence of an Israeli commander’s erroneous interpretation of a drone image, and an Israeli officer is under investigation for having ordered the attack. While the length of this investigation is frustrating, it appears that an appropriate process is underway, and I am confident that if the officer is found to have been negligent, Israel will respond accordingly. The purpose of these investigations, as I have always said, is to ensure accountability for improper actions, not to second-guess, with the benefit of hindsight, commanders making difficult battlefield decisions.

While I welcome Israel’s investigations into allegations, I share the concerns reflected in the McGowan Davis report that few of Israel’s inquiries have been concluded and believe that the proceedings should have been held in a public forum. Although the Israeli evidence that has emerged since publication of our report doesn’t negate the tragic loss of civilian life, I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes.

Israel’s lack of cooperation with our investigation meant that we were not able to corroborate how many Gazans killed were civilians and how many were combatants. The Israeli military’s numbers have turned out to be similar to those recently furnished by Hamas (although Hamas may have reason to inflate the number of its combatants).

As I indicated from the very beginning, I would have welcomed Israel’s cooperation. The purpose of the Goldstone Report was never to prove a foregone conclusion against Israel. I insisted on changing the original mandate adopted by the Human Rights Council, which was skewed against Israel. I have always been clear that Israel, like any other sovereign nation, has the right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens against attacks from abroad and within. Something that has not been recognized often enough is the fact that our report marked the first time illegal acts of terrorism from Hamas were being investigated and condemned by the United Nations. I had hoped that our inquiry into all aspects of the Gaza conflict would begin a new era of evenhandedness at the U.N. Human Rights Council, whose history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted.

Some have charged that the process we followed did not live up to judicial standards. To be clear: Our mission was in no way a judicial or even quasi-judicial proceeding. We did not investigate criminal conduct on the part of any individual in Israel, Gaza or the West Bank. We made our recommendations based on the record before us, which unfortunately did not include any evidence provided by the Israeli government. Indeed, our main recommendation was for each party to investigate, transparently and in good faith, the incidents referred to in our report. McGowan Davis has found that Israel has done this to a significant degree; Hamas has done nothing.

Some have suggested that it was absurd to expect Hamas, an organization that has a policy to destroy the state of Israel, to investigate what we said were serious war crimes. It was my hope, even if unrealistic, that Hamas would do so, especially if Israel conducted its own investigations. At minimum I hoped that in the face of a clear finding that its members were committing serious war crimes, Hamas would curtail its attacks. Sadly, that has not been the case. Hundreds more rockets and mortar rounds have been directed at civilian targets in southern Israel. That comparatively few Israelis have been killed by the unlawful rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in no way minimizes the criminality. The U.N. Human Rights Council should condemn these heinous acts in the strongest terms.

In the end, asking Hamas to investigate may have been a mistaken enterprise. So, too, the Human Rights Council should condemn the inexcusable and cold-blooded recent slaughter of a young Israeli couple and three of their small children in their beds.

I continue to believe in the cause of establishing and applying international law to protracted and deadly conflicts. Our report has led to numerous “lessons learned” and policy changes, including the adoption of new Israel Defense Forces procedures for protecting civilians in cases of urban warfare and limiting the use of white phosphorus in civilian areas. The Palestinian Authority established an independent inquiry into our allegations of human rights abuses — assassinations, torture and illegal detentions — perpetrated by Fatah in the West Bank, especially against members of Hamas. Most of those allegations were confirmed by this inquiry. Regrettably, there has been no effort by Hamas in Gaza to investigate the allegations of its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

Simply put, the laws of armed conflict apply no less to non-state actors such as Hamas than they do to national armies. Ensuring that non-state actors respect these principles, and are investigated when they fail to do so, is one of the most significant challenges facing the law of armed conflict. Only if all parties to armed conflicts are held to these standards will we be able to protect civilians who, through no choice of their own, are caught up in war.

The writer, a retired justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and former chief prosecutor of the U.N. International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, chaired the U.N. fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict.

—————

Links

a. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/23/israel-gaza-war-crimes-guardian

the 3rd video about 7 minutes

———–

b.  link to soldiers’ testimonies about Cast Lead

http://www.shovrimshtika.org/UserFiles/File/ENGLISH_oferet.pdf

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6.  Haaretz,

April 1, 2011


Twilight Zone / Return to Shuk Hatikva

Munir Dweik, our regular taxi driver in Gaza, spent his teen years working in the Hatikva quarter’s chicken market. This week he paid a return visit

http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/twilight-zone-return-to-shuk-hatikva-1.353503

By Gideon Levy

A great miracle happened here: Munir Dweik, our devoted taxi driver in Gaza, received a permit to visit Israel, for the first time in 18 years. He and his friend Said al-Kalut used to drive us around in their ancient Mercedes – through the alleyways of Jabalya, to the killing fields of Beit Hanoun, to the wretched homes of Dir al-Balah and the bereaved families in Khan Yunis. We roamed together between Gaza City and Rafah, chasing the stories of the Gaza Strip.

Munir and Said both grew up as laborers in Tel Aviv, and that’s where they spent the best years of their lives. They had a dream: to return, even for just a short visit, just once, to the landscapes of their childhood, to the chicken-plucking machines of Hatikva market, to the watermelon stalls of the Carmel market, to the long-gone Jaffa-to-Gaza taxi stand, to their old friends and bosses.

The visitor: Munir Dweik at the Hatikva market this week.

Photo by: Miki Kratsman

We had not seen them since November 2006, when the gates of Gaza were closed to us. We remained in touch by phone, though, in times of calm and times of blood and destruction. Last week, Munir called me in great excitement: He had obtained an entry permit to come to Israel for a few days, thanks to an Italian aid organization he works for. This past Sunday we met in Lod, and together we set out to visit the Hatikva market and spend the day in Tel Aviv. It was an incredibly moving day, for him and for us, this visit to Altneuland, the old-new land, his and ours.

Massive hugs between friends who haven’t seen one another in more than four years, Munir all dressed up, and this time it’s we who are driving him, in a hybrid vehicle – he’s never seen anything like it. The ensuing hours would be ones of wonder, excitement, embarrassment, turmoil, distress, joy, and suspense, all mixed up and all under control.

Would they remember him at the market? How would they treat him today, at a time when Qassams are raining down? Back then they called him “Avi” or sometimes “Abed.” He was a kid then, but he’s not anymore.

It has been more than 20 years since he saw Yigal the Persian, Motti the Yemenite and Rimon, whose phone numbers he has kept since then. He still remembers the kapparot prayer – “zeh halifati, zeh temurati, zeh kaparati” he recites, swinging his hands over his head in imitation of the ritual, as he did then, on Yom Kippur eve in the Hatikva market, for customers who took him for a Jew.

Ben-Gurion Airport 2000 to the right, the new “Fast Lane” to the left, the Hiriya dump has become a park – it’s all new to him. The country is developing in huge strides. Quietly drinking in the views through the car window, he says that in the five days he’s been in Israel he’s felt calm, in a way he hasn’t felt in Gaza for years – even though a bomb went off in Jerusalem the day he arrived last week. “Here I’m not nervous. In Gaza, I’m nervous 24 hours a day.”

His friends in Gaza gave him a shopping list, the way we used to do back in the 1950s and 1960s to the lucky few who sailed for Cyprus. Sandals for Said, hot peppers for a neighbor, sweets for the kids, cigarettes for everyone and above all – bread, hubz al-yahud, the “Jews’ bread,” i.e., our rye bread, which doesn’t exist in Gaza. Since the last time we met – at the Indira Gandhi kindergarten in Beit Lahiya, the day after the teacher was killed in front of the children – his first granddaughter was born. He would prefer to forget Operation Cast Lead – how his wife sent him to buy flour, and a missile fell right by his taxi. Though we did share a laugh recalling the times when he used to fuel his Mercedes with cooking oil. At the end of the day he would get home and vomit from the smell.

The Tel Aviv skyline comes into view. “I don’t recognize anything, I don’t even know where I am,” he says, just two blocks from the Hatikva market. He spent 10 years here, formative years as an adolescent. “I was a kid here. Everybody here loved me then. I was a good boy, a cool kid. But then the first Gulf War happened and I’ve been stuck in Gaza ever since. But I can’t forget, I just can’t.”

He calls Rimon, his boss from back then. It’s been 25 years since he last saw him. Great joy. “Twenty-five years is not like 25 days or even 25 months.” Soon they will meet again.

At the beginning of Ha’Etzel Street, an image becomes clear. This is where the drugstore was, and this is where we used to come when we got hurt, he says. It wasn’t that unusual for their bosses to beat them, but Munir-Avi was a good boy. And here is where he used to park his Peugeot 404. “Ya salam, ya salam, the Hatikva neighborhood. Right here, where it says Or Shalom, on the third floor, that’s where we had a room.” Merkaz Hakeves (Lamb Center ) used to be Merkaz Ha’of (Chicken Center ), where Munir plucked feathers from morning till night.

Now he musters his courage and goes over to the merchants. “You won’t remember me,” he says to Avraham Naim. “I used to work for Rimon on the machine.” A passerby interjects: Why wasn’t there enough room in Haaretz to cover the terror attack in Itamar, and why do we write about Bibi when the whole country is burning? But Munir is absorbed in his memories: This is where Ovadia’s watermelon stand was. “I used to unload them for him from the truck every day. This is the store where Said worked, cleaning fish.”

Not everyone remembers, not everyone is immediately happy to see him. It’s the Hatikva market, and he is from Gaza. Someone took him for a Jew at first, someone else made a face, but with most people the ice was quickly broken and the memories began to surface. He pulled out his entry permit and proudly showed it to everyone, an especially touching gesture that was basically saying: I’m okay, you have nothing to fear from me, even though I come from Gaza.

Motti invited us to his tiny apartment at the back of the market. He used to beat his Arab workers, but not “Abed” – Munir. Rimon used to leave Abed to tend the cash register while he went off to watch soccer, trusting him completely. Rimon shows up eventually. He says Munir is “a good and reliable fellow. … If all the Arabs were like him, there’d be peace already.” They tell each other about their families, how many children and grandchildren have been born since then. And the inevitable Jewish question: How many children have you married off? They remember the Sheraton cigarettes they used to smoke together through the long days and nights. Motti still smokes, but only “light” cigarettes now, and Munir quit smoking in 2000. “To be honest, I really loved him,” Motti admits. “Long live the Messiah” says the graffiti on the wall. That wasn’t there then either. “Bye bye, Hatikva neighborhood,” Munir waves, trying to hide his feelings.

