Archive | September 17th, 2012

Anti-U.S. outrage over video began with Christian activist’s phone call to a reporter

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ledger-enquirer.com

CAIRO — A crude video about the Prophet Muhammad that triggered an unprecedented outbreak of anti-American protest last week moved from being a YouTube obscurity in the United States to a touchstone for anger across the world through a phone call less than two weeks ago from a controversial U.S.-based anti-Islam activist to a reporter for an Egyptian newspaper.

Morris Sadek, a Coptic Christian who lives in suburban Washington, D.C., whose anti-Islam campaigning led to the revocation of his Egyptian citizenship earlier this year, had an exclusive story for Gamel Girgis, who covers Christian emigrants for al Youm al Sabaa, the Seventh Day, a daily newspaper here. Sadek had a movie clip he wanted Girgis to see; he e-mailed him a link.

“He told me he produced a movie last year and wanted to screen it on Sept. 11th to reveal what was behind the terrorists’ actions that day, Islam,” Girgis said, recalling the first call, which came on Sept. 4. Sadek, a longtime source, “considers me the boldest journalist, the only one that would publish such stories.”

Girgis said he watched the movie and found it insulting. He didn’t want to write about it. But Sadek called Girgis back and urged him to, telling him he could not deny that the movie existed.

Two days later, Sept. 6, Girgis published a three-paragraph article, calling the movie “shocking” and warning it could fuel sectarian tensions between Egyptian Christians and Muslims. Girgis concluded that the video “is just a passing crisis that doesn’t affect the bond between Muslims and Copts.”

In hindsight, that sentiment seems wildly optimistic. Five days later, thousands of Egyptians stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and burned the American flag while as many as 125 armed men overwhelmed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. Three days after that, protests in 23 countries included the sacking of the German embassy in Sudan and the burning of the American School in Tunisia.

Whether the Benghazi attack was linked to anger over the video remains uncertain – witnesses have said there was no protest preceding the attack – but the trauma of those deaths will likely scar U.S. perceptions for years, and while Saturday seemed calm across the region, the U.S. State Department made clear it fears the violence has not ended. In a statement, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the Obama administration remained concerned about developments in Sudan.

“We have requested additional security precautions as a result of yesterday’s damage to our embassy.,” she said. “We are continuing to monitor the situation closely to ensure we have what we need to protect our people and facility.”

Sadek did not respond Saturday to requests for comment.

How Grigis’ short item spread is a reminder of how interconnected the world has become. An Islamic web forum picked up Girgis’ story the day after it was published. Girgis’ newspaper also ran an interview that day with Wisam Abdel Warith, the head of a television station, the Wisdom, that’s affiliated with the ultra conservative Salafist strain of Islam.

When asked about the movie, Warith urged the leaders of Egypt’s Coptic community to condemn the movie, though he gave no indication he had seen it.

“The Church has to reveal its position clearly,” Warith said. “Either it disclaims itself from those who produced the movie or it remains silent and that means they condone it.”

By Sept. 8, other newspapers started picking up the story. Al Youm al Sabaa ran another story, this time noting that Egyptian politicians criticized the movie.

But the story remained off the front pages, still considered a local piece about an Egyptian in America fueling a sectarian crisis here, not about how the West treats Islam. That was the case until last Sunday, when Khalid Abdullah, the premier commentator for al Nas, a popular Salafist television station, aired the clip on his show.

Abdullah’s co-host, Mohammed Hamdy, introduced the topic by apologizing for what he was about to share with his audience. He noted that the Coptic Christian church had condemned the movie, Sadek and Florida pastor Terry Jones, who Girgis wrote backed the movie as well. Jones’ threats to burn Qurans inflamed Muslims in 2010 and 2011.

The Coptic condemnation was important to note, Abdullah said, because “some will say we are inciting violence against Copts to create sectarianism” by airing the clip.

The scene aired on al Nas blurred the face of the woman, in accord with Salafist beliefs that a man should not engage with an uncovered woman who is not his wife. But it left the man’s image clear, even though Muslims are forbidden to make any attempt to recreate Muhammad.

“What is this stupidity?” Abdullah asked, after the station aired the clip, concluding later that the creators of the film “want to inflame Egypt.”

Abdullah asked if anyone had apologized for creating such a film. His co-host responded, “An apology is not enough. I want them convicted.”

That same day, the Mufti of Al Azhar University, the chief source of Sunni Islamic thought in the Arab world, condemned the clip for “insulting the prophet” and noting it was produced by “Copts living abroad.”

Facebook pages started appearing, urging Islamists and youth to protest Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Jones had called for putting Muhammad on trial that day in a web message, which is why, protest organizers said, they scheduled it for that day. Calls started coming into the U.S. embassy as well, catching everyone there by surprise.

