Saturday, September 16, 2006
But now all of a sudden Pope Rottweiler is attacking Islam and the Zionists applaud him for his "astute" observations on Islam? OKKKKKKK.
I really hope that Muslims don't start rioting over his remarks, I mean, I am totally offended on behalf of Muslims by his comments, but let's keep it in perspective, Papa Rottweiler was a Hitler youth.
P.S. my mom showed the first picture to my 2 year old nephew on Christmas and he was so frightened and cried so hard that he horked all over my legs. Kids have great intuition.
GAZA - Rapper D.R. (Dynamic Rapper) enters an upscale restaurant in the city center in the early afternoon. A beautiful young American woman named Jackie escorts him to the table and sits with him. He is full of smiles and high-fives, and his black eyes peek out above the rims of his fashionable sunglasses. Everyone here knows him. He is very skinny, wears a sleeveless shirt and low-riding Bermudas that look like they could fall down at any moment; on his head is a red baseball cap over a hairnet, not unlike rapper 50 Cent - and on his feet are sneakers, obviously.
"I don't want to imitate the Americans; I'm a proud Palestinian," says D.R., a.k.a. Mohammed al-Faraa. The place: Gaza City. The restaurant - Ma'atuk, on Omar al-Mukhtar street, next to the Hezbollah support tent set up by Islamic Jihad.
Al-Faraa, a Khan Yunis resident, is only 21, but is known all over the coastal strip, along with his two peers in the group Palestinian Rappers, PR for short. He looks like a real rap star, standing out in gray, militant Gaza. But PR's lyrics bring us back exactly to where we are. "The peoples' tragedy" is the name of a song they wrote about the 1948 Nakba ("catastrophe," the founding of the State of Israel). "That which occupied our lives, destroyed all our opportunities, the massacre commited, Sabra, Chatila and the deportation ... 1948," sing al-Faraa and his comrades Ayman Magames and Mahmoud Fayyad, a.k.a. Kana'an.
When rapped the words indeed sound less militant, but maybe the lyrics are the reason the group's concerts were not banned in Gaza.
"In our society some like us, and of course some condemn us," Magames says. "After they heard what we have to say, there were no more allegations about our trying to be like the Americans. As Palestinian-Arab rappers we convey a message of rage. Rap started in the United States as a protest against racism. Our protest here is against the Gaza reality. Some of the Palestinians express their rage by throwing rocks; we do it through rap. It is better than stones, because violence only breeds more violence."
Can't take away my art
When asked whether they are the only rap group in Gaza, they respond with a triumphant smile. "Shitloads, there are so many rappers in the city today you can hardly count them," al-Faraa says. "We started in 2003 and since then dozens of young people have been trying their luck in rap."
It appears Gaza also boasts a female rapper - Nivin, a 17-year-old, sings a love song with the trio.
"We don't see any money out of music, forget about it. We have to pay the recording studio, and every song costs us NIS 300," says al-Faraa. "For months we have been saving money for a studio, and it takes a lot of our time. Our dream is for the Palestinian issue to be known all over the world. That when I chat with someone on the Web and tell him where I'm from, I won't be accused of being a murderer. I hope they realize the Palestinian message is a message of peace. I had five friends who were killed in the intifada, and those gone will not come back. But I don't hate the Israelis, only the Israeli government that deprives me of my freedom and liberty; but it cannot take away my art."
A mention of Israeli rappers stirs mixed reactions. "We don't like Subliminal," Fayyad says. "I don't see him as an Israeli, but as a Zionist. He hates Arabs, and I'm addressing his message. But if there is a group of rappers with a message of peace, we can work with them. Subliminal aside, we are ready to work with any Israeli rapper. We already played in Israel, at Peki'in. There was an American Idol-style show there, and we were guests of honor. There were even Israeli cops and soldiers in the crowd."
During our meeting, the three look through the window of the al-Masharaq building, the site of their recording studio. From there the Gaza beach can be seen, but the PR crew is concerned about a parade of armed men passing below the building - thousands of members of the various security apparatuses demonstrating against the Hamas government. The armed men fire their guns, and the rappers seem amused. "I took part in demonstrations when the intifada began," says al-Faraa. "At the end of 2000 I was even shot with a live bullet. Since then I stopped going to demonstrations."
Drugs no, narghile yes
They enter the studio. Al-Faraa at the center, as is fitting for a star, and Magames and Fayyad at his sides. "Heyna ana jai, heyna ana jai" (Here I come), they begin - and are surprised to hear the Israeli rap group Hadag Nahash sings the same lyrics. But PR's song does not deal with the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv relationship, but rather criticizes Arab singers Nancy Ajram and Haifa Wehbi, who might be described as the Arab versions of Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears. "They only show off their bodies and put no meaning in their songs, no message, sort of show girls," Magames says.
The rhythm picks up, and the trio is into the beat. Al-Faraa leads with his hand gestures. Like the best of American rap, he also repeatedly cups his groin, and the song ends in English: "Get out of the way, bitch."
"We don't curse," he says. "Look, when my parents understood I intended to be a rapper, they had conditions - that I stay in school and keep the tradition. We live in Gaza in a Muslim society, and we plan to keep living here. We started rapping while studying at the university, after we heard songs on the Internet. At the beginning we played before different audiences in Gaza. We left for Ramallah and then we toured abroad. We had concerts in Ireland, the British embassy flew us there to play for the Arab community, but ultimately it is clear to me that my home and land is in Gaza.
"Therefore there are a few things we don't do, like drugs. We do like to smoke narghile. We even have a song about the narghile, whose lyrics make you think at first that the song is about sexual relations between a guy and a girl, and then you realize it is actually a love song for a narghile."