His eyes light up again at the sight of the used taxi lots in south Tel Aviv. In Gaza, their cost is astronomical. If only he could take one of these with him. And if only he had listened to a friend in the market who told him he should get married then, in the 1980s, to an Israeli Arab woman, and get an Israeli ID card and stay here. If only he’d listened. The friend told him the day would come when Gaza would be completely closed off. But Munir couldn’t believe it: They’ll only keep the bad people out, not everyone. If only he’d listened to his friend.

At the Benny Hadayag restaurant in the Tel Aviv port, he calls the waitress “motek” (honey ). Then he asks if it’s obvious that he’s an Arab, and what would happen if people in the restaurant knew he was from Gaza. Passing by the caravillas of the Gush Katif evacuees in Nitzan, he is quiet, looking at the signs the settlers brought with them, signs he knew well from the years he traveled with Israeli journalists: Welcome to Rafiah Yam, Welcome to Morag. “They’ll never forget Neve Dekalim and Netzarim, just like I’ll never forget the Hatikva market and the Carmel market.”

Across from the power station in Askhelon he stares in astonishment: Is this the station we can see even from Dir al-Balah?

Munir practically empties the supermarket shelves at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, packing up loaves of bread for everyone and sweets for the kids. As we approach the Erez Checkpoint he murmurs to himself: “Five days passed like five minutes. How warmly everyone greeted me, despite the hatred and the rockets and the siege. Did you see the way they received me? Now I’m going home and I don’t know what will be. I was in Egypt once and I didn’t feel anything, but Tel Aviv, a city you grew up in, a city you love – now that’s something else.”

And then Munir collects his bags, all his numerous packages, gets out of the car and slowly makes his way toward the first checkpoint, on his way home. He walks in silence, all his purchases threatening to slip from his hands, until he is stopped by the first guard at the checkpoint. See you, Munir. When the madness is over.

=======================

7. Dear Dorothy.

I am writing to ask for your help. You might have heard that Yonatan Pollak has recently served a 3 monthprison sentence for riding a bicycle in Tel-Aviv. Several months ago I was imprisoned and so were Adi Winter and Oshra Bar.

These sentences are part of a well-orchestrated effort to stop our activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. When beating and detaining us did not stop our resistance, scores of legal indictments were issued against us. Currently, about 60 indictments are still standing. None of the human rights NGOs in Israel are representing us, and so Gaby Lasky, our brilliant and dedicated lawyer, has taken on the cause and we pay her a relatively small retainer fee. This not only includes representing us in court, but also releasing activists who have been detained, sometimes in the middle of the night.

We have no office, no paid staff, and no fund raiser. The state knows that legal representation costs money and is using the fact that we do not have funding resources to undermine our activities by filing more and more indictments. We have consequently decided to try to undercut this strategy by asking people to contribute a recurring donation of $5 or $10 a month. Our objective is to reach $2,500 per month to cover the legal fees and thus to ensure that all our activists receive good representation when they need it. Donations (which are tax deductible in the US) can be made through our website http://awalls.org/donations. Please consider lending a hand.

All the best,
Kobi Snitz

http://www.awalls.org
P.O. Box 5046
Tel-Aviv, TA 61050
Israel

====================================

8,

3 easy ways to take part in Right to Education Month

1.  Send an email to five students or teachers, asking them to sign the petition online

2.  Sign up to get involved in campaign organizing—bring the campaign to life in your local communities and campuses.

3. Attend the Education Tour in your area.

Dear Dorothy,

Watching the coverage of the Egyptian Revolution last month, I was moved and inspired by the way young leaders set up classrooms in Tahrir Square, ensuring students would not lose access to education while waging their historic struggle for freedom and democracy. It was a great reminder to me that educators and students are always at the heart of the struggle for justice, and that no such struggle is complete without access to education, for all.

“We Divest,” the campaign led by Jewish Voice for Peace demanding that retirement fund TIAA-CREF divest from the Israeli Occupation, honors the legacy of educators and students in struggles for justice, and the urgency of the Palestinian fight for access to education by naming April “Right to Education Month.”

We will offer many ways for you to learn about access to education in Palestine/Israel, including firsthand from a group of young Palestinian activists who will be coming to a city near you. We also hope you’ll reach out to the educators and students in your life to let them know about the vital role they could play in this campaign.

We all know the struggle for education and justice continues in Palestine/Israel. Students trying to attend classes are targeted for armed harassment at checkpoints. Teachers trying to teach in Gaza know building materials wait at the border while their decimated schools remain in rubble. The structure of Israeli Occupation systematically destroys Palestinian access to education: students and teachers face unlawful detention, armed harassment, curfews, checkpoints, closed schools, dorm raids, an apartheid Wall, separate and unequal roads, illegal arrest, and bombed schools and universities.

So why is the premiere retirement fund of educators—TIAA-CREF—playing a role in denying Palestinians their right to education? TIAA-CREF prides itself in providing “financial services for the greater good,” yet they invest in companies that make their profit from the economy of the Israeli Occupation.  In just two examples: Northrop Grumman makes the bombs that destroyed Gazan schools during Cast Lead and Elbit produces the cameras and other equipment outfitting the wall as it carves a path between students and schools.

Throughout April: Right to Education Month, Jewish Voice for Peace is proud to bring three young Palestinian activists from the West BankMira Bishara Dabit, Amer Shurrab, and Hanna Qassis—to share with educators, students, and activists nationwide the challenges facing young people who live under Israel’s military occupation. They will also share their inspiring struggle to put an end to the injustice by holding companies like TIAA-CREF accountable for the impact of their investments in Occupation.

The Palestinian students’ stories about their struggles for human rights, including the right to an education, focus on the tried and true non-violent tactics of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS). We hope you’ll use this month to jump more fully into the BDS action as well.Start organizing in your community today— the time is now to fight for education and justice for all.

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Dorothy Online Newsletter

West aims to disintegrate Muslim states’

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

 

 

Tehran’s Ambassador to Damascus Seyyed Ahmad Mousavi

Tehran’s ambassador to Damascus says the enemies and arrogant powers want to disintegrate Muslim countries in order to achieve their political objectives.

“In order to achieve their objectives and policies in this regard, the enemies try to make it an issue of democracy … and it is necessary for Muslim countries be vigilant about enemy plans,” Seyyed Ahmad Mousavi said with regards to the developments in Syria and other regional countries.

“The disintegration of Muslim countries is on the agenda of the global arrogance and a pressing priority for the enemies of Islam,” Mousavi told IRNA on Saturday.

Referring to the Egyptian dictator, who was ousted in a popular revolution earlier in the year, the Iranian envoy said, “The enemies supported [Hosni] Mubarak to the last minute but when his fall became certain they (the enemies) pretended to be on the side of the people.”

“Even in Yemen, today, [they] support [President] Ali Abdullah Saleh.”

The unpopular Yemeni ruler has been faced with protests rallies demanding his ouster since January. Saleh has led armed attacks on the protests, killing dozens of people.

The Iranian official said the enemies are creating tension in Syria as they are unhappy with the country’s political independence towards regional and international issues.

“They (the enemies) have joined hands and are pursuing their own objectives [in Syria] and this approach of theirs was previously adopted in Egypt before Mubarak’s fall,” he said.

Syria has been struggling with anti-government protests, which have left civilian and security forces dead and injured.

Authorities say they have arrested foreign elements who have had a hand in inciting the recent unrest in Syria.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on West aims to disintegrate Muslim states’

The Palestine Papers As Theatre

NOVANEWS

 

Posted By: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland PSC

 

I think the reason I find it difficult to get too exercised over the Palestine Papers is probably because the first exposure I had to them was through a breathless, dramatic video clip I saw from al-Jazeera English (entitled Creative Solutions, no long available at A.J.E. on-line) in which journalist Clayton Swisher dramatized in graphic detail the P.L.O.’s “unprecedented compromises” to Israel over the holy sites of East Jerusalem. Even while I was watching the video, the chasm between what was actually said in the documents, and what Clayton Swisher was claiming them to say, was so great that it left me looking at the later Palestine Papers coverage with enormous cynicism. 

As I said, the video report is no longer online, but you can still read the written version of Clayton Swisher’s report here.  And it’s dramatic stuff:

Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator of the Palestinian Authority (PA), had suggested unprecedented compromises on the division of Jerusalem and its holy sites, the Palestine Papers obtained by Al Jazeera show.  

Minutes of negotiations at the US State Department in Washington DC indicate that Erekat was willing to concede control over the Haram al-Sharif, or Temple Mount, to the oversight of an international committee.

Swisher goes on to cite the paragraph in the P.L.O.’s leaked documents that is the basis for his conclusions:

In a meeting on October 21, 2009 with George Mitchell, the US Middle East envoy, David Hale, Mitchell’s deputy, and Jonathan Schwartz, the then-US State Department legal adviser, Erekat told the Americans that they would need a “creative” solution for the division of the Old City.

Erekat: “It’s solved. You have the Clinton Parameters formula. For the Old City sovereignty for Palestine, except the Jewish quarter and part of the Armenian quarter … the Haram can be left to be discussed – there are creative ways, having a body or a committee, having undertakings for example not to dig [excavations under the Al Aqsa mosque]. The only thing I cannot do is convert to Zionism”.

So the P.L.O.’s “unprecedented compromises” on Jerusalem amount to this:

1. They think they framework for a solution already exists, in the form of “The Clinton Parameters”. (It’s solved. You have the Clinton Parameters formula).

The Clinton Parameters were set out by Bill Clinton in December 2000; and as far as Jerusalem is concerned their basic rule is that what is Arab will go to Palestine and what is Jewish will go to Israel, which is why ongoing settlement is so disruptive, but that’s another story.

2. The Old City – which lies in Occupied East Jerusalem – will be sovereign Palestinian territory. The two areas of heavy Jewish presence will be annexed to Israel. (For the Old City sovereignty for Palestine, except the Jewish quarter and part of the Armenian quarter).

3. The Haram/Temple Mount can be administered under an interim arrangement (the Haram can be left to be discussed) in which a supervisory body will prohibit inflammatory actions (like excavation) that could threaten each other’s sacred sites. (there are creative ways, having a body or a committee, having undertakings for example not to dig).

4. There is no mention here of Palestine renouncing its claim to sovereignty over the Haram.

5. This is as conciliatory as the P.L.O. can be on the holy sites, because to go beyond that would be to adopt the Zionist position that Israel can claim sovereignty over anything that was Jewish throughout history, such as Temple Mount, which the P.L.O. does not accept as having any legal basis. (“The only thing I cannot do is convert to Zionism“).

And that’s it. That is what Clayton Swisher called “unprecedented compromises”. And that’s what set off my bullsh*t detector. Because if you are interested in the history of I-P relations, and follow the course of negotiations between the two parties – which I admit I do with a rather more than healthy interest simply because I used to be in a similar line of work (albeit it in a humble worker bee capacity) and the ugly sausage-making process still holds an interest for me – then you already know very well that Clayton Swisher’s breathless revelations are no such thing. In fact, the first thing I thought on hearing about these stunning “unprecedented compromises”  was: “Welcome back to Taba, 2001”. 

