Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Palestinian Factions and Associations Observe Partition's Remembrance Day

GAZA, Palestine, November 29, 2005 (IPC + Agencies) - - Several Palestinian factions and associations in the Palestinian territories called on the people to observe the remembrance day of the UN General Assembly's Partitioning Resolution, and demand the right of return for refugees.

In Gaza City, the first conference of the Popular Gathering to Defend the Right to Return was held on Tuesday, to assert the Palestinian refugees' right to return to the lands they were dispossessed from.

The Gathering had held a series of meetings over the past month throughout Gaza Strip to prepare for the meeting, which was held at Said Al Mishal's Association for Culture and Science.

Abdullah Horani, the head of the Palestinian National Council's political committee and coordinator of the conference, said the Gathering includes a number of committees, organizations and popular associations interested in the issue of refugees, pointing out that these bodies have joined forces to "unveil the conspiracies being connived against the right to return, and mobilize the Palestinian people towards safeguarding that right."

Horani further mentioned that the Gathering is a fruit of many years of efforts to defend Palestinian refugees' rights, focusing on raising people's awareness in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and inside the Green Line, as well as stretching out to include Palestinian communities in Diaspora.

He also explained that these efforts were extremely successful in shedding light on the issues of refugees and the dangers they face, as well as enticing the Palestinian people to defend these rights and consider them a red line for the Palestinian leadership and negotiators.

Meanwhile, national and Islamic factions called Monday on the Palestinian people to observe the international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, coinciding Tuesday, through a variety of activities that would expose the Israeli occupation's practices.

The factions added, in a joint press statement, that the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic nations of all walks of life are demanded to take part in these activities, to expose the crimes of the occupation and help put and end to them.

The factions also called to go out on Tuesday on massive demonstrations to condemn these crimes and denounce the 50 years of world silence and inability to find a just solution for the Palestinian cause.

The statement pointed out that "on the eve of the international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, Israeli occupation forces continue persecuting and killing citizens, as well as arresting many others, closing roads with a plethora of checkpoints and roadblocks, continuing the construction of the Apartheid Wall deep into Palestinian land, and expropriating Palestinian-owned lands everywhere, especially in and around Jerusalem."

The factions called on world governments, international and humanitarian organizations to observe the solidarity day and cooperate with the Palestinian people and its national authority in order to gain their rights in the face of the Israeli cruelty and hegemony.

They also called to circulate the recent European report criticizing the Israeli policies in East Jerusalem, considering it a living proof to the criminal acts of Israel there.

International Press Centre

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Noah Cohen - Repression of Palestinian Activists in the US

Does the ACLU really defend civil rights of activists? Judging by some cases in Boston, the answer is a resounding NO. Noah Cohen writes an exposè on some of the recent cases, and compares it to what is happening nationally. Under the excuse of the "Home Security Act", (and if the organisers of an Israel Independence Day march pay the local police for "protection"), activists really don't stand much chance to be defended as they should be, and acts of surveillance, harassment and detainment are just par for the course. An excerpt:

Amer Jubran and Sami al-Arian had shared the stage as Palestinian activists in DC on April 20, 2001. In February of 2003, Al-Arian would be arrested and imprisoned on charges of “supporting terrorism.” For the next eight months he was forced to rely on court-appointed attorneys who did little to help him. Much of his time was spent in solitary confinement under 23 hour lockdown. Serious defense did not begin until his defense campaign was able to raise enough money to hire private attorneys in October of 2003.

His trial is finally coming to a conclusion. It has clearly been a case of targeting for political speech and other legal activities in support of Palestinian organizations.

The targeting of Palestinian political activists has taken place within a broader context of attacks on Arabs and Muslims. This has allowed the government to conceal the political nature of its campaign: specific attacks against activists can be hidden under sweeping policies. The overall purpose has nevertheless been to silence a community living within the US that has intimate knowledge of US imperial crimes in Palestine, Iraq and the surrounding region.

On the whole, the civil liberties community has protested against these sweeping attacks on Arab and Muslim men; it has — perhaps for this very reason — tended to distance itself from more overtly political cases. Few rallied around Ali Al-Timimi —a religious leader sentenced to life in prison for preaching in his mosque against US imperialism. Imprisonment specifically of politically oriented Muslims who support armed liberation of their countries has been normalized in the full range of US discourse, even in cases where “support” consists entirely of speech.

To read the complete article (VERY interesting) see: peacepalestine documents THANK YOU Lana Habash!

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Marwan Barghouti wins internal al Fatah elections

Al-Barghuthi is seen as a successor to President Abbas from Al Jazeera

Imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan al-Barghuthi and his allies have swept the group's internal elections to nominate candidates for the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections.

The results on Saturday showed al-Barghuthi emerged as Fatah's top choice for the parliamentary elections scheduled for 25 January. Most of the other winners are part of al-Barghuthi's "young guard", including Qaddura Fares, Muhammed Yousuf, Muhammed Lutfi, Rabiha Diyab, Abdul Fattah Hamayel and Jihad Itmeila. The results could make the corruption-tainted ruling party more attractive to voters in the January parliament elections but are seen as a blow to Fatah's "old guard", many of whom had returned from abroad with former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat after the conclusion of the Oslo Accords in 1993. The al-Barghuthi-led young guard has long pushed for a greater say, especially after last year's death of Arafat, who founded Fatah and controlled it for four decades.

Fatah veterans are widely considered corrupt, while al-Barghuthi's generation rose through the ranks during the first Palestinian intifada, or uprising, from 1987 to 1993, but was kept out of leadership positions by the old-timers. Arafat's successor, the reform-minded Mahmoud Abbas, agreed to hold internal elections for the list of parliament candidates and, under pressure from the young guard, blocked demands by Fatah old-timers to be assigned secure spots on the slate. However, Abbas will still have some say over who gets on the final list.

"The old guard has failed politically and administratively, and in running their organisation in a democratic way," said Palestinian analyst Hani al-Masri. "It's time to go home." Abbas successor Al-Barghuthi, 46, is seen as a potential successor to Abbas even though he is serving five life terms in an Israeli prison for involvement in attacks that killed five Israelis, a role he denies. He supports peace negotiations with Israel and, before the outbreak of fighting in 2000, had close ties with Israeli leaders. However, he also advocates the use of force, including attacks on Israeli settlers and soldiers, to try to drive Israel out of the West Bank. Al-Barghuthi's wife, Fadwa, said her husband's strong showing is a message to Israel that "Marwan is not a terrorist; he is a leader of his people and his people will not abandon him."

"Al-Barghuthi was convicted in an Israeli court, a civilian court, I would stress, and sentenced to consecutive life sentences for his involvement in the murder of innocent civilians," said Mark Regev, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman. Yossi Beilin, a dovish Israeli party leader, said it was time for Israel to let al-Barghuthi go. "Today, he can be a moderating and positive influence," he said.

On Friday, internal elections were held in five of the largest West Bank districts: Ram Allah, Nablus, Bethlehem, Jenin and Tubas. Several more districts in the West Bank and Gaza are expected to hold elections soon. The new parliament will have 132 seats, up from 88 in the current legislature. Polls indicate that Fatah will remain the strongest political force but that Hamas will come in a close second.

Hamas is campaigning on a platform of clean government and claims credit for Israel's Gaza Strip pullout this summer, saying its attacks pushed Israel out. Veteran Fatah leader and former minister of local governance Jamal Shoubaki said Fatah was acquiring "renewed confidence" in the run-up to the polls.

"Fatah is the largest political movement in the occupied Palestinian territories, and the movement is well-prepared for the elections," Shoubaki told He pointed out that the latest opinion polls in the West Bank and Gaza Strip had given Fatah a comfortable lead over Hamas. According to an opinion survey released on Wednesday by the Bait Shaur-based Centre of Public Opinion Studies, 37% of Palestinians said they supported Fatah, compared with 22.1% for Hamas. But Hamas says it has support from more than 30% of the Palestinian people. The poll also showed that al-Barghuthi enjoyed support of over 37% of Palestinians, greater than any other Fatah leader.


Arab Christians and Relations With the West

By Jonathan Kuttab for MIFTAH
November 26, 2005

Arab Christians have always been an integral part of Arab Society. Yet in the confrontations between the Arab world and the nominally Christian West, Arab Christians have been uniquely situated to play a vital role. Ever since the West became intimately involved in the affairs of the Arab World, starting from the Napoleonic campaign, through the period of colonialism, and independence, the Zionist enterprise and the State of Israel, and continuing through the current "war on terrorism" they continue to hold a unique position.

Arab Christians do have a greater understanding of the West, its languages, culture, politics, and methods. Through certain shared knowledge, as well as important connections, as well as the education of their children in the West, or in Western Christian missionary institutions, Arab Christians have been better able to understand, appreciate, and ultimately resist the political influence of the West and its attempts to dominate their homeland.

