Archive | October 25th, 2010



Karma Nabulsi is an academic at Oxford, and used to be a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization. She is giving the 13th Eqbal Ahmad lecture a week from Thursday at Hampshire with Amira Hass (if you’re in the area, go). She is also, as far as I know, the first Palestinian voice to appear in the London Review since Edward Said died. By turns, I found the essay below intriguing, bewildering, mesmerizing, rending. It is rare to read a writer being so blunt and so beautiful about the reality that faces her people: “The Palestinians are stuck fast in historical amber…No one cares any longer for talk of liberation.” The common parlance is talk of managed capitalism and global social democracy. The left speaks too much about withdrawal into the interstices of capitalist domination. Anti-colonial struggles and Bandung and the Idea of the Third World are antiquities when every settler-colonial state has been restructured or overthrown, and the people bizarrely speak of the end of apartheid in South Africa as a model for Palestine. Nabulsi will have none of it: “Palestinians remain stubbornly – one could almost say, willfully – in the anti-colonial, revolutionary phase of their history.”

She also identifies the how and why of solidarity efforts very clearly: “Palestinian civil society organizations have channeled” the mounting rage at Israeli human rights violations “into a vivid and well-organized campaign of solidarity through boycotts, divestment and sanctions.” And she identifies the process of how revolutions proceed, where they come from, how burning underbrush suddenly becomes conflagration. Read it.

Nowadays, when Palestinian activists in their twenties and thirties meet up with veterans of the Palestinian struggle, they show an unexpected thoughtfulness towards the older, revolutionary generation, to which I belong. This is nothing like the courtesy extended as a matter of course to older people in our part of the world: it is more intimate and more poignant. What brings us together is always the need to discuss the options before us, and to see if a plan can be made. Everyone argues, laughs, shouts and tells black jokes.

But whenever a proper discussion begins, the suddenly lowered voices of our frustrated young people, many of them at the heart of the fierce protests on university campuses and in rights campaigns elsewhere, have the same tone I used to hear in the voices of our young ambulance workers in Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s: an elegiac gentleness towards the hopelessly wounded, towards those who were already beyond repair.

The way Palestinians see things, the fragmentation of the body politic – externally engineered, and increasingly internally driven – has now been achieved. This summer, even the liberal Israeli press began to notice that the key people in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority’s capital in the West Bank, no longer discuss strategies of liberation but rather the huge business deals that prey on the public imagination. Every institution or overarching structure that once united Palestinians has now crumbled and been swept away.

The gulf between Gaza and the West Bank, between Hamas and Fatah, between Palestinians inside Palestine and the millions of refugees outside it, between city and village, town and refugee camp, now seems unbridgeable. The elites are tiny and the numbers of the dispossessed and the disenfranchised increase every day. There is, at this moment, no single body able to claim legitimately to represent all Palestinians; no body able to set out a collective policy or national programme of liberation. There is no plan.

The feeling of paralysis doesn’t only affect the Palestinians. It is found too among the hundreds of international institutions and less formal groups involved in the thriving carpet-bagging industry of the Middle East Peace Process. The US, the UN, the EU, their special envoys and fact-finding commissions, their human rights monitors, lawyers and NGOs, the policy think tanks, the growing legion of international humanitarian agencies, the dialogue groups and peace groups, all came to the same conclusion shortly after the start of the second Intifada in the autumn of 2000.

Over the last decade, these bodies have produced thousands of institutional memos, governmental reports, official démarches, human rights briefings, summaries, analyses, legal inquiries into war crimes and human rights abuses, academic books and articles. And they have pretty much nailed it: Palestinians are enduring the entrenched effects not only of a military occupation, but of a colonial regime that practises apartheid.

The predicament is understood and widely accepted, yet Palestinians and non-Palestinians appear equally baffled. Protest and denunciation have achieved very little. How are we to respond in a way that will allow us to prevail? The vocabulary required to form a policy is entirely absent both nationally and internationally. Palestinians are currently trapped in a historical moment that – as the contemporary world sees it – belongs to the past. The language the situation demands had life only inside an ideology which has now disappeared.

Everyone else has moved on. In a world whose intellectual framework is derived from university courses in postcolonial or cultural studies, from the discourse of post-nationalism, or human rights, or global governance, from post-conflict and security literature, the Palestinians are stuck fast in historical amber. They can’t move on, and the language that could assist them to do so is as extinct as Aramaic. No one cares any longer for talk of liberation: in fact, people flinch at the sound of it – it is unfashionable, embarrassing, reactionary even to speak of revolution today.

Twenty-first-century eyes read revolutionary engagement as the first stage on the road to the guillotine or the Gulag. Advanced now well beyond the epic and heroic stages of its history, the West views its own revolutionary roots through the decadent backward gaze of Carl Schmitt. Seen through that prism, Palestinians remain stubbornly – one could almost say, wilfully – in the anti-colonial, revolutionary phase of their history.

So the questions debated by Palestinians are the same now as they ever were: how to organise, how to mobilise, how to unify? There remains a constant sense of emergency, but Palestinians with long memories agree that we are at a nadir in our history of resistance. The only sign of forward movement lies in the tide of revulsion at Israel’s belligerent policies, which Palestinian civil society organisations have channelled into a vivid and well-organised campaign of solidarity through boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

Exactly 50 years ago, Palestinians were at a similar stage of social and political fragmentation brought about by defeat and dispossession and the anomie that followed the Nakba of 1948. Without a country or the protection of a sovereign state, they were confronting, on the one hand, Israel, and on the other, sundry Arab regimes: between them they controlled every aspect of Palestinians’ social and civic lives as well as their physical space. They lived deep in the dust and disease of tent cities, without personal papers or property.

In 1955, a young Palestinian writer, Ghassan Kanafani, moved to Kuwait from Syria, where he had been a teacher at a school set up for refugees by the UN, after himself being expelled from Palestine with his family in 1948. One of his people’s most perceptive chroniclers, he described their mood in his diary: ‘The only thing we know is that tomorrow will be no better than today, and that we are waiting on the shore, yearning, for a boat that will not come. We are sentenced to be separated from everything – except from our own destruction.’

But what appeared to Kanafani to be the collective end was in fact its extraordinary beginning. By the end of the decade, the revolution had found a language and a form. For the first time in a century of rebellions and uprisings against foreign rule, Palestinians could mount a collective challenge to international, Israeli and Arab coercion, and unify sufficiently to represent themselves. Even a cursory study of the history of revolutions over the last 300 years reveals three elements essential to their origins. First, a plethora of revolutionary pamphlets, declarations and discussions issuing from different factions together begin to shape a shared understanding of the injustices that have to be overturned.

A call to arms requires a convincing appraisal of the balance of forces if enough people are to be persuaded to embark on such a risky enterprise. The history of Palestinian attempts to achieve freedom would give anyone pause: two generations who tried lie buried in the cemeteries of more than two dozen countries.

Second, it is revolutionaries who make revolutions, and not the other way around. During the national mobilisation of the 1960s and 1970s, some joined the party, others the movement, but most simply joined the Palestinian revolution. It was taken for granted that one belonged to one of the parties, which were themselves embedded in the broader national liberation movement under the umbrella of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, a formal institution set up in 1964 by Arab states, which was captured from the Palestinian elite by the resistance groups a few years later. Empowered by becoming part of a fast-moving popular revolution, Palestinians – exiled, scattered and defeated as they were – achieved the two elusive things they have constantly sought: representation and unity.

If you raise the painful subject of this earlier time among Palestinians today, the usual effect is to revive the over-theoretical debate about when exactly the revolution died. (A discussion of its strengths and weaknesses would be more useful.) Some say it ended after Black September in Jordan in 1970; others that it ended in 1975 at the start of the Lebanese civil war. The majority see Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, which brought about the comprehensive destruction of the PLO’s infrastructure, as having killed it off.

The communiqués and declarations issued during the first Intifada, which took place in the occupied Palestinian territories between 1987 and 1993, were expressed in the language of revolution, but everyone agrees that it was all over by 1991, when the Madrid peace process was accepted on such unequal terms. That entire period of Palestinian history has fallen into disrepute for a number of reasons – not least having to watch its ghoulish remains driving around in official cars in Ramallah or posing at the White House – so the benefits are never assessed, or potentially useful lessons drawn.

Unity and representation are the common goods Palestinians must realise in order to advance their cause, and these clearly can’t be achieved via any of the options currently being suggested to us: not the distribution of the PA’s power between Hamas and Fatah (since the only representative institutional structure for all Palestinians is the Palestinian National Council, the parliament-in-exile of the PLO); not a US-sponsored peace process; and not the plan for Palestinian statehood proposed by the prime minister, Salam Fayyad, according to which the institutions of an independent state will be built in the face of a still expanding military occupation.

Already by the 1970s, thanks to its fluid institutional architecture, the revolution was able to overcome national borders, protect its independence from the Arab regimes and convey its demands to the solidarity movements who supported it and exerted pressure on its behalf. Other national liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s – the FLN, ANC, Swapo, the Sandinistas – had to operate with their leaders underground and in exile, developing their strategy outside the country while the population remained rooted in the land they hoped to liberate.

For Palestinians, whose national politics were undone in an instant over a single year in 1948, it took the concerted actions of tens of thousands of cadres across the region to hold the people together while at the same time putting sufficient pressure on those governments, both Western and Arab, that would have preferred to see us capitulate to Israel. The mood of that short period, as I remember it, was profoundly popular and democratic: pluralist, multi-party, universalist, secular and highly progressive. Palestinians who dared not join in – businessmen, academics, the money-grubbing classes – were carried along in its wake, and obeyed its mandate. Today we could not be further from that fleeting moment of unity the revolution once afforded.

The experience of revolutionary life is difficult to describe. It is as much metaphysical as imaginative, combining urgency, purposefulness, seriousness and hard work, with a near celebratory sense of adventure and overriding optimism – a sort of carnival atmosphere of citizens’ rule. Key to its success is that this heightened state is consciously and collectively maintained by tens of thousands of people at the same time. If you get tired for a few hours or days, you know others are holding the ring.

The third, counterintuitive feature of revolutions is that they are usually launched by astonishingly small groups of individuals. The Palestinian revolution was no exception. Young Palestinians today, caught in the grind of their daily struggle, feel unable to make contact with their own past: its stories are like fairytales, out of their reach. The appropriate model for the emergence of the Palestinian movement of the 1960s and 1970s isn’t the Leninist vanguard party but the revolutions that established democracies in 19th-century Europe, where the acts of a few were matched, and then rapidly overtaken, by an entire nation, all of whose members considered themselves leaders. No one here waits around for instructions. 

What usually goes unmentioned in the history books is the dangerous and seemingly interminable slog that is required to build up to any revolution’s launch: it may take years, even decades, once the match is lit, for it to ignite a mobilisation large enough to create a truly national initiative.

One of the individuals who still keeps the revolutionary spirit alive in these bleak times phoned me this week, and this time I rang him back. (Often I can’t face talking to him because his situation is so terrible.) Ziyad was a key activist in the first Intifada when he was a student at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, and for the last 20 years he has dedicated his life in Gaza to what is commonly known as ‘mobilising from below’. Ziyad is, or was, head of the Rafah refugee camp’s popular committee, the local elected body, legendary now for its history of civic resistance to Israeli rule. Ziyad is like an artist, restlessly exploring ways to preserve people’s humanity amid the oppression and misery of southern Gaza.

His cool eye and steady nerve, together with a seemingly inexhaustible affection for others, have kept him from turning away in despair at the things he has seen. At the height of the war on Gaza, he managed to create and sustain the only committee that included all the factions, with Fatah members working alongside Hamas, or vice versa. Members of other committees that had previously tried this (including his own) had been kneecapped for their pains.

Ziyad spent much of last year in prison in Gaza, and, as it turned out when I returned his call, some of this year’s Ramadan as well. ‘Oh no!’ I said, ‘What happened this time?’ He said that he’d been trying to organise in the elementary schools. This struck me as one of the funniest things I had heard in a long time: Ziyad laughed, too, when he began telling me about it.

He had tried to organise a prize-giving in the camp for some of the students, but the current administration in Gaza didn’t like the idea at all. ‘I am not selecting children from Hamas families or Fatah families,’ he said, ‘just those who had done well in school. I had to try something!’

What the administration in Gaza does not like, Ziyad said, is the idea of movement, of freedom, of opening things up from below, of bringing people together for any common purpose at all. I told him I had spoken to Adnan in Beirut only that morning, and that the story was no different there: Adnan has been forced to stay at home for months now, unable to move. Until last year, he had worked closely with another old friend of mine, Kamal Medhat, a child of the revolution who was not so different from Ziyad in his determination to go it alone while carrying everyone with him.

Just over a year ago Kamal was assassinated by a car bomb in south Lebanon. He had been trying to urge people forward towards national unity, and to attack the political corruption then entrenched in the refugee camps: these two objectives, it soon became clear, were intertwined. He was making a very successful job of it, for he brought formidable experience to the task. Already a legend as a young man, Kamal was responsible for, among many other things, the security of the leadership when the revolution was centred in Beirut, and attempts against it took place on an almost daily basis.

An obituary in the Arab press noted that ‘he constantly criticised Arafat, who would laugh.’ This was true: Kamal could be brutally honest, but he made everyone in the room feel happy, taking and giving endless orders, joking, and being especially encouraging to young cadres, though also quite tough. I witnessed at least a dozen acts of bravery by Kamal in the 1970s and early 1980s. After the PLO leadership was evacuated to Tunis in 1982, he returned to Lebanon to help lift the military siege of the Palestinian refugee camps by the Syrians and their proxies.

In the 1990s, in disagreement with the leadership’s negotiating strategy, he absented himself from public life, studying for a doctorate in international law, staying very quiet. We lost track of each other until a few years ago, when he burst back onto the scene in Lebanon, unchanged and undefeated, now the second in command at the PLO embassy that had finally been re-established there.

I went to his funeral; we all walked the familiar path to the Palestinian cemetery, accompanied by thousands of refugees, clapping and singing and shouting revolutionary slogans. After the 40 days of mourning I returned to Beirut, where the traditional memorial meeting was convened at the Unesco palace. The hall was packed with Palestinians from the refugee camps across Lebanon, and black and white images of the handsome Kamal at different stages of his life succeeded one another on a screen behind the stage.