The Egyptian resort of Taba was the scene of the last I-P negotiations of the Ehud Barak premiership, which are widely regarded as representing the closest Israelis and Palestinians have come to a negotiated agreement.  We know the terms of reference the two sides were operating under at Taba, and the amount of progress they made on the core issues, because the E.U.’s envoy to the Middle East, Miguel Angel Moratinos – with the cooperation of both side’s negotiators – wrote down the state of play as those talks were winding down in January 2001.

“The Moratinos Non-Paper” was widely circulated after it was first published in February 2002.  I am reproducing the following brief extracts from the Bitterlemons.net document archive, and from pp351-354 of my copy of Charles Enderlin’s bestseller, Shattered Dreams: The Failure of the Peace Process in the Middle East, 1995-2002, simply because it happens to be sitting on my bookshelf at arm’s length from me as I write this.

This is what the Moratinos non-paper said about I-P negotiations concerning Jerusalem in 2001 (emphasis mine):

2. Jerusalem
2.1 Sovereignty

Both sides accepted in principle the Clinton suggestion of having a Palestinian sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods and an Israeli sovereignty over Jewish neighborhoods. The Palestinian side affirmed that it was ready to discuss Israeli request to have sovereignty over those Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem that were constructed after 1967, but not Jebal Abu Ghneim and Ras al-Amud. The Palestinian side rejected Israeli sovereignty over settlements in the Jerusalem Metropolitan Area, namely of Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev.  

The Palestinian side understood that Israel was ready to accept Palestinian sovereignty over the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, including part of Jerusalem’s Old City. The Israeli side understood that the Palestinians were ready to accept Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and part of the Armenian Quarter.

2.5 Holy Sites: Western Wall and the Wailing Wall
Both parties have accepted the principle of respective control over each side’s respective holy sites (religious control and management). According to this principle, Israel’s sovereignty over the Western Wall would be recognized although there remained a dispute regarding the delineation of the area covered by the Western Wall and especially the link to what is referred to in Clinton’s ideas as “the space sacred to Judaism of which it is a part”.

The Palestinian side acknowledged that Israel has requested to establish an affiliation to the holy parts of the Western Wall, but maintained that the question of the Wailing Wall and/or Western Wall has not been resolved.

2.6 Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount
Both sides agreed that the question of Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount has not been resolved. However, both sides were close to accepting Clinton’s ideas regarding Palestinian sovereignty over Haram al-Sharif not withstanding Palestinian and Israeli reservations…

An informal suggestion was raised that for an agreed period such as three years, Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount would be under international sovereignty of the P5 (the five permanent members of the Security Council] plus Morocco (or other Islamic presence), whereby the Palestinians would be the “Guardian/Custodians” during this period. At the end of this period, either the parties would agree on a new solution or agree to extend the existing arrangement. In the absence of an agreement, the parties would return to implement the Clinton formulation. Neither party accepted or rejected the suggestion.

So ten years ago, at Taba, Israeli and Palestinian sides were operating under the following groundrules for negotiations on Jerusalem:

1. The basis for a negotiated agreement on Jerusalem will be the Clinton Parameters.

2. Arab parts of Jerusalem will be sovereign Palestinian territory, Jewish ones will be Israeli.  This includes the Old City in Occupied East Jerusalem, where the Jewish Quarter and part of the Armenian Quarter would go to Israel.

3. Although no final agreement was reached, talks were proceeding on the basis that sovereignty over the holy sites would also be based on ‘what is Jewish [ie the Wailing Wall] goes to Israel, what is Arab [i.e. the Haram] goes to Palestine’. However, both sides were also willing to consider the alternative possibility of an interim (but rolling), international arrangement, to control the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.

Now, compare those positions of January 2001 with the “unprecedented compromises” allegedly revealed in al-Jazeera’s presentation of the Palestine Papers. The “unprecedented compromises” are actually a reiteration of the same parameters that have governed I-P negotations on Jerusalem since at least Taba. And as the parameters are widely known to anyone with an interest in I-P negotiations and access to the internet – you can read the entire Moratinos non-paper here at Ha’aretz, for example, where it has been available on line since February 2002 – there is no way that al-Jazeera can genuinely believe it is unveiling anything “unprecedented”. 

What is remarkable about the Palestinian offer on East Jerusalem is not its non-existent unprecedented-ness, but how very precedented it all is. Perhaps that’s because no-one in the Palestinian leadership is comfortable going beyond the limits of what was permissable for discussion in Arafat’s day, or perhaps it is simply the case that when you’re trying to establish two states on the 1967 borders with mutually-acceptable land swaps, there just aren’t that many different ways to configure it. Whatever the reason, the outlines of the Jerusalem discussion described in the Palestine Papers are the same outlines as have been common knowledge for 10 years. To present them as “unprecedented concessions” is a gross distortion and, bearing in mind the sensitivity of the subject matter, deliberately inflammatory against the P.L.O.

But there’s more!!!!, as Billy Mays would say. And this is where we get to the really interesting aspect of al-Jazeera’s coverage of this issue.

These not-at-all-unprecedented parameters for a negotiated deal on Jerusalem actually go back earlier than Taba. Jerusalem had been a big sticking point at the Camp David Summit of July 2000, but major progress was made in establishing the basis for sharing the city during bilateral I-P meetings at the King David Hotel during the fall of 2000. Furthermore, in December 2000, while the I-P negotiators were in Washington D.C. for U.S.-mediated talks at Bolling A.F.B., President Clinton presented the delegations with the proposed guidelines for a negotiated settlement which would become known as the Clinton Parameters. 

I’m extracting these details about the Clinton Parameters from another of the books on my shelf, The Truth About Camp David: The Untold Story About The Collapse Of The Middle East Peace Process. The extract’s a bit long, but bear with me; you’ll love where this leads:

p 395 

A new factor was introduced on December 9 (2000), when Barak resigned as Prime Minister. He feared that he would be defeated by Netanyahu in general elections scheduled for May, and that he had better chances going to special elections earlier, on February 6, against Sharon. And if he could propose a peace referendum, it would only increase his prospects.

Clinton also realized time was running out; now that the American elections were over, the coast was clear to restart intensive negotiations (Hillary had won her Senate race handily and, in a controversial December 12 ruling, the Supreme Court handed the Presidential election to George W. Bush). The parties were invited to Washington’s Bolling Air Force Base in late December in an attempt to pick up from where talks had left off in the days before the intifada. The most significant development, aside from having American reengagement, was a concession proposed by Shlomo Ben Ami, which he admits was made “without consulting anyone”. According to Ben Ami, it was for Palestinians to have “sovereignty over the Temple Mount” so long as they “would undertake not to conduct excavations there because the place was sacred to the Jews.” But Ben Ami insisted that the Palestinians make a statement proclaiming that “the site is sacred to the Jews”. But the Palestinians balked, fearing that such recognition could backfire if the Israelis withdrew the offer – a strong possibility, considering that Barak hadn’t authorized it and that other members of the Israeli delegation were angry with Ben Ami for making the offer without Barak’s authorization; at least one negotiator, Israel Hasson, threatened to resign.

The bickering paused when the parties were summoned to the White House on the bitterly cold morning of December 23, a momentous occasion they had all been expecting. The White House was at the peak of its Christmastime splendor, as it would be the last holiday Clinton would spend there as president. The anxious delegations listened intently as Clinton began his historic

p396

remarks.  Even though he was leaving office, Clinton was still skittish about offering a written proposal. Apparently not having learned his lesson from Camp David’s sloppy procedures, he once again decided to convey his ideas orally, reading at dictation speed. The president began with some qualifiers:

We know you’re working hard. But the rate you’re going, you won’t make it. What I’m going to give you is not a U.S. proposal, but rather our idea of what will be needed on core issues to reach an agreement. If either side refuses to accept these parameters, they’re off the table.  We can talk about refinements, but these ideas are not to be negotiated. I would like answers from your leaders in four days.

Next Clinton read his ideas, later referred to as the “Clinton parameters”: On territory, the Palestinian state would control 94-96 percent of the West Bank, with a 1-3 percent swap from Israel proper (as at Camp David, the working assumption by all parties remained that all of Gaza would be returned to the Palestinians). On security, Israel would be allowed several warning stations in the Jordan Valley, and the withdrawal would be carried out over a thirty-six month period, with an international force monitoring implementation.  On Jerusalem, “Arab areas are Palestinian and Jewish ones are Israeli. This would apply to the Old City as well”. Regarding the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, Clinton offered two alternatives: either Palestinian sovereignty over the Haram and Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall “and the sacred space to Judaism [Holy of Holies] of which it is a part”; or “Palestinian shared sovereignty over the Haram and Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall and shared functional sovereignty over the issue of excavation under the Haram…”. Regarding refugees and the right of return, “the guiding principle should be that the Palestinian state will be the focal point for Palestinians who choose to return to the area without ruling out that Israel will accept some of these refugees”. Clinton closed his remarks by saying, “These are my ideas. If they are not accepted, they are not just off the table; they also go with me, when I leave office.”

Both Israelis and Palestinians were perplexed with the many ambiguities in Clinton’s presentation, which, because Clinton insisted they “could not be negotiated”, only “refined”, meant they would have to clarify differing interpretations on their own.

On Jerusalem alone, there was the introduction of a new term, “Holy of Holies”, which, according to Dr. Moshe Amirav of Haifa University, whom Barak had appointed after Camp David to advise him on Jerusalem, was a demand made by Barak that no other Zionist leader – including David Ben Gurion, Moshe Dayan and Menachem Begin – had ever insisted on. According to Amirav, “Holy of Holies” refers to an area of “four square meters which the High Priest would enter on Yom Kippur.” But according to Amirav, Barak applied this term to “the entire plaza, including the mosques.” Another potential deal killer for Palestinians was the proposal to have “shared functional sovereignty” over the issue of excavation under the Haram al-Sharif mosques, which only required “that mutual consent would be requested” prior to any digging.

Both sides wanted clarifications. Eventually both would accept the parameters, but both would express reservations.

(emphasis mine)

(The book also describes in its final chapters how far I-P negotiators went into the practical aspects of how to share Jerusalem; e.g. walking the streets of historic Jerusalem – especially the Armenian Quarter – in the period between Camp David and Taba, to gauge how sharing the Old City would work in practice, with an emphasis on keeping the city as open and livable as possible). 

So, thanks to The Truth About Camp David, we can trace the beginnings of what Clayton Swisher today calls the P.L.O.’s “unprecedented compromises” on Jerusalem right back to December 2000, when Israelis and Palestinians accepted the Clinton Parameters as the basis for their continuing negotiations on an I-P peace treaty.