Those who expected (or accused) Arab Christians of siding with the "Christian" West, and of being a "fifth column" or Trojan Horse for the outsiders, were consistently proven mistaken. To the contrary, the unique position of Arab Christians, with their knowledge and understanding of the West have always been used to promote the interests of the Arab world and press for its positions at every turn of the road. Even Christian institutions that were created by missionary funds and efforts (such as the American University of Beirut) turned out to be hotbeds of Arab nationalism and think tanks for creatively promoting the interests of the Arab World in confronting the "Christian" West. Arab Christian institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and NGOs, which are often funded by Christian churches in the West, continue in the same tradition to promote the interests of their people, especially in the face of invasion, occupation, or aggression by the West.

Part of the reason for this, of course, is that there was nothing religious, or Christian about the onslaught of the West. Arab Christians were cognizant from the beginning that they were facing colonial and imperial interests which threatened their societies and that wanted to dominate its resources and populations for purely secular gain. Therefore, they saw no more contradiction in fighting off these forces than the original Christian Arabs saw in the need to fight the European Crusaders, who, incidentally, wreaked havoc with Arab churches and subjugated local Christians no less than their Moslem co-nationalists.

This history is well worth remembering in the current context when again the confrontation between the Arab World and the West utilizes religious terms and is presented as a struggle between Western Christianity and Islam. To be sure, much of the political effort of Arab Christians found expression in secular nationalism, for which they were early pioneers and zealous advocates. From George Antonious (the Arab Awakening), Albert Hourani, Michele Aflaq, and George Habash to Edward Said, Arab Christians have been prominent leaders and thinkers and activists in the Arab Nationalist movement. One of the tenets of that movement has always been setting aside religion as a matter of personal choice, and insisting on equal responsibility of Christians and Moslem in the national enterprise. The slogan was "Religion belongs to God, but the homeland belongs to all". While Arab nationalism was not anti-religious in its secularism, it was always emphatic in acknowledging the equality of Christians and Moslems, and the need to leave religion to the spiritual sphere.

Arab Christians recognized that their societies were culturally and socially Moslem and participated in that culture, dreaming with their fellow countrymen of a revival of a modern, relevant, vibrant, tolerant form of Islam.

As secular Arab nationalism suffered great defeats in its struggle against the West and Israel, and as Arab regimes professing to champion that ideology turned into ineffective and corrupt dictatorships, political Islam became increasingly a significant force, and presented itself as an alternative. Of course Arab Christians could not partake of this new movement, and viewed it with deep distrust, but they remained loyal to their nationalism and to their societies.

Their efforts are now needed more than ever, both by their own communities and the West. It is needed by the West to counter those who wish (for their private reasons) to turn the current "war on terrorism" into a religious war between the Christian or the Judeo-/Christian world, and Islam and the Moslems. Their efforts are needed to utilize whatever knowledge or connections they have to explain the Arab point of view to the West in terms the latter can understand and appreciate (human rights, international law, etc.). They are also needed to explain to their own communities what they know about the West, its values, and its institutions.

There are enough negative stereotypes and ignorance in both communities about the other, and in the current poisonous atmosphere, such ignorance, stereotypes, and negative perceptions are extremely destructive. Arab Christians are able to play that very important role today, precisely because of the authenticity of their loyalty and organic belonging to their society- an identification and identity that is centuries old, and which has proven itself under much more trying circumstances in the past.

Jonathan Kuttab is a Jerusalem-based Palestinian human rights lawyer and peace activist. This article is published in partnership with the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).

Source: Dar Al-Hayat (thanks Inge for the forward)

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Vanunu on his 2 day arrest: "they want the Israel public to regard me as a terrorist"

Peacepalestine's dear friend Eric has been in frequent contact with Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli Nuclear Whistle Blower, arrested in inhumane conditions for 18 impossibly long years in an Israel prison. This is one of the latest letters from Vanunu, to communicate what the latest violation against him is all about. Let us heed Vanunu's advice and not let Israel get away with this!

Hi Eric
here is latest news, last Friday again the israel authorities use the power to arrest me, but this time by putting me back in prison for 2 day, they sent me back to remember all the cruelty and hard life of 18 years in isolation the reason this time was that i came very close to the check point near the wall in Aram, a small Palestinian neighbourhood in east Jerusalem where it is still not decided were the apartheid wall will go.

I took a bus from theBus station in east Jerusalem. The bus travels to Aram without a check, and the bus returns to Jerusalem, but before *leaving* Aram they have a checkpoint. In the check point, they checked my ID card and the soldiers there received the order to arrest me. They took my camera and my mobile, and took me to the nearest police station, where i was waiting for the special police unit who came from Tel Aviv to take me to there to be questioned.

meanwhile the police themselves invited the israel media TV to come and let them take photos as much as they wanted and report my arrest in their main news, as a man who is going to the occupied territories where the "enemies"are "fighting". so they want the israel public to regard me as a terrorist.

I told the media "they arrested me when i went to see the Aram check point, to see the Apartheid wall, the Palestinians ghettoes."In Tel Aviv they questioned me about this "entering" the Palestine occupied territories: what am I doing there? why I am not following the general Army orders? I said Aram is still part of Palestine east Jerusalem, I am not interested to see the occupied territories, I just want to see the apartheid wall, to see this village, I said it is not yet clear where the borders in Jerusalem are, he want to know who I was there with, names, why I am with foreigners, he wanted to see the camera photos.

the police decided to arrest me because they want to release me only under court orders, but there was no court on the Jewish sabbath day, so they needed to wait until Saturday night, so they imprisoned me in Tel Aviv, in a cell without anything - just a mattress and blankets.

Saturday morning my lawyer Feldman and Sfard came to see me, to hear what happened, to represent me in court. in the evening the police took me back to the court, the woman judge heard my case at 20:30. Feldman did not agree to the police terms of my release. they wanted 2 weeks house arrest and 50,000 shekels. Feldman convinced the judge and even the police that this arrest was a big mistake because I was not violating the terms of my release, it is not clear where yet israel wants to put its apartheid wall.

before the judge make her decision the police capitulated and agree for immediate release without any condition just my signature. that was a small victory for Feldman defending me, and my friend Gideon took me back to Jerusalem, St George, where we have a glass of beer. But the police with the israeli spies couldn't go without something, they demanded my camera and my mobile to check them, so now I don't have my mobile.

So that was another harassment in this new serial cruelty since my release, until they will give up and let me go, leave isreal. or if they will, they can put me back in prison. My conclusion is the world continues to ignore my situation and is not doing anything for my freedom as during my18 years in prison, no intervention to demand my release, the world lets israel do as they want. lets them commit more crimes, kidnappings, injustices and cruelty,

vmjc Vanunu, Mordechai
PS the last news they give me back my mobile and my Camera, thank you for your support, and thank you Mary for posting at


Stone walls do not a prison make
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free.
Angels alone that soar above
Enjoy such liberty.
R Lovelace.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Gilad Atzmon - Peace is not 'shalom' and 'Shalom' is not Sharon

A Hebrew Lesson

For the last few days we have been reading some flattering reports concerning the latest political moves of Sharon undertaken in his newly born peace loving persona. Sharon, a notorious war criminal, a man who has managed to prove time after time that he is totally lacking in any sense of moral guard or ethical consideration, has now managed to convince the Western media that he is the Israeli ‘voice of responsibility’. Make no mistake, Sharon and the Israeli people are indeed devoted ‘peace’ lovers, yet, it is rather critically important to mention that the Israeli notion of peace is pretty remote from any notion of peace familiar to the rest of humanity. When we think of the Hebrew word for peace we traditionally refer to the word ‘Shalom’. But apparently, shalom and peace aren’t exactly the same. In fact they are very different. While shalom refers to the freedom from conflict while achieving a general sense of security, peace has a far broader meaning. Peace is a true resolution. Peace is the search for harmony between people. Peace is all about reconciliation.

It is very sad to admit that the broad realisation of the notion of peace in terms of harmony and reconciliation is totally lacking within the Israeli mindset. For the Israelis, shalom means applying a strategy that would guarantee personal and national refuge to the Jewish people. For the Israelis, shalom means living in peace, nothing more or less than that. How shalom is achieved or maintained isn’t a real concern for the Israelis. The fact that millions of Palestinians are subject to state terrorism in a form of major war crimes committed by the IDF isn’t a practical concern either. In short, rather than harmony and reconciliation, shalom is a set of political and military manoeuvres that silence the enemy of the Jewish people.

This very ‘shalom’ philosophy stands in the very core of the Zionist left school. It is this very perception that led the Israeli left to believe that ‘two states for two people’ is a viable option. Clearly the two state solution promises shalom: it pledges personal security as well as a refuge to the Jewish people. A year ago, in the days leading towards the unilateral disengagement from Gaza, Sharon declared: “we (the Israelis) want shalom but we want to define its terms and conditions”.

