Saturday, August 4, 2007

Iraq imposes 'Saddam style' ban on oil union

Heather Stewart, economics editor
Sunday August 5, 2007
The Observer

Contributed by Lucia

"Iraq's energy ministry is using a Saddam-era decree to crack down on trade unions and stifle dissent against foreign exploitation of the country's vast oil reserves, the Basra-based oil workers' union claims.

Hassan Juma'a, the union's leader, has been at the forefront of a public campaign against the signing of a controversial new oil law - demanded by Washington - that would lead to long-term profit-sharing contracts being signed with multinational oil giants.

But Hussein Shahrastani, Iraq's oil minister, has now issued a directive banning unions from participating in any official discussions about the new law, 'since these unions have no legal status to work within the state sector'......

Shahrastani's ban is only the latest move against the union. Earlier this year, arrest warrants were issued for its leaders after they threatened to strike."

Dreaming of Nahr al-Bared

Dr. Marcy Newman writing from Beirut, Lebanon, Live from Lebanon, 4 August 2007

"Last week a group of international activists, people from Shatila refugee camp, and a group of people from the Nahr al-Bared displaced committee held a meeting to discuss how to break the media blackout about the siege on Nahr al-Bared refugee camp. One of the men at the meeting asked us, "How do we get the story of our situation into the media on a daily basis so that people will go to sleep at night dreaming of people from Nahr al-Bared?"....

As I ate lunch at a friend's house last week in Baddawi refugee camp, approximately 10 kilometers from Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, I was struck by the intensity of the bombing down the road. Every minute I could feel the vibration of and hear the bombings -- several times each minute. With several thousand Palestinians from Nahr al-Bared living in Baddawi I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that these families who fled this military bombardment must be reliving the trauma of their flight with each bomb each day. Each minute. How does one get the average Lebanese person or the average person more generally to understand, to feel, to work to end this siege?......

One reason why the media is asleep at the wheel when it comes to reporting about Nahr al-Bared is because the army is controlling journalists. While they may not be shooting at journalists as they did the first week of the conflict, they continue to keep them at bay. They remain outside the camp and at the mercy of the army for any information about the conflict. Few if any journalists are challenging the army -- and those who have are reportedly being sued by the army for writing about the situation in a way that the army does not condone. Welcome to embedded journalism in Lebanon. Applying the US model of media coverage in Iraq, journalists must report from the Lebanese army's vantage point if they wish to cover the story at all. This form of censorship does not allow for any coverage of the human cost of this war -- of the people trapped inside or the people displaced from it......

.....Given that Palestinians in Lebanon are far too aware of promises made and broken in the past is it any wonder that they are skeptical of promises to have their camp rebuilt when they are absent from any discussion about it?

Palestinians desire, demand, and deserve their right of return to Nahr al-Bared and to Palestine. Palestinians from Nahr al-Bared witnessed the return of displaced people from South Lebanon to their destroyed villages last summer despite the unexploded cluster bombs...... "

New Palestinian National Anthem

By order of his majesty, Mahmoud Abbas, and as a reflection of his policies and pursuant to his abolishing the right to resist and the right of return, the President of the independent state of Palestine and the Commander in Chief of the Palestinian Armed Forces, has decreed that the Palestinian national anthem has been changed effective Monday August 6, 2007 in honor of the meeting that his highness will be holding with the Prime Minister of the only democracy in the Middle East, on that day.

Here are the words of the new Palestinian national anthem:

Click Here to Learn the New Palestinian National Anthem

Kumbaya my lord, kumbaya
Kumbaya my lord, kumbaya
Kumbaya my lord, kumbaya
Oh lord, kumbaya

Someones singing lord, kumbaya
Someones singing lord, kumbaya
Someones singing lord, kumbaya
Oh lord, kumbayah

Someones laughing, lord, kumbaya
Someones laughing, lord, kumbaya
Someones laughing, lord, kumbaya
Oh lord, kumbaya

Someones crying, lord, kumbaya
Someones crying, lord, kumbaya
Someones crying, lord, kumbaya
Oh lord, kumbaya

Someones praying, lord, kumbaya
Someones praying, lord, kumbaya
Someones praying, lord, kumbaya
Oh lord, kumbaya

Someones sleeping, lord, kumbaya
Someones sleeping, lord, kumbaya
Someones sleeping, lord, kumbaya
Oh lord, kumbaya
Oh lord, kumbaya

Faith-Based War

With God as Bush's Co-Conspirator?


"Washington DC made its reputation around the world as the city where nothing succeeds like failure – take Bush and Wolfowitz as examples. Few “realists” tell the truth, especially in matters of public policy. But President Bush has discovered a new way around truth: faith. He has faith that the US military will win in Iraq despite the impressive array of facts that would cause less fervent believers to waver. His style of operating -- classify everything and don’t talk to anyone but absolutely loyal reporters and God – contrasts sharply with the Nixon-Kissinger era.....

“I believe that the military strategy we have is going to work, that’s what I believe,” he told a reporter. A few asked him tough questions related to discrepancies between his previous statements on Iraq – from “Mission Accomplished” in May 2003 to “we’re making some progress in securing Baghdad” in 2007. Bush relied on the word “believe,” using it 21 times during his one hour press conference........