The Truth About Camp David is an interesting book. At a time when Israel and the U.S. had successfully planted the meme that “we offered them everything but they refused” into U.S. discourse about the failure of the peace process, it was a convincing and comprehensive challenge to the prevailing myth. Through interviews with the major players, it revealed the dysfunctional U.S. diplomacy that lay behind the failure of both the Syrian and Palestinian tracks, the decidedly un-generous offer of disconnected cantons that the Palestinians were offered as a state at Camp David, and the extent to which trust between the Palestinians and the U.S. “mediator” was undermined by the U.S. consistently acting as Israel’s agent in the talks. It also described how much of the serious progress in I-P negotiations was made bilaterally after the delegations returned home from Camp David, and how both sides – including the allegedly rejectionist Arafat – worked within the parameters laid down by Bill Clinton, even on the most sensitive issue of Jerusalem and its holy sites. In short, it traces back through the last 11 years the origins and implementation of the negotiating scenario that Clayton Swisher and al-Jazeera claim to be an “unprecedented compromise” when the Palestinian side refers to it in 2009.

And the most fascinating thing of all about The Truth About Camp David is that it was written by … Clayton Swisher, former U.S. federal investigator, former director of public events at the Palestine Center in Washington D.C., and current journalist at al-Jazeera English! That would be the same Clayton Swisher who is now reporting breathlessly about what huge compromises the P.L.O. is making over the issue of Jerusalem, despite the fact that the “unprecendented compromises” he describes are the same Clinton-inspired parameters for I-P negotiations that Clayton Swisher was himself instrumental in introducing years ago to an English-speaking readership. Isn’t that absurd?

I have no idea how to explain that. Either:

1. Clayton Swisher has suffered ten years’ worth of memory loss, and has genuinely forgotten that he already reported years ago on the “unprecedented compromises” he is suddenly “discovering” now;

2. This is just how T.V. news is. Everyone would pull this sort of stunt to manufacture a story, including A.J.E.;

3. There is some incredibly subtle 11-dimensional chess move going on in the leaking and presentation of the Palestine Papers that mere mortals like me can’t hope to follow.

I have no idea who exactly is doing what to whom in the leaking of the N.S.U. papers to al-Jazeera, but I do know when I am being taken for a fool. And when I see Clayton Swisher on A.J.E. dramatically describing unprecedented Palestinian compromises, which I recognize as the same parameters for I-P negotiations that were laid down over 10 years ago, and reported to us at the time by the same Clayton Swisher, I know I’m being taken for a fool.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on The Palestine Papers As Theatre

Lebanon: Wikileaks Scandals

NOVANEWS

فضائح «ويكيليكس» اللــبنانيّة: حزب الله ووليد جنبلاط

 

وليد جنبلاط (أرشيف ــ هيثم الموسوي)

في كتابة التاريخ اللبناني، ستحظى وثائق «ويكيليكس» الأخيرة بحيّز كبير. هذه بحق، أكبر فضيحة في التاريخ اللبناني المعاصر: هي أكبر بكثير من فضيحة «عفاف» أو فضيحة «التعمير» أو فضيحة «الكابل البحري» أو «الكروتال». هي أكبر حتى من فضيحة العمل لمصلحة دولة العدوّ من جانب حزب الكتائب اللبنانيّة وتفرّعاته القوّاتيّة قبل اندلاع الحرب الأهليّة، لأنّ الفضيحة الأخيرة تورّط طبقة سياسيّة بحالها، ومن خلال ممثّلي طوائف متنوّعين ومتنوّعات. الفضيحة الأخيرة هي عظة عن استسهال العمل لمصلحة إسرائيل من جانب فريق سياسي لبناني عريض، بحاله. ما قبل «ويكيليكس» لا يجوز أن يكون مثل ما بعده

أسعد أبو خليل

يمكن الاستهلال بالتعبير عن الامتعاض الشديد، لا بل القرف، لأنّ فضائح نشر وثائق «ويكيليكس» عن حرب تمّوز، مرّت مرور الكرام. لم تحظ بحلقات نقاش ربما لأنّ الإعلام أراد فرض النسيان. الفضيحة لم تطاول فقط حفنة قادة 14 آذار، بل هي غطّت رعاتهم في النظام العربي القمعي الرسمي. يمكن عزو ذلك التجاهل اللبناني إلى إنجاز حريري آخر: فالذهاب بالحقن الطائفي إلى الذروة يمنع حتى إشعار آخر ـ يعني حتى إسقاط النظام الطائفي (لماذا يُنادى بإسقاط النظام الطائفي ولا يُنادى بإسقاط النظام، كأنّه يمكن إسقاط النظام الطائفي وإبقاء النظام؟)