Sharon’s idea is not that remote from Shalom Now’s agenda (‘Shalom Now’ is an Israeli left shalom seeking movement that is mistakenly translated into “Peace Now”). Sharon’s comprehension of the term shalom isn’t that different from Peres’s philosophy and in categorical terms, it isn’t that far from Uri Avnery’s Gush Shalom perception. The Israeli shalom seekers always want to ‘define the terms and conditions’. True, Avnery’s, Peres’s and Sharon’s ‘terms and conditions’ are varied, yet, they all believe in partitions between people. They all believe in two states for the two people. They may dispute the borders, but they all aim to resolve the Jewish question both in personal and national terms. The entire shalom movement is concerned with different methods of division between the Jew and the goy. This is the real meaning of the Israeli shalom. Sadly enough, just as separateness is the central purpose of Zionism, this bizarre self-centric political worldview stands at the core of Israeli left thinking. This is the logic behind the Israeli shalom movement’s collective dismissal of the Palestinian cause, i.e. “the right of return”. One may ask how it is possible that the Israeli left ignores the cause of their foes, the people they intend to make shalom with. How can the Israelis ever establish harmonious relationships with their neighbours? The answer is simple: the Israeli left isn’t interested in reconciliation and harmony. They are interested in shalom and shalom is not peace.

Six months ago Bush called Sharon a ‘man of peace’. Apparently, Bush was not that wrong, he was just lost in translation. Sharon isn’t a man of peace, he is a man of shalom. Being a militant nationalist Jew as well an experienced tactician, Sharon managed to grasp the biggest paradox within Zionist political thought. Within the Zionist discourse, it is the left who are leading towards a hard-core national and racist state. The hawks, on the other hand, push forwards towards a multi-national reality of ‘one state’. As bizarre as it may sound to some, it is the Jewish settlers who engage in the creation of an indivisible social reality of a single state, albeit with a vast Palestinian majority. It is the settlers who are bringing the Jewish national state down. Sharon, himself a historic mentor of the settler movement, has managed to diagnose this very flaw within the settler philosophy. The old man now realises that the maintenance of the Jewish state and its salvation from a demographic catastrophe is totally dependent on the immediate disengagement from the Palestinian population. Sharon and the shalom camp want a solid Jewish state with a clear Jewish majority. This realisation matured recently into a pullout from Gaza, it would mean a withdraw from the West Bank as well in the near future.

Sharon has indeed joined the Israeli shalom movement but this isn’t to say that he has become a peace lover. As it seems, the real meaning of the word peace doesn’t translate into modern Hebrew. The meaning of peace doesn’t translate into the Israeli reality.

Furthermore, not only does peace not translate into shalom, the sincere Israeli aim towards shalom guarantees nothing but the continuation of war. If the outcome of shalom is indeed the division of the land between two peoples, it can never bring harmony and reconciliation to the region. The reasons are obvious. Shalom can never address both the Zionist and the Palestinian causes: it fails to address the morally grounded Palestinian right of return. But it fails as well to address the outrageous Jewish nationalist demand to settle in the entire land of greater Israel at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians. Shalom is thus the continuation of war. Sharon is certainly a shalom seeker. This is probably the reason that Blair and Bush are so excited about him. With Sharon in power, and it looks as if Sharon will remain in power, shalom will prevail. A unilateral shalom will be imposed on the Palestinians. Shalom that would allow the endless merciless bombardment of the Palestinians who insist upon returning to their homeland. Those who decide to live in peace will suffer the merciless Israeli shalom kill in what is left of the Holy Land.

a French version of this text (in addition to many other French translations of articles by Gilad Atzmon and others), by Marcel Charbonnier are available on the beautiful Quibla site,


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

thanks to Ernesto for forwarding this cartoon by Steve Bell.


Online Photo Gallery of Life behind the Wall

Thanks to a tip from Associazione Wael Zuaiter, I invite you to see Palestina, La Vita Oltre il Muro, a photographic gallery of original black and white photos by Bruna Orlandi depicting the life of Palestinans who are living at the outskirts of the Wall. There are brief descriptions of the photos in Italian.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


deconstructing Condi

An attempt to analyse her speech at the Saban Forum in Israel. peacepalestine documents.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Cynthia McKinney (US Congress) speech - Out of Iraq

The Republicans in this House have done a heinous thing: they have insulted one of the deans of this House in an unthinkable and unconscionable way.

They took his words and contorted them; they took his heartfelt sentiments and spun them. They took his resolution and deformed it: in a cheap effort to silence dissent in the House of Representatives. The Republicans should be roundly criticized for this reprehensible act. They have perpetrated a fraud on the House of Representatives just as they have defrauded the American people. By twisting the issue around, the Republicans are trying to set a trap for the Democrats. A "no" vote for this Resolution will obscure the fact that there is strong support for withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. I am voting "yes" on this Resolution for an orderly withdrawal of US forces from Iraq despite the convoluted motives behind the Republican Resolution. I am voting to support our troops by bringing them home now in an orderly withdrawal.

Sadly, if we call for an end to the occupation, some say that we have no love for the Iraqi people, that we would abandon them to tyrants and thugs.

Let us consider some history. The Republicans make great hay about Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons against the Iranians and the Kurds. But when that attack was made in 1988, it was Democrats who
moved a resolution to condemn those attacks, and the Reagan White House quashed the bill in the Senate, because at that time the Republicans considered Saddam one of our own.

So in 1988, who abandoned the Iraqi people to tyrants and a thugs? In voting for this bill, let me be perfectly clear that I am not saying the United States should exit Iraq without a plan. I agree with Mr. Murtha that
security and stability in Iraq should be pursued through diplomacy. I simply want to vote yes to an orderly withdrawal from Iraq. And let me explain why.

Prior to its invasion, Iraq had not one (not one!) instance of suicide attacks in its history. Research shows a 100% correlation between suicide attacks and the presence of foreign combat troops in a host country. And experience also shows that suicide attacks abate when foreign occupation troops are withdrawn. The US invasion and occupation has destabilized Iraq and Iraq will only return to stability once this occupation ends.

We must be willing to face the fact that the presence of US combat troops is itself a major inspiration to the forces attacking our troops. Moreover, we must be willing to acknowledge that the forces attacking our troops are able to recruit suicide attackers because suicide attacks are largely motivated by revenge for the loss of loved ones. And Iraqis have lost so many loved ones as a result of America's two wars against Iraq.

In 1996, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said on CBS that the lives of 500,000 children dead from sanctions were "worth the price" of containing Saddam Hussein. When pressed to defend this reprehensible position she went on to explain that she did not want US Troops to have to fight the Gulf War again. Nor did I. But what happened? We fought a second gulf war. And now over 2,000 American soldiers lie dead. And I expect the voices of concern for Iraqi civilian casualties, whose deaths the Pentagon likes to brush aside as "collateral damage" are too few, indeed. A report from Johns Hopkins suggests that over 100,000 civilians have died in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, most of them violent deaths and most as "collateral damage" from US forces. The accuracy of the 100,000 can and should be debated. Yet our media, while quick to cover attacks on civilians by insurgent forces in Iraq, have given us a blackout on Iraqi civilian deaths at the hands of US combat forces.

Yet let us remember that the United States and its allies imposed a severe policy of sanctions on the people of Iraq from 1990 to 2003. UNICEF and World Health Organization studies based on infant mortality studies showed a 500,000 increase in mortality of Iraqi children under 5 over trends that existed before sanctions. From this, it was widely assumed that over 1 million Iraqi deaths for all age groups could be attributed to sanctions between 1990 and 1998. And not only were there 5 more years of sanctions before the invasion, but the war since the invasion caused most aid groups to leave Iraq. So for areas not touched by reconstruction efforts, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated further. How many more Iraqi lives have been lost through hunger and deprivation since the occupation?

And what kind of an occupier have we been? We have all seen the photos of victims of US torture in Abu Ghraib prison. That's where Saddam used to send his political enemies to be tortured, and now many Iraqis quietly, cautiously ask: "So what has changed?" A recent video documentary confirms that US forces used white phosphorous against civilian neighborhoods in the US attack on Fallujah. Civilians and insurgents were burned alive by these weapons. We also now know that US forces have used MK77, a napalm-like incendiary weapon, even though napalm has been outlawed by the United Nations. With the images of tortured detainees, and the images of Iraqi civilians burned alive by US incendiary weapons now circulating the globe, our reputation on the world stage has been severely damaged.

If America wants to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, we as a people must be willing to face the pain and death and suffering we have brought to the Iraqi people with bombs, sanctions and occupation, even if we believe our actions were driven by the most altruistic of reasons. We must acknowledge our role in enforcing the policy of sanctions for 12 years after the extensive 1991 bombing in which we bombed infrastructure targets in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions.

We must also be ready to face the fact that the United States once provided support for the tyrant we deposed in the name of liberating the Iraqi people. These are events that our soldiers are too young to remember. I believe our young men and women in uniform are very sincere in their belief that their sacrifice is made in the name of helping the Iraqi people. But it is not they who set the policy.

