Archive | February, 2012

The masses suffer as political theatre grips Pakistan



A cartoon from a Korean newspaper depicts a mad Pakistani tiger eating itself. Are the Pakistani elites the only ones in the world who do not recognize what they are doing to destroy their own country?

A cartoon from a Korean newspaper depicts a mad Pakistani tiger eating itself. Are the Pakistani elites the only ones in the world who do not recognize what they are doing to destroy their own country?

Pakistani students forced to study by candle light because of perennial electricity outages in a country that has access to nuclear power as well as vast reserves of coal and natural gas, and happens to be next door to Iran, one of the world’s largest sources of fossil fuels.    

By Waseem Shehzad

Pakistan’s story is like an unending tragedy in which there are no heroes, only villains. Each tries to outdo the other in how much evil he can perpetrate. It would be worthwhile to identify the villains, both institutional and individual. At the institutional level there are the feudal lords that control vast land holdings that were granted to their ancestors by the British colonialists. This was a reward for betraying fellow Muslims as British colonialism started to penetrate India, which was ruled by Muslims at the time. True, Muslim rulers were only nominally committed to Islam but when the British displaced them, the major impact was felt primarily by the Muslims. It is the children and grandchildren of those “Muslim” traitors that still dominate the political landscape in Pakistan. Since treachery against their own people runs in their blood, today they serve their American masters, who have since replaced the British. Through cross-fertilization, the feudals have also contaminated other segments of society to adopt the same slavish mentality.

The feudal lords, however, are outmatched and outgunned by the military officer class that serves as the real masters of Pakistan, at least in the domestic arena. As an institution, the military is disciplined and well organized with a hierarchy of command. It usurps vast resources and given its power, it is also able to protect itself against other predators. Ultimately, the military too is subservient to the Americans because it knows that only the US can provide the kind of largesse that will satiate its ever expanding appetite. What price the Americans exact for such handouts depends on each side’s negotiating skills but it is common experience, as Thucydides observed: “The strong do as they wish, the weak suffer as they must.”

The Americans have always exacted a far higher price for their handouts than the Pakistanis have been able to extract for their services and subservience. True, the giver’s hand is always higher but the recipient need not stoop so low as to abandon all shred of dignity. Regrettably, the Americans have been able to get away, literally, with murder in Pakistan because they are able to buy off a few individuals in key posts that are willing to sacrifice the larger interests of the country for personal gain.

The third group is that of the bureaucrats. They consider themselves not only superior to the masses whom they call illiterate and backward, but also superior to the feudal lords that are in any case barely literate. The bureaucrats are better educated than military officers because the qualifications required to join the military are little more than a high school diploma. Thus, in a technical sense, the bureaucrats can be considered highly educated according to Pakistani standards because the minimum requirement for joining the civil service is a university degree. The bureaucracy in Pakistan has also acquired all the mannerisms of the British with snobbery and intrigue as essential features of their life.

In the last three decades or so, a fourth category of people has emerged: the industrial class. This class of people has acquired wealth as a result of investment in industry with money borrowed from banks that they never pay back. Also generous tax breaks and incentives to export goods have added to their wealth. In fact, there is no culture of paying tax in Pakistan. The feudal lords use the wealth from agricultural produce to play politics — essentially to buy votes to get into parliament. Once there, they make sure no laws are passed that would require them to pay taxes. The tax base in Pakistan is extremely narrow; only salaried employees — in government and businesses — bear the tax burden. Of the 180 million people, less than 2 million pay taxes in Pakistan. Naturally this is not enough to sustain the economy that must therefore rely on massive infusions of foreign aid. This comes in the form of loans as well as remittances from expatriate Pakistanis in the Muslim East, Europe and North America. In fact, remittances from expatriate Pakistanis have become the largest source of income for Pakistan, far outstripping the foreign aid it gets, which usually comes with strings attached.

Below these parasitical classes exist the vast body of Pakistani masses whose life is a perpetual struggle and grind. For them, the government exists only for creating hurdles in their way. The daily routine of an average Pakistani consists of prolonged blackouts (electricity cut off), sometime lasting for up to 14 hours in a 24-hour cycle and no gas that is used for heating as well as cooking. Often, gas becomes available only after midnight for two hours. People are thus forced to cook during those hours. Water is similarly in short supply and whenever available, is generally contaminated leading to water-borne diseases. The healthcare system is virtually non-existent. Medicines are adulterated. Recently, a pharmaceutical factory was shut down because it was producing sub-standard tablets mixed with substances that caused more harm than good.

Barring a few private hospitals — the Agha Khan Hospital in Karachi, Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital in Lahore set up by Imran Khan, and one or two others around the country — the vast majority of government hospitals in Pakistan are in bad shape. Medicines are often unavailable. People have to bring their own linen and medicines if someone in their family needs hospitalization. The same applies to food. The attitude of hospital staff is rude and patients as well as their relatives are mistreated and insulted. Often, people cannot get hospital beds because of extreme shortage. They are thus forced to go to private hospitals provided they can afford the costs.

Prices of all essential goods — flour, meat, sugar, cooking oil and vegetables, for instance — have skyrocketed. Most people in Pakistan eat meat only once a year, at the time of Eid al-Adha when some pious, God-fearing individuals may offer them some sacrificial meat. Amid this grinding poverty, there are other people that live a lifestyle that would be the envy of most people in the west. This can be gleaned from the overcrowding in restaurants in major cities where it is difficult to find space.

It is this vast chasm that is eating away into the very fabric of Pakistani society. While the masses suffer, what do the elites do? They are busy fighting each other over who said what, did what or stole how much from the national treasury. For the overwhelming majority, the government exists only in name and for creating problems for them. The government is not there to solve their problems, neither of security and safety, nor for providing any services. Not surprisingly, almost every Pakistani wants to flee the country if the opportunity arises.

Currently, the military is locked in a battle with the civilian government that is being waged in the Supreme Court. The army accuses the civilians of colluding with the Americans to undermine the military. This is certainly true. The civilian government has completely sold out to the Americans. The military, too, is not without fault. While it has wrapped itself in the mantle of patriotism, it is equally willing to strike a deal with Uncle Sam if its interests are served. Thus, the military — or more accurately, the army top brass — is quite willing to turn a blind eye to American drone attacks on civilians in Pakistan as long as their privileges remain untouched. Over the last decade, the Americans have killed more than 30,000 Pakistanis, the overwhelming majority being innocent civilians.

The military has also leased bases to the Americans from where their aircraft fly to attack Pakistani civilians as well as use these bases for spying purposes. This is done both inside Pakistan as well as against neighboring countries. In December the military demanded that the Americans vacate the Shamsi Air Base, which was being used for drone operations, but it did not ask the Americans to vacate the more important Jacobabad airbase. One wonders why? In any case, the Americans have resumed drone attacks in Pakistan after a hiatus of a few weeks following their November 26 attack on two Pakistani border posts in which 24 soldiers were killed. This was a deliberate attack that lasted more than two hours.

While the political theatre plays out in the Supreme Court, election fever has gripped Pakistan. The political fortunes of Imran Khan, the cricket star turned politician have skyrocketed with the result that every opportunistic politician has joined the herd to become a member of his Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaaf (PTI) Party. These opportunists, with no ideological commitment, always want to be on the winning side. They believe Imran Khan has the military’s blessings and is therefore destined to become the next prime minister.

Whether this will materialize is difficult to predict. The only certainty is that there will be little relief for the suffering and oppressed masses of Pakistan regardless of who is in power.

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Dershowitz strikes back — with lies (yawn)


So there was this BDS conference held at Pennsylvania University — one of the Ivy League institutions. Myself, I’m a fence-sitter with regard to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — I don’t boycott Israeli products as such (although if I knew that they were made in the occupied territories, I would), while I think that divesting from Israeli companies makes sense only in certain specific cases. I’m more comfortable with the idea of sanctions.

In any case, this BDS event was organized at UPenn and, as might be expected, lots of Israel firsterssupporters rallied to organize counterevents that brought much larger attendances. This is not surprising since BDS is taking its first infant steps in the realm of mainstream discourse.

One of the anti-BDS events was a speech by the ineffable Alan Dershowitz. Under the headline Dershowitz strikes back, the StandWithUs site provides a raving review of the Dersh’s presentation which, as can be predicted, consists basically of a regurgitation of tired Hasbara points. Of a somewhat higher interest is the Q&A, and in particular this exchange with a student:

During the question-and-answer session after the Annenberg presentation, one female student asked, “If an Arab student comes up to me and says, ‘You took my land,’ and I respond, ‘Yeah, but we support gay rights,’ how does that add up?”

Dershowitz said the answer is that the Jews didn’t steal the land.

“The land on which Israel was established had a Jewish majority,” he said. “In Israel’s case, they bought the land, in this case from distant land owners, who lived in Syria and Lebanon. The Israeli policy of the yishuv was never to throw indigenous Arabs off the land.

“Israel’s birth certificate is cleaner than the birth certificate of almost any other modern country in the world,” he added. “Israel was established by law.”

Notice Dershowitz’s goal-shifting. In his last paragraph he seems to suggest that because Israel is cleaner than “almost any other modern country in the world,” an Arab has no right to complain that his land was stolen. It’s, of course, the case of the tax evader who claims he can’t be jailed because other, worse criminals are free.

But to his credit, he does provide an answer to the student’s question: the land was not stolen; the Jews bought it from “distant landowners” in Syria and Lebanon.

There’s no denying that the Jews bought land in Mandate Palestine. But the land? Israel consists of some 22,000 sq km of land. By 1946, a year before the UN partition resolution, land ownership was distributed as follows:

This map was first published in the excellent Palestinian advocacy site, which in turn obtained the information from this United Nations document from the time.

As can be seen, the Jews didn’t enjoy majoritarian ownership in any district. Quite on the contrary, in most districts of present-day Israel the land was overwhelmingly owned by private Arab citizens, with the Jews coming close (but still lagging behind) only in Haifa and Jaffa. This can be more startingly underlined by seeing a map of the land that the Jews did own:

Thus, the land was not bought from distant landowners. In fact, only about 1,500 sq km (some 6% of present-day Israel) was bought by the Jews. See here for the scanned relevant page of the British report “Survey of Palestine” published prior to the partition plan.

What happened, then, with the Arab-owned land? After some 700,000 Arabs were expelled or fled the 1948 war, their property was confiscated by the 1950 Absentee Property Law, whereby the real estate of those “absent” owners was transfered to a State Custodian, who in turn leased it to the Jews. Here are a few relevant paragraphs from this law:

2. (a) The Minister of Finance shall appoint, by order published in Reshumot, a Custodianship Council for Absentees’ Property, and shall designate one of its members to be the chairman of the Council. The chairman of the Council shall be called the Custodian.

3. (b) The Custodian may appoint agents for the management of held property on his behalf and may fix and pay their remuneration.

4. (a) Subject to the provisions of this Law –

(1) all absentees’ property is hereby vested in the Custodian as from the day of publication of his appointment or the day on which it became absentees’ property, whichever is the later date;

(2), every right an absentee had in any property shall pass automatically to the Custodian at the time of the vesting of the property; and the status of the Custodian shall be the same as was that of the owner of the property.

