Archive | August 2nd, 2011

Abdul Fatah Younis Killing: War Death or Assassination

NOVANEWS
by Stephen Lendman

 

On July 28, New York Times writer David Kirkpatrick headlined, “Death of Rebel Leader Stirs Fears of Tribal Conflict,” saying:

The killing of Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) military commander, Gen. Abdul Fatah Younis (Gaddafi’s former Interior and Defense Minister) and two other rebel officers, “stirred fears that a tribal feud could divide” anti-Gaddafi forces.

On Thursday evening, NTC head Mustafa Abdul Jalil (former Gaddafi Justice Minister) announced it, saying Younis was recalled from Brega to Benghazi for questioning on the war’s progress. He suggested pro-Gaddafi forces killed him, providing no further details, including why his body wasn’t recovered.

Nor did he explain why soldiers from Benghazi’s elite unit, 17 Brigade, surrounded his house earlier that day. In fact, ahead of his announced death, supporters said they’d use force to free him from NTC custody.

Reports last Sunday night said he died in fighting around Brega. It was retracted, however, when Younis was interviewed Monday, saying he was alive, well, and that rebels would prevail before Ramadan (around August 1). In response, TNC officials claimed someone impersonated him. Apparently, he was under arrest at the time.

Questions remain how a field commander, usually traveling in a heavily-guarded, multi-vehicle convoy armored car, could be easily gunned down with two of his aides.

Speculation swirled about whether Jalil either ordered him arrested or assassinated. Al Jazeera said he was “suspected of engaging in unauthorized communication with Gaddafi’s representatives and had possibly even helped supply regime troops with weapons.”

The latter comment is typical Al Jazeera, a mouthpiece for power, making uncorroborated untrue claims. As a result, its credibility is seriously compromised, a topic previous articles addressed.

Last April, however, Gaddafi’s daughter, Aisha, suggested Younis remained loyal to her father, saying a former top regime figure was talking with government officials, with no further details.

London Independent writer Kim Sengupta said Younis supporters claimed “fellow revolutionary fighters” killed him, adding he was “either executed with a shot to the head or died under torture while being interrogated.”

Others close to him said he’d been detained on suspicion of collaborating or having unauthorized dealings with Gaddafi ministers in Tripoli, and that members of his family remained close to the regime.

The same day, roadblocks were set up in Benghazi after Younis loyalists reportedly left the front lines and returned to the opposition capital.

In fact, his supporters stormed the hall where Jalil announced his death, spraying the room with gunfire. No casualty information was given.

Reports suggested hours before his announced death, Younis supporters knew it. As a result, it raises questions why it wasn’t divulged earlier. Instead, Jalil waited until 10PM Thursday, issuing a short statement only without answering questions.

Gaddafi Opponents and Younis Defection

Most were self-serving opportunists. Stratfor’s George Friedman described them as “consist(ing) of a cluster of tribes and personalities, some within the Libyan government, some within the army, and many other longtime opponents of the regime. (However), it would be an enormous mistake to see what happened in Libya (last winter) as a mass, liberal democratic uprising. The narrative has to be strained to work in most countries, but in Libya, it breaks down completely.”

In fact, most opponents came from the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) and a group called the Islamic Emirate of Barqa (northwestern Libya’s former name), composed largely of former Al Qaeda fighters. Together they became the NTC, backed by Washington and other Western nations as a tool to colonize Libya.

On February 22, Younis defected, appointing himself rebel military commander. However, longtime CIA collaborator Khalifa Haftar (another former Gaddafi commander) also claimed the top military post. As a result, the two men clashed after creating parallel chains of command, an untenable situation as it turned out.

Foreign Policy writer David Kenner headlined, “The strange, unexplained death of the Libyan rebels’ military chief,” saying:

Before defecting last February 22, Younis was one of Gaddafi’s “most trusted lieutenants,” often called his second in command. At the same time, internal rebel feuding was well known.

Moreover, New Yorker writer Jon Lee Anderson said, even after defecting, Younis was “distrusted by the shabab (Libyan youth) and by many council members.”

According to Dartmouth Professor Dirk Vandewalle:

The TNC “military is in disarray. It has never been able to really define a clear command strategy and my hunch is that it probably never will, despite all of the aid it is getting….You’re seeing in a sense a proto-state that has no reference at all, has no institutions to go by (with) self-appointed representatives in the TNC” with no legitimacy. “So there remains an enormous amount of chaos.”

It makes sense given rebel fighters’ ineffectiveness on the ground. In fact, without heavy NATO air support, they easily would have been routed quickly. Daily bombings and air cover made it possible for them to continue, with considerable supplies of weapons and training by US and UK intelligence and special forces operatives.

In the aftermath of Younis’ killing, Kenner questioned Jalil’s inability or unwillingness to answer questions about the incident, especially how a significant security lapse happened. “Whatever the case may be,” he said, “the honeymoon with the rebels is over; bring on the politics.”

A Final Comment

On July 29, Mathaba.net reported “much shooting going on in (Benghazi after residents) came out en masse as the news spread.” Reportedly, rebel-held prisoners were freed. People “also marched on the rebel (TNC) and attacked it and have made a new civilian leadership, according to reports received….” Moreover, “(t)he airport is back under popular control, as are the military bases.”

On July 29, independent journalist Lizzie Phelan, reporting from Tripoli at 2:00 AM, said:

Before his death, Younis “gave a speech saying all he and his followers want is (the strategic oil city of) Brega, not Misrata or any of the west and that Gaddafi can take it.”

She also concurred with Mathaba analysts that fighting among rebel factions forced NTC officials “to flee Benghazi and they closed all communications to” the city. A popular uprising took over Benghazi airport. “There are huge celebrations in Tripoli right now with fireworks and gunshots firing across the capital.”

Mathaba also said pro-Gaddafi support “has grown to at least 80% of the population.” It’s unsurprising that Libyans angered by NATO bombings and rebel atrocities now strongly support their government, not cutthroat killers and their opportunist leaders representing Western interests, not theirs.

In addition, Mathaba analysts believe if conflict persists through Ramadan, pro-Gaddafi support may “rise to 95% and the active opposition will decrease below 1%.”

Increasingly, NATO’s Libya war looks lost, at least round one with likely more destabilization and perhaps future conflict planned.

For now, however on July 29, Financial Times writer Ian Bremmer may have headlined a sentiment official sources aren’t admitting by saying “(d)on’t start wars you don’t know how to end,” adding in the wake of Younis’ death:

“NATO is unlikely to either force (Gaddafi out) or cut a politically salable deal with him anytime soon. Meanwhile, the opposition” is in disarray following their military leader’s death. Going forward, “(t)he most likely outcome remains a country in pieces….”

Perhaps so, but if a popular Benghazi uprising grows, all bets are off on what’s next. So far, things are fluid but bear close watching given the latest dramatic events.

A Final Comment

On July 29, Middle East/Central Asian analyst Mahdi Nazemroaya (from Tripoli) and Global Research.ca editor Michel Chossudovsky headlined, “The War on Libya: Divisions within the Transitional Council and Rebel Forces,” saying:

Younis’ death “created a vacuum in the military command structure….” Short-run military weakening will also follow, affecting NATO operations. At the same time, his assassination “tends to reinforce US-NATO control over the Islamist faction of the insurgency,” covertly supported by CIA and MI6, as it’s been well before conflict erupted last winter.

“What is unfolding in Libya is the ‘Kosovo Model.’ The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was integrated by Islamic brigades affiliated with Al Qaeda (and organized crime. It’s also been) supported by the CIA, German intelligence (BND) and Britain’s MI6.”

In 1999, it was a NATO “instrument” in its Serbia/Kosovo war, later heading “an independent ‘democratic’ Kosovo ‘Mafia State.’ ”

In Libya today, “The Big Lie” is also in play as “the US-NATO coalition….is ‘on both sides’ of their ‘war on terrorism.’ ” They’re also “on both sides of ‘The Big Lie,’” supporting Al Qaeda against “Islamic terrorism.”

In fact, the entire operation is a lie like all wars, fought for wealth, power, privilege and domination, not liberation, democratic values, or humanitarian reasons.

However, Nazemroaya also believes NATO may have bitten off more than it can chew. In his same day Global Research.ca article, written before Younis’ death, he headlined, “The War on Libya: An Imperialist Project to Create Three Libyas,” saying:

Libyans “are prepared to fix their problems at home for the sake of saving their country, their society, and their families,” unwilling to be colonized by Washington and other NATO countries.

As a result, they’re determined even if Western forces invade or increase “bombings to devastating levels. Although the conflict is far from over, in the end history will judge the NATO war against Libya as a huge mistake and as the beginning of the end for NATO.”

Established for offense, not defense, NATO’s operated a US imperial tool. Nobel laureate Harold Pinter called it a “missile (to consolidate) American domination of Europe.” Strategically intervening under its control, it now threatens world peace and human survival.

As a result, hopefully Nazemroaya’s right! Hope also Libyans manage to avoid the “Kosovo Model,” or challenge and overcome it if it arrives.

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IsraHell: July 14th Movement, Arab Spring in Tel Aviv

NOVANEWS

200,000 Demonstrate Across IsraHell, “Assad, Mubarak, Netanyahu”

By Gordon Duff, Senior Editor

Video By www.realnews.com

The Israelis, young and old, hitting the streets in numbers reminiscent of Tahir Square in Egypt, don’t really understand why the world is looking at them.  Massive demonstrations, initially in Tel Aviv, protesting government failures to provide basic services despite the $30,000 per person Israel receives in “foreign aid” and allowances from the United States.  A nation of professionals, Nobel Prize winners, one of the world’s largest arms exporters, a nation that has imported nearly 1 million “guest workers,” can’t make ends meet, or so it tells its people.


YouTube – Veterans Today –

Israelis are tired to hearing their government preach “security” day and night, calling for sacrifices to protect them from the Arab armies planning to drive them into the sea or the new holocaust threatened by the Iranians.

We are now seeing a few, perhaps more than a few getting wise to the tricks that so many Americans fell for after 9/11.

As for Israel’s security:

  • Israel is a nuclear power with new ICBM capability which would allow Israel to attack North America with a first strike capability if it wished

  • Israel’s army is rated among the top 5 in the world and is backed by the United States whose army has 300% of the combat capabilities of all the world’s armies combined

  • None of Israel’s neighbors have a military capable of sustained operations

It goes much further.  Despite clear problems in Lebanon and poor relations with Syria, a government now fighting for its life by brutally attacking its own people, the greatest part of the security threat Israel has droned on about has by little but myth.  The chant of the crowds tells it all, Mubarak, Egypt’s ruler for 30 years has been an Israeli puppet as have the rulers of the Gulf states.  Saudi Arabia has been little more itself, despite occasional rumblings for the sake of misleading fellow Muslims.  The same can be said of Liyba’s Gaddafi, always noises but ready to horse trade with Israel at any time.

The threats have been a tool to propagandize the Israeli people, to exploit and frighten Jews around the world and to refocus attention from the role Israel has seemingly chosen, that of pariah state.

A hundred nations stand ready to support sanctions against Israel for injustices that those protesting inside Israel, the Jews seeing their own victimization, aren’t yet aware of.

It will come.

The Palestinian people, by rights at least 50% of Israel’s population, were refugees allowed the right of return, another “justice” issue, are more than a security issue, more than competition for land and housing.

They are workers, business owners, tax payers, of the Arab world, the Semitic Palestinians, racially identical to Semitic Jews, are considered the most capable of any group in the Middle East, law, science, medicine, technology.

Taking their place, while a million Palestinians are walled off in Gaza, are guest workers, maids, janitors, weapons assemblers, manual laborers supporting Israel’s export oriented economy.

What has Israel proven, the people of Israel?

This week, the American people have taken a bashing at the hands of their own government, their future “sold down the river” to protect the financial excesses of the ruling class.

The Israeli people, as with the people of Syria, Bahrain, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and more, have ‘hit the streets’ trying to gain control of their own lives.

Perhaps, as they open their eyes, they will discover friends they never expected.

Israel is facing real uncertainty.  Netanyahu has burned bridges around the world, despite the standing ovations he received before the American congress this summer.  The popularity of the American congress is at record lows, so is Netanyahu’s, at home and in America.

As with America, Israeli’s face a government drunk on power, flush with cash from arms and drug deals, used to getting its way by staging terror acts on demand.

This is the hard truth of it.

When we see the attacks in Norway, hardly a ‘lone madman’ as is being pressed, when we see Netanyahu offer a settlement on Palestine, we know that what will follow will reflect desperation.