They take orders from the Commander-in-Chief and the Congress. It is we who bear the responsibility of weighing our decisions in a historical context, and it is we who must consider the gravest decision of whether or not to go to war based upon the history, the facts, and the truth.

Sadly, however, our country is at war in Iraq based on a lie told to the American people. The entire war was based premised on a sales pitch—that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction menacing the United States—that turned out to be a lie.

I have too many dead soldiers in my district; too many from my home state. Too many homeless veterans on our streets and in our neighborhoods. America has sacrificed too many young soldiers' lives, too many young soldiers' mangled bodies, to the Bush war machine.

I will not vote to give one more soldier to the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney war machine. I will not give one more dollar for a war riddled with conspicuous profiteering.

Tonight I speak as one who has at times been the only Member of this Body at antiwar demonstrations calling for withdrawal. And I won't stop calling for withdrawal. I was opposed to this war before there was a war; I was opposed to the war during the war; and I am opposed to this war now--even though it's supposed to be over.

A vote on war is the single most important vote we can make in this House. I understand the feelings of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who might be severely conflicted by the decision we have to make here tonight. But the facts of US occupation of Iraq are also very clear. The occupation is headed down a dead end because so long as US combat forces patrol Iraq, there will be an Iraqi insurgency against it I urge that we pursue an orderly withdrawal from Iraq and pursue, along with our allies, a diplomatic solution to the situation in Iraq, supporting the aspirations of the Iraqi people through support for democratic processes.

(a million thanks to Jeff Blankfort for the forward)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Out of sight, out of mind - a reflection by Zaki Boulos

I don't know about you but you'd think the Palestinians should find their own voice instead of having to plead ignorant and play the democratisation game; studies have shown that Palestinians have taken quite well to democratisation.

I don't have a problem with Pals achieving their goals, returning home to their lands, and plunging into civil war, 'til they find their way amongst themselves. A process of healing, rediscovery and self-empowerment needs to take place before Palestinians can reconcile themselves and move on, beat to the rhythm of one drum, a single heart beating for a body reunited with its soul.

I mean this latter scenario seems more natural than democratisation, don't you think?

I'm not saying I want civil war but you can appreciate scaling the inner struggles of the individual to a nationwide struggle, which inevitably means civil war. This said, I can see a civil war really helping the Ziocons; it's cost effective and, more over, it may even be quite lucrative (Lebanon being the model for civil war).

Do you really want to see Gaza being turned into some kind of coastal Las Vegas with all its workers being Palestinians? You do realise in such a setup the Palestinians won't own any of the businesses, they would clock in and clock out of their respective hotels/casinos in the same way factory workers would punch their way into economic enslavement.

So what's my problem? Just growing up? What am I smelling that reeks to high heaven? I can hear angels murmuring, complaining for divine intervention, "Please God do something! It really stinks down there!"

Seriously, nobody likes to see Palestinians (or anyone else) being shot, maimed, beaten, stripped of their pride and dignity, or humiliated and abused just for existing; and that’s just the physical stuff, never mind the irreparable psychological damage. A Palestinian bringing you your cocktail whilst you enjoy your affordable luxury hotel and all its comfortable amenities, that's ok. No one got 'hurt', right?

I have a confession. My parents took my sister and I on one of those lavish cruises. It was a truly amazing experience. Though I didn’t get sea-sick, I couldn't help feel sick on the inside, a sense of melancholy and revulsion took me, but because my folks paid through their teeth to make us ‘happy’, I buried my feelings so as not to hurt their feelings. I would feel worse if they thought I was ungrateful. From the moment I boarded this engineering spectacle, I was uneasy with the decadence it supported, of which I was a part of. I had to shake this fast or I’m gonna break someone’s heart. So I did, I put my feelings on hold; it was only for a week or so.

One day we anchored at Haiti, one of our scheduled stops. Once we'd settled in at the beach, I took the opportunity to break away from our group, we were travelling with other families, and I went walkabout, exploring the island on my own. Obviously, the cruise management had us loosely 'boxed in' for our 'safety' but we did not feel this. Haiti is just breathtaking. A typical tropical island, rugged mountainous forest down to the sea. I can still see the sandy outline of the shore shaped by varying shades of blue.

I found a quiet place away from the all the people. It was just me, this island, and the blistering heat. Until you experience that kind of natural loneliness with only the sounds of the tides to keep you company, it's difficult to comprehend why prisoners were sent to these remote locations. It's especially intimidating if you come from a city, all you have to do is imagine nightfall. We were quite literally in the middle of nowhere.

I couldn’t take the heat much longer and left this lonely sun-beaten spot, making my way to the local 'tourist' market to buy myself a trinket, a piece of Haitian memorabilia, which I still have. I found a small hand-made bowl carved out of wood with ‘Haiti’ inscribed on the cover, looks like the guy used a soldering iron. I liked the piece, asked him how much he wanted for it, and purchased it. I was ripped off but I didn't care because in my pathetically small minded way I was helping the 'local' economy; even though the cruise management probably got most of it since they owned the market. I had a look round at some other stuff then made my way out of the market area.

I wandered past the market, further inland, and onto an open field. To the left of the field, some people were playing football or something, I can't remember precisely, and over to the right, there it was, towering over us barely casting a shadow in the high sun. I saw this huge spiked wooden wall with massive doors. I stood there for a while trying to figure out what this thing was for; of course, I had my suspicions, I was inside our cruise ‘sand box' after all.

Two gate-guards cracked the door open to let a person out escorted by two other guards. I could see a mass of Haitians trying to get in. I knew they were Haitian because they were all black, and barefooted for the most part! And there they were, the indigenous peoples of this land of paradise, beyond the barrier, just out of touch, out of reach. They were scrambling all over each other with armed guards on the outside pushing them back. Of course, they were trying to get to the market within, so they can sell their pathetic little trinkets, so they too can have money and buy things, so they too can be part of our economic loop, this blackhole we call economics.

Yes, for the most part the Haitians in the 'cruise compound' were uniformed servants of sorts, kind and courteous at all times, the rest were confined to the market area.

It's weird how a silver spoon can leave a bad taste in your mouth.
I see the Palestinians on this route, the road to Haiti, so book your tickets soon for that all memorable 5-star cruise across the Mediterranean for you and your loved ones.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Discussion of Atzmon's Peretz analysis - Why do they hate him so much?

Zionism is an Ashkenazi-centric movement! Zionism has nothing to do with Arab Jews. It was imposed on them as much as it was imposed on the Palestinians. Gilad Atzmon

The responses to Gilad Atzmon’s analysis of Amir Peretz’s victory in heading the Israeli Labour Party have been coming in steadily on the Alef (Academic Left) Discussion list, which is a listserve that originates from Haifa University.

It seems to be that while those who comment admit that his victory is a major political change, there is a lingering insistence that there is something not quite right with Mr Peretz. One participant, Shraga Elam, claims that “Peretz has been part of the corrupted Labor's establishment for many years. He is no newcomer and is no Mr. Clean.” If that is the case, we need to be shown some evidence that Peretz has some dirty dealings, don't we? How can one go throwing around such unsubstantiated allegations? If there is something, I think he should come out with it rather than make allusions.

He further states that Peretz was “part of "peace now", which is a very militaristic "peace" movement and I won't analyse now its political perspective”, followed by an explanation that Peace Now was founded by military personnel. Yet, aside from the fact that Atzmon mentions in his analysis that Peretz so far has not been engaging his discourse in “making peace with Palestinians and dropping the word Shalom at every chance”, he rather is engaged in a process of internal reform, based upon an awareness of the disintegration of Israeli society as it is, with the focus on global economics at the expense of resolving local injustice. It is only in a society that succeeds in casting off ideas where one group is allowed to be oppressed by another, and everyone by Big Business, that any sort of relations to those outside this society can be dealt with.

The mere fact that Peretz is a representative of a community that has for so long been excluded from access to the progress that has been permitted only to the Ashkenazis is indeed relevant, and revolutionary, in that he has gained entry into this exclusive club that is political power without having “become” one of them, gone through the IDF with a glorious military career or been propped up by the Israeli financial elite.

Mr Elam continues: “I believe that a real change can come only from outside the system and not from people who are part of it like Peretz.” Aside from this being far from realistic, there seems to be a denial that the change in leadership, from that of the Ashkenazi left, which has always sought to, and succeeded in dominating discourse, might indeed bring about a “change from the bottom” that many of us have come to expect as the natural movement of class struggles in general and political struggles in particular.

On the subject of class, Tony Greenstein writes, criticising the analysis: “The problem with having no guiding philosophy or class politics is that you have nothing to judge events by.” Philosophy is the art of asking questions. If your task of asking questions is guided, then your question is detached from the event you are supposed to criticise, it turns into nothing more than a flavour of ideology, expecting everything to fit into the set compartment. Further, the fact that Peretz belongs to a group that is excluded from the upper echelons of society by the mere fact that he was born into an ethnic group, the Mizrachi, which Atzmon labels rather provocatively, “Arab Jews” that has been traditionally excluded from power, is indeed something that has considerable relevance in class analysis.