What about groupies, post concert sex?
"We are Arabs, we are bound by a certain tradition. I cannot walk in Gaza with girls or whores around me like rappers abroad. It's not our thing. Sometimes we sing about love, a mate, and even about girls who only care about makeup and a good time. But you have to understand something. With the girls in Gaza you can only look. You cannot talk to them. If I approach them, it could get messy."
At the end of the day they leave their dreams of a rap career at the studio and descend the stairs from the sixth floor, since frequent power failures have grounded the elevators. Exiting to the street they are met by the dozens of armed men coming back from the demonstration. Welcome back to Gaza reality.
Editor of Q-News, a Muslim magazine
"The media are giving the supposed "anger of the Muslim nation" too much coverage. Such insults are as old as Islam itself. The Prophet dealt with them with dignity. We must stop over-reacting ...
"A Muslim who truly lives according to the moral code of Islam - of justice, neighbourliness and compassion - will know that it is our greatest weapon against misrepresentation. Perhaps the Pope was 'merely quoting' the 14th-century emperor. Perhaps he did so because he actually shares this belief. If so, he is more ill-informed than we thought. I refuse to let such provocations shape the global faith agenda."
Muhammad Abdul Bari
Secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain
"The Muslim Council of Britain is deeply disturbed that the Pope ... quoted from the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus. The emperor's views about Islam were ill-informed and frankly bigoted.
"One would expect a religious leader such as the Pope to act and speak with responsibility and repudiate the Byzantine emperor's views in the interests of truth and harmonious relations between the followers of Islam and Catholicism.
"Regrettably, the Pope did not do so and this has understandably caused a lot of dismay and hurt throughout the Muslim world. We would hope that the Pope will clarify his remarks without delay."
Director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding
"It is difficult to see anything positive coming from these comments. What was the Pope aiming to do by promoting the words of what he termed an "erudite" emperor who claimed that everything that Muhammad provided was "evil and inhuman"? There were infinitely more constructive ways to make his point about violence than to quote the rant of a 14th century emperor ... The previous Pope did much to try to win hearts and minds in the Islamic world. In one stupid line the Pope ... sent Muslim-Christian relations back decades. [He] needs to apologise at once. What is so sad is that while there have been acute political tensions between western and Islamic leaders, until now there had not been confrontation between mainstream religious leaders."
Author of Western Muslims and the Future of Islam
"He has said it before - that Muslims should tackle the issue of jihad and violence, but the way it was done was a bit clumsy.
"If you follow the whole lecture, though, his message is very worrying. He is saying we have to redefine what Europe is all about ... to reduce the past and neglect Islamic participation. Many Islamic values are in the west. All that we knew about Aristotle in the middle ages was coming from Averroes [the 12th-century scholar in Islamic Spain].
"It's worrying to say that Islam is disconnected from rationality."
Much of the debate in Washington in the aftermath of the fighting between Israel and Hizballah has focused on who has "won" and who has "lost" Lebanon War II. Foreign policy pundits have pondered about the final outcome of the bloody cycle of violence in the Levant and the way it affected each side's strategic goals, military power, economic resources, diplomatic support and propaganda methods.
Wars not only bring about the rise and fall of military powers, they also create winners and losers in the wars of ideas and decide the fate of certain intellectual tenets that guided the leaders of these powers. Indeed, there is a growing recognition in Washington that the neoconservative paradigm that equated the advancement of U.S. interests with the spread of democracy in the Middle East has suffered a major blow as a result of the disastrous outcome of the Iraq War. Hence the notion that freedom is not on the march in Mesopotamia and elsewhere in Arabia could erode the influence of the Wilsonian agenda promoted by the neocons and enhance the power of their intellectual rivals in the foreign policy community, namely the realpolitik types.
From that perspective, one of the main casualties of the latest crisis in the Middle East has been another favorite neoconservative paradigm, according to which the United States should regard Israel as a major "strategic asset" in the Middle East, which in turn is rooted in a neoconservative axiom of sort, that what is good for Israel's strategic interest is good for America and vice versa.
The neoconservative plot-line of the recent Middle East "cinematic event" was obvious: Iran and Syria encouraged its proxy in Lebanon, Hizballah, to deliver a blow to America's proxy in the Middle East, Israel, as a way of shifting the balance of power in the Middle East in favor of Tehran and Damascus. According to the script, Israel, the American proxy was supposed to deliver a counter-blow to Hizballah, the Iranian-Syrian proxy and re-shift the balance of power in favor of Washington. This game was expected to conclude with an American-Israeli win over the Axis of Evil team. Instead, according to the conventional wisdom among experts, the final results of Lebanon War II--Israel failing to decimate Hizballah by doing a rerun of the Six Day War or a remake of the Entebbe rescue operation--are looking more and more like, in the best case scenario, a draw or, in the worst-case scenario, a perception of a Hizballah victory.
So Guantanamo wasn't needed after all
By Alasdair Palmer
09/17/06 "The Telegraph" -- -- President Bush's policy on how to treat people captured in the course of the war on terror is unravelling fast. In order to comply with a Supreme Court ruling, he has to get new rules for military tribunals for the suspects held at Guantanamo through Congress.
Last week, Sen John McCain vowed to fight the president's attempt to change the definition of "cruel, inhumane and degrading" treatment in the Geneva Conventions, and to give members of the CIA immunity from prosecution for "grave breaches" of the con-vention (in other words, torture). Bush's former secretary of state, Colin Powell, endorsed McCain's attack, solemnly pointing out what has long been obvious: "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism."
