Archive | April 29th, 2011

Zio-Nazi Drone War Crime in Gaza

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

 

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

 

To be a teenager in Bil’in

Apr 29, 2011

Hamde Abu Rahme

Two children were taken to hospital after the latest army invasion in Bil’in, a village in the occupied Palestinian territories.
At midday on April 28, the Israeli army entered Bil’in. Three military jeeps came through the Western gate in the Wall, drove through the village and to the mosque. Clashes erupted when a group of children and youth saw the jeeps, and stones were thrown in order to make the soldiers leave the village.

However, instead of leaving the army decided to stay for an hour, throwing stun grenades and shooting tear gas and rubber covered steel bullets towards the villagers. Two young boys were injured by rubber covered steel bullets; Jamal (14) was shot with two bullets on his chin, while Najmi (15) was hit in his leg. An ambulance was called to take them both to the hospital in Ramallah for treatment.

‘So you come to take Amina’ — a loving Syrian father saves his gay blogger daughter from the security services

Apr 29, 2011

A Gay Girl in Damascus

Editor’s note: Saleema told us to post “My father, the hero,” an astonishing post by Amina, A Gay Girl in Damascus, from two days back, and it being the internet, we’ve grabbed a lot of the post. Please read the full post at her site. It describes a nighttime visit from the “security services,” two men in their 20s in leather jackets. Amina, who is an out lesbian, and her father go to the door.

“Really?” my father interrupts. “My daughter is a salafi?” he starts laughing. “Look at her: can’t you see that that is ridiculous? She doesn’t even cover any more … and if you have really read even half of what she has written, you know how ridiculous that is. When was the last time you heard a wahhabi, or even someone from the brotherhood say that wearing hijab is the woman’s choice only?”
he pauses, they don’t say anything.
“I did not think so,” he goes on. “When was the last time you saw one of those write that there should be no religion as religion of teh state?”
Again nothing.
“When was the last time you saw them saying that the gays should be allowed the right to marry, a man to a man or a woman to a woman?”
Nothing.
“And when you say nothing, you show,” he says, “that you have no reason to take my daughter.”
They say nothing. Then one whispers something to the other, he smiles.
“Uh huh,” the man says, “so your daughter tells you everything, huh?”
“Of course,” my father says.
“Did she tell you that she likes to sleep with women?” he grins, pure poison, feeling like he has made a hit. “That she is one of those faggots who fucks little girls?” (the arabic he used is far cruder … you get the idea)
My dad glances at me. I nod; we understand each other.
“She is my daughter,” he says and I can see the anger growing in his eyes, “and she is who she is and if you want her, you must take me as well.”
“Stupid city-fuckers,” says the same guy. “All you rich pansies are the same. No wonder she ends up fucking girls and kikes” (again, the Arabic is much rawer ,,,)
He steps twoards me and puts his hand on my breast.
“Maybe if you were with a real man,” he lears, “you’d stop this nonsense and lies; maybe we should show you now and let your pansy father watch so he understands how real men are.”
I am almost trembling with rage. My dad moves his head slightly to tell me to be silent.
“What are you?” he says. “Did the jackal sleep with the monkey before you were born? What are your names?”

They tell him. He nods
“Your father,” he says to the one who threatened to rape me, “does he know this is how you act? He was an officer, yes? And he served in …” (he mentions exactly and then turns to the other) “and your mother? Wasn’t she the daughter of …?”
They are both wide-eyed, yes, that is right,
“What would they think if they heard how you act? And my daughter? Let me tell you this about her; she has done many things that, if I had been her, I would not have done. But she has never once stopped being my daughter and I will never once let you do any harm to her. You will not take her from here. And, if you try, know that generations of her ancestors are looking down on you. Do you know what is our family name? You do? Then you know where we stood when Muhammad, peace be upon him, went to Medina, you know who it was who liberated al Quds, you know too, maybe, that my father fought to save this country from the foreigners and who he was, know who my uncles and my brothers were … and if that doesn’t shame you enough, you know my cousins and you will leave here.
“You will leave her alone and you will tell the rest of your gang to leave her alone. And I will tell you something now because I think maybe you are too stupid to figure this out on your own. You are alawiyeen; do not deny that, I know you both are. We are Sunni. You know that. And in your offices and in your villages they are telling you that all of you must stand shoulder to shoulder now because we are coming for you as soon as we can and we will serve you as they have served ours in the land of the two rivers. So you are scared. I would be too.
“So you come here to take Amina. Let me tell you something though. She is not the one you should fear; you should be heaping praises on her and on people like her. They are the ones saying alawi, sunni, arabi, kurdi, duruzi, christian, everyone is the same and will be equal in the new Syria; they are the ones who, if the revolution comes, will be saving Your mother and your sisters. They are the ones fighting the wahhabi most seriously. You idiots are, though, serving them by saying ‘every sunni is salafi, every protester is salafi, every one of them is an enemy’ because when you do that you make it so.
“Your Bashar and your Maher, they will not live forever, they will not rule forever, and you both know that. So, if you want good things for yourselves in the future, you will leave and you will not take Amina with you. You will go back and you will tell the rest of yours that the people like her are the best friends the Alawi could ever have and you will not come for her again.
“And right now, you two will both apologize for waking her and putting her through all this. Do you understand me?”
And time froze when he stopped speaking. Now, they would either smack him down and beat him, rape me, and take us both away … or …

the first one nodded, then the second one.
“Go back to sleep,” he said, “we are sorry for troubling you.”
And they left!
As soon as the gate shut ,,, I heard clapping; everyone in the house was awake now and had been watching from balconies and doorways and windows all around the courtyard … and everyone was cheering …
MY DAD had just defeated them! Not with weapons but with words … and they had left …
I hugged him and kissed him; I literally owe him my life now.
And everyone came down and hugged and kissed, every member of the family, and the servants and everyone … we had won … this time …

My father is a hero; I always knew that … but now I am sure …

Egyptians continue protests against Israel and call for a million-man march to support Palestinians

Apr 28, 2011

Seham

Two great pictures at Kabobfest, 1 and 2, of Egyptian protesters getting on the Palestinian issue. And other news from the Arab uprisings:

Bahrain

Bahrain sentences protesters to death
Military court sentences four men to death over killing of police during unrest, state media says.
http://english.aljazeera.net//news/middleeast/2011/04/201142881322769709.html

Bahrain urged to halt execution of protesters
A military court in Bahrain has sentenced four anti-government protesters to death. Authorities in Bahrain must not allow the execution of four protesters sentenced to death by a military court over the killing of two police officers in anti-government demonstrations last month, Amnesty International said today. “The Bahraini authorities have a responsibility to bring to justice those who commit violent crimes. But when doing so, they must uphold the right to fair trial and they must not use the death penalty under any circumstances,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/bahrain-urged-halt-execution-protesters-2011-04-28

Why Bahrain is Trying Civilians Before a Military Court (Time.com)
Time.com – The island kingdom’s massive crackdown on civil liberties continues with civilians about to be put in front of a military court.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110427/wl_time/08599206789500

Shiites decry ‘persecution in Bahrain’
Shiites face fast-tracked martial courts, continued detention of hundreds, demolition of mosques and arbitrary dismissal of employees in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, they say.
http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/shiites-decry-persecution-in-bahrain-20110427-1dw2g.html

Bahrain: We must speak out about brutality in the Gulf
To have different levels of tolerance for different despots raises awkward questions.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/17/observer-editorial-britain-role-in-gulf

Bahrain thanks Saudi Arabia
Saudi media do cover Bahrain. The mouthpiece of Prince Salman and his sons, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, has this headline: “A Green Bahraini Day in thanks to People and Leadership of Saudi Arabia.”  I kid you not.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/04/bahrain-thanks-saudi-arabia.html

Lebanese Muslim scholars urge Bahrain to end crackdown
Sheikh Abdel Amir Kabalan, head of the Shiite Higher Council, urged the Bahraini government to halt all forms of “injustice and oppression.” BEIRUT: Violence against Bahraini protesters should cease, Lebanese Muslim scholars urged Manama Wednesday, warning of a conspiracy to incite strife among the island’s population.
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/Apr/27/Muslim-Scholars-urge-Bahrain-to-stop-violence-against-protesters.ashx

More on Bahrain
Jane sent me this (I cite with her permission):  “I guess you saw the news that four men have been sentenced to death today by a military court that convicted them of killing two policemen during the uprising. Today Bahrain TV aired a “documentary” that gives full details, including televised “confessions” from several of the men. The programme has been uploaded to YouTube here:  (Yes, it genuinely does begin “Bahrain is a country of peace and love…”) As some people have asked, why would defendants who were pleading “not guilty” make confessions on camera? The names of those confessing aren’t given, but Chanad, an eagle-eyed blogger/tweep, pointed out that the first man “confessing” (six minutes into the programme) appears to be Ali Isa Saqer. Mr Saqer was one of the people detained in connection with the killings, but he was not sentenced yesterday. That’s because he already died in custody in early April. Human Rights Watch, which saw his body, said it bore signs of “horrific abuse”. He was buried on April 10th. Frank Gardner of the BBC wrote about him recently (the last line is particularly worth reading): “Accused of trying to run over a policeman during a protest, Ali Isa al-Saqer had handed himself over to police after his family say they were threatened. Six days later he died in their custody, the authorities say he fought his jailers. His family, seeing his battered body for the first time since his arrest, collapsed in howls of grief; his wounds were quite simply horrific. Beaten black and blue, his lacerated back resembled a bloody zebra; he appeared to have been whipped with heavy cables, his ankles and wrists manacled. I brought up his case with the health minister, Dr Fatima al-Beloushi, who is also minister for human rights. At first she said that the opposition had altered the images to invent the lacerations. But when I replied that we had been to the funeral and seen them ourselves she immediately promised a full investigation.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/04/more-on-bahrain.html

Bahrain

One of my sources:  “So 4 of the protestors were sentenced to death. 3 given life. The last time the death penalty was imposed was in 2006 after three incidents of 3 bangledeshis killing Bahrainis – one of the bangledeshis was a cook for a super-rich Bahraini family (wonder if he was abused by them?). Since two of the ones killed were from prominent tribes the government decided to ban all bangledeshis from coming to Bahrain. I have no idea if the ban still exists – there is a similar ban in either Saudi or Kuwait. Here’s an old blog post on the issue: Funny how the defenders of the Bahraini government forgot this and now are acting like they are the defenders of all expats in Bahrain. At the beginning of the violence, the government claimed that the protesters cut of the tongue of a bangledeshi muazzin. The Bangledeshi ambassador denied this.”
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/04/bahrain_28.htm

When a Bahraini secular suddenly becomes a caller for an Islamic republic

One of my reliable sources on Bahrain:  “I’m not sure if you have heard of Abdul Hadi and Khawaja. He is one of the most prominent human rights activists that have been detained by the Bahraini regime. Now Al Khwaja is one of the regime’s most hated dissidents (probably right after Mushaima and Singece who are the leaders of the banned opposition group Haq). They have been trying to get rid of him and get him to stay quiet for years. Their biggest problem they have with him, (other than the fact that he exposes their crimes) is that unlike a lot of the prominent dissidents in Bahrain, he is calling for the downfall of the entire regime and for the establishment of a republic. He has been doing it for years and he just never ever shuts up. Now this has lead them and their pro-government supporters as an extremist, a terrorist, and most hilarious of all, as a person calling for the creation of an Islamic Iranian style theocracy in Bahrain. Well the funny thing is, according to a wikileaks cable, the Crown Prince himself calls Al Khawaja secular. In fact he repeats this so much that it has lead me to believe that the entire regime knows very well that Al-Khawaja would never ever call for an Islamic republic. Here is the link to the wikileaks article in case you are interested:
By the way, Al-Khawaja’s daughter was the one who went on a hunger strike and wrote an open letter to Obama. I believe that he is being put on trial now.”
PS The daughter calls her blog The Angry (Female) Arab
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/04/when-bahraini-secular-suddenly-becomes.html

|Egypt
Egypt-Israel gas pipeline fire could rage for days, sources say
Explosion rocks natural gas terminal, disrupting supply to neighboring Israel and Jordan, following the second armed attack on Egypt gas pipelines since February.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/egypt-israel-gas-pipeline-fire-could-rage-for-days-sources-say-1.358458?localLinksEnabled=false

Egyptian youth call for million-man marches to support Palestinians
A call for “million-man” marches in support of the Palestinians has been made by Egypt’s Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution. The first march, to be held in Alexandria on 13 May, will also demand the opening of the Egypt-Gaza border for food, medical and humanitarian aid; marchers will head for the Israeli Consulate in the city.
http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/news/middle-east/2283-egyptian-youth-call-for-million-man-marches-to-support-palestinians

Photos: Protesting the Israeli Embassy
The Israeli Embassy in Giza, a once impermissible area to hold protests during the godforsaken days of Mubarak, has recently been a hotspot of demonstrations organized by Egyptian youth. They started weeks ago with a spontaneous demo that marched from Tahrir to the embassy in response to the attacks on Gaza. They are rallying to call for an immediate stop to the the brutal attacks on the collectively punished civilians of Gaza strip, and the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and severing ties with the Zionist state. Protesters held banners that read “Here is the Palestinian embassy” (below left) and waved the Palestinian flags high (below right).
http://www.kabobfest.com/2011/04/photos-protesting-cairos-israeli-embassy.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+kabobfest%2FGrillMe+%28KABOBfest%29