Most of the Palestinian leaders were at an urgent meeting in Amman, and couldn’t attend. The eerie pockets of silence at various moments throughout the ceremony were bound up, it seemed to me, with the implications of his death (don’t organise, don’t push, don’t try to change things for the better). Something felt as if it was about to give.

His family, with whom I was staying, had asked me to speak about him, as Kamal had been an early teacher of mine. Afterwards, in the foyer, a stream of young people came up to me. They wanted me to know exactly what he had meant to them: ‘Kamal was the only one who spoke up for us’; ‘Kamal listened to us, he stood with us’; ‘He fought for us’; ‘He encouraged us.’ One after another, they told me stories of what he did. Each had recognised his revolutionary spirit, I thought, as I watched them wander away afterwards into the streets of Beirut.


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October 25th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , See:





Paul O’Grady sums up what many people think of the Tories:

For deeper analysis see Paul Krugman’s piece in the New York Times:

“No widespread fad ever passes, however, without leaving some fashion victims in its wake. In this case, the victims are the people of Britain, who have the misfortune to be ruled by a government that took office at the height of the austerity fad and won’t admit that it was wrong.

Britain, like America, is suffering from the aftermath of a housing and debt bubble. Its problems are compounded by London’s role as an international financial center: Britain came to rely too much on profits from wheeling and dealing to drive its economy — and on financial-industry tax payments to pay for government programs.

Over-reliance on the financial industry largely explains why Britain, which came into the crisis with relatively low public debt, has seen its budget deficit soar to 11 percent of G.D.P. — slightly worse than the U.S. deficit. And there’s no question that Britain will eventually need to balance its books with spending cuts and tax increases.

The operative word here should, however, be “eventually.” Fiscal austerity will depress the economy further unless it can be offset by a fall in interest rates. Right now, interest rates in Britain, as in America, are already very low, with little room to fall further. The sensible thing, then, is to devise a plan for putting the nation’s fiscal house in order, while waiting until a solid economic recovery is under way before wielding the ax.

But trendy fashion, almost by definition, isn’t sensible — and the British government seems determined to ignore the lessons of history.

Both the new British budget announced on Wednesday and the rhetoric that accompanied the announcement might have come straight from the desk of Andrew Mellon, the Treasury secretary who told President Herbert Hoover to fight the Depression by liquidating the farmers, liquidating the workers, and driving down wages. Or if you prefer more British precedents, it echoes the Snowden budget of 1931, which tried to restore confidence but ended up deepening the economic crisis.”

(H/T: Stroppy)

Posted in UKComments Off on O’GRADY ON THE TORIES



NYTimes Columnist Deplores Afghan War’s Effect on Soldiers

October 25, 2010by Michael Leon


Deserting our veterans

From the VA:

New York Times (10/23, A21) columnist Bob Herbert, in a column entitled “The Way We Treat Our Troops,” writes of an Army sergeant recently killed during his 12th tour of duty, having served four in Iraq and into his eighth in Afghanistan. 

The columnist adds, “I would bring back the draft in a heartbeat. Then you wouldn’t have these wars that last a lifetime.” Severely critical of the Afghan war as a “world-class fiasco,”, Herbert writes that, “Stressed-out, depressed and despondent soldiers are seeking help for their mental difficulties

Posted in WorldComments Off on AFGHAN WAR’S EFFECT ON SOLDIERS




25 Oct 2010


مضحك و مبكٍ في آنٍ معاً عندما تستذكِر القيادات اليسارية و الشيوعية الحالية في المهرجانات الحزبية و المؤتمرات التضامنية المتنوعِة المشارب و الأهداف المثقّفين و المقاومين الشيوعيين و اليساريين الذين سقطوا غدراً على أيدي التنظيمات و العصابات الإسلاموفاشية في الفترة الممتدة بين 1985 و 1988 في كلّ من بيروت و الجنوب.

المضحك في الأمر أنّ هذه القيادات الحالية من أمناء عامين و أعضاء مكاتب سياسية و لجان مركزية و مجالس وطنية لأحزابٍ و تنظيمات (و التي أصبحت عملِياً فارغة من محازبيها و مناضليها) تقف الأن في صفّ هذه التنظيمات الإسلاموفاشية و تدافع عنها و تبرِر لها أعمالها من تهديدٍ دائم لسياسيين و أحزاب و صحافة مكتوبة و مرئية وصولاً إلى الغمز الشبه اليومي لجهة إستمال “السلاح الميليشيوي” لفرض الرأي بالقوة إذا لزم الأمر.

و المضحك الثاني في الأمر هي كمِية المعونات المادية الشهرية و الموسمية التّي يتمّ توزيعها على بعض الأحزاب و القيادات اليسارية من قبل تنظيم إسلاموفاشي شهير لكي تقوم هذه الأحزاب و القيادات و عبر الإعلام بشتم و تلفيق إتهامات كاذبة و الإفتراء على كل من يعارض أو يختلف بالرأي مع هذا التنظيم الإسلاموفاشي “صاحب المال الطاهر و القرار الحرّ “.

أمّا المبكي في الأمر هو ذكر أسماء هؤلاء الشهداء الأبرار خلال المهرجانات اليسارية و خطب الأمناء العامين الرنّانة في إطار مشوّه للحقائق و التنكُر للظروف و الأسباب التي رافقت عملية إغتيالهم و تحميل مسؤولية الإغتيالات لأطرافٍ أخرى ليس لها علاقة لا من قريب و لا من بعيد بهذه الإغتيالات و تبرئة المرتكب الحقيقي و إعطائه شهادة حسن سلوك وطنية و قومية و أممية.

نصيحة صغيرة للقيادات اليسارية و الشيوعية اللبنانية الحالية المتحالفة (أو العميلة – تعبير أدقّ) مع التنظيمات الإسلاموفاشية ضمن “جبهة مواجهة الهجمة الإمبريالية الأميركية الصهيونية على لبنان و المنطقة العربية” أن تراجع تاريخ بلد إسمه إيران بُعيد الثورة الإسلامية عام 1979 التي أطاحت بنظام دكتاتور إيران الشاه محمد رضا بهلاوي و أتت بنظامٍ رجعيٍ/ظلاميٍ كان أول مآثره تأسيس عصابات مسلّحة إسلاموفاشية شبه حكومية/رسمية (أصبحت فيما بعد رسمية) قامت في المرحلة الممتدة بين 1980 و 1984 بالملاحقة و الإقتصاص من المناضلين و المثقّفين اليساريين و الشيوعيين الذين ساهموا وكان لهم الدور الرئيسي بنجاح الثورة الإيرانية.

Posted in CampaignsComments Off on ARAB DEMOCRACY



By Scott Horton

Most American war reporting stretches from the corridors of the Pentagon to embeds with the troops. It rarely offers a street-level view, and almost never the perspective of the civilians caught up in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But that’s the forte of Nir Rosen, a scholar associated with New York University’s Center on Law and Security. His latest book, Aftermath, describes the impact of the war on families from Beirut to Baghdad to Afghanistan’s Pushtun belt, and offers some stinging criticism of America’s failure to take account of the human cost. I put six questions to Rosen:

1. On the war in Iraq, the wisdom of the Beltway pundits might be summed up this way: Bush’s efforts were floundering, then Petraeus saved the day with his surge, converting an ambiguous situation into an unqualified success. What’s the matter with this analysis?


Nir Rosen (photo by Ghaith Abdul Ahad)

Success isn’t a relevant concept. As I show in the book, the various events that have come to be called “the surge” actually started well before Petraeus took over the war in Iraq, although he did help support and institutionalize some of the changes. And the civil war and cleansing continued well into the surge. I recently visited many villages in Diyala that were totally destroyed in the civil war in the summer of 2007, six months into the surge.

There was a peak of violence and then a relative decline in violence. This was the product of a slew of developments, starting with the fact that the Shiites won the civil war. The Sunnis, realizing they were losing (a process that began in 2006), shifted their strategy and attempted to reach an accommodation with the Americans.

You have to throw in the Mahdi Army ceasefire, the growing anger Iraqis felt at the predations of their own self-defense militias (whether they were Al Qaeda or the Mahdi Army), the expulsion of millions of people from their homes and the creation of pure enclaves, a surge in the Iraqi Security Forces and the removal of many of their worst members, an increase in the number of American troops, the high number of fatalities from air strikes and kill missions (which struck intended targets and innocents alike and brutalized the civilian population), American counterinsurgency tactics such as walling off areas and living in neighborhoods in combat outposts, the decision by Prime Minister Al Maliki to crush Shiite militias. All of this brings us where we are today–daily bombings and assassinations, poor services, a corrupt, authoritarian regime, torture, misery and fear. But at least it’s better than 2006, right?

2. The New York Times reports that with the failure of efforts to form a government in Baghdad with broad Sunni-Shia support, Sunni leaders who had reconciled themselves to the Americans during the “Anbar Awakening” are now moving once more towards armed opposition. Do you share this analysis? Was it foreseeable? And what does it mean in terms of American claims of success in the Iraq War?

And while America’s militaristic ambitions will likely engender violent resistance movements regardless of the ideological environment, a major reason for the growth of Al Qaeda is now something beyond anti-Americanism. It is the internal war between Sunnis and Shiites in places like Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan, and even Yemen. Al Qaeda can no longer be seen as just a force against U.S. encroachments; it is now part of these local phenomena.

In this internal war in the Muslim world, Al Qaeda has become a major driving force of Sunni-Shiite hatred. Al Qaeda in this case means something more general than the actual organization. Even in moderate Lebanon, sectarian Sunnis have been Salafized. They may not have been religious beforehand, but they view Al Qaeda as an effective way to combat perceived Shiite expansion and a potent symbol for them to reclaim their masculinity. One of the many ramifications of this is that the United States is yet again involving itself in forms of spiraling violence whose outcomes are unpredictable and whose unintended consequences will be keeping it busy for decades to come.

—From Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World

Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Nation Books—Copyright © 2010 Nation Books

I strongly disagree with this analysis. It’s true that Sunni militiamen who switched sides in the civil war and decided to ally with the Americans now feel betrayed. They were expecting to fight Shiites when the Americans left and overthrow the government, or at least attain positions of power and influence. Instead many have been arrested or killed, others have been fired or given jobs they consider humiliating, such as in sanitation, while others have been incorporated into the security forces. I was critical of the Awakening phenomenon when it began. I thought that creating new militias would be catastrophic. But the Sunni militiamen miscalculated. They went from being underground guerilla fighters to public figures, their names, addresses, and biometric data known by the Americans and Iraqi Security Forces. They also proved unable to unite. Instead they have been emasculated and have gone from being powerful to being pathetic. They failed to translate the power they once had on the ground into political influence. Instead of contesting the system, they just want a piece of it. But they are powerless to do anything about it. Their leadership was decimated, and they have little support from the local population. Now Al Qaeda is picking them off slowly, slaughtering them or blowing them up here and there.

These days the Awakening leaders I knew are either dead, in exile, or asking me to help them get visas to the United States. Importantly, Sunnis are no longer under threat so there is no grass roots support for the Awakening militias either. There is no security vacuum in Iraq these days. The Iraqi Security Forces are pervasive and no longer perceived as sectarian death squads. So the former Sunni militiamen have been marginalized with little consequence. The occasional suicide bomber or car bomb that Sunni rejectionists can dispatch have no strategic impact on the situation in Iraq.

3. If America had never invaded Iraq and Saddam Hussein had held on to power there, would the situation be better or worse for the average Iraqi? Would America’s security posture be improved or harmed?

Many Iraqis are better off, many more are worse off. There is no mathematical calculation to determine that. In the book I show the terrible human cost in deaths at the hands of the occupation and terrorist groups or in the civil war, as well as the tens of thousands of families who had men imprisoned for years. Millions of people lost their homes and were forced to live as squatters or refugees. The region became more unstable, Al Qaeda increased in importance, sectarianism increased, violence spread. And Iraqis have a government that increasingly resembles Saddam’s regime, only it is more representative of the population and more Shiite in its identity.

As for America’s security posture, I don’t think the Middle East should be viewed through the prism of alleged American “interests.” And I don’t think imposing its will on weaker countries increases American security. Even the weak find ways to resist. America is more insecure when it creates more enemies it didn’t need to have and meddles with the internal affairs of other countries. Certainly the Middle East was more stable before the war. America’s security posture in the Middle East involves colonial and post-colonial relations. American influence there is embattled and changing. The war in Iraq may come to be seen as a turning point, part of a decline in American influence in the region. But there are other things happening at the same time. The Saudi regime is unsustainable and the Egyptian regime is disintegrating. These two countries are pillars of the American regional architecture. And the third pillar, Israel, is not viable in its current form as an increasingly rogue apartheid Jewish state. Finally, the American military is exhausted and losing its conventional skills after nearly ten years of occupation while the power of asymmetrical tactics against a conventional behemoth has been demonstrated.

The irrational American response after September 11 reduced the gap in power and influence between the United States and other regional or global actors. The neoconservative notion that we were at the end of history and the United States could maintain its triumph by any means necessary was proven to be folly. America’s excessive use of force actually weakened its position in the region. Had America paid attention to the people, it might have produced polices that were good for the region and not based on some misguided notion of America’s interests in the region. The United States will now seek to withdraw from the region while avoiding the impression that it has been defeated. But one of the tragedies of American engagement in the Middle East today is that its conduct is regularly driven by efforts not to do the right thing, but to avoid the appearance of defeat.

4. You evaluate in some detail the position of Muqtada al-Sadr and the “Sadr Current” in Iraq, and you’re one of very few American writers to explore them on the basis of first-hand research. Recent reports suggest that the Sadrists are likely to emerge as a part of the coalition government in Baghdad, but the conventional U.S. analysis has been that the Sadrists peaked early and were marginalized. What role do you see for them in Iraqi politics going forward?

The participation of the Sadrists in the new government should be welcomed. They are a genuinely popular movement and the only grassroots movement in Iraq. Marginalizing them pushed them to be spoilers and to use violence. The Sadrists represent Iraq’s revolutionary class that once supported communism, the poor and dispossessed Shiite masses, the subalterns. The Sadrists’ popularity suffered because of their militia’s excesses, but nobody else speaks for this class of Iraqis or helps them. The movement is led by the people, and when it ceases to be angry it loses their support. But as the Iraqi state has grown stronger and its Shiite identity has become solid, and as the American occupation is coming to an end, then of course many of the Sadrist causes have ceased to be important. In addition, Sadrists have been in the government for five years. It’s hard to be anti-establishment when you’re part of the establishment.