Bush’s faith in the “surge of troops” resembles the Rabbi from Chelm’s belief in straw. When he saw the town barn afire, the rabbi ordered his flock to throw straw on the flames. He dismissed the doubters because his overriding faith in God reinforced his judgment. The straw caused the flames to abate, momentarily. The rabbi smirked. But seconds later they leaped ever higher. “More straw,” screamed the rabbi. “More troops,” screams Bush. The establishment that contributed to his campaign now wrings its collective hands and worries about its fortunes– if the US stays in Iraq or pulls out -- as the Rabbi of Chelm presides in the White house. "

Whose dime is Blair travelling on?

Ian Williams
The Guardian

Contributed by Lucia

"When Tony Blair was appointed as the Quartet representative, it was at the behest of the Bush administration. And for once, the White House seems to be putting its money where its mouth was.

British and UN sources confrimed to Al-Jazeera International last week that the US state department is picking up Tony Blair's tab while they work with their reluctant partners in the Quartet to set up a trust fund.....

The subject has upset even senior British Foreign Office officials, concerned not only at Blair's lack of a substantial enough role for an ex-prime minister, but also with the contradictions inherent in his in effect being on the American payroll immediately after his retirement, which was after all accelerated by public displeasure at his being so close to the Bush administration while in office.

The question of who pays for him and his office, and on what basis he is employed, had been getting the runaround. There is the soapy smell of money laundering here, with frantic attempts to disguise the source......

The UN spokeswoman said "there are discussions still taking place", and in remarkable harmony, his own office said on Thursday that "these issues are still being discussed. Our focus has been on Tony Blair's trips and getting the office up and running September". So is Blair paying for his office, his staff and his travel costs to the region on his own credit card while waiting for cash? One doubts it.

....The Quartet is an ad hoc partnership between Europe, the UN, Russia and the US, which has no institutional existence, no office, no rules of procedure and no organisation. There is a lot of mystery about what the Quartet does, and even more about what Tony Blair's part in it is.

Condoleezza Rice and the Americans have been very explicit about what his part is not. He cannot engage in any serious attempts at peacemaking between the Israelis and the Palestinians. His job is to help build Palestinian Institutions, but he is not to talk to Hamas, which actually won the elections and controls the Gaza Strip. That may be just as well since between Iraq and his refusal to call for a ceasefire in Lebanon last year, there is no guarantee that Hamas would talk to him.

Indeed, the presence of Blair as an official Quartet representative, refusing to talk to Hamas, reinforces the recent conclusion, leaked to the Guardian from Alavaro de Soto, the UN's previous special representative, that the Quartet is simply a means of binding the other parties to an American, and hence Israeli, agenda.

It is not Russian policy and certainly has not been voted upon by any UN decision-making body, to boycott the victors of the last Palestinian Authority elections. But here we have a former British prime minister, on the American payroll, doing just that in the name of the Quartet. It is not surprising that there is a degree of caginess on the part of the various parties. It is surprising that Tony Blair could not wait to start until some more acceptable and transparent payment had been worked out - and perhaps even more so that he would take the job without a more substantial role allotted to him.

And to highlight his peripheral status, Gordon Brown has approached former Robin Cook aide Michael Williams, freshly appointed to be Middle East rep at the UN to represent Britain in the peace process. Which reinforces the question. Who does Blair represent?"

Video: Jay Leno interviews Dick Cheney

2 Minute video; Click Here to Watch

خبير عسكري مصري: 80 ألف مرتزق يعملون في العراق لحساب أميركا وإسرائيل ومهامهم بثّ الفتنة واشعال الحرب المذهبية

Contributed by Fatima

"كشف خبير عسكري مصري عن وجود ما يزيد على 80 ألفا من "المرتزقة" يعملون لحساب الولايات المتحدة الأميركية و"إسرائيل" داخل الأراضي العراقية ويستهدفون إشعال الفتنة بين الطوائف العراقية وتدمير البنية التحتية وتفجير مساجد السنة والشيعة وشغلهم بالخلافات المذهبية فيما بينهم.

وقال اللواء صلاح الدين سليم إن أفراد المرتزقة يحصل الواحد منهم على مقابل يتراوح ما بين 4 و15 ألف دولار شهريا بقدر ما يتم إحداثه من تدمير وتحقيق من أهداف. ضاف سليم أمام ندوة نظمها منتدى الحوار العربي بنقابة الصحافيين والتي تناولت الدور "الإسرائيلي" في إشعال الفتن المذهبية والسياسية في المنطقة "أن هناك مخططا خارجيا فعليا يستهدف تقسيم وتفكيك 9 دول عربية من بينها مصر والسعودية والعراق ولبنان والسودان والصومال".