The incarceration and torture of men such as Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the man who planned the 9/11 attacks, has certainly done immense damage to America's reputation, as has the indefinite detention without trial of terrorist suspects in Guantanamo.
George Bush did not, of course, come up with those policies himself: his lawyers did. They were convinced that the administration would have a chance of successfully interrogating the terrorists they captured only if they kept them out of the reach of… yes, other lawyers.
That was the reason for setting up the Guantanamo camp on Cuba. What the lawyers feared most was civilian trials for those captured in the war on terror. They were worried by the presumption of innocence, which inevitably makes securing a guilty verdict difficult in terrorist cases, where the evidence usually depends on the coercion of witnesses.
Moreover, the experience of the trials arising from the first attempt to blow up the World Trade Centre revealed that when the prosecution disclosed its evidence to the defence, it handed the terrorists a huge amount of intelligence on the US government's knowledge of their network.
There was a furious debate in the months after 9/11 as to whether the US should treat and try those captured in the war on terror according to the Geneva Convention. Lawyers in the defence department insisted that it should not: terrorists did not wear uniforms, they broke all the laws of war, and they did not serve a state but a terrorist group. They should therefore be categorised as "enemy combatants" to whom the conventions did not apply.
The strongest argument against their case was based not on law but on policy. Colin Powell, then running the State Department, predicted that to announce that the US was "coming off Geneva" would destroy America's reputation abroad and make it much harder to win the war on terror. Small breaches of the convention would any way not count as "violating" it, he added. And no one was contemplating "grave breaches"… were they?
In fact, "grave breaches" were precisely what some lawyers in Bush's administration were advocating. The now-notorious "torture memo" stated that the President's wartime powers meant he could order just about anything he liked. That memo was later revoked by other, less extreme officials within the Justice Department.
But by then, the pictures from Abu Ghraib were out and the "torture memo" was public. The world had concluded that the US's primary weapons in the war on terror were vicious cruelty and the violation of international law.
What must be most galling to Gen Powell now is that it could all have been avoided if the President had taken his advice. Military tribunals based on Geneva Convention principles would have ensured that terrorist suspects were held legally on US soil.
As for torture, the lawyers who advocated it broke the fundamental rule governing gruesome methods: do not try to justify them by anything except necessity. Above all, do not write your justification down in a 50-page memo that will inevitably leak.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2006.
Christian presence in Holy Land small and getting smaller: The exodus of Christians from the Holy Land troubles the faithful worldwide. With tensions rising the past five years and economic conditions worsening, some have begun to whisper about a day when the native Christian population disappears entirely. Since 1948, when Christians were estimated at 20 percent of all Palestinians in the region, their numbers have dropped to roughly 2 percent, according to the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, a group based in Bethesda, Md.
NAM Rejects Israeli Annexation in Jerusalem: The support to the UN resolutions confirming Jerusalem belongs to the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel was Saturday included in the Final Declaration of the 14th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit. The document terms null measures to change character, political and demographic condition of that sacred city, whose eastern segment was occupied militarily by Tel Aviv in the 1967 war. Four resolutions by the UN Security Council and one of the General Assembly allude the issue, and they are ignored by the Israeli government.
U.S.-born Palestinian fights for resident status; Thousands face deportation under Israeli policy: Bahour pushed on, somehow managing to do the near impossible — planning, building and opening the Plaza Shopping Centre in Ramallah during the height of an Israeli military siege. At a time when Palestinian youths were tempted by violence, Bahour instead did his all to tempt them with jobs. All of which makes the 40-something Bahour's latest project sadder still. Bahour is leading a campaign to save himself and an estimated 12,000 other foreign-born Palestinians from a new Israeli policy designed to sweep them out of the territories.
It takes a village: This was the discordant opening note of the last operation to capture the "Little Triangle," consisting of three Palestinian villages located about 20 kilometers south of Haifa, which held out until the second truce of the War of Independence on July 19, 1948, and continued to block the coastal road between Zichron Yaakov and Haifa. Thanks to the truce, the fledgling Israel Defense Forces was able to throw itself into the battle against the recalcitrant villages with the unprecedented support of armored vehicles, artillery and the air force
Palestinian area churches attacked: Palestinians wielding guns and firebombs attacked five churches in the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday, following remarks by Pope Benedict XVI that angered many Muslims. Relations between Palestinian Muslims and Christians are generally peaceful, and the attacks on the churches sparked concern that tensions would heighten.
Muslim Leader in Palestine reject attacks against Christians: The supreme judge of Palestine Sheikh Tayseer At-Tamimi called Saturday on the Palestinian people not to be provoked by the Pope's words which have irritated Muslims' religious feelings.
ISM Responds to Internet Photos, Reaffirms Commitment to Non-violence: Possibly the most outrageous claim is that two of the foreigners in the photos are now in Israeli custody, which is totally untrue. This article is part of a long standing campaign to slander ISM and destroy non-violent Palestinian resistance by spreading false information. See previous statements on the ISM site. None of the individuals photographed ever took part in any violent activity. As non-violence is one of the three basic principles of ISM.
Soldiers attack a vehicle that belongs to the Red Crescent Society: Local sources in Tubas reported that soldiers surrounded the building of the Society, broke the front window of the vehicle while it was parked in front of the building. Also, soldiers fired at residents who were in the area and bared them from entering the building.
Irish academics call on EU to stop funding Israeli academic institutions: In a letter published in the Irish Times today (text below), 61 Irish academics from a wide variety of disciplines called for a moratorium on EU support of Israeli academic institutions until Israel abides by UN resolutions and ends the occupation of Palestinian territories.