“People were writing to us asking what the role of the U.S. government has in this video. What are you going to do? Who produced this?” said one U.S. official at the embassy who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “Our initial response was: What video?”

But as the embassy learned about the planned protests and the video’s content, officials there said, they immediately recognized the potential problem. They called leaders of the groups calling for the protest and apologized for the film, according to recipients of the call. They told them the film does not represent how Americans see Islam. In a statement posted on the embassy’s web page, they condemned the video.

But it was too late. Nader Bakkar, a spokesman for the conservative Islamist Nour Party and one of those who received a phone call from the embassy in the hours before the scheduled protest, said there was no going back. It was now a religious duty to defend the prophet, he said.

On Monday, a day before the scheduled protest, newspapers reported on the upcoming protest, saying it was called because Americans must pay for allowing such a movie to be produced. Major newspapers wrote about the Coptic church disavowing the movie. Islamic groups called for those who produced the movie to be punished. Bakker told another the newspaper, al Masry al Youm, there should be a law that forbids insulting the prophet. “This is the least” that needs to happen, he said.

By mid afternoon Tuesday, protesters started gathering in front of the embassy, chanting against the United States. By 5 p.m. some scaled the 12-foot wall protecting the compound, set a ladder against the flagpole and brought down the American flag. They replaced it with an Islamic one. A protester handed the American flag to those sitting on top of the wall, and they began tearing at it. Whatever remained of the flag was eventually burned.

Five hours later, in neighboring Libya, attackers launched an assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing Ambassador Christopher Stevens, tech officer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

The violence made the movie an international story, and Muslims across the world planned to gather Friday, after prayer, in response to a film most had never seen. At least seven people were killed and thousands of police officers were deployed around the world to protect U.S. sites.

Zaid Akl, a political analyst at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said the protests were about far more than the United States and its views on Islam. It was a means for frustrated Egyptians to rehash longstanding problems here – police abuse, unemployment, as well as defending the faith.

“These are same issues people protested in 2005 and 2010 and last year. Nothing has changed,” Akl said. “What is happening now is not conducive to any society-based dialogue.”

Girgis, for his part, never thought the story would go beyond Egypt.

“I regret publishing the story because of the events that took place in the Islamic world but I am a journalist, and it is news,” Girgis said. “If it wasn’t me publishing it, it would have been someone else.”

Read more here: http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2012/09/15/2203951/anti-us-outrage-over-video-began.html#storylink=rss#storylink=cpy

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ZIO-NAZI AMERICAN ROLE IN SABRA-SHATILA MASSACRE

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Details emerge of US role in Sabra-Shatila massacre

english.al-akhbar.com

Israel duped the United Stated into believing that “thousands of terrorists” remained in west Beirut following the expulsion of Palestinian fighters 30 years ago, providing cover for the 1982 massacre in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, according to recently declassified Israeli documents.

The documents include verbatim transcripts of meetings between US and Israeli officials before and during the three-day massacre led by the right-wing Lebanese Christian Phalange militia that left roughly 2,000 people dead, mostly children, women and elderly men.

“[The transcripts] reveal that the Israelis misled American diplomats about events in Beirut and bullied them into accepting the spurious claim that thousands of “terrorists” were in the camps,” The New York Times, which obtained the documents, reported.

“Most troubling, when the United States was in a position to exert strong diplomatic pressure on Israel that could have ended the atrocities, it failed to do so,” the newspaper added.

The Palestinian fighters had previously been evacuated from Lebanon in a US-coordinated effort whereby they provided assurances to protect the camp’s residents, which included both Palestinians and Lebanese.

On 16 September 1982, the first day of the massacre, US envoy to the Middle East Morris Draper met with Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon who justified Israel’s occupation of west Beirut by claiming that “2,000 to 3,000 terrorists” remained in that part of the city.

Draper, according to the documents, was furious to learn that Sharon wanted to allow the Christian militiamen into west Beirut to root out what he claimed were terrorists.

Later that evening, word began to spread in Israel that a massacre was taking place in Sabra and Shatila.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister David Levy reportedly remarked: “I know what the meaning of revenge is for [the Phalanges], what kind of slaughter. Then no one will believe we went in to create order there, and we will bear the blame.”

The following day, while the massacre continued, Draper, who had not yet learned that the Phalangists had entered the camp, met with high ranking Israeli officials including Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

Shamir had known of the slaughter in the camp, but failed to inform the US diplomat.

Sharon, also at the meeting, continued to insist that the “terrorists” in west Beirut needed “mopping up.”

When Draper demanded that the Israeli forces immediately pull out of the area, Sharon responded with outrage: “I just don’t understand, what are you looking for? Do you want the terrorists to stay? Are you afraid that somebody will think that you were in collusion with us? Deny it. We denied it.”