Another protest against the Israeli occupation embassy in Cairo
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/04/another-protest-against-israeli.html

Egypt’s socialist network keeps the spirit of the revolution alive
Much of the old regime is still in place in Egypt – the Popular Alliance’s aim is to make people aware of alternatives. With September’s parliamentary elections just around the corner, Egypt’s revolution is in a vulnerable phase. Without clear, progressive direction based on the values forged in Tahrir Square, there is a real possibility that remnants of the old system will re-establish a grip on power.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/28/egypt-popular-alliance

The new Egypt: go tell the Zionist hoodlums
“The attack comes at a particularly delicate time as the Egyptian public — freed from restrictions that had been imposed by the government of President Hosni Mubarak — has aired anger more openly at Israel and at its own government’s handling of the original pipeline deal. It also comes as the Egyptian authorities have lost some control over the North Sinai after many police officers pulled back during the political turmoil surrounding the ouster of Mr. Mubarak in February.”
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/04/new-egypt-go-tell-zionist-hoodlums.html

My comrades, my heroes in Egypt
“Labour movements are continuing the revolution today. Their flagship cause has become the ongoing strikes in Shubra el-Kom, where disgruntled textile workers are calling for the nationalisation of their factory, which was sold to Indonesian owners at a fraction of its value in an example of the institutional corruption fostered by Mubarak. The Popular Alliance has seized upon this, using the protests as a recruiting ground – highly effectively – and identifying itself with the struggle. Should the workers be triumphant, it would set a precedent for public ownership of hundreds more companies, while cementing the socialists as the workers’ representatives. The Alliance has built on union demands to advocate a raft of populist reforms such as subsidised housing for the poor, free education and greater local representation through city presidents. These connect neatly with the core demands of the revolution for social justice, freedom and democracy, which will have cross-demographic appeal.”
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/04/my-comrades-my-heroes-in-egypt.html

Egypt’s Years Of Repression Give Way To New-Found Voice
CAIRO (Reuters) For decades, authoritarian rule and police brutality ensured the only voice heard from Egypt was that of its leaders. Since popular protests deposed President Hosni Mubarak, the silent majority has erupted into a cacophony. Emboldened by the success of their uprising, almost everyone in post-Mubarak Egypt, from Western-educated professionals to illiterate farmhands to once-banned Islamists, has something to say about their nation’s past and future.
http://weirdnews.aol.com/2011/04/27/egypt-democracy-2011_n_854315.html

Libya
Gaddafi forces regain Libya’s western border
Rebels forced to abandon post on Tunisian frontier as border town of Zintan comes under rocket attack by Gaddafi forces.
http://english.aljazeera.net//news/africa/2011/04/201142815329302425.html

Gates hints at killing Gadhafi
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that Libyan military command centers “wherever we find them” are legitimate targets for U.S. and NATO air attack, suggesting that “strongman” Moammar Gadhafi himself is increasingly in danger.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110426/ap_on_re_us/us_us_libya

Ex-CIA chief: Kadhafi was good partner
The former chief of the CIA on Tuesday praised Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s past cooperation and said his downfall could complicate US interests in the short term.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110426/pl_afp/libyaconflictsyriapoliticsunrestusintelligence?utm_campaign=DTN+Libya+Uprising:&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Gaddafi arms Libyan ‘home guard’ – minimum age 17
Regime in Libya trains civilians in use of AK-47s in attempt to build resistance to Pro NATO Enemy Combatants
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/27/gaddafi-arms-17-libyan-nato

Shots, explosions heard in Libyan rebel stronghold
BENGHAZI, Libya, April 28 (Reuters) – Explosions and bursts of gunfire were heard in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya on Thursday, a Reuters correspondent said. The cause was not immediate clear. Some residents had attributed an earlier outburst of gunfire to a possible clash between feuding local families. Young Benghazi men often fire guns, and occasionally rocket propelled grenades, into the air as an act of defiance against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, whose forces were expelled from eastern Libya in a February uprising.
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/shots-explosions-heard-in-libyan-rebel-stronghold

Libya Death Toll Could Be As High As 30,000: U.S.
WASHINGTON — The death toll in Libya after more than two months of violence could reach as high as 30,000, an Obama administration official said Wednesday. Gene Cretz, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, said it is very hard to gauge how many people have died in strongman Moammar Gadhafi’s crackdown on protesters and the subsequent fighting between rebels and pro-government forces.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/27/libya-death-toll-could-be_n_854582.html

Nato fire ‘kills Misrata rebels’
A stray Nato air strike kills at least 11 rebel fighters in the besieged Libyan port of Misrata, say reports, as intense fighting with pro-Gaddafi forces continues.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/int/news/-/news/world-africa-13223197

Battle for Libya: Uprising in Nalut
For more than two months, a battle has been raging between Muammar Gadaffi’s forces and opposition fighters in the Nefusa mountain range of western Libya. More than 30,000 residents have moved across the border to Tunisia. Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught went to the town of Nalut to meet the people testing their new sense of freedom – and the risks that come with it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtqOV7i8ak8&feature=youtube_gdata

Fighting continues in Libya’s Misurata
Rebels say humanitarian deliveries affected in besieged city, as battles rage for control of port rage on.
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/04/2011427174152820654.html

Libya rebels battle for Misurata airport
Fighting continues after Libyan leader’s forces are pushed back from city’s sea port.
http://english.aljazeera.net//news/africa/2011/04/2011428101929477818.html

Libyan rebels to free five Gaddafi soldiers
BENGHAZI, Libya, April 27 (Reuters) – Libyan rebels will free five captured Libyan soldiers loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, a senior rebel spokesman said, in a goodwill gesture aimed at boosting the rebels’ credibility internationally. Libya’s opposition forces hold as many as 32 Libyans and 72 foreign mercenaries captured during fighting in the uprising that began in mid-February, Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, spokesman for the rebel National Council, said.
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/libyan-rebels-to-free-five-gaddafi-soldiers

U.S. gives limited support to rebel government in Libya
The U.S. will encourage other nations to line up behind the Transitional National Council, but continues to wrestle with whether it should extend recognition to the Libyan group. The Obama administration gave an official blessing to the chief Libyan opposition group Wednesday, opening the way for closer ties but not necessarily recognition as the country’s legitimate government.
http://feeds.latimes.com/%7Er/latimes/middleeast/%7E3/uvcybPIsfYk/la-fg-libya-rebels-20110428,0,5393485.story

Children bear brunt of Libyan conflict
With the conflict raging on in Libya, education is suffering, especially in the rebel-held areas. From schools to unversities, everything is shut. Some students and teachers are on the frontline in the battle against government forces. Al Jazeera’s Omar Al Saleh has more from Benghazi.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-eej7mwc1E&feature=youtube_gdata

As conflict drags on, food supplies run low in Benghazi
Fears of looming food shortage have grown since the World Food Programme warned that food stocks would run out in two months.
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/as-conflict-drags-on-food-supplies-run-low-in-benghazi

Syria
Three Syrian soldiers killed, 15 injured by “terrorists”
A military source said ” extremist and terrorist groups” attacked some Syrian army units Tuesday along the road leading to the occupied Golan Heights, killing three soldiers and wounding 15, the official SANA news agency reported.
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-04/27/c_13847236.htm

Syrian soldiers ‘switching allegiances’
Reports are coming out of Syria that some soldiers are siding with the anti-government protesters. Amateur footage is said to show that some troops have been shot at from within their own ranks for refusing to fire upon protesters in the city of Deraa. Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the footage, which is said to have been shot on Wednesday. Imran Khan reports.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIeEY2topAU&feature=youtube_gdata

Syrian ruling party members defect en masse
More than 200 Baath Party members announced their resignation Wednesday in the largest expression of dissent since the party came to power in 1963.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/iqwh7VVKEoQ/Syrian-ruling-party-members-defect-en-masse

UN fails to agree on Syria condemnation
Security Council members remain divided on US-backed statement condemning violence against protesters.
http://english.aljazeera.net//news/middleeast/2011/04/201142723514236533.html

Dozens arrested in Syrian town
Residents say security forces raid homes in the mountain town Madaya, amid reports of soldiers switching allegiances.
http://english.aljazeera.net//news/middleeast/2011/04/2011428103427307165.html

Al Jazeera suspends Arabic service operations in Syria
DUBAI, April 28 (Reuters) – Qatar-based satellite channel Al Jazeera said it had suspended some operations in Syria, in a move a media watchdog said was the result of restrictions and attacks on its staff. A spokesman for the network told Reuters the suspended operations were from the channel’s Arabic language service. The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists said the network had told it Damascus had subjected Syrian employees to sustained pressure to resign from the news channel.
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/al-jazeera-suspends-arabic-service-operations-in-syria/

“Protesters Want Changes to Syria’s Power Structure,” Landis on NPR
The Assad family, which has ruled Syria for the last 40 years, belongs to the Alawite religious sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam. It includes only 12 percent of the country’s population. Syria expert Joshua Landis talks to Steve Inskeep about how the family has maintained its power.
http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=9404&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Syriacomment+%28Syria+Comment%29

Syrian Communist Party (Unified), “Stop Violence Now and Start National Dialogue!”
The ongoing tragedy only benefits the enemies of Syria, the enemies of our national project that is guiding the country, the enemies who are promoting the American and Zionist project in the region, as well as the forces who do not want the process of reform to deepen and expand. Our party, which keenly feels the responsibility for our country, believing that Syria belongs to all its citizens and that every drop of blood of its sons and daughters is precious, calls for a national dialogue to marginalize the advocates of sedition and division, based on broad and direct participation of all, of not only the parties of the Progressive National Front but also other national forces outside the front, a dialogue that includes representatives of economic enterprises, civil society organizations, cultural and intellectual associations, labor unions and professional associations, religious leaders and other figures of national stature, all who cherish Syria and its national unity, in order to achieve the following objectives. . .
http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/syria270411.html

From Aleppo
“As I was walking through Suleymaniyya yesterday, a upper class Christian neighborhood in Aleppo, I stumbled across a protest that was taking place.  Based on their chants, it was a mix of opposition and supporters of Bashar, although the latter was bussed in and quickly outnumbered the former.  Weirdly enough, I haven’t found anything about it in todays news, although it’s possible that most news sources have effectively given up on Aleppo.  I’ve heard that Syrians have begun mocking Aleppans for their reluctance to join in on the protests, even denying some Aleppo plated cars gas in other cities.  A friend of mine here says that one of the main reasons there are so few protests in Aleppo is the lack of Alawites.  As she puts it, there’s no “friction” here between the Alawites and everyone else, i.e. they don’t see firsthand the absurd social privileges Alawites receive.”
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/04/from-aleppo.html

Muslim Brotherhood
Any alliance or deal with Muslim Brotherhood by any leftist or progressive should be rejected categorically.  This organization can’t be trusted.  Those who will trust the Brotherhood will face the same fate like those Iranian leftists who trusted Khumayni’s empty assurances before the Revolution.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/04/muslim-brotherhood.html

UAE
UAE targets activists as clampdown widens
Six civil society activists are arrested and the government takes over a rights organization in the United Arab Emirates. The arrest of six civil society activists and the government’s takeover of a rights organization in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are part of a worrying clampdown on dissent in the country, Amnesty International said today. Five of the activists were among more than 100 signatories of a recent petition calling for democratic reforms in the UAE, according to local media reports.
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/uae-targets-activists-clampdown-widens-2011-04-28

Yemen
Yemeni president must be held accountable over rights violations
Yemen’s power-transfer deal must not allow immunity against prosecution for human rights abuses. The Yemeni president and his political allies must not be given immunity from prosecution as the price for ending the country’s spiralling human rights crisis, Amnesty International said today. Following months of protests against his 33-year rule, President Ali Abdallah Saleh is expected to agree a deal to transfer power to opposition leaders and step down 30 days later.
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/no-immunity-part-yemen-transition-deal-2011-04-26

Gunmen Kill 10 in Yemen Anti-Government Protests
Plainclothes gunmen killed 10 people and wounded dozens more in Yemen’s capital Wednesday when they opened fire on protesters demanding the immediate ouster of the president, whom Gulf Arab mediators want to ease from power.
http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=7dc859959871380b2eb9dc996978ef05

Saudi Arabia
Two bloggers arrested in Saudi Arabia
Will this make the news in the West? Two Saudi bloggers arrested?
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/04/two-bloggers-arrested-in-saudi-arabia.html

Saudi propaganda
Saudi propaganda is very funny indeed.  Not only that they are audacious enough to offer advice on how to construct democracies in Arab countries, but they play with the facts and headlines in a funny way.  The headline of the mouthpiece of Prince Salman and his sons, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat (one of the most vulgar of the various propaganda sheets of House of Saud and STDs) talks about “mass resignations” from the Syrian Ba`th party, and then you read that 30 members resigned (followed later by 200 according to the paper). But there are around 200,000 Ba`th members in Dir`ah alone.  Of course, people join the Ba`th party in Syria like people joined the Communist Party in USSR: for advancement and career opportunities and opportunism (there were some 17 million members in the Soviet Communist Party before the fall of communism).
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/04/saudi-propaganda_28.html

Riddle of Riyadh
How Saudi Arabia seeks to shape the Middle East.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/int/news/-/news/world-middle-east-13208800

Analysis/Op-ed
Arab spring pushes Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah to reconcile
But many are skeptical that the accord will hold, given that huge differences remain between Fatah and Hamas, and Israel is strongly opposed to Palestinian unity.
http://rss.csmonitor.com/%7Er/feeds/world/%7E3/As2dD45M0KA/Arab-spring-pushes-Palestinian-rivals-Hamas-and-Fatah-to-reconcile