US to spoil Arab plan for peace meeting: The US is trying to block attempts by Arab countries to turn the UN Security Council into a key player in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the upcoming General Assembly opening next week.
Haneya: new gov't not to recognize deals with Israel: "There are no deals with the Israeli occupation," Haneya told reporters in front of his office in Gaza City. But he showed flexibility in dealing with those agreements by saying that "they would be handled in a way that serves the higher interest of the Palestinian people."
Police apologize for using derogatory term for Arabs: The National Police Control Center transmitted a message Friday to police officers saying that “15 thousand Arbushim (derogatory term for Arabs) have arrived so far at a rally in Umm al-Fahm.” The message was transmitted to beepers, as was reported by the IDF radio.
Islamic Movement head: J'lem destined capital of caliphate: Israeli Arab Muslim cleric Sheik Ra'ad Salah declared that Jerusalem will soon become the capital of an Islamic nation at a rally in the northern town of Umm al-Fahm, Israel Radio reported on Friday. The leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement Salah, told a crowd of 50,000 gatherers that Israel's occupation of the Temple Mount was nearing its end.
Hamas turns to hearts not minds with wedding party: Among the excited and besuited celebrants on the platform was Saher Jarbouah, a designer-stubbled, hair-gelled 24-year-old accountancy student who admitted that only 30 of the 84 grooms were religious, and that he was not among them. But the ceremony had saved him about £1,200, he estimated. “It saves people money, it brings joy and happiness and it brings people together. It unites the families of 84 people, so that rich and poor can celebrate, not just the wealthy.”
Power Play: Lieberman is critical of the style, but identified with the substance. As far as he is concerned, "There is no argument about the facts and the conduct of Israeli Arabs" - that is, about the fact that, to quote Eitam, they are "a fifth column, a bunch of traitors of the first degree," who must be expelled from the political system. The problem is that Eitam made a tactical error. He chose a fiery formulation, which damages the public relations of the expulsion.
Kuwaiti company wins license for Palestine''s second mobile communications: Kuwait's Wataniya Telecommunications announced on Saturday winning of the license for the second GSM in Palestine bidding 251 million Jordanian dinars as the first batch for license.
A suggestion for Judge Winograd: Looking back more than 30 years, it appears that the Agranat Commission, which investigated the Yom Kippur War, was a failure. Not only did it not resolve questions, it actually intensified the national dispute. It's important that the 2006 commission, headed by retired judge Eliyahu Winograd, learn from its mistakes.
(Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion)
"Recall that the Greeks, aside from shaping rational western thought, also shaped our ideas about geography. The Greeks first divided "Europe" from "Asia," and opined that Greeks were unique and superior to the "Asiatics." The Greeks, declared the Father of History, Herodotus, knew that they were "free," whereas the Asiatics (particularly the Persians) were prone to enslavement by nature.This ideological construction derives from a century of conflicts---the Greco-Persian Wars of the fifth century---but it has been echoed by Orientalists for centuries. Repeated by the Pope, for example, who while still Cardinal Ratzinger told the French newspaper Le Figaro that Turkey should not be admitted into the European Union "on the grounds that it is a Muslim nation" which has "always represented another continent during history, always in contrast with Europe."
In beginning his remarks citing that exchange between a Byzantine Greek emperor and this "learned Persian," the pontiff was perhaps conveying a not-so-subtle political message. It may have been a response to the learned letter from Iranian President Ahmadinejad to President Bush. Ending his speech with two references to the need for a (truly reasonable, nonviolent) "dialogue of cultures" Benedict unmistakably alludes to former Iranian President Khatami's campaign for a "dialogue of civilizations." This is the Pope's rejoinder to that plea, presented as the response of the western world (growing out of that remarkable Judeo-Christian Greco-Roman synthesis), to today's Persia---the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Did the Byzantine emperors generally act according to "reason"---any more than their Persian, Turkish, or Arab contemporaries? And when did the Byzantine Empire ever tolerate a "dialogue of cultures" or apply "reason" to religious issues?
Seems to me that the Byzantine emperors, including the Palaeologan line from the thirteenth century, persecuted religious minorities, including Jews, Manichaeans and dissident Christians, during centuries in which the Islamic world showed relative tolerance. I've read the texts of anathemas that virtually everyone in some parts of the Empire was obliged to pronounce publicly in the sixth century: "I renounce Mani, Buddha his teacher," etc. On pain of death, basically. There was no division between church and state. Many Byzantine Jews welcomed the initial Muslim Arab advances, providing relief from Christian persecution.
One increasingly expects historical distortion and hypocrisy in the speeches of Bush administration officials. The effort to depict the Terror War as a war on "Islamofascism" shows their desperation. They must be delighted to hear the pope conflate Christianity, the west, and Reason explicitly while implicitly linking Islam, violence, and irrational intolerance. How sweet that His Holiness's erudition should elliptically reference Iran, while the Bush administration prepares to attack it!"
So, why did they hate us after all?
We sure blew off that question nicely. As with everything else in this country, our response to 9/11 was a heroic compendium of idiocy, cowardice, callow flag-waving, weepy sentimentality (coupled with an apparently bottomless capacity for self-pity), sloth, laziness and partisan ignorance.
So, why did they hate us after all?
We sure blew off that question nicely. As with everything else in this country, our response to 9/11 was a heroic compendium of idiocy, cowardice, callow flag-waving, weepy sentimentality (coupled with an apparently bottomless capacity for self-pity), sloth, laziness and partisan ignorance.
