Monday, January 30, 2006
Gilad Atzmon - Western Cultural Colonialism and the Palestinian choice
I am sorry to disappoint you. I am not going to write a detailed rebuttal to Mr. Davidsson’s open letter. I would offer three reasons. First: I can’t see how the Palestinian cause would benefit from such a debate. Second: I don’t really have the time for that kind of nonsense. I perform every night in front of hundreds of people and engaging with one unhappy Davidsson is for me a total waste of time. Third: It isn’t nice to say it but Mr. Davidsson isn’t exactly a match. Reading his ‘open letter’ suggests that the good man is a conservative modernist who is deeply engaged in some dated vocabulary to do with ‘universal values’.
If Elias Davidsson were just slightly more educated he would probably grasp that the notion of universal humanism isn’t applicable to the Islamic and Judaic subject. Universalism and thinking in universal terms is the fruit of Western philosophy and enlightenment. It is intrinsically linked with the notion of the ‘subject’. Within Judaism and Islam the human is subject to God. He is a follower rather than a free thinker. This differentiation dismantles any possibility of cross-cultural terminological reduction between west and east. In other words, talking about Universal values is in itself a form of Western cultural colonialism. Davidsson wants to be a colonialist, who am I to stop him?
Needless to say, I do not believe in the notion of universal values. In fact, I don’t even know what ‘universal human rights’ are. Furthermore, I tend to be very suspicious of those who claim to know. Just because I open the newspapers from time to time, I know very well that Blair and Bush kill in the name of ‘universal humanism’. Those who follow my writings know pretty well that I am a devoted follower of Martin Heidegger. I believe that beings are shaped by language. In other words, for me, universal discourse and discourse of universality are nothing but meaningless. Moreover, I believe that those who try to impose discourse of universality on others are either ignorant or hegemony seekers.
As I said, I do not have any plans to address Elias Davidsson’s open letter. Instead, I will ask Mr. Davidson to send me or anyone else a bibliographic reference to his open letter following Sheik Yassin’s disgraceful assassination. If Davidsson is so outraged by me, surely the murder of Sheik Yassin must have moved him at least as much. In case he failed to issue such a letter at the time he may as well send me or anyone else his published comment or condolences for the Palestinian people following the brutal murder of Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantissi. I may press on and ask where were the Elias Davidssons and the gatekeepers of universalist values when the entire leadership of the Hamas was serially liquidated in broad daylight.
Let me say it, somehow they kept quiet. They were very, very quiet. Why did they keep quiet? Because they don’t like the Hamas. Being silent at such a grave time, they basically approved the Israeli controlled assassination policy. Somehow, Davidsson and those like him have very little respect for religious parties, politics inspired by religious tenets and religion in general. Indeed they love the Palestinian people, but only as long as they remind them of themselves i.e., ‘European middleclass atheist Jews ’. If it wasn’t clear until last Wednesday, now it is obvious. The Palestinians aren’t exactly middleclass atheist Jews. This is something Mr. Davidsson finds hard to digest and unfortunately, I can’t help him.
It is that very fact that made me so reluctant to have any contact with any of those ethnic Jewish campaigners. Needless to say, they all had tried to flirt with me and with my music for a very long time. But rather soon I understood that their agenda was totally hypocritical. It wasn’t Palestine that they cared about; it was the maintenance of their own rational atheist ideology at the expense of the Palestinian people.
Dear friends. For more than a while I know that the Palestinian street is drifting towards Islam. I may say it, unlike Davidsson and his ilk, I am not afraid of Islam. In fact I love Islam and love being in a Muslim environment. Moreover, I can see that democracy in the Arab world may lead to Islam while Islam isn’t necessarily committed to maintaining democracy. And how to say it, I am far from being bothered by it because if this is indeed the choice of the masses, it is good enough for me. If this isn’t enough, I am far from being enthusiastic about Democracy anymore. It is within the current phase of western democracy where bloodthirsty war criminals such as Blair, Bush and Sharon were re-elected.
I am not an expert on Islam but I know enough to say that Jews were living under the protection of Islam for hundreds of years. We all know very well that one of the principles of Islam is committed to protecting the foreigner. If I would have to choose between living in an Islamic Palestine or a Jewish one, I would be going for the Islamic one without a single doubt. Moreover, if I have to choose between ‘Jewish democracy’ and Islam I go for the latter.
I may admit that I was pretty concerned before posting my last piece. Most of my Palestinian friends are secular Muslims and Christians. Many of them are affiliated to the Fatah. They are all rather concerned with the latest development in their homeland. As I mentioned in my piece, the vote doesn’t express the will of Exile Palestinians. Anyhow, I understand my Palestinian friends very well. I grew up in Israel, a country that slowly but surely is shifting towards religious fundamentalism. I know what fundamentalism is all about and I know very well that I wouldn’t survive a single day in a Talmudic environment. I understand how difficult it may be for my Palestinian friends who became accustomed to western liberal life. I am aware of it all, and yet, those who dwell in occupied Palestine had their say, they went to the poll and gave all us a major lesson. They presented us with the most heroic spirit of resistance. They told the West, and Israel, and the EU, and the Arab world, and the Davidssons and the other gatekeepers, “you can all bugger off. We know what we want. We are tired of your phoney kindness. We are exhausted of your hypocritical willingness to help. We are sick of your solidarity. We don’t want you to tell us what we are and what we should be. Don’t liberate us and don’t save our women. We will take care of it all from now on. Leave us alone.”
So many times I found myself disappointed and frustrated in this endless struggle against Zionism and its backing world Jewry. So many times I had to pay a heavy price for saying what I believe. This time, for the first time in my life, I do feel a change in the air. The Palestinians are going to win with me or without me. They are going to win because they have nothing to lose. They are going to win because they deserve it.
Sorry my dearest friends, within this change in the air a rebuttal of Davidsson’s 19th century ideology is pathetically meaningless. I have only one duty. I have to travel from town to town and to congratulate the Palestinian people from the stage. This is what I am going to do today and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. I did it in Istanbul for the last 4 days. As you probably can guess, everybody was over the moon. And I tell you why, because the rebellion spirit of the Palestinian resistance is a spirit people can empathise with. You know why? Because the Palestinians are in the forefront of the war against evil.
To read the letter from Elias Davidsson, please visit Axis of Logic
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Smashing interviews! Hamas's Supreme Leader and Fatah Leader
From the 27 January 2006 print version of La Repubblica (Italy)
by Alix Van Buren
“The Super-Most Wanted” Meshal
DAMASCUS—The day of Hamas’ triumph, the supreme leader, Khaled Meshal, keeps his euphoria in check and weighs his words: “This is a first step. Yet, other steps are needed before the goal: the liberation from the occupation”.
It’s not easy to succeed in meeting Meshal (Abu’l Walid, for his followers). Being a moving target of Israel, he continually changes his headquarters. In Amman, the Mossad injected poison behind his ear with an air-compressed syringe. After being discovered and captured, the Israeli agents were released in exchange for the antidote. The fact raised an international crisis.
Now we’re being brought by an armoured, smoke-windowed Mercedes 200 to meet him. Off with the mobile phones, that have been disassembled and put in a metallic box, off with the bags, off with the shoes.
Mr. Khaled Meshal, what does victory taste like?
“You should ask that to the Americans and Israelis, judging by their dismay before the outcome of the elections. Washington invokes democracy. Well, the constituency expressed their vote. Maybe our democracy has a not much welcomed face to the westerners: however, this is a great day for our nation.”
Is it also for peace? Israel considers your victory as a catastrophe, the end of peace process.
“That depends on Israel, not on us. If it is willing to acknowledge the rights of the Palestinians, to live freely on their own lands, then peace is at hand. We’re ready. But are they?”
Mr. Meshal, are you willing to negotiate?
“Since Madrid and Oslo, accords have lead nowhere. The peace process is at a deadlock, the Palestinian life quality has worsened, the fence is moving forward and engulfing further lands. As to the Road Map, it is unacceptable. It imposes upon us detailed conditions: the disarmament and the arrest of mujaheddins, the giving up of resistance. Yet it’s vague as regards Israel’s duties: it doesn’t say a word about Jerusalem, the refugees’ fate, the extension of territories to give back”.
Nor does Hamas make clear about which part of Palestine it means to free. Please, say it yourself: do you mean to recover historic Palestine that comprises Israel or only the territories occupied in 1967?