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The allegation that Iran is developing nuclear weapons is a mirage

NOVANEWS

Interview with Dr. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam
By Kourosh Ziabari

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam

Dr. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam is a political commentator and lecturer in the comparative and international politics of western Asia at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He was born in the Taksim area of Istanbul to Iranian parents and raised in Hamburg/Germany. He studied at the University of Hamburg, American University and Cambridge. He is the author of The International Politics of the Persian Gulf: A Cultural Genealogy, Iran in World Politics: The question of the Islamic Republic and A metahistory of the Clash of Civilisations.

He is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Cambridge’s European Trust Society and he was the first Jarvis Doctorow Fellow at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford.

His articles and commentaries have appeared on Guardian, CNN, Monthly Review, Independent, Open Democracy, Antiwar and Daily Star. His scholarly papers also have been published in “Critical Studies on Terrorism”, “Cambridge Review of International Affairs”, “Third World Quarterly” and “International Studies Journal.”

Dr. Adib-Moghaddam’s latest book “A Metahistory of the Clash of Civilisations: Us and Them Beyond Orientalism” was published in 2011 by the Hurst & Co. and Columbia University Press.

As described by Amazon.com, “Adib-Moghaddam’s investigation explains the conceptual genesis of the clash of civilizations and the influence of western and Islamic representations of the other. He highlights the discontinuities between Islamism and the canon of Islamic philosophy, which distinguishes between Avicennian and Qutbian discourses of Islam, and he reveals how violence became inscribed in western ideas, especially during the Enlightenment. Expanding critical theory to include Islamic philosophy and poetry, this metahistory refuses to treat Muslims and Europeans, Americans and Arabs, and the Orient and the Occident as separate entities.”

He joined me in an in-depth interview and answered my questions regarding the continued controversy over Iran’s nuclear program, the Western media’s black propaganda against Iran, the future of Iran-West relations and the prospect of Iran’s Green Movement.

What follows is the complete text of my interview with Dr. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, political scientist and author.

Kourosh Ziabari: Over the past years, the United States and its European allies imposed several rounds of UN-authorized and non-authorized sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. The general policy of West towards Iran brings to mind several questions. First of all, I would like to ask you, as a political scientist, that why is Iran singled out over its nuclear program? Who has put forward reliable evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, or has the intention to do so? Does the West’s hostility toward Iran simply emanate from Iran’s nuclear program? If so, then why did the former U.S. President George W. Bush label Iran as part of an Axis of Evil under President Khatami who was a reformist and open-minded politician?

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam: You are right, and one has to stress that on every occasion, lest the lies that led to the invasion of Iraq will be repeated: There is no evidence that Iran is building a nuclear weapon. No IAEA report, not even national intelligence agencies hostile to the Iranian state such as the CIA and the Mossad in Israel have provided any evidence to that end. So the nuclear weapons allegation is a political mirage, a tactical manoeuvre to outflank Iran on other matters.

I think Chomsky is right when he says that it is Iran’s insistence on an independent foreign policy that is being punished. The allegation that Iran is developing nuclear weapons is a Trojan horse to legitimise the comprehensive sanctions regime and to contain Iran’s regional power. Having said that, I don’t believe that Iran is facing a coherent ‘western’ block. Even in the United States, where the image of Iran is professionally manufactured by anti-Iranian lobbying groups, there are differences of opinion on how to engage the country. There is a difference between Barak Obama and George W. Bush. In Europe too, we have been engaged in fostering a different kind of approach to Iran, one that is not reliant on myths, but the reality on the ground.

The fact remains that Iran is a regional superpower with influence in all the hotspots of the region. The sanctions policy, the policy of containment has largely failed. It has not changed Iranian behaviour on strategic matters. If anything, the politics of aggression has emboldened the rather more hawkish elements in the Iranian state, because it is them who thrive on the rhetoric of confrontation. You mention the axis-of-evil speech of George W. Bush. It came after the reformist President Mohammad Khatami made major concessions, offering support for the war against the Taliban in the aftermath of the terror attacks on 9/11. President Khatami went out of his way to offer medical support to US pilots who would be downed on Iranian territory, a major confidence building step. It was reciprocated with the axis of evil speech, one of the most disastrous and murderous foreign policy speeches in the history of the United States.

It should also be noted that Khatami suspended the enrichment of uranium in response to a deal with the European Union. But the EU, under the sway of Tony Blair and others, did not adhere to their side of the bargain. This was a major diplomatic blunder. Khatami was left with nothing. The right-wing in Iran was quick to capitalise on the situation. It was then when the Ahmadinejad faction accused the reformers of selling out the national interest of the country. With nothing to present, Khatami was robbed of a counter-case. Here he was talking about a dialogue amongst civilisation, condemning calls for the death of America in Iran, suspending the enrichment of uranium, supporting the campaign against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, reaching out to the American people on CNN, only to be demonised and placed along Saddam Hussein and Kim-Jong Il in the axis of evil.

But there is no time to reminisce or to be apathetic. The apostles of war are preaching again and they are taking their orders from Netanyahu. It is an ongoing battle. They are inventing myth in order to advocate military aggression. We are working on the truth. They wield sword and sceptre above our heads. We stick to the pen and the lectern. Theirs is a case of hate and destruction. Ours is geared to peace and reconciliation. Their conscious is pragmatic, ours is principled. We resist, they exercise power.

KZ: Israel is the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Several international organizations including the Federation of American Scientists have confirmed this fact. Why doesn’t the international community, especially the United States and its European friends, take action to legalize Israel’s nuclear program and investigate its atomic arsenal? Why doesn’t Israel comply with the UNSC resolution 487 which called on Tel Aviv to put its nuclear facilities under the IAEA safeguards?

AA: From a legal perspective, there is a nuance of course. Israel, like Pakistan and India never signed the Non Proliferation Treaty. But let’s leave that aside for a moment, for it doesn’t really answer why the Israeli state is treated different than the Iranian government. It is ironic that Israel has done everything Iran is accused of: Iran is accused of terrorism; Israel openly admits that it pursues a policy of assassination all over the world. Iran is accused of meddling in the affairs of Arab countries; Israel has launched two invasions against them in the past five years killing thousands of civilians in Gaza and Lebanon. Iran has been accused and sanctioned for developing nuclear weapons without any evidence; Israel has nuclear weapons and boasts of close trade ties with the United States and the European Union. Moreover, Israel is the only country in the world that colonises territory in clear violation of international law and under the auspices of the ‘international community.’ This is called the ‘settlement policy’ in the official jargon of the Netanyahu administration. Not even the condemnation of President Obama, important in its own right, changed the situation. So Israel is what Iran is punished for. It should be said that there are many dissidents in Israel itself that disagree with the policies of Netanyahu and the strategy of colonisation of Palestinian territory.

So far Israel has been shielded from international law by successive US administrations. It is the veto of the US that prevents any serious UNSC resolution against Israel. When it comes to Israel, and consequently western Asia and North Africa, the United States continues to be hostage to the pro-Israeli lobby in the country. However, the tide is turning. There are signs of a progressive counter-discourse gaining ground. Obama and Netanyahu are at odds, let there be no doubt about this. And there is resistance to the influence of the Israeli right-wing on US domestic politics and foreign affairs. But for the moment the political elites in the US are not sufficiently independent to think in terms of their national interest in western Asia and North Africa.

I have argued in “A metahistory of the clash of civilisations” that justice in world politics is the surface effect of a series of constellations that can be manipulated towards particular ends. So justice is a product of politics and diplomacy rather than an objective value that is universally applicable. At the same time I reject the notion that world politics has to be anarchic, that the Hobbesian idea of a war of all against all is inevitable. It was Europe and then the United States that constructed and supervised this unjust order. It is not due to some kind of natural law. So it can be changed. The Israeli nuclear programme must be seen within this larger context of an unjust world order that continues to produce hypocrisies on major issues facing human kind. I mean, it is not as if we could detach from all of this. Politics affects everything we do, from birth to death, cereal to nightgown. The reform of the international institutions must do away with the hierarchy inscribed in them. One way of dealing with this would be to turn the UNSC into a rather more representative body that would reflect the emerging non-western world order.

KZ: The sanctions of the United States and European Union against Iran have targeted Iran’s medical sector, oil and gas industry, energy sector and even automobile and food industries. Ordinary Iranians are deprived of having access to the most rudimentary necessities of their daily life as a result of these crippling sanctions. Tens of patients suffering from chronic disorders die each year because the foreign firms don’t allow their products to be exported to Iran Even the reformist leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mirhossein Mousavi have condemned the crippling sanctions of the West against Iran. What’s your idea? Aren’t these sanctions some kind of violation of human rights?

AA: There are two assumptions in the question that I would like to challenge. First, I think the Iranian economy is doing well if we take into consideration that the country has been under international sanctions for three decades now and that it is absorbing the ‘baby boom’ generation after the revolution. There are many problems of course, unemployment, inflation, economic mismanagement, etc, but the macroeconomic indicators of Iran – economic growth, foreign direct investment – are sound. Recent reports by the World Bank, UNCTAD and the IMF indicate these positive economic trends quite clearly.
After all, Iran continues to be an affluent country. From my own experience in Iran there is no shortage of medical provision and the country continues to have an intricate and wide ranging social welfare system with several foundations and institutions that are dedicated to the plight of the poor. They continue to function against all odds. To my mind the sanctions policy has largely failed. A country like Iran with the second largest gas reserves in the world and the second highest production of crude oil cannot be effectively isolated. But I take your point that economic sanctions hurt civilians rather than the state. Especially in the aviation industry the sanctions policy is killing Iranians. In that sense, it is true that they violate human dignity.

Yet I don’t think that the sanctions have in any way ‘crippled’ Iran as Hillary Clinton and others put it. The term crippling is very discriminatory and distasteful by the way, given that many US soldiers come back disabled from the many wars that the US is engaged in. It is even more disrespectful than the so called ‘carrot and stick’ policy applied to Iran, a phrase that is used for donkeys. Terms and phrases like that indicate the discursive violence enveloping Iranian-American relations. It is equally prevalent in Iran, of course, for instance the calls of death to America. To my mind, progressive independence, independence that is not only material, but psychological too, begets that Iran does away with slogans demonising or praising any country.

As for the second part of the question: In fact the Iranian opposition is by far more hawkish on the issue of nuclear negotiations, for they do not hold the responsibly of power. As you know I have never accepted the discourse of human rights as a part of the foreign policy of the state. Human rights are the prerogative of civil society. The state is merely there to execute our demands in that regard. I don’t think any of us need Nicolas Sarkozy to enlighten us about human rights. But it should be said in the same breath that the human rights situation in Iran is problematic. Again, why would we look at the representations by the ‘west’ in order to assess how we treat each other? Isn’t this a form of dependency? And does it not invite the other side into Iranian affairs? What we need is a transparent, legally grounded policy of human rights that defines the dignity of Iranians and their rights within the context of the social, religious, cultural and ethnic realities of contemporary Iran. An autonomous human rights shura, if you want, not in order to present Iran as a particularly tolerant country to the outside, that would be an automatic side effect, but in order to assess why there are so many complaints about the human rights situation in Iran by Iranians living in the country itself. The weakness of the system in this regard has serious national and international repercussions.

The national security of a country starts with the nation— the citizenry which is the most precious commodity for the security of a country. The revolution was quite clear on this aspect, the centrality of the “tudeh”, “mardom”, the “ummah”. Surely, we are not saying that other countries are responsible for the dignity of the Iranian people? There is a splendid excursus by Ali Shariati on this matter, on the differences between “bashariyat” and “insaniyat” between being human in biological terms and humaneness. “Insaniyat” or humaneness requires caring for the plight of the ‘other’, the hamsay-e or neighbour with whom we literally share our shadow, “ham – saye”. I have used this differentiation of Shariati to criticise the inhumane treatment of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq by the US army. I don’t mean to sound too dramatic but I believe that we need the discourse of insaniyat in Iran today, probably more than ever.

KZ: Your articles and commentaries have appeared on several mainstream media outlets and you have been in close contact with a number of them. Don’t you believe that all of these media outlets have an anti-Iranian approach which prevents them from maintaining impartiality and objectivity? Don’t you trace the footsteps of a concerted anti-Iranian propaganda in these media? Why don’t they ever write anything of Iran’s rich and sophisticated culture? Why don’t they ever write anything about Iran’s scientific progresses? Why don’t they ever write about Iranian artists, scholars and scientists and the richness of Persian culture and literature? What we read of Iran in these media is simply confined to Iran’s alleged sponsorship of terrorism, nuclear program and violation of human rights. Why is it so?