We dealt with 9/11 in many ways. We instantly dubbed everyone who died in the accident a hero and commissioned many millions (billions?) in mawkish elegiac art. We created a whole therapy industry to deal with our 9/11-related grief, made a few claustrophobic two-star Hollywood movies about the bombings, read Lisa Beamer's book and bought that DVD narrated by Rudy, watched Law and Order entertainments about sensational murders committed that morning and left for Jerry Orbach to solve, made bushels of quasi-religious references to "hallowed ground." We made many careers out of assigning blame for the attacks, with the right blaming Bill Clinton, Michael Moore blaming George Bush and the clinically insane blaming those mysterious demolition experts who allegedly wired the bottoms of the towers with the explosives that "really" caused the tragedy. And we talked about 9/11 -- to death. We blathered on so much about the attacks and whined so hard about our "lost innocence" that the rest of the world, initially sympathetic, ended up staring at us in suicidally impatient agony, a can of kerosene overturned above its head, like the old lady sitting next to Robert Hays in Airplane!
We did just about everything except honestly ask ourselves what the hell really happened, and why.
We did just about everything except honestly ask ourselves what the hell really happened, and why.
By ELIZA ERNSHIRE
"While war raged in Lebanon throughout the month of July and death was a daily occurrence in Gaza, other regions in this war-torn part of the world also experienced weeks of torment and torture at the hands of the Israeli Military.
Among these regions is Nablus. A city filled with tragedy and the knowledge of how unjust and unforgiving the occupational forces can be. Invasions, incursions and curfews are not new to the people of Nablus, nor are the sights of bleeding children and mourning families.
Many people say if you want to know the Occupation of the West Bank and what it actually entails then you must go to Nablus and spend some days wandering in the Old City and surrounding districts talking to residents, nearly every one of whom have lost members of their family in the decade-long struggle against Occupation; you need to talk to the students of An Najar University and listen to their stories of suffering and how many difficulties they must overcome if they want to continue their education; you must let the sorrow of the city soak into your unconsciousness.
If you wander the streets of the Old City and listen to even a few of the tales that are imprisoned within it, you will understand better the reality of this occupation, and the sadness of the city will seep into your unconscious
'But beware of becoming hopeless.even the women who cry in my garden grow strong again and return to their homes and continue to attend to their daily work. If they didn't do this Israel would have destroyed us long ago.'"
"In the week that George Bush took to fantasising that his blood-soaked "war on terror" would lead the 21st century into a "shining age of human liberty" I went through my mail bag to find a frightening letter addressed to me by an American veteran whose son is serving as a lieutenant colonel and medical doctor with US forces in Baghdad. Put simply, my American friend believes the change of military creed under the Bush administration--from that of "soldier" to that of "warrior"--is encouraging American troops to commit atrocities.
From Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo to Bagram, to the battlefields of Iraq and to the "black" prisons of the CIA, humiliation and beatings, rape, anal rape and murder have now become so commonplace that each new outrage is creeping into the inside pages of our newspapers. My reporting notebooks are full of Afghan and Iraqi complaints of torture and beatings from August 2002, and then from 2003 to the present point. How, I keep asking myself, did this happen? Obviously, the trail leads to the top. But where did this cult of cruelty begin?
I suppose, in the end, we are supposed to lead the 21st century into a shining age of human liberty in the dungeons of "black" prisons, under the fists of US Marines, on the exhaust pipes of Humvees. We are warriors, we are Samurai. We draw the sword. We will destroy. Which is exactly what Osama bin Laden said."
Khalid Amayreh, The Electronic Intifada
"In fact, there are already ominous signs showing that pro-Israeli sympathizers, some of them with a background in the BBC, are exerting control on the editorial policies of the new channel, all under the rubric of professionalism and journalistic standards.
This writer, who has been working for Aljazeera.net/English (which has now been incorporated into AJI) has discovered, by chance, efforts by some senior western editors at AJI to minimize and avoid as much as possible the publication of articles, especially news and feature stories, portraying Israel in a bad light or otherwise exposing Israeli occupation practices against the Palestinian people.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of similar examples, all showing that AJI is knowingly and deliberately avoiding serious coverage of the Palestinian plight, especially in its feature section which abounds with all kinds of stories covering various — and outlandish — subjects and events.
Ryan apparently never forgave me my "audacity", as was evident from his subsequent behavior. In the third week of June this year, I submitted an article on Palestinian children and minors killed by the Israeli army and paramilitary Jewish settlers. The article was based on statistical information released by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
However, instead of thanking me for the article, Ryan, upon seeing it and without giving it a second thought, wrote to tell me that I was lying and that the information contained in the article was false. His vindictive and nervous tone was very telling and spoke volumes.
Finding he had no case against me, Merryman resorted to a red-herring, accusing me of creating confusion and turmoil at Aljazeera.net from the West Bank — from which I am barred from leaving by the Israeli occupation authorities! And after a brief email exchange, he told me I was fired.
I don't know for sure why Merryman behaved the way he did. It is quite possible that he had been urged or cajoled by some of his Zionist friends to make sure that "anti-Israeli" articles were rejected.
This build-up had two main manifestations: neutralizing Palestinian correspondents from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, and the intensive reliance on reports by American news agency, the Associated Press, viewed by many as 'Israel's ultimate news agency.'
Last week, Merryman decided to change the rules governing the editorial policies of Aljazeera.net/English. The new rules make sure that "undesirable stories," e.g. stories that expose Israeli brutality and racism against the Palestinians, or those portraying Israel as a Nazi-like entity, wouldn't find their way to Aljazeera.net.
Another told me that "this man and his friends want to turn Al-Jazeera into another Fox News or even another Jerusalem Post." The latter is Israel's main right-wing English newspaper, and a mouthpiece for the Jewish settler movement.