According to the transcripts, Draper continued to insist that the Israelis leave, but eventually backed off once they agreed to a “gradual withdrawal” to allow for the Lebanese Army to enter the city.

The Israelis insisted, however, that they wait 48 hours before allowing the plan to take effect.

Draper reminded the Israelis that the US had facilitated the departure of Palestinian fighters from Beirut in order to prevent Israelis from occupying west Beirut. “You should have stayed out,” Draper said at the meeting.

The argument persisted, but it ultimately allowed Israel the cover it needed to allow the Christian fighters to continue its slaughter of the camp.

By the next day, September 18, when details of the massacre had become widely known, US President Ronald Reagan expressed “outrage and revulsion over the murders.”

US Secretary of State George Shults later admitted his country bore partial responsibility for the massacre since they “took the Israelis and Lebanese at their word.”

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Killers of Vittorio Arrigoni prosecuted

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Gaza, September 17th, Military Court in Gaza sentenced today four Palestinians accused of killing Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni to hard labor and prison. Sentences came after holding more than twenty court sessions in the presence of an Italian lawyer assigned by Vik’s family.
The court sentenced two defendants to life in prison, “Mahmoud Salfiti” and “Amer Al hasasna”, on charges of kidnapping and murder.
Court also ruled the imprisonment of Khader Jerim sentenced to ten years in prison for participating in the kidnapping and imprisonment of fourth defendant, Amer Abu Ghoula, to one year in prison on charges of harboring the kidnappers.
Arrigoni, 36, Italian peace activist, worked with the Pro-Palestinian ISM (International Solidarity Movement), was murdered in April of 2011, hours after he was abducted by gunmen in Gaza.
For his part, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said that Arrigoni family sent an official letter to the court requesting the non-recourse to the death penalty against the accused as provided by the Palestinian Penal Code.
Khalil Shaheen, a member of the center, said in a press statement that the trial was transparent.
Vittorio wrote a book called “Stay Human” which touched his life and work in Gaza.
To read more about Vittorio’s abduction, murder, work and Gaza’s reaction towards his murder, Please check previous posts:

http://gazatimes.blogspot.com/2011/04/from-gaza-to-vittorio-with-love.html

Omar
Posted by 

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SABRA AND SHATILA NAZI MASSACRES REMEMBERED

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem Sr

While more than 2,750 innocent Palestinian women, children and old men were murdered, the Zio-Nazi KKK-nesset acted as if nothing was amiss.

The principal war criminal bearing responsibility for the massacres that took place at the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon is Ariel Sharon. Zio-Nazi  own investigative body, the Kahan Commission, found Nazi Sharon responsible for the massacres and further recommended that Nazi Sharon be removed from Public Office.

Zionist in their tens of thousands took to the streets in 1982 in protest at Nazi Sharon’s action, only to elect him by tens of thousands of votes as their Prime Minister in 2001.

The International Committee of the Red Cross stated that there were 3,750 people killed in Sabra and Shatila; the real figure is thought to be much higher and may never be known.

14 September 1982

Lebanon’s Christian President-elect, Zionist puppet Bashir Gemayel, is assassinated by a pro-Syrian militant but his loyalists blame the Palestinians.

16 September 1982

Lebanese Christian militiamen enter camps at Sabra and Chatila to carry out revenge attacks on Palestinian refugees, with occupying Nazi forces guarding the camps and firing flares to aid the attacks at night.

18 September 1982

After three days of rape, fighting and brutal executions, militias finally leave the camps with 1,700 dead.

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MOHAMMED FILM IS A PR STUNT DESIGNED TO POLARIZE CULTURES’

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UK: Defence Minister: Clegg Axed Me Because I Won’t Support Attack on Iran

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Daily Mail

A Liberal Democrat Defence Minister has claimed he was sacked to avoid a damaging Coalition split over a pre-emptive strike on Iran.

Former Armed Forces Minister Sir Nick Harvey told friends that he was fired in the reshuffle to allow Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to sign Britain up to an Israeli-US preventive strike to take out Iran’s nuclear installations.

Friends of Sir Nick – who was handed a knighthood just days later – say that he could have embarrassed the Lib Dem leader by being too critical of Israel’s actions if he had still been in the key Ministry of Defence post.

The row broke as sources confirmed that British intelligence agents are already deeply involved in attempts to discover Iran’s nuclear secrets.

It is also understood that the US has asked Britain to provide frigates to patrol the Straits of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil passes.

The sacking of the respected Minister took MPs and Army top brass by surprise.

Party sources have insisted the move – which has left the Ministry of Defence staffed entirely by Tories – was due to Mr Clegg’s decision to accept Lib Dem ministerial jobs in other, more ‘voter-friendly’ Government departments.