“I’ll answer you with another question: why does the world ask the Palestinians to define the borders of its own homeland while it doesn’t ask the Italians to do the same thing with Italy? I know very well what is the map of my country.”
So Hamas won’t acknowledge Israel, will it?
“No, we won’t do it. Israel was born from an aggression, an occupation of another’s lands.”
Your statute calls for the destruction of Israel. It was said that, in view of the elections, you would delete that paragraph written in 1988.
“You westerners are wrong: the statute doesn’t invoke Israel’s destruction at all. In Arab it is written, “ to put an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine”. We don’t want to get rid of the other, we only wish to attain our rights. So, that paragraph will remain.”
Would you accept negotiations through a third party involved, such as Israel has done in Lebanon with Hezbollah?
“We still haven’t decided. We already are dealing with the Israelis, as regards municipalities, for practical reasons. Hamas doesn’t reject talks. It’s Israel’s philosophy that impedes us from negotiating. So, there’s nothing left for us but resistance”.
America, Europe and Israel ask you to put down your arms. Will you agree?
“Obviously not, as long as most of the territory is under occupation. Only force has produced some result, the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.”
Yet, you have negotiated a truce.
“It’s true, and we have respected it whereas Israel has not. Now, since 1 January it expired. This doesn’t mean that Hamas won’t take into account the reality: it will depend on the conditions of the people and on the land.”
How does Hamas think about entering into the political process?
“Hamas has been dealing with politics for a long time. Our political platform also provides for a second way, besides the resistance: to build the political life on a democratic and solid foundation, to fight against corruption and introduce a principle of freedom and justice.”
Marwan Barghouti, from prison, is proposing to you a coalition government together with Fatah.
“It’s too early. We have to evaluate the international situation, which is very delicate, to consider America’s pressures upon the Palestinian Authority, whether Abu Mazen will ask us to accept the Oslo Accords and recognise Israel, something that we won’t do. At any rate, we’ll partake in each decision-making process.”
Sharon has struck and liquidated your leadership. What have the results of this been, Mr. Meshal?
To this question, Mr. Meshal jumps to his feet. “Look,” he says pointing to a board on the wall: a huge diamond-shape board filled with photos of smiling faces, of the “martyred” Hamas leaders. On the right, glowing within a sun there’s Sheik Yassin. On the left, Dr. Rantissi “The results are under everyone’s eyes. That, notwithstanding all these dead men, America, Europe and Israel will have to deal with us from now on.”
"Let them govern, but without us"
An interview with Saeb Erekat by Fabio Scuto
RAMALLAH—Saeb Erekat, former minister and person in charge of negotiations with Israel on PNA’s behalf, is sitting in his office in Ramallah that, at the first evening lights, is surrounded by green flags waved by some thousand Hamas’ supporters celebrating the electoral victory in the streets. Car horns sound and slogans can be clearly heard even through closed windows.
Dr. Erekat, this rejoicing we’re hearing in the streets might have been yours. While instead…
“They have won, they’ve the right to celebrate. And they’re greatly rejoicing because what has happened is a political tsunami.”
You have won and been elected in your own town, Jericho; though, it has been a total defeat for Al Fatah; how do you feel?
“I have no problems acknowledging it, frankly, I’m shocked.”
And now what will happen?
“President Abu Mazen, after having accepted the Prime Minister Abu Ala’s resignation, will have to charge Hamas to form the new government, and we of Fatah don’t expect to take part in it. If they are thinking of involving us within a coalition to get us to do the task they don’t mean to or don’t know how to do, in which they’ll be taking merits while we’ll be concerned with the most awkward and, sometimes, difficult matters, they are totally wrong.”
In your opinion, is there any chance for an agreement with Hamas?
“We have our own agenda, founded on negotiations, on accords with Israel. If they accept this program, we might talk about it.”
What mistakes have you made during the electoral campaign? Why haven’t people voted for you?
“There have been a number of errors. We have been punished because we didn’t manage to reach a definitive peace in these past years, because the corruption we’ve had has been overly emphasized, because the negotiation with Israel has stopped and the occupation has been going on while in general life conditions certainly haven’t improved. Moreover, Israel decided to carry out the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza as well, without any accord with us, thus letting Hamas ascribe the merit of it to its armed resistance and to the no-agreement line.”
Behind the defeat there is also the lack of renovation of your party.
“Absolutely yes, unfortunately it’s not come about. We must start again from this defeat and go towards a deep reform inside the Fatah. We must change the leaders, the party’s structures, and, mainly, we must work to win back our people’s trust. I hope that we can have a congress by next July.”
Many are sure that a Hamas led government won’t be going too far. And that in one year you will have to call new elections.
“It was a vote to punish us, but those who voted for Hamas couldn’t imagine or didn’t want such a defeat. In fact, I’m sure that many of those who yesterday voted for Hamas, today are regretting and they would gladly change their vote.”
Translated by Diego Traversa and revised by Mary Rizzo, member of Tlaxcala, the community of translators for linguistic diversity (firstname.lastname@example.org). This translation is on copyleft.
Friday, January 27, 2006
Vanunu's trial - what happened
From Vanunu, the account of the trial:
Today, Jan 25th, the trial against me began in the lower court of Jerusalem.
Together with me were my brother Meir, Gideon Spiro, Ein-Gil from Tel-Aviv, and about dozen other supporters from Israel and overseas. The original date was for the 15th of January, but the SHABAK moved it to the 25th, today, Palestinian election day. So, no foreign media arrived and only three local journalists were in the court.
The state prosecution presented the court with copies of interviews by me with foreign media. Most of this evidence was in the form of text or sound downloads from the internet. Other evidence was video and disc copies of interviews by me with foreign television networks. Among the media bodies listed: BBC World, David Frost BBC, sky, ABC Australia-Late Night with Tony Jones, Radio KPFA in the US, Le Figaro from France, Asahi Shimbun from Japan. Other interviews were from internet websites and also included as an item internet chats.
Avigdor Feldman, my lawyer, argued that most of the items of evidence were not the original copies but downloads from the internet. Also he said that the foreign identity of the interviewers is not proved by the state, and that many names such as Amy Goodman could be found in the Israeli Resident Registry. Avigdor argued that State should have made some effort to prove the foreign identity of those who were supposed to have interviewed me.
This evidence was accompanied by testimony given by a police officer who interrogated me last year in a police station. This police interrogation was recorded by secret video camera without my knowledge. Also they brought the policeman who arrested me on my way to Bethlehem on Christmas eve 2004.
This was the first session. It took some four hours. The following session will be on the 9th of February for more witnesses by the police.
So this is "the trial" that Israel wants, at the same time they are hiding it, hiding the fact that this is a trial not about 'state security', as they have said in the past 20 years, but about the fact of me SPEAKING TO THE PRESS! NO 'NUCLEAR SECRETS' INVOLVED! I HAVE NO MORE SECRETS SINCE THE PUBLICATION IN 1986!
NEVER IN ALL MY COURT CASES HAVE I FOUND THE COURTS SEEKING THE TRUTH OR JUSTICE AND I DOUBT THEY WILL NOW.
And, he added in a further note:
It was good surprise to find myself in the restaurant eating dinner while Jimmy Carter come to have his dinner in the American Colony restaurant, where I was invited by a friend Tom Hopkin, while Carter and his wife were leaving, his wife recognised me and I came to say hello, she introduced me to Carter, for few seconds, Carter and his wife say they will be very happy to see me in US. Just good to meet a man of peace in this very crazy region, and after the trial of yesterday.
Anyone wishing to show their support to Vanunu and free speech, be present at the Russian Compound in Jerusalem on 9 February. Details on http://www.serve.com/vanunu/
Hassan El-Najjar - Hamas Victory and the Old Israeli Trick of "Renouncing Terrorism"
While Hamas won 76 out of the 132 seats in the Palestinian parliament, the Fateh ruling party won only 43 seats. This means that the Islamic Resistance Movement doesn't need a coalition with Fateh to rule the Palestinian occupied territories.
As soon as the news about election results came out, the Zionist Empire propaganda machine world-wide (TV stations, radios, news agencies, and newspapers) reacted by repeating statements expressed by acting Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, President Bush, and the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice (See Al-Jazeerah, January 26-27, 2006 news).