AA: No I don’t think so. I certainly don’t see a concert of anti-Iranian propaganda. It is more of a cacophony. By that I mean that there is no government or agency that could control every aspect of the international media, otherwise the demand for some of my writings would not penetrate the mainstream as you put it. So I don’t think there is some kind of a conductor when it comes to the media concert on Iran. There is no monolithic coherence or a consensus that is all-encompassing. There is a real difference between Fox News and CNN, and there is a difference between The Sun and The Guardian of London. But it is true to say that there are many people shouting, and that the megaphones are readily available. It is surely easier to get published with a story that is anti-Iranian, rather than one that aspires to objectivity.

But the reason for that is not an all-encompassing conspiracy, but the composition of the mainstream media in the ‘west’ itself. At the margins there is room for dissent, but the bulk of the news stories have become a part of what Theodor Adorno aptly called a ‘culture industry’ decades ago. This culture industry reacts to market forces by far more than it reacts to the truth. As a current example: Here, in the UK the government of Prime Minister Cameron is currently grappling with a major corruption case involving several newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch’s company News Corporation. There have been arrests; Murdoch and his son had to appear in front of a parliamentary commission and so on. The allegations range from bribery of police officers who leaked information to journalists to the illegal hacking of phones and computers. It is a right mess. Murdoch co-owns Fox News together with the Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. Murdoch also owns The Sunday Times, The Times, and several tabloid papers. So there is a concentration of power here that creates its own political economy of truth. This is unhealthy for a democracy and it is unhelpful to understand complex countries such as Iran.

But again, from a critical perspective, and in this case it means self-criticism, one has to ask why it is so easy to write nonsense about Iran and why it is that Iran’s image is so far removed from the reality? I don’t think that the power of the mainstream media is analytically possible without the absence of a functioning counter-discourse. Why is the international media not flooded with experts from Iran itself? How many of Iran’s cultural attaches in the embassies do their job properly? How many conferences do they organise on the media representation of Iran? How much outreach is there? And what about the media landscape in Iran in terms of its international appeal? An image can only be manipulated if the resistance to that manipulation is not sophisticated enough. To put it in simple terms: Iranians in Iran are the best authors of their narrative, highly educated, internet-savvy, most of them truly brilliant, it is just a matter of disseminating their message, so that there is a second opinion on the country.

KZ: The critics of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad believe that he isolated Iran in the international community with his harsh policies and uncompromising stance, especially with regards to nuclear issue. They say that Iran has other important priorities than nuclear program and should not sacrifice its position and prestige in the international level by insisting on enriching uranium which is a sensitive issue for the Westerners. What’s your take on that?

AA: Success in international diplomacy is not merely dependent on the demand, in this case enriching uranium on Iranian soil, but on the way that demand is packaged. It is not what is in the package that is determining the reaction, but the way it is enveloped.

President Ahmadinejad stands accused of using the wrong wrapping paper. His rhetoric, his demeanour his overall discourse has been largely anti-diplomatic and confrontational. The Supreme Leader was quite aware of this at an early stage of the Presidency which is why he nominated a foreign policy council to oversee his performance. In that sense President Ahmadinejad is quite comparable to George W. Bush who was equally inept to articulate the national interest of the United States, which is why he plunged the country into a political and economic mess. Having said that, Iran is not isolated per se. Iran continues to be supported by those countries who are preparing for a new world order that will be distinctively multi-polar and non-western. The initiative of Turkey and Brazil is indicative of the future, the emergence of China as a global player is probably the most important factor, and the Arab revolts are very consequential too.

The puppets are falling and the puppet-master is running out of characters. The shah, Ben-Ali, Mubarak, their primary sin was that they were considered to be subservient to external demands. It was their colonial mindset, the notion that they simply can’t do it on their own that sealed their fate. The Iranian revolution has to be seen as a step in the direction of a multi-polar world order because it offered an alternative to superpower politics. In fact, the Cold War in Iran ended with the revolution.

KZ: The United States and Israel have long advocated a regime change in Iran and used every opportunity to sabotage Iran’s security by supporting terrorist groups such as PJAK and MKO or assassinating Iranian scientists and high-profile politicians. Don’t you believe that those Iranians living in Diaspora who support these American-Israeli efforts are betraying the cause of their compatriots living in Iran?

AA: To my mind, those fanatical opposition activists who cheer everything that is going wrong in Iran are delusional. They deserve compassion, not vitriol. Exile has a strange effect on the mind. It creates a dangerous duality. In terms of their mental habitat, many exiles continue to live in Iran. Yet because they are not there, everything that happens there appears in slow motion to them. They can’t keep up. You can take the individual from Iran, but you can’t take Iran out of the individual. Iran is like a magnetic nodal point that draws you in. It is really difficult to escape the lure of the country. Now if the duality of the exiled mind is not tempered with a good dose of reason, it creates a split personality, cultural schizophrenia in Dariush Shayegan’s words.

The idea that “they” have taken away “my” country from “me” turns into the idea that I have the right to take it back now. Iran is traded as a commodity that can be owned, rather than a bond that we all have to invest in, in order to yield results that are non-discriminatory. I don’t think, however, that any Iranian condones the murder of innocent scientists in their homeland.

There aren’t many of those delusional opposition activists left really, apart from the handful who have set up their satellite TV stations in their basement and who don’t really have serious influence on anything that is being said and written about Iran. But ideally, even they would be included in an extended parenthesis behind the meaning of contemporary Iran which would safeguard the right to contribute to the future of the country. Such a vast parenthesis would encompass all of those who identify themselves as Iranian, irrespective of political orientation, ethnic background, religious loyalties etc.

You are an Iranian if you say so, who am I to deny you the right to be one? Such an understanding of Iran as an open ended idea has a central function: It turns the politics of the country, including the dialectic between the Diaspora and Iranians living in Iran, from an antagonistic mode to an agonistic process of mutual acceptance, from the zero-sum politics of today, to the positive-sum policies of tomorrow, from the vilification of the political enemy to the acceptance of him/her as a legitimate competitor. The Iranian self, the “khodi” has always been cosmopolitan and politically promiscuous. Unless this reality is accepted, the politics of the country will be decided on a limited ground that does not encompass the transnational vastness of the meaning of Iran. After all, Iran transcends, that much we can all agree upon. Hence, a politics of transcendence, the maximal autonomisation of the meaning of Iran is merited.

KZ: The European Union has recently taken the name of MKO off its list of terrorist organizations. Moreover, MKO was legalized in the United Kingdom on 24 June 2008, six months after winning a court battle over its legality. The U.S. congressmen are also making efforts to persuade the government to remove MKO from its terror list. What’s your estimation of this action? Isn’t it contrary to the claims of the American and European politicians who usually boast of their loyalty to the Iranian people and their support for the freedom and democracy movement in the country?

AA: Of course it is. The MKO is a terrorist sect with rigid organisational structures that would make any fascist rise in applause. But why is the case against Iran easier to build than the case against other countries, for instance Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia or Nicaragua, states that are allied to Iran? This is the real question that the political elites in Iran need to address. And then there is a second responsibility for what is happening: The primary reason why the MKO can act is the vacuum left behind by Iranian diplomacy in the last years. We can’t start the analysis with the effect. We have to look at the causes. Where are the cultural attaches protesting against the activities of the MKO? Where are their outlines for concerted PR campaigns that would reveal the atrocities that the MKO committed? How many international conferences have been organised on the links between the MKO and Saddam Hussein? Why is this little organisation an issue in the first place?

What is needed in order to safeguard Iran’s national interest is a politics of friendship and reconciliation that stretches as far as possible to the realms of international diplomacy: state to state, state to society, and most importantly civil society to civil society. The dialogue between societies encapsulates the true essence of the term dawat that was so central to the libertarian aspects of the Islamic revolution. Inviting the ‘Other’ to listen is a virtue. Obviously an invitation requires a language that is empathetic rather than confrontational. As a Persian proverb has it: betamarg, beshin and befarma all mean sit down, but the polite befarma will probably yield the best reaction.

KZ: And my final question is about the prospect of Green Movement in Iran. I strongly believe that the United States and European countries betrayed the Green Movement by explicitly supporting it and giving the hardliners an excuse to associate this reformist movement with the U.S. and Israel. The Western mainstream media also played their own role in this betrayal by portraying Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi as opposition leaders, while they were simply reformist candidates who wanted to implement soft reforms within Iran’s current political establishment, not opposition leaders who wanted to subvert the regime. What’s your idea?

AA: I don’t see the causal link between western policies and/or media representations and events in Iran. The politics of the country has its own dynamics. There is too much focus on what the media in the ‘west’ says, as if a journalist in New York has more power to decide the future of Iran than a university student in Tehran. Here, I disagree with post-colonial theorists and the Radical Left who keep telling us that imperial power is all-encompassing. To believe that, is not only analytically flawed but it creates a dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy. As for the Green Movement: it is the reincarnation of previous reform outfits such as the Second Khordad movement named after the date Mohammad Khatami was elected President.

It is the surface effect of the demands of Iranian civil society which will continue to be articulated beyond personalities such as Mousavi and Karroubi who themselves are merely the effects of those demands for reform. And you are right to say that these are calls for reforms to the Islamic Republic and not for a fundamentally new order. At the height of the demonstrations I wrote that they did not amount to a revolution. Most people disagreed. When it comes to the Iran story the degree of hypocrisy and opportunism is staggering, sometimes it is depressing. But one shouldn’t feel helpless in the face of the colossal lies that are being printed about Iran. There is room to resist and to fight for the truth. To my mind, this is primarily an intellectual jihad which requires research, patience and a good dose of cross-cultural empathy. It is not enough to speak truth to power from the outside any anymore. It is necessary to perfect resistance strategies that penetrate power from within. And isn’t this what the brave activists from Tahrir Square in Cairo to Syntagma Square in Athens are demanding as we speak?

Posted in IranComments Off on The allegation that Iran is developing nuclear weapons is a mirage

Fukushima Radiation 1,000 Times H-Bomb Peak

NOVANEWS

Nuclear detonation Nuclear Defense Agency

Dr Chris Busby Speaks with the Japanese People

by Bob Nichols

(San Francisco) – Dr. Chris Busby, world famous physicist, said tests run at the respected Harwell Radiation Laboratory in England demonstrate the airborne radiation in Japan is 1,000 times higher than radioactive “fallout” at the peak in 1963 of H-Bomb detonations by the nuclear powers. The calculations were on radioactive Cesium 137.

Busby certifies the poisonous, radioactive Japanese air to be at least 300 times worse than the air during the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster. Dr Janette Sherman, a highly respected physician and an acknowledged expert in radiation exposure, has estimated the world wide Chernobyl Kill to be at least one million people killed to date. The Chernobyl Disaster occurred April 26, 1986.

Dr. Busby obtained donated car air filters from vehicles in Fukushima and Chiba Prefectures as well as from Tokyo, Japan. Busby stated the radiation per cubic meter of air in Japan was calculated by knowing the size of the engines and the number of miles driven.

The estimates must be considered as conservative or low since the smallest particles go through the car air filters and emerge from the car’s exhaust. The smallest radioactive particles simply go through a human’s skin or go to the bottom of a human’s lungs and stay there. The poison radiates cells within a range extending 20 cells deep in all directions. The dead and dying or mutated cells become cancers and hundreds of other radiation related diseases.

The earth’s few nuclear states detonated a total of 2,045 Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs. During the period before international treaties shut them down, the US detonated more than 1,300 nuclear weapons “tests,” first in Japan at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, next in the South Pacific, then largely in Nevada, USA. The Nevada site is in the South Western US 60 miles, or 96.5 km, from Las Vegas.

The H-Bomb fallout spread first northeastward with the prevailing winds; then went around the world. Yes, the US Department of Energy, DOE, lists the unwarranted Atomic Bomb attack at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan as “Tests”.

In 1963 the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was passed by the US Senate and most of the countries of the world. The ban extended to above ground atmospheric nuclear detonations only. However, some 25% of the underground detonations broke through to the surface or “vented”.

The on-going world wide nuclear slaughter would all make more sense if the massive war-like Fukushima Daiichi nuclear onslaught was an attack by Aliens from outer space. But no, there is no explanation as simple as that. This “kill them all” effect is a result of decisions of some amongst us, military elites and the richest corporations worldwide.

The lethal radioactive result, or Fukushima Kill, enveloping the world is unmistakable and inevitable, though.

Responsibility, Revenge and Punishment

What can we do to those who are killing us; and, for those no longer breathing, those already killed?

Well, first, we do know our murderers’ names and everything about them is in multiple public records in many countries all over the world. They can’t hide. They are much too egotistical to even try.

Officially they are grouped together as the Tokyo Electric Power Company and the General Electric Company. Strong and powerful as companies, they are weak and fearful of the wrath of the people in countries throughout the world.

Let us first Shun Them in the Old Way. That means to have nothing whatsoever to do with them either in business or private life. To us, they are dead.