برمّته أو حتى القضاء على الحريريّة السياسيّة والماليّة في لبنان ـ
يمنع المحاسبة، مهما كانت. فهمَ أحمد فتفت ذلك عندما رمى ملف ثكنة مرجعيون في حضن نبيه برّي. كأنّه يقول له: أرني إذا كان بقدرة شيعي أن يحاسب سنيّاً في بلد أحسنت الحريريّة في دفعه قدماً نحو مزيد من الطائفيّة والمذهبيّة. الحدّة المذهبيّة سوّغت خرق كلّ المحرّمات وارتكاب المعصيّات الصهيونيّة: هي جعلت من زياد الحمصي بطلاً محليّاً، وجعلت من المسموح به رفع صور فايز كرم بعد اتهامه الرسمي بالعمالة لإسرائيل.
هكذا، مرّت الفضائح، من دون لجان تحقيق ومن دون مؤتمرات صحافيّة ومن دون استقالة واحدة. إلياس المرّ يعبّر عن الشعور بالإحراج أمام مبعوث دولة أجنبيّة لأنّ الجيش الإسرائيلي تعرّض للمذلّة على أيدي مقاومين (هم مقاومون، أي إنهم لا يندرجون في كذبة الجيش أو الشعب). وحده، محمّد جواد خليفة، عقد سلسلة جولات إعلاميّة أظهر فيها ما دوّنه هو (كأنّه سيدوّن ما يحرجه) عن تلك اللقاءات. وأضاف إنّه بات من المشكّكين في صحّة «ويكيليكس» من أساسها، وهذا الأمر يتطلّب توضيحاً.
لا تزال الحكومة الأميركيّة تسعى إلى معاقبة ومقاضاة «برادلي مانينغ» العضو في الجيش الأميركي الذي سرّب تلك الوثائق من محفوظات وثائق «سريّة» (بمعنى التصنيف البيروقراطي للوثائق الأميركيّة الرسميّة، وهي ذات صفات تصنيف مُتراتبة من السريّة). والحكومة الأميركيّة ترفض التعليق على محتويات الوثائق واحدة بواحدة، مع أنّها اعترفت بصحّة الوثائق ولم تزعم ـــــ مرّة واحدة ـــــ بأنّ هناك أي تلفيق أو زيادة أو تزوير في أيّ واحدة منها.
على العكس، هي عمّمت، في برقيّات رسميّة، على كلّ موظّفي وموظّفات الحكومة الأميركيّة عدم قراءة أيّ من الوثائق، لأنّها وثائق سريّة لا يحق لمن ليس له صفة الصلة الرسميّة المباشرة الاطلاع عليها أصلاً، كما أنّ السفير الأميركي في المكسيك نُحّي عن منصبه أخيراً، لأنّ الحكومة المكسيكيّة اعترضت على مضمون شكاواه في واحدة من وثائق «ويكيليكس» عن مدى تعاون الحكومة المكسيكيّة في محاربة المخدّرات.
وباتت الصحف الأميركيّة تتعامل مع الوثائق على أنّها مراجع رسميّة (والأمر نفسه ينطبق على أبحاث الطلاب في الجامعات الأميركيّة).
لكن ساسة لبنان يحاولون التذاكي في الدفاع عن مصالحهم السياسيّة وعن سمعتهم، في بلد يمدّ فيه سوء السمعة صاحبه بشحنة من التأييد الطائفي الشعبي. وحده سعد الحريري أصدر بضع كلمات من النفي القاطع: مؤكِّداً، مرّة أخرى، مدى جهله ونزقه وغروره ـــــ غرور من استسهل الوصول إلى السلطة من دون جهد أو موهبة أو كفاءة أو رغبة في امتلاك الخبرة.
أما باقي الساسة، فقد راوحوا في درجات التصحيح والتوضيح والإصلاح والبهتان. السنيورة لم ينفِ أبداً، بل رأى في ما قرأه من وثائق دليلاً على مهارته وبراعته في الدبلوماسيّة (وفي أعلى درجاتها استطاع السنيورة أن يحرّر من خلالها مزارع شبعا وتلال كفرشوبا وزاد عليها لواء الإسكندرون السليب، كرماً من دموعه السخيّة).
هناك من ناقش أصول الترجمة، وهناك، مثل النائب نسيب لحّود، الذي اعترض فقط على سوء ترجمة كلمة واحدة، من دون أن ينفي ـــــ لا بل أكّد ـــــ صحّة ما ورد في الوثيقة التي تضمّنت «التعبير عن رغبة» في أن يقوم جيش العدوّ بـ «إضعاف» القوّة العسكريّة لحزب الله.
هذا هو نسيب لحّود، صاحب أفشل تجربة في قيادة عمل سياسي رائد، وهو ـــــ مثله مثل فارس سعيد ـــــ مدين لغازي كنعان ورستم غزالة لأنّ شعبه خذله في انتخابات، هما قالا عنها إنّها كانت الأكثر حريّة لتحلّلها من التدخّل السوري. نسيب لحّود يتمنّى النجاح لدولة يقول عنها في العلن إنّها عدوّة.
هذه هي درجة النفاق والرياء عند ساسة لبنان، وخصوصاً في فريق 14 آذار التي أثبتت الوثائق بالقاطع أنّه مرتهن، ليس فقط لمصالح أميركا، بل لمصالح إسرائيل أيضاً، ومن دون مداورة. لحزب الله أن يتجنّب التخوين ـ كأنّه مُحرّم ضدّ من ساند عدوان إسرائيل على لبنان ـ لكن للقارئ وللقارئة شأن آخر.
هناك من الساسة وأتباع الساسة من حذا حذو الماريشال للّو المر ـــــ الذي طلّقته السياسة، أو يجب أن تطلّقه بعد إطلاق لسانه في «ويكيليكس» وفي حكواتيّة تحقيق المحكمة الدولية ـــــ الذي زعم في ما زعم أنّ كلامه اجتُزئ. أي إنّ المرّ يريد منّا أن نصدّق أنّ جوليان أسانج أراد أن ينال من مكانته في بتغرين، لأنّ أسانج أراد أن يخلف آل المرّ في المتن الشمالي. ولا أحد منهم يفسّر لماذا يريد صديقهم «جيف» أن يورِّطهم في مواقف تضرّ بمن خدم مصالح حليف إسرائيل بثبات وخشوع. هذا إذا صدّقنا أنّ التدوين الأميركي الرسمي لإخباريّات وخبريّات 14 آذار لم يكن دقيقاً.
هناك ما يتناقض مع تعريف نقله الأصمعي عن المروءة عند العرب في تسريبات «ويكيليكس»: أي هناك ما هو صارخ في تناقضه بين ما هو مُعلن وما هو مُضمر في مواقف كلّ قادة 14 آذار. ما يقولونه ويفعلونه في العلن هو عكس ما يقولونه ويفعلونه في السرّ. كل ما أعلنته 14 آذار عن موقفها من إسرائيل كان كاذباً، وكلّ ما أعلنته علناً عن سلاح المقاومة، وعن أسبابها لنزع سلاح المقاومة، أو لوضعه تحت «كنف الدولة» وفق تعبير «حركة التقلّب الديموقراطي»، كان كاذباً أيضاً. إنّ خطورة مشروع قادة 14 آذار يكمن في مقارنة أحاديث معظمهم مع السفير الأميركي بحديث سمير جعجع، إذ إنّ الأخير بدا أقل نفاقاً منهم، من حيث شبه التطابق بين مواقفه المُعلنة ومواقفه السريّة. وهذا سمير جعجع الذي يركّز إعلام 8 آذار عليه تجنّباً، في مخيّلتهم، للفتنة المذهبيّة.
لكن حالة فؤاد السنيورة مختلفة. فنظام تصنيف مراتب سريّة الوثائق يتأثّر بمرتبة مصدر الخبر. وبناءً عليه، يكون الكلام نفسه لمن يحتلّ منصب رئاسة الحكومة أعلى درجة من السريّة من كلام يُقال على لسان نائب في المجلس، مثلاً.
وعلينا أن ننتظر تسريباً لوثائق أعلى سريّة، كي نطّلع على حقيقة أقوال السنيورة وأحاديثه خلال عدوان تمّوز.
لا تفيد المقارنات بين ما جاء على ألسنة القادة في 14 آذار، وحتى الخاصّة مثل «الشباب والشابات» الذين التقوا في حرب تمّوز الدبلوماسي الأميركي للتعبير عن مكنونات الشباب اللبناني. (والمجموعة المذكورة ـــــ التي ضمّت في ما ضمّت، النائبة نايلة تويني (يحق للرفيق زياد سحاب والرفيقة إيزابيل التساؤل عن آخر أخبارها) والصحافيّة منى صليبا ـــــ بادرت في اللقاء المروي عنه إلى الاستهلال بالتعبير عن مناصرة إسرائيل في حربها). يبقى ما هو أساسي: لا مجال لأي مقارنة بشرور الدور الذي أدّاه وليد جنبلاط مع مروان حمادة في حرب تمّوز (حتى لا نتحدّث عن مرحلة ما قبل الحرب وما بعدها). لم ينف وليد جنبلاط ما جاء على لسانه، لكنّه في تصريح «توضيحي» نوّه بنضالاته على امتداد السنوات. التذكير بالماضي، السائد عند فريق يوحي أنّ لديه من الأسباب ما يدعه يخجل من حاضره: كأن يشيد «بيار لافال» بماضيه لتسويغ ما ارتكبه في حقبة الاحتلال. هذه الخدعة لا تنطلي، لا في كتب التاريخ ولا في المحاكم.
ما فعله الاثنان لا يُقارَن بأيّ من الأقوال الأخرى، باسثناء ما جاء على لسان بطرس حرب (قائد «لواء تنّورين» السابق) الذي حثّ إسرائيل على احتلال قرى في الجنوب، واقترح بعضاً منها بالتحديد لتسهيل المهمّة. (ومثله مثل مروان حمادة، عندما علّق حرب هذا على تسريبات «ويكيليكس» قال إنّ له مواقف علنيّة معروفة ضد إسرائيل. بقي أن نقول لأمثاله: المشكلة أنّنا نعلم كل مواقفكم العلنيّة ضد إسرائيل، هي لا تعني شيئاً البتّة، ولا يمكن صرفها. المهم، مواقفكم السريّة التي تُقال لأسماع السفراء الغربيّين).
تخطى مروان حمادة ووليد جنبلاط كلّ الحدود: أخطر ما قاله وليد جنبلاط في واحدة من الوثائق واضح عندما عبّر عن قلقه من تضعضع صورة الجندي الإسرائيلي في أذهان العرب. عبّر جنبلاط لفيلتمان عن خوفه من مضاعفات تغيّر صورة الجندي الإسرائيلي نتيجة سوء أدائه في عدوان تمّوز. أيّ إنّ وليد جنبلاط يخشى على سمعة العدوّ الإسرائيلي وصورته.
هذه هي رحلة وليد جنبلاط عبر السنوات: ورث مقعد رئاسة الجبهة العربيّة المشاركة للثورة الفلسطينيّة، وانتهى محرّضاً العدو الإسرائيلي على اجتياح لبنان (وليد جنبلاط التقى بالصدفة، البريئة طبعاً، نائباً في الكنيست الإسرائيلي بعد عدوان تمّوز مباشرةً، لكنّه أوضح أنّ اللقاء لم يتضمّن إلّا التحيّة والعتاب على موقف إسرائيل غير العدائي نحو سوريا. ووليد جنبلاط التقى شمعون بيريز في قصر المختارة عندما مرّ الأخير في المنطقة، في رحلة صيد عام 1982). وهو يحاول أن يتذاكى فيقول إنّه كان أوّل من أعلن نصر المقاومة.
نتذكّر ذلك، يا وليد جنبلاط، ونتذكّر تجهّم وجهك وأنت تعلن ذلك. ونتذكّر أنّك أعلنت ذلك، ليس من باب الابتهاج لنصر المقاومة، بل من باب إحراج المقاومة، لأنّنا نتذكّر كيف كنت تردّ بالقلم والورقة على كلّ كلمة يقولها حسن نصر الله في عدوان تمّوز. كأنّ دورك المطلوب كان في الردّ التفصيلي على خطب حسن نصر الله، كي تجرّ المقاومة إلى حروب جانبيّة. نتذكّر أيضاً الوجوه الكالحة في 14 آذار بعد فشل إسرائيل في تحقيق مطالبها.
وحده دوري شمعون، سليل عائلة خدم بعضها الاستعمار، كابر. أصرّ على أنّ إسرائيل لم تنهزم أو تُذلّ، وأنّها لاعتبارات إنسانيّة قرّرت ألّا تنتصر. يبدو أنّ إذلال إسرائيل عزّ على دوري شمعون. لعلّ طرد أنطوان لحد الشمعوني ترك جرحاً بالغاً.
لم يكن الدور الصهيوني لـ14 آذار مشكوكاً فيه. كانت عناوين جريدة «المستقبل» ومحطة «إل. بي. سي» كافية للإنباء بالمقاصد الشرّيرة. كان إعلام الحريري والسعوديّة ينشر الأكاذيب عن تقدّم لجيش العدوّ من أجل النيل من معنويّات المقاومة.
من كان منّا ينتظر أن يقرأ (أو تقرأ) نصوصاً من الخيانة بمعناها القانوني؟
من كان منّا ينتظر توثيقاً لمرحلة من خدمات رسميّة وحثيثة للعدوّ، من جانب فريق الأكثريّة النيابيّة في المجلس النيابي؟ بئس الديموقراطيّة، وبئس أموال مقرن بن عبد العزيز التي تستطيع أن تبتاع لإسرائيل مجلساً نيابيّاً بحاله، في مسخ الوطن.
لكن المحاسبة تبدو بعيدة المنال بأمر من حزب الله والبطريركيّة ـــــ وإن اختلفت الأسباب. لا أدري كيف وقع الحزب في شرك أعدّه له خصومه عن الديموقراطيّة المفرطة، وعن استفتاءات بشأن سلاح الحزب وبشأن مواجهة إسرائيل. أما ما اقترحه حسن نصر الله من مقاضاة لبعض قادة 14 آذار بالنيابة عن ضحايا عدوان تمّوز، فهو ضعيف، إذ إنّه قرن ذلك بإعلان الصفح عن وليد جنبلاط لأنّه مُتحالف ظرفيّاً مع فريق حزب الله السياسي، أي إنّ منطق الحزب يسمح بالصفح عن أنطوان لحد في حال انضمامه إلى فريق 8 آذار، لكن كيف يمكن حزب الله أن يطالب بمحاسبة أعوان العدوان الإسرائيلي وهو يتحالف مع وليد جنبلاط، حتى بعد تسريب وثائق «ويكيليكس» حرب تموز. كيف جلس حسن نصر الله أخيراً مع وليد جنبلاط وتباحث معه في الشأن الحكومي؟
هل ناقشه في وثيقة «الفودكا» التي ستقبّح وجه تاريخ لبنان إلى الأبد؟
هل سأله عن نصائحه القيّمة لإسرائيل من أجل أن تزيد من غيّها ومن قتلها ومن تدميرها في جنوب لبنان؟
هل فاتحه في أسباب امتعاضه من تغيّر صورة الجندي الإسرائيلي ومن خوفه على معنويّات جنود العدوّ؟
هذه أسئلة مشروعة، ولا ينفع معها التبرير الاعتيادي عن ضرورات وعن براغماتيّات. يستطيع الحزب أن يصفح عن وليد جنبلاط، لكن ماذا عن عوائل الضحايا؟
يستطيع الحزب أن يرتّب أمر اعتزال جنبلاط العمل السياسي ـــــ على الأقل ـــــ نتيجة تحريضه وخدماته للعدوّ، وأي عقاب أصغر من ذلك يكون مهيناً لكلّ من سقط في عدوان تمّوز على أراضينا.
لا تستقيم المقاومة بالديموقراطيّة. لم تكن هناك مقاومة ديموقراطيّة في التاريخ. لم تقم أيّ مقاومة باستفتاء الناس، لا بل هي تجاوزت آراء وأهواء الناس الذين كانوا يتسكّعون في مقاهي باريس، يحتسون الجعة مع جنود الاحتلال النازي.
المقاومة تاريخيّاً هي فعل وخيار أقليّة. حتى في الحرب الأهليّة الأميركيّة، علّق أبراهام لينكولن أحكام الدستور. هذه ليست دعوة من أجل حثّ حزب الله على الاستيلاء على السلطة. لا أبداً، وخصوصاً أنّه لم يبد دراية أو اهتماماً بالعمل الجبهوي العريض، كما أنّ عقيدته المتزمتّة أيديولوجيّاً لا تتسع حتى لمن يؤيّد المقاومة من منظور علماني أو زنديقي. لكن الصراع مع إسرائيل لا يحتمل مع ما سمحت المقاومة به أثناء عدوان تمّوز. بناءً على ما قرأنا، كان يمكن المقاومة عبر قيادة موحّدة للفصائل المنضوية في العمل المقاوم، تعليق العمل مؤقّتاً بأحكام الدستور وإلقاء القبض على كلّ قادة 14 آذار من أجل حماية ظهر المقاومة. كان يمكنها بعد حرب تمّوز، إجراء محاكمات ميدانيّة لمن سهّل ودعم وحرّض ضد المقاومة أثناء العدوان. كان بإمكان لجنة من أهالي الضحايا في الجنوب إقامة محاكم شعبيّة ميدانيّة للاقتصاص من أعوان العدوان الإسرائيلي.
لكن خدمات فريق سياسي بحاله في حرب تمّوز ستذهب على الأرجح من دون حساب. ليس فقط لأنّ البطريرك صفير كان نصيراً لعملاء جيش لحد وأترابهم (ودوره لم يكن صغيراً) في معارضته للعقاب. وقع حزب الله في فخ إثبات النوايا الديموقراطيّة فلانَ في موضوع محاسبة العملاء وسكت.
طبعاً، لو أنّ الحزب لم يعان ولا يعاني طائفيّة في العقيدة والبنية، لكان أكثر قدرةً على الدفع بالموضوع، لكنّ الغريب أنّ منظمة سريّة لم تنشأ في لبنان، على غرار بلدان أخرى، من أجل الاقتصاص من عملاء الاحتلال، لكن لبنان بلد (ولا كل البلدان). هذا بلد يعشّش فيه «صحافيّون ضد العنف» و«بيئيّون ضد العنف» و«عملاء إسرائيل ضد العنف». وكلّ ذلك في الوقت الذي يكون فيه قادة الفريق الذي ينبذ العنف ويحب الحياة يطالب إسرائيل بمزيد من العنف من أجل تقويض كل مقاومة ضدّها.
هذه الوثائق يجب أن تنشر في كتب، وأن تصبح جزءاً من المنهاج الرسمي لتاريخ مسخ الوطن. التأريخ الرسمي والخاص يشوبه تزوير كبير (مثل تلك الكتب المزدهرة عن رياض الصلح التي تتجاهل علاقاته مع الصهاينة). عندما يُطالب نصير الأسعد (الذي نصّبته الحريريّة ممثلاً أوحد لجماهير الشيعة في لبنان لما يتمتّع به من سحر جماهيري) مثلاً بقرار على غرار 1973 للبنان، فهو في المحصّلة والاستنتاج المنطقي يُطالب بغزو إسرائيلي آخر للبنان. نحن اليوم لن ننتظر 30 سنة أو أكثر قليلاً لنقرأ عن معاونة فريق 14 آذار لإسرائيل. هو بالمتناول.
هناك ما هو أبعد من خلافات ظرفيّة أو آنيّة تتعلّق بالمحاصصة والمناصب: هناك ما يتعلّق بمستقبل لبنان وما يتعلّق بالخطر الإسرائيلي الداهم. في نيسان 1975، توصّل قادة الحركة الوطنيّة اللبنانيّة إلى خلاصة منطقيّة أنّ ما يقوم به حزب الكتائب اللبنانيّة في لبنان، هو دور بالواسطة بالنيابة عن إسرائيل. يومها قَبِل كمال جنبلاط إعلان فرض العزل السياسي على حزب الكتائب اللبنانيّة. وبناءً عليه نسأل قياساً:
هل من يعلن اليوم، قبل الغد، قرار فرض العزل السياسي ـــــ على الأقلّ ـــــ على وليد جنبلاط ومروان حمادة وبطرس حرب وإلياس المرّ، على الأقلّ؟