New trends in Arab politics
I expect that some features of Arab politics from the 1960s and 1970s will make a comeback.  States that opened up, like Egypt and Tunisia, may experience plots and assassinations.  Decades-long frustrations are destined to have an impact, here and there, and maybe everywhere.  The second bombing of the gas pipeline to Israel is only a beginning.  Israel has been an actor for decades, while Arabs were forced to watch.  Tables will be reversed.  Israel will begin to watch a show that it won’t enjoy.  The political trends are clear: from North Africa to Gulf.  The counter-revolution is in full force, to be sure, but it suffers from a major weakness: it is led by House of Saud and sons of Zayid, for potato’s sake.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/04/new-trends-in-arab-politics.html

Aljazeera’s standards
The main complain about Aljazeera’s coverage is not that it covers Arab upheavals but that in only covers selectively and that it lowers its standards.  Any person can call and claim to be a “witness in Syria” and he would be put on the air and allowed to say anything.  One pro-regime Syrian tested that theory: he was put on the air, and then went on to curse Aljazeera and the Emir of Qatar.  (The obscenities would offend your ears so I did not provide the clip).  Now former Aljazeera anchor woman, Luna Ash-Shibl (who hosted the program For Women Only), who resigned with four other female anchors over accusations of gender insensitivity spoke to a pro-Syrian regime news channel.  She criticizes the the network but her remarks are not credible because she is an unapologetic advocate for the regime, and she advances wild conspiracy theories of the Arab revolutions, stating that they were all manipulated by the US and Israel.  If only Arabs know how much Zionists would like us to believe that we are too weak and too impotent to chart our own destiny.  Enough with those silly conspiracy theories that maintain that some Zionist organizations plotted the Arab upheavals.  If that is the case, why Arab Zionists freaking out?  Are you kidding me??  Zionists would get rid of Theodor Herzl before they get rid of Husni Mubarak.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/04/aljazeeras-standards.html

Memo From Cairo: Embattled Arab Leaders Decide It’s Better to Fight Than Quit
The lesson autocrats are taking from the Arab Spring is that those who quit, like Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, face humiliation, while those who continue to use force gain leverage.
http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=4c9d31167a877e7149ecc2ba2752213e

Worries about the Arab Democratic Renaissance, Hasan Afif El-Hasan
The struggle for the future of the Arab nations has just begun. The best thing that can be said about their uprising is that it was truly ‘made in the Arab lands by the Arab youth.’ The West including the US can influence events but they learnt from the war on Iraq to do so quietly, behind the scenes. The West especially the US cannot be a reliable supporter of democracy unless its interests are served.
http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=16826

As a Holocaust survivor, AIPAC does not speak for me

Apr 28, 2011

Hedy Epstein

At the end of one of my first journeys to the Israeli-occupied West Bank in 2004, I endured a shocking experience at Ben-Gurion Airport. I never imagined that Israeli security forces would abuse a 79-year-old Holocaust survivor, but they held me for five hours, and strip-searched and cavity-searched every part of my naked body. The only shame these security officials expressed was to turn their badges around so that their names were invisible.

The only conceivable purpose for this gross violation of my bodily integrity was to humiliate and terrify me. But it had just the opposite effect. It made me more determined to speak out against abuses by the Israeli government and military.

Yet my own experience, unpleasant as it was, is nothing compared to the indignities and abuses heaped on Palestinians year after year. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is based not on equal rights and fair play, but on what Human Rights Watch has termed a “two-tier” legal system – in other words, apartheid, with one set of laws for Jews and a harsh, oppressive set of laws for Palestinians.

This, however, is the legal system and security state AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) will defend from May 22-24 at its annual conference. And, despite this grim reality, members of Congress will converge to hail AIPAC and Israel . The Palestinians’ lack of freedom is bound to be obscured at the AIPAC conference with its obsessive focus on security and shunting aside of anything to do with upholding fundamental Palestinian rights.

Several years ago near Der Beilut in the West Bank, I saw the Israeli police turn a water cannon on our nonviolent protest. As it happened, I recalled Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 and wondered why an ostensibly democratic society responded to peaceable assembly by trying, literally, to drown out the voice of our protest.

In Mas’ha, also in the occupied West Bank , I joined a demonstration against the wall Israel has built, usually inside the West Bank and occasionally towering to 25 feet in height. I saw a red sign warning ominously of “mortal danger” to any who dared to cross in an area where it ran as a fence. I saw Israeli soldiers aiming at unarmed Israelis, Palestinians and international protesters. I also saw blood pouring out of Gil Na’amati, a young Israeli whose first public act after completing his mandatory military service was to protest against the wall. I saw shrapnel lodged in the leg of Anne Farina, one of my traveling companions from St. Louis . And I thought of Kent State and Jackson State, where National Guardsmen opened fire in 1970 on protesters against the Vietnam War.

So as AIPAC meets and members of Congress cheer, I hold these images of Israel in my mind and fear AIPAC’s ability to move US policy in dangerous directions. AIPAC does a disservice to the Palestinians, the Israelis and the American people. It helps to keep the Middle East in a perpetual state of war and this year will be no different from last year as it keeps up a steady drumbeat calling for war against Iran .

AIPAC pretends to speak for all Jews, but it certainly does not speak for me or other members of the Jewish community in this country who are committed to equal rights for all and are aware that American interventionism is likely to bring further disaster and chaos to the Middle East .

Israel, of course, would not be able to carry out its war crimes against civilians in Lebanon and Gaza without the United States – and our $3 billion in military aid – permitting it to do so. At 86 years old, I use every ounce of my energy to educate the American public about the need to stop supporting the abuses committed by the Israeli government and military against the Palestinian people. Sometimes there are people who try to shout me down and scream that I am a self-hating Jew, but most of the time the audience is receptive to hear from someone who survived the Holocaust and now works to free the Palestinians from Israeli oppression.

The vicious discrimination brought to bear against Palestinians in the occupied territories deserves no applause this week from members of Congress attending the AIPAC conference. Instead, they should raise basic questions with Israeli officials about decades of inferior rights endured by Palestinians both inside Israel and the occupied territories.

Hedy Epstein is a Holocaust survivor, who writes and travels extensively to speak about social justice causes and Middle Eastern affairs. Take action by attending Move Over AIPAC, a gathering in Washington DC from May 21-24, 2011, to expose AIPAC and build the vision for a new US foreign policy in the Middle East! More information can be found at www.MoveOverAIPAC.org.

Zuckerman rag prints bald-faced lies on upcoming flotilla to Gaza

Apr 28, 2011

Alex Kane and Nima Shirazi

It comes as no surprise that a newspaper owned by Mort Zuckerman, an ardent Zionist, would be anti-Palestinian and that it would strongly oppose efforts to break the Israeli naval blockade by sending a flotilla of ships to Gaza.  But arecent editorial printed by the Zuckerman-owned New York Daily News is a particularly egregious example of U.S. media’s aversion to the facts on Israel/Palestine.  The bald-faced lies–which follow recent Israeli pronouncements about the “terrorists” organizing the upcoming international flotilla to break the Israeli blockade–printed would be laughable only if it wasn’t going to be read by thousands of people.

The editorial states:

Sponsors of the flotilla are happily playing with fire, as they did a year ago in sailing into the blockade under the guise of delivering medicines and the like to Gaza. In fact, some of those ships carried suicidal fighters instead of useful goods. Nine of the brigands died when Israeli commandos were forced to board and came under assault.

To claim that those aboard the Mavi Marmara were the aggressors is to completely invert reality. The attack was conducted in international waters after Israel cut off all communications from the ships and surrounded the flotilla with over 20 naval vessels and warships, along with multiple helicopters. In addition to the 45 highly-trained and heavily-armed commandos who rappelled onto the largest ship, the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, murdering at least 9 civilians and wounding about 60 more, about 650 other Israeli troops, including surveillance and support troops alongside those who actually boarded the ships, took part in the illegal assault on the flotilla.

And then there’s these howlers:

No one of any credibility disputes that Israel’s blockade is legal under international law. In coordination with Egypt, Israel barred sea-going shipments into Gaza in 2009 after years of Palestinian mortar and rocket attacks on Jewish soil.

As a board of inquiry put it:

“Israel imposed the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip for military-security reasons, which mainly concerned the need to prevent weapons, terrorists and money” from entering.

The UN has recognized the blockade’s legitimacy under international law. Now, it must prevent this perilous propaganda ploy.

First of all, the naval blockade has been in place since 2007, along with the land and air blockade–not 2009 as the editorial claims.  The “board of inquiry” the Daily News refers to is the Turkel Commission, the name for the Israeli investigation into the flotilla events–hardly a neutral source of facts about the blockade of Gaza.

And finally, it appears that Zuckerman’s newspaper likes to make up facts.  The UN has not “recognized the blockade’s legitimacy under international law.”  In fact, various UN reports have labeled the blockade illegal.  The UN fact-finding mission on the 2008-09 Gaza conflict, known as the Goldstone report, stated that the blockade was a form of collective punishment and that it was therefore in “violation of the provisions of article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”  The UN report on the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara also clearly states that the blockade is illegal. In 2009, theAssociated Press reported that “U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay has accused Israel of violating the rules of war with its blockade stopping people and goods from moving in and out of the Gaza Strip.”

Nima Shirazi is a political commentator from New York City. His analysis of United States policy and Middle East issues, particularly with reference to current events in Iran, Israel, and Palestine, can also be found in numerous other online and print publications, as well as his own website, WideAsleepInAmerica.com.

Alex Kane, a freelance journalist based in New York City, blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia in the United States atalexbkane.wordpress.com.  Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

9/11 and western prejudice fostered the Arab revolutions –Abdelkader Benali

Apr 28, 2011

Philip Weiss

What happened to my utter joy at the Egyptian revolution? Where is my feeling that it was going to sweep away the injustices in the Middle East and American foreign policy, and ravish the U.S. too in a wave of Arabophobia? Well it’s still there.

Last night at the 92d Street Y in New York, a group of Arab intellectuals had a tremendous conversation about the cultural and political changes in the Arab world that are slowly but surely rocking the universe. I want to take my hat off right here to the 92d Street Y for staging the event. And Pen World Voices for setting up the panel. The 92d Street Y is a Zionist organization. It will brook no criticism of the Jewish state; and don’t worry, I will get to the horror of these intellectual conditions in a subsequent post, because even last night’s conversation plays a role in this destitution that is threatening all our lives.

But let’s not talk about Jews, let’s talk about Arabs, and let me celebrate the important ideas that were expressed last night. They were ideas about the universality of the human experience, the chain of ideas and spirit that unites western culture to the Arab world, and the incredible leadership that young Arabs have demonstrated in breaking all our minds out of horrible prejudice, the prejudice that has built an iron wall across the Arab world, from Palestine to Iraq.

And so let me get to the argument. I am going to quote four disputing Arab intellectuals, after Jake Weisberg, the deft moderator, got out of the way, and the intellectuals got to fight. The argument began over a simple issue: Why did we leave the Arab world? For three of the intellectuals had left. One lives in Holland, one in Paris, one in New York. Only Issandr El-Amrani, of the Arabist.net (and LRB on Libya), lives in the Arab world.

I will begin with Rula Jebreal, and her explaining why she left Palestine and Egypt.

She said that the Egyptians created files on cultural figures to use against them, and a great singer, who had been a lover of Mubarak’s son, the son threw her out of a second floor window and she broke her back and her career was blocked.

“This is the lever that they use, the regime uses, against intellectuals. If you notice, all of us live abroad. You have no choice. [pointing at the others on stage] He lives in Holland, he is in Paris, I live in New York…. For Arab intellectuals and journalists, you have no choice– disappear, be in jail, or leave. These are the choices. 100 percent of them.”

So during the revolutions, Jebreal said, the intellectuals were absent. They were dead or in jail or abroad. “So we watched our countries from abroad.”

And from there Jebreal got to the heart of the discussion, the anti-Arab feeling in the west.

“The prejudice it was very hard. It was very hard to talk about our countries after September 11…. But the truth– the prejudice against us–we have to fight our regimes, but abroad we have to fight the prejudice, the discrimination, and we have to fight something stronger, the idea that is in the head of the majority of the people in this room and in this country before Tahrir Square, this idea that most of us, we are not liberal. We beat our women, that we marry more than once, whatever, and we are terrorists. If we are not terrorists, then we are potential terrorists. This idea started changing in Tahrir Square.

“So I really would like to thank these women and men who stood for three weeks asking for freedom and dignity and asking for a better life. They convinced all of us that we have a right to that, but I ithink they changed somehow the opinion in the western world.”

There came a showering of applause for Jebreal, and then Issandr El-Amrani said that the analysis was “a little unfair.” He suggested that Jebreal was not in touch with the Arab world.

He said that in the last five or six years, Arab culture had changed. He spoke of an underground Moroccan gay magazine. The editor was not from an elite background. His family had not lived abroad. And the editor was not out to his family. “But slowly he’s creating room for debate, this is one of the most wonderful things about what is happening in Tunisia, Egypt.”

El Amrani said that when he went to Tunis in January after Ben Ali left, he heard people arguing in the streets about a parliamentary system or a presidential system. Some said, “We are Arabs, we need a strong president—and back and forth it went.”