Basically, the three of them expressed the opinion that they would not deal with Hamas before it declares that it will stop armed struggle (which the statements call terrorism or violence). The statements also emphasized that Hamas should stop its rhetoric concerning the liberation of all of Palestine (which the statements call "destruction of Israel").
What is amazing is that the term "destruction of Israel," which was used widely and repeatedly, has never been mentioned in the Hamas Charter, as the propagandists asserted.
In fact, it is the old trick used by Israelis and their supporters world-wide, particularly in the United States, to force Palestinians to relinquish their right for all of Palestine before they can be dealt with. It is a pre-condition that Palestinians have to accept before they are allowed to sit on the negotiation table.
The trick was first used with Fateh in 1988, when its leader, the late President Yasser Arafat, had to accept it. He had to read a statement in Geneva saying that the PLO "renounces all forms of terrorism." He also had to announce that he accept the UN resolutions 242 and 338, which address only the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories after the 1967 war. When he did, the PLO relinquished its right to negotiate about the rights of the Palestinian people in all of Palestine.
This led to the Israeli acceptance of the PLO to participate in the Madrid Peace Conference, first within the Jordanian delegation, then to face Israeli negotiators directly in Oslo. This resulted in the Oslo accords, which were signed in Washington on September 13, 1993.
The Oslo accords gave Israel until 1999 to allow the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, by withdrawing from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. When the deadline passed without Israel fulfilling its obligation, President Clinton called on Barak and Arafat to finalize a deal at Camp David.
Barak neither agreed to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza completely, nor agreed to allow the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. Further, he rejected any talks about the Palestinian refugee problem, which is the core of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Failure of the Camp David summit led to the following five-year Palestinian Intifada (Uprising), in which thousands of Palestinians and Israelis were killed and tens of thousands of Palestinians were injured, with enormous Palestinian suffering under the Israeli occupation oppressive regime.
Moreover, despite Arafat's recognition of Israel and his choice of the peaceful path over armed struggle, he was punished when he objected to Barak's offer. He was isolated in his office in Ramallah until his death, or assassination in November 2004.
The historical record demonstrates that Israelis are not yet ready for peace with the Palestinian people. They have not expressed a genuine desire to live in peace with their neighbors.
They still steal Palestinian lands and build their illegal settlements on them. They grab Palestinian lands as a result of building their illegal Land-Grab Wall. Most important is that they have never expressed their willingness to admit their historical responsibility for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, when they denied Palestinians return to their homes at the end of the 1948 War, as UN resolution 194 demanded.
The lack of the Israeli genuine desire for peace is the explanation of why Israelis reneged on their obligation to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza by 1999, and allow the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. It is the explanation of why President Bush did not fulfill his promise of a Palestinian state during 2005 or even during his stay of office until 2008.
Today, Hamas is faced with the same old Israeli trick of demanding it to "renounce terrorism" and stop its rhetoric about the liberation of all of Palestine.
If Hamas meets these demands, like Fateh did before, reading history tells us that it would also meet the same destiny of Fateh.
Hamas would find itself dragged into an endless process of negotiations that may lead the Palestinian people to nowhere. Then, a third intifada may start, and Hamas would be stamped again as a "terrorist" organization. Four years later, Palestinians vote it out of office and the Fateh opposition party may come back.
Isn't this, after all, how political parties alternate control of the Empire parliaments, including Republicans and Democrats in the US?
So, we should expect that the Empire propaganda machine continue its pressure on Hamas until it meets Israeli demands. Until this happens, Hamas will continue to be described as a "terrorist" organization, like the PLO before the Oslo accords.
In other words, what Israel has not been capable of achieving by brutal force of the occupation may be achieved by elections and media propaganda.
Long Live Democracy!
Al-Jazeerah info, January 27, 2006
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Gilad Atzmon - Where to now, Palestine? Some reflections
*Democracy = Islam.
Once again the West and especially the Anglo-Americans must acknowledge the obvious fact: democracy in the Arab world means Islam. Unless one is severely Islamophobic this shouldn’t raise a problem. But apparently, we have too many Islam haters both in the left and in the right who happen to be horrified by the success of Islam among the masses. Anyhow, yesterday’s election in Palestine should serve as the last warning for those who now insist upon ‘democratising’ Syria.
*‘One Democratic and Secular Palestine’ - may be a dated concept and had better be dropped right away.
The overwhelmingly repeated leftist call for ‘one democratic and secular Palestine’, has apparently very little to do with the Palestinian reality. Apparently, the majority of the Palestinian people in Palestine prefer to live in an Islamic state rather than in a secular and democratic one, with democracy not meaning ‘voice of the people’, but rather a limited and restricted Western definition of it. It is now evident that the call for a secular Palestinian state was there to serve the interests of some left-wing Zionist schools a la Yossi Beilin who outrageously denounced the Hamas just days before the election. Surprisingly enough, this very call against the Hamas and in favour of a democratic secular state is rather popular amongst different factions of Jewish Anti-Zionist and Palestinian solidarity groups. Let’s all face it; the Palestinian people have chosen to live in a Muslim state rather than in a secular one. If we are as democratic as we claim to be, it is down to us to respect and welcome the Palestinian people’s choice. I would suggest that to support Palestine is to support the Palestinian people and their right of return regardless of their political, theological or cultural choices.
However, we have to remember that almost half of the Palestinian people voted for the Fatah movement, in other words, very many Palestinians may prefer to live in a secular state.
It is necessary to add as well that the vote today represents the choice of the Palestinian people who live in Palestine. It is rather possible that an election that would include Diaspora Palestinians in the region and overseas might well lead to different results altogether. Dealing with the Palestinian cause, we must take such a possibility into consideration. At the end of the day, the majority of Palestinians live outside of Palestine, they were ethnically cleansed in 1948 and ever since then.
* The Left discourse has lost its relevancy; it desperately craves an immediate face-lift.
For more than a while it is rather clear that left ideology struggles to find its way within the emerging battle between the West and the Near East. The parameters of the so-called ‘cultural clash’ are so cleverly set that the ‘rational’ and ‘atheist’ leftist is always doomed to find oneself closer to Donald Rumsfeld than to a Muslim cleric. As long as left ideology is entangled with rational and anti-religious thinking parameters, it will be a struggle for it to ally itself with today’s oppressed, i.e. Arabs. If the European left insists upon maintaining its relevance, it must reassess its worldviews regarding rationality, religion and especially Islam. If the left insists upon maintaining its relevancy it must re-evaluate the entire idea of working class politics. Apparently, the oppressed Iraqis have very little in common with the 19th century European working class. The left must engage in a new terminology of ethnicity and cultural differentiation. Rather than imposing our beliefs upon others, we better learn to understand what others believe in. A scrutiny of the notions of Jihad and Shahid are no doubt a good place to start.
*While the Israeli street is showing some real signs of mental fatigue, the Palestinians happen to be as resilient as ever.
As it happens, the Israelis are now drifting en mass towards Kadima, the new political agenda founded two months ago by the gravely ill Sharon. In fact, there is nothing new or innovative about Kadima, it was created to re-launch the old left Zionist fantasy of a Jewish, racist, national state with an overwhelmingly Jewish majority and dominance. Apparently, The Israelis love this option. They love the idea of the resurrection of the East European ghetto, right in the heart of the Middle East. Seemingly, the Fatah was willing to negotiate with this Israeli agenda. Rationally speaking, it is impossible to blame them. The Fatah did realise a while ago that it is quite impossible to militarily defeat American-backed Israeli might. Moreover, it is crucial to mention that almost half of the Palestinian people in Palestine agree with the Fatah. They just couldn’t bear the Israeli occupation anymore. The Hamas, on the other hand, said NO to Israel and as we happen to learn this morning, the majority of the Palestinian people followed the Hamas. They said NO to Zionist segregation, they said NO to Israeli occupation, they said NO to shredding Palestine into Bantustans. Moreover, they say NO to the idea of a Jewish state in the midst of Palestine. They say NO to the idea of a political settlement imposed by America. They say YES to an Islamic Palestine. In short, while the Israelis are showing some clear signs of defeatism, the majority of the Palestinians insist upon claiming their legitimate rights. I have no doubt that justice for the Palestinian people will prevail.