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ملتقى الاعلاميين الشباب العرب يناقش عددا من المحاور الاعلامية ويقيم معرضا كبير


 Arab journalists celebrating Bahrain repression

Those journalists should be shamed (Muhammad Krishan from Aljazeera, Jamal Khashuqji from the new news station of Prince Al-Walid, Rima Maktabi of CNN, a guy from Elaph, Zavin of Hariri TV, and others) come to Bahrain to speak about media under the sponsorship of the repressive king.

المنامة في 27 فبراير / بنا / يناقش ملتقى الاعلاميين الشباب العرب في دورته الرابعة التي تستضيفها مملكة البحرين خلال الفترة من 28 الى 29 فبراير الجاري ، تحت رعاية حضرة صاحب الجلالة الملك حمد بن عيسى آل خليفة عاهل البلاد المفدى حفظه الله ورعاه ، العديد من المحاور التي تتناول الاعلام العربي، بالإضافة الى جلسة حوارية هي الأولى من نوعها لطلبة الاعلام والصحافة من كافة الجامعات في الوطن العربي.

وتتضمن فعاليات اليوم الاول من الملتقى ، جلسة يديرها الاستاذ طارق المومني نقيب الصحفيين الاردنيين بعنوان “الاعلام العربي ..الهوية والمصداقية” ، يتحدث فيها الاستاذ نبيل الحمر مستشار ملك البحرين لشئون الاعلام والاستاذ راشد العريمي رئيس تحرير صحيفة الاتحاد الاماراتية والاستاذ انور عبدالرحمن رئيس تحرير صحيفة اخبار الخليج البحرينية والدكتور عمار علي حسن وهو كاتب وباحث في علم الاجتماع السياسي.

وفي الجلسة الثانية سيتم مناقشة موضوع “القنوات العربية الاخبارية ..مواكب الحدث بين التطوير والتقليدية” ، ويديرها الاعلامي البحريني الاستاذ عبيد العبيدلي ، ويتحدث فيها الاستاذ جمال خاشقجي المدير العام لقناة العرب والدكتور نبيل الخطيب رئيس التحرير التنفيذي في قناة العربية والاستاذ محمد كريشان مقدم اخبار وبرامج قناة الجزيرة والاستاذ محمود مسلم رئيس تحرير شبكة تلفزيون الحياة.

كما تتضمن فعاليات اليوم الاول حلقة نقاش بعنوان “طلاب الاعلام في العالم العربي ..الواقع والمأمول” يتحدث فيها الاستاذ عبدالله الكندري من جامعة الكويت والاستاذ عائشة الخليفي من جامعة قطر والاستاذ احمد عبدالمنعم فواز من جامعة الازهر في مصر والاستاذ عبدالله الشهري من جامعة الملك سعود السعودية وطالب من البحرين.

وفي اليوم الثاني من الملتقى ستناقش الجلسة الاولى التي ستديرها الاعلامية البحرينية الاستاذة مايسة الذوادي موضوع “الاعلام الاجتماعي .. الانتشار والرقيب” ويتحدث فيها كل من الكاتبة البحرينية الاستاذة سميرة رجب والاستاذ بركات الوقيان مقدم برامج في تلفزيون الوطن والاستاذ ياسر الغسلان مؤسس موقع المفكرة الاعلامية والاستاذة ايمان عزام رئيس تحرير دار الاعلام العربي.

وفي الجلسة الثانية التي سيديرها الاستاذ ناصر الصرامي مدير الاعلام بقناة العربية ، سيتم مناقشة موضوع “المؤسسات الاعلامية ..التحديات والفرص” ، ويتحدث فيها الكاتبة والاعلامية البحرينية الاستاذة سوسن الشاعر والاستاذ زافين قيومجيان مقدم برامج في تلفزيون المستقبل والاستاذ احمد الفهد مقدم برامج في قناة الوطن الكويتية والاستاذ سلطان القحطاني مدير تحرير موقع ايلاف.

كما سيتم ضمن فعاليات الاحتفال باختيار “المنامة عاصمة الصحافة العربية 2012″، تدشين العديد من الكتب لرواد الصحافة البحرينية اضافة الى اقامة معرض كبير للصور يشتمل على أهم وأفضل الصور.

وعقب الافتتاح الرسمي لفعاليات الدورة الرابعة للملتقى التي تعقد في المملكة بمناسبة اختيار المنامة عاصمة الصحافة العربية 2012 سيتم تكريم الشخصيات والجهات الفائزة بجوائز الملتقى للعام 2011، وهم أمير منطقة مكة المكرمة ورئيس مؤسسة الفكر العربي صاحب السمو الملكي الأمير خالد الفيصل، جائزة أبرز شخصية عربية داعمة لقضايا الشباب العربي، رئيس مجلس إدارة مؤسسة قطر صاحبة السمو الشيخة موزة بنت ناصر، جائزة أبرز شخصية عربية داعمة لقضايا التعليم والتنمية، صحيفة الحياة ، جائزة أبرز صحيفة عربية، مدير عام قناة العربية الإعلامي السعودي عبدالرحمن الراشد، جائزة أبرز شخصية إعلامية رائدة في العالم العربي، الإعلامي التونسي محمد كريشان من قناة الجزيرة، جائزة أبرز مذيع تلفزيوني في العالم العربي، برنامج خطوة في تلفزيون أبوظبي، جائزة أبرز برنامج تلفزيوني عربي، الإعلامية اللبنانية ريما مكتبي من شبكة سي إن إن ، اضافة الى جوائز أخرى.

وكان معالي الشيخ فواز بن محمد آل خليفة رئيس هيئة شئون الاعلام قد أكد في تصريح له بهذه المناسبة إن رعاية عاهل البلاد المفدى حفظه الله ورعاه للملتقى تعكس ما تحظى به الصحافة والاعلام البحريني بشكل خاص والاعلام العربي بشكل عام من مكانة وتقدير لدى قائد مسيرة الاعلام الأول ، مشيرا الى أن اعلان ملتقى الإعلاميين الشباب العرب عن اختيار ” المنامة عاصمة للصحافة العربية لعام 2012″ يأتي تقديرا لما تقدمه مملكة البحرين من دعم لحريات الاعلام والصحافة في ظل العهد الزاهر لجلالة الملك المفدى حفظه الله ورعاه وحكومته الرشيدة لاسيما وان البحرين تعد من أوائل دول المنطقة التي دعمت الصحافة ورفعت سقف الحريات فيها منذ سنوات طويلة اضافة الى ما تتميز به الصحافة في مملكة البحرين من حرية ومصداقية وكتابات منوعة في مختلف الشئون السياسية والاقتصادية والثقافية والاجتماعية.

واكد أن هذا الاختيار جاء ايضا انعكاسا لما تعيشه مملكة البحرين في هذه الاونة من ازدهار إعلامي وثقافي كبير من حيث الطرح والكفاءة ارتكز على مناخ واسع من الحرية الاعلامية تُطرح من خلاله كافة القضايا السياسية والوطنية بشفافية وموضوعية وتعطي في مجملها دلالة واضحة على قوة وفاعلية الصحافة البحرينية ومواكبتها وملازمتها واستفادتها من النهج الديمقراطي والإصلاحي والذي تشهده مملكة البحرين في شتى المجالات اضافة الى استقطاب مؤسسات إعلامية عالمية وعربية لتكون البحرين مقرها الرئيسي.

الجدير بالذكر أن “ملتقى الإعلاميين الشباب العرب” قد تأسس في عام 2006 ليكون مظلة إعلامية تجمع الإعلاميين والمؤسسات الإعلامية في العالم العربي تحت شعار رؤية إعلامية بعيون شبابية.

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Western Policies and the Wahhabi Cult



Now the same voices that helped the Islamists take over Libya — and then feigned surprise when they introduced a new, perhaps even worse type of despotism — are calling for yet another armed revolution in Syria. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that, should their insurrection succeed, the new regime might cause untold suffering for the Syrian people, most of whom (it is not often reported) have not joined the uprising. Why would they?

They have plenty of justification for fearing that what will come after Assad could prove far more repressive culturally, and potentially murderous. The Nato-sponsored Zionist puppets government-in-exile, the Syrian National Council, is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and supported by Pro-Zionist regime’s in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.   The ranks of the Free Syrian Army have been swelled by radical Islamists from as far afield as Iraq and Libya, who are being armed and funded by Qatar via Lebanon and Turkey.

The Emir of Qatar, Zionist darling of the West, has at least had the decency to make his own intentions in this crystal clear: he wishes to overthrow the last secular Arab regime. Zionist Hamad  recently renamed the tiny island’s main mosque after Mohammed ibn Abul Wahhab, founder of the insane Wahhabi cult that hijacked this so-called Arab Spring at the outset. He has installed its proxies in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, and aims to do the same in Syria.

Be careful who you depose


Does the West really want to see a backward Wahhabi theocracy in charge of Syria?

Is the Syrian regime hellbent on political suicide? There can be no doubt that he is determined to crush any resistance, but if President Bashar al-Assad had really started a massacre in the city of Homs (as was reported by most of the western media) it would have been an act of complete madness. And though he may be ruthless, Assad is no madman. So what’s really going on? Well, the truth about the situation in Syria is that, as in Libya, there is much more to it than the simple narrative we’re all fed: pro-democracy activists fighting a hated tyrant. The Russians, at least, understand that much.William Hague has been deploring the Russian and Chinese veto of the proposed UN resolution against Syria, but a close look at the Russians’ reservations reveals some legitimate concerns. The rebel army in Syria captured 19 government soldiers in Homs, where they had set up a base. Was it honestly realistic to demand, as the UN did, that the Syrian army at that point withdraw to its barracks, leaving its soldiers captive? As far as Assad was concerned, insurgents had captured his sovereign territory; was it reasonable to expect him to step down?

There has been much talk of the Syrian army having committed the worst massacre since Assad’s father ordered the slaughter of up to 30,000 members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama in 1982. But soon after China and Russia’s veto, the figure for those killed in Homs was reduced from 200 to 55 by one of the opposition groups (although others insisted more were killed). Homs then came under renewed military bombardment, and yes, dozens have been killed, which is sickening news to be sure, but sadly nothing out of what has passed for the ordinary in Syria for the past year. However, this idea of ‘a massacre’ went viral. It was a ‘crime against humanity’ and ‘its perpetrators must answer for it’, said Alain Juppé, foreign minister of France (and the prime architect of the Libya invasion).The West seems as keen as ever to see the uprisings as a simple story of freedom fighters opposing tyranny, when the situation is clearly much more complex.

There seems to be an awful repeat of the Libya debacle beginning to unfold: western correspondents embed themselves with self-declared former al-Qa’eda fighters and bands of tribal fanatics, but fail to report these details so as not to undermine the ‘Arab Spring’. The result of this in Libya is plain to see. Once the Islamist militias had established their rule in Tripoli, they imposed sharia law on a once secular country and set about torturing their former enemies — or anyone who happened to be black — in a way that would have put even Gaddafi to shame.Now the same voices that helped the Islamists take over Libya — and then feigned surprise when they introduced a new, perhaps even worse type of despotism — are calling for yet another armed revolution in Syria. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that, should their insurrection succeed, the new regime might cause untold suffering for the Syrian people, most of whom (it is not often reported) have not joined the uprising. Why would they?