But when approached by The Mail on Sunday, Sir Nick confirmed he had considered his sacking was linked to mounting speculation of a pre-emptive strike on Iran and the expectation that UK forces would be drawn in afterwards. However, the MP went on to say he had since discounted that theory.

‘I have cast my mind over the issues that might have led the party leader to this decision,’ he added.

‘But having toyed with that one, I have decided it could not have played any part in it.’

However, one party insider said the idea made sense, adding: ‘With our record over opposing the Iraq War, no one in our party is going to congratulate Israel on launching a strike.

‘But Nick may have been particularly outspoken, especially in the immediate aftermath and when we’re bound to get caught in cleaning up the mess alongside the Americans.

‘He probably takes the view that we’d need to give a particularly strong condemnation of Israel to show the Arab world that we didn’t approve. However, that could have caused a problem for some of Clegg’s Tory Coalition colleagues.’

The reshuffle earlier this month came amid renewed speculation that Israel is planning to launch a unilateral attack to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons.

Only last weekend, Israel’s defence minister Ehud Barak appeared to hint that he believed the US would join his country in the pre-emptive attack.

There were also reports that US President Barack Obama was poised to set out the ‘red lines’ that would trigger an American attack if Iran continued to press ahead with its nuclear programme.

MoD sources yesterday confirmed that contingency talks over the dispatch of Royal Navy minesweepers to the Gulf had already been held.

Last night, Professor Malcolm Chalmers, of the Royal United Services Institute, suggested that the Lib Dem reshuffle arrangements would not release the party from difficult defence decisions as part of the Coalition.

He said: ‘The United Kingdom is doing everything it can to keep a handle on what the Iranians are doing and we have got a lot of well-developed sources in the region – signals and human intelligence.

‘The Liberal Democrats cannot simply wash their hands of national security issues by removing their Ministers from the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office.

‘As a member of the National Security Council, Nick Clegg is briefed on the latest intelligence on Iran and will continue to be so.

‘Clegg could adopt a position of agreeing to disagree, raising his objections to the Prime Minister but saying go ahead.’

Dr Anthony Cordesman, an expert on Iran at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, said the US and Britain were sharing ‘a great deal of intelligence at this time’.

Sources close to Mr Clegg last night denied the Iran situation had played a part in the decision to remove Sir Nick.

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SAMMI IBRAHEM : PIED PIPER HOUR RADIO SHOW

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 ” IF YOU NOT CAREFUL THE NEWS PAPER WILL HAVE YOU HATING THE PEOPLE WHO ARE BEING OPPRESSED, AND LOVING THE PEOPLE WHO ARE DOING THE OPPRESSING ”
MALCOLM X 

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Obama surrenders again on Palestine but will he benefit?

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by Alex

Obama surrenders again on Palestine but will he benefit?