I am sure that this article will sign me off from Al-Jazeera. However, I am willing to sacrifice my own personal interest and lose the bulk of my income in the hope that al-Jazeera officials, particularly Chairman Hamad bin Thamer al-Thani and Managing Director Waddah Khanfar, will open their eyes and make sure that al-Jazeera International doesn't become a new weapon in the hands of the enemies of Arabs and Muslims.
For God's sake, don't let them hijack Al-Jazeera under the disguise of journalistic ethics."
For quite sometime, I have noticed the difference in coverage between Aljazeera.net/English and the Arabic counterpart. I fully support the observations of Khalid Amayreh in this article.
In which context do you read the Pope's declarations on Islam?
Here are the results with over 2,200 participating (so far):
70.5%----------As part of a conspiracy against Islam.
8.2%-----------He was misunderstood.
21.3%----------Reflected religious bigotry.
So it seems that an apology saying that the "Pope was misunderstood" will not be adequate.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Saturday September 16, 2006
"Christopher Tyerman's latest book on the Crusades, God's War, argues persuasively that analogies between the Crusades and the present global conflict are often overdrawn and historically dubious. That may be so. But it's an argument that doesn't cut much ice with millions of Muslims. After all, it was one of Benedict's predecessors, Urban II, who first summoned a Christian jihad against Islam. And it's born-again Christians who have been at the forefront of support for the invasion of Iraq, the occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel, and the whole "reorganisation" of the Middle East - a catastrophe in which many thousands of Muslims have lost their lives.
Furthermore, the Pope has form on all of this. Just a few months before he was elected, he spoke out against Muslim Turkey joining the EU. Christian Europe must be defended, he argued. It didn't go down well at the time with Muslim leaders. But what makes his comments from Bavaria doubly insensitive is that Munich and its surrounding towns are home to thousands of Gastarbeiter, many from Turkey, who are often badly treated by local Germans and frequently subjected to racism. It won't be lost on them that Manuel II ran his Christian empire from what is now the Turkish city of Istanbul. And reference to that time, in circumstances such as these, has the unmistakable whiff of Christian triumphalism.
For the Pope argued that in Muslim teaching, because "God is absolutely transcendent", He is "not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality". In other words, there is no reasoning in or with Islam. Which, surely, is another way of the Pope saying how dangerous he thinks Islam is.
Blog sites have been buzzing with the thought that the Pope may have the president of Iran in mind when he speaks of Manuel's Persian interlocutor. But we don't need to speculate upon a contemporary casting for this speech to recognise its dangers. For in claiming that Islam may be beyond reason, and then to claim that to act without reason is to act contrary to the will of God, is pretty close to the assertion that this religion is godless."
President George W Bush is coming under enormous pressure from Israel - and from Israel's neoconservative friends inside and outside the US administration - to harden still further his stance toward Iran. They want the American president to commit himself to bombing Iran if it does not give up its program of uranium enrichment - and to issue a clear ultimatum to Tehran that he is prepared to do so. They argue that mere rhetoric - such as Bush's recent diatribe, in which he compared Iran to al-Qaeda - is not enough, and might even be counter-productive, as it might encourage the Iranians to think that America's bark is worse than its bite.
Hard-liners in Israel and the United States believe that only military action, or the credible threat of it, will now prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, with all that this would mean in terms of Israel's security and the balance of power in the strategically vital Middle East.
Fears that Bush might succumb to this Israeli and neoconservative pressure is beginning to cause serious alarm in Moscow, Beijing, Berlin, Paris, Rome and other world capitals where, as if to urge caution on Washington, political leaders are increasingly speaking out in favor of dialogue with Tehran and against the use of military force."
By Tony Sayegh
I am afraid that there is more to this event than a slip of the tongue on the part of the Pope or simple ignorance of Islam. It comes at a time of increasingly heated rhetoric against political Islam and Islamic resistance movements such as Hizbullah and Hamas, as well as Iran. It has to be seen in the same context as Bush's recent adoption of the "Islamic fascists" label to denigrate political Islam.
Usrael and the neocons (with the EU under their wings) keep talking about and preparing for a "long war" or "World War IV" and "clash of civilizations" against Islam. Bush compares this "struggle" with the struggle against the Nazis (World War II) and the Soviet Union (World War III). These comments by the Pope have to be seen as an opening shot and a major auxiliary to the shaping political/military confrontation.
After Carter became president, the US used its influence to have a Pole selected as the Pope (John Paul II). Immediately, he was put to use in agitating in Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe against Communism and the Soviets. He played no small part in the process that ultimately led to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Since political Islam is the "threat" du jour, I see this Pope and this message in the same light.
If this is the case, then this is a significant escalation that is catapulting us indeed towards what might become an irreversible clash of civilizations and a new Crusade. God help us!
From the book "The Art of War" written by the great Chinese strategist Sun Tzu, some 2,500 years ago:
On Waging War
"There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare"
On Attack By Stratagem
"There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:
(1) By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey. This is called hobbling the army.
(2) By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army. This causes restlessness in the soldiers' minds.
(3) By employing the officers of his army without discrimination, through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This shakes the confidence of the soldiers."
A month after the 34-day campaign against the Shiite militia Hezbollah ended, the barrage of brickbats continues, with the military and political leadership both under fire for their handling of a deadly conflict that failed to achieve its main aims.
Colonel Amnon Eshel, head of the seventh brigade, reportedly complained that his immediate boss, General Gal Hirsh, was "completely cut off from realities on the ground" as his badly prepared men battled to counter Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israel.
The war left 162 Israelis dead and failed to achieve either of its main objectives -- retrieving two soldiers captured by Hezbollah in a July 12 raid and halting the barrage of more than 4,000 rocket attacks fired into the north of the country by the guerrillas.