They have plenty of justification for fearing that what will come after Assad could prove far more repressive culturally, and potentially murderous. The Nato-sponsored government-in-exile, the Syrian National Council, is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.The ranks of the Free Syrian Army have been swelled by radical Islamists from as far afield as Iraq and Libya, who are being armed and funded by Qatar via Lebanon and Turkey. The Emir of Qatar, darling of the West, has at least had the decency to make his own intentions in this crystal clear: he wishes to overthrow the last secular Arab regime. The Emir recently renamed the tiny island’s main mosque after Mohammed ibn Abul Wahhab, founder of the insane Wahhabi cult that hijacked this so-called Arab Spring at the outset.

He has installed its proxies in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, and aims to do the same in Syria.The House of Saud cares nothing for ordinary Syrians — its interest in the fight is purely strategic. Along with its undeclared ally Israel, it too would like to see a group of Sunni, Wahhabi despots, hostile to their common enemy Tehran, replace Assad, who has collaborated with Iran’s ayatollahs.This would make life easier for many western countries, which fear a nuclear-armed Iran above all else. The foreign policy wonks’ line about Syria is not idealistic but pragmatic: while the Wahhabis may be cuckoo, they are the perfect allies when it comes to containing Iran. Islamists are coming to power throughout the region, so we may as well back some biddable ones, so the thinking goes, especially as they are all conveniently turning out to be proxies of our Nato allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar.But what of Syria’s religious minorities, the moderate Alawites; the Christians and the Shia?

What of its women? What of the ever-dwindling number of free-thinking intellectuals, its ordinary moderate Muslim ‘folks’, in Obamaian parlance, who do not wish to live under a backward Wahhabi theocracy? They can suffer in silence, it seems. American and Israeli ‘security interests’ must come first, and are best served by a pact with the devil.Of course, Russia and China’s veto at the UN had nothing to do with concerns about human rights. For China, it was revenge for being duped by Nato after the UN sanctioned a no-fly zone over Libya strictly to protect civilians but which was used as an excuse for all-out war and subsequently to ensure that China no longer had access to the country’s vast oil reserves. Russia has extensive economic investments in Syria, whose main port is leased to the Russian Navy; and it sells billions of dollars of arms to the Assad regime.But we sell many billions more to Saudi Arabia, which is Britain’s main trading partner. We installed the Al-Saud dynasty back in the 1920s, and we’ll continue to be silent, as we always have been, on that country’s repulsive human rights record. What goes around certainly comes around in the Middle East, and it comes around with a depressing regularity. The Arab Spring was never going to end the cycle.John R. Bradley is the author of After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts (Palgrave Macmillan).




Posted in Saudi ArabiaComments Off on Western Policies and the Wahhabi Cult

Syria: خمـس أزمات أخلاقية

  لا يواجه المرء أزمة أخلاقية واحدة فى الشأن السورى بل خمس أزمات سويا


أولا: لا يمكن للإنسان أن يؤيد صف دبابات يسير تحت شرفات الخلق، يسمى نفسه حكما وحكومة، وهو يطلق النار على الأحياء المدنية، ويقتل الأطفال والنساء بالآلاف، ويعذب المعتقلين السياسيين،  ولا عذر له، فإن زعم أنه  يواجه تمردا مسلحا اليوم فإنه لم يكن يواجه تمردا مسلحا حين حبس الأطفال فى درعا. وهو إلى ذلك فيه من عِبَر الزمان ما فيه، وحدث عن التوريث والحزب الواحد والتمييز الطائفى والبنية الأمنية ولا حرج، أما إعلامه فتكفى نصف ساعة من متابعته لدفعك للجنون. وقد قلت من قبل إن كان تحرير فلسطين يقتضى تعذيب أطفال سوريا، فأبقوها محتلة خير لأطفالكم وأطفالها.

ثانيا: لا يمكن للإنسان أن يؤيد الطرح السياسى للمجلس الوطنى السورى المعارض، لأنه وضع نفسه فى حلف واضح مع الولايات المتحدة، ورئيس المجلس وعد الأمريكيين علنا، وأكثر من مرة، بخنق المقاومة اللبنانية وفك الحلف مع إيران وقصر علاقته على منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية دون حركة حماس، والمتحدثة باسم المجلس نظمت لقاءات بين العرب والإسرائيليين فى فرنسا وغيرها منذ ثمانينيات القرن الماضى، وهيئات التنسيق الميدانية التابعة للمجلس الوطنى نظمت جُمَعا مطالبة بالتدخل الدولى وحظر الطيران، أى أن تطير طائرات حربية أمريكية أو فرنسية فى الأجواء السورية لقصف البلاد، وكأنى أرى وجه أحمد الجلبى فى كل عضو من أعضاء هذا المجلس.

ثالثا: لا يمكن للإنسان أن يدعو الناس للتظاهر مع معاداة كل من النظام والمجلس الوطنى السورى، لأن فى ذلك تضليلا لهم، فنحن نعلم أن الخيار لا يعدو هذين، وأن المجلس الوطنى السورى هو الذى يحظى وسيحظى بالاعتراف الدولى دون غيره، فإن دعونا الناس للتظاهر فنحن ندعمه شئنا أم أبينا. هذه واحدة، والثانية هى أننا لا نقدر أن ندعو الناس للموت فى حرب نعلم أن احتمال انتصارهم فيها ضئيل، وأنهم إن انتصروا فسيصلون لا إلى الحرية بل على الأرجح إلى الحرب أهلية، أو إلى تسليم الأمة كلها إلى الأمريكان أو كلا الأمرين معا، وسأشرح هذا بالتفصيل أدناه.

رابعا: لا يستطيع الإنسان أن يصمت، لأنه حين يفعل، بينما قد تكلم عن كل الثورات العربية الأخرى، سيترك للمغرضين تفسير موقفه كما يشتهون، وأنا أقول عن تجربة إن أخلاق الكثيرين فى أوساط المجلس الوطنى السورى ليست أحسن إطلاقا من أخلاق أى جهاز أمن عربى، وقد وُضع إسمى وأسماء كتاب عرب ومصريين آخرين على بيانات مؤيدة للمجلس الوطنى دون أن نعلم بهدف توريطنا، فإن سكتنا أصبحنا داعمين لقوة سياسية ندينها تماما، وإن تكلمنا شوهت مواقفنا وقيل إننا نساند القمع ونحن نعادى القمع والقامعين عداء صريحا أيضا.

خامسا: حتى كتابة هذه السطور تشكل أزمة أخلاقية لأنك حين تكتبها تفت فى عضد الناس، وتخبر الغاضبين لدماء أبنائهم أن قيادتهم السياسية ستخيب أملهم، وهذا مؤلم جدا لى كما هو مؤلم لهم، ولكنه مبلغ علمى واجتهادى.


 فإن كان تأييد الحكومة ممتنعا، وتأييد المعارضة ممتنعا، وتأييد المتظاهرين دون المعارضة ممتنعا، والصمت ممتنعا، والكلام مؤلما، فأهون الشرور الخمسة هو الكلام، لبراءة الذمة، والتحذير من الخطر الذى أرى.

أقول: إن مسعى المجلس الوطنى آيل للفشل حتى وإن نجح. فإذا بقى النظام فقد ذهب دم الناس، وإن سقط النظام، فإن دماء أكثر ستهدر فى سوريا والعراق ولبنان وفلسطين، وإليكم الدليل:

إن المظاهرات السورية انطلقت يوم انطلقت اعتراضا على السياسية الداخلية السورية لا على السياسة الخارجية السورية، وهى سياسة دعمت المقاومة وحمت كلا من لبنان وفلسطين والعراق من أن تأكلها الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية أكلا. إلا أن المعارضة فى سعيها للحصول على الدعم الدولى راحت تعد الأمريكيين والفرنسيين بتغيير السياسية الخارجية السورية بدلا من أن تعمل على بناء الإجماع الوطنى داخل سوريا، وفى دمشق وحلب تحديدا.

إن فك شبكة الأحلاف السورية يهدد الآلاف من اللبنانيين الجنوبيين بالموت في  حرب انتقامية ستشنها إسرائيل حتما عاجلا أو آجلا.

وتفكيك المقاومة اللبنانية يعنى بالضرورة قصم ظهر المقاومة الفلسطينية التى ستفقد ظهيرها الشمالى، وسندها الإقليمى، فالمجلس الأعلى للقوات المسلحة المصرية الحاكم فى مصر، كما كثير من القوى السياسية فيها، يبدون تمسكهم باتفاقية السلام مع إسرائيل، ما يلقى بظلال من الشك حول مدى السند الذى يمكنهم أن يوفروه للمقاومة الفلسطينية. وعليه، فإن هذه المقاومة ستظل معتمدة على سندها الإيرانى والسورى حتى تقرر مصر مصيرها وموقفها من التحالفات الإقليمية.  لذلك فإن برنامج المجلس الوطنى السورى يهدد آلاف الفلسطينيين فى غزة بالموت أيضا فى أية حرب إسرائيلية عليهم، ويدع القضية الفلسطينية فى أيدى رجال كفياض وعباس.

أما الإيرانيون فإنهم إذا فقدوا اتصالهم بالجنوب اللبنانى فقدوا منصة لمحاربة إسرائيل برا إذا هاجمتهم جوا. ومهاجمة إيران لإسرائيل تحميها بطريقتين، الأولى مباشرة، حيث تقدر إيران وحلفاؤها أن تصيب أى هدف فى إسرئيل عن قرب، والثانية غير مباشرة، حيث يؤدى إجبار إسرائيل على الدخول فى الحرب ضد إيران إلى تفكك أى تحالف عربى أمريكى ضدها أمام ضغط الشارع. لذلك فإن حرمان إيران من اتصالها الجغرافى بجنوب لبنان عبر العراق وسوريا يعرضها لخطر داهم هى الأخرى.

لذلك فإن حلفاء دمشق لن يكفوا عن دعمها. إن القوم شأنهم شأن السوريين، يدافعون عن حياتهم وحياة أولادهم، وهم يعلمون أن بديل النظام هو المجلس الوطنى، ولم يأل السيد برهان غليون جهدا فى إخافتهم بإعلانه عن نواياه.