Franklin Lamb
Beirut
Al-Manar
Graphics by Alex
As a former law professor President Obama knows something about international law and US constitutional law which he taught at the University of Chicago. But besmirched his academic bona fides, violated Democratic Party rules and hurt his campaign on 12/5/12 by ordering the Democratic Party to summarily change earlier a twice debated and unanimously adopted plank of the Democratic Platform on the subject of the status of Jerusalem.
The reason this observer even took the time to read the 26,56l word, 37 page 2012 Democratic Party Platform which guides every Democratic candidate for both Houses of Congress and the party’s Presidential candidate, and to a lesser degree, thousands of Democratic Party candidates across the USA is, well, nostalgia.
And I read every word from my preferred relaxation spot which is on the top of my fine new14 story Waad apartment building in the Hezbollah security zone of Dahiyeh, South Beirut.
The high-rise was rebuilt, (Israel bombed it and 251 other residential buildings during the July 2006 33-day aggression, reducing it to rubble and dust with two US gifted MK-83 1000 lb. bombs) and my perch has a wonderful view of the mountains to the east and the Mediterranean to the west. As I studied the platform, among my ducks and chickens that I raise on the roof, I couldn’t help thinking of my own experience, now more than a quarter century ago from my time representing Oregon as Democratic National Committeeman under Jimmy Carter and being a member of the 1980 DNC Platform Committee while working in Washington on Ted Kennedy’s issues staff as he tried to wrest our party’s nomination from our incumbent President. It was not easy for the Kennedy campaign to do and as history records our campaign petered out. But not before and not too unlike what occurred this week, a Middle East issue caused some sparks over whether to recognize the PLO and support calls for a State of Palestine in the 1980 Platform.
The decision made by the DNC Platform committee this year cut the 2004 and 2008 Platform sentence “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel” and was the result of several months of work by the platform committee analyzing written submissions, receiving oral presentations, and participating in discussions and debate sessions around the country. To the party’s credit, removing the earlier language reflected international law, both UN Resolution and international customary law based on the overwhelming consensus of more than 188 member countries of the United Nations with very few exceptions being Israel. All of which assert that the status of Jerusalem, whether it’s to be the capital of Palestine, Israel, both or internationalized, is to be left to final status negotiations between the native Palestinians and their colonial occupiers. Nordid the expunged language reflect Obama’s personal views.
Following reports that the Romney campaign was going to run ads asking where is God and support for Israel in the Democrats platform, Obama hastily and ill-advisedly, in this observers view, ordered the Platform Committee to restore the language of both. At the same time, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the nation’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, which had urged including language about Jerusalem’s status as the Israeli capital in written testimony to the platform drafting committee, made clear that they were troubled by the omission of their favor Jerusalem language.
As required by Democratic Party rules, the language change needs to be approved by a 2/3 floor vote called by Platform Committee Chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He did put the vote at the beginning of the 9/5/12 Convention session. However since video/audio reports, including C-Span, make plain the delegates voted roughly 50/50, well shy of required 2/3’s , Villaraigosa called for a second and then a third vote which produced the same result. Each time there was a cacophony of “No’s’! from the assembled delegates which were ignored. Mayor Villaraigosa violated Party rules again when he rejected motions for a roll-call vote and repeated ‘points of order” from the floor. He then falsely announced that 2/3’s had agreed to the language change. He then abruptly walked off the podium thereby profoundly disrespecting the party stalwarts who support it with their hard work and organizational skills. The stunned stare on Villaraigosa’s face suggested how deep in denial the Democratic Party has been about the anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian sentiment growing among the party rank and file. The widely claimed bipartisan support for the Zionist occupation of Palestine is receding.
The Party now faces the prospect of a full convention vote on the issue or a court challenge if delegates choose not to let Obama’s betrayal stand.
The reason the 2012 Platform Committee Members changed the former language is that the old position was ludicrous according to expert testimony presented at the Platform hearings, does not reflect US policy as reiterated on 9/6/12 by State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell, and because this year’s platform reflected, to a modest degree at least, the overdue and increasing political power of Arab and Muslim Americans who, often as small business people have largely heretofore considered themselves Republicans. But more are becoming active in the Democratic Party. These new party activists are informed about the issue of Palestine and take the status of Jerusalem seriously.
Either way the Romney campaign was sure to claim, as they are doing right now that: “Mr. Obama has refused to state his position on Jerusalem and Israel.” Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman, is telling the media: “Now is the time for President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”
Obama erred politically and humiliated himself and his partly needlessly with his sell-out in Charlotte. He gained nothing in the way of Zionist support because the lobby has made clear form Tel Aviv to New York that it will never trust him on Israel as they increasing coalesce around the Romney-Ryan ticket.
The whole spectacle also damaged the Democratic Party which since the 1960’s has championed voter’s rights. Bill Clinton touted this important legacy in his speech. He also focused on the Republicans’ disrespect for voter’s rights: “If you want every American to vote and you think it’s wrong to change voting procedures just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer, minority and disabled voters, you should support Barack Obama.”
One wonders what the delegates were thinking having just experience disrespect for voting rights within their own party.
Tom Hayden once described the difference between the Republican and Democratic parties as the difference between Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola. The same applies to both parties Platform language on Palestine.
The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs illustrates the differences if the reader can find them:
GOP: The U.S. and Israel “speak the same language of freedom and justice”
DEMS: The U.S. and Israel “share common values”
GOP: “The security of Israel is in the vital national security interest of the United States”
DEMS: “A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States”
GOP: “Ensure that [Israel] maintains a qualitative edge in military technology”
DEMS: “Ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge”
GOP: “We envision two democratic states”
DEMS: “Seek peace between Israelis and Palestinians….producing two states for two peoples”
GOP: “Palestinian people must support leaders who reject terror, embrace the institutions and ethos of democracy, and respect the rule of law.”
DEMS: Palestinians must “recognize Israel’s right to exist, reject violence, and adhere to existing agreements”
GOP: “We call on the new government in Egypt to fully uphold its peace treaty with Israel”
DEMS: “We will continue to support Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan”
GOP: “We call on Arab governments throughout the region to help advance [the] goal [of peace]”
DEMS: “President Obama will continue to press Arab states to reach out to Israel”
GOP: “We support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state with secure, defensible borders; and we envision two democratic states—Israel with Jerusalem as its capital and Palestine—living in peace and security”
Dems: “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel…The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths”
Neither the Republican nor the Democratic Platforms make any reference to Israeli settlements, increasing violence carried out by Israeli government and settlers or provides even a faint hint of any Israeli wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, AIPAC released a statement on 9/6/12: “We welcome reinstatement to the Democratic platform of the language reaffirming Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. One imagines that Obama’s nemeses, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu is chortling.
Franklin Lamb
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon. He is reachable c\ofplamb@gmail.com
Beirut Mobile: +961-70-497-804
Office: +961-01-352-127

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Contageous Paranoia

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by Dr. Paul J Balles

paranoia

Five years ago I wrote an article on mass paranoia. At the time I argued that U.S. and Israeli paranoia threaten to lead the entire world to oblivion.