Posted in PoliticsComments Off on Lebanon: Wikileaks Scandals

End the Imperialist Attack on Libya

NOVANEWS

 

Impose a No-Fly Zone on Gaza not Libya

Anyone who believes that the imperialist assault on Libya has anything to do with a justified sense of anger at Col. Ghadaffi’s murder and terrorisation of the opposition needs their head examined. It hasn’t escaped notice that the same ‘supporters’ of the Libyan Revolution have also supported the use of Saudi and Quatarian troops to bloodily put down demonstrations in Bahrain.

Ghadaffi, despite being a merciless thug and madman and despite his recent cuddling up to the same imperialist exploiters he is now denouncing, remember his embrace of Tony Blair, has not been forgiven for his earlier bouts of independence such as supplying the IRA with weaponry.

The ‘no fly zone’ is another of those military misnomers such as ‘collateral damage’. It means bombing cities, military installations, civilians and other ordinance. The idea that there is a ‘clean war’ should have been laid to rest with Iraq. Instead what is happening in Libya cannot but lead either to partition and more bloody sectarianism of imperialist troops on the ground. Given that there is little appetite for the latter then Libya is destined, in its own way, to emulate Iraq.

Because wherever imperialism goes, sectarianism and religious/racial strife follow it.

There is only one answer. The rebels have to capture power for themselves. If the West is so keen to support them then they should have supplied them with weaponry. It is no accident that the Arab League, full of all the worst dictators the Arab world and the USA can provide, has played a key part in the attack on Libya. These collaborators and cowards know loyalty to only one thing – their purse. It will be interesting to see whether that other collaborator, Mahmoud Abbas, allows his people to demonstrate against the imperialist attack onLibya.

It is interesting to note the hypocrisy of the West. Where were the no-fly zones when Gaza was being mercilessly bombarded in 2008/9? 400 children were murdered and more burnt by phosphorous or otherwise injured. Not only was there no no-fly zone but the United States rushed to replenish Israel’s stock of missiles and weapons, something dockers in Greece put a block on.

There is only one thing Obummah, Cameron and co. are interested in and it’s not freedom for Libyans but the oil they possess.

And the attack on Libya is less popular than any similar war I can remember. People have begun to see through the lies of Cameron even earlier than they did with Blair. In the YouGov poll 45% support military action in Libya (45%) compared to 53% who supported the invasion of Iraq after the war had started.

33% think that little or no effort is being made to minimise civilian casualties compared to just 8% who thought the same about Iraq. 43% trust Cameron to tell the truth, compared to 62% who trusted Tony Blair (before his lies caught him out). And only 21% back sending ground troops into Libya, with 69% opposed.

A separate poll for ComRes found that only 35% supported the bombing, with 43% opposed.

Tony Greenstein

Posted in LibyaComments Off on End the Imperialist Attack on Libya

Israel outlaws Palestinian memory of the Nakba

NOVANEWS

 

It is a sign of Israel’s political degeneration and how the mask of liberalism has slipped that a law has been passed which criminalises and denies funding to any organisation or group that commemorates the Nakba, the expulsion of some ¾ million Palestinian Arabs into neighbouring countries.There was a time when Israel attempted to pretend that the Palestinians hadn’t been expelled, they’d merely run away on orders! Indeed the young Israeli state had done its best to get them to stay (always citing the solitary example of an appeal by Haifa’s Jewish mayor to the Arabs in the city, even as the Labour Zionist militia Hagannah and the Revisionist Irgun were doing their best to terrorist them to leave).

But we should also understand that this law is the product, not of strength but weakness. As the Palestinian solidarity movement has grown stronger internationally and as Israel’s Arab population has become more organised and politically conscious, the Israeli state feels its only course of action is to ban that which they cannot defeat ideologically.

The new law is a sign that Zionism no longer has confidence in its own message and has to seek to outlaw the thoughts and memories of its victims. Below is an excellent article on this from the Electronic Intifada.


Israel criminalizes commemoration of the Nakba

 

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, The Electronic Intifada, 29 March 2011

A bill was passed by the Israeli Knesset (parliament) last week which calls on the government to deny funding to any organization, institution or municipality that commemorates the founding of the Israeli state as a day of mourning. The bill has become known as the “Nakba bill,” referring to the ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine during and before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1947-48.
“Law will not influence the way we commemorate the Nakba,” Haneen Zoabi, Palestinian member of the Knesset, told The Electronic Intifada. “On the contrary, we must prove to our people and to the state that we will not be afraid from this law and that this will not succeed in oppressing our feeling or our identity. We will commemorate the Nakba in a much more impressive way this year than we ever did.”

“This is a kind of law to control our memory, to control our collective memory. It’s a very stupid law which punishes our feelings. It seems that the history of the victim is threatening the Zionist state,” Zoabi said.
Elected in 2009, Zoabi represents the Balad party (National Democratic Alliance) and is the first woman to be elected on the list of an Arab party in Israel. She was one of 25 members of the Israeli Knesset (MKs) to vote against the bill on 22 March, compared to 37 MKs who voted in favor of it.

“The Nakba is not just part of the Palestinian history,” Zoabi explained. “It’s also part of the Jewish history of this land. Because you need two in order to make Nakba. You need the victim and you need the oppressor. It was the Israelis who expelled the Palestinians and destroyed their towns and their villages and stole their land.”

“It’s not a narrative. It is not a political attitude. It’s a historical fact,” 

she added. Initiated by MK Alex Miller of the ultra right-wing party Yisrael Beiteinu and officially called “Budget Principles Law (Amendment 39) – Reducing Budgetary Support for Activities Contrary to the Principles of the State,” the bill would also allow the government fine groups it determines are working against the “Jewish and democratic” nature of Israel or who violate the symbols of the state, such as the Israeli flag.

The original version of the bill — which was subsequently changed due to widespread condemnation — called for putting any individual who publicly commemorates the Palestinian Nakba in jail for three years.

The purpose of the bill is to prevent members of the Arab minority in Israel from exercising their democratic right to commemorate a seminal event in their history. This legislation will cause harm to cultural and educational institutions that teach about the Nakba by cutting their funding and will further entrench inequality and discrimination. The bill is both anti-democratic and discriminatory

wrote Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, in a 14 March press release Adalah: Nakba Law Violates Rights of Arab Minority.

Adalah stated that it sent an urgent letter to the Chair of the Israeli Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and member of the Yisrael Beitenu party MK David Rotem, asking him to reject the bill before it was voted into law.

“The bill’s approval would lead to major harm to the principle of equality and to the rights of Arab citizens to preserve their history and culture. Arab citizens of Israel are an indigenous minority living on its homeland, and their historical roots to this land run extremely deep, and thus their identity must be preserved,” the Adalah press release stated.

Adalah had signaled its intention to petition the Israeli high court should the bill be approved in the Knesset. Now that it has been voted on, the only way the bill can now be overturned is through an Israeli high court ruling.

Impact of the bill already being felt

According to Israeli activist Eitan Bronstein, while the practical and legal implications of the Nakba law are impossible to foresee, the law is already making an impact.