أما روسيا فإن المجلس الوطني  يهددها  بفقدان الحلف الوحيد الموالى لها خلف هلال من القواعد الأمريكية والدول الحليفة لأمريكا يمتد من جمهوريات البلطيق إلى حدود الصين، فلاتفيا ولثوانيا وإستونيا وبولندا والمجر والتشيك وسلوفاكيا وسلوفينيا وكرواتيا ورومانيا وبلغاريا واليونان وتركيا أعضاء فى حلف الناتو، ثم من تركيا شرقا أذربيجان و أزبكستان وطاجيكستان وقرغيستان على حدود الصين حلفاء للولايات المتحدة، بالإضافة إلى كل من أفغانستان وباكستان. إن إيران والعراق وسوريا ولبنان هى الكتلة الوحيدة الواقعة إلى الجنوب والجنوب الغربى من هذا القوس الممتد من الشمال الغربى لروسيا إلى جنوبها الشرقى، وهو منفذها الوحيد على المياه الدافئة للبحر المتوسط بعد خسرانها ليوغوسلافيا. والرئيس الروسى فلاديمير بوتين مقبل على انتخابات جعل الأمن الاستراتيجى فيها أحد أهم مرتكزات دعايته، وهو لا يعيش فى أزمة اقتصادية، بينما الأمريكيون يعيشون أسوأ أزماتهم المالية، وأوباما سيدخل الانتخابات ودعايته قائمة على إنهاء الحروب لا بدئها. فرغبة موسكو وقدرتها على دعم دمشق أكبر من رغبة واشنطن وقدرتها على دعم الجيش السورى الحر. ونقل الثورة إلى حرب أهلية يعنى أن الطرف الأكثر تزودا بالسلاح سينتصر فيها، وأن العدد لم يعد يهم، ففى الثورات الشعبية كمصر وتونس، يغلب العدد السلاح، وفى الحروب الأهلية ينتصر من يكثر سلاحه لا عدده. وروسيا وإيران يدافعان عن نفسيها ضد انتشار نفوذ الولايات المتحدة، وموقفهما جيواستراتيجى محض، ولا محل هنا لأى كلام طائفى لا معنى له، المسألة استراتيجية محضة، وتوازن قوى مائل بشدة لغير صالح المعارضة السورية المسلحة

وإن كانت المملكة العربية السعودية تدعم الجيش السورى الحر، فإن لدعمها حدودا، لأنها تخاف أن يصل بعض الدعم إلى منظمات إسلامية سنية لا تحب السعودية ولا تحبها السعودية ولا تسمح لها أمريكا بدعمها، كالقاعدة مثلا، ثم إن الرياض لن تستطيع أن تدعم الجيش السورى الحر بالطائرات والدبابات. أما إيران وروسيا فدعمهما لحلفائهما غير محدود ولا مقيد بهذه القيود.

وكما فشل المجلس الوطنى السورى فى تحييد حلفاء دمشق وطمأنتهم وأدت مواقفه إلى زيادة تمسكهم بتحالفهم معها، فإنه فشل أيضا  فى طمأنة الأقليات السورية، وعلى رأسها العلويون. لا يوجد ما يدعونا للظن أن العلويين فى سوريا، إذا سقط النظام، سيتصرفون بشكل مختلف عن السنة فى العراق بعد صدام. ولا تملك المعارضة السورية أية ضمانات لمنع اقتتال كهذا. ثم إن حربا أهلية فى سوريا ستنعكس فورا على كل من العراق ولبنان، وندخل فى حرب أهلية عامة بين كل سنة المشرق العربى وكل شيعته. وهى ستفرق حتما بين إيران وتركيا، وبدلا من تكوُّن حلف إيرانى عراقى سورى لبنانى فلسطينى لا تعارضه تركيا وربما تنضم إليه مصر يحاصر مصلحتى أمريكا إسرائيل والنفط، سيتكون فى المشرق حلف سنى من تركيا والسعودية والأردن وربما مصر، وحلف شيعى فى إيران والعراق، يتقاتلان على سوريا ولبنان ويتركان لإسرائيل أن تفعل ما تشاء بالفلسطينيين وسائر الأمة.


لا يوجد فى أى من هذه السيناريوهات، حل ديمقراطى لسوريا، أللهم إلا بالتفاوض مع القوى الأقليمية، وطمأنه حلفاء دمشق أن ما يجرى فى البلاد ليس موجها ضدهم.

وكثيرا ما سئلت، لماذا لم تكتب يا سوريا هانت وبانت، وكنت أسكت وأقول لنفسى متألما، لأنها فى سوريا لا هانت ولا بانت.


Posted in ArabicComments Off on Syria: خمـس أزمات أخلاقية

Syrian Regime Propaganda


I was looking at Syrian regime newspaper, Al-Watan, and saw a headline about violations of press freedoms.  I was surprised: I thought maybe a new trend in Syrian regime media.  I looked at the article and it turns out that they are covering press violations in the occupied territories.

تراجع تصنيف الكيان الإسرائيلي على سلم الحريات الإعلامية بالنسبة لوسائل الإعلام الإسرائيلية المحلية، وحتى الغربية والدولية العاملة، لا يبرر بحال من الأحوال،

من وجهة نظر كثير من الإعلاميين والمراقبين، انتهاك حرية الإعلام الفلسطيني، ومقاساته لأهوال إضافية ومعاملته بأسلوب خاص يختلف عن بقية وسائل الإعلام الموجودة داخل فلسطين المحتلة ويمتاز عنها بها.

مشكلة الكيان الإسرائيلي أنه يتعامل مع واحد من أكثر شعوب الأرض خبرة بألاعيبه وأحابيله، ولربما كان الشعب الفلسطيني المكافئ الموضوعي الوحيد لتجمع أشرار الأرض وشرذمة شذاذ الآفاق (إسرائيل)، فكان البدهي أن يكون مقابله، ودون أن نتهم بأي شوفينية أو تعصب، مكافئاً له من حيث الخيرية والقدرة على تمثل دور «النذير العريان»، وهو الشخص الذي يضطلع بمهمة تحذير قومه والاطلاع على ما لم يطلع عليه غيره بحكم قربه من مضارب العدو، بالنسبة لجميع الأمة (الشعب الفلسطيني).
المركز الفلسطيني للتنمية والحريات الإعلامية «مدى» أصدر مؤخراً تقريره السنوي حول ما تعرضت له الحريات الإعلامية في الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة من انتهاكات خلال العام 2011، والذي يوثّق فيه جميع الانتهاكات التي رصدها بحق الصحفيين والمؤسسات الإعلامية، بالإضافة إلى بعض التحليلات لأبرز وأخطر الانتهاكات التي ارتكبت في العام 2011.
ورصد مركز «مدى» ما مجموعه 206 انتهاكات بحق الحريات الإعلامية في الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة خلال العام الماضي 2011، وهو رقم قريب جداً من عدد الانتهاكات التي رصدها المركز خلال العام 2010 والتي وصلت إلى 218 انتهاكاً. وعلى الرغم من أن الأرقام تشير إلى انخفاض عدد الانتهاكات عن العام 2010، إلا أنه لا يعتبر تحسّناً نوعياً في وضع الحريات الإعلامية؛ نظراً لخطورة بعض الانتهاكات التي ارتكبت في العام 2011.
مدير مركز مدى، موسى الريماوي، أكد بعد إصداره للتقرير أن وضع الحريات الإعلامية في الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة لا يزال سيئاً، بسبب الاعتداءات المتواصلة للاحتلال الإسرائيلي ومستوطنيه على الصحفيين والمؤسسات الإعلامية، وانتهاكات الأجهزة الأمنية الفلسطينية، مشدداً على أنه من دون زوال الاحتلال الإسرائيلي، وتحقيق المصالحة الفلسطينية، يصعب الحديث عن تحسن حقيقي في حالة الحريات الإعلامية.
وأشار الريماوي إلى أن الانتهاكات الفلسطينية قد تخطت وللمرّة الأولى من حيث عددها انتهاكات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي ولو بفارق بسيط، حيث ارتكبت الأجهزة الأمنية في الضفة والقطاع 106 انتهاكات في ارتفاع ملحوظ قياساً بالعام 2010 (79 انتهاكاً)، في حين ارتكبت قوات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي والمستوطنون 100 انتهاك، وسجلت انخفاضاً ملموساً قياساً بالعام 2010 (139 انتهاكاً).
انتهاكات قوات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي ورغم أنها أقل من حيث العدد، إلا أنها شكّلت خطراً كبيراً على حياة العديد من الصحفيين أثناء قيامهم بعملهم الصحفي، حيث استهدفتهم بالرصاص وقنابل الغاز والصوت، وأصابت العديد منهم إصابات جدية وخطيرة، وخاصة أن الصحفيين لا يبلغون عن بعض الانتهاكات الإسرائيلية كمنعهم من التغطية والسفر مما يجعل الانتهاكات الإسرائيلية تزيد فعلياً عن الانتهاكات الفلسطينية.
وبحسب تقرير «مدى»، فإن أخطر وأفظع انتهاكات العام الماضي كانت جريمة قتل الصحفي الإيطالي فيتوريو أريغوني على يد مجموعة مسلحة في قطاع غزة، والتي شكّلت صدمة كبيرة للمجتمع الفلسطيني، خاصةً أن أريغوني كان واحداً من أنشط المتضامنين مع الشعب الفلسطيني من خلال وجوده في غزة ومساعدة أهلها لمدّة ثلاث سنوات، ومن خلال كتاباته التي أبرز فيها معاناة أهالي القطاع جرّاء الحصار الإسرائيلي.
وشهد العام 2011 أيضاً إصابة خطيرة تعرّض لها الصحفي محمد عثمان الذي أصيب برصاص قوات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي في صدره ويده أثناء تغطيته لمسيرة العودة في الذكرى الثالثة والستين للنكبة بتاريخ 15/5/2011، حيث بقي غير قادر على تحريك الجزء السفلي من جسده لفترة طويلة، ما استدعى نقله إلى تركيا لتلقي العلاج، وهو ما يزال هناك لغاية الآن.
تجاهل الاحتلال الإسرائيلي المستمر للمواثيق الدولية، وخاصةً المادة 19 من الإعلان العالمي لحقوق الإنسان، واستمراره في التعدي على الحريات الصحفية في الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة، حول مهنة الصحافة إلى واحدة من أصعب المهن وأخطرها التي يمارسها الفلسطينيون، بينما يظل الصمت الدولي تجاه الانتهاكات الإسرائيلية، وعدم اتخاذ أي قرارات نافذة للحد من خطورتها على حياة الصحفيين، ومحاسبة المسؤولين عنها، الأمر الأكثر إثارة للاستغراب والتعجب، في ظل منافحة هذه الجهات عن الحريات الإعلامية في مواطن كثيرة، ليس من ضمنها، بطبيعة الحال، الكيان الإسرائيلي!


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الأسير «يزحف» إلى بيروت


إيران ذبحتنا في العراق وأفغانستان(هيثم الموسوي)

مع بدايات الحراك السوري، اتخذ الشيخ أحمد الأسير، قراره: المسجد سينزل إلى الشارع. كانت المرة الأولى لتحرك من نوع كهذا. تغيّرت الأمور كثيراً خلال 10 أشهر. الأسير خرج من المسجد، وسيبدأ «الزحف نحو بيروت»

نادر صباغ

في ساعة مبكرة من صباح الاثنين الماضي، رنّ الهاتف الخلوي لإحدى الشخصيات السنّية الفاعلة في العمل السياسي الجماهيري. كان المتصل من الضنية، وكان صاحب الهاتف لا يزال يغطّ في نومه العميق في أحد أحياء العاصمة. يسأل المتصل صديقه: «هل سمعت بالتحرك الذي أُعلن إلى ساحة الشهداء الأحد المقبل؟ هل هو للصيداويين فحسب؟». لم يملك المتلقّي إجابة، لم يكن قد سمع بالموضوع. طلب استمهاله القليل من الوقت كي يستوضح ماذا يجري.