5. You describe a harrowing encounter with Taliban forces during a recent visit to the Pushtun heartland of Afghanistan. What does your experience suggest to you about the likely success of current efforts to engage Taliban leaders in a dialogue? Will elements of the Taliban be reconcilable to the Karzai government?

Despite admitting that there was no military solution, Obama was relying on the military. And he reproduced the pathologies of his predecessor, treating Muslims as if they were one entity and the world as if it was a battlefield. Under Obama the United States has expanded its operations in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. In all cases violence has increased. In Al Qaeda’s worldview, Muslims are under attack by Christians and Jews who want to take Muslims’ resources and perhaps convert them too. The Bush Administration had to transform its response to the 9/11 attacks into a crusade because, in purely security terms, the most powerful nation the world has ever seen went to war against two hundred unsophisticated extremists. Looking at it like that diminishes to absurdity the enemy and the threat it poses, but many in the defense policy establishment were nostalgic for a real enemy, like fascism or communism, and so they made the conflict about culture. The United States adopted Al Qaeda’s view of the world, and it too treated the entire world stage as a battlefield.

—From Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World

Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Nation Books—Copyright © 2010 Nation Books

My experience showed me how diverse the groups fighting the Americans and their allies are. The men I met had diverse motives and only vague goals. They bickered among themselves. They were locals fighting for their villages, their country, their religion. They were very atomized. This means that there can be no mass defection, since leaders at the village level are so important, and there are thousands of them. This also leads to the rise of more radical young leaders. Some were willing to strike a deal with the government in Kabul. Many Taliban leaders are tired of fighting. They have grown older and are tired of life on the run, away from home. One problem with the idea of merely striking a deal with the Taliban is that it will perpetuate one of the greatest mistakes made since 2001, the lack of justice. Warlords were empowered by the Americans and this would be more of the same, the continued denial of justice to the Afghan people and continued impunity for human rights violations.

The arrival of Petraeus in Afghanistan has come with a return of the “kill or capture” approach to winning the war as well as the creation of more militias. In Afghanistan militias have a history of easily shifting alliances, and those who reconcile today can fight again tomorrow. Until now there has been no significant reconciliation or Taliban defection, and there is no reason to expect any. So far there have only been talks about talks, and the whole thing is overblown. Why should the Taliban negotiate when they are winning and time is on their side? Why should they negotiate with a weak and illegitimate Karzai? And why would a weak and illegitimate Karzai want to strike a deal with the powerful Taliban who have far more legitimacy than him in parts of the country? What would he gain? Also, while many Afghans may welcome an end to the fighting and the return of the Taliban, many despise and fear the Taliban. Reconciliation with the Taliban can lead many Afghans to embrace their own militias in self defense. The point is that there is no apparent solution to the mess the Americans have helped create.

6. You end your book with a punchy critique of the U.S. government and American media, which you say focus “too much on elite-level politics” and too little on the “people, the atmosphere of the ‘street,’ neighborhoods, villages and mosques.” How might a shift in attention have reshaped American engagement in its efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan?


It is impossible to imagine an imperial power like the United States caring about “people,” even its own. The effect our wars and policies have on them are ignored. Perhaps if policy analysts and policy makers paid attention to the people in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere, they would rely less on English-speaking elites who are disconnected from the reality on the ground. They would then be better aware of what the people want, which movements are popular, and who has power. In Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other countries in the Muslim world, the people have obstructed American goals. If America had listened to the people, it might not have gone to war with the Muslim world after September 11. It might have learned that Al Qaeda was not a movement but a group of marginal individuals rejected by the mainstream and ignored by most Muslims. If it listened to the people, America might cease propping up hated dictatorships and calling them “moderate.” If it listened to the people, it might support democracy in the Middle East rather than compliant regimes that are proving brittle and will eventually crumble violently. But even if it didn’t listen to the people out of good intentions, it would have at least been a far more competent occupier, provoking less instability. But then again, if the American government listened to people, it might spend less of its resources on foreign wars and more on the welfare of its own people.





Israeli forces attack Silwan with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets while distributing demolition orders

Oct 24, 2010


And more news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers / Land, property and resource theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Child hit by rubber bullet in Silwan clashes
Clashes broke out Sunday in the flashpoint East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan as Israeli authorities stormed the Al-Bustan area to hand down demolition notices, locals said. Head of the committee defending Silwan homes Fakhri Abu Diab said a large force of Israeli border guards ransacked the area, using homes as vantage points to fire tear-gas canisters, stun-grenades and rubber bullets “in all directions.” An eight-year-old boy was hit three times by the rubber bullets, he added.

Police clash with Arab youth while distributing demolition orders in East Jerusalem
Mayor Nir Barkat has approved a development program in Silwan to raze 22 Palestinian homes that were built without permits, and to construct a tourism center in their place.

Settlers chop almond trees in Beit Ummar
Dozens of Israeli settlers chopped down almond trees in the Wad Al-Wahadin area of the Beit Ummar village in Hebron, marking the second act of vandalism on Saturday. Palestine Solidarity Project spokesman Mohammad Awad said settlers uprooted dozens of trees belonging to the Baher family near the Karmi Zur settlement and brought in bulldozers in what the spokesman said was an attempt to enlarge the settlement. Five dunums of land were overturned in the process, Awad said, adding that several new settlement housing units were approved in the area.

Mosque vandalized near Nazareth
Unknown vandals removed stones from an ancient mosque in the Ma`alul village in Nazareth on Sunday, the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said …
The village is located six kilometers west of Nazareth city … Hajj Sami Rizqallah Abu Mukh, heading the delegation, described the assault on the mosque as “a serious crime and it is obvious that sinful hands demolished the southern wall of the mosque and stole a large number of its stones.” … Most of Ma`alul’s land is now owned by the Jewish National Fund and the only remaining structures are two churches, a mosque and a Roman mausoleum.

’48 Palestinians gather to protest Ma`lul mosque attack
NAZARETH, (PIC)– The village of Ma`lul near Nazareth saw an influx of Palestinians from 1948-occupied territories who gathered Sunday to protest the Jewish settler theft of stones of an ancient mosque in the village. The protest was attended by Arab MK Mohammed Barakat, Muslim and Christian clerics, political party delegates, and public masses. Protesters said they will rebuild the mosque in response to the settler attack … Settlers reportedly stole three years back a church bell in the village prompting ’48 Palestinians to restore the village and re-congregate for prayers there on Sundays.

Jerusalem gets first grade national priority status
New legislation gives capital benefits in housing, employment and education sectors. Minister: Clear message that Jerusalem won’t be divided,7340,L-3974215,00.html

State: Amona eviction a low priority
The illegal West Bank outpost of Amona has been given a temporary reprieve: The State Prosecutor’s Office informed the High Court Sunday that despite the illegal construction on the premises, it will not be evicted at this time.,7340,L-3974074,00.html


Israeli security forces wound 8 Palestinians in Tel Sheva
BEERSHEBA, (PIC)– Eight Palestinians in Tel Sheva village in the Negev, occupied since 1948, were wounded at the hands of Israeli security forces that stormed the village on Sunday. Mohammed Al-Asam, one of the village inhabitants, told reporters that a big number of those forces attacked the village unexpectedly to quell the citizens who were objecting to the bulldozing of a village land lot to establish an Israeli educational center on it. He added that the police forces broke into houses and fired inside them sonic and gas bombs other than beating women, children, and old people wounding 8 of the villagers. He added that the policemen arrested ten villagers in the process.

Worker attacked by settlers in East Jerusalem
A young Palestinian man from the Old City of Jerusalem sustained wounds and bruises Sunday morning after a group of extremist settlers attacked him near the Ramot settlement in the occupied city, his employer told Ma’an. Anan Hijazi said his employee Muhammad Al-Beituni was assaulted by 10 extremist Israelis, “beating him brutally with empty bottles and stones.” The injured was taken to the Hadassah Hospital in Al-Isawiya in East Jerusalem.

Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

A day in the olive groves of Sinjil / Alessandra Bajec
…Departing at 7am from Jerusalem, my friend and I join another two volunteers along with Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann, OT Director of Rabbis for Human Rights, in charge of coordinating two groups of olive pickers between this week and the following one.

Protesters march against wall in Beit Awla
Hebron – PNN – A protest march against the Israeli wall was launched on Friday morning from the village of Beit Awla, north of Hebron. Issa al-Umla, a coordinator for the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, who supported the march, said Israeli occupation forces stopped activists and journalists from entering the area known as Wadi al-Jalmoun, which has been long been blocked to farmers.

Ramallah presents: Rachel Corrie restaurant
Restaurant’s owner says wanted to honor American woman killed by IDF bulldozer in Rafah in 2003, all international peace activists,7340,L-3973994,00.html

South Africa, Jerusalem, and unity / Nabil Sha`ath
I am on my way to South Africa, a country I love … South Africa boycotted the OECD Tourism fiasco in Jerusalem, and stands beside us in every way. The last two weeks witnessed a battle against that OECD tourism meeting held in Jerusalem … During that infamous meeting, Israel introduced a law prohibiting Palestinian tour guides from operating in the tourism sector of Jerusalem. Israel considers our religious, archaeological, and tourism spots as Israeli! And operates OECD related Websites from settlements in the West Bank … The Israeli minister was forced to recant, and in his opening speech to the meeting did not even mention Jerusalem once the way he wanted, after the OECD embarrassingly threatened to cancel the whole convention in Jerusalem if he continues to talk about the status of Jerusalem.

Siege / Restriction of movement / Rights violations

Israel opens 1 Gaza crossing
Israeli authorities said they would partially open one crossing into Gaza for the limited delivery of food and fuel on Sunday, a Palestinian liaison official said … The Karni crossing in northern Gaza, Fattouh added, will remain closed Sunday.


IOF soldiers detain Omar Barghouthi days after his release from PA jail
RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Sunday arrested liberated prisoner Omar Al-Barghouthi, the brother of the longest serving Palestinian prisoner in occupation jails, only few days after his release from PA detention. Local sources told the PIC that IOF troops had stormed the house of Barghouthi in Kuwair town, Ramallah district, after midnight a few days ago but did not find him and left him a summons to Beit El on Sunday. He went there and was arrested.

PA security arrests preacher two weeks after arrest by Israel
RAMALLAH, (PIC)– PA intelligence arrested Islamic preacher Majid Hassan “Abu Obeida” after interviewing him for the third time since his release two weeks back after serving three years in administrative detention in Israeli prisons … Majid Hassan is a prestigious religious figure in Ramallah noted for his high patriotism and interest in national unity. He played a key role in bridging the gap between Palestinian factions in 2004-2005.

Racism / Extremism

Baruch Marzel to march in Umm al-Fahm
Our Land of Israel group to hold protest rally in northern city against police ‘servility’ towards Islamic Movement. Clashes expected as last year … Some 70 members of the organization are expected to participate, led by Kach activists Itamar Ben Gvir and Baruch Marzel [US-born convicted criminal who lives in Hebron]. Thousands of police officers will provide security, and serious clashes are expected – as took place last year during a similar demonstration.,7340,L-3973806,00.html

‘Kahane was right’ sprayed in Nazerat Illit
The Amakim Subdistrict Police is investigating yet another case of “Kahane was right” graffiti, sprayed in the Nazerat Illit and Migdal Ha’Emek area [in the north of Israel],7340,L-3973766,00.html

Inside Lod’s ghettos
Lod is the first town most visitors to Israel see, when they walk out of Ben Gurion International airport. What they don’t see is the discreet ethnic cleansing which takes place here, the state-sanctioned policies of discrimination which are destroying living conditions for the town’s Arab population. With the new loyalty oath poised to deepen the divide, Sophie Crowe visited communities that are already given daily reminders of their second-class status.

Palestinian flag posted on Safed mosque
Tensions mounting in city following Saturday clashes between haredim, Arab students. Earlier this week rabbis urged residents not to rent out apartments to Arabs,7340,L-3973770,00.html


Life in Palestinian refugee camps / Stephen Lendman
Besides mass slaughter and destruction, wars create refugees, millions at times, uprooted, displaced and homeless, on their own somehow to survive. Israel’s “War of Independence” was no different, dispossessing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, a story Western media reports don’t explain or even mention.

War crimes

What led to IDF bombing house full of civilians during Gaza war? / Amira Hass
The order to bomb the house has been explained as the brigade commander’s legitimate interpretation of drone photos shown in the war room … The many incidents described in the human rights organizations’ reports indicate that the drone photographs are not as precise or clear as they are said to be, or that the technology considered “objective” also depends on commanders’ interpretation: Children playing on the roof are liable to be regarded as “scouts,” people trying to speak to their relatives over the phone are liable to be “signal operators for a terrorist brigade,” and families that went to the garden to feed the goats, squads of Qassam launchers.

Smart Israeli missiles in Gaza / Flora Nicoletta
…It was a hot day. Emad was 37-year old and handsome. A white sheet covered part of his body. When Emad moved I saw for a second that he was completely naked and his two short stumps were enormous due to big bandages. The bandages were so big that no underpants could be worn by Emad. One night [in 2006] Emad was walking in the neighborhood of Shejayia in Gaza City. While he was speaking on his cell phone a missile was fired at him. His brothers explained me that inside such kind of missile there are some sort of turning knives which cut everything. The young man from Caritas took me to other rooms. That day I saw no less than twenty amputees, a living catalogue of horror.

Israelis fired 308 bullets aboard Gaza ship: general (Reuters)
Israeli commandos fired 308 live bullets aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship in May to repel passengers who attacked them with lethal weapons including a snatched Uzi machine pistol, Israel’s top general said on Sunday. In a sometimes testy second round of testimony before a state-appointed inquest, Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi insisted the navy’s killing of nine pro-Palestinian Turks on the converted cruise ship Mavi Marmara had been unavoidable.

Israeli army chief back at inquiry
Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, the chief of staff, was called on by the Turkel Committee to testify again on Sunday after he refused to allow other senior Israeli officers to appear before the panel. He said he did not want to expose them to the risks their testimony could create for them. Al Jazeera’s correspondent Sherine Tadros, reporting from Jerusalem, said Ashkenazi “spent most of the morning defending and justifying the actions of his soldiers on board the Mavi [Marmara]”, the lead vessel … “They [soldiers] didn’t hurt those who didn’t need to be hurt,” she quoted Ashkenazi as saying.