Again from Greenstein: “Peretz is the leader of the Israeli Labour Party. His origins are irrelevant except in so far as they may enable the Israeli Labour Party to widen its base”. This comment demonstrates a lack of political savvy in that indeed, widening the base is something that interests Labour, and it is not unlikely that a Mizrachi candidate will bring in votes from this constituency. As far as I know, Prime Ministers are made by general elections, and are not self-appointed dictators. Gaining the widest consensus possible is important, and it seems that the issues that Peretz brings forth are within the left discourse. That does leave us with the ethnic card, which is still an important consideration for bringing votes. Anyone denying this probably knows little about how Israeli society is organised.

Elam states: “Peretz is the first un ahkenezized mizrachi politician. One can say that people like Mofaz, Halutz, Ben-Eliezer, Katzav etc are Ashkenized Mizrahim, but I'm not so sure that Peretz is very far from them.” One wonders just what else Peretz is expected to do. Again, from Elam: “Peretz' social message is very very limited and needs a cool and realistic analysis and not just taking his slogans on face value.” Why is there some problem with taking what Peretz says at face value? What is going on where people who spend an inordinate amount of time writing about and discussing the Israeli situation, ever suggesting that a change has to come, insist upon being so critical when the world is finally presented with a innovative alternative?

And, I would say that the appearance of Peretz strikes me as being quite the innovation: that a person who is not Ashkenazi, nor ties his personal history or his interests to their world is leading the major opposition party in Israel, and he might actually gain consensus from people who are tired of the disintegration of Israeli society and want to change it, including the classes that have previously been excluded from the discourse. The figure of Peretz is being criticised, not only because he may not win the election, but because he is not perfect. Peretz may just be "another politician like all the rest", but until the revolution comes (not likely) it could really be that he presents such a novel alternative, that the persons of the left who concentrate on the P-I conflict simply don’t feel prepared to face losing centre stage in the discourse. That the cards are changing on the table, and this is disorienting.

A realistic perspective is that while Peretz may be rejected by the Ashkenazis, he might be looked to by people outside the discourse, including the non-Jewish Israelis, as a legitimate partner for dialogue. We have heard for many years that Israel had “No one to talk to” (meaning Arafat). What seems to be the more realistic situation is that the Palestinians had no one to talk to, including those Palestinians who hold an Israeli passport. Perhaps for the first time in the history of Israel, Arabs have the chance of finding “Someone to talk to”. Peretz does not represent any of the supremacist aspects that have been the trademark of the domination of Israel by the Ashkenazis, culturally, politically and socially. It might be a chance, hopefully not the last, for common terrain, some kind of REAL dialogue, with mutual respect. It might be the road that leads to reform within Israeli society, and peace in the Middle East. It is a small step, but a walk to the other side of the mountain begins with that first step.

A Londoner on the comments to this post who labels himself “AntiZionist” wrote this: “A question for you Mary. Is Peretz a Zionist? Will he repeal the racist law of return? Will he give the full right of return to all Palestinians? Will he dismantle the fascist state?

The answer to all these questions is NO.

Your blog pretends to support the Palestinian cause but in reality just props up the sick racists. What a fraud you are.”

To which, Gilad Atzmon responded:

Zionism is an Ashkenazi-centric movement!
It was born in Europe as a reaction to the emancipation of the European Jews. Zionism is a radical manifestation of 19th Century racist and nationalist European philosophies.

Zionism has nothing to do with Arab Jews. It was imposed on them as much as it was imposed on the Palestinians.

Though the Ashkenazis are still running the Zionist state, the election of Peretz may signal a new era. As we all know, the majority of the Israelis are in fact Arab Jews who are largely oppressed and discriminated by the Ashkenazi supremacist system. The Arab Jews were forced to immigrate en mass to Israel by the Ashkenazi elite. The Arab Jews have never managed to fully integrate into the supremacist Ashkenazi worldview. Yet, it is rather clear that the common denominator between the Arab Jews and the Palestinians is far greater than their common ground with Ashkenazi supremacist worldview.

It was just a question of time before Palestinians and 'Arab Jews' form a fruitful dialogue that would eventually bring down the Ashkenazi Zionist state. Peretz’s victory symbolises a further shift within the Arab-Jewish society in Israel.

Whether or not it is Peretz who is going to redeem the region is yet to be determined, however it doesn't really matter. Once the Arab Jews realise that they can shape the Israeli vision, the Ashkenazi White supremacist worldview will disappear. This would be the end of Zionism. And the process has begun. The right of return won't be an issue anymore. Just because the Israeli state will become 'one Palestine'.

What we see in front of our eyes is basically the fruit of a long process of disintegration of the Israeli society.

Once the Ashkenazi power is marginalised, a true reconciliation will begin. Yet, it is hardly surprising that Ashkenazi Shraga Elam who despises Peretz or Tony Greenstein who apparently hates Islam are so horrified. To be an Ashkenazi is to hate the other. Peretz’s election proves how irrelevant the Ashkenazi voice has become, whether it is the voice of Sharon, Peres, Elam, Greenstein or even 3 scholars from Haifa Uni.



Ann Wright interview – from high level military to anti-war protester

On peacepalestine documents there is a long and fascinating interview by Tom Engelhardt with Ann Wright. She resigned from her high level military position in the foreign office in protest to the Iraq war. Here are two short excerpts from this very informative discussion.

“We now have a two-and-a-half-year track record of being a very brutal country. We are the cause of the violence in Iraq. That violence will continue as long as we're there, and the administration maintains that we will be there until we win. That means to me that this administration is planning for a long-term siege in Iraq. It means that young men and women in America should be prepared for the draft because the military right now cannot support what this administration wants. In fact, yesterday I was talking to about ninety high school seniors in Fayetteville, Arkansas, a very Republican part of the United States. I said: Your parents may support this war, but how strongly do you feel about it? If it drags on for years and there's a draft, how many of you will willingly go? Only three put up their hands.”

“I grew up in Arkansas, just a normal childhood. I think the Girl Scouts was a formative organization for me. It had a plan to it, opportunity to travel outside Arkansas, good goals -- working on those little badges. Early State Department. Early military too. It's kind of interesting, the militarization of our society, how we don't really think of some things, and yet when I look back, there I was a little Girl Scout in my green uniform, and so putting on an Army uniform after college wasn't that big a deal. I'd been in a uniform before and I knew how to salute, three fingers. [She demonstrates.]If you look, we now have junior ROTC in the high schools. We have child soldiers in America. We're good at getting kids used to those uniforms. And then there's the militarization of industries and corporations, the necessity every ten years to have a war because we need a new generation of weaponry. Corporations in the military-industrial complex are making lots of money off of new types of weaponry and vehicles.”

Monday, November 14, 2005


peacepalestine celebrates its first anniversary!

It was a year to this day that I first started this blog. And just like a year ago, I had an article up by Gilad Atzmon. Some things stay the same, but some things do change, and this board has been in constant transformation and evolution. A year ago I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t even know what a blog was! I didn't think I would know what to do with it, but to the chagrin of a few of the usual suspects, I am still going strong.

In the coming weeks there are some interesting interviews coming, as well as the launching of an international campaign in support of the freedom of speech of Haj Ali, the man who became the symbol of the victims of Abu Ghraib. I have a few articles sent to me by people that will be going up soon, and in general, will try my best to bring original, interesting and useful material to those who come here for a visit.

Now, I wanted to throw a party for my friends, to tell them how much they mean to me, but these days just don’t feel right for it. With the new material coming in about what the Americans did to the city of Fallujah, and especially the silence surrounding it, even in the country where the filmed document was produced, it almost feels wrong to celebrate a blog that basically reports on all these negative things.

But, I still want to in some way do it. I first of all have to thank a lot of friends for their support, love, help, advice and knowledge. My beloved Umkahlil and beloved Gilad, first and foremost. (What would I do without you two?!) You are two of the pillars of this site and two of the best friends a person could ever wish to have. Then, obviously the many people who have contributed material and comments to this site. The Lily Brigade, headed by Joe, Gerry and Zaki, but with the occasional welcome contributions of trouvere, treeplanter, and other enemies of Zionism. The soldiers of Zionism have also found a comfortable place here, for some reason… I guess they like the armchairs?