And then the same happened in Tahrir. It was not just the secular elites. He saw a peasant, whose shoes were falling apart, who had come on a third class train from southern Egypt, unemployed, dirty, uneducated. And the man said, “I’m staying here either until Mubarak goes or I die.”

And bearded Islamists were participating alongside Christians, and women trading food. “It was a gasp of fresh air. People feel that they can have a conversation.” Yes it may take 25 years, El Amrani said, as it had taken 25 years after the French revolution for things to sort out. “It may be generations. But the conversation is now possible. The conversation wasn’t possible before because the public space wasn’t there.”

Then it was Abdellah Taia’s turn, and he was in the Jebreal camp. He is a Moroccan gay writer who has lived in Paris for the last eight years, lithe with close cropped hair and a plaid shirt. He talked about the political space in Morocco, and how closed it was. There was no room to criticize; he was made to feel that Islam was against him. Though inside he understood, it is their problem not mine– he could be both “gay and Muslim.” This absence of political space was created by a dictator, Hassan 2. “He put all the leaders in jail in the 70s and 80s, he invented a literary prize.” And this is why Taia had had to get away. Because there was no room to criticize. There were no intellectuals on TV.

Now came the fourth speaker, Abdelkader Benali. He grew up poor in Morocco. He has lived in Holland for 30 years; and his ideas, which echoed El Amrani’s, were simply electrifying.

He began by speaking of the cultural space that develops in a closed society. When there is oppression and people are put into prison just for speaking their own language, well then the society changes, and people change. Because cultural and political ideas need to be exchanged regardless of conditions.

“Suddenly grocery sellers become poets, taxi drivers are commentators. And someone who cleans the street becomes achronicleur of what is happening in the streets.”

Wow. And when Benali went back to Morocco from Europe, “even my grandmother who is illiterate, she knew what was going on in the world, how Morocco was faring.” She told his sisters to get an education, never to stay in the kitchen. School “is the only thing you have, otherwise you become like me.” She wanted those children in Europe.

Then came 9/11. And that is when the Arab revolution began.

“I have a feeling that the Arab intellectuals, especially the ones who became articulated in the west, they came back to their own homes and their own countries. They decided there was so much orientalist militarist language going on about the Orient, that they said, there is no place in the west now for us to create a discourse.”

This had befallen Benali himself. The hatred toward Arabs in Amsterdam even as the towers fell, a neighbor’s belief that he had no empathy, and the Israel-Palestine issue too (though I am keeping my powder dry, reader)—he had felt alienated from this great western society that was putting “experts” on television to speak about the Arab world, when he knew so much more about the Arab world.

And it had driven him back to the Arab world.

“We go back home and we see what we can do here. This is our west actually. We created our own kind of version of intellectual climate, and it was going to be a secret Nobody should know about it. So what you see is all these young urban intellectuals flying under the radar, doing things sometimes only once, because if you do it once, it will be closed down.”

And these were the materials of the revolution.

“In the last five or six years this has become a very fruitful terrain for dialogue, for talking about the responsibility of an intellectual writer to form his society, to give an idea of how it could look like, to create new dreams…”

The conceit of the evening was that Arab societies are shut down and now they are being liberated. It’s an arrogant western conceit, god knows that I feel some of it in myself. We gave them the tools. Yes and one of the tools was our prejudice. They had to build their own west.

Backgrounder on Hamas-Fatah split

Apr 28, 2011

Pamela Olson

Shortly after Hamas won Parliamentary elections in 2006, I wrote an essay that addressed frequently asked questions about the Hamas election victory. I thought now would be a good time to link to it (read the full essay here), given that it looks like Hamas and Fatah have finally closed a unity deal — to remind people what got us here in the first place.

It should go without saying, but this should not be read as a personal endorsement for Hamas. It’s nothing more or less than a description of the atmosphere in Palestine in 2006.

An excerpt:

Why is Hamas popular?

After the results were announced, many in the West were worried that the Palestinians had elected a rejectionist terrorist organization and that the will of the Palestinian people was endless warfare or even collective suicide.

But polls consistently reveal that a solid majority of Palestinians are anxious for a negotiated peace with Israel based on international law, and that most desire a secular democratic state alongside a sovereign Israel. So why was there so much support for an Islamist movement?

Palestinians elected Mahmoud Abbas as President of Palestine in January 2005 as a vote of confidence in his pragmatic message of peaceful negotiations toward a two-state solution. Palestinians gave him a chance despite Fatah’s long history of corruption, nepotism, undemocratic methods, and counterproductive political calculations. Hamas also respected the ceasefire that Abbas brokered in Sharm el-Sheikh on February 8, 2005, in deference to public opinion. Hopes for peace after the election of Abbas were enthusiastic and genuine.

What did the Palestinian people receive in return? From February 2005, after Abbas was sworn in and the ceasefire was brokered, until January 2006, when the Hamas elections took place, more than 150 Palestinians were killed, including 38 children, at least 23 men assassinated by Israeli soldiers, and 8 innocent bystanders killed in the course of assassinations. Thousands more were arrested, making a mockery of Israel’s agreement to release Palestinian prisoners as stipulated by the terms of the ceasefire.

In the same period, 37 Israelis were killed, most in suicide bombings conducted by a rogue faction called Islamic Jihad. Scores of homemade rockets were also launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel both before and after the disengagement, causing very little damage or injuries but a great deal of fear. It is unclear whether Abbas was unwilling or unable to stop them. Israeli closures and refusal to allow necessary equipment and ammunition into the Palestinian territories weakened and splintered Abbas’s police force, and Israel’s failure to abide by the terms of the ceasefire weakened his political mandate.

Israel also continued to expand its illegal settlements in the West Bank at such a rate that the number of settlers actually increased in 2005 despite the Gaza disengagement. Settler terrorist attacks against unarmed Palestinian farmers and villagers continued and intensified, with their usual near-impunity from the law. Hamas, though not responsible for any suicide attacks on Israeli soil since August 2004, was constantly targeted, and Abbas was soon declared “no partner.”

When Israel refused even to negotiate the terms of the Gaza redeployment, Hamas was able to take credit for the withdrawal and Abbas, his party, and the PA were made to look irrelevant and foolish. Palestinian hopes that Israel would negotiate in good faith plummeted. Meanwhile conditions in Gaza only worsened with constant Israeli bombardments, sonic boom attacks, and closures that made it even more difficult for Gaza’s goods to reach world markets than before the disengagement.

When it became clear that even Fatah, which was supported by the West, could not bring Israel to the negotiating table, even symbolically in the case of the disengagement, the party lost its biggest selling point. Business as usual continued even under a pragmatic leader while most factions respected a ceasefire. The occupation had no end in sight.

With these and many other statements and actions, the Israeli establishment made it clear that its vision for a two-“state” solution was a unilateral one, not a negotiated one, no matter who came to power in Palestine. It would be based on the route of the Wall, which annexes 10% of the West Bank, including most of the so-called “settlement blocs,” and Israeli control over the Jordan Valley—another 30% of the West Bank. Settlement blocs Israel plans to keep include Ma’ale Adumim, which severs the West Bank’s north-south contiguity; Ariel, which splits the northern West Bank in two and sits atop an important fresh water aquifer; and Gush Etzion, which steals much of Bethlehem’s land and strangles several Palestinian villages.

An Israeli journalist summarized the ruling party’s plans: “Kadima’s practical diplomatic program, as elucidated by Ehud Olmert, adds up to no more than direct Israeli control over approximately one-half of West Bank territory, and the splintering of the remainder into cantons.”

To Palestinians, the resulting series of non-viable, non-contiguous, Walled-in ghettoes on the remaining 60% of the West Bank, devoid of any real sovereignty, with Arab East Jerusalem and its surroundings illegally annexed to Israel, and with no control over water or borders, would be no more acceptable as a “state” than the Bantu Homelands were to black South Africans under Apartheid. Ariel Sharon openly used terms like ‘cantons’ or ‘Bantustans’ to describe his plans for Palestine. Though Olmert has been slightly more discreet, he is committed to the same agenda.

Into this fray, and after 18 months of refraining from attacks on Israel, Hamas ran in the first elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council in a decade under a ticket called “Change and Reform” — not “Islamism and Terrorism.” Because Palestinian voters understood that Fatah could not deliver peaceful negotiations anyway, they voted based on other considerations. According to Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki, “The two most important issues for the voters were corruption… and the inability of the PA to enforce law and order.”

Hamas was elected because it was seen as a disciplined and clean-handed organization that provided a social safety net for some of the poorest and most vulnerable Palestinians when the Palestinian Authority was unwilling or unable to do so. Its charitable organizations include schools, food distribution centers for the needy, and community centers upon which tens or hundreds of thousands of Palestinians depend. Many of these people have, in real and measurable terms, been better-served by Hamas than Fatah.

Why are secular assimilating American Jews so Zionist?

Apr 28, 2011

Elliot

Our friend Elliot had this comment on a post on Christian Zionism the other day. We’re trying to break out comments from time to time.

Many Orthodox Jews are not believers. That’s where Jews are different to Christians. Orthodox Judaism is also a lifestyle.
Commenter Michael W. is right. There is a large contingent of Orthodox Jews who very fervently believe that the exile is over. The hardcore of that group are the ideological settlers of the West Bank.
And as for eee, the fact that the mainstream ultra-Orthodox (commonly known as “black hats” or “black skullcap”) no longer openly oppose the State of Israel does not mean that they believe the exile is over. They still say all the traditional prayers mourning the exile and have added nothing to the liturgy to indicate that anything has changed.
To the extent that there is an ultra-Orthodox dogma, they still believe in the exile. And for the reasons Craig Nielsen gives in the article.

What is mystifying to me is how Zionist secular American Jews are. Even as cultural and family assimilation picks up pace their Zionism remains undimmed. That indicates that the source of their Zionism is not Judaism (or the Judaism that is practised today in America).
Secularized Christian America may have done away with fish on Fridays but they are still good Zionists. American Jews are good Americans too ergo: they are just as Zionist as their Christian neighbors.

Christian Zionism is the reason American Jews support Netanyahu and settlements.

Where does Israel end and the Diaspora begin? Or Zionism end and Judaism begin?

Apr 28, 2011

Philip Weiss

This is interesting. AB Yehoshua writes at Haaretz that the conflict remains unresolved because it is unprecedented in human history. John Mearsheimer has said the same thing: the special relationship is unprecedented, indeed for reasons that touch on Yehoshua’s reasoning. But Gilad Atzmon, whom I generally avoid here, seizes on Yehoshua’s point, to explore the borderless national and religious identity issues:

According to Yehoshua, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not really about territorial issues. “Territorial issues can be resolved” he says.  “In our conflict, both sides, struggle over national identity of the whole country.” Yehoshua offers here a very interesting insight that cannot be uttered within the boundaries of the Left discourse. For both parties, especially the Palestinians, he says,  “it is unclear what is the size of the people it is up against, is it only the Israelis or is it also the Jewish Diaspora as a whole.” Yehoshua raises here an issue I myself have been stressing for years. It is far from being clear to anyone (including  Israelis and Jews) where Israel ends and the Diaspora starts. It is also far from being clear where the Israeli ends and the Jew starts. I guess that for most contemporary Jews it is even far from being clear anymore where Zionism ends and Judaism starts. In the contemporary Jewish world there are no clear dichotomies. We are dealing with a spineless elastic metamorphic identity that shapes itself to fit every possible circumstances. This may explain how come the Jewish state can dually operate as an oppressor and a victim simultaneously.

The Israelis, according to Yehoshua are also subject to a similar confusion. They also cannot figure out whether it is just the Palestinian people they are up against or is it the whole Arab nation or even the entire Muslim world.  For Yehoshua, the conflict “lacks a clear demographic boundaries. This fact alone creates an initial deep distrust between the two peoples that prevents a possible solution.”

Yeshoua is far from being a brilliant mind, yet, he manages to analyse the conflict correctly just because he is free to think out of the Leftist box. Being a proud Israeli Jew he is free to say what he thinks without the need to appease half a dozen so-called ‘progressive’  Jews.  Yehoshua’s analysis makes a lot of sense to me though we draw the complete opposite conclusions. I believe that ti the Palestinian solidarity discourse  better liberate itself of any form of  dogmatic political thinking. It is about time  and look at the conflict for what it is.  We must engage in a true plural debate and emancipate ourselves of any traces of rigid and anachronistic thinking.

Bipartisanship at last: U.S. politicians line up to castigate Palestinian unity deal

Apr 28, 2011

Alex Kane

In stark contrast to partisan wrangling over the budget and women’s rights, Democrats and Republicans are lining up to demand the cut-off of U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority as a response to the reported unity deal between Hamas and Fatah. Expect the Obama administration to take heed and agree with Congress–especially with the 2012 elections approaching.

The rhetoric from both sides of the aisle is uniform. It’s the Israel lobby’s line. It’s telling, for example, that a staunch Republican and neoconservative pro-Israel hawk like Jennifer Rubin would approvingly quote an otherwise reliable liberal like Representative Gary Ackerman, a Democrat from New York:

The purported deal, which does not require Hamas to accept Israel’s right to exist, or the binding nature of prior Palestinian commitments, or even to require Hamas to temporarily forgo violence against Israel (as if it were some kind barbaric of addiction, or compulsion), is a recipe for failure, mixed with violence, leading to disaster. It is a ghastly mistake that I fear will be paid for in the lives of innocent Israelis.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, similarly said:

The reported agreement between Fatah and Hamas means that a Foreign Terrorist Organization which has called for the destruction of Israel will be part of the Palestinian Authority government. U.S. taxpayer funds should not and must not be used to support those who threaten U.S. security, our interests, and our vital ally, Israel.