Then the world can move to extract vengeance according to the Rule of Law. In the American Wild West of the Old Days it was called “Give them a trial then Hang’em – all legal like.”

Vengeance and Revenge for killing many millions of us with stationary nuclear weapons – leaking atomic reactors – shall be ours. Let’s wipe the Tokyo Electric Power Company and the General Electric officials and policy makers off the face of the Earth, as they manifestly deserve.
[End]

Sources and Notes:

Dr. Busby’s Data comparing radiation levels from the radioactive peak of atmospheric nuclear weapon detonations to Chernobyl and Fukushima.

As Measured at Harwell by British Radiation Laboratory and representing the Northern Hemisphere atmospheric level they reported Cesium 137 was 2.4 milliBecquerel per cubic meter. At the peak of the Chernobyl Radiation Disaster and Explosion the atmospheric radiation level was was 10 milliBecquerel per Kg of air, which is about a cubic Meter. A cubic meter of air weighs 1.189 kg.

Car air filters from Fukushima Prefecture, Chiba Prefecture and Tokyo, show the atmospheric level of Cesium 137 in June, 2011 for Cesium 137 was  2.7 Becquerels per cubic meter.

The Fukushima, Japan atmospheric radiation levels are 1000 times higher than at the peak of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb atmospheric testing in 1963.

Measured Cesium 137 radiation from Chiba Prefecture, about 140 km from Fukushima, was 300 times higher than at the peak of atmospheric testing.

Prof. Kodama Angry about Japanese Gov.’s Gross Negligence (Part 1)

Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama is the head of the Radioisotope Center at the University of Tokyo. On July 27, he appeared as a witness to give testimony to the Committee on Welfare and Labor in Japan’s Lower House in the Diet.

“After 3 months, … I am shaking with anger.”

Prof. Kodama Angry about Japanese Gov.’s Gross Negligence (Part 2)

Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and Nature, written by A. V. Yablokov, V. B. Nesterenko and A. V. Nesterenko, published by the New York Academy of Sciences in December 2009, translated and edited into a book by Dr. Janette Sherman. Dr. Sherman’s Website. janettesherman.com/about
From Dr Sherman’s website: janettesherman.com/books

“This is a collection of papers translated from the Russian with some revised and updated contributions. Written by leading authorities from Eastern Europe, the volume outlines the history of the health and environmental consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. Although there has been discussion of the impact of nuclear accidents and Chernobyl in particular, never before has there been a comprehensive presentation of all the available information concerning the health and environmental effects of the low dose radioactive contaminants, especially those emitted from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Official discussions from the International Atomic Energy Agency and associated United Nations’ agencies (e.g. the Chernobyl Forum reports) have largely downplayed or ignored many of the findings reported in the Eastern European scientific literature and consequently have erred by not including these assessments.”

Nuclear detonation picture courtesy of Nuclear Defense Agency.

Copyright 2011 by Bob Nichols. All right reserved. Distribute with Notes and credit. Bob Nichols can be reached at duweapons@gmail.com

Posted in Health10 Comments

Report: Zio-Nazi’s new Mossad chief behind assassination of Iran nuclear scientist

NOVANEWS

German weekly Der Spiegel, quoting an Zio-Nazi intelligence source, says last week’s shooting was first ‘public operation’ orchestrated by Tamit Prado.

Zio-Nazi’s Mossad is behind the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist last week, the German weekly Der Spiegel reported, quoting “a source in IsraHell’s intelligence community.”

Last week, Dariush Rezaeinejad, a 35-year-old member of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was shot dead by two gunmen firing from motorcycles. This is the fourth attack on an Iranian nuclear scientist in the past year. In the previous cases, Iranian media outlets and spokesmen accused the Mossad, the CIA and MI6 of being behind the strikes.

“This was the first public operation of the new Mossad chief Tamir Pardo,” an IsraHell intelligence official reportedly told Der Spiegel.

The report also claimed that there is a fierce debate in IsraHell over the efficiency of such assassinations and it also stated that Zio-Nazi Air Force officers have stepped up their calls to bomb Iran’s nuclear reactor.

“Mossad experts have long believed that the best way to delay the progress of Iran’s nuclear program is by assassinating key targets involved in its development and by striking Iran’s nuclear reactors – but it is unclear when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will listen to these suggestions,” the article said.

The man, who was killed last Saturday, was initially identified by state-run media as Darioush Rezaei, a physics professor and expert in neutron transport. The media then backtracked, with officials subsequently naming him as Dariush Rezaeinejad, an electronics PhD student.

Foreign officials contacted by the Associated Press have verified the name, but say that Rezaeinedjad participated in developing high-voltage switches, a key component that is crucial to setting off the explosions needed to trigger a nuclear warhead.

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Abusive cult discovered in Jerusalem

NOVANEWS

Police uncover gross exploitation of children, women embroiled in Jerusalem-based religious cult

ynet

The case, which according to police sources is “one of the most severe abuse cases of recent years”, was initially placed under a comprehensive gag order. On Tuesday afternoon, the court modified the order to allow for the partial release of its details.

The cult in question centers around one man who married six women. According to police sources, the suspects sexually, physically and emotionally abused the leader’s children for years, as well as all of the female members of the cult.

The cult leader has 15 sons and daughters, 11 of whom are his biological children. All have been removed from their home and placed under care of social services.

The investigation into the cult began when social workers received a complaint by one of the women embroiled in the cult, alleging abuse.

A subsequent police search of the premises uncovered further evidence to substantiate the complaint, including restraints, electric tasers, and wooden rods.

The police also uncovered personal journals detailing the horror, as well as medical documents from various clinics and hospitals where the children’s injuries were treated.

The evidence suggests that the children, who were all home-schooled by the cult leader, were virtual prisoners in their home and were subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse by the male members of the cult.

The female members of the cult – both the leader’s six wives and the wives of other members, were also physically and sexually abused by the leader.

‘Leader delegated abuse duties’

According to Jerusalem Police Chief-Superintendent Shlomo Dai, who heads the investigation, the women and children were subjected to severe punishment, starvation, humiliation, and sexual abuse. “This is one of the gravest cases I’ve come across,” he said.

It is believed that the cult’s leader carried out most of the abuse personally, and that he also “delegated” the responsibility to his “deputy” and his wives, who themselves were victims of abuse.

The investigation further revealed that the leader’s “deputy” – described in some of the journals as the “primordial snake” and “the devil” – executed “punishments” decreed by the cult leader, when he was unable to do so himself.

The “deputy” joined the cult several years ago, after he and his wife sought marital advice from the prime suspect.

Following their sessions with the cult’s leader, the couple joined the cult, divorced, and the woman became one of the leader’s wives.

A third man – who proclaimed himself the cult leader’s “successor” – joined the cult 18 months ago with his wife and son. It is believed he had somewhat of a lesser part in the abuse.

In his initial interrogation, the cult’s leader admitted most of the acts attributed to him, but alleged they were all consensual. He has since asserted his right to remain silent.

The “deputy” denied the allegations against him, while the third man said he only heard the abuse and was never part of it. Both men have since asserted their right to remain silent.

The three are represented by attorneys Giora Zilberstein, Benny Nahari, Elad Rhat and Yaakov Lerer.

‘Horrifying case’

“This is a horrifying case which crosses every red line,” Social Affairs Minister Moshe Kahlon said Tuesday.

“The Social Affairs Ministry and the police will continue to fight against the abuse of women and children. The ministry battles the harmful phenomenon of cults on a daily basis.”

Kahlon congratulated the police for arresting the cult’s leader, “I expect the legal system to send an unequivocal message of zero-tolerance for such cases,” he added.

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger issued the following statement: “I was gripped by terror and chills to hear about this horrid affair. The Torah condemns such people and Judaism shrinks from such loathsome behavior.

“I entreat chief rabbis to be wakeful and wary of such cases within their communities,” he said.

The State Prosecutor’s Office is expected to indict the three men on multiple counts of enslavement, abuse of a helpless minor, aggravated assault, imprisonment, and sexual abuse.

Each of the women has been assigned two social workers and each of the children has been assigned a caseworker.

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Zio-Nazi Police busts ultra-Orthodox cult suspected of abusing women and children

NOVANEWS

Nine cult members arrested in undercover investigation responding to complaint submitted to young woman; cult allegedly carried out abuse, including rape, over a two-year period.

Haaretz

Israel Police, in cooperation with Jerusalem district officers and social services, arrested nine members of a cult living in Jerusalem and in the Tiberias area over the past few weeks, on suspicion of carrying out emotional and physical abuse of women and children over a two year period,

An undercover investigation into the cult was initiated following a complaint submitted by a young women to Jerusalem Police two and half months ago. The details of the arrests were revealed on Tuesday.

The investigation was uncovered at the beginning of July following a raid that police carried out for social services on the residences of cult members, two in Jerusalem and on  in Tiberias.

During that raid, police arrested an ultra-Orthodox man from the Bratslav sect suspected of leading the cult; the suspect is unofficially married to six women, most of them divorced with children.

The man allegedly sent the women and the children to various parts of the country to collect money for maintenance of the cult, as well as putting on shows featuring children in order to collect funds for the group.

Another suspect was arrested as the alleged right-hand man of the cult leader, as was a third suspected of filling in on occasion for the cult leader. The three are suspected of carrying out serious physical and sexual abuse, including rape, on some of the women and children.

The main three suspectswill be presented with indictments tomorrow on charges of imprisonment, abuse, serious sexual abuse and slavery, Jerusalem Police said.

Deputy Director of Jerusalem Social Services, Menachem Geshel, said that this was the most serious serious case he had ever come across in all the years he has worked in social services.

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CHUTZPAH–Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer fundraise on Norway attack

NOVANEWS

America’s most virulent anti-Islam bloggers continue attacking all Muslims, accuse terror victims of anti-Semitism

By Alex Pareene, Salon .com

As a writer, it sure sucks when someone murders a bunch of people based on your ideas. (I mean, I assume that sucks. Weirdly, it’s never happened to me.) So you can understand why right-wing anti-Islam bloggers are all being kind of defensive, these days.

Anders Breivik, the anti-Islam terrorist who killed 77 people in Norway on July 22, read a lot of American anti-Islam bloggers, many of whom he cited in his lengthy manifesto. Breivik’s favorites included Robert Spencer, a self-proclaimed expert on Islam whose “Jihad Watch” blog was quoted and cited in Breivik’s manifesto, and Spencer’s ally and collaborator Pam Geller, whose “Atlas Shrugs” was similarly recommended by the killer.

So some people have been like, “hey, wow guys, a crazy person took everything you write so seriously that he murdered a bunch of people, in the name of protecting his nation from the creeping ‘Islamization’ of Europe that you guys constantly crow about, maybe you guys should stop and think for a minute about the horrible, hateful things you all write, all the time.” And Spencer and Geller have basically screeched back, “CENSORSHIP!!!!!”

They are now actually fundraising on the fact that they helped inspire a massacre. Or more accurately, they’re begging for money to protect them from the imaginary witch hunt that they claim the liberals will mount. (Is this part of the witch hunt? I am always confused about whether I’m witch-hunting or not, when I call people horrid hateful bigots.) Spencer also signed Geller’s fundraising blog, and if you donate more than $500 to Atlas Shrugs, ThinkProgress reports, they will send you a signed copy of Geller’s book, “Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance.” (I assume a coordinated terror attack against radical Islam’s liberal enablers is written off in the pamphlet as impractical.)

People are not responsible for what crazy people do after reading their blog posts for years, obviously (though inciting fear of and hatred for ethnic and religious minority groups tends to be the sort of speech with the bloodiest track record), and Pamela Geller never called on anyone to go out and murder some liberals, to save us from the Islamists. But she has now stopped just short of justifying the attacks, after the fact!

Adam Serwer notes the strong ‘they had it coming’ vibe in Geller’s latest on Norway. From Geller’s post:

But the more that is revealed about that youth indoctrination center, the more grotesque the whole story becomes. Of course, the genocidal leftists will twist what I write here; I am not condoning the slaughter in Norway or anywhere. I abhor violence (except in regard to self defense). But the jihad-loving media never told us what antisemitic war games they were playing on that island. Utoya Island is a Communist/Socialist campground, and they clearly had a pro-Islamic agenda.

Only the malevolent media could use the euphemism summer camp and get away with it.

The slaughter was horrific. What these kids were being taught and instructed to do was a different kind of grotesque. There is no justification for Breivik’s actions whatsoever. There is also no justification for Norway’s antisemitism and demonization of Israel.