Chief of staff: Soldiers who stole from Marmara ‘wild weeds’
Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said soldiers who stole from the Marmara during the IDF raid on the Gaza flotilla were “wild weeds.” Speaking before the Turkel Committee investigating the event, he said it harmed the IDF’s image and promised the army would deal with the issue,7340,L-3973869,00.html

Arab-Israeli flotilla activists to testify (AFP)
Two Arab citizens of Israel who were on board a Gaza-bound aid ship seized in a deadly May 31 raid will testify before an Israeli commission investigating the botched operation, they said on Sunday. They will be the first and perhaps only activists who were aboard the ship to testify before the Tirkel Commission, established to probe the legality of the raid in which nine Turkish activists were shot dead. Mohammed Zedan and Sheikh Hamad Abu Daabis, who were on the deck of the lead ferry Mavi Marmara when it was seized in international waters with five other ships, had initially refused to testify.

in case you missed it (or even if you’ve seen it before)
Al Nakba (English) Part 1 – Al Jazeera
…first broadcast in Arabic on the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian catastrophe. It was translated into English in 2009 and then into four different languages: French, German, Spanish and Italian. Al Nakba won the prize for the best long documentary about Palestine in Al Jazeera Fifth International Film Festival (Doha/Qatar) and the audience award in Amal Ninth Euro-Arab Film Festival (Santiago/Spain). It participated in other film festivals in Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Jordan, Egypt and Palestine.

Political developments

Fatah official denies unity talks collapsing
Senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad on Saturday denied that a recent decision to cancel a visit by a Fatah delegation to Gaza was a sign that unity talks with Hamas were collapsing, Egyptian media reported. Al-Ahmad’s comments follow the postponement on Wednesday of what both parties have described as a final meeting to discuss the outstanding security issue before ratifying the Egyptian-backed unity deal in Cairo.

Abbas welcomes Vatican call to end occupation
President Mahmoud Abbas and chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat welcomed Sunday the Vatican Synod’s call for an end to Israel’s occupation a day earlier, and urged further support for Palestinian Christians.

Netanyahu to Palestinians: Unilateral actions will not advance peace process (Reuters)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the Palestinians on Sunday not to take unilateral steps towards statehood, saying Israel was working closely with Washington on ways to restart peace talks.

Halt to Palestinian peace talks could be permanent (WaPo)
In perhaps the shortest round of peace negotiations in the history of their conflict, talks between the Israelis and Palestinians have ground to a halt and show little sign of resuming … The proximate cause of the breakdown is Israel’s decision not to extend a 10-month partial freeze of settlement building on Palestinian lands, but in the view of many analysts, the problems go much deeper.

Palestinian Authority to gain security control over Ramallah
Ramallah – PNN – The Defense Ministry in Israel has written a preliminary plan to transfer the security control of Ramallah and some West Bank villages to the P.A. The plan to transfer the security control has been written up on a contingency basis, but would include the city of Ramallah and possible Beityuya, el-Bireh, and even Bir Zeit.  Some parts of the areas that are part of this plan are located in what is considered Area B, which is under Israeli security control according to the Oslo Accords.

Other news

Israel airs footage of nuclear reactor
TEL AVIV — Rare footage of an Israeli nuclear reactor in the Galilee was aired by Israeli TV on Saturday evening, marking the first time Israel’s nuclear facilities have been openly broadcast to the public … “This reactor’s role is to monitor nuclear experiments and activities taking place underground in the world,” said a female expert working at the reactor.

Saudi payout eases Palestinian funding crisis: Fayyad
(Reuters) A pledge of $100 million from Saudi Arabia and other international aid is easing the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) financial crisis, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Sunday. The PA is relying on help from foreign backers to plug a budget deficit projected at $1.2 billion for 2010. The slow arrival of funds, especially from Arab states, has forced Fayyad to take austerity measures.

Abu Libdeh: Rawabi can absorb settlement workers
PA National Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh said Saturday that the first planned Palestinian city in Ramallah could be “a real opportunity to absorb Palestinian workers employed in settlements,” a statement read … In October, Israel’s environment minister said he would attempt to block Rawabi’s construction over concerns for the environment.

Nablus: 3 hurt in explosion in building previously damaged by IDF
Three Palestinian residents of Nablus were moderately wounded when n explosion shook a building in the city. The explosion took place when the three workers, as part of renovation work, were taking down a ceiling that had been damaged during an IDF strike some eight years ago. Palestinian police closed off the area and began investigations.,7340,L-3974119,00.html

Gaza liaison office broken into for third time
Unidentified assailants vandalized the Gaza crossings and coordination office near the northern Erez crossing in Gaza on Sunday morning, sources told Ma’an.

Record-breaking tourism could spell problems for Israel
This month is shaping up to be the country’s best month for tourism in a decade, approaching the record set in October 1999 on the eve of the second intifada, with more than 1 million hotel nights.

Analysis / Opinion / Human interest

Call it terror, not price tag / Zvi Bar’el
This is local terror with an instructive purpose – its goal is to terrorize the Palestinians and teach them to behave as the settlers believe they should. — Hebrew is a beautiful language. But it is also like a model whose golden days are behind her and must use pancake makeup to cover what age and strife have wrought. By way of example two terms that have become inseparable parts of the language, to the point that their real meanings has been forgotten: “price tag” and “neighbor procedure,” which gave birth to “child procedure.”

What does online media do for Palestinians?
Comedian Mark Steel said that if the Israeli army blew up a cat’s home, the following day headlines would scream that the unfortunate animals were smuggling semtex for Hamas. Steel was referring to the Gaza flotilla and subsequent cover-up, but ironically that tragedy marked a tipping point away from Israeli PR hegemony. Today, there is more coverage from a Palestinian perspective than ever before.

If the word ‘torture’ makes you feel bad…
…here’s a solution from boingboing: The New York Times Torture Euphemism Generator! by Rob Beschizza — Reading the NYT’s stories about the Iraq War logs, I was struck by how it could get through such gruesome descriptions — fingers chopped off, chemicals splashed on prisoners — without using the word ‘torture.’ For some reason the word is unavailable when it is literally meaningful, yet is readily tossed around for laughs in contexts where it means nothing at all. It turns out the NYT has a reputation for studiously avoiding the word, to the point of using bizarre bureaucratic alternatives.

US and Israel: Blinded by the right / Mark LeVine
Like the angry, self-loathing drunk unable to recognise himself in the The Who’s seminal anthem “Who Are You,” Americans and Israelis are reaching such depths of distrust and despair that the coarsest appeals to right wing identity politics – represented by the rise of the Tea Party and the current Netanyahu government – will ensure the perpetuation of policies that will doom both countries to an even darker future. In so doing they are moving so far from their founding ideals that it’s becoming impossible to recognise them anymore.

Giant communal wedding comes to Nablus
Sidqi Musa — The cheers of a thousand Nablus families echoed around the Roman amphitheater in Gamal Abd al-Nasser Park. The podium was splayed with lights, chairs had been painted white, and there was a troupe of musicians in traditional dress to the left and a row of ancient arches in the background. All eyes were on the couples—all 25 of them.


from Al Jazeera’s The Secret Iraq Files: The War
Iraq files reveal checkpoint deaths
[with video] Almost 700 civilians, including pregnant women and the mentally ill, killed for coming too close to checkpoints … with more than 2,000 wounded.

‘Crazy Horse’ and collateral damage
Helicopter squadron that killed two Reuters journalists in 2007 was involved in other attacks that hurt civilians.

US turned blind eye to torture
An alleged militant identified only as “DAT 326” was detained by the Iraqi army on July 7, 2006 at a checkpoint in the town of Tarmiya, north of Baghdad. When US forces interrogated him later that night, he described hours of brutal abuse at the hands of the Iraqi soldiers, an allegation apparently backed by the findings of a medical exam … Since the alleged torture was committed by Iraqi forces, the US quickly dropped the case: “Due to no allegation or evidence of US involvement, a US investigation is not being initiated,” the report said.

Video: Al Jazeera interviews Julian Assange
Wikileaks founder speaks to Al Jazeera about new leaked documents on Iraq war.

Before WikiLeaks, Iraq war vets revealed war crimes / Laila Al-Arian
…The leaked reports back up what Iraq war veterans have been telling journalists for years, only to be ignored by the mainstream media. In the summer of 2006, journalist Chris Hedges and I began interviewing combat veterans who served in Iraq about their experiences there, focusing on civilian deaths – and they recounted stories, many in graphic detail, that are now corroborated by the military documents.

The shaming of America / Robert Fisk
As usual, the Arabs knew. They knew all about the mass torture, the promiscuous shooting of civilians, the outrageous use of air power against family homes, the vicious American and British mercenaries, the cemeteries of the innocent dead. All of Iraq knew. Because they were the victims. Only we could pretend we did not know. Only we in the West could counter every claim, every allegation against the Americans or British with some worthy general – the ghastly US military spokesman Mark Kimmitt and the awful chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Peter Pace, come to mind – to ring-fence us with lies.

Assange defends leaks, and says more will come / Jonathan Owen
Whistleblower fights back against attacks from the US government  …
Speaking in Washington, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said she condemned the disclosure of any classified information that threatened national security, or put at risk the lives of coalition forces or civilians. Stung by the criticisms, Mr Assange fought back yesterday, accusing the Pentagon of trying to issue “deceptive statements to fool the press into reporting something that is just not true”. And despite fears that the release of tens of thousands of Afghan war files earlier this year, complete with names of informants, would result in revenge attacks, there has yet to be a single death as a result of the revelations, WikiLeaks pointed out.

Al Jazeera video: Blackwater in Iraq
The Iraq war documents from WikiLeaks contain details of the shocking activities of Blackwater mercenaries in Iraq.

Xe (Blackwater) operations in Pakistan
It was not surprisingly that the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior expressed disbelief at the Interior Ministry’s false confirmation that there was no Blackwater operating in the country. Members of the Standing Committee rightly said that it was impossible to ignore its presence in Pakistan.

Iraq parliament ordered to convene
Iraq’s supreme court has ordered parliament to convene, nearly eight months after inconclusive elections left the country without a new government. The court on Sunday said legislators’ self-declared absence “violated the constitution”.

Leaked Iraq documents cause neither shock nor awe in Arab world / Zvi Bar’el
It seems that the real task of the U.S. administration will be in the realm of American public opinion, rather than the Arab governments and people.

WikiLeaks reports of abuse by Iraqi forces deepens political divide in Iraq / Lara Jakes
BAGHDAD — Reports of brutality and torture of fellow Iraqis at the hands of government forces threw the country’s political scene into turmoil Saturday with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki attacking the leak as an attempt to malign him, and his rivals citing the documents as proof he is unfit to lead.

Maliki supporters say WikiLeaks revelations a plot (AFP)
Supporters of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki are convinced the WikiLeaks release of secret US military documents is a plot to undermine his bid to stay in power following March elections. “Maliki’s office destabilised by WikiLeaks revelations,” ran a headline in Sunday’s independent Al-Mada daily.

Nouri al-Maliki’s ‘detention squad’
Reports show US worried that Iraqi prime minister uses his political power to crack down on rivals.

Other Mideast

Poll success for Bahrain Shia bloc
Bahrain’s main Shi`a Muslim opposition group has won nearly half of the seats in parliament in an election it says was marred by irregularities … Bahrain is one of the few Arab states with a Shi`a majority, though it is dominated by Sunni Muslims.

Far-right parties oppose EU membership for Turkey (AP)
Members said Turkey has no place in Europe and that citizens should be allowed to weigh in on the matter.

Iran parliament rejects talks on uranium enrichment suspension (dpa)
Iran likely to meet with major Western powers in Vienna next month, but sides differ on what meeting’s agenda should include.

Iran restricts social sciences seen as ‘Western’ (AP)
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran has imposed new restrictions on 12 university social sciences deemed to be based on Western schools of thought and therefore incompatible with Islamic teachings, state radio reported Sunday. The list includes law, philosophy, management, psychology, political science and the two subjects that appear to cause the most concern among Iran’s conservative leadership — women’s studies and human rights.,7340,L-3974198,00.html

Thief’s hand ‘cut off in front of prisoners’ (AP)
Authorities in Iran have amputated the hand of a convicted thief in front of other prisoners, state radio is reporting. The report did not identify the 32-year-old convict, whose hand was reportedly cut off in the central city of Yazad, or provide details of his crime.

Iran, trying to skirt sanctions, attempts to set up banks worldwide (WaPo)
Iran is secretly trying to set up banks in Muslim countries around the world, including Iraq and Malaysia, using dummy names and opaque ownership structures to skirt sanctions that have increasingly curtailed the Islamic republic’s global banking activities, U.S. officials say.

IMF urges Middle East job creation
The International Monetary Fund has said that the Middle East economies are likely to grow roughly twice as fast over the next two years as they did in 2009. However, the organisation said on Sunday that more needs to be done by the region to diversify its economies and create jobs.

Yemen ‘terror’ suspect in new video
A new video featuring Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American religious scholar who is on a US government kill or capture list, has been posted on the internet … In April, a US official said the administration of Barack Obama, the US president, had authorised the targeted killing of Al-Awlaki, after American intelligence agencies concluded the Muslim religious scholar was directly involved in anti-US plots.

Modern threat to Syria’s ancient Aleppo soap industry
(Reuters) The deep perfume of olive and laurel oil hangs in the air of old Aleppo, home to an ancient soap industry that has enjoyed a renaissance since the government lifted crippling trade bans in the last five years.

U.S., other world news

FBI tracking device found on another Arab-American
19 Oct – …Veena Dubal, a staff attorney with the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, has said that one of her clients had found a similar tracking device on his car in 2009. “I have an elderly Arab American client who was attending a free workshop on how to be a mechanic, and they were using his car as the demonstration car for an oil change,” she says. “In the middle of the class, the instructor stopped and said, ‘Oh my God, there’s a bomb in the car.’ So everyone evacuated. But it wasn’t a bomb. It was a tracking device. You can imagine how humiliating this was for my client. Everyone was looking at him like he was a terrorist and like he was going to blow them up.”

Blair’s sister-in-law converts to Islam
The sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has converted to Islam after having a “holy experience” in Iran, British media reported on Sunday.


Vatican synod comes out strong for Palestinian rights

Oct 24, 2010

Joseph Glatzer

I grew up Catholic and although I haven’t been to church in a long time; I would be lying if I said this doesn’t speak very powerfully to me.