In that previous article, I defined paranoia as “a psychotic disorder characterized by delusions of persecution with or without grandeur, often strenuously defended with apparent logic and reason. It involves an extreme, irrational distrust of others.”

That definition of paranoia applies not only to individuals; it also fits large groups of people, like the disastrous gathering of people in Jonestown, Guyana who killed themselves with cyanide poisoning.

It’s contagious and can spread like a pandemic. The U.S. and Israel are acting as paranoid as the Jim Jones cult that led to the murder/suicide of over 900 people.

The entire cold war was an expression of national paranoia on the parts of both America and Russia. As soon as both sides in the cold war relaxed, the U.S. started its moves to create paranoia through its threatening activities.

The U.S. brought virtually the whole Warsaw Pact into NATO, a real threat to Russia. America gave up its policy of deterrence for one of pre-emptive attacks and occupations.

Norman Podhoretz, the godfather of the American neocon movement wrote, “It now remains to be seen whether this president … will find it possible to take the only action that can stop Iran from following through on its evil intentions both toward us and toward Israel. As an American and as a Jew, I pray with all my heart that he will.”

Paranoia took stronger hold in America with 9/11; and the large numbers of security measures that have followed reveal an increasing disorder.

From its beginnings as terrorists in Palestine, Israelis have shifted between their irrational fears of another holocaust and their equally irrational fears of attacks by neighbouring states.

Patterns of Culture

In a study of different island cultures, anthropologist Ruth Benedict, in Patterns of Culture, referred to the Dobuans whose culture seemed to her magic-ridden, with everyone fearing and hating everyone else. She characterised the islanders as “paranoiac and mean-spirited”.

According to Israel Shamir, in the Wall, this

definition fits the Jews as culture to a boot.”

Shamir adds, “The Jewish state is enactment of the paranoid Jewish fear and loathing of stranger, while the Cabal policies of Pentagon are another manifestation of the same fear and loathing on global scale.”

The Medical Encyclopaedia says,

Paranoid individuals constantly suspect the motives of those around them, and believe that certain individuals, or people in general, are ‘out to get them’.”

Present Israel, the country of perennial body search, is the ultimate of paranoid societies.

While paranoia in individuals has no known cure, it can be treated with medication. Group paranoia has no known treatment. Thus, if a group like those following the dictates of cult leader Jim Jones succumbs to paranoia, it’s incurable.

Not only is it incurable, it’s exceptionally dangerous to members of the group as well as to others in contact with the group. When the group happens to be a nation, the dangers become even greater.

The motivation for pre-emptive strikes (Israeli bombing of Iraq and Syria) and pre-emptive wars (American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan) comes from group paranoia.

The Sci-Tech dictionary, by McGraw Hill describes this sort of paranoia as having “…properties of suspiciousness, fearfulness, hypersensitivity, hostility, rigidity of conviction, and an exaggerated sense of self-reference.”

As the U.S. and Israel move closer to a larger pre-emptive war with Iran, our only hope is that enough of the American public can resist those with paranoid delusions.

 

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Work isn’t working

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by deLiberation

This article by Matt Bolton

The view of work held by the right wing press, has little to do with the operations of contemporary capitalism. But a worrying proportion of the liberal and socialist left shares in this anachronistic vision.

Capitalism isn't working

The position of work in our society has shifted under our feet, even as it defines our subjectivity more than ever. Put simply, the work that most of us do everyday has very little to do with how the economy functions. Work, in the traditional sense of a workday and a wage, now finds itself as an economic externality to capitalism: as Marx puts it in the Grundrisse, human labour ‘steps to the side’ of the workings of capital.[1]

From the standpoint of the worker, this is made clear by the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to survive through work alone. The repression of wages since the reconstitution of capitalism in the 1970s (through the development of post-Fordist production methods) has meant that workers have had to resort to greater and greater levels of private debt via credit in order to maintain the standard of living necessary to reproduce their labour. The introduction of tax credits by ‘Third Way’ governments in the UK and US to top up wages is a tacit admission that work does not pay – as demonstrated by statistics showing that nearly a fifth of those receiving housing benefit in the UK are currently in work,[2] or that seven million people used payday loans or other forms of credit to cover their mortgage repayments in 2011.[3]

Add to this the millions of temporary and ‘precarious’ workers on zero hour or casual contracts, as well as those forced to work for free via workfare schemes, and the link between work, the wage and economic survival becomes ever looser.