Interestingly, though, there are some, if not many, analysts and activists in solidarity with the Palestinian cause that will be happy with a cut off of U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority (for different reasons than Congress). U.S. aid, which has gone to train the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, has contributed deeply to the split between Hamas and Fatah.

As Ali Abunimah noted for the Electronic Intifada, “in The Palestine Papers, the main concern of Ramallah officials was always to maintain Western financial aid to the PA, and not to make any agreement with Hamas that would jeopardize American and European financing for the PA.” The Western financial aid has been used to crack down on Hamas. But if U.S. and European aid is cut off, perhaps the Palestinian Authority would no longer imprison Hamas members and quash dissent. That would go a long away towards true Palestinian unity.

Alex Kane, a freelance journalist based in New York City, blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia in the United States atalexbkane.wordpress.com, where this post originally appeared.  Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

 

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

 

Dear Friends,

Five items below, beginning with one entitled Awarta.

Ever since the killing of the family in Itamar and the resultant suffering that the village of Awarta has experienced from the IOF, I have often thought that it couldn’t be someone from Awarta who had committed the crime.  I don’t want to believe that it was.  I don’t know many people from the village, but the few whom I have met are not murderers.  They are farmers trying to eke out a living mainly from their olive groves, and with problems from Itamar colonists and others.  Also, for a time—I don’t remember whether for a year or two years—I drove a 20-21 year old boy from Awarta to the hospital—sometimes with his father, sometimes with a friend, and met his mother and a brother at the hospital, too.  I liked his family.  And he was a lovely young person, who had taught himself English and kept on planning for a future.  He had leukemia, and had had 2 bone marrow transplants with bone marrow from a younger brother.  They did not help.  He died. It was for me like losing a loved one from my own family.

And so I find it hard to connect the brutal killing with anyone from his village.

When I first heard about what the IOF and settlers were doing to Awarta following the murder, I felt ill.  I am in no position to know the truth, to investigate.  All that I can say is that I find the questions that Mazin Qumsieyh raises below pertinent. The Israeli military wants to find Palestinians accountable for the murder.  Like Mazin, I also heard about the Thai worker who was owed money.  Perhaps he did it.  But even if he did, it is unlikely that this will ever be known, because of Israel’s attitude, which is likely to put the 2 boys in prison for all their lives, whether they committed the crime or not.  Palestinians must pay for the crime.

Item 2 is the Ynet version of what occurred at Kif l’Hares during the recent visit of religious zealots to Joshua’s tomb, which is in the village.  I presume that the reporter most likely got his data from the IOF spokesperson.  But when after reading the report I phoned a dear and trusted friend from the village, whom I trust to tell the truth and to know the facts, as he is from a leading family in the village and happens to live right across the street from the tomb.

So, the report says ‘thousands’ came, which is more or less correct.  Abed says that there were 8,000 accompanied by as many if not  more soldiers.  They came at 10:00 PM and remained until 7:00 AM.  This time, by contrast to previous times, they did no damage.  However, they made a lot of noise and left all their trash from eating and drinking in the tomb, which is also sacred to Muslims, who had to clean it up.  The report claims that the villagers were free to move about.  Abed claims that although this time by contrast to previous times there was no closure announced, but no one was allowed out of their homes.  He was not even allowed to stand by his window to watch the happenings.  When you read the report, keep in mind these discrepancies.

In item 3, Hedy Epstein, now in her mid 80s, relates her experience leaving from Ben Gurion, and ties it in with what Palestinians experience, and her own reactions to their plights.

Item 4 is an argument for having Israeli Jews learn and respect the Nakba, just as Jews want Palestinians to respect and understand the Holocaust.  Refreshing to find a newspaper item advocating mutual respect.

Finally, in item 5, Uri Avnery (by contrast to Israel’s leaders) praises the decision of Hamas and Fatah to join hands in unity.  May it last.

All the best,

Dorothy

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

1. Awarta

By Mazin Qumsiyeh,

April 29, 2011

We finally toured the devastated village of Awarta Wednesday and were
stunned at what we saw and heard.  On the way, we stopped by a tiny village
called Izbet Al-tabib, a village of 350 people was served with a new order
by the Israeli military to take over a significant portion of their land.
The wall that will be built and isolate this land behind it is supposed to
“protect” the illegal highway 55, an Israeli road built already on
Palestinian lands to serve the Jewish colonies built on the rich Western
water aquifer of the Palestinian West Bank.  Yet, instead of building the
wall on the colonial road 55, it is to be built a long distance from that to
the north side near the village houses with the idea of capturing the rich
agricultural land between.  The villagers do not know what to do beyond
going to the biased Israeli courts run by Israeli judges that obviously
favor Israeli colonial interests.  The work on the wall is slated to start
Sunday and the villagers asked if we could all go there then. Leaving this
small devastated village near Qalqilia, we headed east towards Nablus and
Awarta.

After a quick lunch in Nablus hosted generously by our friend Dr. Saed
Abuhijleh, we drove the short distance to Awarta.  We enter the rich valley
from the Western side and past the Israeli military camp and notice the
colonial Jewish settlements dotting the hilltops around the valley.  The
native village of 6000 brave souls is on the slope to north side of the
valley and villagers have to face this scene of growing colonial settlements
on their lands.  The main colonial settlement built on stolen village lands
is called by Jewish settlers Itamar.  Over 12,000 dunums (4000 acres) of
Awarta’s lands were already taken by this colony inhabited by the most rabid
and fanatical of Jewish settlers.  Two Palestinians from Awarta were killed
for coming within 500 meters of the fortified fencing of this colony.  This
is one of the many reasons why we are very convinced that the whole story
about the killing of a settler family by two teenagers from the village of
Awarta is a lie.  But the killing of these settlers set stage for a
ransacking of the village by the colonizing army of the state of Israel.
Beating people, massive destruction, torture and more was inflicted on the
village of 6000 people as collective punishment.  It is hard to describe
what we saw and heard.  The video just reveals a glimpse of it.

The village has already suffered repeated attacks from settlers in the past.
Just last year, settlers and soldiers executed (shot at close range) two
youths (18 and 19 year old cousins Salah and Muhamad Qawariq) who were
working their agricultural field.  Villagers asked us why there was no
outrage and no one held accountable in any of these atrocities.  We are all
100% convinced that that the settler family was not killed by the
Palestinian teenagers that are claimed as culprits by the Israeli
authorities.  The story the colonial army gave is so full of holes that it
is simply not plausible.  Things that do not make sense:

-Why would two young teenagers not involved in politics, one of them a
straight A student in his last year of high school and the other a
westernized rapper enjoying his life decide to do such a thing? Killing
children is especially not tolerated in our culture no matter what?
-How could such a pair manage to bypass one of the most heavily guarded and
secured colonies in the WB.  How would they cut through the electrified
security fence and its other barriers in a settlement that brags that it is
the most secure of Jewish colonies in the West bank.  How could two
strangers manage to stay in the settlement for two hours and even go back to
the same house supposedly after leaving to get an M-16 gun that happened to
be just sitting there in a bedroom (army story)?
-Why would two people who committed such a crime go back to studying and
enjoying their lives for days even after one of them was arrested,
questioned for 10 hours and released? Why not run away?
-There were reports in Israeli papers that a Thai worker who has not been
paid thousands of shekels as being involved but then this suddenly
disappeared from print.  Why?
-What of the villagers’ contention that this whole incident is calculated to
acquire 1000 more dunums of their lands?
-Why did Israeli authorities not allow media scrutiny of what was really
happening?
-Why did Israeli authorities not allow independent investigation or
International protection or presence to witness what was really going on?
-Why would the two young people be denied access to lawyers and family
visits?

These and hundreds of other questions poured out from the villagers.  I was
particularly shocked to hear from Um Adam, a 77 year old grandmother (14 living children, over 75 grandchildren).  She herself was arrested with
hundreds of others and forced (like all of them) to take a DNA test and to
put her fingerprints on a document in Hebrew that she does not read.  She,
like hundreds, was not allowed access to lawyers during their detention.  14
of her children and grandchildren are still kidnapped by the colonial
soldiers.  One of her Children still held by the Israelis is the volunteer
head of the Municipal council. Another child is the only doctor in town.
The homes of these two children, her home, and many other homes were
ransacked and heavily damaged (the fascist soldiers had clearly come to
destroy as an act of collective punishment).  The doctor’s room and his
medical books and supplies were not spared. While we visited nearly three
weeks after the damage and after much of the houses were tidied-up with help of international volunteers, we still could see significant evidence of the damages. To punish a whole village in such a fashion reminds us of the worst regimes in history.

It is a stain on humanity that the world is silent about these practices of
land theft and destruction of people’s lives. Now that Hamas and Fatah are
reconciling some of their differences, I wonder if any of them (in positions
of “authority”) will do something for the villages of Awarta or Izbet
Al-Tabib.  We are angry and sad and we ask all decent people (Israelis,
Palestinians, and Internationals) to shed what is left of our collective
apathy.  We must insist that settlers be removed from all stolen Palestinian
lands and that Palestinians be provided protection.  If the Palestinians
can’t be provided protection by neutral parties, then it is almost certain
that, based on our history of 15 uprisings, a new uprising against this
injustice will be carried forth.

“Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as
a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human
rights should be protected by the rule of law,..” preamble of the universal
declaration of human rights

“If we make peaceful revolution impossible, we make violent revolution
inevitable.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kmsI96i618

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
http://qumsiyeh.org
http://palestinejn.org
http://pcr.ps
http://IMEMC.or
http://www.alrowwad-acts.ps

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

2. Ynet,

April 29, 2011


Orderly Pilgrimage

Praying at the tomb Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg

Thousands visit Tomb of Joshua

Traditional celebration in Kifl Hares coordinated with IDF, Palestinians, unlike infiltrations to Joseph’s Tomb. Chief Rabbi Metzger calls on worshippers to coordinate pilgrimages with security forces

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4062160,00.html

Yair Altman

Thousands of Jewish worshippers visited the Tomb of Joshua in the Palestinian village of Kifl Hares near Ariel on Friday. The pilgrimage, marking the anniversary to Joshua’s death, was organized by the Shomron Regional Council and coordinated with the Israel Defense Forces, unlike the infiltration to Joseph’s Tomb earlier this week which resulted in the death of Yosef Ben Livnat.

The worshippers gathered around the site for a mass prayer of Aleinu which Joshua allegedly penned. The site was guarded by IDF forces. Local Palestinian residents were allowed to move freely and some even opened their shops for the worshippers to enjoy.

Among the worshippers were Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, Minister of Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein, MK Danny Danon (Likud) and three National Union MKs.

Chief Rabbi Metzger and MK Danon (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

A haredi man who purchased a waterpipe in one of the Palestinian shops aroused angry responses by some of the worshippers who shouted “don’t buy in Arab shops.”

Fathi Buzib, former head of the village said he welcomed all the worshippers. “Every person has a right to pray and we honor our guests. Nevertheless, it’s a pity some of them came to stir a mess. I’m glad the army removed them from the site.”

Chief Rabbi Metzger addressed the shooting incident in Joseph’s Tomb and said he opposed uncoordinated pilgrimage.

“Every Jew has a right to visit Joseph’s Tomb but it must be coordinated with the security forces. Take great care of your souls. I call on government ministers to allow more people to enter the site, not just once a month, especially as this is stipulated in all the agreements.”

Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika called on Israeli leaders to learn from Joshua. “Sever the hand of any person who lifts it against a Jew. Our leaders must learn from Joshua’s power and decisive way.”

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

3.Forwarded by the JPLO List

As a Holocaust survivor, AIPAC does not speak for me
by HEDY EPSTEIN on APRIL 28, 2011

http://mondoweiss.net/2011/04/as-a-holocaust-survivor-aipac-does-not-spe\
ak-for-me.html

At the end of one of my first journeys to the Israeli-occupied West Bank
in 2004, I endured a shocking experience at Ben-Gurion Airport.
I never
imagined that Israeli security forces would abuse a 79-year-old
Holocaust survivor, but they held me for five hours, and strip-searched
and cavity-searched every part of my naked body. The only shame these
security officials expressed was to turn their badges around so that
their names were invisible.

The only conceivable purpose for this gross violation of my bodily
integrity was to humiliate and terrify me. But it had just the opposite
effect. It made me more determined to speak out against abuses by the
Israeli government and military.

Yet my own experience, unpleasant as it was, is nothing compared to the
indignities and abuses heaped on Palestinians year after year.
Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is based not on equal rights
and fair play, but on what Human Rights Watch has termed a
“two-tier” legal system – in other words, apartheid, with
one set of laws for Jews and a harsh, oppressive set of laws for
Palestinians.

This, however, is the legal system and security state AIPAC (The
American Israel Public Affairs Committee) will defend from May 22-24 at
its annual conference. And, despite this grim reality, members of
Congress will converge to hail AIPAC and Israel . The Palestinians’
lack of freedom is bound to be obscured at the AIPAC conference with its
obsessive focus on security and shunting aside of anything to do with
upholding fundamental Palestinian rights.

Several years ago near Der Beilut in the West Bank, I saw the Israeli
police turn a water cannon on our nonviolent protest. As it happened, I
recalled Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 and wondered why an ostensibly
democratic society responded to peaceable assembly by trying, literally,
to drown out the voice of our protest.