Those are pretty perfunctory disclaimers against violence. Those dead people clearly had a pro-Islamic agenda! “Antisemitic war games” makes the victims sound like … soldiers preparing to attack Israel, making violence against them conceivably an act of “defense of Israel,” which is, of course, a justification for violence that in Geller’s world is indistinguishable from “self-defense.”

It may surprise you to learn that Geller feels any shame, ever, but she did delete the blatantly racist photo caption that originally accompanied the post. The faces of the camp attendees look, to Geller, “more Middle Eastern or mixed than pure Norwegian.” (!) In other words: I abhor violence, but these pro-Islamofascist soldiers were being trained by the Commie-Nazis to destroy Israel, also they look sorta Arab, right?

So! Please remember how horribly these guys are reacting to what should be a moment of shameful self-reflection for them, the next time you see them cited in some newspaper editorial or interviews on Fox or something.

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Netanyahu seeks to preempt Palestinian statehood initiative w/ plan that entails settlements and ‘Jewish state’ preconditions

Aug 01, 2011

Philip Weiss

Israeli television is reporting that Netanyahu is going out with a peace plan that refers to the ’67 borders, apparently in an effort to stem the Palestinian bid for statehood at the U.N. I’m told that the plan is much like a US plan given to the Quartet in July, which Daniel Levy described last week at Foreign Policy– yes referring to the ’67 lines but annulling them by asserting that settlements must be part of the future Israeli state. The draft also says that Israel is the state of the Jewish people. And honors Israel’s refusal to negotiate with the new Palestinian unity government!

Below are accounts of the news at AP and Reuters, and then Levy’s description of the U.S. draft plan.

Associated Press:

In a speech about the Middle East in May [May 19], Obama proposed negotiations based on the pre-1967 line with agreed swaps of territory between Israel and a Palestinian state. Netanyahu reacted angrily, insisting that Israel would not withdraw from all of the West Bank, though that was not what Obama proposed.

Now Netanyahu is basically accepting that framework, according to Channel 2 TV, offering to trade Israeli territory on its side of the line for West Bank land where its main settlements are located.

The official [who confirmed the TV report to AP], who has been briefed on the talks, spoke on condition of anonymity because the contacts are still in progress. He said he would not deny the TV report, while refusing to confirm the specifics. He emphasized that Israel would not withdraw from all of the West Bank.

“We are willing in a framework of restarting the peace talks to accept a proposal that would contain elements that would be difficult for Israel and we would find very difficult to endorse,” he said, answering a question about the Obama proposal.

Part of the reason, he said, was that Israel is seeking to persuade the Palestinians to drop their initiative to win U.N. recognition of their state next month, something the Palestinians are doing out of frustration with stalled peace efforts.

Palestinian officials said they had not received such a proposal from Israel.

Reuters:

Israel has told Middle East power brokers it was ready to discuss a proposed package on borders with Palestinians to help Western powers revive stalled peace talks, an Israeli official said Monday.

The official denied reports by Israeli and other media outlets that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had backed down from an earlier rejection of President Barack Obama’s proposal to negotiate a pullback to so-called 1967 borders.

But he suggested Netanyahu had signaled a new readiness to aid last-ditch U.S. and European efforts to renew talks frozen since last year in anticipation of a Palestinian threat to seek a unilateral United Nations mandate for statehood in September.

Levy in Foreign Policy:

The U.S. presented to its Quartet “partners” a suggested one page text that looked rather like an exercise in cherry picking Obama’s recent speeches by the Israeli Prime Minister’s office (given the recent traffic between Jerusalem and Washington and the end product it is reasonable to speculate that that is precisely what happened). The American pitch went something like the following: the proposed text is a reflection of the President’s speech, the Quartet had encouraged the President to give such a speech, the President had taken some political heat for the speech, the Quartet had even endorsed the speech (which it did in a May 20 statement), therefore the Quartet should now stand united behind the American draft, demonstrate to the Palestinians that they have no alternative but to accept the Quartet position, resume negotiations, and drop the U.N. idea. The text was quite clearly pre-cooked with the Israeli leadership, so no problem of acceptance from Israel.

Except that the U.S. text was not a faithful rendition of what the Quartet had endorsed — namely, the May 19 State Department speech of the president — but rather a hodgepodge of language from that speech, from the May 22 speech at the AIPAC conference, and of elements never before endorsed by the Quartet and even contradicting the existing positions of the EU and others. Hence the stalemate — and not altogether a shock given Jerusalem’s apparent co-authorship of the text.

So here are the details. To recap: President Obama’s May 19 speech spent 1,040 words addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Obama described the conflict, touched on Israeli and Palestinian aspirations, and made a case for a solution being more urgent than ever in the context of the Arab awakening. The President then made news when, in calling for a resumption of negotiations, he stated that “the basis of those negotiations is clear,” and then spent 170 words providing the parameters of a borders and security first approach to achieving two-states (his reference of the 1967 lines in particular drew attention). He closed out this part of the speech by saying “these principles provide a foundation for negotiations.” The U.S. draft proposal presented to the Quartet did include the President’s language from the May 19 speech, but it also included a whole lot more, all of it skewing, extremely uni-directionally, in Israel’s favor. To the simple May 19 border language of “based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps,” the U.S. added the following from the May 22 speech:

“The parties themselves will negotiate a border between Israel and Palestine that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967, to take account of changes that have taken place over the last 44 years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides.”

This is essentially America asking the Quartet to endorse illegal Israeli settlement activity that has taken place since 1967 (and in phrasing this as “the parties themselveswill negotiate a border…” the U.S. is deviating from its own previous policy of not dictating to the parties). Compare that to the official position of the European Union: “The European Union will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.”

Remember, the Quartet issued a statement endorsing the president’s May 19 speech; it has never endorsed the May 22 speech.

The U.S. text also included language about Israel that was spoken on both May 19 and May 22 but was not part of the principles or foundations for negotiations set out on May 19 (and it is these principles that the Quartet endorsed). As follows:

“A lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland of the Jewish people.”

Again, this is terminology that neither the EU nor the Quartet has endorsed in the past.

Of you, everything around reminds me

Aug 01, 2011

Yousef M. Aljamal

כל דבר מסביבי מזכיר לי אותך

In Limbo, I loved to live and carry on. In love, I fell with him. He was everything to me, a brother, a friend, a man, a shaman. All efforts and time I have exerted, by doing my best to spend the rest of my life without him, were in vain. They ended up with failure. He follows me everywhere I go like a shadow, a destiny. His picture appears to me wherever I direct my eyes. He is not dead.

The street, the room, the moon, the school, his books and notes, his old friends, his pictures while smiling, Baba and our new born youngest brother remind me of him. Every day I leave home and see his friends, who insist on reminding me of him, I forget him not. Everywhere, I see him, I feel him.

The other day as I was making some potatoes to kill my hunger, he approached and asked for some. I refused. Someone pressured me; I accepted. It was by sunset when he added sugar to the potatoes instead of salt, mistakenly. Remembering him doing so unintentionally adds insult to my great injury for losing him, intentionally. Trying to forget him reminds me of him again and again.

A riddle: who is he?

It would be no exaggeration to say that he was my past, present and future. He was the one who corrected me, preached me and sometimes got mad at me. I wish that he could live longer to get mad at me more and more. He was not an ordinary man. His life was short and swift as summer’s clouds. Life without him, to me, is as long as eternity.

He was the salt of this land, the hope of hopeless and the relief of souls, the helping hand of powerless and the smile of those who always burst into tears in wars, for losing their beloved. I still remember him coming to his friends and throwing a kettle of tea at them. They escaped, however it was empty!

Had not the murderers thought of all these merits before claiming his life by the dawn? They would not. I bet. They were asked to shoot to kill. I assure. It was not enough for them to murder him in darkness. They were not satisfied with this. Now, they are carrying out a new war against us, a war on our memories to forget their crime. We insist not to forget. We will not forget. We will remember him twice, YES, twice.

We lived for a while together in love. Today, I look around, I don’t see him. Eye and heart weep for him. Sadness winds as a storm. His love nests at my heart and will never leave. Hours in waiting for him lasts days. We, Palestinians, are used to wait. We wait our beloved to return, our injury to be hailed and our tears to be draught on our cheeks before enemies see them. We wait for the crossing to be open, the permission to be issued, the bullet to be fired at us and FREEDOM and JUSTICE to prevail. Brother, Will not you return back along with freedom? Hopefully, I am still waiting for you, period.

Crossposted at Yousef M. Aljamal’s blog He who is brave is free

At Daily Kos, ‘cyclonbabe’ says the Israel/Palestine issue has split the progressive movement

Aug 01, 2011

annie

We’ve run a few posts responding to the banning of Mondoweiss from the popular website Daily Kos.Weiss response. And mine. Well yesterday I lifted another comment straight out of the ‘diary’ where the announcement of the banning occurred. I urge everyone to open the link and view the hostile response to this comment. I’m posting it here because I agree with cyclonbabe, I think the Israel/Palestine issue threatens to split the progressive movement right up the middle. The Mondo ban is a polarizing move and I believe America’s support for Zionism continues to rip and tear at the foundation of our democracy.

MW is one of the Best sites on the web

by cyclonbabe

It is one of the few that has not given in to the angry posse of defenders of the indefensible, MW provides a living record of the slow, painful take over of the West Bank, the strangulation of Gaza, the colonialist-settlement xenophobic movement that’s taking over Israel, aided and abetted by the israel-right-or-wrong crowd in the US and elsewhere. true to the historical task that good jewish people took upon themselves throughout history, MW is bearing witness to a slowly advancing horror show, one in which the jewish people of this country are deeply complicit.

By banning [parts of] MW the zionist hasbara does not want people to see, by taking sides with the ones who justify – or prefer to hide – the horrible things Israel is doing, the enormity of the human rights violations committed by – and supported by jewish people – MB – and DK have now taken sides. And in so doing open up the yawning gap that has been splitting up the progressive movement for a long time.

I expect that whatever McCarthyte policies take over in in Israel – which they are – as we all see – they will seed off-shoots in this country, as they are in canada and Australia, and we, who care about liberal values and human rights, will have to stand and watch as reactionary forces rip what they helped sow..

We, who resist the march of oppression and slide into the deepest darkness of the soul – the Conradian disintegration of morals and conscience now unfolding – should be prepared for what’s to come.

Unfortunately, the I/P issue has split the progressive movement already – and it is one of the reasons we can never have any real influence in this country. Just watch some of our “heroes” in congress and see them dangle, helpless, before the march of the know-nothing right. They – and us – and Obama – will all continue to be be cowed, because we are split right in the middle, because honesty and openness have been banished from our midst..

When a progressive like MB seeks to tar – and bar – a truly progressive exercise in progressive discourse like MW, then we should know that the center – our center, the Bernie Sanders center – cannot hold. Our energies, our donations, our discourse will be sapped. And there, in the breech – the crazy shall walk among among us. Look to washington politics if you really want to see what rabid, israel-firstism has wrought. m

(I’d like to add that I appreciate the opportunity to post these recent threads. Sometimes we miss opportunities to speak directly to progressives from the other side of this divide and I think I can speak for many supporters of this site in claiming this banning has provided an avenue for important discourse. I’m planning on making the most of it! signed, annie)

A representation of Israeli soldiers

Aug 01, 2011

Audrey Farber

If this is what happens to photographers who “misrepresent Israeli soldiers,” here is my rebuttal:

In the last eight or nine months, Nabi Saleh has become more and more the epicenter of military violence against non-violent protesters in the West Bank. In a situation where protesting is not just against the wall but against the very nature of the occupation, the soldiers have become more and more brazen in their aggression against the villagers and the protesters.

From the start, non-violent protesters are surrounded by heavily armed soldiers.

Tear gas is launched from army trucks blocking the road out of the village before anything other than marching and chanting has taken place.

The soldiers begin their game of cat-and-mouse.

Children are targeted, only temporarily at an advantage for better knowing shortcuts through the homes and streets of Nabi Saleh, a village on a hill.

The onslaught begins, and continues.

Soldiers try to force their way into a home…

…and watch the house from the outside. When it gets too crowded with protesters seeking refuge from the gas, they command the house be emptied.

A woman is chased back into her house; perhaps her garden is deemed closed military territory by the power-drunk young soldier in charge.

This was the last time I was allowed so close to him.

B’Tselem watches as his hand is checked for rocks. In a few minutes his father will have to present the soldier with the boy’s papers.

As the soldiers gain the upper hand in the maze of homes, they begin shooting from roofs rather than below walls.

A young Nabi Saleh boy shows me bullet casings he has found in the streets around his home left by weeks and weeks on end of soldiers. (And I thought West Philly was dangerous.)