Whether the Hamas has the power to move things forward for the Palestinians in the short term is hard to say. Moreover, the Hamas is a large movement with more than just a single voice. For instance, for more than a while I am aware of some leaders within the Hamas who believe that the two state solution may guarantee separation from the Israelis and their Western liberal lifestyle. In other words, even within the Hamas there are those who believe in two state solution, though for very different reasons. However, it will be interesting to watch what a pragmatic Hamas’s agenda is going to be.
Today more than any other day, it is rather clear that supporting Palestine and the Palestinian people must be grounded on listening to the many voices of Palestine. Rather than imposing our worldviews on the Palestinian people, we better let the Palestinians be. We should listen to them and try to find our way within their complicated cause.
Monday, January 23, 2006
what a shitty puzzle...
his brilliant blog
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Campaign for Abu Ghraib prisoner's free speech - Calling all sites and blogs!
There is a presence which is the symbol of all the horrors of these years.
Faceless, like the thousand of Afghans annihilated by Daisy Cutters, the most powerful weapon after the atomic bomb, used to level forests, hills and people in a single blow, leaving no trace.
Faceless, like the prisoners of Guantánamo, like the Iraqis whom the contractors use for target practice.
A hooded, suffocated presence, yet full of life. Like that of each and every one of us, lucky enough to have the right nationality, not in prison, but who only have our tiny blogs to bear witness amidst the immense flow of money and words.
This faceless presence is Haj Ali, the ghost of Abu Ghraib. The man who was tortured and photographed in a sinister parody of the Statue of Liberty. Mayor of an Iraqi village, farmer and Imam of a mosque, unconnected to the Resistance, he was captured by the invaders on October 30, 2003, and tortured for months before being released in the first months of 2004. Today, he runs the Association of Victims of American Occupation Prisons in Amman (Jordan).
A few months ago, we tried to get him a visa so he could come to Europe and tell us about what he had been through.
Haj Ali al-Qaysi (Ali Shalal Abbas) currently lives in Jordan, so we contacted the Italian consulate in Amman. After a few days shuffling him back and forth, the Italian Consulate denied him a visa on the pretext that, as an Iraqi citizen, he should have asked for the visa in Baghdad instead.
We then tried with another European country, which could not make the same excuse: one of the most important German language TV channels invited him to Austria for an interview. Austria has a consulate in Amman only, not in Baghdad.
Austria too, despite its claims to neutrality, denied him a visa.
There is obviously an international prohibition against letting him into Europe. A prohibition motivated only by the intention to hide such a disquieting presence from all of us. A clear surrender of sovereignty by all the countries of Europe, under pressure from the USA. Indeed, a few months ago, no less than 44 US congressmen had written to the Italian embassy in Washington with an "invitation you can't refuse", asking the Italian government not to grant visas to Europe to members of the Iraqi opposition.
This is why we are asking websites and blogs to put up the banner of the campaign we are launching to allow Haj Ali to tour Europe and speak to us directly.
We are all involved in this war, and this is why we all have the right to know more about it.
This article in German
This article in Portuguese
This article in Euskera (Basque)
For more information on Haj Ali:
Haj Ali's Story (con video)
The man with the hood from Abu Ghraib speaks out
Lars Akerhaug interviews Haj Ali-al-qaysi on the denial of visa
- in Italian
This is the html code to put the banner up on your site or blog.
<a href="http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/2006/01/campaign-for-abu-ghraib-prisoners-free.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.kelebekler.com/blogfig/hajalib_gb.gif" alt="aji ali" width="138" height="75"></a>
Each banner links to a page in your language, where you can read updates on the campaign to grant Haj Ali a visa.
We invite everybody who is putting up the banner to send the URL in a mail addressed to:
Periodically, we'll update the list of banners linking to this article.
Thanks to Mauro Biani for the banner http://www.maurobiani.splinder.com/
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Gennaro Carotenuto - Assassinated Spanish Cameramen was in Fallujah
by Gennaro Carotenuto 08/11/2005
Javier Couso, brother of José, the cameraman of Tele5 who was assassinated in Baghdad by the Americans, saw Fallujah. He had gathered exceptional evidence on the use of chemical weapons and on the systematic violation of human rights in the martyred city where 50,000 civilians had been killed under the bombs and raids carried out by the Americans.
Interview by Gennaro Carotenuto
Javier was born at El Ferrol, in Galizia, Spain, the ugly port city where Francisco Franco was also born, of a family having military traditions. It is a familiarity that helps him in the extraordinary precision with which he describes armaments and martial facts. And the war, that of Iraq, had changed Javier’s life by killing his brother José, deliberately assassinated the first day of the conquest of Baghdad while he was working within the Hotel Palestine. On the facts of the Palestine where José Couso and Taras Protsyuk were killed, Javier is able to exhibit incontrovertible documents that evidence how a platoon of the United States army had that morning received the order to “go to the journalists”, first striking Al Jazeera and then Al Arabija, and finally, Hotel Palestine.
The documentary by RaiNews24 visually confirms that which Javier had for months been telling anyone who would listen to him. He was one of the very few westerners to have seen the Iraqi Guernica and he considered the number of 50,000 civilian deaths fully credible in a city that before the war numbered 350,000 inhabitants.
“It wasn’t easy to enter,” his visa dated from last April, “but we were so determined, that we succeeded in doing so. We brought medical and sanitary materials. Still today there is fighting in the city and even in our presence, a marine had fallen. All the houses, all the mosques have been destroyed,” he tells me. During all wars, the respect of places of worship is guaranteed and every time that it has been violated, the violation has been considered as a symptom of barbarianism. “Instead, in Iraq from the very start the mosques were considered as legitimate targets and in my opinion, that had been a precise choice, a deliberate way to provoke a civil war in the country.”
It is hard to think of a group of seven Spaniards crossing Iraq. “But the Iraqis, despite everything, seem to know how to distinguish between westerners. Our group was greeted with kisses and embraces, and thanking us for the withdrawal of the Spanish troops.” In the Admailla Quarter of Baghdad, considered ‘100% resistant’, initially there were threatening gestures, but they knew perfectly well who my brother was and therefore, even we were welcomed.” This was not the experience of the other westerners, including those kidnapped such as Giuliana Sgrena from Italy’s il manifesto : “and who knows why Giuliana was kidnapped and what interests were involved there?” Javier responded.
“We have evidence of entire families who had been assassinated, whose women had all been raped in a systematic manner by the American soldiers, of children riddled with bullets in their cradles, of persons assassinated while they were waving white flags in a sign of surrender, of dogs who are eating the cadavers that the invaders for days and days had prohibited any sort of burial.” The facts narrated by the direct witness of Javier are comparable to the stories of the Nazi occupation in Eastern Europe.
Javier Couso had gathered testimony everywhere on the evidence of the use of chemical weapons, napalm, phosphorus and on the strange illnesses that were starting to spread throughout the city: “The Jolan Quarter had been 95% destroyed. But not destroyed in a normal way. The rock had crumbled, transforming it not into rubble, but into sand. I don’t know what kind of explosive of such enormous power could have been used. Everyone speaks of chemical weapons, of persons practically consumed and especially of the illnesses that the survivors have been struck with.”
The torment for Javier is not yet finished, the humiliations of the survivors are constant: “An elementary school had remained intact, and therefore, occupied. I saw children have lessons outside of it, under a sheet of plastic and burning under the scorching sun.” All the health services have been hit and today are in fact, non-existent: “The most terrible experience that I have directly lived was seeing a boy of 22 years die before my very eyes for a mild respiratory crisis. We shared the desperation of the doctors. If only he could have had a bit of oxygen, his life could have been saved.”
The invasion, according to Couso, began right at the hospital: “The stories tell us that they entered in systematically striking people and robbing them, the gringos robbed everything they could. They then gathered together the doctors and nurses, they handcuffed them and left them kneeling with their head on the ground all night long.” Here the testimony of Javier Couso becomes even more crude, if that’s possible: “For at least eight days, while the city underwent a blitz not unlike that of Coventry, in no hospital, in no visiting room, in no medical centre was it permitted that a single wounded person be allowed to enter. This demonstrates that all the wounded were given the coup de grâce or they were left to bleed to death.” The images that have circulated around the world and which had been rapidly silenced, confirm the testimony of Couso. “It is a fact that they – the Americans – don’t deny it. They simply claim to have made an adequate use of force, according to their rules of combat. I suppose they are the same rules of combat of the Nazis.”