A heartfelt thanks goes out to many, many other people who have in the past year contributed something to this blog in a big or small way. I will try to not exclude anyone, but I am sure I will end up doing so. I can always edit in later. Any exclusions are just out of my own distraction. Enormous thanks of course goes out especially to Miguel, followed by Eric, Peter, Jeff, Avigail, Ortrud, Paul E, Paul C, Chris, Enrico, Kristoffer, Inge, Dorothy, my sisters and brother, Omar, Karma, Lana, Simon, Deb, Alan, Gianni, Hamza, Claudio, Alison, Israel, Ilan, Izzat, Sharif, Miru, Luca, Andrew, Susanne, Carlo, Edward T, Edward C, Warda, Ali, Mark, Angie, Victoria, Vittorio, Vera, Ariella, Ahmed B, Ernesto, Daniel S, Daniel M, Ibrahim, Miriam, Mimi, David J, Beth, Bob, Ahmed K, David M, Lenni, Marco, Ed, Dom, Giulietto, Francesco, Helen, Raj, Raja, Saddam, Khaled, Lev, Manuel, Marcy, Aisha, Gezza and Raina, Rowan, Razmi, Avigdor, Randy, Mazin, Lele and his Archestra di Noè, Hanna, Scott, Robert, Abdullah, Sami, Samia, Mohammed, Mohamed, Marilyn, Mahmood, Yehudith, Clement, Ben, Paola, Simona, Aref, Abu Abdul, Massimo, Alex, Denis, everyone in Al-Awda, eFreePalestine, Forum Palestina, Un Ponte Per…, Consorzio per la Fratellanza tra I Popoli….

I know there are others who have donated me their energy, encouragement and advice, some who have written articles, letters or comments, sent books, videos, DVDs and assorted material and I thank you for your friendship, generosity and support. Thanks also to all the blogs and sites that link here. A special nod to the Italian bloggers who I wish I had time to translate and put up on mine. Siete i migliori!

A monumental thank you goes to Tom Feeley of Information Clearing House. I’d be lost without you! An extra special thanks to the blog aggregators Haitham of Palestinian ReBlog (and many other fine sites!), Shaden of Sugar Cubes and Andrew of Semitism. Special thanks to Paola of Uruknet. Thanks to my husband for putting up with all of this!

Just as a closing, I’m putting up the links to the articles from this blog that have gotten a lot of readers, even after they have gone off the top page, or have some special meaning to me.

The One State Solution , The Left and Palestine , Militant Solidarity , Reflections on Holocaust Remembrance Day , Ariella Atzmon – Exiled Writers , Iran, Women and the Western Idea of Beauty , Suicide Bombing, Crime Against Humanity? , Charity and Utopia , Anti-Americanism? , Gilad Atzmon Interview – It Ain’t Necessarily So , Who’s to Blame for the Pain? , Get ‘em out by Friday – displacing Arabs as a Humanitarian Solution , Giulietto Chiesa – Ten Commandments of the Empire , Benny Morris’s Alamo


Gilad Atzmon - The Case of Amir Peretz

National Socialism As Opposed to Global Capitalism

The recent election of Amir Peretz as the Chairman of the Israeli Labour Party is far more significant than many commentators would seem to admit. For the first time, the Israeli Labour party is led by a real fiery working class leader. Peretz is a relatively young man who grew up in a council estate in Sderot, a southern Israeli shantytown that was built especially for Arab Jews back in the 1950’s. At the time, the Jewish Ashkenazi elite couldn’t tolerate the idea of Arab Jews flooding into their newly erected European metropolises. The vast majority of Arab Jews were not part of the Israeli demographic landscape until after the foundation of the Jewish state. They were brought to Israel en mass in a massive exodus operation, which often times was forced. The idea behind the operation was the necessity to beef up the majority of the Jewish population by outnumbering the Palestinian population that refused to flee in 1948. Once in Israel, the Arab Jews were treated rather badly. Immediately upon their arrival they felt the heavy hand of Ashkenazi supremacist discrimination. The majority of the new immigrants were dumped in council estates in the Negev desert and other unpopular regions. They were there to serve the Zionist cause either as a cheap labour force or just as a human shield between the emerging European Jewish cities and the hostile Arabs on the other side.

Peretz grew up in Sderot and in the 1980s he became the town’s mayor. In 1995 he was elected as the head of the Histadrut, the major Israeli trade union. A few days ago, Mr Peretz made it to the very centre of the Israeli political stage. He had managed to oust Shimon Peres, the never dying and yet the most defeated politician in modern history.

Amir Peretz’s appearance is such a big revolution that Sharon and the Likud party are in a real state of panic. But the Likud isn’t alone, Shas, the Orthodox Sepharadic party is mighty concerned as well. For the first time, a secular Sepharadic man is leading one of the two biggest parties. Moreover, the man is an ordinary human being, he isn’t an heroic veteran IDF general. He isn’t an ex Mossad assassin, he doesn’t have Arab blood on his hands. He didn’t adopt the Ashkenazi’s pretentious jargon. He wasn’t appointed by an Ashkenazi politician as political bait to pull in Arab Jews. He is a simple Israeli man who managed to take over the second biggest Israeli party, he did it on his own right and he is an Arab Jew.

Mr Peretz was born in Morocco. He immigrated to Israel at the age of four. He has never denied his origin or tried to assimilate into the Ashkenazi Israeli world. I would allow myself to argue that if there is any remote hope for the integration of Jews into the region, it is a man like Peretz who may deliver the goods. It is a man like Peretz, himself an Arab, who can treat his neighbours with respect. Rather than Shimon Peres’s global dream of ‘new Middle East’ in which Israel delivers wealth to the ‘inferior’ Arabs, Amir Peretz’s message to the Israeli people is rather simple and far less pompous: once we address our social problems we will be ready to talk peace with our neighbours. This message is actually deeper than any other Israeli political manifesto I can think of. To start with, it is genuine. For the first time an Israeli politician considers peace as a meaningful signifier rather than an empty slogan. For the first time an Israeli politician refuses to drop the word ‘shalom’ just for the sake of dropping it. But not only is Peretz’s message authentic, it may as well be a message to the European community: No more global capitalism. Rather than serving big business politics you better look into your back garden. This message may help the confused French left address their current crisis. Unless some social justice is introduced into our national discourse, Europe would turn into hell. Don’t you forget, for many it is hell already.

It isn’t a coincidence that Peretz came with such a message. Israel is ahead of Europe in terms of moral deterioration. Being an Americanised state, it has been suffering the impact of global politics for many years. Israel is but a mere microcosm of a ferocious cultural battle. Being at the forefront of the so-called ‘cultural clash’, Israel is the place where East meets West. Where the colonial meets the oppressed colonized. Where black meets white. Israel is the pain Western colonialism dispersed to the Arab world. The Israelis are the occupiers but at the same time they themselves are the first to suffer from being the carrier of those doomed policies.

Israeli society is falling apart under the burden of many conflicting interests. On the one hand we can trace the liberal Western footprints of hard capitalism and privatisation. Israeli economy is run by big companies, that itself has led to a society obsessed with consumerism. On the other hand, we can see a rapidly growing economic gap between the rich and the poor, something that evolved into some serious social unrest. The rise of Peretz is a direct reaction to global capitalism. The Local grass-roots hero is apparently the best answer to the faceless Global enemy.

It is hard capitalism and global interests that may make Amir Peretz into Israel’s next Prime Minister. It becomes clear that the only way to confront global capitalism is to fight it locally and socially. This is what the Israeli Labour party has decided to do. Wisely, they dumped their old globalist Peres in favour of a man of the people. In the next election the Israeli people will have to choose between the hard capitalistic vision of the notorious Netanyahu and the call for social transformation and equality led by Mr Peretz.

I allow myself to assume that this is where Europe is aiming. The turbulence within the Labour backbenches that led to Blair’s defeat in the House of Commons less than a week ago, points out that it is the local concerns that will eventually topple Blair rather than his numerous war crimes in Iraq. Unless France endorses a sincere social attitude, it is aiming towards civil war. If the European parliamentary left is interested in rescuing itself as well as Europe from a complete defeat to American values of greed and radical egotism, it may want to explore Peretz’s moves in the coming months. The only way for the European left to survive this doomed era is to detach itself immediately from big business politics. To address a particular social strategy that addresses the unique local discourse and circumstances of what is left of the national state.


Sunday, November 13, 2005


WMD's, Cluster bombs... war crimes against Iraq

"Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators. Your wealth has been stripped of you by unjust men ... The government of Iraq , and the future of your country, will soon belong to you. ... We will end a brutal regime ... so that Iraqis can live in security.”

General F. S. Maude, commander of the British forces, to the people of Mesopotamia , 1917

"At any rate, it is clear that America, in the absence of a civil war, will assume the inheritance of Germany and will become profoundly Nazi."
(" ogni caso è chiaro che l'America, in assenza di una guerra civile, assumerà l'eredità della Germania e diventerà profondamente nazista.")

Pier Paolo Pasolini

This analysis of the Iraq war by a group of intellectuals under the title of The BRussells Tribunal is over a year old. Yet, nothing in it has been demonstrated to be fallacious. And, the mounting evidence that the United States of America used Weapons of Mass Destruction, also against the civilian population calls for us to denounce this war and its atrocities louder than ever. It is a terrible, terrible tragedy, and it is not nearing its end.