A young man from Nabi Saleh drops to the ground. A tear gas canister has grazed the back of his head, and within minutes he will be surrounded by a pool of blood. Spent tear gas grenades litter the square around him. If you could see, not fifty yards to the left, a troop of soldiers stands with guns at the ready. I stand in their way, in front of the fallen, banking on the fact that 1. I am white, 2. I am a girl, and 3. I have a camera.

All photos are from Nabi Saleh, December 17, 2010. All photos are my own.

This is a crosspost from Audrey Farber’s blog.

Is Yerushalmi’s motive for anti-Shariah campaign his contempt for Palestinians, ‘a murderous non-People’? ‘NYT’ can’t touch it

Aug 01, 2011

Philip Weiss

Over the weekend, there was a long, somewhat-helpful piece in the Times about David Yerushalmi, the Hasidic Jew who is leading the campaign against supposed “Shariah law” in the U.S., a campaign that demonizes Muslims. But the article left me wondering: how much of Yerushalmi’s campaign has to do with Israel, and why doesn’t the Times ever go near that angle? Reporter Andrea Elliott does write:

His interest in Islamic law began with the Sept. 11 attacks, he said, when he was living in Ma’ale Adumim, a large Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. At the time, Mr. Yerushalmi, a native of South Florida, divided his energies between a commercial litigation practice in the United States and a conservative research institute based in Jerusalem, where he worked to promote free-market reform in Israel. After moving to Brooklyn the following year, Mr. Yerushalmi said he began studying Arabic and Shariah under two Islamic scholars, whom he declined to name. He said his research made clear that militants had not “perverted” Islamic law, but were following an authoritative doctrine that sought global hegemony…

If you want to know what Yerushalmi thinks about Israel and the occupied territories he lived in, you have to go to other sources. Richard Silverstein says that Yerushalmi is a Kahanist. He writes:

Even Yerushalmi’s name is fake.  His family birth name is Beychok, born of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants to America.  To be clear, I’m not saying that Yerushalmi’s legal name isn’t that.  I’m talking about the underlying motivations regarding Jewish nationalist identity that are involved in such a name change.  Yerushalmi means “from Jerusalem.”  Yerushalmi is as much a resident of Jerusalem as I am.  He doesn’t live in Jerusalem nor do I.  Let me make clear that I have no problem with Jewish olim changing their name once they move to Israel, taking Hebrew names such as Yerushalmi.  But to do so when you live in America is pure preciousness.  He wants to tell you that he supports the settler concept of the eternal inviolability of Jerusalem as a Jewish city and capital.  He wants to tell you he believes in the whole nine yards of ultra-Orthodox extremism regarding God’s sacred gift of all of the Land of Israel to the entire Jewish people in perpetuity.)

And here is Paul Berger writing in The Forward about Yerushalmi a couple weeks back and making it clear that Yerushalmi is a Jewish fundamentalist on his view of the “chosen people.”  Berger found a 2007 article by Yerushalmi that says:

“One must admit readily that the radical liberal Jew is a fact of the West and a destructive one. Indeed, Jews in the main have turned their backs on the belief in G-d and His commandments as a book of laws for a particular and chosen people. These Jews, the overwhelming majority, have embraced modernity in its entirety.”

I found that Yerushalmi article here, and it’s clear that the dude is a wild-eyed zealot on Israel– and that he (like me) regards the Palestinian issue as a core issue between the west and Asia.

…Jimmy Carter’s (yes, Jimmy Carter’s!) analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian problem is a heroic effort to detach reality from the blanket of lies and deceptions known as the Israeli response to the Palestinians. In what one might describe as a curious oddity, a non-People with the most murderous of intentions created almost single-handedly by the 20th century’s greatest terrorist has become the cause célèbre of white Christian and non-Christian conservatives. For these conservatives, much like the Jew hating Leftists, the Palestinians and their righteous claim for national political existence has been despicably denied them because Jews ran from Europe during and after the Second World War to take land which they had not occupied in any real way since the destruction of the Second Temple. And the kicker for this brand of conservative is that but for the presence and despicable behavior of the Zionists, the West would be living quite peaceably with the 1.3 billion Muslims the world over.

If you are reading this essay and don’t understand this position is so contrary to fact that it can only be plausibly described as blindness, then either you know nothing of the history of this region or of the people and faiths which populate it, which in and of itself says much given its centrality in our lives, or you too are blinded to what should be obvious to any serious and reasonable mind.

…[The] Leftist or Elitist critique… reduces its claims to one of two positions on the Jewish State: either the Jews have no business in Palestine and that this vicious, murderous non-people of clans and tribes known as Palestinians do; or, the Jews might have some right to a small, indefensible Jewish State but the Palestinian claim is “equally” valid and the UN vote on the Partition Plan was the world’s resolution of these equally competing claims and therefore Israel ought to retreat to the original borders determined by the world body in a democratic vote or minimally to the pre-1967 armistice lines.

I would argue, although I will not do more than merely assert it to be so here, that for a Christian to take the position that the Jewish homeland is not Israel or that it is not even what is derisively described as “Greater Israel” is something akin to a positive result on a Litmus test for the dark forces which have themselves contributed over the years of the Jewish Diaspora to the problem we all face today with Jewish liberalism.

It is clear that the Jewish right to the land of Palestine is at the heart of Yerushalmi’s thinking. You have to wonder whether his anti-Shariah campaign was motivated by his hatred for Palestinians (much as Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz’s shift to neoconservatism in the 70s came out of concern over what the Democratic Party threatened to Israel).

The Times reporter says she spent hours talking to Yerushalmi. Too bad that the New York Times won’t turn the page on this angle.

(It’s not unlike this July 24 piece by Scott Shane that mentions Islamophobic writers Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller without citing their views on Israel, which are core in Geller’s case.)

Hanin Zoabi: ”irrational racism’ is part of the new ruling consensus in Israel . . . It’s a psychological ethnic cleansing.’

Aug 01, 2011

Kate

MK Zoabi: Racism is part of the ruling consensus in Israel
AIC 31 July — “When it comes to the rights of Palestinians in Israel, there is no difference between opposition and coalition.” The AIC interviews MK Hanin Zoabi, who is concerned that racism has become part of Israeli national consensus, and everything outside of this must now be criminalized.

And more news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Israel continues to plough through Salfit farmlands
SALFIT (PIC) 31 July — Israeli bulldozers have continued to plough through farmland in the northern West Bank province of Salfit, locals said. They reported that bulldozers have been leveling land and crushing boulders round the clock to pave the way for roads to be built near 19 nearby Jewish settlements. Also being excavated is land on the western side of Salfit city as well as in the towns of Kafr al-Deik, Deir Istya, and Burqin, where new industrial building and expansion is taking place. The area is known by settlers as West Ariel, which lies near an Israeli industrial area called Burkan. Crushing machines have been brought to the site to break down stones for the manufacture of raw materials used to pave the roads and also to pave the way for building more settlement units and large-scale factories.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd8

Israeli unit raids Wadi Hilweh, one arrested
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 31 July —  An Israeli special forces unit raided Wadi Hilweh this evening, arresting a 14-year old boy. Hamoudeh Raid Siyam was taken from his house by officers, who were aided in the operation by settler bodyguards who are active in the region. Siyam was taken to the City of David archaeological settlement before he was transferred to a police centre for interrogation. Israeli units currently remain posted outside an Elad-linked settlement in Wadi Hilweh district of Silwan.
link to silwanic.net

Silwan resident run over by military jeep, clashed sparked
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 31 July — An Israeli military jeep ran over an elderly Silwan resident last night, who was then prevented from receiving medical attention by soldiers. Witnesses state that Ahmed Malhi, 51, was deliberately run over by an Israeli jeep at 11pm last night. Soldiers were then reported to have threatened residents with arrest when they tried to approach Malhi to offer their assistance. Malhi had been on his way home to Al-Farouq district near Jabal al-Mukaber when the jeep ran over him in Bir Ayyub district. The attack sparked violent clashes between local youth and Israeli soldiers, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd
link to silwanic.net

Military raids village, one kidnapped and one wounded
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 31 July  — A large force of Israeli troops and undercover officers stormed Silwan last night, kidnapping a local man.Mazen Odeh, 23, who was shot by Israeli settler guards last year, was seized by troops. Several other unidentified minors were reported arrested. Israeli forces fired live ammunition and sound grenades at local youth, who returned the attack with stones. At least one Palestinian resident was wounded
link to silwanic.net

Settlers

Settlers set fire to 150 dunums of Palestinian land in Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 31 July — Israeli settlers from the settlement of ‘Shvut Rahel,’ built on  Palestinian land in Jaloud, a village south of Nablus, set fire to 150 dunums of the village’s land Sunday, said Ghassan Doughlas, Palestinian official responsible for the settlement file in the northern West Bank. Doughlas said, “The fires are still burning in the Palestinian fields. This is not the first time that settlers attack these lands.”
link to english.wafa.ps

Israeli forces

Palestinian lady miscarries after choking on tear gas in in Al-Khalil
Al-KHALIL (PIC) 31 July — A Palestinian pregnant woman miscarried at dawn Saturday when tear gas grenades fell onto her home in the old city of Al-Khalil. Local sources said that Israeli troops during a raid on Palestinian neighborhoods in the old city fired without reason a heavy barrage of tear gas grenades randomly and some of them fell on the house of this woman. They said the woman miscarried after she choked on tear gas and was rushed to hospital for medical treatment.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd

VIDEO: September’s hope? / Tamar Fleishman, Machsom Watch
Palestine Chronicle 29 July — …One afternoon at Bir Zeit checkpoint: …An hour and a half after this event started, the commander ordered the women and children to load off the bus. They now arranged another line up. They were ordered to place their IDs on the ground and to empty their bags. At that point the soldiers realized that they hadn’t yet preformed a physical inspection on the men- each and every one of them was now inspected: shirts, shoes, belts, pockets… What else? The uniformed men had a brainstorm and came up with the idea that Yusef (the driver) should perform the “Neighbor Procedure” (an action forbidden by international and Israeli law). He was told to unload all the language, the shopping bags, and all students backpacks- anything that was inside the bus. He was told to open, to shack, to browse: new clothes , personal belongings, books, note books, new shoe boxes … it was a real and endless fest of violation of privacy, and it was all done in the name of security. [See VIDEO here]
http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=17014

Activism

Israeli commander says he’s waiting for one stone so his soldiers can f*** this village up / Joseph Dana, Frank Tamimi Kahn
31 July — Great photos and tweets from al-Walaja
link to occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com

6 activists arrested near Bethlehem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 July — Israeli border guards detained six protesters Monday in the occupied West Bank, activists said. The six demonstrators — three Israelis, one Palestinian, and two from abroad — were accused of throwing stones. The activists were protesting land confiscation to make room for Israel’s wall in the Walaja village northwest of Bethlehem.
link to www.maannews.net

Gaza

Egypt turns back Rafah travelers after Sinai clashes
Daily Star 31 July —  GAZA CITY: Egypt turned back 450 travellers seeking to cross at the Rafah border point after an attack on a Sinai police station, Hamas officials said on Sunday. The Hamas-run interior ministry said that the 450 would-be travelers, some of them patients seeking medical treatment, were turned back at the border on Saturday. Palestinians in Gaza have accused Egypt of creating unnecessary hold-ups at the crossing, the only one open to residents of the coastal territory, and the interior ministry said it had a backlog of some 30,000 travel applications. In a statement, the ministry gave no details on why the travellers were turned back, but the incident came after Egyptian forces arrested 12 men, including three Palestinians, in connection with an attack on a north Sinai police station. [and what was their excuse before?]
link to www.dailystar.com.lb

Crisis of medical supplies in Gaza shoots up
GAZA (PIC) 31 July — An official at the Palestinian health ministry said that the list of medical supplies that ran out in the Gaza Strip has risen to 180 types of medicines and 149 of medical disposables … Qudra criticized international human rights and health institutions for not moving swiftly to find radical solutions to the crisis that have plagued Gaza over the past five years and threatened the lives of patients. He pointed out that the latest victim of this crisis was five twins who suffer from lung atrophy and incomplete growth and they are in dire need for a vital injection to save their lives.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%

Lack of supplies, fuel threatens patients in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 July — Medical facilities in the Gaza Strip lack 180 types of medical items as well as fuel, a shortage that poses a real threat to healthcare in the enclave, a health ministry spokesman said Saturday … “The crisis is not limited to medications, as health facilities are suffering severe shortages of fuel that is allowed into Gaza and that are used to operate the generators, a deficit reaching 75 percent,” he said.  “The available amounts are barely enough for one or two days, especially with repeated blackouts threatening kidney [treatments] and intensive care, surgeries, open heart, catheterization and child incubation.” He added: “Electricity can’t be cut off from these departments.”
link to www.maannews.net