Translated from Italian into English by Mary Rizzo, a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity (email@example.com) This translation is on Copyleft.
The original article appeared on Gennaro Carotenuto’s blog, http://www.gennarocarotenuto.it/dblog/articolo.asp?articolo=313 The article was written for the weekly publication Brecha of Montevideo.
to learn more on José Couso, please visit http://www.josecouso.info/
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Racist Attacks by Rabbis
Walla.co.il ("Haaretz"), 10/01/2006
A conference which took place yesterday against the establishment of a mixed Arab-Jewish school in Pat, Jerusalem saw harsh attacks made by well-known rabbis.
The (ha-mekubal) Rabbi David Bazri said: "The establishment of such a school is a foul, disgraceful deed. You can't mix pure and foul. They are a disease, a disaster, a devil. The Arabs are asses, and the question must be asked, why did God did not create them walking on their fours? The answer is that they need to build and wash. They have no place in our school".
His son, Rabbi Itzhak Bazri, also referred to the interpretation of Ishmaelites – people similar to donkeys, and said "the Arabs are inferior. What do they want? To take our daughters. They say we are racists. Well, they are the evil, they are the cruel, they have the foulness of snakes. There's foul and there's pure, and they are foul".
In response to questions by "Walla!", Rabbi Bazri said that he meant to "emphasize the difference between Arab and Jewish culture, and that there is no common denominator that can bring us together. Bazri went on to say that "our experience is to prevent situations in which our Jewish girls be hurt by Arabs and to prevent danger to Jewish lives. We intend to demonstrate in front of the City Hall and to do everything we can to prevent this initiative".
Rabbi Yehuda Der'i, brother to Arie Deri and Chief Rabbi of Ber Sheva, also participated in the conference and said that "this is a thing that the Jewish mind, logic and soul cannot tolerate. We have to go from house to house and raise supporters in the neighborhood to prevent this horrid punishment."
Today the school is running in a temporary building and is looking for a permanent residence in the Pat neighborhood of Jerusalem. The municipality assigned a territory for the school but because of repeating appeals to court the process is delayed. Today the matter is scheduled for a debate in the High Court.
Source: Walla!News (Haaretz), 10/01/2006
Translated by Dimi Reider
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Ed Corrigan - Zionist Distortion of History
"The Zionist position on Palestine is primarily based on myth, distortions of history, propaganda and suppression of the truth."
In an article, “Munich,' the Travesty," published in The Washington Poston January 13, 2006 Charles Krauthammer, a well-known Zionist and regular Post Columnist, attacks Steven Spielberg’s movie for presenting several glimpses of the Palestinian perspective. Krauthammer and other critics of Spielberg’s movie continuously repeat discredited Zionist mythology, distort history, ignore inconvenient facts and hide Zionist terrorism, the raping of Palestinians, the massacres, the theft of land and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians with the creation of the"Jewish State" in 1948.
Instead Krauthammer, and other Zionists, attack the Palestinians for kidnapping the Israeli athletes in Munich at the 1972 Olympics. These Zionists ignore the fact that Israel had been assassinating many leading Palestinians prior to the much-publicized Munich incident. They also ignore the historical context of the conflict.
The Balfour Declaration which called for the “creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine” is cited by Zionists as a basis of legitimacy for the creation of the “Jewish State.” This Declaration was issued by Great Britain, a foreign power, who had no right to give away someone else's country. The Balfour Declaration also contains the phrase "it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine....” This second promise is ignored by Zionists while claiming legitimacy from the first.
Also ignored by Zionists when discussing the Balfour Declaration is the fact that Sir Edwin Montagu, the only Jewish member of Lloyd George's cabinet when Great Britain issued the declaration 1917, was adamantly opposed to the creation of a Jewish state. Montagu attacked the Balfour Declaration and Zionism because he believed they were anti-Semitic. This argument was based on the fact that both Zionism and anti-Semitism were based on the premise that Jews and non-Jews could not co-exist.
Montagu was also afraid that a “Jewish State” would undermine the security of Jews in other countries. Sir Edwin’s opposition to Zionism was supported at the time by the leading representative bodies of Anglo-Jewry, the Board of Deputies and the Anglo-Jewish Association.
The League of Nations Palestine Mandate Agreements also had guarantees for the protection of the Palestinians and required transfer of power at the end of the Mandate to the government of all Palestine. Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations termed these guarantees "a sacred trust of civilization."
Also ignored by Zionists is the fact that European Jews may have no historical connection to ancient Israel or to Palestine. In the 8th Century there was a mass conversion of the Khazars to Judaism through which, according to many authorities, the majority of European Jews are descendant. Arthur Koestler writes about this conversion in his book The Thirteenth Tribe. Martin Gilbert's Atlas of Jewish History has a map of "The Jewish Kingdom of the Khazars" at page 25. According to Gilbert’s map The Jewish Khazar Kingdom is about the size of modern day Ukraine. Also see The History of the Jewish Khazars by D.M. Dunlop. There are many more sources that document the conversion of the European Khazars to Judaism. This is a forbidden topic of discussion for Zionists. If you point out this historical fact, you are often accused of being an anti-Semite.
Erich Fromm, the eminent Jewish scholar, stated that the Arabs in Israel had a much more legitimate claim to Palestine than the Jews. Fromm wrote: "The claim of the Jews to the Land of Israel cannot be a realistic political claim. If all nations would suddenly claimterritories in which their forefathers lived two thousand years ago, this world would be a madhouse."
Another fact ignored by Zionists is that the Roman Empire did not expel all of the Jews from Palestine. Many Jews stayed and later converted to Christianity and then to Islam. Many of the original inhabitants both before the creation of ancient Israel, the Philistines and Canaanites, and after ancient Israel and Judea fell, the Jews, remained in Palestine. The direct descendants of these inhabitants are the true owners of the land. Furthermore they held the legal deeds to their property until it was stolen from them by the Zionists using various legal pretexts.
This theft of land was based on a dubious claim that European Jewish settlers had a claim on Palestine based on an alleged presence 2,000 years ago. Since Herzl and the early Zionists were atheists who rejected a religious definition of "Jewishness" and wanted to normalize the existence of the Jewish people based on nationalism and race, claims of ownership based on "biblical promises" ring a little hollow.
The vast majority of the World, including the secular West, rejects biblical claims of “Jewish ownership” of the land in Palestine. Biblical claims would not negate the rights of the indigenous inhabitants and somehow invalidate the legal deeds for title to the property. Zionist claims are based on self serving mythology and illegality.
The United Nations also did not endorse the concept of a "Jewish State."UN General Assembly Resolution 181 passed at the UN on November 29th, 1947 by a vote of 33 to 13 with 10 abstentions. This vote was dominated by the Europeans as most Third World countries were not members of theUN but still ruled as colonies. The resolution called for the partition of Palestine into two states. One state had a tiny Jewish population and a very large Palestinian Arab majority. The other state was not demographically a "Jewish State."
The population breakdown for the so-called "Jewish state" was 509,780 Arabs and 499,020 Jews. These figures are according to the report of Sub-Committee 2 to the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestine Question, UN Document A/AC 14/32, November 11, 1947. The so-called "Jewish State" had an Arab majority. It was in effect a multi-religious and multi-ethnic state. The UN resolution did not authorize the ethnic cleansing or “transfer” of the Palestinians. The Arab birth rate was also much higher than the European Jewish birthrate.
The Zionists solved this demographic problem by massacring the Palestinians and ethnically cleansing them from Palestine. Zionists then stole the Palestinian’s property and prevented them from returning in defiance of UN resolutions, e.g., 194 (III). These same UN resolutions are what the Zionists claim to legitimize their state. This is selective UN resolution amnesia at its worst.
The expulsion of the Palestinians is Israel's "Original Sin" which Zionists want to ignore. However, Tony Kushner, a prominent American Jewish playwright and co-author of the screenplay for "Munich," at least acknowledged the Palestinian side in Spielberg’s movie. Israel's “New Historians,” Simha Flapan, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, Benny Morris, Ilan Pappe, and others have all documented, from Israeli archives and sources, the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.