قبل هذه الحادثة بساعات، كانت قاعات مسجد بلال بن رباح في منطقة عبرا في ضواحي صيدا تتلقف كلمات إمام المسجد الشيخ أحمد الأسير بنوع من الدهشة وكثير من الحماسة والرغبة في التعبير والتكبير والاحتجاج والغضب.
المناسبة كانت اعتصاماً تضامنياً مع قضية ما بات يعرف بـ«الموقوفين الإسلاميين» في السجون اللبنانية. حرم المسجد الذي ضمّ نحو ألفي شخص، ضجّ بالمشاهد التي تخللها الاعتصام عن فيلم توثيقي للأحداث التي تجري في سوريا. لم يستطع الحضور كتمان صرخات التكبير واللعن والغضب تجاه النظام السوري ورموزه وأفعاله.
تزامناً، كان الإعلان عن «خطوة نوعية» تأتي على لسان الأسير نفسه: «سنبدأ الزحف إلى بيروت»، قالها بنبرة قوية، لتهدر الحناجر من بعدها «الله أكبر… الله أكبر»، ويسود كلام بين الحاضرين عن أنه آن الأوان لتحرك كهذا، سرعان ما توضّح معناه: تجمّع في ساحة الشهداء يوم الأحد المقبل.
لماذا إلى بيروت؟ يجيب الأسير «الأخبار»: «لا لأمر بعينه، فقط نريد أن نرسل رسالة إلى الجميع بأننا مع نصرة المظلوم إن شاء الله، وضد الظلم، وأن لبنان لا يمكن أن تختزله فئة أو محور ما بموقف معين. هناك أناس في لبنان يرفضون المجازر التي ترتكب بحق إخواننا في سوريا، وأقل ما يمكننا فعله هو أن نصرخ بوجه الظالم، وأن نرفع صوت الألم».
عن رمزية الخطوة وما قد يحمله تحرك كهذا من دلالات، إذ إنه يحدث للمرة الأولى في قلب بيروت من قبل قوى ذات لون معين لم تعتدها الساحة السياسية المحلية من قبل ولها خصوصيتها، يرد الأسير: «بيروت عاصمة لكل اللبنانيين، والتحرك ليس مقتصراً على فئة دون أخرى. إنه موقف تجاه ما تشهده سوريا، ويمكن أي إنسان أن يشارك فيه، بغض النظر عن دينه أو طائفته أو مذهبه. لسنا في وارد تحدي أحد. وكما أن في لبنان من يؤيّدون النظام السوري وإجرامه، يجب على العالم أن يعلم أن هناك في لبنان من هو ضد كل ما يرتكبه هذا النظام من أفعال».
يقال إن لبنان مقسوم على نفسه بين مؤيّد لما يجري في سوريا ومعارض له، وإن هناك أطرافاً عدة تسعى إلى تجنيب البلد أيّ تداعيات لما تشهده الشام. فماذا لو أدى هذا التحرك إلى مواجهة في الشارع بين شارعين، لا سيما أن الكلام بدأ يكثر عن تظاهرة مضادة يجري الإعداد لها في وجه ما تُعدّون له؟ يعلّق الشيخ الأسير بالقول: «على الجميع أن يتحمل مسؤوليته، لا سيما الدولة والأجهزة الأمنية. تحركنا، كما قلنا مراراً وتكراراً، سلمي وتحت سقف القانون، ومنذ أكثر من 10 أشهر نقوم بتحركات واعتصامات يُجمع حتى منتقدونا ومخالفونا على أنها حضارية وغير استفزازية. كذلك أكدنا مراراً أننا نريد أن نعيش في هذا البلد مع الجميع، ولكن لن نرضى أن نعيش مواطنين من الدرجة الثانية».
ويتابع: «لن يثنينا التهويل أو التخويف عن الرجوع عن قرارنا وخطوتنا التي سنمضي بها حتى النهاية، حتى آخر قطرة دم في عروقنا. وليعلم الجميع ذلك، مهما اشتدت الضغوط. نحن في بلد فيه قانون، ولا نعيش في غابة. وإذا كانت الدولة غير قادرة على حماية مواطنيها في تحركهم تحت سقف القانون، فلتعلن ذلك بوضوح، وعندها لكل حادث حديث».
البحث عن قائد
«الزحف إلى بيروت» كما قال «الشيخ»، قرار اتخذه بمفرده، «ومن دون تنسيق مع أي من القوى السياسية أو الإسلامية الأخرى»، على حدّ جزمه. والسبب «أننا لا نريد أن نفرض قراراتنا على أحد. الجميع أدرى بداخليته. أبلغنا إخواننا بما ننوي القيام به، ودعوناهم بالطبع، وتُرك لهم القرار بحسب ما يرونه مناسباً، والدعوة مفتوحة أمام الجميع». وبحسب مقرّبين من الأسير، فإن الاتصالات «انهالت عليه من شتى المناطق اللبنانية منذ صباح الاثنين الماضي (مع تناقل الخبر)، لتسأل عن التحرك وماهيته، وكيفية المشاركة، وتعلن الدعم والتأييد وتأكيد الحضور».
يقول مقرّبون من الأسير إن السبب في «هذه الاستجابة غير المتوقعة مع خطوة كهذه جاءت نتيجة الإحباط والغضب التي تعانيه الساحة السنّية جرّاء المشاهدات اليومية لما يجري في سوريا، من جهة، وبسبب عدم ارتقاء المواقف السياسية، سواء المحلية أو الخارجية، إلى حجم التوقعات التي يأملها الكثيرون تجاه الملف السوري من جهة أخرى».
«والشيخ أحمد»، بحسب متابعين لحركته، يمثل «الحالة السنّية الوحيدة في لبنان التي تشهد تنامياً، بينما جميع القوى الأخرى في تراجع ملحوظ. يمكنكم سؤال عشرات الاتصالات التي تتهافت عليه لتقديم السيارات والخدمات لنقل الراغبين في النزول إلى ساحة الشهداء الأحد المقبل».
حتى اليوم، لا يزال الشيخ الصيداوي في حساب الحقل. أما البيدر ففي ساحة الشهداء الأحد المقبل.

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Syrians should beware of some of their foreign ‘friends


Brotherly Arab dictators

ed note: “At one point during Friday’s meeting, the Saudi foreign ministerreportedly stormed out, self-righteously complaining about “inaction” (though some reports deny it). Later, asked if arming the Syrian opposition would be a good idea, he replied: “I think it’s an excellent idea.” Indeed, some suspect the Saudis are already doing just that.  Meanwhile Qatar, a less oppressive autocracy than Saudi Arabia but an autocracy nevertheless, called for the creation of “an Arab force” for Syria.  None of that bodes well for Syria’s future.

The Saudis, who have banned all forms of demonstrations on their own turf and are not averse toshooting protesters, have deliberately messed up two Arab revolutions over the past year – first by sending troops into Bahrain to preserve the monarchy there, and then by manipulating the Yemeni uprising to ensure that nothing much would change after they abandoned President Saleh.

Given that, there was a curious irony to the banners hung around the conference area in Tunis on Friday. The English “Friends of Syria” had been changed in Arabic to say “Friends of the Syrian people” – as if to emphasise that they had the interests of ordinary Syrians uppermost in their hearts.  The reality, of course, is that for all countries attending, national interests (or what they perceive as their national interests) come first and the Syrian people second. In some cases a distant second, even among the “brotherly” Arabs.”

Syrians should fear eastern, not western, intervention – especially autocratic ‘friends’ like Saudi Arabia.

Hillary Clinton, meets with Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, meets with Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, in Tunis during the Friends of Syria conference. Photograph: Jason Reed/AFP/Getty Images

From Monday no one will be tortured in Syria. The state will guarantee personal freedom for its citizens and preserve their dignity and security. People’s homes will be inviolable. Everyone will have the right to express opinions freely and openly, and the state will guarantee the freedom and independence of the press.

At least, that is what is supposed to happen if President Assad gets a yes vote today in his referendum on the new constitution. It’s meant to show Syrians – and the rest of the world – that Assad, in the midst of turmoil, is steadily and calmly pressing ahead with “reforms”.

Hardly anyone is convinced, though. The contrast with what is happening on the ground – and internationally – lends an air of unreality to the new constitution and its accompanying referendum. As the multinational Friends of Syria group gathered in Tunis on Friday to discuss ways of toppling the regime, the regime itself was blithely preparing to announce that for the convenience of voters the number of polling stations in Syria would be increased from 13,835 to 14,185.

But if Assad is whistling into the wind, so too are the Friends of Syria. They are divided over what to do – mainly because there is no course of action, apart from further isolation of the Assad regime, that doesn’t carry a serious risk of making matters worse.

At the meeting in Tunis on Friday, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton had little to offer beyond $10m in humanitarian aid for Syrians and the words: “We cannot let them down.” She also predicted an internal coup. That would conveniently relieve the Americans of their what-to-do-about-Assad dilemma – though, as we have seen in Egypt, it wouldn’t necessarily bring deliverance to Syrians.

For Britain, the foreign secretary, William Hague, has vowed to keep “tightening the diplomatic and economic stranglehold on the regime” while more or less ruling out military action. It may not seem much – especially to those under rocket fire in Homs – but it might do a bit of good and, more important, it’s unlikely to do much harm.

What we should fear most is not western military intervention, since it isn’t in prospect, but eastern intervention. There is something surreal about a group of “friends” promoting change in Syria that includes so many autocrats and, as one of its leading lights, the country most notorious for resisting progress: Saudi Arabia.

At one point during Friday’s meeting, the Saudi foreign ministerreportedly stormed out, self-righteously complaining about “inaction” (though some reports deny it). Later, asked if arming the Syrian opposition would be a good idea, he replied: “I think it’s an excellent idea.” Indeed, some suspect the Saudis are already doing just that.

Meanwhile Qatar, a less oppressive autocracy than Saudi Arabia but an autocracy nevertheless, called for the creation of “an Arab force” for Syria.

None of that bodes well for Syria’s future. The Saudis, who have banned all forms of demonstrations on their own turf and are not averse toshooting protesters, have deliberately messed up two Arab revolutions over the past year – first by sending troops into Bahrain to preserve the monarchy there, and then by manipulating the Yemeni uprising to ensure that nothing much would change after they abandoned President Saleh.

Given that, there was a curious irony to the banners hung around the conference area in Tunis on Friday. The English “Friends of Syria” had been changed in Arabic to say “Friends of the Syrian people” – as if to emphasise that they had the interests of ordinary Syrians uppermost in their hearts.

The reality, of course, is that for all countries attending, national interests (or what they perceive as their national interests) come first and the Syrian people second. In some cases a distant second, even among the “brotherly” Arabs.

Saudi Arabia’s Sunni/Wahhabi rulers are paranoid about what they see as a threat from Shia Muslims. They are fearful not just of Iran but of the marginalised Shia communities inside their own realm and the rebellious Shia majority in Bahrain ruled over by a Sunni king. There’s also Iraq on their northern border where long-suppressed Shia influence has re-emerged – thanks to George Bush – following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

From a Saudi perspective, getting rid of Assad will help to shift the balance back in Sunni Islam’s direction. Most Syrians are Sunnis, though the regime itself is dominated by Alawites – a Shia offshoot – and closely allied to Iran. Saudi “support” for the Syrian opposition, therefore, is likely to make the conflict more sectarian rather than less.

Syrians should beware of “friends” as much as enemies.

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Zio-Nazi Gestapo raids Palestinian television stations


ed note–anyone who has any doubts as to WHY organized Jewish interests insist upon dominating what is seen, read, and heard through their control of the media should understand that these interests know that where the head goes, the body follows. A person who cannot think rationally cannot ACT rationally. So, whether it is Jewry’s lock on Western media and how the narrative is constructed (holocaust, 9/11, Islamic terrorism, USS LIEBRTY, etc, etc, etc) or whether it is their raiding Palestinian tv stations, the reason is the same–control the mind and you control the body.