Cars from Egypt to be allowed into Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 July — The minister of transportation in Gaza said Sunday he would allow vehicles from Egypt to enter the enclave under certain conditions, in a bid to reduce the price of vehicles.
link to www.maannews.net

Army: 2 rockets fired from Gaza hit Israel
JERUSALEM (AFP) 31 July — Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel on Sunday, without causing any damage or injuries, the Israeli military said. The rockets fell in the southern regional councils of Pitchat Shalom and Shaar HaNegev, areas both bordering the Palestinian territory. The attack brought to 26 the number of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel since July 1, the military said. July has seen an uptick in the number of rockets and other projectiles fired at Israel from Gaza after several months of calm [calm for Israel, that is!] following a deadly flare-up of violence in April.
link to www.maannews.net

Miles of Smiles 4 expected in Gaza today
GAZA (PIC) 31 July — The humanitarian aid convoy Miles of Smiles 4 is slated to arrive in Gaza later Sunday carrying badly needed medical supplies and ambulance vehicles, Nael Al-Maqadma, the convoy’s coordinator said. The convoy carries a number of medicines that went out of stock in Gaza in addition to the special baby milk formula G19 for premature babies and buses for special needs.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87

Detention by Israel

Israeli prisons impose new sanctions on Palestinian prisoners
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 31 July — The Palestinian Center for Prisoners Studies said Sunday that Israeli prison administration has imposed new sanctions on Palestinian prisoners on the eve of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. The center said the prison administration did not respond to prisoners’ demands to distribute meals at the time of iftar, at sunset, when Muslims break their fast after fasting all day. Palestinians detained at Israeli Nafha prison said the prison administration has taken a number of oppressive decisions against them such as forbidding them from watching Arabic satellite TV channels, confiscating their university books, refusing to replace Jewish prisoners who cook the food with Palestinian prisoners and refusing to allow prisoners to take their break en masse to perform prayers in congregation, as is customary for Muslims each night in Ramadan.
link to english.wafa.ps

Ufree condemns new indictment filed against mayor’s daughter
OSLO (PIC) 30 July — The European network to support the Palestinian prisoners (Ufree) has condemned Israel’s continued detention of the 17-year-old daughter of the mayor of Al-Beira near the West Bank city of Ramallah. The statement comes as the Israeli military prosecutor has placed new charges against her and signs of torture inside the prison have surfaced on her person. The girl Bushra al-Tawil has been in Israeli custody for 25 days so far. She was abducted in a raid on her family’s home. The Israeli Ofer military court ruled Thursday for the release of Tawil as no condemning evidence had been presented against her. But the military prosecutor quickly intervened and introduced an entirely new indictment against her. It also ordered that she be kept in detention and appear before another judge.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcO

Power cut off at Negev prison
RAMALLAH (PIC) 31 July — The power has been cut off from the tents and cement rooms of the Israeli Negev prison as prisoners battle the heat and gear up for the holy month of Ramadan, Ahrar prisoner studies center has reported. Prisoners in Negev sent an SOS message to the Ahrar center pleading to be ”saved from programmed death” by the Israeli prison system and Israeli government, as the heat rises to ”oven” temperatures. [It is to be hoped this is a temporary situation, since Ramadan requires going without food or liquids for over 15 hours a day when it occurs at this time of year in this area. High temperature for the Negev today is 40 degrees C., 104 degrees F.]
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd

Detention by the PA

PA urged to release prisoners for Ramadan
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 31 July — Families of prisoners affiliated with Hamas and detained in Palestinian Authority prisons held a sit-in Saturday in the West Bank city of Nablus, to demand the release of their loved ones.  The participants carried banners demanding the release of prisoners without conditions, particularly as the month of Ramadan is approaching. Some carried banners saying the issue was vital for reconciliation.
link to www.maannews.net

Three more arrested in West Bank political persecution
NABLUS (PIC) 31 July — Two Najah University students as well as the wife of a West Bank political prisoner were arrested on Saturday as Palestinian Authority security agencies continue to politically persecute Hamas supporters in the West Bank. The students, Ala Saud Taha, 26, and Mohammed Jamal Khatir, 26, had previously declared their refusal to respond to summonses directed at them by the West Bank security agencies, the last summons taking place about a week ago. Both men had been previously detained by Israel security agencies and those of the PA.
Separately, Hammed al-Katout was released a few hours after he was arrested in Nablus for taking part in a sit-in protesting the PA’s taking of political prisoners.
Also on Saturday, preventative security forces arrested the wife of political prisoner Anas Rasras after she visited her husband in the security prison in Al-Dhahiriyya south of Al-Khalil city. She was questioned and held for four hours but later released. She was questioned on her husband and on her participation in protests in Al-Khalil against political detention.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87

Refugees

Palestinians in Lebanon voice growing support for Syrian protesters
BEIRUT (Daily Star) 31 July — …”I was against the revolution in the beginning. I thought the Syrian people were comfortable,” said Mohammed Qatantani, a 27-year-old shopkeeper who has taken many trips to Syria over the years, always admiring the good infrastructure, affordable healthcare and rights for Palestinians that he never saw in Lebanon. “But then I saw the news: the mass graves, the executions and the torture. It looked like Israel had invaded Palestine. Oppression isn’t pretty wherever it happens,” he said. He added that he had been with the Egyptian revolution from day one, because of Mubarak’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza: the repeated closure of the Rafah border crossing, and violent government clampdowns on those who protested.
link to www.dailystar.com.lb

Lebanon likely to pass ‘racist’ decision on Palestinian refugee camps
BEIRUT (PIC) 31 July — Lebanon is leaning towards passing new ‘racist’ decisions affecting the Palestinian refugee camps in the country, Palestinian and Lebanese sources have revealed … The sources added the Council of Ministers is leaning towards deciding on the following: Prohibiting reconstruction inside the refugee camps without prior permission. Requesting that the UN Palestinian refugees agency (UNRWA) does not bring in building materials without prior detailed permission. Closing all of the camps’ entrances that were once open to pedestrians, and restricting access to the camps’ vehicular entrances. It is said that most of the camps have only one entrance.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87M

Activists lobby to change nationality law
BEIRUT (Daily Star) 28 July — BEIRUT: Several hundred women’s rights activists marched in Beirut Wednesday calling for a reform of the Nationality Law, which doesn’t allow women to pass on their nationality to their families … “It’s hard because of sectarian groups who think a reform of the Nationality Law will affect the demographic balance between religions,” she said, adding that the idea that “most Lebanese women marry Muslims” is still very present. Many believe that the new law would also lead to naturalization of Palestinian refugees married to Lebanese women.
link to www.dailystar.com.lb

UN delegation visits Ain al Hilweh refugee camp
SIDON (Daily Star) 30 July — A former South African minister led a United Nations delegation that toured the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh Friday, observing the plight of the camp’s refugees. Former South African Minister Ronnie Kasrils headed a U.N. delegation with members from 17 European, African and Asian countries on a tour of the refugee camp.During the tour, Kasrils was received by representatives of various Palestinian factions and popular committees and affirmed his support for the Palestinian cause in the name of all the U.N. delegates visiting the country. The U.N. delegation was also joined by a group of 50 Palestinian young people, organized by the Aidoun group in the Bekaa‘, carrying Palestinian flags and posters calling for the right of return.link to www.dailystar.com.lb

Political / Diplomatic / International news

Resheq: Contacts underway with Fatah to discuss reconciliation
DAMASCUS (PIC) 31 July — Political bureau member of Hamas Ezzet Al-Resheq has said that contacts were currently ongoing between his movement and Fatah faction to hold a meeting on reconciliation issues. He told the PIC on Sunday that the meeting would discuss reconciliation issues such as the PLO, the Palestinian leadership, the political detainees, security apparatuses, elections, and dealing with results of division. Resheq explained that the issue of the transitional government was not on the agenda of the expected meeting due to PA chief and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas’s insistence on Salam Fayyad as premier of that government, a thing which is rejected by Hamas. The date and venue of that meeting were not fixed yet, he said.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MD

Salhi: Israel is looking for official excuse to announce ending Oslo accords
CAIRO (WAFA) 31 July — Secretary General of the Palestinian People’s Party, Basam Salhi, Sunday responded to the Israeli threats to cancel the Oslo accords signed in 1993 if the Palestinian Authority (PA) seeks United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state next September, saying “Israel has ended the Oslo accords’ implementation on the ground years ago and is now looking for an excuse to officially announce it.”
link to english.wafa.ps

India: Israel must stop building settlements
UNITED NATIONS (Ma‘an) — India on Tuesday urged Israel to stop building illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian in order to enable peace talks to resume. At a UN security council meeting, India’s envoy to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri said halting settlement construction “should be the first step in this process.” He added: “Unless this essential step is taken and peace talks resume, the growing desperation may lead the parties to actions that can spiral out of control.”
link to www.maannews.net

Haneyya meets with Malaysian delegation in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 31 July — Palestinian premier Ismail Haneyya met on Saturday evening with a Malaysian delegation which visited the Gaza Strip to express solidarity with its people.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87

Other news

Palestinian govt to pay full wages after strike threat
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) 31 July — The Palestinian Authority will pay its employees’ salaries in full in August but still faces a financial crisis which forced it to pay only half wages in July, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Sunday. Earlier on Sunday, the head of the public sector workers’ union had raised the prospect of a strike in protest at the wage cuts. The union was due to meet on Monday to take a decision on possible industrial action. Fayyad, who is also finance minister, said he expected full salaries to be paid on Tuesday. “In view of the continued financial difficulties, payment of the salaries in full will greatly limit the ability of the PA to meet other needs during the coming month,” he said in a statement, without going into details. Fayyad has blamed a fall in aid from Arab states for largely causing the financial crisis.
link to www.khaleejtimes.com

PCBS: Exports increase, imports decrease from Israel, increase from other countries in May
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 31 July – The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) released its External Trade on Goods report Sunday for May 2011, saying exports increased by 9.8% compared to April and reached US$67.7 million. Exports to Israel in May 2011 also increased by 8.8% compared to April, and represented 92.5% of total exports for May … The trade balance, which represents the difference between exports and imports, showed a decrease in trade deficit by 5.1% in May 2011 compared to April, reaching US$328.7 million.
link to english.wafa.ps

Watch: Netanyahu extends greetings to Muslims at start of Ramadan
Haaretz 31 July In addresses to Muslim world, the prime minister says he hopes Israeli Muslims, who are familiar with democracy, could serve as an example for their coreligionists in the region.
link to www.haaretz.com

Police won’t let Jews hold march in Old City due to Ramadan
JPost 31 July — In an apparent bid to prevent a clash between Jews and Muslims, police have denied Jews permission to march around the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday, which is the first day of the Hebrew month of Av, and the first day of Ramadan. The march, which has been taking place at the onset of Jewish months for some 10 years, draws the most participants at the beginning of Av, the month in which the First and Second Temples were destroyed. Last year, an estimated 5,000 people participated in that month’s march.
link to www.jpost.com

More than 150,000 take to streets across Israel in largest housing protest yet
Haaretz 30 July — More than 100,000 people took to the streets Saturday to protest the spiraling costs of living in Israel. Marches and rallies took place in eleven cities across the country, with the largest ones taking place in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva and Haifa. The protesters chanted “the people demand social justice” and “we want justice, not charity.”
link to www.haaretz.com

Thousands of Israeli doctors, residents protest in Jerusalem
Haaretz 31 July — Doctors call on PM to intervene in crisis and restart stalled negotiations with Finance Ministry; all outpatient clinics in Israel closed with only emergency surgery performed.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/thousands-of-israeli-doctors-residents-protest-in-jerusalem-1.376192?localLinksEnabled=false

groups.yahoo.com/group/f_shadi (listserv)
www.theheadlines.org (archive)

Al Jazeera comes to NY

Aug 01, 2011

Philip Weiss

A friend alerted me: Al Jazeera English started on Channel 92 on TimeWarner Cable today in NYC.  This is an understated but a significant event.

The Larry David peace plan

Aug 01, 2011

Jesse Benjamin

A larger-than-usual debate has erupted over the latest episode of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm: “Palestinian Chicken.” Our beloved anti-social, misanthropic, crazed individualist has taken his shtick to the freighted arena of Israel/Palestine relations, and popular culture may never be the same. Many have dismissed the episode as racist, perpetuating stereotypes and dangerously false representations, and they would be right. Others have found great humor and even brilliant social satire in the episode, some of it groundbreaking, and I would also have to agree that they are correct. It has been surprising that many in the longer-than-usual discussion thread (at Eleanor Kilroy’s post) dismissed the show as just racist, unfunny and unwatchable, so it seems a closer look at the less-discussed subversive side of this episode is warranted.