The UN and international community have never recognized “Jewish nationality” as a legal concept. On this question see Thomas Mallison's article, “The Zionist-Israel Juridical Claims to Constitute 'The Jewish People' National Entity and to Confer Membership in it: Appraisal in Public International Law” in 32 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 983 (1964). This article is still the seminal work on this issue.
The United States State Department has also rejected the “Jewish people” nationality concept. In a letter to Rabbi Elmer Berger (then head of the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism) from Assistant Secretary Phillips Talbot, the State Department confirmed that it “does not recognize a legal-political relationship based upon religious identification of American citizens. It does not in any way discriminate among American citizens upon the basis of religion. Accordingly, it should be clear that the Department of State does not regard the “Jewish people” concept as a concept of international law.”
To accurately view the historical facts and the political and legal concepts involved, one has to conclude that the Palestinians have an exceptionally strong case and the Zionist argument is without foundation. The persecution of the Jews in Europe cannot rationally be used to justify the persecution of another people and to create a homeland in the Middle East for European Jews who had suffered at the hands of other Europeans.
The Zionist position on Palestine is primarily based on myth, distortions of history, propaganda and suppression of the truth. Zionism as an exclusionary political ideology is also a very dangerous philosophy. It is an ideology which has ethnically cleansed more than 700,000 Palestinians in 1948, invaded and occupied the rest of Palestine in 1967 and continues to illegally occupy Palestinian land today.
Zionism has also had serious repercussions on the situation of the Jewish Arab community. Zionism is also opposed on religious grounds by many Orthodox Jews including the Neturei Karta and the Satmar sects. Many other Jews are opposed to Zionism on the grounds that an exclusionary “Jewish State” is racist.
Zionism now threatens the very existence of the Palestinian people. Baruch Kimmerling, a leading Israeli academic, calls this “politicide". He defines politicide as “a crime against humanity that is very close in its severity to genocide.” Political Zionism and the campaign to dispossess the Palestinians from their homeland also threaten to destroy the Jews as a moral people and destroy the Jewish religious mission to be “a light unto all nations.”
Printed from : http://world.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/25330/
Edward C. Corrigan is a lawyer (Immigration and refugee law)
living in London, Ontario, Canada.
He contributed this article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from Canada.
(Monday January 16 2006)
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Paul Eisen - In Clear Sight of Yad Vashem
Everybody was happy. Jews of conscience were of course pleased to see Jewish suffering again at the centre of the discourse but also happy to extend their narrative of suffering to include Palestinians. Palestinians were perhaps less pleased at having - yet again - to acknowledge Jewish suffering in order to help achieve their own liberation, but they recognized the importance of the publicity that the link between Deir Yassin and Yad Vashem brought to their cause.
Of course, one had to be careful. As is so often the case with these things, there was always a but. After all, who in their right mind would compare the massacre of a hundred Palestinians at Deir Yassin with the industrial-scale slaughter of six million Jews? And who would dare draw comparison the 1948 expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians to the near-successful attempt at physically exterminating every last Jewish man, women and child in Europe?
Both atrocities have seen their fair share of deniers over the years. Many Zionists, either with conscious intent or out of ignorance, have denied Deir Yassin. "There was no massacre at Deir Yassin," they say; "It was simply a battle - a battle that the Palestinians lost. These things happen in war and anyway, they did the same to us." Also, "No, the Palestinians were not expelled; they ran away, and anyway, they didn't love the land as we love the land - just look how neglected it was until we came along to make the desert bloom."
The Holocaust too has come under assault. Over the last fifty years, revisionist scholars have amassed a formidable body of substantial evidence, which runs in direct opposition to the traditional Holocaust narrative. "Where is the evidence," they say, "for this alleged gargantuan mass-murder? Where are the documents? Where are the traces and remains? Where are the weapons of murder?" These revisionists all acknowledge of course, that there was a terrible assault on Jews on the part of the National Socialist government, but disagree as to the scale, motive, and methods cited in the typical narrative, a narrative that most of us choose or are obliged to accept. "What befell the Jews", they say, "was a brutal ethnic cleansing accompanied by dispossession, pillage and massacre."
A brutal ethnic cleansing accompanied by dispossession, pillage and massacre… terms surely familiar to any Palestinian.
But no matter how similar the Jewish and Palestinian histories of suffering may seem, the similarities conceal important differences:
First, by all accounts, and according to any version of the events, what was done to the Jews of Europe took place a long distance from Yad Vashem, while what was done to the Palestinian people took place right there at the village of Deir Yassin and right there throughout the whole of Palestine.
Second, the perpetrators of the atrocity against Jews had nothing to do with Palestine or Palestinians, while perpetrators of the Palestinian tragedy were and are Jews.
Third, the perpetrators of the atrocity against Jews have been roundly condemned over the years and punished for their crimes, and have mostly shown contrition, while the perpetrators of the massacre at Deir Yassin have been honored for their crimes, continue to take pride in them, and live on in their ideology and in their deeds.
Fourth, what befell the Jews had a beginning, a middle, and an end, while the assault on the Palestinians goes on with no end in sight.
And one final difference: If the living evidence for the veracity of the Holocaust narrative is a safe, secure and empowered Jewish people, at home wherever they may be, the living evidence for the veracity of Deir Yassin and the Nakba is a Palestinian people dispossessed and exiled and longing to go home.
Paul Eisen, Director
Deir Yassin Remembered
Thursday, January 12, 2006
The Flame Wars – What Kinda Nation is This?
For many years, that darling of the left liberals, The Nation, has been publishing ads by FLAME which deny the existence of the Palestinian people, their expulsion by the Israelis, the fact of continuing Israeli occupation and the oppression that has accompanied it. I long ago gave up subscribing to the magazine because it defended their running of the ad along the lines that we see below, although they would refuse to run an ad that denied the Jewish holocaust which is equivalent to what FLAME does with the Palestinian experience. Since it is fairly well known that the majority of the Nation's readers are liberal Jews, the magazine's editors are well aware what would be its fate if they would run the equivalent ad denying the Jewish experience at the hands of the Nazis. There would be a boycott. So, under the present circumstances, may I suggest it's time for us to boycott the Nation?
Here is some sample texts of some of these ads:
An unwarranted request. There is no such thing as a “Palestinian people.” That is a concept that, by the drumbeat of incessant propaganda, has been foisted on the world. The so-called Palestinians are the same Arabs that live in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Never at any time in history did the “Palestinians” have a homeland, nor did they ever demand one.
The proclivity to war and to terror on the part of the Arab-Moslems has nothing or little to do with Israel. It is the result of their culture and of their history. It is a symptom of a crisis of identity and of confidence. For centuries, the historical Moslem empires of the Middle East were confident societies, which long led the despised Christian West in terms of science and economic well-being, as well as in military power. But then a lasting reversal and decline set in, in which the loss of Spain and the ascent of the West and its towering achievements in every human endeavor played a key role. This thirst for war against each other and against the hated infidels — foremost among them the Israelis — and the lust for terror will not end until Arab-Moslems come to terms with the West and accept its predominant role. But that may take a very long time – in fact, it may never happen. “… the lust for terror will not end until Arab-Moslems come to terms with the West and accept its predominant role.”
This is what The Nation wrote in response to a complaint:
"I was forwarded your letter regarding the FLAME ad and want you to know that the 1/23/06 issue contains this note from our editors:
The inside back cover ad by an anti-Palestinian group called Flame, which appeared in our January 9/16 issue, sparked a flurry of “How could you! “ (or worse) e-mails from our intelligent readers. The ad, which purports to expose propaganda myths circulated by the Palestinians (the most blatant of which, according to the ad, is that these non-existent Palestinians have a legitimate claim to the land that eternally belongs to Israel), is of course historically inaccurate, mendacious and racist. It purveys one of the most destructive myths of Israel’s right wing, namely that the Palestinians have no legitimate national rights., and they should be ignored rather than negotiated with. This myth has long been a drag on efforts for a peaceful solution. So how, you might ask, can we run such an ad? We run it because The Nation’s policy on advertising acceptability starts with the presumption that “we will accept advertising even if the views expressed are repugnant to those of the editors.” (And let’s be clear: the editors find the views of Flame quite repugnant.) We do impose limits on commercial advertisements, barring, for example, those that are false, lurid or patently fraudulent, illegal or libelous. However, ads that present a political point of view are considered to fall under our editorial commitment to freedom of speech and, perforce, granted the same latitude we claim for our own views. But we do reserve the right to denounce the content of such ads, just as our editorials denounce ideas we abhor. And that is what we do here.