“I would say that the main implication and influence is already there, is already in practice, and is already working. Anyone who wants to do something [to commemorate the Nakba], they immediately have a question about the Nakba law and whether or not they are under any risk,” Bronstein, founder and spokesperson of Zochrot, an organization that works to raise awareness of the Nakba within Israeli society, told The Electronic Intifada.

“We analyze this law as part of a whole campaign to intimidate anyone who wishes to study, to remember, to mention, to have anything to do with the Nakba. In Israel, it mostly effects and it already effects, from what we see, Palestinian citizens from Israel,” he added.

Bronstein explained that while many Israeli liberals have objected to the law because of civil liberties concerns, few have acknowledged how important it is to commemorate the Nakba itself.

“I think it’s about time that there will be many more Israelis who participate in Nakba commemorations and not only because of freedom of speech, but to understand how important it is. We should take a clear stance in supporting and participating in commemorating it and struggling against the denial of the Nakba,” Bronstein said.

“Without understanding the Nakba, you cannot of course understand the scale or the importance of this key issue of Palestinian refugees. If we don’t address the Nakba, we cannot really address properly our future. Any solution for the future which is not based on addressing this issue of the Palestinian refugees, it will be useless.”

“The fear of the victim”

The Nakba bill is just the latest piece of discriminatory legislation targeting the Palestinian minority in Israel, who constitute 20 percent of the overall population of the state.

More than twenty bills are presently being discussed in the Israeli Knesset that impact — both directly and indirectly — the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Included among these bills is the controversial loyalty oath legislation, which would mandate new immigrants to pledge loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” and the “Acceptance to Communities Bill.”

Passed same day as the Nakba law, the “Acceptance to Communities Bill”formalizes the establishment of admission committees to review potential residents to communities of up to 400 family units in the Negev and Galilee regions, where the Palestinian population in Israel is largely concentrated.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the bill would allow these committees to refuse admission to a wide variety of people, including Palestinians, single parents and same-sex couples, among others.

“The racist, anti-Arab rhetoric used by some of the promoters of this bill is shameful, but it’s important for the public to understand that any one of us could be targeted by this bill. Israeli legislators are about to sacrifice equality and the right of every person to choose their place of residence — in favor of the extra-rights of the residents of these wealthy communities, who wish to ‘select’ new residents on public lands,” said ACRI Attorney Gil Gan-Mor in a 22 March press release (“Final Vote Today on Nakba Law and Acceptance to Communities Bill“).

According to Haneen Zoabi, the wave of increasingly hostile legislation in the Knesset signals how extreme the Israeli state has become.

“Any racist law will succeed within this Zionist and right-wing Knesset. Any law which any fool or any crazy or any hysterical and racist person could imagine, anything, he can pass it within this racist Knesset,” Zoabi said.

“I think that the message is that there is no place for the Palestinian or the Palestinian identity to be a part of this state. It is a kind of political strategy in order to change the laws of the political game. These laws have a political function. It is not a mere expression of Zionism.”

She added that with the Nakba law in particular, the Israeli government is trying to delegitimize the Palestinian struggle within the country.

“They have a political function of delegitimizing our political struggle. When you delegitimize this struggle, this is the more dangerous thing. You are delegitimizing a political tool, a legitimate tool. This is more dangerous than a mere political or identity expression,” Zoabi said.

“Behind this law is a fear, the fear of the victim. Behind this law is the ability of the memory of the victim to threaten the legitimacy of Zionism.”

Originally from Montreal, Jillian Kestler-D’Amours is a reporter and documentary filmmaker based in occupied East Jerusalem. More of her work can be found at http://jilldamours.wordpress.com.

see also YNet’s Arabs: Nakba bill means war

Tony Greenstein

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Israel outlaws Palestinian memory of the Nakba

Impose a No-Fly Zone on Gaza not Libya

NOVANEWS

Anyone who believes that the imperialist assault on Libya has anything to do with a justified sense of anger at Col. Ghadaffi’s murder and terrorisation of the opposition needs their head examined. It hasn’t escaped notice that the same ‘supporters’ of the Libyan Revolution have also supported the use of Saudi and Quatarian troops to bloodily put down demonstrations in Bahrain.

Ghadaffi, despite being a merciless thug and madman and despite his recent cuddling up to the same imperialist exploiters he is now denouncing, remember his embrace of Tony Blair, has not been forgiven for his earlier bouts of independence such as supplying the IRA with weaponry.

The ‘no fly zone’ is another of those military misnomers such as ‘collateral damage’. It means bombing cities, military installations, civilians and other ordinance. The idea that there is a ‘clean war’ should have been laid to rest with Iraq. Instead what is happening in Libya cannot but lead either to partition and more bloody sectarianism of imperialist troops on the ground. Given that there is little appetite for the latter then Libya is destined, in its own way, to emulate Iraq.

Because wherever imperialism goes, sectarianism and religious/racial strife follow it.

There is only one answer. The rebels have to capture power for themselves. If the West is so keen to support them then they should have supplied them with weaponry. It is no accident that the Arab League, full of all the worst dictators the Arab world and the USA can provide, has played a key part in the attack on Libya. These collaborators and cowards know loyalty to only one thing – their purse. It will be interesting to see whether that other collaborator, Mahmoud Abbas, allows his people to demonstrate against the imperialist attack onLibya.

It is interesting to note the hypocrisy of the West. Where were the no-fly zones when Gaza was being mercilessly bombarded in 2008/9? 400 children were murdered and more burnt by phosphorous or otherwise injured. Not only was there no no-fly zone but the United States rushed to replenish Israel’s stock of missiles and weapons, something dockers in Greece put a block on.

There is only one thing Obummah, Cameron and co. are interested in and it’s not freedom for Libyans but the oil they possess.

And the attack on Libya is less popular than any similar war I can remember. People have begun to see through the lies of Cameron even earlier than they did with Blair. In the YouGov poll 45% support military action in Libya (45%) compared to 53% who supported the invasion of Iraq after the war had started.

33% think that little or no effort is being made to minimise civilian casualties compared to just 8% who thought the same about Iraq. 43% trust Cameron to tell the truth, compared to 62% who trusted Tony Blair (before his lies caught him out). And only 21% back sending ground troops into Libya, with 69% opposed.

A separate poll for ComRes found that only 35% supported the bombing, with 43% opposed.

Tony Greenstein

Posted in GazaComments Off on Impose a No-Fly Zone on Gaza not Libya

“Perpetual hell” of the Palestinian refugee camps

NOVANEWS

 

Law and principle are utterly meaningless to the great, civilized powers, who just fidget and whisper sweet nothings in Israel’s ear.

 

by Stuart Littlewood

 

 

European and British Parliamentarians visit Palestinian Refugee Camps (PRC) in Lebanon

A delegation of parliamentarians has returned from a tour of the refugee camps in Lebanon and made its report Parliamentary Delegation to Lebanon .pdf

It was led by former British government minister Sir Gerald Kaufman MP and included four members of the European Parliament and three of the British Parliament. The delegation’s purpose was to assess the humanitarian situation faced by Palestinians living in Lebanon’s refugee camps, and it was able to raise issues at the highest level with the Lebanese in a series of meetings.

The UN Refugee Agency describes the plight of Palestinian refugees as “by far the most protracted and largest of all refugee problems in the world today”.

Three-quarters of the 11 million Palestinians are refugees. Their plight is at the core of the 63-year struggle against Israel. All other issues, political and humanitarian, arose as a consequence of Israel’s denial of the right of refugees to return to their land.

The report reminds us that a whole host of international treaties and conventions recognize the right to return including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. The Right of Return for refugees is guaranteed under Humanitarian and Human Rights Law and countless UN resolutions.

And the UN has affirmed the right of return through its Resolution 194 on no less than 122 occasions.

But to the international community none of this is worth the screeds of paper it is written on. Law and principle are utterly meaningless to the great, civilized powers, who just fidget and whisper sweet nothings in Israel’s ear.

Meanwhile, over 400,000 Palestinians live in Lebanon’s 12 ‘official’ (UNRWA-run) refugee camps and its many ‘unofficial’ camps, amounting to approximately 10 percent  of the country’s population. They are politically marginalized, without basic social and economic rights, trapped in often squalid surroundings, and without hopes for the future.

Palestinian refugees, says the report, suffer more in Lebanon than in any other country that hosts them.

Europe should “balance out” America’s role

President Suleiman told the delegation: “Lebanon does not have the capacity to absorb 400,000 people; we simply cannot offer them a good life. The truth is that we will not see peace in the Middle East without the implementation of the refugees’ right of return.”

Foreign minister, Dr Ali Chami, said: “It is not acceptable that Palestinians have been living outside their own state since 1948. The half a million in Lebanon are in complete misery and a very dire situation. The clear solution is the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital”. He also spoke of the Israelis’ intransigence: “Since 1978, according to UN resolutions, Israel has violated Lebanese sovereignty every day, while the international community has failed to deter them.”

Referring to Israel’s invasions and occupation of Lebanon, Deputy Speaker Al Zain said: “Lebanon has endured a lot for the Palestinian cause… It is high time the West liberated itself from double standards and stopped supporting satellite regimes that do not respect Palestinian rights.”

A Hezbollah MP remarked: “More than two million people have been killed because of this cause. There are millions of Palestinian victims around the world and the international community has paid out billions of dollars, but there is still no solution”.

Another MP added: “There needs to be seriousness in dealing with Israel and an end to backing dictatorships. Palestine had free elections in 2006, but the West conspired to undermine the results. If this corruption isn’t corrected the West will face the biggest upheaval in the region since 1948-49.”

On Europe the Deputy Speaker said: “The world needs another power to balance out America’s role, Europe should fulfill this role.”

Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon

Recalling the Sabra and Shatila camp massacre of at least 800 in 1982 while Beirut was under Israeli occupation, British MP Jeremy Corbyn reflected: “The pain of the Sabra and Shatila massacres… never goes away. It was a poignant moment for the delegates to be able to lay a wreath at the memorial. It was sad to see the continued poverty in those camps nearly 30 years on, but we were inspired by the people. The description by Mohammed Omar Deeb, an elderly survivor of the massacres and his determination that

one day he would see his village in Palestine and that all his family would see a free Palestine is typical of the enduring spirit of the Palestinian people.”

Two inquiries held Israel indirectly responsible and Ariel Sharon was especially implicated.

Refugees must remain at the centre of all peace talks

After their visit the delegation concluded…

  • The Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are victims many times over.

  • They are denied access to their homeland.

  • They are the victims of Lebanon’s civil wars and the numerous Israeli

invasions and occupation.

  • They are victims of the unwillingness of the international community to

secure justice and the unwillingness of the Lebanese authorities to grant

them their basic human rights.