In Mas’ha, also in the occupied West Bank , I joined a demonstration
against the wall Israel has built, usually inside the West Bank and
occasionally towering to 25 feet in height. I saw a red sign warning
ominously of “mortal danger” to any who dared to cross in an
area where it ran as a fence. I saw Israeli soldiers aiming at unarmed
Israelis, Palestinians and international protesters. I also saw blood
pouring out of Gil Na’amati, a young Israeli whose first public act
after completing his mandatory military service was to protest against
the wall. I saw shrapnel lodged in the leg of Anne Farina, one of my
traveling companions from St. Louis . And I thought of Kent State and
Jackson State, where National Guardsmen opened fire in 1970 on
protesters against the Vietnam War.

So as AIPAC meets and members of Congress cheer, I hold these images of  Israel in my mind and fear AIPAC’s ability to move US policy in
dangerous directions. AIPAC does a disservice to the Palestinians, the
Israelis and the American people. It helps to keep the Middle East in a
perpetual state of war and this year will be no different from last year
as it keeps up a steady drumbeat calling for war against Iran .

AIPAC pretends to speak for all Jews, but it certainly does not speak
for me or other members of the Jewish community in this country who are
committed to equal rights for all and are aware that American
interventionism is likely to bring further disaster and chaos to the
Middle East .

Israel, of course, would not be able to carry out its war crimes against
civilians in Lebanon and Gaza without the United States – and our $3
billion in military aid – permitting it to do so. At 86 years old, I
use every ounce of my energy to educate the American public about the
need to stop supporting the abuses committed by the Israeli government
and military against the Palestinian people. Sometimes there are people
who try to shout me down and scream that I am a self-hating Jew, but
most of the time the audience is receptive to hear from someone who
survived the Holocaust and now works to free the Palestinians from
Israeli oppression.

The vicious discrimination brought to bear against Palestinians in the
occupied territories deserves no applause this week from members of
Congress attending the AIPAC conference. Instead, they should raise
basic questions with Israeli officials about decades of inferior rights
endured by Palestinians both inside Israel and the occupied territories.

Hedy Epstein is a Holocaust survivor, who writes and travels extensively
to speak about social justice causes and Middle Eastern affairs. Take
action by attending Move Over AIPAC, a gathering in Washington DC from May 21-24, 2011, to expose AIPAC and build the vision for a new US foreign policy in the Middle East! More information can be found at
www.MoveOverAIPAC.org <http://www.moveoveraipac.org/> .
===================================

4. Haaretz ,

April 29, 2011


Defiance, not denial

Are there any serious educators who believe that by means of a question on an exam it will be possible to arouse identification with the Jews and empathy for them among young Arabs?

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/defiance-not-denial-1.358759

By Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu

In advance of the coming school year, the Education Ministry has decided that the matriculation exam in history in the Arabic-language school system will include a mandatory question about the Holocaust, and that it will be worth 24 points − almost a quarter of the maximum score.

This decision came in the wake of the state comptroller’s report on the subject of Holocaust education in the various population sectors, and the “grave results” of a survey on “Holocaust denial” among Israel’s Arab citizens. That survey, which was conducted four years ago, found that about 40 percent of Arabs polled said that “the Holocaust didn’t happen at all.”

Unfortunately, the ministry’s decision will not solve the real problem revealed by the survey, which has nothing to do with “Holocaust denial” in the usual sense. This is not only because Holocaust studies have been mandatory for years in the Arab school system, but also because interest in the Shoah on the part of Arab educators and students has been on a steady rise. This interest is reflected in various ways, from school-wide projects to organized delegations of Arab students to Poland. In addition, even in the context of Arab students’ university studies, Holocaust Remembrance Day ‏(which this year falls on Monday‏) is observed in an organized manner

The obvious conclusion, therefore, is that at least in terms of knowledge, nearly all of Israel’s Arab citizens ‏(the vast majority of whom graduate from the public school system‏), definitely know that the Holocaust of the Jewish people did in fact takelace.

The results of the survey, then, must have an explanation other than Holocaust denial, and understanding these results first requires an understanding of the context in which Israeli Arabs are asked about the subject. Many of these citizens feel that since its establishment, the state has turned its back on their suffering and their most profound pain. Not only is there no recognition on the part of the Jewish majority of their continuing deprivation and the fact that they have in effect become second-class citizens: There is not even recognition, legitimization or empathy for the pain and loss they experienced as part of the historical process that led to the establishment of the State of Israel.

In a correct reading of the situation of Arab citizens, the “denial” of the Holocaust should not be understood as a lack of knowledge of the subject or as a failure to recognize its importance for the Jewish people, but as simple defiance: “If you don’t recognize us and our pain, we will retaliate by not recognizing your pain.” Paradoxically, the painful use of “denial” by the Arabs polled in the survey actually implies recognition of the Holocaust and of the depth of the pain it represents for the Jews.

This complexity assumes an additional current and tragic dimension, because the decision of the Education Ministry regarding the matriculation exam is being made parallel to a series of steps by the government, including legislation, whose objective is to forbid Arab citizens and groups from teaching or commemorating − even in a low-key manner − the historical story of the Palestinian tragedy that took place with the establishment of the State of Israel, the Nakba, and to persecute and punish those who do so. In that sense, we can assume that if the above-mentioned survey were to be conducted now, the percentage of Arab “Holocaust deniers” would skyrocket.

The teaching of the Holocaust to Arab students in Israel is not and never will be a neutral issue. For the Arabs it will always be part of a wider historical context, and see themselves as those on whose doorstep the terrible tragedy of the Jews ended up.

Are there any serious educators who believe that a mandatory question on a matriculation exam will arouse empathy and identification among young Arabs vis-a-vis the Jews’ terrible tragedy, while at the same time they are forbidden even to acknowledge their own past?

Social solidarity and cohesion are based on a shared fate. Alongside the tremendous importance of studying the Holocaust in the Arab school system, with all its universal and particularistic dimensions, it is also important that the Israeli establishment recognize the need of the Arab-Palestinian minority to study and commemorate its tragedy and its pain.

When this happens, the real objective behind the decision of the Education Ministry will have been achieved in any case.

Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu is co-executive director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, an organization that promotes coexistence and equality between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens. p.

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

5. Uri Avnery

April 30, 2011

One Word

IN ONE word: Bravo!

The news about the reconciliation agreement between Fatah
and Hamas is good for peace. If the final difficulties are
ironed out and a full agreement is signed by the two
leaders, it will be a huge step forward for the
Palestinians – and for us.

There is no sense in making peace with half a people.
Making peace with the entire Palestinian people may be more
difficult, but will be infinitely more fruitful.

Therefore: Bravo!

Binyamin Netanyahu also says Bravo. Since the government of
Israel has declared Hamas a terrorist organization with
whom there will be no dealings whatsoever, Netanyahu can
now put an end to any talk about peace negotiations with
the Palestinian Authority. What, peace with a Palestinian
government that includes terrorists? Never! End of
discussion.

Two bravos, but such a difference.

THE ISRAELI debate about Arab unity goes back a long way.
It already started in the early fifties, when the idea of
pan-Arab unity raised its head. Gamal Abd-al-Nasser hoisted
this banner in Egypt, and the pan-Arab Baath movement
became a force in several countries (long before it
degenerated into local Mafias in Iraq and Syria).

Nahum Goldman, President of the World Zionist Organization,
argued that pan-Arab unity was good for Israel. He believed
that peace was necessary for the existence of Israel, and
that it would take all the Arab countries together to have
the courage to make it.

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s Prime Minister, thought that
peace was bad for Israel, at least until Zionism had
achieved all its (publicly undefined) goals. In a state of
war, unity among Arabs was a danger that had to be
prevented at all costs.

Goldman, the most brilliant coward I ever knew, did not
have the courage of his convictions. Ben-Gurion was far
less brilliant, but much more determined.

He won.

NOW WE have the same problem all over again.

Netanyahu and his band of peace saboteurs want to prevent
Palestinian unity at all costs. They do not want peace,
because peace would prevent Israel from achieving the
Zionist goals, as they conceive them: a Jewish state in all
of historical Palestine, from the sea to the Jordan River
(at least). The conflict is going to last for a long, long
time to come, and the more divided the enemy, the better.

As a matter of fact, the very emergence of Hamas was
influenced by this calculation. The Israeli occupation
authorities deliberately encouraged the Islamic movement,
which later became Hamas, as a counterweight to the secular
nationalist Fatah, which was then conceived as the main
enemy.

Later, the Israeli government deliberately fostered the
division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by
violating the Oslo agreement and refusing to open the four
“safe passages” between the two territories provided for in
the agreement. Not one was open for a single day. The
geographical separation brought about the political one.

When Hamas won the January 2006 Palestinian elections,
surprising everybody including itself, the Israeli
government declared that it would have no dealings with any
Palestinian government in which Hamas was represented. It
ordered – there is no other word – the US and EU
governments to follow suit. Thus the Palestinian Unity
Government was brought down.

The next step was an Israeli-American effort to install a
strongman of their choosing as dictator of the Gaza Strip,
the bulwark of Hamas. The chosen hero was Muhammad Dahlan,
a local chieftain. It was not a very good choice – the
Israeli security chief recently disclosed that Dahlan had
collapsed sobbing into his arms. After a short battle,
Hamas took direct control of the Gaza Strip.

A FRATRICIDAL split in a liberation movement is not an
exception. It is almost the rule.

The Irish revolutionary movement was an outstanding
example. In this country we had the fight between the
Hagana and the Irgun, which at times became violent and
very ugly. It was Menachem Begin, then the Irgun commander,
who prevented a full-fledged civil war.

The Palestinian people, with all the odds against them, can
hardly afford such a disaster. The split has generated
intense mutual hatred between comrades who spent time in
Israeli prison together. Hamas accused the Palestinian
Authority – with some justification – of cooperating with
the Israeli government against them, urging the Israelis
and the Egyptians to tighten the brutal blockade against
the Gaza Strip, even preventing a deal for the release of
the Israeli prisoner-of-war, Gilad Shalit, in order to
block the release of Hamas activists and their return to
the West Bank. Many Hamas activists suffer in Palestinian
prisons, and the lot of Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip
is no more joyous.

Yet both Fatah and Hamas are minorities in Palestine. The
great mass of the Palestinian people desperately want unity
and a joint struggle to end the occupation. If the final
reconciliation agreement is signed by Mahmoud Abbas and
Khalid Meshaal, Palestinians everywhere will be jubilant.

BINYAMIN NETANYAHU is jubilant already. The ink was not yet
dry on the preliminary agreement initialed in Cairo, when
Netanyahu made a solemn speech on TV, something like an
address to the nation after an historic event.

“You have to choose between us and Hamas,” he told the
Palestinian Authority. That would not be too difficult –
one the one side a brutal occupation regime, on the other
Palestinian brothers with a different ideology.

But this stupid threat was not the main point of the
statement. What Netanyahu told us was that there would be
no dealings with a Palestinian Authority connected in any
way with the “terrorist Hamas”.

The whole thing is a huge relief for Netanyahu. He has been
invited by the new Republican masters to address the US
Congress next month and had nothing to say. Nor had he
anything to offer the UN, which is about to recognize the
State of Palestine this coming September. Now he has: peace
is impossible, all Palestinians are terrorists who want to
throw us into the sea. Ergo: no peace, no negotiations, no
nothing.

IF ONE really wants peace, the message should of course be
quite different.

Hamas is a part of Palestinian reality. Sure, it is
extremist, but as the British have taught us many times, it
is better to make peace with extremists than with
moderates. Make peace with the moderates, and you must
still deal with the extremists. Make peace with the
extremists, and the business is finished.

Actually, Hamas is not quite as extreme as it likes to
present itself. It has declared many times that it will
accept a peace agreement based on the 1967 lines and signed
by Mahmoud Abbas if it is ratified by the people in a
referendum or a vote in parliament. Accepting the
Palestinian Authority means accepting the Oslo agreement,
on which the PA is based – including the mutual recognition
of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. In
Islam, as in all other religions, God’s word is definitely
final, but it can be “interpreted” any way needed. Don’t we
Jews know.

What made both sides more flexible? Both have lost their
patrons – Fatah its Egyptian protector, Hosny Mubarak, and
Hamas its Syrian protector, Bashar al-Assad, who cannot be
relied upon anymore. That has brought both sides to face
reality: Palestinians stand alone, so they had better
unite.

For peace-oriented Israelis, it will be a great relief to
deal with a united Palestinian people and with a united
Palestinian territory. Israel can do a lot to help this
along: open at long last an exterritorial free passage
between the West Bank and Gaza, put an end to the stupid
and cruel blockade of the Gaza Strip (which has become even
more idiotic with the elimination of the Egyptian
collaborator), let the Gazans open their port, airport and
borders. Israel must accept the fact that religious
elements are now a part of the political scene all over the
Arab world. They will become institutionalized and,
probably, far more “moderate”. That is part of the new
reality in the Arab world.

The emergence of Palestinian unity should be welcomed by
Israel, as well as by the European nations and the United
States. They should get ready to recognize the State of
Palestine within the 1967 borders. They should encourage
the holding of free and democratic Palestinian elections
and accept their results, whatever they may be.

The wind of the Arab Spring is blowing in Palestine too.
Bravo!