Please do not judge our magazine too harshly as the advertising policy is a very "liberal" one and we re-visit it often to make certain that it is still in keeping with our values as an independent opinion journal.
Ellen Bollinger Vice President Advertising
Basem, an activist of Al-Awda writes to the Nation:
A couple of comments: the Nation editors obviously do not consider this ad as false, otherwise they would have banned it under their 'commecial' policy. Although they state it is 'historically inaccurate, mendacious and racist', they still are willing to run it on the grounds that it is a political ad! Now some time ago, by their own admission, the Nation editors rejected an ad denying the Holocaust -- which I am certain they also considered "historically inaccurate, mendacious and racist". Question to be posed to the editors: why the double standards? To my simple mind, the mark of a true progressive is that she/he maintains a single standard.
Over to you, if you are sufficiently enraged by both the ad and the Nation's hypocrisy.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
William Blum - There Goes the Neighbourhood! Deconstructing Iraq
cartoon by Giò
The sign has been put out front: "Iraq is open for business."We read about things done and said by the Iraqi president, or the Ministry of this or the Ministry of that, and it's easy to get the impression that Iraq is in the process of becoming a sovereign state, albeit not particularly secular and employing torture, but still, a functioning, independent state. Then we read about the IMF and the rest of the international financial mafia -- with the US playing its usual sine qua non role -- making large loans to the country and forgiving debts, with the customary strings attached, in the current instance ending government subsidies for fuel and other petroleum products. And so the government starts to reduce the subsidies for these products which affect almost every important aspect of life, and the prices quickly quintuple, sparking wide discontent and protests.
Who in this sovereign nation wanted to add more suffering to the already beaten-down Iraqi people? But the international financial mafia are concerned only with making countries meet certain criteria sworn to be holy in Economics 101, like a balanced budget, privatization, and deregulation and thus making themselves more appealing to international investors.
In case the presence of 130,000 American soldiers, a growing number of sprawling US military bases, and all the designed-in-Washington restrictive Coalition Provisional Authority laws still in force aren't enough to keep the Iraqi government in line, this will do it. Iraq will have to agree to allow their economy to be run by the IMF for the next decade. The same IMF that Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize-winning economist and dissident former chief economist at the World Bank, describes as having "brought disaster to Russia and Argentina and leaves a trail of devastated developing economies in its wake".
On top of this comes the disclosure of the American occupation's massive giveaway of the sovereign nation's most valuable commodity, oil. One should read the new report, "Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq's Oil Wealth" by the British NO, Platform. Among its findings:
This report reveals how an oil policy with origins in the US State Department is on course to be adopted in Iraq, soon after the December elections, with no public debate and at enormous potential cost. The policy allocates the majority of Iraq’s oilfields -- accounting for at least 64% of the country’s oil reserves -- for development by multinational oil companies.
The estimated cost to Iraq over the life of the new oil contracts is $74 to $194 billion, compared with leaving oil development in public hands.
The contracts would guarantee massive profits to foreign companies, with rates of return of 42 to 162 percent. The kinds of contracts that will provide these returns are known as production sharing agreements. PSAs have been heavily promoted by the US government and oil majors and have the backing of senior figures in the Iraqi Oil Ministry. However, PSAs last for 25-40 years, are usually secret and prevent governments from later altering the terms of the contract.
"Crude Designs" author and lead researcher, Greg Muttitt, says: "The form of contracts being promoted is the most expensive and undemocratic option available. Iraq's oil should be for the benefit of the Iraqi people, not foreign oil companies."
Noam Chomsky recently remarked: "We're supposed to believe that the US would've invaded Iraq if it was an island in the Indian Ocean and its main exports were pickles and lettuce. This is what we're supposed to believe."
Reconstruction, thy name is not the United States
The Bush administration has announced that it does not intend to seek any new funds for Iraq reconstruction in the budget request going before Congress in February. When the last of the reconstruction budget is spent, US officials in Baghdad have made clear, other foreign donors and the fledgling Iraqi government will have to take up what authorities say is tens of billions of dollars of work yet to be done merely to bring reliable electricity, water and other services to Iraq's 26 million people.
It should be noted that these services, including sanitation systems, were largely destroyed by US bombing -- most of it rather deliberately -- beginning in the first Gulf War: 40 days and nights the bombing went on, demolishing everything that goes into the making of a modern society; followed by 12 years of merciless economic sanctions, accompanied by 12 years of often daily bombing supposedly to protect the so-called no-fly zones; finally the bombing, invasion and widespread devastation beginning in March 2003 and continuing even as you read this.
"The U.S. never intended to completely rebuild Iraq," Brig. Gen. William McCoy, the Army Corps of Engineers commander overseeing the work, told reporters at a recent news conference. In an interview this past week, McCoy said: "This was just supposed to be a jump-start."
It's a remarkable pattern. The United States has a long record of bombing nations, reducing entire neighborhoods, and much of cities, to rubble, wrecking the infrastructure, ruining the lives of those the bombs didn't kill. And afterward doing shockingly little or literally nothing to repair the damage.
On January 27, 1973, in Paris, the United States signed the "Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam". Among the principles to which the United States agreed was that stated in Article 21: "In pursuance of its traditional [sic] policy, the United States will contribute to healing the wounds of war and to postwar reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam [North Vietnam] and throughout Indochina."
Five days later, President Nixon sent a message to the Prime Minister of North Vietnam in which he stipulated the following:(1)The Government of the United States of America will contribute to postwar reconstruction in North Vietnam without any political conditions. (2)Preliminary United States studies indicate that the appropriate programs for the United States contribution to postwar reconstruction will fall in the range of $3.25 billion of grant aid over 5 years. Nothing of the promised reconstruction aid was ever paid. Or ever will be.
During the same period, Laos and Cambodia were wasted by US bombing as relentlessly as was Vietnam. After the Indochina wars were over, these nations, too, qualified to become beneficiaries of America's "traditional policy" of zero reconstruction. Then came the American bombings of Grenada and Panama in the 1980s.
There goes our neighborhood.
Hundreds of Panamanians petitioned the Washington-controlled Organization of American States as well as American courts, all the way up to the US Supreme Court, for "just compensation" for the damage caused by Operation Just Cause (this being the not-tongue-in-cheek name given to the American invasion and bombing). They got just nothing, the same amount the people of Grenada received. In 1998, Washington, in its grand wisdom, fired more than a dozen cruise missiles into a building in Sudan which it claimed was producing chemical and biological weapons. The completely pulverized building was actually a major pharmaceutical plant, vital to the Sudanese people. The United States effectively admitted its mistake by releasing the assets of the plant's owner it had frozen. Surely now it was compensation time. It appears that nothing has ever been paid to the owner, who filed suit, or to those injured in the bombing.
The following year we had the case of Yugoslavia; 78 days of round-the-clock bombing, transforming an advanced state into virtually a pre-industrial one; the reconstruction needs were breathtaking. It's been 6 1/2 years since Yugoslavian bridges fell into the Danube, the country's factories and homes leveled, its roads made unusable, transportation torn apart. Yet the country has not received any funds for reconstruction from the architect and leading perpetrator of the bombing campaign, the United States.
The day after the above announcement about the US ending its reconstruction efforts in Iraq, it was reported that the United States is phasing out its commitment to reconstruction in Afghanistan as well. This after several years of the usual launching of bombs and missiles on towns and villages, resulting in the usual wreckage and ruin.
Oh those quaint tribal customs
On December 7, the "All things considered" feature of National Public Radio had a report about the "honor" killing of a young woman in Iraq who had been kidnaped. She had to be killed by her family because of the mere possibility of her having been raped by her captors; the family had to protect its honor; a much loved and admired daughter she was, but still, her cousin shot her dead. It had nothing to do with Islam, the story said, it was a "tribal custom".
This report was followed immediately by Col. Gary Anderson, US Marines retired, arguing that the United States has to stay the course in Iraq. He's concerned that bin Laden et al. will think the United States is "a quitter". He says that leaving now would "dishonor" the Iraqis and he's apparently prepared to continue killing any number of the very same Iraqi people to preserve their honor. Anthropologists report that this seems to be some kind of "tribal custom" in Anderson's country. Presumably it doesn't bother the good colonel that a large majority of the informed people of the world think the United States is a murderous imperialist power -- he's probably proud of that -- but a "quitter"? Over his dead body. Or someone's dead body.