"Going to war was scandalous and he is directly responsible for that," Yaalon was quoted as saying in the Haaretz daily when asked if Olmert had to resign. "The management of the war was a failure and he is responsible for that.""
Can you imagine something like this debate and self-criticism taking place in any of the dictatorial Arab regimes (the PA included)?
"When I began working as a journalist, there was something called "slow news." We would refer to "slow news days" when "nothing happened" – apart from, that is, triumphs and tragedies in faraway places where most of humanity lived. These were rarely reported, or the tragedies were dismissed as acts of nature, regardless of evidence to the contrary. The news value of whole societies was measured by their relationship with "us" in the West and their degree of compliance with, or hostility to, our authority. If they didn't measure up, they were slow news.
Let's take a few recent examples and compare each with the regular news as seen on the BBC and elsewhere. Keep in mind that Palestinians are chronically slow news and that Israelis are regular news.
Slow news: "A genocide is taking place in Gaza," warns Ilan Pappe, one of Israel's leading historians. "This morning … another three citizens of Gaza were killed and a whole family wounded. This is the morning reap; before the end of the day many more will be massacred."
Regular news: Blair visits the West Bank and Lebanon as a "peacemaker" and a "broker" between the Israeli prime minister and the "moderate" Palestinian president. Keeping a straight face, he warns against "grandstanding" and "apportioning blame."
Slow news: When the Israeli army attacked the West Bank in 2002, flattening homes, killing civilians, and trashing homes and museums, Blair was forewarned and gave "the green light." He was also warned about the recent Israeli attack on Gaza and on Lebanon.
Regular news: Blair tells Iran to heed the UN Security Council on "not going forward with a nuclear program."
Slow news: The Israeli attack on Lebanon was part of a sequence of carefully planned military operations, of which the next is Iran. U.S. forces are ready to destroy 10,000 targets. The U.S. and Israel contemplate the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran, even though Iran's nuclear weapons program is nonexistent."
The International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People includes representatives from Palestine and all continents. In a strongly-worded statement, the conference condemned the Israeli occupation:
“Twelve years after the end of apartheid in South Africa, we are reminded that Israel continues to practice a system of apartheid and, further, perpetuates the longest occupation in recent history.
We civil society organizations and activists from around the world join with the United Nations once again to identify, condemn and commit ourselves to opposing these heinous crimes. As we were in the past, we are again determined that the perpetrators of that crime be brought to justice..."
In the statement civil society further committed itself
“to expand our global campaign of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to ever broader sectors of our countries and regions”.
The Conference drew up an action plan to work with Palestinian civil society movements and NGOs over the next nine months to mark the 40 year anniversary of the Israeli occupation; to expand the global campaign of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions and to convene a new international peace conference for the Middle East.
Achin Vanaik, Professor of International Relations and of World Politics, University of Delhi, spoke on behalf of the solidarity from the global south and underlined that “it was not possible for civil society organizations in the South to be able to fight effectively for Palestinian rights unless it recognised that there was a need to fight for more than Palestinian rights. Civil society organizations had to fight on a number of fronts: to try to bring to account the United States in Iraq, Israel and what had been done in Lebanon, how the United States was manipulating the nuclear issue in Iran, and the issue of the ideological banner of the global war on terror to provide a cover for larger geopolitical issues, namely the issue of State terrorism.”
During discussion time he further elaborated on the role Zionism played in quest for Justice in Palestine. Mr. Vanaik said that India was faced with a bitter struggle against those wishing to establish a Hindu State within India, and who admired the situation of Zionism. “To be a Zionist is to endorse the principle of a Jewish State with special rights for Jews, and this is anti-democratic. It is no excuse to say that Israel is more democratic than most Arab States. The spectrum of what was possible, realist and pragmatic, is very wide. When changing the political relationship of forces, the impossible becomes possible, and it is important for this to be borne in mind.” He further argued that “the Palestinian Liberation Movement is one of the most remarkable liberation movements of modern times, and its tragedy is that it had been strategically flexible, and tactically inflexible, when it should have been the reverse. With regards to changing the direction of political forces, there are two in this case, the larger geopolitical forces in the region, and there should be a shifting of the general forces globally, as well as work within the occupied territories and Gaza.”
Finally, Na’eem Jeenah, co-chair of the ICNP from South Africa, in his concluding words reminded all that the Plan of Action which had been deliberated was not enough: “No words can be enough to express what should be done in moving forward. The current conjuncture requires genuine and sincere solidarity, wholehearted sacrifice, and untiring commitment to the Palestinian people and the cause of justice, and even this will not be enough. The international community will never be able to make up for its desertion of the Palestinian people whilst they were robbed and continue to be robbed of their land, and were tortured and battered in an attempt to make them submit.”
He concluded that “the Plan of Action is a minimum, and the next nine months should be spent ensuring it came to fruition, with a truly global Day of Action at the end of those months, which will make those in Tel Aviv and in Washington shiver in their boots, and make it clear that the international community will no longer continue to desert the Palestinian people, but will stand by them until the attainment of their legitimate rights, self-determination, and State.”
The campaign by the Kifaya group is a sign of how the war in Lebanon knocked momentum from democracy efforts and left many reform activists deeply resentful of the United States.
Over the past two years, Washington has made promoting democracy a key part of its Middle East policy. But now reformists accuse Washington of supporting Israel in its offensive against Hezbollah guerrillas, which wreaked widespread destruction in Lebanon.