Posted in LibyaComments Off on Dorothy Online Newsletter

U.S. helps Libyan rebels as Gaddafi open new fronts

NOVANEWS

 

Libyan soldiers loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi are seen in the city of Tarhouna, south of Tripoli, April 27, 2011. Editor s note: Picture taken on guided government tour. REUTERS/Louafi Larbi  

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – The United States threw a financial lifeline to rebels controlling eastern Libya while forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi harried insurgent strongholds in the west and far southeast of the country.

Government troops kept up shelling overnight of the besieged rebel outpost of Misrata, where aid ships have been attempting to bring in emergency supplies and evacuate the wounded. A local doctor said by telephone that seven insurgents were killed when a checkpoint came under rocket and heavy artillery fire.

The Arabic Al Jazeera television said forces under Gaddafi, who has ruled the oil-producer over four decades, also clashed with rebels in the remote southeastern district of Kufra, near the Egyptian border. It gave no further details.

The rebel-held western town of Zintan came under fire from government forces using multiple rocket launchers on Thursday.

“Gaddafi forces have been using Grad missiles to bomb the town including inhabited areas. Today alone, 80 missiles hit the town,” said a rebel spokesman in Zintan identifying himself as Abdulrahman.

“Fortunately the majority of Zintan residents have already left their homes and fled either toward the Tunisian border or to secure areas in and around Zintan,” he told Reuters.

After weeks of fast moving advances and retreats by rebel and pro-Gaddafi forces along the Mediterranean coast, fighting appears to have settled into a pattern of clashes and skirmishes from the mountains of the west to the southeastern desert.

French and British-led NATO air attacks have eased the plight of poorly trained and armed rebels, but have not brought the collapse of the Gaddafi leadership rebels had wished for.

The protracted struggle has sown division among Western countries on how to increase pressure on Gaddafi and given him time to shore up support among tribal and political allies from his Tripoli power base.

Senior rebel National Council spokesman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga told a news conference in the rebel heartland city of Benghazi that he was particularly concerned by use of Russian-made Grad missiles, fired in volleys, often from the back of trucks.

“Many in the Western Mountains in towns such as Yefrin, Zintan and Kabau are being killed by this indiscriminate shelling,” rebel National Council spokesman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga told a news conference in Benghazi in the east on Wednesday.

The United States voiced confidence in the Benghazi-based council Wednesday as the U.S. Treasury moved to permit oil deals with the group, which is struggling to provide funding for the battle-scarred areas under its control.

The order by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control may help to clear up concerns among potential buyers over legal complications related to ownership of Libyan oil and the impact of international sanctions.

The first major oil shipment from rebel-held east Libya, reported to be 80,000 tonnes of crude, was expected to arrive in Singapore on Thursday for refueling but oil traders told Reuters finding a buyer was not straightforward, with many of the usual traders still worried about legal complications.

A tanker booked for Italian oil company Eni to carry crude to Italy from Gaddafi-held territory in Libya never arrived in port and left empty last week because the sanctions meant the government would not have got paid, trade sources said.

“They didn’t want the crude to go, because they wouldn’t have gotten any money for it,” an industry source said on Wednesday, adding, “They could use it to refine into gasoline.”

HOSPITALS OVERWHELMED

Residents say pro-Gaddafi forces have been surrounding mountain-top towns in western Libya, cutting them off from food, water and fuel supplies and unleashing indiscriminate bombardments on their homes with rockets and mortars.

Libyan officials deny targeting civilians, saying they are fighting armed gangs and al Qaeda sympathizers who are terrorizing the local population.

Rebels who seized a remote post on the western border with Tunisia hurriedly dug trenches after hearing that forces loyal to Gaddafi were on their way to re-take the crossing.

The rebel spokesman in the Western Mountains town of Zintan, scene of some of the region’s most intense fighting, said there was heavy bombardment there on Wednesday, that at least 15 people were wounded and five houses destroyed.

Both the rebels and the European Union said the shelling of the Misrata port threatened a vital supply and rescue route.

“We are receiving reports of hospitals being overwhelmed by a growing number of wounded,” EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement.

An aid ship took advantage of a brief lull in the fighting on Wednesday to rescue Libyans and a French journalist wounded in the fighting in Misrata, along with migrant workers, from the western rebel enclave and headed for Benghazi, center of the rebel heartland in the east.

“Despite heavy shelling of the port area … about 935 migrants and Libyans have been rescued and are now safely en route to Benghazi,” the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

(Additional reporting by Christian Lowe in Algiers, Guy Desmond and Maher Nazeh in Tripoli, Deepa Babington and Alexander Dziadosz in Benghazi, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; writing by Ralph boulton and Philippa Fletcher; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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Zio-Nazi rejects Gaza Holocaust compensation

NOVANEWS

Zio-Nazi strike on the Gaza Strip in January 2009

Zio-Nazi regime has refused to hear a petition by Palestinians that demanded compensation for damages inflicted to them during Zio-Nazi HOLOCAUST  against the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, representing more than 1,000 residents of the Gaza Strip, said on Thursday that Zio-Nazi courts refused to hear their demands, Ynetnews reported. 

The judges wrote that demands for compensation over damage should have been filed within two years and other damages can be filed seven years after the incident.

The Palestinian group, however, said that courts are permitted to extend the statute of limitations by three additional years in such cases.

A spokesman for the human rights center, attorney Michael Sfard, said filing a case within such a short period of time is always impossible due to Zio-Nazi refusal of entry permits.

Zio-Nazi launched an all-out HOLOCAUST on the Gaza Strip three days before the turn of 2009. The three-week HOLOCAUST killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, including at least 400 children.

The offensive leveled 4,000 houses in the territory and devastated a large portion of infrastructure. More than 50,000 people were displaced as a result of the Nazi HOLOCAUST.

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A more militarized CIA for a more militarized America

NOVANEWS

 

28ciamd_horiz.jpg

By Glenn Greenwald

Salon,

 

The first four Directors of the CIA (from 1947-1953) were military officers, but since then, there has been a tradition (generally though imperfectly observed) of keeping the agency under civilian rather than military leadership. That’s why George Bush’s 2006 nomination of Gen. Michael Hayden to the CIA provoked so many objections from Democrats (and even some Republicans).

The Hayden nomination triggered this comment from the current Democratic Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein: “You can’t have the military control most of the major aspects of intelligence. The CIA is a civilian agency and is meant to be a civilian agency.” The then-top Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman, said “she hears concerns from civilian CIA professionals about whether the Defense Department is taking over intelligence operations” and “shares those concerns.” On Meet the Press, Nancy Pelosi cited tensions between the DoD and the CIA and said: “I don’t see how you have a four-star general heading up the CIA.” Then-Sen. Joe Biden worried that the CIA, with a General in charge, will “just be gobbled up by the Defense Department.” Even the current GOP Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra, voiced the same concern about Hayden: “We should not have a military person leading a civilian agency at this time.”

Of course, like so many Democratic objections to Bush policies, that was then and this is now. Yesterday, President Obama announced — to very little controversy — that he was nominating Gen. David Petraeus to become the next CIA Director. The Petraeus nomination raises all the same concerns as the Hayden nomination did, but even more so: Hayden, after all, had spent his career in military intelligence and Washington bureaucratic circles and thus was a more natural fit for the agency; by contrast, Petraues is a pure military officer and, most of all, a war fighting commander with little background in intelligence. But in the world of the Obama administration, Petraeus’ militarized, warrior orientation is considered an asset for running the CIA, not a liability.

That’s because the CIA, under Obama, is more militarized than ever, as devoted to operationally fighting wars as anything else, including analyzing and gathering intelligence. This morning’s Washington Post article on the Petraeus nomination — headlined: “Petraeus would helm an increasingly militarized CIA” — is unusual in presenting such a starkly forthright picture of how militarized the U.S. has become under the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner:

Gen. David H. Petraeus has served as commander in two wars launched by the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. If confirmed as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Petraeus would effectively take command of a third — in Pakistan.

Petraeus’s nomination comes at a time when the CIA functions, more than ever in its history, as an extension of the nation’s lethal military force.

CIA teams operate alongside U.S. special operations forces in conflict zones from Afghanistan to Yemen. The agency has also built up a substantial paramilitary capability of its own. But perhaps most significantly, the agency is in the midst of what amounts to a sustained bombing campaign over Pakistan using unmanned Predator and Reaper drones.

Since Obama took office there have been at least 192 drone missile strikes, killing as many as 1,890 militants, suspected terrorists and civilians. Petraeus is seen as a staunch supporter of the drone campaign, even though it has so far failed to eliminate the al-Qaeda threat or turn the tide of the Afghan war. . . .

Petraeus has spent relatively little time in Washington over the past decade and doesn’t have as much experience with managing budgets or running Washington bureaucracies as CIA predecessors Leon E. Panetta and Michael V. Hayden. But Petraeus has quietly lobbied for the CIA post, drawn in part by the chance for a position that would keep him involved in the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Yemen.

It’s rare for American media outlets to list all of our “wars” this way, including the covert ones (and that list does not even include the newest one, in Libya, where drone attacks are playing an increasingly prominent role as well). But Barack Obama does indeed preside over numerous American wars in the Muslim world, including some that he started (Libya and Yemen) and others which he’s escalated (Afghanistan and Pakistan). Because our wars are so often fought covertly, the CIA has simply become yet another arm of America’s imperial war-fighting machine, thus making it the perfect fit for Bush and Obama’s most cherished war-fighting General to lead (Petraeus will officially retire from the military to take the position, though that obviously does not change who he is, how he thinks, and what his loyalties are).

One reason why it’s so valuable to keep the CIA under civilian control is because its independent intelligence analyst teams often serve as one of the very few capable bureaucratic checks against the Pentagon and its natural drive for war. That was certainly true during the Bush years when factions in the CIA rebelled against the dominant neocon Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz/Feith clique, but it’s been true recently as well:

Others voiced concern that Petraeus is too wedded to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — and the troop-heavy, counterinsurgency strategy he designed — to deliver impartial assessments of those wars as head of the CIA.

Indeed, over the past year the CIA has generally presented a more pessimistic view of the war in Afghanistan than Petraeus has while he has pushed for an extended troop buildup.

That’s why, noted The Post, there is “some grumbling among CIA veterans opposed to putting a career military officer in charge of an agency with a long tradition of civilian leadership.” But if one thing is clear in Washington, it’s that neither political party is willing or even able to stand up to the military establishment, and especially not a General as sanctified in Washington circles as Petraeus. It’s thus unsurprising that “Petraeus seems unlikely to encounter significant opposition from Capitol Hill” and that, without promising to vote for his confirmation, Sen. Feinstein — who raised such a ruckus over the appointment of Hayden — yesterday “signaled support for Petraeus.”

The nomination of Petraeus doesn’t change much; it merely reflects how Washington is run. That George Bush’s favorite war-commanding General — who advocated for and oversaw the Surge in Iraq — is also Barack Obama’s favorite war-commanding General, and that Obama is now appointing him to run a nominally civilian agency that has been converted into an “increasingly militarized” arm of the American war-fighting state, says all one needs to know about the fully bipartisan militarization of American policy. There’s little functional difference between running America’s multiple wars as a General and running them as CIA Director because American institutions in the National Security State are all devoted to the same overarching cause: Endless War.

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Zio-Nazi Barak–”Israel won’t talk to Palestinian government that includes Hamas”

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross


Defense minister demands Israel’s friends in the world also not talk to Hamas, unless group undergoes ‘deep and fundamental changes’; Barak says group must dismantle terror infrastructure and accept Quartet conditions.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued an official response on Thursday to the announcement of Palestinian reconciliation, saying there was “no chance that we will talk with this government, if they try to create it.”

“Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization that fires rockets on citizens and recently fired an anti-tank missile at a school bus of students,” Barak said. “This is an organization with whom there is nothing to discuss, and therefore we will have no discourse with them.”

Barak - AP - March 24, 2011 Defense Minister Ehud Barak on March 24, 2011
Photo by: AP

The rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas came to a historic agreement on Wednesday, when they announced a decision to reconcile and form an interim government ahead of elections, after a four-year feud. Both sides hailed the agreement as a chance to start a fresh page in their national history.

Earlier in the day, Barak had said that Israel should negotiate with the planned Fatah-Hamas Palestinian unity government only and if it renounces terror activities and recognizes Israel.

In his official statement, the defense minister also demanded that Israel’s international friends also refuse to speak with a unity government which includes Hamas, unless the group “undergoes a deep and fundamental change.”

Among the changes they would have to undergo, according to Barak, is “give up on terror, dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, and accept the conditions of the Quartet.”

“This is actually accepting all previous agreements made with Israel,” Barak continued and said that Hamas also must show “willingness to negotiate.”

“Only with these conditions is there a basis for discussion with Hamas. I don’t see this yet happening,” Barak said. “Incidentally, I don’t yet know if the agreement will indeed be signed. It’s a little early to predict, but we must be prepared for every possibility.”

The Palestinian announcement was met with skepticism, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warning that a reconciliation deal could result in a Hamas takeover of the currently PA-ruled West Bank.

Lieberman told Army Radio of his fears that Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, would eventually take over the Palestinian Authority-ruled West Bank as well, making use of Hamas activists freed by Fatah as part of the new agreement.

President Shimon Peres also commented on the burgeoning Palestinian reconciliation agreement on Thursday, saying he felt the deal was a mistake that could prevent the formation of an independent Palestinian state.

 

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Trying ‘Shock and Awe’ in Libya

NOVANEWS

 

By Robert Parry

 

Having laughed off Libyan government peace feelers, Official Washington is now beating the drum for a new round of “shock and awe” bombings and close-combat air strikes to “finish the job” of ousting Col. Muammar Gaddafi.