How has capital been able to repress wages to such an extent? The political project of neo-liberalism – attacks on unions, outsourcing, privatisation – has been exhaustively recorded by people like David Harvey and there can be no doubt that it was a deliberate attempt to reclaim power by the ruling class.[4] But the weakness of labour has also been a consequence of an immanent drive within capitalism – that of technological innovation. Less and less living labour is now needed to produce more and more goods. Even in China, that fabled powerhouse of industrial production, the number of people employed in industrial production has remained at the same level during a period where the country’s economy has tripled in size. [5]

This has led to a situation where, globally, an ever greater number of people are surplus to the requirements of capital, useful only for the downward pressure on wages that the availability of an ‘industrial reserve army’ provides.

But the reduction of the amount of living labour in the production process also presents difficulties for capital itself. Marx makes it clear in Capital that, as the exchange value of a product consists of the amount of labour that was involved in making it, only living labour – workers – can produce that value. Technology is an incredible force for the production of surplus value, but it cannot create value on its own. Therefore, when a technological innovation reduces the number of labourers needed to make a product, the relative surplus value of that product increases – more products are made for less labour – but the overall exchange value of that product decreases.

In addition, in order to sell all of the newly cheapened product, the market for that product must expand. This means that technological innovation presents capital with a double problem – how to continually expand the market so as to generate enough demand to sell the product, and how to continue to make a profit from a production process which has less and less value to play with from the start.

In the Grundrisse’s ‘Fragment on Machines’, Marx draws out the implications of the logical conclusion of this process – of continuing to measure value through labour time, while simultaneously using technology to reduce the amount of that labour time in the production process to almost zero:

As soon as labour in the direct form has ceased to be the great well-spring of wealth, labour time ceases and must cease to be its measure, and hence exchange value [must cease to be the measure] of use value. The surplus labour of the mass has ceased to be the condition for the development of general wealth…Capital itself is the moving contradiction, [in] that it presses to reduce labour time to a minimum, while it posits labour time, on the other side, as sole measure and source of wealth.’[6]

This crisis of value, combined with a saturated market, was one of the contradictions that fed into the economic crash of the 1970s – along with an increased antipathy amongst workers themselves towards the rigidities of a life subsumed by wage labour within a Fordist mode of production, as articulated in the uprisings of 1968. In response, capital upped the political attacks on labour and increased flexibility within production – and crucially expanded its search for profits outside of the sphere of production. The workplace was no longer the primary place in which surplus value was generated. Surplus value was now to be extracted from the entirety of social relations: from the lives, not simply the work, of workers.

The buying and selling of debt on the financial markets, the inflation of a string of asset bubbles, the enclosure (or privatisation) of previously common goods, and the extraction of rent (from both the land and the accumulated knowledge of society via patents) became the central means by which capital found its profits. Carlo Vercellone has argued, following Marx in Volume III of Capital, that this process has eliminated the distinction between ‘profit’ – in the sense of capital which is reinvested in the production process – and ‘rent’, the excess value which is creamed off by landlords and rentiers after the capitalist and labourer have had their share.[7] Vercellone describes this process as the ‘becoming-rent’ of profits.

In The Violence of Financial Capitalism, Christian Marazzi shows that even for companies at the heart of the so-called ‘industrial economy’, such as General Motors, the workings of their financial investment arm were as, if not more, important than the actual production of cars. For this reason, therefore, Marazzi argues that the contrast between the ‘real’, ‘productive’ economy, and the parasitic ‘financial economy’, so beloved of liberal commentators, is a false one. ‘Financialization is not an unproductive/parasitic deviation of growing quotas of surplus-value and collective saving, but rather the form of capital accumulation symmetrical with new processes of value production’.[8]

Of all of these new processes of value (or perhaps more correctly, wealth) production which take place outside of the workplace and within the sphere of social reproduction – Marazzi points to the ‘Ikea model’ of people working for free by building furniture at home, and the ‘Google model’ of internet users freely producing and sharing data which is sold to advertisers, but could equally include longstanding examples such as housework and the raising of children. The most important though is debt. It is no exaggeration to say that debt has replaced work as the driving force of capitalism. Indeed, as public-service consuming workers, failing to produce sufficient value, we are a drain on capital: only by going into debt (via our credit cards, our houses, our education) can we generate wealth.

The figures are startling – most people spend far more on their debt repayments and interest than they do on commodities and services. According to the US economist Michael Hudson, ‘Some 40 percent of blue-collar wage income in the United States typically is spent on housing [rents and mortgages]… Another 15 percent or so is earmarked to pay other debts, student loans to get the education required for middle-class employment, auto loans to drive to work…credit card debt, personal loans and retail credit’.