The questions concerning immigration into the United States from south of the border go on year after year, with the same issues argued back and forth: How to/should we block the flow into the country? granting amnesty, a guest-worker program, whether the immigrants help the economy, immigrants collecting welfare, policing employers who hire immigrants ... on and on, round and round it goes, for decades. Once in a while someone opposed to immigration will question whether the United States has any moral obligation to take in these Latino immigrants. Here's one answer to that question: Yes, the United States has a moral obligation because so many of the immigrants are escaping situations in their homelands made hopeless by American interventions. In Guatemala and Nicaragua Washington overthrew progressive governments which were sincerely committed to fighting poverty. In El Salvador the US played a major role in suppressing a movement striving to install such a government, and to a lesser extent played such a role in Honduras.
The end result of these policies has been an army of desperate people heading north in search of a better life, in the process of which they have added to Mexico's poverty burden, inducing many Mexicans to join the trek to Yanquiland.
Although Washington has not intervened militarily in Mexico since 1919, over the years the US has been providing training, arms, and surveillance technology to Mexico's police and armed forces to better their ability to suppress their own people's aspirations, as in Chiapas, and this has added to the influx of the impoverished to the United States. Moreover, Washington's North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), has brought a flood of cheap, subsidized US corn into Mexico and driven many Mexican farmers off the land and into the immigration stream north.
Hmmm, perhaps we really are in danger of a biological attack ... but not from al Qaeda
A week after the massive anti-war demonstration in Washington on September 24, it was revealed that deadly bacteria had been detected at several sites in the city, including by the Lincoln Memorial, situated very close to the demonstration. Biohazard monitors installed at various sites gave positive readings on the 24th and 25th for the bacterium francisella tularensis, which causes the infectious disease tularemia, a pneumonia-like ailment that can be acquired by inhaling airborne bacteria and can be fatal. This biological agent is on the "A list" of the Department of Homeland Security's biohazards, along with anthrax, plague and smallpox.
My first thought upon reading about this was: Those bastards, they'd love to punish people who protest against the war. There's nothing I would put past them.
My second thought was: Oh stop being so paranoid. The news report cited federal health officials saying that the tularemia bacterium can occur naturally in soil and small animals.
My third thought came more than a month later, when I happened to be reading about a US Army program of the 1960s which carried out numerous exercises involving aircraft spraying of American warships with thousands of servicemen aboard. A wide variety of chemical and biological warfare agents were used to learn the vulnerabilities of these ships and personnel to such attacks and to develop procedures to respond to them. Amongst the CBW agents used were pasteurella tularensis (another name for francisella tularensis), which, said the Department of Defense later, causes tularemia, can produce very serious symptoms, and has a mortality rate of about six percent.
These tests in effect used members of the armed forces as guinea pigs, without their informed consent and without proper medical follow-up. This was a scenario enacted on numerous occasions during the Cold War, and subsequently as well, involving literally millions of service members, with frequent harmful effects, including at least several deaths, military and civilian. It's a good bet that on some future date we'll learn that similar tests are still going on as part of the war on terrorism. I conclude from all this that if our glorious leaders are not particularly concerned about the health and welfare of their own soldiers, the wretched warriors they enlist to fight the empire’s wars, how can we be surprised if they don't care about the health and welfare of those of us standing in opposition to the empire?
Civil liberties holds an important place in the heart of the Bush administration's rhetoric."This is a limited program designed to prevent attacks on the United States of America and, I repeat, limited," said President Bush about the National Security Agency's domestic spying on Americans without a court order.
Let's give the devil his due. It's easy to put down the domestic spying program, but the fact is that the president is right, it is indeed limited. It's limited to those who are being spied upon. No one -- I repeat, no one -- who is not being spied upon is being spied upon. On the other hand, there have been legal scholars, such as former Supreme Court Justice Lewis Brandeis, who have felt strongly that all wiretapping by the government should be considered an unconstitutional search under the Fourth Amendment, which, we should remember, states: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
Thomas Jefferson said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. But, as someone has pointed out, he was talking about citizens watching the government, not the reverse.
NOTES Los Angeles Times, December 28, 2005, p.1; Agence France Presse, December 23, 2005
 Johann Hari, "Why Are We Inflicting This Discredited Market Fundamentalism on Iraq?" The Independent (UK), December 22, 2004; yes, 2004, this has been a work carefully in progress for some time.
 Washington Post, January 2, 2006, p.1
 William Blum, "Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire", p.134-8
 Washington Post, January 3, 2006, p.1
 Washington Post, October 2, 2005, p.C13
 Part of Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD), Department of Defense “Fact Sheets” released in 2001-2, "Shady Grove" test; http://www.deploymentlink.osd.mil/current_issues/shad/shad_intro.shtml
See also Associated Press, October 9, 2002, The New York Times May 24, 2002, p.1
 Associated Press, January 2, 2006
William Blum is the author of: Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only SuperpowerWest-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire www.killinghope.org
Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website. To add yourself to this mailing list simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "add" in the subject line. I'd like your name and city in the message, but that's optional. I ask for your city only in case I'll be speaking in your area. Or put "remove" in the subject line to do the opposite. Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission. I'd appreciate it if the website were mentioned.
The Middle-East Peace Process, After Sharon (MIFTAH)
When PM Sharon took office in late 2000, he promised the Israeli public to bring the Palestinian intifada (uprising) to an end within one hundred days. He failed with his first promise, and the Palestinian uprising against Israel's illegal and prolonged occupation continued for another five years. This failure was one of the reasons that lead the PM to pursue more radical and inhumane policies, such as; targeted and add hoc killings, the further construction of the Annexation and Segregation Wall, expanding existing settlements, record breaking numbers of home demolitions. The culmination of these policies came in the form of the internationally acclaimed unilateral disengagement from Gaza, which saw Israeli security forces evict some 8000 settlers from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank.
The unilateral disengagement from Gaza, the near completion of the Annexation and Segregation Wall, especially around east Jerusalem and the inclusion of major settlement blocks, the creation of four major airport like terminals along the West Bank, and the proposed annexation of the Jordan valley are all works of Sharon. It is needless to say, or maybe not, that throughout his reign as PM all of the above mentioned policies/developments on the ground, were pursued unilaterally reducing the Palestinian National Authority to mere recipients of Israeli dictates.
With the Israeli PM, so to say, laying the foundations for a very unjust peace agreement with the Palestinians, it would be fair to say that in terms of striking a genuine peace agreement, which many Palestinians and Israel's have sought, the future looks quite grim. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, and what many media and political analysts have been uttering in recent days, that Palestinians have lost a partner they can do business with, Palestinians have actually been freed from a unilateralist leader.
So the question remains, where the peace process goes from here, or more precisely, what possible scenarios lay ahead? According to The Guardian's Chris McGreal, there are four possible contenders (successors to Sharon) in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Israel slated for March 28, they are:
Ehud Olmert (Kadima)
Benyamin Netanyahu (Likud)
Amir Peretz (Labour)
Shimon Peres (Kadima Supporter)
To begin with, in order of the most reasonable partner for peace, Amir Peretz is definitely the best pick for Palestinians and Israelis alike, and for that matter, the peace process itself. Amir Peretz' credentials speak for themselves. A one time peace activist and a fervent social democrat, "he says he would immediately open negotiations toward final status talks and only if they fail would he attempt to unilaterally impose a border."
Ehud Olmert and Shimon Peres, Sharon's allies, are likely to pursue the same style of policy towards the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people, that is to say a continuation of unilateralism and interim periods, resulting in a ghettoized Palestinians state on less than 52% of the West Bank. This leaves Benyamin Netanyahu, a right-wing hawk who has labeled the entire Palestinian leadership not much different from the "terrorist" Yasser Arafat, as a partner or adversary for Palestinians to deal with.
With the sudden illness of PM Ariel Sharon, as well as parliamentary elections on the door in both Israel and Palestine, it is an imperative that the international community, represented by the Middle-East peace quartet, step up there efforts to mediate and help both parties fully implement the provisions of the Road Map to peace in the Middle-East. http://www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=9356&CategoryID=3