The Quotes Speak for Themselves:

“The Holy Scriptures cannot be used to justify the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of the Palestinians, to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands,” Monsignor Cyril Salim Bustros, Greek Melkite archbishop of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Boston, Massachusetts, and president of the “Commission for the Message,” said at Saturday’s Vatican press conference.

“We Christians cannot speak of the ‘promised land’ as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people. This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people – all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.

The good Bishop went further; into what was in effect an endorsement of a one state solution.

“Even if the head of the Israeli state is Jewish, the future is based on democracy.

The Palestinian refugees will eventually come back and this problem will have to be solved,” the Lebanese-born Bustros said.

Israel’s ambassador to the Holy See, Mordechay Lewy’s thought provoking and nuanced response:

“by inviting all Palestinian refugees to return and denying Israel’s right to define itself a Jewish state – the only such in the world – he is regressing to hard-line positions that deny Israel’s right to exist.”

One of the most powerful organizations in the world, the Catholic Church, has called Israel’s founding myth “nullified”.  So, what is the response of Israel?  That the Bishops are Jew-baiting hard-liners.  Awesome. 

Unfortunately, the document released to the public did contain a plea for the “two state solution”:

In their “Appeal to the International Community” the bishops expressed “hopes that the two-state solution becomes a reality and not only a dream.”

The Catholics continued:

The document calls for “taking the necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories” as well as “an end to the consequences of the deadly war in Iraq” and promotion of “basic public freedoms” and “sovereignty” in Lebanon. 

What impact will this have?  Will people like my war loving devout Catholic sister change her views on the occupations of the Middle East? I don’t know.  I think it’s one of many drops in the bucket which will eventually give way to the flood we’ve all been waiting for.

When will US publications follow ‘Haaretz’ in describing the ‘terrorism’ of the occupation?

Oct 24, 2010

Philip Weiss

Zvi Bar’el in Haaretz, on the euphemisms of occupation– “price tag” violence– and the habit of committing crimes with impunity:

“The terrorism of the settlers and the crimes of the army–even if soldiers are occasionally prosecuted–have become so banal that few are upset by them.”

My pacifist lament

Oct 24, 2010

Peter Voskamp 

One morning not long ago our tiny apartment began to shudder as if an earthquake were descending from above. My 14-month-old daughter scurried about, frightened and confused. Mom and dad looked on helplessly as the noise rattled our innards.

It turns out we were being buzzed by a trio of military helicopters flying extraordinarily low — White House Marine-1’s returning from Martha’s Vineyard, we were told.

Cool, right? 

Actually, those few disorienting minutes bordered on the terrifying. A physical intrusion; a kind of violation; our own little taste of “shock and awe.” It invited an angry, if reflexive, response. Imagine if every day your family lived with something similar, but with the added potential for death and destruction?

Soon after that flyover the president announced the end of combat in Iraq, and I thought back to opening day in 2003. A masochistic friend had insisted we watch the highlights via Fox. Though I try to avoid de rigueur condemnation of Murdoch’s network, I have to say the coverage that night smacked of a bloodthirsty circle jerk — the commentators barely containing their excitement as the tanks rolled toward Baghdad, like kickoff at the Super Bowl.

After seven years covering that conflict, a veteran New York Times reporter offered up a kind of mea culpa — confessing that neither he nor his many colleagues guessed at the carnage that would follow the U.S. invasion. Astounding. An invader came and filled the night with missiles and deafening explosions; munitions kill, they eviscerate. They were not invited.

How could anyone be surprised there was an insurgency? As Steven Walt said at the Naval War College four years ago: no one likes to be told what to do by a foreign soldier with a gun. There is an instinct to push back. In letters to various English newspapers during the Vietnam War, novelist and former intelligence agent Graham Greene repeatedly decried the needless carnage, all the while poking tongue-in-cheek fun at his “naiveté.” Fully aware of the geo-political chess game at play, Greene would not stop pointing out the emperor’s pants were bloody.

And, of course, the history books ended up vindicating him and countless others who protested the war.

This is a process that seems to repeat itself like an awful joke: thousands — out of innate common sense and decency — cry out against impending military folly, and only after the bloodbath do the official histories quietly agree they were in the main right.

Most agree the Gulf of Tonkin incident did not quite occur as sold, President Johnson; no WMDs, Secretary Powell and Ms. Miller (though, I suspect they probably knew that).

And Wikileaks reported the thousands of civilian deaths in Afghanistan, with little progress to show for the billions spent and coalition lives lost. And yesterday Wikileaks again confirmed our worst fears about the horrors that took place in Iraq. 

And the IDF essentially validated Goldstone’s Gaza findings, after all the dturm und drang purporting he was an anti-semite.

History shows us what happens to human nature once dogs of war are unleashed. A German friend expressed shock at the Abu Ghraib torture. I was shocked he was shocked. Don’t we know by now that this is what happens in war — regardless of your flag or uniform?

In a 2004 Guardian interview Paul Fussell called the Abu Ghraib torture “absolutely predictable — it’s usually practiced by soldiers upon other soldiers.” He told how his own battalion murdered surrendering Germans in World War Two. Fussell, in a remarkable 1989 Atlantic piece, is the antithesis of Tom Brokaw as he cold bloodedly recounts his combat experience and dismisses wholesale any attempt to glorify war. He points to its essential insanity and states that nations that work to convince their young to kill en masse are rationalizing the irrational.

My father once said he was disappointed he’d never experienced combat. A great-uncle, who served as a medic at Anzio Beach and was as conservative a Texan as you could ever meet, could only shake his head.

When I told a Vietnam vet the story he said, “That’s like wishing you could be in a car accident.”

Legal constructs also become less fixed once bullets start to fly. The public becomes desensitized to outrages by degrees. 

I remember when the media first began matter-of-factly reporting extra-judicial assassination by drone of alleged terrorists and insurgents in Iraq. I looked around dumbstruck, like I’d just seen an alien walk by and no one else noticed: since when does America fight that way?

Now it’s the tactic of choice in Afghanistan and Pakistan — and not even under the control of the military, but the ever-so-transparent and accountable CIA.

The press has only recently started wondering aloud if such a practice is cricket.

Marx said the revolution would come once the workers secured the means of production. But perhaps the revolution happens when the public secures the means of communication, as witnessed by the Wikileaks events.

Alex Jones, the excitable conspiracy theorist whose views I shall not attempt to defend, was at least correct in naming his website “Infowars.” Indeed, whom should we trust for our news?

The Wikileaks releases are a hybrid of the new and the old journalism — each acknowledges the utility of the other; Wikileaks has the goods and the New York Times, Guardian and Der Spiegel, the imprimatur.

One of the more curious responses to the first Wikileaks brouhaha was the claim that it was nothing we didn’t know already — a simultaneously odd accusation and defense.

A guest op-ed in the Times said we already knew war is awful, and it’s not news that civilians get killed… it always happens. And, furthermore, reporting such is dangerous: “Your reporting on our killing people could get people killed.”

We know these things, yet we still carry forth and commit them. Martin Luther King famously said that the arc of history bends toward justice. That line was reportedly embroidered in the new carpet for the Oval Office.

Obama, in his maddening acceptance speech in Oslo — both uncommonly inspirational while also ultimately disappointing, much like his presidency to date — pointed to the irrational human condition. For the time being, he seemed to say, we are hardwired for war. He touched upon a statistic that was repeated in yesterday’s Wikileaks coverage in the New York Times: in recent wars citizen casualties outnumber those of military personnel 10 to one.

I recognize mine is the pacifist lament of someone who, per Orwell, needs rough men to defend him when things get ugly. But as a new father, and with the sabers rattling again over Iran, I must lodge my protest. 

Swetlana Geier, 87, is a leading translator of Dostoyevsky from Russian to German.

Her father died of torture, a victim of Stalin’s political purging. Asked by Der Spiegel to compare the Soviet and Nazi regimes, she said: “I’ve found that murder is murder, regardless of the ideology behind it. And that is a notion that is lost in this day and age. There is no purpose or ideology that can justify horrific, unjust acts. Read Dostoyevsky. These are age-old, ancient questions. And mankind seems increasingly less capable of solving them.”

Perhaps you read the pieces on anosognosia in the Times, a condition where someone is somehow too dim to understand when he or she is doing something wrong. Too stupid to see they’re stupid.

Certainly this can be observed on a larger scale. Populations can be swayed to do horrific things, quite often against their own best interest; the advertising industry grew out of propaganda lessons learned in the First World War, that war to end all wars. 

There are obvious examples of collective insanity, like the Hollywood echo chamber that convinces seemingly intelligent people to undergo pricy self-mutilation to restore the tight-fleshed glory of their youth — and they look in the mirror afterward and actually believe it worked.

Ah, the St. Vitus dances of old, where everyone went inexplicably nuts all at once; and the Tanganyika Laughing Epidemic. These are considered examples of mass psychogenic illness. But nations devoting trillions toward being prepared to kill millions is the acme of sanity – of civilization.

I was pleasantly surprised by the New Yorker response to the first Wikileaks release. Rather than smugly dismiss it from on high, the publication said, essentially, “Whatever: perhaps the lesson should be to end the war in Afghanistan.” And yesterday’s revelations only make heartbreakingly clear that the Iraq adventure was horrifically misguided.

Which is what many of us thought before it began.

So many fought the wars

What was that all for?

They said “between good and evil”

Well, I think they lied a little…

Karl Wallinger, “Rolling Off a Log”

Michael Moore and Catholic church are new front in effort to mainline opposition to Israeli occupation

Oct 24, 2010

Geoffrey Gray 

Michael Moore has a post in the Huffington Post that now has over 4000 replies. It is about occupation of Muslim countries, mainly Iraq and Afghanistan by the US. But one of the quotes in his piece (from Faisal Shahzad of Times Square case) mentions Palestine along with Iraq and Afghanistan. I see this as pretty big. He is putting down some breadcrumbs that leads the average guy to see the evil consequences of a foreign policy based on occupation and it puts I/P in a broader context. What Moore is doing is bringing an understanding of I/P via the back door.

Also see Catholic bishops condemning occupation in strong terms and condemning the use of the bible to justify the occupation. “…the bishops and patriarchs of the region’s Catholic churches called on the international community to take ‘the necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories’”. I think the Catholic church’s getting public on this is pretty big. Pelosi, Boehner and all the other so called Catholic congress people will have to look at this in the face.

The Israel lobby is just icing on the imperial cake

Oct 24, 2010

David Green 

Readers of this site know that co-editor Weiss is religious about the Israel lobby as the driver of American policy in the Middle East. David Green is an Illinois activist who disagrees. His response to Weiss’s latest claim re the lobby:

As a leftist critic of U.S. foreign policy, I subscribe to the long-term historical analyses of people like William Appleman Williams, Gabriel Kolko, Walter LaFeber, Howard Zinn, and Noam Chomsky. These policies, since at least 1898 and especially since WWII, have been driven by the imperative to incorporate as much of the world and its resources as possible into a system that is to the benefit of broad corporate interests. Clearly, the rise of a military-industrial complex, with its own interests, has accompanied this process.

In this context, there are several general things to say about the Israel Lobby. 

First, the Lobby clearly hasn’t challenged or undermined these central economic interests, whatever the internal conflicts among those interests; that is, the control of oil proceeds apace, with Israel’s support as a “cop on the best” in the Middle East.

Second, the Lobby (a lot of privileged people) itself represents aspects of various economic interests–in both the U.S. and Israel, especially in relation to the military-industrial complex in both countries. 

Third, the Lobby’s propaganda and influence in the media does the same thing that all mainstream propaganda does–obscures the nature of those economic interests, substituting instead moralistic rhetoric and evoking fear of the “other.” The fundamental nature of our resources wars cannot be acknowledged.

While the Lobby has taught the mainstream media a thing or two about obfuscation and mendacity (I guess), they haven’t exactly invented any new techniques. All of the cultural superiority and moralizing that now goes along with Jews, the Holocaust, Israel, and the Islamic world is in no way of a different order than propaganda from Walter Lippmann’s “manufacture of consent” against the Hun (WWI) to the present. 

More specifically, I am responding to Nir Rosen’s assertions at a public appearance, assertions that are based on his journalistic experience. I have the greatest respect for Rosen’s work, but I have no way to evaluate his conclusion that he is “under less condemnation” for criticizing the American occupation (Iraq, Afghanistan) than Israel’s occupation of Palestine, and that Rosen’s editors are more accepting of the former. These are vague generalizations based on personal experience, and even if they were copiously documented, I don’t see how they would lead to any conclusion regarding the relationship between the Israel Lobby and those editors or media outlets, especially in relation to the mainstream media.

Regarding the mainstream media, it would never for a minute have occurred to me to even try to detect anything more than trivial or anecdotal differences among the dehumanization of Arabs in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Palestine, given the varied circumstances of occupation, war, and colonization. Further, I would have no idea how to relate any such alleged media differences to the influence of the Lobby, other than to state the obvious point that the Lobby focuses more intensely on Israel/Palestine.

Let’s not forget that the millions of Iraqis that have been killed or died “un-natural” deaths as a result of U.S. policies over the past 20-30 years dwarfs the number of Palestinians killed (even since 1947), however brutal and intensified Israel’s control of the Palestinian people. That’s because Iraq is where the oil is, and a lot more people also happen to be there. Lies are lies, whether they involve genocides, expulsions, occupations, or wars.

I don’t see any aspect of the mainstream media, regardless of the influence of the Lobby, telling the substantive, non-trivial truth about any of this. It simply can’t, by its very nature, even think of attempting this, and the Lobby–for all its creativity–is just icing on the cake; not to dismiss the icing, especially for Jews themselves, especially liberal Jews, who in their own ironic way, from Martin Peretz to Eric Alterman, need to hear more clever and sanctimonious lies in order to keep the faith (forget about Peretz for a while, and see Alterman’s depredations in this week’s The Nation). 

It is further claimed that we are willing to deal with Iraqi insurgents and the Taliban, and not with the Palestinians. But on the one hand, we have to deal with the Iraqi insurgents/Taliban, because dealing with the puppets wasn’t/isn’t working in our “interests.” But the point is to recruit better puppets. We have “only permanent interests, not permanent allies.” On the other hand, we do in fact also deal with the Palestinian puppets, until they get uppity. It’s not at all clear that it is in our “interests” to have a just settlement in Israel and Palestine (as opposed to ramming a Bantustan down their throats). Until then, the American/Israeli divide-and-conquer strategy is not an accident, and indeed is not exactly a new tactic in the annals of colonialism.