Their recommendations are…

  • The international community, including Israel, is responsible for guaranteeing the rights of Palestinian refugees and providing them with protection.

  • While Lebanon and many members of the United Nations offer appropriate

rhetoric, this must be matched with concrete steps to tangibly improve the lives of the refugees in Lebanon and put an end to the catastrophic conditions in which they live.

  • An appropriate solution is needed that restores and protects the human rights of the refugees, including their right to return to their land.

  • In Lebanon, Palestinian refugees have a status that falls far short of even second class citizenship. This should be corrected without delay.

  • All parties should respect and enforce United Nations General Assembly

Resolution 194 which calls for the return of the refugees.

  • As Israel has shown no inclination to respect the rights of Palestinian refugees under international law, it is incumbent on the international community to enforce a resolution.

  • The European Union and its member states, including the United Kingdom, should significantly increase their funding to UNRWA to allow the agency to fulfill its remit.

  • Negotiators, politicians and activists should ensure that Palestinian refugees remain at the centre of all peace talks.

  • Lebanon’s position on the refugees is woefully inadequate. The 17th August 2010 law should be implemented immediately as a first step to normalizing the lives of Palestinian refugees by improving human, civil and property rights and lifting restrictions on the professions available to Palestinians.

On housing, all restrictions that limit the right to adequate housing for Palestinians should be removed, including any legislation that discriminates against Palestinians who are not officially citizens of a recognized state. A degree of security of tenure should be guaranteed and restrictions on bringing building materials into refugee camps should be removed, including the fines or penalties imposed on Palestinians for attempting to make their homes habitable.

As regards the environment, minimum levels of sanitation and access to clean water for all Palestinian refugees should be ensured.

As regards employment, restrictions on Palestinian access to all professions should be

lifted and the process of obtaining work permits eased.

As regards education, Lebanon should ensure that all children under its jurisdiction have access to education equal to that enjoyed by Lebanese nationals.

As regards non-ID refugees, their status in Lebanon should be regularised and refugees provided with identification documents.

It’s altogether a shocking situation. Congratulations to the delegation for seeing it from the refugees’ angle and making their findings public.

“Conditions are unspeakable… the real culprit is Israel”

Sir Gerald Kaufman, who led the delegation, summed up. “When I went to Gaza in 2010 I thought I had seen the worst that could be seen of the appalling predicament of Palestinians living in conditions which no human being should be expected to endure. But what I saw in the camps in Lebanon is far worse and far more hopeless.

“The conditions are unspeakable, but for over 400,000 of our fellow human beings this is their life: today, tomorrow and for a future that cannot even be foreseen. At least in Gaza, frightful though the situation is, the people are free within the confines of their blockaded prison. In the camps of Lebanon they are not free and this is, to a very considerable degree, the responsibility of the Lebanese government which could allow conditions to improve and could allow the victim freedom of movement, but specifically refuses to do it.

“Yet, culpable though the Lebanese government undoubtedly is, the real culprit is the Israeli government, which by refusing to come to a settlement with the Palestinians, is directly and horrendously responsible for the plight of those immured in the camps.

“It makes me more determined than ever to fight for the rights of the Palestinian people and to campaign against the deliberate decision of the Israeli government to perpetuate the hell in which so many Palestinians are living”.

There speaks one of the few honourable, decent men in the cesspit of Westminster politics… and a Jew.

At the time of Israel’s appalling blitzkrieg on Gaza’s civilians, Sir Gerald famously told the House of Commons: “My parents came to Britain as refugees from Poland. Most of their families were subsequently murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszow.  A German soldier shot her dead in her bed. My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.

“It is time for our Government to make clear to the Israeli Government that their conduct and policies are unacceptable, and to impose a total arms ban on Israel. It is time for peace, but real peace, not the solution by conquest which is the Israelis’ real goal but which it is impossible for them to achieve. They are not simply war criminals; they are fools.”

Kaufman tells it the way it is, as do many brave Jewish peace groups – Jews for Justice and the like – and all credit to them for standing against the cruel Israeli regime.

So why cannot other Jews around the world, who reckon themselves to be well-informed and able to tell right from wrong, also speak up? What say all those making their fortunes here in the UK and living in luxury in Hendon, Golders Green and Manchester?

Are they not for justice?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stuart Littlewood is a marketing specialist turned writer-photographer in the UK. His articles are published widely on the web. He is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation.Read Full Bio

SABRA AND SHATILA MASSACRE

Al mashriq - The Levant
Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon – 1999
  • Nahr-el-Bared
  • Baddawi
  • Wavell
  • Taalabayyeh
  • Barr Elias
  • Dbeyeh
  • Tel-el-Zaatar
  • Jisr-el-Basha
  • Burj-el-Barajneh
  • Al-Jnah-Ouzaai
  • Shateela
  • Sabra
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    Hijacking the Arab revolution

    NOVANEWS

     

    Those who have protected and pampered the Mubaraks and Ben Alis all these years see no irony in coming forward to claim credit for the tide that has turned the Arab world around

     

    By Aijaz Zaka Syed / ARAB NEWS


    COALITION OF THE WILLING WARS

    SO it has come down to this. After Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, Libya now finds itself in the line of fire of the Coalition of the Willing.

    Of course, unlike Afghanistan and Iraq, the West is not fighting “Islamist terrorism” in Libya or is on the quest of the holy grail called Weapons of Mass Destruction. The mission now is to “save lives” and take out the monster that just refuses to fade away like the other friendly, neighborhood dictators in Tunisia and Egypt.

    He must hang on in there like a bad dream, an evil spell over Libya. Those who thought Muammar Qaddafi would soon follow his fellow travelers into the sunset were clearly mistaken. The demented author of the Green Book seems to sincerely believe he’s God’s gift not just to the people of Libya but to the whole of humankind. But then Col. Qaddafi, distinctly delusional that he is, isn’t the only one to live in this make-believe world.

    There are many out there who have persuaded themselves their leadership is crucial to the survival of their people and their departure would bring on the end of the world. Such is the power of delusions of grandeur. You tend to believe you are at the center of universe.

    Those larger than life statues, from Baghdad to Benghazi, are not the celebration of a monstrous ego but the manifestation of a perennial insecurity of the powerful. They have to constantly reassure themselves about their own power.

    Some of the biggest and most obscene tributes to human vanity are found in Muslim lands. Islam came to banish all man-made idols and we have replaced them with men who view themselves as divine. They worship themselves and expect their people to do so. Qaddafi is not the only one to believe in his immortality and his right to rule Libya forever. He must kill his people, if need be as he has been doing all these years, to govern them.

    There are others out there who have convinced themselves that if they deprive their people of their noble leadership, they will all perish and go to hell. Après moi le déluge, After me the deluge!

    After four decades of absolute power, Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen believes his people are not still “ready” to govern themselves or determine what’s good or bad for them. ‘I am prepared to step down,’ he reasons, ‘provided people of Yemen prove they have a capable leadership to take over from me.’ Touche!

    Bashar Assad of Syria, who and his father between themselves have ruled Syria for nearly half a century, doesn’t fit the description of a tyrant. He insists he and his people are “on the same page.” There’s no problem whatsoever.
    What about those angry demonstrations? And why are the Syrian troops firing on peaceful protesters?

    Of course, it’s the doing of “conspirators and outsiders,” you know. There’s no trouble in the Baathist paradise of Syria. In fact, a Syrian government spokesperson told CNN’s Hala Gorani with a straight face, President Assad himself has wanted to introduce “reforms” since he took over from his father 11 years ago. Then why hasn’t he? What are we waiting for? End times or another crusader coalition?

    Truth be told, whether it is Libya or Syria or numerous other Arab republics, they have all suppressed, abused and persecuted their people for decades — or the lifetime of a tyrant. In addition to perpetual abuse of power and all-pervasive corruption, they all have one thing in common. They’ve all repressed popular democratic movements that turn to Islam for guidance and inspiration, rather than dance to the tunes of London and Washington. And they have all done this with the blessings of Western champions of democracy and freedom.

    In Egypt, both Hasan Al Banna, the legendary founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, and his successor Sayyid Qutb were assassinated by the powers that be, not to mention the thousands of its activists who were incarcerated and tortured for years for believing in a better world. From Gamal Nasser to Anwar Sadat to Hosni Mubarak, the most admired grass-roots movement in the Arab world has remained banned and suppressed for half a century.

    This is the same story all across the Arab world. From Egypt and Yemen to Syria and from Algeria and Tunisia to Libya, the Islamists have been hunted like animals for decades. In 1982, Syrian forces massacred thousands in the city of Hama in a crackdown on Ikhwan. The memories of Hama massacre are still fresh.

    And who could forget how Algeria’s veteran revolutionaries dealt with the Islamic Salvation Front when it swept the first ever multi-party democratic elections in 1991-‘92? The regime not just annulled the historic vote and the verdict it threw up, it unleashed a reign of terror against the Islamists for daring to take the democratic path to change. Nearly 300,000 lives perished in the subsequent civil war whose wounds are yet to heal.

    History repeated itself when Hamas wrested power from the corrupt and clueless elites of Fatah in 2006. The Palestinians are still paying the price for this cardinal sin, locked away as they are in the largest prison on the planet.

    All this of course wouldn’t have been possible without the active support and cooperation of our Western masters. Even as they have endlessly sung hosannas to the deity of democracy, they have aided and abetted their ever obliging allies to crush and destroy those foolish enough to believe in their rhetoric. Indeed, if the Middle East is still stuck with tyranny in 21st century and men in khaki rule forever, you know who to thank for.

    So it’s rather touching to see Uncle Sam and his cohorts come around cheering on the juggernaut of change that is on the march in the Middle East. The folks who are still working with a racist and terrorist regime to wipe out an entire nation in its own land have no shame in pontificating about a people’s right to choose their destiny.

    Those who have protected and pampered the Mubaraks and Ben Alis all these years see no irony in coming forward to claim credit for the tide that has turned the Arab world around. Talk of hunting with hares and running with hounds! Some Western pundits even have the cheek to thank the “Cowboy Crusader,” who gave us Afghanistan and Iraq and sent more than a million people to their death, for the Arab revolt.

    Is there no limit to Western hypocrisy and duplicity? Why do they think they can fool all the people all the time? Don’t they see the writing on the wall? The tide has turned in the Middle East and Western powers will ignore it at their own peril. For those who have the courage to throw out their corrupt despots are capable of confronting their masters too.

    A whopping majority in the Muslim world has no sympathy for Qaddafi whatsoever. They are waiting for his imminent fall and will celebrate his exit — and of others like him — just as they rejoiced over the departure of Ben Ali and Mubarak. But they aren’t going to welcome Janus-faced friends of their tormentors either. So expect no roses in Tripoli Mr. Obama and Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Cameron!

    Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Hijacking the Arab revolution

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