Edward S. Walker, a former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and Israel, believes Kifaya's new campaign showcases Washington's dilemma as it strives to sell the values of democracy and freedom in a region galvanized for decades by the Arab-Israeli conflict.
"One of the costs of pressing for democracy in the Middle East is the fact that most democratically based Arab parties ... will be hostile to Israel," said Walker, now with the Middle East Institute, a Washington-based think tank.
The Kifaya movement has launched a campaign to collect 1 million signatures on a petition calling for the annulment of Egypt's U.S.-sponsored 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
The move is mainly symbolic, but it highlights the extent of resentment felt by Egyptians toward Israel — and by association, the United States, its main backer.
"The Lebanon war is responsible," said George Ishaq, Kifaya spokesman and founding member. "The petition is a reaction in part to the (Egyptian) regime's feeble diplomatic handling of the war." He said 100,000 signatures have been collected so far.
The Egyptian-Israeli treaty ended hostilities between the two neighbors, after four wars between 1948 and 1973, and is cited by successive U.S. administrations as a model for peaceful coexistence in the region. But it failed to dent the animosity most Egyptians feel for Israel.The anti-Israel campaign is a major shift for Kifaya, whose name is Arabic for "Enough" — as in enough of the 25-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak.
The movement, made up of politicians, intellectuals and rights activists, burst onto Egypt's political scene two years ago, holding noisy demonstrations aimed at stopping Mubarak from seeking a fifth 6-year term in office or allowing his son, Gamal, to succeed him.At least for a time, Kifaya's actions captured Washington's attention as a movement with the potential to peacefully bring reform. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice met with Kifaya and other reform activists during a visit to Cairo last year.
The movement succeeded in breaking down deeply ingrained political taboos, particularly by calling openly for Mubarak to step down. Its colorful street protests stirred up Egypt's stagnant politics and made democratic reform a top issue.
Still, Kifaya failed in its immediate political goals — the 78-year-old Mubarak was re-elected a year ago. Many believe his son is still on course to succeed him.
Many Egyptians strongly oppose an accession to power by Gamal Mubarak, seeing it as a mere continuation of his father's rule.
Now Kifaya is more concerned with Israel. On its Web site, dozens of postings expound on the pros and cons of abolishing Egypt's peace treaty.
Some wrote that peace with Israel was "an illusion" and a "danger to Egyptian national security." Another said it was time for Egyptians to "struggle" against Israel.
"The most prominent casualty of Washington's policy during the Lebanon war was its program for democracy in the Middle East," said Amr Hamzawi, a Middle East expert at Carnegie Endowments, a Washington think tank. "When an elected government in Lebanon faced a challenge, the American administration blatantly took the side of Israel."
Tens of thousands across the Arab world protested Israel's Lebanon offensive, focusing their anger on Washington because it rejected calls for a quick cease-fire. The United States argued a quick truce would not last without new political realities on the ground, but many Arabs saw that as just a green light for Israel to press on with its campaign.
"The Americans' handling of the Lebanon war has undermined an already diminishing U.S. credibility in the Arab world," said Rosemary Hollis, a London-based Middle East expert.
14 September 2006
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States urged its European
allies not to rush into a decision to lift restrictions on
aid to the Palestinians following the proposed creation of
a national unity government involving Palestinian
moderates and the radical Hamas movement.
French reconsidering starvation tactics
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy met with
Abbas on Thursday in the West Bank town of Ramallah and
later suggested it was time to reevaluate the Quartet
"The formation of a Palestinian government of national
unity which takes into account the aims of the
international community would constitute a major
development," he said.
"If it is confirmed, it should lead to a re-examination of
the policies of the international community toward the
Palestinian government in terms of aid and contacts," he
But US still adamant
US officials were less upbeat on the likelihood that a
government involving Hamas would meet international
demands to renounce terrorism, accept Israel's right to
exist and abide by past peace agreements.
A senior official on Thursday urged the Europeans not to
break ranks and lift sanctions on the Palestinians before
the conditions are met.
"One of the reasons why you do actually have some hope
now, or just a glimmer of a possibility of a change within
the Palestinian political system vis-a-vis willingness to
meet those conditions is a unified front," he said.
"People have remained united on this issue, so our view,
obviously, is that now is not the time to change that," he
said on condition of anonymity.
It is difficult to exaggerate the economic collapse of Gaza, with the Palestinian Authority cut off from funds by Israel, the United States and the European Union after Hamas won the legislative elections on Jan. 25.
Since then, the authority has paid most of its 73,000 employees here, nearly 40 percent of Gaza’s work force, only 1.5 months’ salary, resulting in a severe economic depression and growing signs of malnutrition, especially among the poorest children.
In northern Gaza, in Beit Lahiya, where Israeli troops fought Palestinian gunmen during July, Atemad Abu Leilah, 33, lives in a hovel with her 11 children and her handicapped husband. He used to get $68 a month from the welfare ministry, but has received nothing for four months, she said.
She is a not a refugee, so is ineligible for refugee aid and like many here, gets by on casual work and the charity of neighbors.
She taps into wires in the street to take electricity illegally, and she has not bought her children school uniforms for the new school year. “I can’t afford to buy them notebooks,” she said.
She feeds her children greens, herbs, lentils and eggplant, and sometimes gets flour given by the World Food Program. “Forget about meat,” she said. “The last time we had chicken was a month ago.’’
Her relative, Ghalia Abu Leilah, 60, came by with a pot of yogurt she bought for her husband, who is dying of cancer, with money from a neighbor, she said.
A year ago, when the Israelis left, “We were very happy,” Atemad Abu Leilah said. “I voted for Hamas, for reform and change and improvement. But now I look at my kids and I regret my vote.”