In any event, I don’t see how these differences in geopolitical conflicts, history, strategy, and tactics among these various countries can possibly be attributed to the determining influence of the Israel Lobby. As Chomsky repeatedly says, it’s not that we hate the Palestinians; they’re just not politically important enough to care about; they have “negative rights.” But certainly, the Lobby will keep demonizing Hamas until the pragmatics change, just as they changed with Arafat.

It’s also claimed that Obama ran in opposition to the Iraq war, but couldn’t criticize Israel’s assault in Gaza in 2008-09. I don’t however see Obama as a principled opponent to the Iraq war; it was a political ploy to disarm the antiwar left. All of this should now be obvious, and for Obama it “worked.” Obama is down with the whole USFP program, including Israel. In political and strategic terms, both in relation to capitalism, election, and re-election, he actually truly (that is, calculatedly, greedily, cynically) supports Israel as an occupying, hyper-militarized but subservient ally, which again is vital to U.S. interests in the region. The Lobby hasn’t made him do it.

That’s because Obama is a skilled politician in a capitalist country and leader of the world’s only superpower. The influence of the Lobby could only possibly explain relatively marginal decisions and behavior. The air of American geopolitical control of the region is the air he breathes (read the Audacity of Hope), and that air doesn’t go uncirculated around Israel and Palestine. Nor is it clear where American interests stop and Israeli interests start, especially in relation to our inter-locking military-industrial complexes. 

It is asked “how come liberals in the mainstream can criticize U.S. policy but not Israel?” But they indeed criticize both, but in ways that don’t challenge the assumptions regarding the interests of either, and the relationships of those (elite, corporate) interests to those of “average” (no less impoverished) citizens of those countries.

In fact, some op-ed columns critical of Israel (Rashid Khalidi, for example) are more profoundly critical than anything one will see regarding our wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, no less our policies in Latin America (what Lobby prevents support for Chavez?). Such criticism of Israel is of course carefully contextualized to “let off steam” (and support claims to a superficial “balance”) while not challenging the fundamental, implicit context created by the NYT, etc., both in its reporting and on its opinion pages.

As I’ve repeatedly said, to over-estimate and misconstrue the power of the Israel Lobby is a profound analytical mistake that leads to damaging strategic and tactical mistakes by failing to confront the reality that U.S. foreign policy fundamentally supports Israel as part of elite, corporate, and military-industrial economic interests; and thus failing to respond realistically and effectively.

Capitalism is complicated, but it all revolves around profits and violence in support of those profits. The future of the Palestinian people depends greatly on Americans dealing with their own politicians and their own government. This is not to say that the Palestinians should have to wait until we overthrow capitalism (although that would be nice); but it’s important to recognize from which enemies will have to be gained strategic and tactical victories; and only with the help of popular, public support, which has grown dramatically in recent years, and is now being frittered away by emphasis on the power of the Lobby.

However, none of this diminishes the need for aggressively countering the Lobby’s tactics and lies, especially in relation to Jewish institutions, which I’ve been doing on a regular and incessant basis in Urbana-Champaign for the past 12 years. Nor is any of this a general brief against BDS tactics that focus on our own responsibilities, such as those in the land of Caterpillar.

Zionism is indeed an “anachronistic ideology,” and Jewish institutions should be directly challenged in their assumed and subservient support of it. As a formerly affiliated Reform Jew, the inbred arrogance and racism is of course appalling. Nevertheless, I would re-iterate that American support for Israel goes well beyond Jewish institutional support, and that Palestinians and their American supporters, Jewish or otherwise, shouldn’t have to wait for these “anachronistic” (I guess), but at another level crassly self-interested and corrupt institutions, to get their acts together in order to have an effective movement.

The truth is, they never will, except in a radically changed political environment, and those who support the Palestinians have to seriously consider de-emphasizing what are essentially reactive and ineffective tactics based on the fallacy that Jews dictate American policies toward Israel.

David Green ( is a 60-year-old Jewish-American who lives in Champaign, IL.

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Int’l visitors to Gaza lecture Hamas about Gilad Shalit, but fail to protest Israel’s 8000 Palestinian prisoners

Oct 24, 2010


and other news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers / Land, property and resource theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

W. Bank Palestinian cemetery desecrated
The Muslim cemetery at Kafr Qaddum, a West Bank village located some eight miles west of Nablus, was vandalized Friday. Security forces called to the scene found several headstones desecrated with “Kahane was right” slogans, hailing Rabbi Meir Kahane, the late leader of the radical Kach movement, and Stars of David. IDF forces launched an investigation and together with Civil Administration officers, erased the slogans.,7340,L-3973450,00.html

IDF boosts presence near Kafr Qaddum
Vandalism of West Bank village’s cemetery prompts military to deploy forces in the area to prevent further provocation by settlers [after all, it looks bad in the world press],7340,L-3973505,00.html

Settlers attack Palestinian farmers in Deir Ibzi
Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian farmers while they were picking olives on Friday, onlookers said. Settlers from the Dolab outpost made the farmers leave as they threw stones before stealing their olives, according to Deir Ibzi locals. One of the farmers said the settlers came by car to the area and as soon as they arrived they threw stones. The farmers were not able to take any of their belongings or olives with them, they said. He said that his family believed residents of the nearby illegal settlements of Eli and Ma’ale Levona were responsible for the attack. Settlers have destroyed thousands of olive trees across the West Bank since the olive harvest began in early October.

Report: Settlers chop down 40 olive trees
Israeli settlers cut down and damaged 40 olive trees on Saturday in the northern West Bank village of Al-Lubban Ash-Sharqiya, southwest of Nablus city, locals said. Akram Jamil Uweis, whose family owns the trees, said his family headed to the field early Saturday morning to harvest olives, and found 40 trees had been chopped down, but their olives had not been harvested.

Settlers gather on hilltop overlooking village
Locals said Friday that a number settlers amassed on a hilltop overlooking a village north of Qalqiliya. Kafr Qaddum villagers, in a bid to protect property, also amassed in the area. The settlers’ intentions were not immediately clear, and there were no immediate reports of injury or damage.

Settlers rebuild outpost south of Bethlehem
Israeli settlers rebuilt an outpost Friday near the Beit Ha’een settlement southwest of Bethlehem. It was demolished last week on the grounds that it did not have backing from the state. Israeli officials said the settlers were determined to rebuild any demolished structure.

World Vision condemns attack on West Bank girls’ school
A girls’ school in northern West Bank was found damaged by fire and vandalized Wednesday with Hebrew graffiti reading “regards from the hills.” … While Israeli police are investigating, World Vision, which has ties to the school, released a statement condemning the attack on the Essawieh Girls Secondary School in Nablus … The Christian humanitarian group is particularly concerned about the inflammatory overtones of the attack, which included intimidating slogans spray-painted in Hebrew over the door, and the fact that the attack targeted a children’s institution.

Carter: Sheikh Jarrah evictions are against international law
Carter spoke at a weekly demonstration held in the East Jerusalem neighborhood by Israeli and Palestinian left-wing activists, protesting a Jewish takeover of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.

PA says Israel hogging water resources (AFP)
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says Palestinian water consumption well below World Health Organization’s recommendations; says Israel allowing PA access to only 10% of water resources,7340,L-3973487,00.html

Photoessay: Treasure house under threat / Eva Bartlett
(IPS) Few outside of Gaza would consider its history much beyond the decades of Israeli occupation. But Gaza is a historical treasure house. Many of those treasures are now in Israeli museums, and those that remain are becoming difficult to preserve due to the Israeli siege … “Israel’s goal is a blackout on Palestine’s history and culture,” says Ashoor. “Israel wants outsiders to think only that Gaza is a depressing, dangerous place devoid of culture, history and beauty, and that the main theme here is humanitarian aid.”


Israeli settlers attack a Palestinian boy and two internationals in South Hebron Hills
At-Tuwani – On Thursday, 21st October, at around 9.20 am, two Operation Dove volunteers, coming back to the village of At-Tuwani after having visited some Palestinian families in the village of Tuba, were attacked by Israeli settlers from the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on (Hill 833) .Later on, a few minutes after 1 pm in the same area, there was a similar attack on a Palestinian boy walking back home through the path on Meshaha hill.

Activism / Solidarity

Report from beyond the Green Line: Al Ma`sara celebrates four years of joint struggle and houses set on fire in Nabi Saleh
The unarmed and largely non-violent protests against the occupation returned to the West Bank on Friday. From Al Ma’asara to Sheikh Jarrah to Ni’ilin, Palestinians joined by Israeli and international supporters demonstrated against the occupation and for joint struggle against Israeli repression of non-violence in Palestine. The following is a collection of reports from certain villages complete with photos and video.

Israeli artist: IDF an army of evil
Israeli artists join MachsomWatch tour of West Bank villages; slam IDF policies in crossings, say soldiers ‘have no idea how bestial their behavior is’ …Among the artists taking part in Friday’s tour were actors Oded Kotler and Amnon Meskin and directors Ati Zitron and Ram Levy … “I knew of these things, buy I had no idea how horrible they really were,” said Meskin.  The little things, like the handicapped path at a crossing that remains closed because they can’t find the key to it, or the soldiers’ contradicting orders – one telling a Palestinian to stand, the other telling him to sit.,7340,L-3973465,00.html

8 countries absent from OECD tourism conference
Norway, Canada, Ireland, the UK, Sweden, Iceland, Turkey and South Africa will not be present at the OECD tourism conference to be held in Jerusalem this month despite objections from the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian civil society groups said Thursday … Some of the eight countries have explained their withdrawals were political in nature … In a blow to the credibility of the conference at which officials were to discuss tourism policy, a majority of invited countries did not send tourism ministers but sent low-ranking officials instead.

Photo diary: the big day – entry into Gaza! / New Zealand activists
… 7.03pm:  Chris — Thousands of people cram the streets of Gaza City. They are ecstatic. “Welcome! Welcome!” they shout. Kids are pushing forward onto the road. I have to drive carefully to avoid hitting anyone in the crush. People on motorbikes are yelling, “Thank you! Thank you for coming to Gaza!” Everyone wants to touch me.


PSP: Israel detains 2 from Beit Ummar homes
The Palestine Solidarity project said Saturday that Israel detained two Palestinians after breaking into their homes in the southern West Bank district of Hebron. PSP spokesman Mohammad Ayyad Awad said forces entered the village in the morning and detained 16-year-old Allam Yousef Baser Az-Za’qiq and Muhanad Yousef Mohsen Awad, 18, both of whom are members of the popular committee against settlements and the wall.

Haniyeh: World must act to free prisoners
…At a conference in Gaza City, the Hamas leader noted that every visitor to the Gaza Strip talked about captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit but ignored more than 8,000 Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel.

Gaza ministry releases 20 prisoners
The Gaza government’s ministry of interior released 20 prisoners at the request of visiting aid convoy Viva Palestinian on Saturday, the minister announced … Those released, the minister said, had completed two-thirds of their terms and had been sentenced on criminal indictments. “They are not political prisoners … there are no political prisoners in Gaza’s jails,” he said, reiterating an earlier statement made by Haniyeh.

Siege / Restriction of movement / Rights violations

Ramallah court gives Gazans the right to stay
The Palestinian Supreme Court in Ramallah decided Friday that Palestinians from Gaza who are living in the West Bank can transfer their residency status, allowing thousand of previously restricted Palestinians to move freely within the West Bank. Palestinians whose ID card shows an address in Gaza risk being deported to Gaza if they pass an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank, even if they have been living in the West Bank for many years, and have family and a job here. [and will the Israelis agree to this?]

Gaza crossings closed for 48 hours
Israeli authorities decided to close all crossings into and out of the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian official said Friday. Raed Fattouh said the southern Kerem Shalom and the northern Karni crossings would be closed Friday and Saturday and reopen Sunday.

306 Palestinians denied travel at Rafah crossing
Gaza government officials said 306 Gaza residents were denied entry to Egypt through the Rafah crossing last week. Border officials said 1822 Palestinians returned to Gaza through the terminal, while 1611 traveled to Egypt … Crossings officials said the Erez pedestrian crossing between northern Gaza and Israel was partially open during the week, recording the exit of 552 Gaza residents, 219 foreign nationals, and 35 Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.

War crimes

It was the Gaza assault’s worst atrocity. Now the truth may finally be told / Donald Macintyre
Israeli military police are investigating whether an air strike which killed 21 members of the same family sheltering in a building during the Army’s Gaza offensive in 2008-9 was authorised by a senior brigade commander who had been warned of the danger to civilians … The missile attack, which also injured 19 people, came early in the ground offensive. According to many Palestinian witnesses, it came after troops in the Givati brigade ordered dozens of family members, including women and children, to move to the building the previous day.

IDF commander questioned over Gaza killing
Colonel Ilan Malka, who headed Givati Brigade during Operation Cast Lead, tells Military Police investigators he was unaware of civilians’ presence in building while approving Air Force bombing, which left 21 family members dead. ‘Don’t turn him into a scapegoat,’ senior officer says in his defense,7340,L-3973310,00.html

Justice, Israeli style / Sherine Tadros
“Does anyone know the Hebrew word for ‘occupation’?” A question from the state assigned Hebrew translator to the packed out courtroom. And that kicked off the trial into the killing of US activist Rachel Corrie, which took her family seven years to secure. Today, several months later, we were back at Haifa District Court to hear from the Israeli soldier who was driving the bulldozer that killed Rachel whilst she was peacefully protesting against Palestinian home demolitions in Gaza in 2003 … I can’t tell you the driver’s name (there is a gag order) but I can say that he is a Russian immigrant to Israel that, ironically, shares the same birthday as Rachel.

Hamas scatters ashes of Gaza-bound flotilla dead on graves
Gaza – Members of the Islamic Hamas movement Saturday scattered ashes from the nine Turkish activists killed by Israeli naval forces during the interception of their Gaza-bound flotilla on the graves of Hamas militants killed in Gaza. The dust of the Turkish activists was brought to Gaza by campaigners from the aid convoy Lifeline 5 – which arrived in the coastal enclave on Thursday, Hamas officials said.