The typically shallow excuse given for it by Israel–, that the stations were ‘interfering with air traffic’ demonstrates how stupid Jews see Gentiles, that we would actually fall for something like this.

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – Israeli soldiers raided two Palestinian television stations in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, seizing transmitters the military said were interfering with air traffic communications.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad visited one of the stations, Watan TV in Ramallah, and said the Israeli operation was “oppressive and monstrous” and violated “all international laws”.

The Israeli military said Watan TV and Alquds educational television, which is also based in Ramallah, had been asked repeatedly by Israel to stop using frequencies that cut into Israeli wireless communications and air traffic control bands.

“Soldiers accompanied Communications Ministry officials to the pirate stations … a number of transmitters were seized,” a military spokesman said.

 Ramallah is the seat of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority and Israeli troops man checkpoints on the edges of the city, just north of Jerusalem.

 Fayyad said the raid represented an attack against “what is left of the Palestinian Authority’s status in the West Bank”, an apparent reference to Israel’s overall security control of the territory, which it captured in a 1967 war and where it has built more than 120 settlements.

Palestinians are seeking to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Ahmed Milhem, a Watan TV employee, said the station, owned by local non-governmental organizations, broadcasts news and cultural and political programs. He said the raid lasted some three hours.

“They seized computers, broadcast equipment and administrative files,” Milhem told Reuters by telephone. “The station is now off the air.”

Alquds television said it expected to receive replacement equipment later in the day and begin broadcasting again.

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Oakland carries Khader Adnan to Occupy San Quentin

Feb 28, 2012

Allison Deger

oo mij
(Photo: Marin Independent Journal)

On Monday, February 20, 700 activists with Occupy Oakland descended upon San Quentin State Prison.  Palestinian and Arab activists organized a small contingency to focus on hunger striker Khader Adnan. Occupiers were surrounded by police as they held signs and distributed literature on Israeli administrative detention.

oo poster
(Photo: Allison Deger)

The demonstration’s main target, San Quentin, one of California’s largest adult prisons, was on lockdown: highway exits to the prison were closed, and the 4,055 prisoners inside the facility were forced to stay in their cells the entire day. Outside at the three-hour rally, Occupiers called for an end to the death penalty, life sentences, parole restrictions, and political prisoners. Occupy Oakland focused on Adnan’s case as part of its broader campaign against mass incarceration and police repression.

oo bill harwick
(Photo: Bill Hackwell)

Zachariah Barghouti, Oakland Occupier and organizer with the Palestinian Youth Movement commented on bringing Adnan into Occupy San Quentin:

I protested in support of our comrade Khader Adnan because he flipped my world upside down. Khader Adnan is willing to sacrifice his life, literally starve his ego, to make a future without Israeli prisons possible for all Palestinians. Khader Adnan embodied self-sacrifice, a concept mastered by the few, and taught me that, like history, resistance is my food, my fuel, and my body is a vehicle for change.

oo shirt
(Photo: Allison Deger)

From Oakland to Palestine, occupation is a crime

Oakland is the first of the occupy movements to incorporate Palestine solidarity into its cross-movement building. The occupy political organizing in the Bay Area is fiercely anti-racist, and the Oakland community has long-standing experience with excessive force and illegal detention.  Currently, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) is under threat of a federal takeover after failing to make reforms a judge ordered following a misconduct scandal.  About ten years ago, a group of OPD officers known as the “rough riders” were charged with excessive force and planting drugs on black residents of blighted West Oakland.  The officers were acquitted and OPD failed to make any of the 53 reforms.  This impunity towards police and criminalization of Oakland residents is what connects this California community to the occupied Palestinian territories.

oo sitting
(Photo: Allison Deger)

Moreover, a few weeks ago, Occupy Oakland endorsed Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the state of Israel, and there are plans to hold panel discussions on March 13 with Tristan Anderson and Scott Olson. In 2009 Anderson was critically injured from an Israeli tear gas canister and Olson sustained a severe head wound from a police crackdown last November, also from a tear gas canister.

oo smash
(Photo: Allison Deger)

When marching the one-mile back to where cars and buses were parked, protesters chanted for the freeing of all prisoners. And, in typical Occupy Oakland fashion, demonstrators also cheered, “the system has got to die, hella, hella occupy!”

oo zac lara
(Photo: Allison Deger)

The action was part of a “National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners,” with protest taking place in approximately a dozen U.S. cities.

Brooklyn’s Park Slope Food Coop to take the first step towards a boycott of Israeli goods on March 27

Feb 28, 2012

Carol Wald

park slope

Members of Brooklyn’s Park Slope Food Coop will be voting on more than work shift arrangements at the Coop’s monthly General Meeting in March. They’ll be deciding on whether they’ll be having a co-op wide referendum about the Coop’s stance on human rights.

On the agenda for the March 27 meeting is a proposal spearheaded by a diverse group of the Coop’s members on holding a referendum to determine the Coop’s participation in the global nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel’s violation of international law and human rights. Members hope the vote will bring some sort of conclusion to over two years of heated arguments in meetings and in the pages of the Coop’s biweekly newspaper.  A vote in favor of a referendum would allow all 16,000 Co-op members to vote on the boycott. Opposition to even voting on having a referendum has been fierce. Those in favor of a Co-op boycott are hoping for a yes vote on the referendum.  Without it, only members present at a General Meeting (typically a few hundred) could vote on whether the Co-op will join the boycott.  “On an issue that Co-op members feel so strongly about”, according to one of the organizers of the boycott, “it is essential for the entire membership to have a voice”.

Disagreement about a boycott hasn’t been confined to the newsletter . One member of  PSCF Members For BDS was assaulted by another member while shopping and several others have been verbally abused.   Some non-affiliated members, however, have written to the group saying that the BDS debate has allowed them to publicly voice their support, which they felt they couldn’t do before.

Historically, the Coop has been active in boycotts:  it opposed apartheid-era South Africa long before the call was widespread, joined in the boycott against Nestle, and in recent years has boycotted such companies as Coca-Cola and Flaum Appetizing for labor rights violations. For many, the proposal to boycott Israeli goods is the most contentious issue the Coop has ever dealt with. Turnout for the March 27 meeting is expected to be so high that Coop staff has reserved the auditorium of Brooklyn Technical High school, estimated to hold 1,700 people.

With a date set, and coverage in the Wall Street JournalDaily News, and Metro, the pace of organizing has stepped up – as well as the level of vitriol by anti-BDS coop members.

In the meantime, “PSFC members for BDS” continues to spread the word. Upcoming events the group has sponsored include the screening of the documentary Until When on February 28 and a presentation by Joel Kovel on the environmental crisis in Palestine/Israel on March 17th.

Ten reasons why AIPAC is so dangerous

Feb 28, 2012

Medea Benjamin

Graphic from the Occupy AIPAC website –

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is one of the most powerful lobby organizations in the country. AIPAC’s clout helps fuel a never-ending cycle of violence in the Middle East.

Here are ten reasons why AIPAC is so dangerous.

1. AIPAC is lobbying Congress to promote a military confrontation with Iran. AIPAC – like the Israeli government – is demanding that the U.S. attack Iran militarily to prevent Iran from having the technological capacity to produce nuclear weapons, even though U.S. officials say Iran isn’t trying to build a weapon (and even though Israel has hundreds of undeclared nuclear weapons). AIPAC has successfully lobbied the U.S. government to adopt crippling economic sanctions on Iran, including trying to cut off Iran’s oil exports, despite the fact that these sanctions raise the price of gas and threaten the U.S. economy.

2. AIPAC promotes Israeli policies that are in direct opposition to international law. These include the establishment of colonies (settlements) in the Occupied West Bank and the confiscation of Palestinian land in its construction of the 26-foot high concrete “separation barrier” running through the West Bank. The support of these illegal practices makes to impossible to achieve a solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

3. AIPAC’s call for unconditional support for the Israeli government threatens our national security. The United States’ one-sided support of Israel, demanded by AIPAC, has significantly increased anti-American sentiment throughout the Middle East, thus endangering our troops and sowing the seeds of more possible terrorist attacks against us. Gen. David Petraeus on March 16, 2010 admitted that the U.S./Palestine conflict “foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel.” He also said that “Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the [region] and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support.”

4. AIPAC undermines American support for democracy movements in the Arab world. AIPAC looks at the entire Arab world through the lens of Israeli government interests, not the democratic aspirations of the Arab people. It has therefore supported corrupt, repressive regimes that are friendly to the Israeli government, such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Events now unfolding in the Middle East should convince U.S. policy-makers of the need to break from AIPAC’s grip and instead support democratic forces in the Arab world.

5. AIPAC makes the U.S. a pariah at the UN. AIPAC describes the UN as a body hostile to the State of Israel and has pressured the U.S. government to oppose resolutions calling Israel to account. Since 1972, the US has vetoed 44 UN Security Council resolutions condemning Israel’s actions against the Palestinians. President Obama continues that policy. Under Obama, the US vetoed UN censure of the savage Israeli assault on Gaza in January 2009 in which about 1400 Palestinians were killed; a 2011 resolution calling for a halt to the illegal Israeli West Bank settlements even though this was stated U.S. policy; a 2011 resolution calling for Israel to cease obstructing the work of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees; and another resolution calling for an end to illegal Israeli settlement building in East Jerusalem and the occupied Golan Heights.

6. AIPAC attacks politicians who question unconditional support of Israel. AIPAC demands that Congress to rubber stamp legislation drafted by AIPAC staff. It keeps a record of how members of Congress vote and this record is used by donors to make contributions to the politicians who score well. Members of Congress who fail to support AIPAC legislation have been targeted for defeat in re-election bids. These include Senators Adlai Stevenson III and Charles H. Percy, and Representatives Paul Findley, Pete McCloskey, Cynthia McKinney, and Earl F. Hilliard. AIPAC’s overwhelmingly disproportionate influence on Congress subverts our democratic system.

7. AIPAC attempts to silence all criticism of Israel by labeling critics as “anti-Semitic,” “de-legitimizers” or “self-hating Jews.” Journalists, think tanks, students and professors have been accused of anti-Semitism for merely taking stands critical of Israeli government policies. These attacks stifle the critical discussions and debates that are at the heart of democratic policy-making. The recent attacks on staffers at the Center for American Progress is but one example of AIPAC efforts to crush all dissent.

8. AIPAC feeds U.S. government officials a distorted view of the Israel/Palestine conflict. AIPAC takes U.S. representatives on sugar-coated trips to Israel. In 2011, AIPAC took one out of very five members of Congress—and many of their spouses—on a free junket to Israel to see precisely what the Israeli government wanted them to see. It is illegal for lobby groups to take Congresspeople on trips, but AIPAC gets around the law by creating a bogus educational group, AIEF, to “organize” the trips for them. AIEF has the same office address as AIPAC and the same staff. These trips help cement the ties between AIPAC and Congress, furthering their undue influence.

9. AIPAC lobbies for billions of U.S. taxdollars to go to Israel instead of rebuilding America. While our country is reeling from a prolonged financial crisis, AIPAC is pushing for no cuts in military funds for Israel, a wealthy nation. With communities across the nation slashing budgets for teachers, firefighters and police, AIPAC pushes for over $3 billion a year to Israel.