Conclusions of the commission

Consistent with the tradition of the 1967 Russell Tribunal on the Vietnam War and the work of the People’s permanent tribunal and other similar tribunals such as the one held in Brussels in 1991, the BRussells Tribunal met on 14-17 April 2004. This Tribunal is the opening session of the
World Tribunal on Iraq, a series of hearings scheduled to conclude in Istanbul in 2005.

The BRussells Tribunal focused on the programs and policies proposed by “The Project for the New American Century” (PNAC), a predominantly neo-conservative “think-tank” that has advocated global US hegemony, primarily through the threat or use of military power. The objective of the Tribunal, working as a commission of inquiry, was to establish whether there was a link between PNAC’s proposals and the foreign and military strategy of the current US government, and the subsequent invasion and occupation of Iraq. The Commission also examined the impact of policies and programs advocated by PNAC on the stability and security of international relations.

To establish its findings and shape its report the Commission heard testimony from specialists on international affairs and witnesses knowledgeable about the current conditions in Iraq. The Commission also relied on PNAC’s reports and official US government documents, as well as written analyses (*). The Commission came to the following conclusions:

First. The PNAC program consists of three main components:
to establish US hegemony in the new century, relying primarily on military and technological superiority; to prevent the emergence of any competing global or regional powers by imposing what is sometimes termed a “Pax Americana”; to exercise pre-emptive action against all perceived threats to American “interests” and security.

Second. A significant number of signatories to PNAC’s 1997 founding Statement of Principles” became senior members of the current US administration, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. The adoption of those principles by this administration is evidenced by official White House documents such as “The National Security Strategy” of September 2002. These principles have been put into action through the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Third. According to a clear majority of States and a large consensus of legal experts, the invasion of Iraq constitutes an act of aggression, a breach of one of the most fundamental norms of the international legal order. This demonstrates that the implementation of policies emanating from PNAC and endorsed by the current administration runs counter to the principles of the UN Charter and undermines the United Nations itself, which bears the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Fourth. The invasion of Iraq has resulted in more than 10.000 civilian deaths. With each passing day of occupation, the number of victims grows, as do the gross violations of humanitarian law and human rights, such as arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and deprivation in regard to basic needs. The situation of the Iraqi people has clearly deteriorated and the promises of democracy and freedom have proved to be illusory. The constant use of the words “democracy”, “freedom” and “human rights” in such a context amounts to a complete perversion of those terms.

Fifth. Far from bringing stability and peace in Iraq and the region, the invasion and occupation have created instability and chaos. Moreover, the deliberate destruction of Iraq has effectively promoted the Israeli government’s policies of further unlawful expansion and de facto annexation of territories as well as further annihilation of the rights of the Palestinian people. The Tribunal noted that PNAC itself called explicitly in 2002 for the US administration to align itself with the views of the Israeli government. These developments increase hostility between the peoples of the region and the West, contrary to the proclaimed objectives of making the world a safer place.

Sixth. There is evidence of a consistent US strategy, as envisioned by the PNAC report entitled “Rebuilding America’s Defences”, to establish global domination by military means. Contrary to claims that this domination would be a “benevolent hegemony”, it is more likely to lead to a state of permanent war. PNAC policies are based on brutal unilateralism and disregard for legality. As such, the ideas of PNAC constitute an intellectual crime. The war in Iraq is only one element of a global agenda which is linked with logics of the dominant economic system, inspired by neo-conservative ideology and supported by religious fundamentalism.

Seventh. Due to the growing resistance encountered by the occupying powers in Iraq and other unanticipated difficulties, the United States and United Kingdom have made cynical requests for the involvement of the United Nations in Iraq, thereby pre-empting the sovereign rights of the Iraqi people to determine their future. The United Nations should avoid complicity with -- let alone legitimise in any way -- the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. Any such action would further discredit this world body. The UN should restore its legitimacy through ensuring the complete withdrawal of all occupying forces and assisting the Iraqi people in recovering their full sovereignty. Any involvement of the European Union or of NATO to help the occupying powers should be refused.

Finally, the Tribunal calls upon the peoples of the world to demand that their governments deny military, political, financial or any other support to the occupying powers; and oppose the illegal implementation by occupation forces or their surrogates of any plans for the wholesale privatization of the Iraqi economy. The Tribunal also expresses its solidarity with the Iraqi people and its support for their attempts at recovering their full sovereignty.
Saturday April 17 2004.

François Houtart, Prof. Emeritus UCL, director of Centre Tricontinental;
Pierre Klein, prof. International Law at ULB;
Ludo Abicht, Prof. Emeritus UA, author
Samir Amin, author and director of "Forum du Tiers Monde";
Denis Halliday, Former UN assistant secretary general to Iraq;
Sabah Al Mukhtar, president of the Arab Association of Democratic Lawyers;
Nawal El Saadawi, medical doctor and novelist

[*] The oral and written testimonies as well as official documents are reproduced in a preparatory dossier entitled “
Questioning the New Imperial World Order”.*
The formal presentation of the conclusions of the BRussels Tribunal was followed by an energetic debate between the public and the members of the commission. Read edited extracts from responses by Samir Amin and Dennis Halliday to questions raised from the floor

* Reflections on the BRussells Tribunal, by Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation

More articles and documents can be found here and especially at the invaluable Uruknet

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Letters from Iraq – a poem by a soldier and its commentary

Commentary and footnotes by Miguel Martinez. The Italian version of this post can be found at his blog Kelebek.

We have found this poem on the Fight to Survive blog of J.D. Engelhardt, a courageous American former soldier who has made known to the world the horror that is White Phosphorus which was used at Fallujah. Engelhardt writes:

"While in Iraq, I never once saw a terrorist with extreme inclinations for senseless bloodshed, but only angry farmers and shop keepers who for one reason or another wish to end our empirical domination over their homeland. What I saw was an honest insurrection fought by average citizens, a perfect guerrilla war ran by no centralized leadership and with the potential to overcome any obstacle furnished by the conventional coalition forces."

Author of the poem is another soldier, who uses the name The Heretic. The text uses elementary and crude images, but ones that perfectly render the sense of the enormous crime against the Iraqis and extraordinary cultural void of a mercenary military force.

Noteworthy are the typically Anglo-Saxon, and especially American, tendencies to personalise all of the elements, from “General Hash” to “Ramandan Rebel”.

The hot Sunni sun
passes Moaning Mosque Spire.
B-company’s pinned down
and under heavy fire.
Underneath the palms
there’s improvised bombs.
Because, Jihad Johnny
knows Yankee is a liar.

On Euphrates east bank
where the desert winds blow,
M 1 Abe (1)
keeps his head down low.
Smoking up Joe,
With a front back go,
Is General Hash,
And his puppet show.

They lost another friend today.
It’s getting rough over there.
They say the food tastes like shit.
They miss the pussy, drugs and beer.

They say the whole things fucked.
I wish the boys were back.
At least I know they're still alive.
Another letter from Iraq.

Police Call Kilo’s
marching double time.
While, the grease monkeys
sweep the motor pool line.
On guard is Shaming Jay.
Rolls his own every day.
Lifer Lenny’s getting fitted
for new box of pine.
On an empty cot,
Presents full of Christmas loot.
All that’s left of Bullet Billy
is a pair of bloody boots.
His mom is on the phone.
His girl is all alone.
We all stand in the rain
for a twenty-one gun salute.

They lost another friend today.
It’s getting rough over there.
They say the food tastes like shit.
They miss the pussy, drugs and beer.

They say the whole things fucked.
I wish the boys were back.
At least I know they're still alive.
Another letter from Iraq.

Ramadan Rebel Is in the holding cell.
The brass looks away
while MPs give em hell.
Guantanamo rule book.
From Basra to Kirkuk.
Beat em’ in a bag,
and drop em’ in a well.
Iron Mike’s on patrol
his weapon status red.
He rolls out the gate
with a foot full of lead.
Tango’s on the hill,
looking for a kill.
Mohammad’s got him convinced
he’d be better off dead.

They lost another friend today.
It’s getting rough over there.
They say the food tastes like shit.
They miss the pussy, drugs and beer.
They say the whole things fucked.
I wish the boys were back.
At least I know they're still alive.
Another letter from Iraq.

Ali Babba’s on the offense
picking up the beat.
Delta needs an e-vac, (2)
but the bird’s outa seats.
There’s a four man stack
outside the Haji Shack. (3)
Bradley’s zipped in
calling Willie Pete.(4)

There’s celebratory fire.
And a purple thumb vote.
Tom cruise is on a sortie
from a gulf love boat.
Smart bombs are a coming.
See the children running.
The dead are all laughing,
but we don’t get the joke.

They lost another friend today.
It’s getting rough over there.
They say the food tastes like shit.
They miss the pussy, drugs and beer.