Racism / Attacks on democracy

Association for civil rights in Israel on democracy’s heart attack / Jesse Bacon
Ed’s note: This is long, but close enough to our mission to warrant reprinting in full. Here you have the definite guide to anti-democracy bills in the Israeli Knesset, some that will be familiar to readers of this blog, some that even close followers of Israeli democracy will be unaware of.

Police patrol Safed in response to Jewish-Arab clashes
Police forces have been patrolling the neighborhoods of the north Israeli city of Safed on Saturday in order to prevent clashes between its Jewish and Arab residents. On Friday night a group of orthodox Jews threw stones at Arab students who rent apartments in Safed. The event took place after the city’s chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, called earlier this week for owners to avoid renting apartments to Arabs.,7340,L-3973619,00.html

Public outcry ensues after rabbis tell Jews not to rent to Arabs
Several [‘Israeli Arab’] MKs and [two] nonprofit organizations demand a criminal investigation of Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and 17 other rabbis … Eliyahu had been indicted for incitement to racism five years ago, but the prosecution withdrew the charges after he promised to apologize. This decision was clearly a mistake, the MKs wrote, as it encouraged Eliyahu to continue inciting against Arabs.

‘Politics overshadowing racism’
Jewish leaders in US speak against Israeli politicians’ silence over increasing racism in Israel; ADL chief warns it may have detrimental impact on relations with American Jewry … Said leaders were especially irked by a recent statement made by Shas’ spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who said that “the Goyim’s (non-Jews) sole reason for existing is to serve Jews.”,7340,L-3973478,00.html

Political developments

Israeli settlements block Palestinian state: UN envoy (AFP)
UNITED NATIONS — Israel’s settlement construction in the occupied territories has become an almost insurmountable obstacle to creating an independent Palestinian state, a UN envoy said Friday. A Palestinian state “seems increasingly problematic as a solution because it would require a substantial reversal of the settlement process,” said Richard Falk, a UN representative on human rights in the Palestinian territories.

Mideast sides eye US midterms and impact on talks (AP)
JERUSALEM – Israelis and Palestinians are closely watching next month’s U.S. midterm race amid a sense — rarely discussed openly but very much on people’s minds — that the result could affect the U.S.-led peace effort, and President Obama’s ability to coax concessions from Israel … The Palestinians are now hoping that Obama has reacted mildly to Israel’s rejection because of political considerations ahead of the Nov. 2 vote — and might be freer to apply pressure after the elections.

PLO: We will reconsider agreements if Israeli violations continue (dpa)
PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo accuses Israeli PM of ‘making an alliance with the right wing in the US to weaken the Obama administration.’

Abbas discusses UN-approved Palestinian statehood with Saudi king (dpa)
In wake of settlement stalemate, Palestinian Authority president considers requesting UN recognition of statehood status — President Mahmoud Abbas and Saudi King Abdullah discussed plans to persuade the United States to accept a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, a regional daily said Saturday.

PLO official slams Clinton remarks
A member of the PLO negotiating team on Friday slammed remarks by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a day earlier, when she said the Americans had no “magic formula” to restart peace talks. Fatah leader Nabil Sha’ath said in response, “Do we need ‘magical formulas’ or a simple decision? We know there’s no ‘magic formula’ to stop settlements.”

Vatican body asks UN to ‘end Israeli occupation’ (Reuters)
In final statement of two-week conference, bishops’ synod urges international community to take ‘necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories’,7340,L-3973590,00.html

UNRWA official: Hamas in contact with most foreign nations
Andrew Whitley says Norway, Switzerland and Germany, among others, “quietly” having contacts with Gaza leadership; calls on Palestinians to prepare refugees for near certainty that they will never return to Israel.

Other news

Poll: Palestinians say they need results from talks
…If the peace talks fail, the option endorsed by most Palestinians is to ask the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state. The second most popular option is to declare unilaterally the establishment of a Palestinian state. The options to resort to resistance are less popular. However, Israelis misperceive these preferences and fear that Palestinians will resume an intifada, or uprising.

Israeli Arabs, Jews trade places in new school civics initiative
At a typical burger joint in Tel Aviv, the two main protagonists sit down after a hard day’s work and ask themselves whether a different reality is at all possible. Suddenly the two teenagers, maybe 18 years old, are put into each other’s bodies. Maor, the Jewish shift manager, becomes Jamal, the Arab kitchen worker, and vice versa. This is the initial premise of a new TV drama, “Exchanges,” aimed at civics students and teachers.

Gaza 100 kicks off
Around 2,000 runners are expected to join Gaza 100 on Saturday, a 12-hour relay in Gaza City, organizers said. The event kicked off from Al-Yarmouk playground at 8 a.m. and coincided with a similar event in London, said Mahmoud Labad, the Gaza representative for UK charity IF … Labad said the event was timed to highlight the arrival of the Lifeline aid convoy in Gaza on Thursday.

Analysis / Opinion / Human interest

Ending violent resistance / Kim Petersen
[answering Ramzy Baroud] Target the Oppressor, Not the Resistance — First a given: there can be no resistance unless there is something to resist against. There can be no anti-occupation resistance if there is no occupation, and there can be no resistance against oppression if there is no oppression. It is a simple logic that eludes many people. That it eludes many people (and almost all of the corporate media) is demonstrable by noting the outcry whenever a resistance uses violence: Those evil, soulless terrorists harming other people — and they do it without reason.

Lieberman is Kahane. And even the right senses it / Bradley Burston
Is anyone on the mainstream Jewish right – anyone at all – willing to speak in defense of Avigdor Lieberman, the bully in the china shop of Israel’s relationship with its Arab minority? In particular, is anyone on the mainstream right prepared to step up and support his fascism bandwagon’s snorting, noxious draft horse – the loyalty oath initiative? Not the Zionist Organization of America … Not the Israel Project.

Mr. Netanyahu, you are not Rabin’s partner in peace / Carlo Strenger
Dear Mr. Netanyahu, In your speech commemorating the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, you said that that you are Rabin’s partner in his vision for peace. Will all due respect, Mr. Prime Minister, this is a falsehood … You, Mr. Netanyahu, say one thing and do another. Nobody really knows what you want, and there are many commentators who think that even you don’t know. Of course we all know your excuse: even though Israel has the best opportunity ever to arrive at a final status agreement with the Palestinians, you say you can’t move ahead, because your coalition will fall apart. In doing so, you imply that this coalition is a fact of nature; you conveniently forget that you chose to create this coalition.

Twilight Zone: Baron of manipulation / Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy’s recent interview to The Independent drew a scathing attack from right-wing columnist Ben Dror Yemini. Here is Levy’s rebuttal

The Democratic-Likud Party / Alex Kane
…What’s important about the list of donors that Netanyahu identified is what it says about the Israel lobby and the Democratic Party in the United States.  It goes a long way in explaining why hard-right Zionist views can be found among Democratic politicians. There is little to no difference between how Democrats and Republicans in the United States act towards Israel; criticizing Israel is a “third rail” in American politics, and some of the donors included on this list show why.

Weimar in Jerusalem / Uri Avnery
IN BERLIN, an exhibition entitled “Hitler and the Germans” has just opened. It examines the factors that caused the German people to bring Adolf Hitler to power and follow him to the very end. I am too busy with the problems of Israeli democracy to fly to Berlin. Pity. Because since childhood, precisely this question has been troubling me. How did it happen that a civilized nation, which saw itself as the “people of poets and thinkers”, followed this man, much as the children of Hamelin followed the pied piper to their doom. This troubles me not only as a historical phenomenon, but as a warning for the future. If this happened to the Germans, can it happen to any people? Can it happen here?

The death of a child / Lillian Rosengarten
“Nasma Abu Lasheen died on Saturday, October 16, 2010 in Gaza. Israel failed to issue her an urgent entry permit for life-saving medical treatment at Ha-Emek Medical Center in Afula, Israel. She was two years old.” …So it has come to this as generations of hate and paranoia leech the humanity of Israel, to create a heartless society composed of “them and “us.” … I am not a proud Jew when I must disassociate myself from such acts, for they defy what it is to be a Jew.

Interview with Jamal Krayem Kanj, author of Children of Catastrophe
This book tells the remarkable story of one such refugee, following his journey from childhood in the Nahr El Bared Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, becoming a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), through to eventual emigration, a new life as an engineer in the United States, and a ‘return’ trip to historic Palestine.


Friday: 5 Iraqis killed, 15 wounded
…Violence continued today with at least five Iraqis dying in new violence. Another 15 were wounded. A sticky bomb in Garma killed a Sahwa fighter and injured a female companion. A man was killed as he was planting a separate bomb. In Mosul, a bomb killed one civilian and wounded six others….

Saturday: 4 Iraqis killed, 32 wounded
At least four Iraqis were killed and 32 more were wounded in new violence. The worst attack occurred outside of Baghdad in the suburb of Abu Ghraib. Meanwhile, the Wikileaks Iraq logs could undermine the prime minister’s attempt to retain his seat.

Iraq war logs: Pictures from one hellish day of the conflict
Images from 17 October 2006, a typical 24 hours in one of the bloodiest years since the invasion

UN calls on Obama to investigate human rights abuses
The UN has called on Barack Obama to order a full investigation of US forces’ involvement in human rights abuses in Iraq after a massive leak of military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes. The call, by the UN’s chief investigator on torture, Manfred Nowak, came as Phil Shiner, human rights specialist at Public Interest Lawyers in the UK, warned that some of the deaths documented in the Iraq war logs could have involved British forces and would be pursued through the UK courts.

Five bombshells from WikiLeaks Iraq war documents
As with the second-largest leak in US history – the 92,000 Afghan war documents released in July – much of the substance of the leaks has been reported already, but details are new. WikiLeaks will hold a press conference Saturday morning in Europe. Click through the following slides to learn what the documents reveal. [click on ‘Next’ to the right of the title on the page to go to the next slide]

WikiLeaks Iraq: data journalism maps every death
Data journalism allows us to really interrogate the Wikileaks Iraq war logs release. Here is the statistical breakdown – and data for you to download • Get the data • Get the fullscreen map

Huge dossier of secret files shows the US ignored torture of Iraqis
Killings at checkpoints were ‘covered up’ / Estimate of civilian deaths rises to 122,000 / Leak of 400,000 documents is biggest ever — Whistle-blowing website Wikileaks unveiled its cache of secret Iraq war documents last night in what is the largest leak in US military history.

WikiLeaks Iraq war logs: Why Iraq has the right to know the full death toll
The Iraq war logs show the US withheld details of thousands of civilian deaths. This was wrong, and counterproductive

British troops accused of abusing prisoners in first days of invasion
The Ministry of Defence is investigating allegations that British soldiers brutally ill-treated prisoners of war captured in the first days of the invasion of Iraq. One of the prisoners alleges that during his interrogation he was tortured because British officers thought he could lead them to Saddam Hussein. Claims of abuse committed so early on in the conflict will add to concerns that there was a deep-rooted culture of ill-treatment of Iraqis held by units of the British Army.

Iraqi officials vow to probe any abuse cases (Reuters)
Iraq vowed on Saturday to probe allegations that police or soldiers committed crimes in the country’s sectarian war, after WikiLeaks released classified U.S. files that revealed prisoner abuse by Iraqi forces. The flood of files mainly containing in-the-field action reports from lower level U.S. military officers detailed gruesome cases of prisoner abuse that were known to U.S. authorities but not investigated by them.

Secret US docs: Iran, Hezbollah trained Iraqi militants
Documents made public by WikiLeaks recount Tehran’s role in providing Iraqi militia fighters with rockets, magnetic bombs, rifles, surface-to-air missiles used against American helicopters; according to documents, militants,7340,L-3973570,00.html

Other Mideast

EU, Russia prod Iran to hold nuclear talks in November (Reuters)
Deputy FM Ryabkov urges ‘Iranian friends and colleagues’ to officially respond in positive manner to Ashton’s invitation to hold talks on nuclear program next month,7340,L-3973556,00.html

Justice, even for princes / Ali al-Ahmed
Britain’s conviction of a Saudi prince for the murder of his servant has inspired Saudi Arabians longing for impartial justice

Bahraini women fight traditions in parliament polls (AFP)
The only woman in Bahrain’s outgoing parliament has already secured her seat, unopposed ahead of Saturday’s elections, but the other seven women vying for seats look set to fall victim to sexist traditions

Egypt court bars police from campus
Verdict ending police presence in universities is hailed, but government may use emergency powers to circumvent it.

Egyptian government fears a Facebook revolution / Osama Diab
Talk of banning Facebook is only the surface of a greater crackdown on independent media by an insecure government

U.S. and other world news

Not all terrorists are stupid, Juan / Roja Heydarpour
The worst part about Juan Williams’ statement wasn’t his appalling bigotry. It was his complete ignorance of how terrorists operate. No matter what Juan Williams says, even the dumbest terrorist in the world wouldn’t wear a robe and turban on a plane. Williams’ crime wasn’t just his comic bigotry but his ignorance.

Stop the media purge! / Justin Raimondo
…We’ve been in a state of constant war since September 11, 2001 – and this is the world in which we are now living. A world where no one can say what they really believe, or feel, for fear of losing their job, or even of facing government prosecution – as the recent raids on antiwar activists in Minneapolis, and elsewhere, have shown. The atmosphere of intellectual and physical intimidation is thick to the point of suffocation – and it has to stop, or else we’re in some real trouble.

US lawmakers concerned by professor’s anti-Israel remarks
Video of a September 3 rally in Washington, D.C., shows tenured literature professor Kaukab Siddique saying Israel must be destroyed, if possible by peaceful means.

Dutch court urges new Wilders trial
A Dutch court has approved a request from right-wing politician Geert Wilders to have new judges for his trial on charges of inciting hatred against Muslims, forcing the court to start the case over again. The ruling, made on Friday, is seen as another victory for Wilders

Hamburg moves toward official recognition of Islam
Hamburg may soon become the first German state to officially recognize Islam as a religious community and give Muslims the same legal rights as Christians and Jews in dealing with the local administration.

Security ban ‘hits Afghan projects’
A government ban on private security forces set to begin by the end of the year, has begun to drive foreign aid projects out of Afghanistan, according to reports in US newspapers. Contractors are used widely throughout the country, not only to protect military bases and embassies but also hundreds of reconstruction projects.