10. Money to Israel takes funds from world’s poor. Israel has the 24th largest economy in the world, but thanks to AIPAC, it gets more U.S. taxdollars than any other country. At a time when the foreign aid budget is being slashed, keeping the lion’s share of foreign assistance for Israel meaning taking funds from critical programs to feed, provide shelter and offer emergency assistance to the world’s poorest people.

The bottom line is that AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has influence on U.S. policy out of all proportion to the number of Americans who support its policies. When a small group like this has disproportionate power, that hurts everyone—including Israelis and American Jews.

From stopping a catastrophic war with Iran to finally solving the Israel/Palestine conflict, an essential starting point is breaking AIPAC’s grip on U.S. policy.

Israelis sanction a march of incitement against Hanin Zoabi in her hometown

Feb 28, 2012

Today in Palestine

 Report: Police sanction protest against Zoabi in Nazareth
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli police have given permission for a right-wing march against a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament in her home town of Nazareth, Israeli media reported Monday. Part of a campaign under the slogan “Expel Hanin Zoabi from the Knesset”, her fellow parliamentarian Michael Ben-Ari will accompany activists from far-right group Our Land of Israel in the procession through the Palestinian city on March 11, Hebrew newspaper Maariv said.
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Land Theft / Destruction / Ethnic Cleansing / Apartheid


Islamic-Christian Committee Calls For Protecting Al-Aqsa Mosque
The Islamic-Christian Committee for Protecting Jerusalem and the Holy Sites, called on the Arab, Islamic and international countries to intervene for halting the escalating Israeli attacks against the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, especially amidst repeated attempts by extremist settlers who have been trying to break into it.
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Al-Quds Conference Decides To Head To UN

The Al-Quds Arab Conference, held in Doha – Qatar, concluded its deliberations on Monday with a decision to head to the United Nations over the ongoing Israeli violations and escalation against the Arab and Islamic Holy Sites in occupied East Jerusalem.
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Soldiers go to sleep in village threatened with demolition
Haj Sami Sadeq – Al Aqaba village council – A month after the Israeli Army issued demolition orders for 90% of the small village of Aqaba, villagers were surprised, on coming to prayer on an early morning hour, to find numerous Israeli soldiers deeply sleeping in jeeps outside the village`s mosque – evidently having complete trust in the goodwill of the threatened village`s inhabitants. Indeed, Aqaba villagers took care not to disturb the sleeping soldiers.
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Violence & Aggression

Witnesses: Settlers raid Hebron village
HEBRON (Ma’an) — A group of Israelis entered Hebron village Halhul overnight Monday, sparking clashes with locals, witnesses said. No injuries were reported. Witnesses told Ma’an the group attempted to pray near Nabi Younis Mosque in the east of the village and threw stones at worshippers performing the dawn prayer. Israeli forces surrounded the village, and escorted the group out with military jeeps, locals said. Settler attacks in the West Bank against Palestinians increased by more than 50 percent in 2011, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
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Israeli warplanes intensify flights over Gaza
All types of Israeli warplanes were seen filling the skies over Gaza Strip on Monday evening as Palestinian security agencies evacuated their buildings in anticipation of possible air strikes.
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IOF soldiers storm Nabi Saleh village, search for demonstrators
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed the Nabi Saleh village to the north west of Ramallah on Sunday and broke into many homes at the pretext of looking for demonstrators.

February 25 2011-Hundreds of mourners on Saturday marched in the funeral procession of 25 year old Talaat Abdel-Rahman Ramiya, who was killed on Friday by the Israeli military forces in Qalandiya during clashes between them and unarmed Palestinian youth protesting the storming of Al-Aqsa compound by Israeli forces on the same day.
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Clashes and arrests in the town of Tur
Broke out this evening clashes in the town of Tur East Jerusalem and the occupation forces arrested two young men from the region. Our correspondent said that the clashes broke out near Al-Maqased hospital and Tur club down to the Sawwanah neighborhood crossroads. He said that the occupation authorities used large amounts of tear gas, rubber and sound bullets, and youths response with throwing stones and iron bars at soldiers. Witnesses said that soldiers arrested two young men at least in the confrontations that take place in the town for the fourth day in the neighborhood protesting to storm Al Aqsa Mosque on Friday.

Political Prisoners & Detainees

IOF soldiers arrest two minors, raid Jenin villages
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested two Palestinian minors near Yatta village in Al-Khalil province while rearing sheep.

IOF soldiers round up 8 Palestinians in Nablus village
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed Kafr Qalil village to the south east of Nablus at dawn Monday and rounded up eight citizens before withdrawing from the village.

IOF soldiers launch arrest campaign in Jenin refugee camp
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided the Jenin refugee camp at the early dawn hours on Tuesday and rounded up five citizens, local sources said.
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Uproar over arrest of Palestinian activist
Fadi Quran, a Palestinian activist, set to appear in an Israeli court for the second time since his arrest on Friday.

Palestinian activist faces Israeli administrative detention
Palestinian nonviolent youth activist, Fadi Quran was assaulted and arrested in Palestine on Friday as he demonstrated for the reopening of the Shuhada Street to Palestinians. Quran’s crime? Israeli officials say Fadi “pushed” a soldier.

Hunger Strikers
Palestinian Khader Adnan was rushed into surgery on Monday evening despite giving up his 66-day hunger strike last week. Prisoners’ rights group Addameer, which has been dealing with Adnan’s case, tweeted on Monday evening that Adnan had been taken into surgery but added that it was not clear whether his life was in danger.
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Khader Adnan ‘stable’ after surgery
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Khader Adnan is in a stable condition after undergoing surgery on his intestine after his 66 day hunger strike, a lawyer for the Palestinian detainees’ center said Tuesday. Raed Mahamid said after visiting Adnan in Zeev hospital in northern Israeli town Safed that his condition is good, and he is recovering from the anesthesia used during the operation. Adnan underwent surgery after reporting severe pain in his abdomen two days ago, caused by an intestinal blockage, after he went for two months without food.

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Female detainee Hana Shalabi has been moved to solitary confinement as a punishment for her hunger strike action, a lawyer from the Ministry of Detainees said Monday. Shireen Iraqi said that Hasharon prison authorities have moved Shalabi into isolation. Her health is deterioting, Iraqi said, adding that Shalabi has not been medically examined since she went on strike.

Four political detainees on hunger strike for one week
Four detainees in the PA jails have been on hunger strike in Nablus jails for the past week demanding their release, relatives said on Sunday.


Gaza power plant closes again
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Gaza’s only power plant has been forced to shut down for the second time in two weeks due to a fuel shortage, the energy authority in the Gaza Strip said Tuesday. Energy officials appealed to Egypt to provide Gaza with a sufficient amount of fuel to allow regular operation of the plant, adding that the disruptions were inflicting a heavy toll on the 1.7 million Palestinian residents of the blockaded strip. The power station had only re-started operations eight days ago, reactivating one of four generators when emergency fuel supplies arrived from Egypt. A crisis in fuel supplies shut the plant on Feb. 14, plunging Gaza into up to 18 hour blackouts per day.

Popular Protests 

On February 25th Palestinian men and women, elders and children, together with Israeli and international activists gathered for two demonstrations organized by the South Hebron Hills Popular Committee. The first demonstration, attended by approximately ninety people, was planned in response to twenty-nine trees being cut down during the last four months on private Palestinian property near the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on. During the action the participants planted about thirty small olive trees on a hill near the village of At-Tuwani. The demonstration was guarded by the Army, the border police, the police and the DCO (District Coordination Office), nearly forty officers overall.

Beit Ommar Demonstrators Continue to Demand an End to the Occupation
On Saturday, February 25th, 2012, Palestinian villagers from Beit Ommar, supported by international and Israeli solidarity activists, rallied against the Israeli occupation during the community’s weekly unarmed demonstration. As usual, the demonstrators headed towards the illegal Israeli settlement of Karmei Tzur, which is built on Beit Ommar village farmland. Demonstrators could not get anywhere close to the settlement fence; instead they were met with scores of soldiers preventing them from going any farther by pushing them back. The activists chanted and called upon the soldiers to act more humanely. Farmers in Beit Ommar want to access the land that the new fence separates them from; this is why these demonstrations take place. The increasing amount of land grabs make it more difficult for Beit Ommar residents to survive economically.

Occupation Forces Suppress Popular Weekly Protests, Dozens of Suffocation Cases from Poison Gas
al-Masara: The occupation forces suppressed the weekly protest against the settlements and the apartheid wall. This protest sent as well strong condemnation of the frequent attacks on the al Aqsa Mosque and remembered the anniversary of the Hebron massacre. People were chanting slogans in solidarity with the people of Hebron that had gathered in a mass protest demanding the opening of al-Shuhada Street, which has been closed since the massacre of Palestinian worshippers at the hands of an Israeli militant. The occupation forces suppressed the weekly march and prevented the protesters from entering their land under the pretext that the land is considered a closed military zone. Kufur Qaddom: The occupation forces rained tear gas bombs on the protestors, causing dozens of cases of suffocation. They also sprayed the protesters with sewage water and used sound bombs. However, all this failed to end the march. Bilin: A photojournalist alongside other protesters and internationals suffered from suffocation after inhaling tear gas. The weekly march came to kick off Israeli Apartheid Week under the title “Dignity and Resistance.” The occupation forces shot metal bullets covered with rubber and tear gas bombs towards the protesters.

Al Aqsa – “The banner of our struggle for justice, freedom and equality”
Yet another martyr, Talat Ramia, 23 years old, killed by the Israeli military with live rounds on his chest last Friday. The protest during which he was killed happened in ar Ram, a suburb of Jerusalem, in reaction to Israel’s threats against the al Aqsa mosque.The latest escalation came as a result of inflammatory statements from Israeli hard-liners threatening to destroy the mosque and build in its place a Jewish Temple.Ibrahim, an eyewitness to the events in Al Aqsa on Friday explains how the events unfolded: “I go every day to the al Aqsa mosque soo I have been able to follow not only the provocations from  the Israeli side but also the reaction from Palestinian Jerusalemites.

Activism / BDS
From March 5 – 9, 2012 the Bethlehem Bible College will be hosting it’s second “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bethlehem. The conference will bring Christians from around the world to Bethlehem to connect with Palestinian Christians and to better understand the daily situation they are living under and how certain Christian theological stances help to perpetuate those conditions.
A two-day conference of the international committee for the “Global March to Jerusalem” opened in Amman on Sunday. Members of both the executive and central committees of the march, representing more than 60 countries, were present. The head of the Jordanian committee taking part in the meeting, Abdullah Obeidat, said that trades unions and opposition parties decided to support the march and participate in defence of the holy city and Palestinian families in the occupied territories. “This is a global, peaceful protest with the aim of bringing about an end to Israel’s occupation and fighting racism in occupied Palestine,” he said.
Other News
Member of PLO Executive Committee tells Ma’an news agency that PA is mulling whether to spark a ‘popular uprising’ against the Israeli occupation.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli police have given permission for a right-wing march against a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament in her home town of Nazareth, Israeli media reported Monday. Part of a campaign under the slogan “Expel Hanin Zoabi from the Knesset”, her fellow parliamentarian Michael Ben-Ari will accompany activists from far-right group Our Land of Israel in the procession through the Palestinian city on March 11, Hebrew newspaper Maariv said.

Arab MKs: Harming al-Aqsa will lead to global jihad
Arab MKs spark fury back in Israel over participation in International Conference for Defense of Jerusalem in Qatar; claims Israel is ‘Judaizing Jerusalem.’ Website lists them as Palestinian representatives.