Typically, this Washington debate is being framed as a series of choices for President Barack Obama and NATO: one, abandon the current campaign of air strikes and let Gaddafi prevail; two, continue the conflict at its current pace and accept a stalemate; or three, commit more military resources to “win.”

The neoconservative-dominated opinion circles of Washington are almost unanimous in their determination to push Obama and NATO to adopt option three. It is a consensus not seen since almost all these same Serious People supported George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, which started off with the “shock and awe” bombing that was supposed to solve everything.

Left out of today’s Libyan debate is any consideration of building on the African Union’s proposal for a ceasefire and a transition to democracy with Gaddafi on the sidelines. Gaddafi’s embattled regime agreed to those terms, but the plan was spurned by anti-Gaddafi rebels and doesn’t even rate a mention when the “options” are listed in the Big Media.

Besides taking a page from Bush’s “shock and awe” playbook, the Smart Talk in Washington also suggests modeling “regime change” in Libya after NATO’s bombing of Serbia in 1999.

Those NATO strikes against the capital of Belgrade inflicted hundreds of civilian deaths, with estimates ranging from about 500 to more than 1,200, including the killing of 16 people working at the Serb TV station.

NATO generals justified their bombing of Serb TV on the premise that “enemy propaganda” is a legitimate target in wartime, even if the station’s personnel were unarmed and defenseless. Since then, the intentional targeting of civilian TV and radio stations has become part of Western military doctrine when trying to overthrow Arab and Third World regimes.

The Serbian model is now being applied to Libya with the blessings of senior military officials who participated in that campaign. For instance, Gen. John P. Jumper, who commanded U.S. Air Force units over Serbia, told the New York Times that bombing high-profile institutional sites in Belgrade proved more effective than the destruction of Serbian tanks and other military targets.

“It was when we went in and began to disturb important and symbolic sites in Belgrade and began to bring to a halt the middle-class life in Belgrade, that [Serbian President Slobodan] Milosevic’s own people began to turn on him,” Jumper said.

Now, Jumper said a similar approach is being pursued in Libya. This week, NATO planes bombed Libya’s capital of Tripoli briefly knocking Libyan TV off the air and blasting Gaddafi’s personal residence (although NATO insisted that the raid wasn’t an assassination attempt, wink-wink).

In other words, the anti-Serb air campaign, which was estimated to kill four Serb civilians for every Serb soldier slain, is now becoming the model for NATO’s military strategy in Libya.

Contradicting a Mandate

One might think the application of the Serbian model to Libya would raise red flags in the U.S. news media since it suggests that NATO may end up killing large numbers of civilians under a United Nations mandate to protect civilians.

However, led by the Washington Post and the New York Times, major U.S. news outlets have ignored this obvious contradiction. Instead, there’s a renewed excitement over the prospect of a new “shock and awe” bombing of an “enemy” country that’s been stripped of its air defenses.

In influential U.S. opinion circles, it’s pro-war propaganda all the time. Indeed, the New York Times seems to publish only editorials and essays favoring an expanded conflict.

Dominating the Times op-ed page on Tuesday was a call from retired Army Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik to “finish the job” in Libya.

Dubik, who served in the Iraq War and is now a senior fellow at the Institute for the Study of War, framed the debate in a way to make escalation and victory the only “responsible” choice. He also projected a long-term U.S. and NATO presence in Libya after Gaddafi’s defeat.

“If Colonel Qaddafi falls, the United States and NATO will have a responsibility to help shape the postwar order, including providing security to prevent a liberated Libya from sinking into chaos,” Dubik wrote. “Washington must start planning and preparing for this complex and expensive contingency and muster the substantial political will required to see it through.”

In other words, we’re looking at another U.S./NATO occupation of a “liberated” Arab or Muslim country.

What’s also clear from the U.S. news coverage is that the Times editors and other opinion-shapers are engaged in Dubik’s important first step, building the “political will” for this new war and future occupation by excluding any serious questions about the wisdom of the desired course.

The Times on Wednesday published another pro-war op-ed – focusing on Gaddafi’s supposed failure to provide quality milk to his countrymen. Meanwhile, there has been zero reexamination of a key rationale for U.S. participation in the war, Gaddafi’s alleged guilt in the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.

“The blood of Americans is on [Gaddafi’s] hands because he was responsible for the bombing of Pan Am 103,” declared Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, after a recent trip to rebel-held Benghazi during which McCain joined the call for a larger U.S. military role.

The Times and other leading U.S. news outlets also treat Libya’s guilt as a flat fact, but the case actually remains murky.

In 2001, a Scottish court did convict Libyan agent Ali al-Megrahi for the bombing which killed 270 people. But the judgment appears to have been more a political compromise than an act of justice. One of the judges told Dartmouth government professor Dirk Vandewalle about “enormous pressure put on the court to get a conviction.”

Megrahi’s conviction assuaged the understandable human desire to see someone punished for such a heinous crime, albeit a possibly innocent man.

Reopening a Terror Case

In 2007, after the testimony of a key government witness was discredited, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission agreed to reconsider the conviction as a grave miscarriage of justice. However, that review was proceeding slowly in 2009 when Scottish authorities released Megrahi on humanitarian grounds, after he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.

Megrahi dropped his appeal in order to gain the early release, but that doesn’t mean he was guilty. He has continued to assert his innocence and an objective press corps would reflect the doubts regarding his conviction.

The Scottish court’s purported reason for finding Megrahi guilty – while acquitting his co-defendant Lamin Khalifa Fhimah – was the testimony of Toni Gauci, owner of a clothing store in Malta who allegedly sold Megrahi a shirt, the remnants of which were found with the shards of the suitcase that contained the bomb.

The rest of the case rested on a theory that Megrahi put the luggage on a flight from Malta to Frankfurt, where it was transferred to a connecting flight to London, where it was transferred onto Pan Am 103 bound for New York, a decidedly unlikely way to undertake an act of terrorism given all the random variables involved.

Megrahi would have had to assume that three separate airport security systems – at Malta, Frankfort and London – would fail to give any serious scrutiny to an unaccompanied suitcase or to detect the bomb despite security officials being on the lookout for just such a threat.

As historian William Blum recounted in a Consortiumnews.com article after Megrahi’s 2001 conviction, “The case for the suitcase’s hypothetical travels must also deal with the fact that, according to Air Malta, all the documented luggage on KM180 was collected by passengers in Frankfurt and did not continue in transit to London, and that two Pan Am on-duty officials in Frankfurt testified that no unaccompanied luggage was introduced onto Pan Am 103A, the feeder flight to London.”

There also were problems with Gauci’s belated identification of Megrahi as the shirt-buyer a decade after the fact. Gauci had made contradictory IDs and had earlier given a physical description that didn’t match Megrahi. Gauci reportedly received a $2 million reward for his testimony and then moved to Australia, where he went into retirement.

In 2007, the Scottish review panel decided to reconsider Megrahi’s conviction after concluding that Gauci’s testimony was unbelievable. And without Gauci’s testimony, the case against Megrahi was virtually the same as the case against his co-defendant who was acquitted.

However, after Megrahi’s conviction in 2001, more international pressure was put on Libya, which was then regarded as the archetypal “rogue” state. Indeed, it was to get onerous economic sanctions lifted that Libya took “responsibility” for the Pan Am attack and paid reparations to the victims’ families even as Libyan officials continued to deny guilt.

Yet, despite these doubts about the Pan Am 103 case, the U.S. news media continues to treat Libya’s guilt as a flat fact.

A Defector Questioned

Earlier this month, there was some excitement over the possibility that Gaddafi would be fingered as the Pan Am 103 mastermind by a high-level defector, former Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa, who was believed to be in charge of Libyan intelligence in 1988.

Moussa Koussa was questioned by Scottish authorities but apparently shed little new light on the case and was allowed to go free after the interview. Very quickly the press interest over Moussa Koussa faded away.

Yet, as the clamor now builds in Official Washington for an escalation of U.S. participation in the war – and as the Pan Am 103 case is cited over and over as justification – there has been no serious reexamination of the mystery, only the repetition of Libya’s assumed guilt.

Looking across the landscape of the U.S. news media, it is hard to find any major voice suggesting peace negotiations with Gaddafi’s government or even advocating that the sincerity of its acceptance of the African Union’s plan for a cease-fire and democratic reforms should be put to the test.

Instead, virtually all the talking heads are armchair warriors, with the neoconservative editors of the Washington Post and the New York Times again leading the way by condemning Obama’s decision to minimize U.S. military participation.

”If his real aim were to plunge NATO into a political crisis, or to exhaust the air forces and military budgets of Britain and France — which are doing most of the bombing — this would be a brilliant strategy. As it is, it is impossible to understand,” the Post wrote on April 17:.

“Mr. Obama appears less intent on ousting Mr. Gaddafi or ensuring NATO’s success than in proving an ideological point — that the United States need not take the lead in a military operation that does not involve vital U.S. interests.

“How else to explain his decision to deny NATO the two most effective ground attack airplanes in the world — the AC-130 and A-10 Warthog — which exist only in the U.S. Air Force and which were attacking Mr. Gaddafi’s tanks and artillery until April 4?”

The New York Times has been equally adamant about seeing the AC-130s and A-10 Warthogs put back into action mowing down Libyan troops loyal to Gaddafi. “Mr. Obama should authorize [the ground-attack planes] to fly again under NATO command,” the Times declared on April 14, reiterating a demand that the editors had made just a week earlier.

Yet, if NATO’s real goal is to minimize civilian casualties, Western countries might want to think twice about taking sides in what is shaping up as an ugly tribal war. They might even give peace a chance, rather than replay the civilian bombings in Belgrade or the “shock and awe” over Iraq.

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U.S. Politicians Line Up to Castigate Palestinian Unity Deal

NOVANEWS

 

By Alex Kane

In stark contrast to partisan wrangling over the budget and women’s rights, Democrats and Republicans are lining up to demand the cut-off of U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority as a response to the reported unity deal between Hamas and Fatah.  Expect the Obama administration to take heed and agree with Congress–especially with the 2012 elections approaching.

The rhetoric from both sides of the aisle is uniform.  It’s the Israel lobby’s line.  It’s telling, for example, that a staunch Republican and neoconservative pro-Israel hawk like Jennifer Rubin would approvingly quote an otherwise reliable liberal like Representative Gary Ackerman, a Democrat from New York:

The purported deal, which does not require Hamas to accept Israel’s right to exist, or the binding nature of prior Palestinian commitments, or even to require Hamas to temporarily forgo violence against Israel (as if it were some kind barbaric of addiction, or compulsion), is a recipe for failure, mixed with violence, leading to disaster. It is a ghastly mistake that I fear will be paid for in the lives of innocent Israelis.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, similarly said:

The reported agreement between Fatah and Hamas means that a Foreign Terrorist Organization which has called for the destruction of Israel will be part of the Palestinian Authority government. U.S. taxpayer funds should not and must not be used to support those who threaten U.S. security, our interests, and our vital ally, Israel.

Interestingly, though, there are some, if not many, analysts and activists in solidarity with the Palestinian cause that will be happy with a cut off of U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority (for different reasons than Congress).  U.S. aid, which has gone to train the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, has contributed deeply to the split between Hamas and Fatah.

As Ali Abunimah noted for the Electronic Intifada, “in The Palestine Papers, the main concern of Ramallah officials was always to maintain Western financial aid to the PA, and not to make any agreement with Hamas that would jeopardize American and European financing for the PA.”  The Western financial aid has been used to crack down on Hamas.  But if U.S. and European aid is cut off, perhaps the Palestinian Authority would no longer imprison Hamas members and quash dissent.  That would go a long away towards true Palestinian unity.

Alek Kane: In addition to being a student, I am a blogger and journalist for the Indypendent, a free New York City-based newspaper, and a frequent contributor to the blog Mondoweiss.

http://alexbkane.wordpress.com

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SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE–Senate hawks push Obama on Syria

NOVANEWS

 

John McCain (left), Joe Lieberman (center) and Lindsey Graham are shown in a composite. | AP Photos
John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham demanded the resignation of Syria’s leader. | AP Photos Close

Politico.com

Three Senate hawks called on President Barack Obama on Thursday to demand the resignation of Syria’s leader, just as he did with Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a joint statement that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s violent crackdown against pro-democracy protesters “has reached a decisive point.”

“By following the path of [Qadhafi] and deploying military forces to crush peaceful demonstrations, al-Assad and those loyal to him have lost the legitimacy to remain in power in Syria,” the senators said. “We urge President Obama to state unequivocally — as he did in the case of Qadhafi and [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak — that it is time for Assad to go.”

On Wednesday Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, criticized Obama’s response to the unrest in Syria and called for sanctions and the withdrawal of the U.S. ambassador.

More than 450 people have been killed by Syrian security forces amid weeks of anti-government demonstrations, according to The Associated Press.

Obama, the senators said Thursday, should pursue sanctions and other “tangible diplomatic and economic measures” to pressure leaders of the al-Assad regime to stop the crackdown.

“Bashar al-Assad has been given countless chances to pursue meaningful dialogue and reform. He has squandered all of them,” the senators said.

“Rather than hedging our bets or making excuses for the Assad regime, it is time for the United States, together with our allies in Europe and around the world, to align ourselves unequivocally with the Syrian people in their peaceful demand for a democratic government.”

Lieberman is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and Governmental Affairs, while McCain is the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, a panel on which Graham also serves.

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