How permanent are America’s Afghan bases?
If you want a measure of how far the U.S. has “fallen” in Iraq, it now has only 21 “burn pits” there — places at U.S. bases where waste of all sorts is incinerated, regularly spewing smoke filled with toxic emissions into the air to the detriment of American soldiers (and undoubtedly local Iraqis as well).  On the other hand, according to a Government Accountability Office report, there are now 221 such pits in Afghanistan and “more coming.”  Put another way, even as America’s baseworld in Iraq dwindles, there seems to be no learning curve in Washington.

UN office in Herat ‘under attack’
Suicide bomber and armed men launch attack on building in Afghanistan’s second-biggest city, officials say … “The incident is ongoing. We are working closely with local authorities,” Dan McNorton, a media officer for the UN in the Afghan capital Kabul, told the AFP news agency on Saturday.

Police repress convergence on UK weapons factory / Bridget Chappell
As Israeli warplanes flew over Gaza on 13 October, activists converged on Brighton, United Kingdom for the annual mass action against the local EDO/ITT factory that produces components used in weapons by the Israeli Air Force, amongst others, to devastating effect.

US to give $2b to Pakistan army
The US lays out $2bn military aid package for Pakistan as it pressures Islamabad to crack down on Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Rosen: ‘rogue apartheid Jewish state is not viable in current form’

Oct 24, 2010

Philip Weiss 

Nir Rosen, to Scott Horton, on the costs of the Iraq war:

As for America’s security posture, I don’t think the Middle East should be viewed through the prism of alleged American “interests.” And I don’t think imposing its will on weaker countries increases American security. Even the weak find ways to resist. America is more insecure when it creates more enemies it didn’t need to have and meddles with the internal affairs of other countries. Certainly the Middle East was more stable before the war. America’s security posture in the Middle East involves colonial and post-colonial relations. American influence there is embattled and changing. The war in Iraq may come to be seen as a turning point, part of a decline in American influence in the region. But there are other things happening at the same time.

The Saudi regime is unsustainable and the Egyptian regime is disintegrating. These two countries are pillars of the American regional architecture. And the third pillar, Israel, is not viable in its current form as an increasingly rogue apartheid Jewish state. Finally, the American military is exhausted and losing its conventional skills after nearly ten years of occupation while the power of asymmetrical tactics against a conventional behemoth has been demonstrated.

The irrational American response after September 11 reduced the gap in power and influence between the United States and other regional or global actors. The neoconservative notion that we were at the end of history and the United States could maintain its triumph by any means necessary was proven to be folly.


Posted in Middle East2 Comments



This is a technically better and a more complete video of the University of Michigan protest against IOF/Israeli propaganda than the one the link that I sent a few days ago takes you to. 

This one spotlights close up a few of the placards the students were wearing to show the names and ages of children killed by the IOF, it allows us to hear some of the propaganda that the soldier is spouting, and shows not only the walk-out but also prior to it students present removing their jackets to reveal their red shirts and the placards, and does not end with the walk-out but continues to the subsequent meeting of those who participated and their discussion about their responsibility in countering Israeli propaganda–and all this for 5 minutes or a bit less.

Do watch please and distribute widely.  May others gain inspiration from this video and follow suit, not only when Israeli propagandists come to universities, but also to wherever the propaganda takes place, as, for instance, at the ‘aliya (immigration) job fairs now supposedly taking place now in the US to try to whip up immigration to Israel. 



protest against Israeli soldiers:

Use link below to access video from U of M. – Elana

FOLLOW-UP: PHOTOS: University of Michigan intense protest against Israeli soldiers: [2 Attachments]

The images I was trying to send a few days ago. Now that I have a better internet connection (in Chicago), I think you’ll be able to see them.Furthermore, please see the article below.

(Thanks to Clyde in Vermont)



Former Israeli soldier




“VIDEO: Students stage intense, silent, nonviolent protest as IDF soldier appears at University of Michigan in PR campaign”


Arab American News front-page coverage, at: 

“A quiet, breathtaking video of a nonviolent protest at the University of Michigan has been raising goosebumps and garnering attention online.”

* Click on the attached images to enlarge them:

Attachment(s) from James Marc Leas


2 of 2 Photo(s)





Posted in PoliticsComments Off on ISRAELI PROPAGANDA


October 25, 2010
Kourosh Ziabari

Well before the birth of the first Zionists, Jewish bankers and capitalists had established themselves in Europe and the United States so it was not surprising that a number of them, beginning with Lord Rothschild in the early part of the century, became supporters of the Zionist project. Now, far and away, they make up the largest segment of individual donors to both political parties.

Jeffrey Blankfort is an American photojournalist, radio producer and Middle East analyst. He currently hosts radio programs on KZYX in Mendocino, CA and KPOO in San Francisco. Blankfort was formerly the editor of the Middle East Labor Bulletin and co-founder of the Labor Committee of the Middle East. In February 2002, he won a lawsuit against the Zionist organization Anti-Defamation League (ADL) which was found to have been spying on the American citizens critical of Israel and its expansionistic policies.
Jeffrey joined me in an exclusive interview to discuss the influence of Israeli lobby on the decision-makers of the U.S. government, Israel’s illegal, underground nuclear program, the prospect of Israeli – Palestinian conflict and the imminent threat of an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Blankfort is quite outspoken in his criticism of the apartheid regime of Israel and believes that Israel is the most immediate threat to the future of our planet.

Kourosh Ziabari: In your article “The Israel Lobby and the Left: Uneasy Questions”, you elaborately explore the dominance of Israeli lobby over the U.S. administration and cite good examples of the influence of well-off Zionists on the multinational companies and mainstream media in America. My question is that, what are the root causes of this enormous power and immense wealth which the Zionists have possessed?

How did the Jews take over the vast resources of power and money that has made them capable of framing, modifying and overturning the political equations in the United States?

Jeffrey Blankfort: That question requires a long and complicated answer. In short, an important, well organized segment of the American Jewish community emerged after World War II that has been dedicated to the establishment and prospering of a Jewish state in historic Palestine in which the lives and well being of the indigenous Palestinian Arabs were of no consequence.

That this segment did not and has never represented the majority of American Jews has been more than been made up for by its concerted activity on Israel’s behalf in every critical sector of U.S. society and at every level of the nation’s political life. Its success would not have been possible, however, were it not for the fact that within its ranks have been a sizeable number of wealthy Jewish businessmen who have been quite willing to expend the funds necessary to either purchase the support of the U.S. Congress as well as virtually all of the state legislatures or intimidate Israel’s would-be critics into silence.
  • Well before the birth of the first Zionists, Jewish bankers and capitalists had established themselves in Europe and the United States so it was not surprising that a number of them, beginning with Lord Rothschild in the early part of the century, became supporters of the Zionist project. Now, far and away, they make up the largest segment of individual donors to both political parties.
  • The media, as could be expected, was one of its primary targets, and that avowedly pro-Israel interests, although not exclusively Jewish, such as Rupert Murdoch, now thoroughly dominate it at every level is, unfortunately proved on a daily basis.
  • While there should be no question that this Israel support network, euphemistically described as a “lobby,” has been a major force in shaping U.S. Middle East policies overall, and the determinant factor in dealing with the Israel-Palestine conflict, its power has its limits. While it was able, through its agents in the White House and the Pentagon, to push the U.S. into a war on Iraq, it has yet to get Washington to bomb Iran or, apparently, to sanction an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities. It is clear that there are important elements within the Pentagon as well as the intelligence agencies which know that an attack by either the U.S. or Israel on Iran would more likely than not lead to a global catastrophe.
KZ: In your articles, you’ve alluded to the conflicts and struggles between the U.S. and Israel administrations during the past decades in which the U.S. Presidents, starting from Richard Nixon, tried to curb the expansionistic policies of Israel and bring about an improved living condition for the oppressed nation of Palestine. Should you believe that there have been such efforts on the side of U.S. administration, what has led to their failure, having in mind that they’ve repeatedly proclaimed their commitment to the security of Israel?

JB: There has not been the slightest interest on the part of any US president, I suspect, in improving the living conditions for the Palestinians. Halting Israeli expansion and getting Tel Aviv to withdraw from all the territories it conquered in 1967 has been seen as being in the U.S. national interest.

All the past efforts have failed because none of the presidents have been willing to spend the domestic political capital that would be necessary to force an Israeli withdrawal and particularly so when they know their efforts will be opposed by the overwhelming majority of both houses of Congress irrespective of party affiliations as well as by the Zionist dominated media.
The only one who made a serious effort and who was willing to confront the Zionist network and Congress was George Bush Sr., when he denied Israel its request for $10 billion in loan guarantees in 1991 and again in 1992 but even he was eventually forced to surrender.

KZ: Israelis are used to employing the label anti-Semitism to defame and vilify whoever dares criticize their belligerent, aggressive policies and actions. They accuse whoever criticizes them of being anti-Semitist. This makes the politicians and opinion-makers hesitant and demoralized in talking of Israel negatively. Is there any solution to reveal the futility of anti-Semitism label and educate the public that the criticism of Israel is different from criticizing Judaism?

JB: The allegation of “anti-Semitism” leveled against critics of Israel does not carry the weight it once did but it still is extremely effective, particularly, when the accused is employed by the mainstream media as we have seen recently in the case of Helen Thomas, Octavia Nasr and Rick Sanchez, and in the film industry which has long been a Zionist bastion and which was brought into existence by Jews in the last century, although none at the time were Zionists.
The power of the accusation of anti-Semitism to bring public figures to their knees will continue to exist until there is a sufficient number of prominent Americans who are willing to challenge it. When that will be I won’t begin to speculate.

KZ: Although undeclared, it’s confirmed by the Federation of American Scientists that Israel possesses up to 200 nuclear warheads. Being a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israel has never allowed the IAEA to probe into its nuclear arsenal. We already know about the destiny of Mordecai Vanunu who swapped his freedom with the expression of truth. What’s your viewpoint about the destiny of Israel’s nuclear program? Will Tel Aviv continue enjoying immunity from responsibility?




October 25, 2010

by crescentandcross 


By Mahmoud El-Yousseph
October 25,  2010
In the small Tennessee town of Cordova sits Heartsong Church, who welcomed their Muslim neighbors in a time of distress. The church’s act of generosity is deeply gratifying to me as a Muslim.
This story was not found in mainstream media, but rather on an Arabic website whose name translates as “incoming traffic,” and was filled with heartwarming pictures of the event.
It all began shortly before the holy month of Ramadan, when the mosque across the street from Heartsong could not meet its renovation deadline in time for evening prayers, or “taraweeh.” So the imam asked the church’s pastor, Dr. Steve Stone, if his congregation could use the church for their prayers. Permission was granted.
What makes this noble act by this man of God unique is that it happened during mass anti-Muslim hysteria that swept through our country last summer. Violent crimes targeting American Muslims, their homes and institutions were at a peak and the media was obsessed with so-called pastor Terry Jones of Florida who threatened to burn copies of the Holy Qur’an on 9/11.
It is ironic how Jones managed to capture international media attention with his provocative act, as well as posting a sign in front of his church that read, “Islam is Evil.” On the other hand, Heartsong put up a sign that read “Welcome to our new Muslim neighbors.”
Had the media devoted the same amount of time and energy to the Heartsong story, people in the Muslim world would not be chanting, “Death to America,” but would have waved Old Glory instead.
Pastor Snow has 800 followers, whereas pastor Jones had only a few dozen. I spoke to Dr. Snow by phone to express my gratitude and visited the Church’s website and his own blog. I learned a lot.
This man of God lost 14 members as result of his act of kindness, but gained more. Among the newcomers was a total stranger by the name of Richard, who wrote the pastor to say, “Your act is an inspiration to me. It has been over 30 years since I regularly attended church, but I may join Sunday.” 
Nadeem, a man from Memphis’s Muslim community was among 100 Muslims who attended the prayer at Heartsong. He wrote, “Heartsong to our community is now well known as the house of love and respect for our (Islam) and other religions.” Nadeem, who was deeply moved by the hospitality that he and his Muslim friends received at Heartsong, reminded Pastor Stone of a similar story where Christians showed true Christian love to Muslims by stating, “When our Prophet asked the persecuted Muslims to migrate to Ethiopia, then ruled by the Christian King, Negus, he provided them a home and respectful welcome.”
Not all the reaction was positive. An angry Helen Edwards wrote to Dr. Stone, “I hope you will be the first one on those savages’ list for beheading.”
By the end Ramadan, Heartsong’s congregation invited their Muslim neighbors for dinner. The guests brought flowers in gratitude to their hosts. People hugged each other with tears of joy in their eyes. Above all, they referred to each other as “brother” and “sister.”
Pastor Stone eloquently explained his church’s decision in one of his interviews:  “This place does not belong to us; it’s God’s place and we’re just sharing.”  Pastor Stone and his congregation have welcomed Muslims for the love of Christ, peace be upon him, who said to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Mahmoud El-Yousseph
Retired USAF Veteran




October 25, 2010

by Debbie Menon

Alan Hart Esq, former reporter with the BBC, weighs in with Mark Glenn of The Ugly Truth, viz a viz the latest events taking place in his former stomping grounds–the Middle East and Palestine. Of the more important topics discussed— Zionism and Peace are Incompatable, the new piece written by Alan Hart where he makes clear the fact that we cannot serve two masters–either Zionism or peace, but not both.

An articulate Mark Glenn, has a rational and honest approach. I liked the phrase he used, “the poisoned well”. Weaning the Americans off the poisoned well is the job ahead.  The world needs a media capability called the ‘real press’ to do this.

Also some interesting comments by Alan Hart about JCS Michael Mullen’s one day visit to Israel, which needs further exploration.

WHAT’S NEXT? A new Congress, friendly to Israel and hostile to Obama, or something more “up close and personal” a la mode JFK?

He predicts they will lose power in both houses next month with Obama going in two years, if something doesn’t happen  to him before then.

He touches on the weakness of the Arab States. Regardless, it is the most vicious campaign in history, he calls for some activity by the impotent Arab states. How does one do this?

They talk about the outrageous comments by the Rabbis in Israel,  in recent weeks. The outrageous attitudes and their ability to say these things in public. Such confidence, such arrogance.

Alan Hart also likened Hassan Nasrallah to Gamal Abdel Nasser and expounded on ‘the Resistance,’ Iran and Ahmedinejad. An illuuminating and must listen to interview.

The Ugly Truth Podcast Oct 24, 2010

Listen Now(interview starts at 1:35):

Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent who covered wars and conflicts wherever they were taking place in the world and specialized in the Middle East.  His Latest book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, is a three-volume epic in its American edition.  He blogs on and tweets on

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