They say the whole things fucked.
I wish the boys were back.
At least I know they're still alive.
Another letter from Iraq.

An eye for an eye.
And, blood for Texas Tea.(5)
At the call to prayer
Al Queda’s on his knees.(6)
Issac versus Ishmael. (7)
Allah versus Christ.
Basic Training to Route Tampa (8)
rolls in the F-N-Gs. (9)

Mairnes say Sempi Fi (10)
as they cross Highway Ten.
Uncle Sam’s in Highschool
Seeking a “few good men”. (11)
Rummy’s in the Green Zone. (12)
We’d all rather be home.
Where we can watch the war
On C-N-N

They lost another friend today.
It’s getting rough over there.
They say the food tastes like shit.
They miss the pussy, drugs and beer.
They say the whole things fucked.
I wish the boys were back.
At least I know they're still alive.
Another letter from Iraq.

the heretic

[1] The armoured tank M-1 Abrams is the principle vehicle used by the American Armed Forces.
[2] e-vac, emergency evacuation of the injured soldiers.
[3] Hajji, honorary title that indicates a pilgrim to Mecca, used by the Americans as an offensive ephitet to mean Arabs. The soldier in the poem refres to the mosque as a Haji Shack, which is where the piles of dead Iraqis are to be found.
[4] The Bradley Fighting Vehicle Systems are high speed armoured vechicles; Willy Pete is the euphemism taken by the intitials of White Phosphorus.
[5] Texas Tea is obviously, oil, as anyone who grew up watching the Beverly Hillbillies, an American situation comedy, knows.
[6] "al Queda's on his knees". The "u" must evidently always automatically follow the “q”. The pronoun “his” could clearly indicate that we are talking about one person, and not a movement: an Iraqi pushed down to his knees and demonised as if he himself was al-Qaida. It also could indicate a Christian way of expressing the Muslim position of worship.
[7] It is meaningful that in this poem, where every cultural element seems to be absolutely absent, there is reference made to the Founding Book of the United States, The Old Testament.
[8] Route Tampa is an important street near Mosul, typically given an American name.
[9] Fuckin' New Guys".
[10] Semper Fidelis, is the motto of the Marines, taken from the official march of the corps, that among other things recites,

"Those who worship the one true God are rarities
who remember the Biblical saying that God will not be mocked!
When the call to the true believer comes from the Church of God
Will they all in their heart receive Him go where He bids them trod? "

The official hymn of the Marines boasts of the first imperial sacks, in Mexico and Libya: L'inno ufficiale dei Marines inizia invece vantando i primi imperiali saccheggi, in Messico e in Libia:

"From the Halls of Montezuma
To the Shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land and sea"

[11] The military recruiters, true salesment paid for every person they manage to convince to enlist, invade the high schools of the United States to find clients. Schools that don’t consign lists of their students are threatened with a cut in funds.
[12] Donald Rumsfeld, Defence Minister, United States.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Israel discriminates against Arabs in "Galilee"

Only four out of 104 communities covered by Galilee development plan are Arab
By Jack Khoury and Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondents

The Hadash movement is set to launch its campaign against the new plan for developing the Galilee region, announced last week by the office of Vice Premier Shimon Peres, which the movement says blatantly ignores or discriminates against Israeli Arabs in the north.

The strategic plan offers more than 10,000 housing units in the Galilee and offers incentives to families, primarily from the center of the country, to move to the north.

Hadash, which will announce its campaign against the plan during a conference held this weekend in the lower Galilee town of Kafr Manda, maintains Peres' plan blatantly abandons Israeli Arab communities in the north. Hadash says the plan's declared goal is to ensure a Jewish majority in the Galilee.

"This is the cruelest plan of the past 20 years," Hadash said in an announcement on Wednesday. The movement says Peres' plan completely ignores the needs of Galilee Arab communities and deeps the gaps between Arabs and Jews in the north. "We are calling on the government to freeze the plan and to open a dialogue with the Arab public with the goal of formulating a plan based on the principles of equality. [Such a plan should be] aimed at closing gaps, expanding the territorial jurisdiction of Arab towns and creating industrial zones," the Hadash announcement said.

Peres' associates are rejecting the claims of discrimination directed at his plan. They say that, following appeals to his office, Galilee Arab communities were integrated into the plan. In addition, Peres is also pushing a number of programs aimed at aiding the Arab sector both in the Galilee and the Negev regions. His associates said he would not lend a hand to the implementation of a discriminatory plan or policy.

However, an Haaretz investigation revealed that of the 104 communities covered by the Galilee development program, only four of them are Arab or Druze towns (Ein al-Assad, Sandala, Moukibala and Taibeh).

read the full article here


Israel Tells Greek Patriarchy not to Swear in Theophilos

TEL AVIV, November 10, 2005 (WAFA) - The Israeli government has warned on Thursday the Greek Orthodox Patriarch-elect, Theophilos III, not to hold an official inauguration ceremony scheduled for November 22, Israeli Daily Haaretz said.

The daily said that Tzachi Hanegbi, the Israeli Minister in Charge of Jerusalem Affairs in the Prime Minister's Office, conveyed the warning in a letter yesterday morning to Ahmed Mughrabi, the lawyer representing the Patriarchate.

In the letter, Haaretz reprted, Hanegbi writes: "The state objects to holding this ceremony, which is intended to validate the removal of Patriarch Irenios, a move that has not been recognized by the State of Israel, as is required by law."

Theophilos was elected two months ago by the Greek Orthodox Church's Holy Synod to replace the ousted Irenios. Sources in the Patriarchate say the church leaders mean to instate Theophilos officially in a ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City, followed by a reception for heads of churches and diplomats at Notre Dame Hotel.

The daily said the Patriarchate offered a sharp reply to Hanegbi's letter yesterday: "With all due respect, the Patriarch, the Synod and the Patriarchate find your letter surprising and unacceptable since it constitutes an outright and inappropriate interference in their autonomy as a religious sect and in the religious freedom of members of the Greek Orthodox congregation."

Two weeks ago, Theophilos filed a suit against the Israeli government in which he claimed that the government had conditioned support of him upon his approving the real estate deals signed between Jewish groups and the Patriarchate under Irenios - deals the latter now claims were a sham.

What Haaretz had to say about these deals:

Patriarch petitions High Court over conditions of recognition
Arnon Regular
The newly elected Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, submitted a petition to the High Court on Wednesday in which he and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchy accused the government of Israel of making its recognition of the patriarch conditional on his signing of "questionable" real estate deals.

The petition reveals new information about the long-term leasing deals in the old city of Jerusalem, in which leasing rights of Patriarchy assets for hundreds of years were awarded "at prices that can scarcely be imagined."'

Prices for stolen goods
'The assets mentioned include the Imperial Hotel at the Jaffa Gate, for the sum of $1.25 million, the Petra Hotel at the same location for $500,000, effective leasing of the Saint John Hostel in the old city, which Ateret Kohanim has already taken over, for $400,000, and a deal not previously reported - the leasing of a plot of land inside the old city, for $55,000, effective leasing of the Saint John Hostel in the old city, which Ateret Kohanim has already taken over, for $400,000, and a deal not previously reported - the leasing of a plot of land inside the old city, for $55,000.

The deals were arranged with foreign companies registered in the Virgin Islands. The Patriarchy claims that "the prices are ridiculous in relation to the assets' location and value, and would more appropriately be termed prices for stolen goods."

The petition states that in light of the fact that Ireneos claimed he did not know about the deals, and that he was tricked by Ateret Cohanim and Papadimas, the "bizarreness" of Israel's demands is even more magnified. Israel's government is supposed to transfer a document of approval to the new Patriarch to allow him to sign contracts and run the Patriarchy's official business. According to the petition, nonrecognition of the Patriarchy effectively condemns it to economic paralysis.

Although it is perceived as the richest ecclesiastical institution in Israel, the petition claims that the Patriarchy is in fact submerged in heavy debt, approaching NIS 50 million.

Church officials refused to say who in Israel's government had allegedly applied pressure on Theophilos to agree to the deals, but on condition of anonymity, said that the messages had been conveyed to Theophilos and to other parties by Tzachi Hanegbi, Minister for Jerusalem Affairs.

'Referred to authorized parties'
Theophilos' aides attached to the petition official Israeli responses to their requests to recognize Theophilos. To the first request, dated September 18, the Prime Minister's Office replied that "the matter was referred to the authorized parties." A second request from October 10 was answered by Government Secretary Yisrael Maimon, who wrote that Israel views the dismissal of Ireneos and the election of Theophilos as "an internal church dispute," and that Israel does not view itself a party in the matter and does not "interfere in internal church matters." The latter document refers to the ousted Ireneos as "Patriarch of Jerusalem," and to the newly elected patriarch as "Archbishop Theophilos III."

Patriarchy officials said that non-recognition of the Patriarch elect is in itself a "rude and blatant interference," and that Maimon's letter reveals the government's true intentions.

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