First, a disclaimer. Yes, this episode is filled with typically racist, stereotypical, reductive, and problematic representations of Palestinians, and for that I make no excuses or apologies, — it reflects the impoverished and racist/imperial nature of US popular culture and discourse at this time and place. In this sense, it is much like Bill Maher’s Real Time, Family Guy, most of CNN, and tons of other mainstream shows that betray an air of intelligence or even progressiveness while reproducing colonial and racist assumptions.

And of course, different audiences, with different political and cultural orientations will watch this show, like all “texts,” differently. So, there is no single correct reading of this show, just endless debate and discussion, which is itself a reflection of both the quality of the show and the significance of the issues it exploits for comedy. However, whereas Maher’s anti-Arab racism is consistent, he usually paints his Jews, especially when secular and/or Israeli, as saints. Here Larry David is much more balanced, as a consistently scorching critic of US Jewish foibles. For example, “Palestinian Chicken” continues a thread exploring the “pitfalls/consequences of [knee-jerk Jewish] tribalism & exceptionalism,” started in the first episode of the season, “The Divorce,” in which Larry fires a Jewish-acting lawyer named Berg only to get burned in his divorce settlement with the “real” Jewish lawyer he stereotypically thought would be better. [Thanks to Adam Shapiro for making this connection.]

Some discussants worried that Jews watching this episode felt affirmed by it, and that Arabs uniformly hated it as racist, but a review of comments in US and Israeli media suggest this was far from uniform. At Haaretz, Israel’s leading daily, several commented that David was a “self-hater,” with a “stupid message,” that “purposely made Jews look like ‘racists’.” On HBO’s official CYE page, we find: “this episode crossed the line. It was disrespectful, insulting and downright antisemetic. Shame on you, Larry David!!” next to the comment from Faisal S., “I am Jordanian and absolutely loved this episode. I think Larry is brilliant…. i am laughing my a… off!!” And Nathan Burstein at The Jewish Daily Forward concluded his review with: “Some Israel lovers will find ‘Palestinian Chicken’ distasteful, but it’s a hit among David’s fans.”

My argument is that beyond the serious cultural limitations we sadly have come to expect on US television, there is also something else in this episode, something subversive, which is not common at all, and which casts light on the significant cultural moment we are living through. In this sense, I think too many critical thinkers with good politics have moved too quickly to throw the baby out with the bathwater on this one. Amidst the gross but predictable equalizing of two profoundly asymmetrical “sides” in this very real conflict, David and crew actually showcase Jewish racism in both its extreme and its liberal forms, and this is something truly rare on television. They also give us brief flashes of otherwise censored concepts like “occupation,” “settlements,” or even just the real-life restaurant posters which show an Israeli tank facing down children, or declare: “Right –vs- Might,” and “Visit Palestine” – things we never see on tv.

It can be hard to tell when these aspects of the show are intentionally subversive, and when they are more the unintentional product of David’s ad-lib production style in which his cast reproduces its own cultural assumptions whole cloth, whether or not tongue-in-cheek. Whichever it is, and we may never know for sure, I think the comedic tensions running through the show mirror a broad shift in the zeitgeist of both Jewish and non-Jewish [Western] public opinion about Israel that reflects the growing success of the non-violent Palestinian peace movement centered around Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions [BDS] called for by Palestinian Civic Society. It is not an accident that this show, shot earlier this year, appears at a time when anti-boycott legislation in Israel is being universally decried as undemocratic, even neo-fascist [see Haaretz op-ed]; when Alice Walker and hundreds of activist were sailing toward Gaza with letters, but were thwarted by Israeli frogmen cutting boat propellers in the dark of night; when a rising tide of artists and veterans of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa are vocally joining the new anti-apartheid struggle against Israel, as seen in the recent Feminists of Color Solidarity Statement signed by Angela Davis and others.

It is a commonplace in mainstream US culture since 1967 to collapse Jews and Israelis into a single entity, so that all criticisms of Israel can be falsely reduced to anti-Semitism. So it is not surprising when that happens in this episode in more than 10 places, for example when Larry and Jeff look at the restaurant’s pro-Palestine posters and Jeff says: “Yeah, they do not like the Jews,” instead of “they do not like illegal Israeli occupation.” But this false unity also starts to break down under the weight of the show’s comedic narrative, in the central theme that Larry is more loyal to the hot sex offered by his new Palestinian paramour than to his “own people’s” laughable insistence on separation and isolation. Clearly, Larry feels no obligation to Israel in this episode, and this brilliantly highlights the growing re-separation of Jewish from Israeli identities.

Another clear theme that emerges here is Larry’s willingness to make visible Israel’s arbitrary and violent excesses. Usually in our popular culture, there is a quasi-maniacal Israel-can-do-no-wrong mentality that also requires total erasure of occupation and injustice. But here, Larry references “settlements,” which he says would be “taken down …in the morning” if they’d “send their chicken over to Israel.” In an obvious critical reference to the “Ground-Zero Mosque” flap, the cast also makes light of both Israeli and US spatial intolerance when the Funkhauser says: “How in the world can they dare open up a Palestinian chicken restaurant next to the sacred land of that [Goldblatt’s] deli?” to which Larry responds: “Hey, this is America, they can do whatever they want!” Later, when Funkhauser decides to try the new chicken joint, he says, “Shalom. You know, I thought all last night, if Rabin can break bread with Arafat, I can have chicken at this anti-Semitic shit hole.” Some will correctly see his assumption that because the restaurant is Palestinian it is necessarily anti-Semitic and a shit hole as blatantly racist. However, he is also showcasing everyday Jewish racism and xenophobia in a frank and accurate way, and this is taboo in US culture.

And we have to discuss the deeply transgressive sex scene. When Larry is later having “the best sex [he’s] ever had, anywhere,” with Shara from the restaurant, she is screaming ecstatic epithets: “Fuck me, you fucking Jew,” and Larry escalates with: “Filthy Jew, filthy Jew.” Shara replies: “Filthy fucking Jew, you Zionist pig, you occupying fuck; occupy this!” Larry keeps things going with, “I’m an occupier, [yeah] I’m an occupier.” There is much more to this amazing scene, including Shara’s lines: “You want to fuck me? Like Israeli fucked my country? Show me what you got,” and: “Fuck me like Israel fucks my people; show me the Promised Land.” Most commentators have cringed at Shara’s “anti-Semitic” barrage, but most of what she says is accurate, and again crosses a taboo in our culture, which Larry happily admits: “I’m an occupier…” Where else have we ever seen Israel-as-oppressor in our pop culture landscape? This is powerful subversion.

As Larry triumphantly walks downstairs to greet a stunned Funkhauser who has been listening below, he recites the theme verse from the Scarlet Pimpernel, revealing to the audience a high degree of intentionality here and even literary sophistication. As a precursor to the “masked superhero” theme of later comic book culture, Larry as Pimpernel portrays himself as a “social assassin” super-hero who publicly plays a shallow fool, but is secretly a daring double agent. How strictly we are to take David’s literary reference remains up to us: The original play and novel place the Pimpernel’s true sympathies with the Trans-Channel aristocracies of France and Britain during the French Revolution, so this would translate into our times as a covert allegiance with the Trans-Atlantic US/Israeli imperial regimes against the Palestinian resistance. However, David may not have meant it this literally — many have just used the Pimpernel reference to refer to a generic undercover rebel, as when Nelson Mandela was called the Black Pimpernel before his capture and incarceration. I think David meant to refer to himself as a subversive double agent of some kind, hinting at deeper (social assassin) intentions behind his otherwise egocentric inter-ethnic sexual escapade.

This brings us to the admittedly subjective realm, in which I argue (and I am not alone here) that this show represents Larry David at his best: a comedic genius of historic proportions, cultural and political flaws notwithstanding. In less than 30 minutes, Larry David intricately weaves three-plus plotlines into a seamless whole, while dropping a relentless barrage of one-liners, some of which are destined to immediately enter the lexicon as new catchphrases: “verbal texting,” “social assassin,” “Koufaxing,” “desert referee,” “no matter what,” and at least in my book: “the penis wants to get to its homeland.” In terms of pacing and sheer comedic escalation, the first watching of this episode is an intense ride that rivals any other in the genre, and deserves respect for the high pop culture art that it is. This episode will go down in history as the point at which Larry’s anti-social compunctions were elevated into an artform finally recognized by his friends, who now name and hire him for his skills as a “social assassin,” replete with “hits,” “contracts,” and his halting attempts to retire from the business. We are given the Palestinian restaurant as the ideal place for Jews to cheat, brilliantly mocking the arbitrary and ultimately unsuccessful separation of people based on Middle Eastern geopolitical lines. We see Larry blackmailing the Rabbi into letting Funkhouser play golf on the Sabbath because even she succumbs to the chicken. We get the classic line: “What is this, the raid on Entebbe?” Yes, my review here is subjective, and some who are offended at the outset, or do not “get” Larry David, may not be “in” the episode enough to find it funny, but I think a compelling argument can be made for this episode’s brilliance.

The portrayal of Shara trades in tired Orientalist racial tropes: anti-Jewish, over-sexed, aggressive, militant, dehumanized. But there is also a more nuanced element to this sexual encounter. Some would argue, on some level, that as the object of his desire, Shara is also partially humanized by Larry David, who brazenly transgresses a very stark social division (especially in Israel this year, if you’ve been following the headlines of the new Rabbinic Jim Crow calls) when he chooses her over the demands of his own “tribe.” Some will say this doesn’t matter, because she is still a dehumanized sexual conquest. But again, the political and social context in which this show aired tells us that, if nothing else, there is intentional referencing of current issues and taboos here. Although at the end of the episode we are left to wonder which “side” in the protest Larry will choose, few observers doubt he will join Shara, now offering to add her sister Yasmin into the equation, over his overbearing Zionist friend Susie and the born-again Marty Funkhauser. It is worth noting as one critic did elsewhere, that L.D. was unable to bring himself to have sex with a buxom Republican in a previous episode, because of the portrait of George Bush above her bed. So, what does it say that he has no such compunction about “miscegenating” with a beautiful Palestinian woman who foments against Israel and its occupation during sex? Clearly, the deeply culturally-Jewish Larry David can more easily jettison association with Israel than he can abide by association with a sexy Republican ideologue.

Again, the racism and representational flattening in this episode is indeed objectionable. But, I hope I have made the case that this show is also a rich mine of psycho-sexual-racial intersections and unravelings that deserve closer attention. Consciously or not, it is also an auto-critique of Jewish whiteness, liberal Zionism, religious hypocrisy, and constructions of Jewish manhood and sexuality. There is a growing ambivalence in the once solid assumption that Jewish = Zionist that is both reflected and amplified here, and which our present cultural and political moment is all about. The show is far from an anti-Zionist masterpiece, but in reflecting an occasional fracturing of dominant assumptions once thought taboo to question, it marks the beginning of a shift in Western cultural thinking that we need to continue working towards.

Jesse Benjamin is Associate Professor of Sociology and coordinator of African and African Diaspora Studies at Kennesaw State University.

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Today in Palestine: hypocrisy watch

NOVANEWS

An IDF press release reads:

Israel Defense Forces soldiers early Thursday killed two armed Palestinian militants suspected to trying to infiltrate through the Gaza Strip border.

The troops opened fire on the two militants as they were in the midst of laying explosives at the fence near Kibbutz Kfar Aza. None of the soldiers was wounded.

There has been a rise in attempts by Palestinian militants to bomb targets along the border recently, as well as to launch rockets at Israel.

Last month, the Israel Air Force carried out a number of strikes on the Gaza Strip after a barrage of mortar shells, a Grad rocket and a phosphorous bomb were fired at the western Negev.

This kibbutz is reportedly over 2km from Gaza’s border. Were the militants “laying explosives” near the fence, or “trying to infiltrate”? Does it matter, or is this verbatim an IDF press release written by someone who knows his confusions and contradictions will never be dissected in the first place? Who “lays explosives” to break through a barbed wire fence that can be cut apart with wire-cutters? And if indeed they were planting explosives, how come “militants” planting explosives on their own land which is repeatedly subject to incursions from Merkava tanks that blow apart homes and kill children can be murdered by the occupying army while the Western commentariat twaddles about Wikileaks, while when militants–no quotation marks–kill paramilitary settlers illegally residing in or near Hebron we’re witness to a paroxysm of self-righteous fury and endless hand-wringing from the liberal-left? You want an Israel Lobby? Look at the intellectually corrupt discourse that pervades the chattering classes, creating the “necessary illusions” to keep the conflict cruising along ruinously while the body-count–at least on one side–piles higher and higher day-by-day.

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