Egyptian FM: We won’t remain silent toward violation of Aqsa sanctity
Egyptian foreign minister Mohammed Kamel Amr has condemned the Israeli occupation authority’s desecration of the sanctity of the holy Aqsa mosque in occupied Jerusalem.

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Bardawil: Hamas did not change its position toward Syria
Hamas did not change its position toward Syria and as always does not interfere in the internal affairs of any Arab country, Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, a Hamas leader, said on Monday.

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Israeli government confirms plan for segregated settler train system
On Monday, Israeli officials announced their intention to construct a train system for Israeli settlers living in violation of international law in the West Bank.
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Analysis / Op-ed
In 2001, the Israeli parliament the Knesset passed a bill forbidding members of the Knesset (MKs) from travelling to “enemy” states, as a response to Balad leader Azmi Bishara’s Syrian trip that year. Consequently, along with being charged with speaking at a public gathering in the Palestinian town of Um Al-Fahem and at a memorial service in Syria, the Knesset voted to lift the immunity of Bishara.
There’s going to be a one-state conference at Harvard this weekend. One of the fascinations of my latest trip to Israel/Palestine was seeing how Palestinians have given up on the two-state solution because Israel has destroyed the possibility and the U.N. has pocket-vetoed Palestinian statehood, and people who are sick of occupation are desperately looking around for other ideas (including, inevitably, armed resistance).
Behind bars, prisoners have few ways to resist injustice. Refusing food’s a common tactic. Khader Adnan’s the latest detainee to attract attention. His heroism made it worldwide. After 66 days, he began eating after a deal was agreed to release him in April. It’s not without strings, may unravel, or find him again unjustly detained. Israel’s a rogue terror state. It can’t be trusted. Its word lacks credibility. It spurns rule of law principles. It imprisons innocent victims like Khader and many others unjustly. If freed, Adnan risks re-arrest. He was wrongfully detained nine times. Is number 10 next?

The Mossad Has Long Given Marching Orders to AIPAC, Grant Smith
AIPAC’s Washington policy conference next month is drawing intense scrutiny and unprecedented resistance. AIPAC has worked quietly for years to tripwire the United States into war with Iran. Soon it will “ask” Congress and the president to define “nuclear weapons capability” as the threshold for war, essentially demanding an immediate attack.

Bahrain: Hundreds Railroaded in Unjust Trials
Bahrain has routinely convicted hundreds of opposition activists and others of politically motivated charges in unfair trials. The government should void the convictions in trials before Bahrain’s military and civilian courts that fell far short of international fair trial standards.

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Saudi-backed Bahraini forces have attacked peaceful demonstrators near the capital, Manama, dispersing the anti-government protest using force.

For over a year, Saudi and Al-Khalifa monarchy security forces terrorized nonviolent protesters. Thousands braved tear gas, beatings, rubber bullets, live fire, arrests, torture and disappearances. Washington’s very much involved. Bahrain’s the home of America’s Fifth Fleet. Millions of dollars in aid’s provided. So are weapons, including armored vehicles, bunker buster missiles, wire-guided ones, and more. A Pentagon statement said: They’ll “improve Bahrain’s capability to meet current and future armored threats. Bahrain will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense.”
Israel’s civil defenses are not ready to protect the population in a missile war, an opposition lawmaker said on Monday, fueling debate about the feasibility of an attack on Iran’s nuclear program. Almost one in four Israelis lack access to bomb shelters, whether communal or reinforced rooms in private homes, said Zeev Bielski, chairman of a parliamentary panel on Israel’s home defense preparations. “Are we prepared for a war? No,” he told Reuters. “Things are moving too slowly and we are wasting very precious time.”

Dore Gold converts to Sunni Islam–and speaks on its behalf
“Many Sunni Arab countries are in fact more worried by the threat coming from the Persian Shias of Iran than by Israel, reckons Dore Gold, a former official who posits an opportunity for pacts of mutual interest. “What pulled Europe together was not coal and steel but fear of the Soviet Union,” he says.”

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Obama Promises Israel Use of U.S. Bases for Iran Attack If It Will Wait, Richard Silverstein
There have been endless recent visits to Israel from high-ranking U.S. officials regarding the Iran issue, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and most recently National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.  The AP reports that during the last set of meetings the Israelis defiantly told the U.S. that if they attacked Iran, they would leave the U.S. in the dark.

Saudi Arabia
“We are facing a new form of terrorism.” This statement was made by a Saudi interior ministry official at a time when the authorities started a campaign to arrest a number of intellectuals, writers and activists, particularly in the city of Qatif in eastern Saudi Arabia. There is no end in sight to the arrest campaign in Qatif, which has been home to a protest movement for months. On Wednesday, poet and photographer Habib Ali al-Maatiq joined those who have been detained as a group of Saudi security forces arrested him at his workplace. Al-Maatiq has been held incommunicado as even his place of detention is unknown. However, Saudi websites have been circulating reports claiming that the reason behind his arrest was his webmaster position at al-Fajr Cultural Network.

Arabia awaits its spring | Saad al-Faqih,  Saad al-Faqih
Staggeringly corrupt and repressed, Saudi Arabia is ripe for revolution. But fear deters reformers from declaring their views ‘Let us strangle the last king with the guts of the last priest,” the French 18th century philosopher Denis Diderot said. The same phrase is now widely repeated across Arabia – or Saudi Arabia, as it is currently named under the dynastic autocracy. It is only a matter of time before the revolutions that have swept the Arab world in the past year reach the Saudi kingdom.


Scores reported dead in Syria violence

Activists say 125 killed as government touts overwhelming approval for new constitution meant to end one-party rule.

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“Murdering Assad more Noble than Killing an Israeli”
Saudi cleric who once offered cash prize to whomever kidnaps Israeli soldier comes out against the Syrian President.
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Syria: Qatar and splinter group back arming resistance – live updates

• Just three people evacuated from Homs as siege continues
• Western journalists not among those taken to safety
• Government announces 89% voted for new constitution
• Qatar calls for Syrian opposition to be armed

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Syria calls on foreign forces to stop arming opposition
Syria called on Tuesday for countries to stop “inciting sectarianism and providing arms” to opposition forces in the country, and said that sanctions imposed by some countries were preventing Damascus from buying medicines and fuel. Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, stormed out of the UN Human Rights Council after delivering an angry speech to the Geneva forum’s emergency debate on the deteriorating situation in Syria called at the request of Gulf countries and Turkey, and backed by the West.

EU imposes new sanctions on Syrian regime
European foreign ministers have frozen the assets of several Syrian government officials and imposed sanctions on the country’s central bank.

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Away from official results and declarations, Al-Akhbar correspondents examine proceedings of the constitutional referendum on the ground and the mood of Syrians from all stripes in this detailed round-up on polling day in Damascus, its surrounding areas, and Aleppo.
Syrians should beware of some of their foreign ‘friends’, Brian Whitaker
Syrians should fear eastern, not western, intervention – especially autocratic ‘friends’ like Saudi Arabia. From Monday no one will be tortured in Syria. The state will guarantee personal freedom for its citizens and preserve their dignity and security. People’s homes will be inviolable. Everyone will have the right to express opinions freely and openly, and the state will guarantee the freedom and independence of the press. At least, that is what is supposed to happen if President Assad gets a yes vote today in his referendum on thenew constitution. It’s meant to show Syrians – and the rest of the world – that Assad, in the midst of turmoil, is steadily and calmly pressing ahead with “reforms”.
This was a quintessential American spectacle. You know that this was managed and orchestrated and choreographed by a low-ranking diplomat at the US Department of State. People with longer memories can see parallels with the theatrics that characterized US policies prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. International conferences were held and the US sponsored a conference for Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress (which reminds one of Syrian National Congress – both are led by highly educated exiled natives whose presence could not conceal the power of religious forces they are dependent on).
Damascus: The Everyday Life of Crisis

The busy streets that surround the administrative part of the city make one question whether the country’s troubles have had any impact on the capital. Poster reads: “Looking to the future… [looking] forward… to Syria. We love Syria, strong and proud.”
The leak of over five million emails from the US-based intelligence firm Stratfor, including information about credit card details, passwords, and the identities of sources, sheds new light on the rapidly changing world of intelligence gathering and exposes those behind it. Al-Akhbar gained access to the data obtained and published by WikiLeaks, including sensitive material pertaining to the Middle East.
US intelligence firm’s emails leaked
Stratfor calls disclosure of five million stolen confidential emails by WikiLeaks “deplorable, unfortunate and illegal”.

Outrage over the New York Police Department’s expansive spy program targeting Muslims has grown across the Northeast in recent days. The latest Associated Press (AP) revelation about the NYPD’s arbitrary surveillance of Muslims shows that the program’s long hands are intertwined with the White House’s.


Gorenberg on why one state is a non-starter: Jews would have to pay higher taxes or receive fewer services

Feb 28, 2012

Adam Horowitz

It seems the Harvard One State conference really has Israel’s supporters – both liberal and conservative – running for cover. Jeffrey Goldberg does his part today in his column for Bloomberg:

This group argues for the “one-state solution,” the merging of the Palestinian and Jewish populations between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea into a single political entity. It is an entirely unworkable and offensive idea, but because it is couched in the language of equality and human rights, rather than murder and anti-Semitism, it has gained currency in certain not-entirely-marginal circles . . .

The one-staters posit that they differ from the Shukairy approach or from the ideology of Hamas. They don’t seek the expulsion of Jews from Palestine, they say, but instead the creation of a unified parliament that would represent all Arabs and Jews between the river and the sea. Instead of two ethnic- based states, they say, there would be one harmonious, pluralistic democracy.

Terrifying idea, isn’t it? Goldberg goes to Gershom Gorenberg to paint the horror that one democratic state could produce in Israel/Palestine:

Gershom Gorenberg, in his new book, “The Unmaking of Israel,” a jeremiad directed at the Jewish settlement movement, writes at length about the absurdity at the heart of the proposal.

“Palestinians will demand the return of property lost in 1948 and perhaps the rebuilding of destroyed villages. Except for the drawing of borders, virtually every question that bedevils Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations will become a domestic problem setting the new political entity aflame.”

Gorenberg predicts that Israelis of means would flee this new state, leaving it economically crippled. “Financing development in majority-Palestinian areas and bringing Palestinians into Israel’s social welfare network would require Jews to pay higher taxes or receive fewer services. But the engine of the Israeli economy is high-tech, an entirely portable industry. Both individuals and companies will leave.”

In the best case, this new dystopia by the sea would be paralyzed by endless argument: “Two nationalities who have desperately sought a political frame for cultural and social independence would wrestle over control of language, art, street names, and schools.” In the worst case, Gorenberg writes, political tensions “would ignite as violence.”

So even Gorenberg acknowledges that the worst case scenario is violence, and most likely the new country would be tied up in fights over “language, art, street names, and schools” – which is to say it would be about as functional as almost any other democracy. Is the threat of Jews paying higher taxes really the best argument liberal Zionists can muster these days?

What goes unsaid in the piece, and what Goldberg really finds “unworkable and offensive” about the idea of democracy in Israel/Palestine, is that Israeli Jews would have to give up the special and exclusive rights they enjoy now as Jews in an ethnocratic state. Equality would seem to be Israel’s greatest existential threat.

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