Add in regressive Medicare and Social Security taxes (11%), plus income and sales taxes (10 to 15%), and American workers are left with less of a third of their wages to spend on the means of survival.[9] Rising house prices, enabling the release of mortgage equity, acted as a form of compensation for low wages and topped up demand in the years preceding the 2008 crash: indeed, the US economy would have been in recession in 2000 and 2001 were it not for the boost from the withdrawal of mortgage equity.[10] This enormous pool of private debt was, of course, then put to work by the financial economy through the now-infamous array of derivatives, asset-backed securities and collaterised debt obligations. As Marina Vishmidt notes:

Neither capital nor labour are interested in jobs: all anyone is interested in these days is assets. Capital has neither the inclination nor the resources to offer workers more exploitation right now, but there has to be recognition that exploitation remains the bedrock of the social contract, and it is achieved most efficiently without jobs in an economy premised on the capitalization of debt. Isn’t the “jobless recovery” appearing as the watchword in economic analysis today built on assumptions that consumption (or “consumer confidence”) can single-handedly drive a return to prosperity, that is, through another credit bubble?…It seems evident, from this perspective, that we can only produce wealth (not value) for capital now through our debt repayments.[11]

And this is where we can return once more to Britannia Unchainedand its ideological function. Despite work’s increasing irrelevance to the processes of capital accumulation, capitalism must continually reproduce the class relation between capital and labour, via the wage, in order to survive. The wage relation may not be necessary in economic terms, but it remains vital in a political sense – as a means of control, a way of preventing ‘the serious risk that we will end up finding a good use for our idleness’, as the French collective, The Invisible Committee, put it neatly.[12] This political imperative not only explains the constant exhortations to ‘work harder’, to ‘graft’, but also the ever-increasing administrative and bureaucratisation of work, the never ending processes of self-auditing and performative – and ultimately pointless – activity which makes up so much of the working day.

The problem for anyone wishing to challenge this state of affairs is that under current conditions it is almost impossible to imagine a means of mass survival outside of the wage relation. It is therefore understandable why much of the Left has taken the position of fighting for the ‘Right to Work’ or for the return of Keynesian full employment. But in effect, this amounts to coalescing with the Right in allowing capitalism to keep up the charade, in perpetuating a subjective reality of a class relation and economic structure which no longer exists in that form. Rather than joining capital on the shadowplay battleground of fighting for more, ‘better’ work, the Left should instead adopt the ‘Refusal of Work’ position that was articulated by the Autonomist movement in 1970s Italy.

By labour refusing to take up its position within the wage relation, by rejecting the pretence that the ‘workday’ bears any relation to the production of value or wealth, the terrain of the struggle shifts to where the real action is: the reproduction of life, of social relations, and debt. In the same way that capital was forced to adapt to the crisis of value and the demands of workers for more autonomy in the early 1970s, so a refusal of work and a concomitant focus on debt as a site of struggle would mean that capital would have to at least attempt to accommodate such demands in order to survive.

Debt is both a site of weakness and power for capital. Being laden with debt makes any political action that affects a worker’s ability to repay extremely risky, especially when that debt is tied to housing. But equally, it cannot be emphasised enough that it was the non-payment and default of ‘sub-prime’ debt which triggered this crisis – and which paradoxically revealed the true power of the debtor-subject. It was the non-payment of debt that brought capitalism to its knees, something that a century of strikes and workplace action has not been able to do. On a nation-state level, the horror that sweeps through the rentier class when the prospect of a Greek default is raised just serves to highlight how potent the fear of non-payment of debt is.

The task of the Left should therefore be centred upon the organisation of a debtor class, rather than the worker – beginning with the demand for a debt jubilee, backed up by the threat of mass default, and for a social income that is not tied to the workplace. This would in effect constitute only a formal recognition of a state of affairs long in existence – but the power inherent in calling things by their true names should not be underestimated.

References:

[1] Karl Marx, Grundrisse, p.705. http://thenewobjectivity.com/pdf/marx.pdf

[2] http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/tenancies/rise-in-working-housing-benefit-claimants/6522829.article

[3]http://england.shelter.org.uk/news/january_2012/millions_rely_on_credit_to_pay_for_home

[4] See David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford University Press, 2005.

[5] http://endnotes.org.uk/articles/1

[6] Karl Marx, Grundrisse, pp.705-06. http://thenewobjectivity.com/pdf/marx.pdf

[7] http://generation-online.org/c/fc_rent2.htm

[8] Christian Marazzi, The Violence of Financial Capitalism, MIT Press, 2010, p.48.

[9] http://michael-hudson.com/2010/07/from-marx-to-goldman-sachs-the-fictions-of-fictitious-capital1/

[10] http://endnotes.org.uk/articles/3

[11] http://www.reartikulacija.org/?p=1487

[12] The Invisible Committee, ‘The Coming Insurrection’, p.48.http://libcom.org/files/thecominsur_booklet[1].pdf

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