وأشار إلى أن أمريكا تعمل دائما على جعل "إسرائيل" "الدولة العظمى" في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وذلك لتلاقي المصالح بين الجانبين على حساب البلاد العربية والتي تتمثل في فرض السيطرة على البترول والثروات الطبيعية في هذه البلاد وتحقيق ما وصفه بمنع وصول المنظمات الإسلامية للحكم فيها إضافة إلى تفتيت هذه البلاد وشغل شعوبها بالفتن المذهبية والعرقية، وتوقع سليم تعرض إيران لضربة عسكرية أمريكية بمشاركة "إسرائيلية" في الخريف المقبل.

وأشار الدكتور رفعت سيد أحمد مدير مركز يافا للدراسات إلى أن "إسرائيل" حصلت خلال ال29 عاما الأخيرة على مساعدات مالية أمريكية بلغت 1600 مليار دولار مؤكدا أن أمريكا تستهدف تمزيق المنطقة بخلق الفتن بين السنة والشيعة فيها. "

Bribe, Divide and Conquer

How the U.S. is Reshaping the Middle East


".....Paying off someone with this sordid legacy becomes important however, if the United States wishes him to continue taking a soft line against Israel, a hard line against Iran and keep a watchful eye on Hamas in Gaza. Ironically it was Saddam Hussein who once said: “Hosni Mubarak is like a payphone. You deposit your money, and you get what you want in return.”

King Abdullah of Jordan is likely to get a slice of the pie as he serves many of the same functions as Mubarak. It is common knowledge that his father, the late King Hussein, was on the CIA payroll for decades.

The latest leaders to fall victim to the lure of money and power dispensed by the United States are Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

The most telling sign that the unelected government of President Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has been effectively bought and now takes its orders from George Bush and Ehud Olmert has been removal of the phrase “armed resistance” from Fatah’s platform. Unsurprisingly, this occurred shortly after Fatah’s expulsion from Gaza by Hamas and the promise of weapons from Bush and Olmert thereafter. The Electronic Intifada has helped expose the longtime collusion of Abbas’ former Gaza security chief Mahmoud Dahlan with the Israelis:

"Be certain that Yasser Arafat's final days are numbered, but allow us to finish him off our way, not yours. And be sure as well that ... the promises I made in front of President Bush, I will give my life to keep."

- Excerpt from a letter written by Mahmoud Dahlan to Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, July 13, 2003.

No doubt a portion of the $30 billion allotted to Israel will help keep “moderates” like Abbas and Dahlan the corrupt, subservient figures they have proven themselves to be.

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s administration has likewise been hired by the United States, in this case to act against Hezbollah through extremist Sunni proxies as described in previous articles. Both Abbas and Siniora are being used to divide their people, rendering Palestine and Lebanon weak states. Bringing the two into the fold has been a coup and cause for celebration at the State Department.

The gains being made in the Middle East by the United States and Israel are staggering. With few exceptions, the conquest of the region proceeds unabated thanks to the complicity of its servile rulers. The kings, emirs, princes, dictators and despots that constitute the Arab kleptocracies are selling themselves and their people for a measly price.

Gone is Iraq, the cradle of civilization, whose citizens are starving while billions of dollars in US weapons pour into neighboring countries actively abetting its collapse. Gone soon too will be Palestine, already divided between itself, and the right of its people to resist a cruel occupation. To the north, “civil war” has again entered the Lebanese lexicon.

Awaken oh Arabs, for your future is being pawned before your eyes.

Awaken from your slumber before there will be nothing left to salvage. "

By Bendib.
(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Bush Isn't Spying on al Qaeda ... He's Spying on You

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

"The dispute over whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales committed perjury when he parsed words about George W. Bush's warrantless surveillance program misses a larger point: the extraordinary secrecy surrounding these spying operations is not aimed at al-Qaeda, but at the American people.

There has never been a reasonable explanation for why a fuller discussion of these operations would help al-Qaeda, although that claim often is used by the Bush administration to challenge the patriotism of its critics or to avoid tough questions......

But al-Qaeda terrorists always have assumed that their electronic communications were vulnerable to interception, which is why 9/11 attackers like Mohamed Atta traveled overseas for face-to-face meetings with their handlers. They limited their phone calls to mostly routine conversations......Can anyone really imagine a conversation like "Gee, Osama, since Bush has to get FISA approval, we can now call our sleeper agents and plan the next attack.".....

The chief reason, especially for the excessive secrecy around the data-mining operations, appears to be Bush's political need to prevent a full debate inside the United States about the security value of these Big Brother-type procedures when weighed against invasions of Americans' privacy.

Bush knows he could run into trouble if he doesn't keep the American people in the dark. In 2002, for instance, when the Bush administration launched a project seeking "total information awareness" on virtually everyone on earth involved in the modern economy, the disclosure was met with public alarm......

Yet, because of the secrecy that Bush has pulled down around these operations, neither Congress nor the people can evaluate whether the trade-offs of liberty for security are worth it. Leading senators can't even make an informed judgment about whether Gonzales lied to them.

But that, of course, might be exactly the point. The real purpose of all the secrecy appears to be to enable the Bush administration to construct an authoritarian framework -- similar to the "total information awareness" concept -- without the American people knowing that their liberties are facing a draconian threat from intrusive government spying."

By Mike Luckovich

The three stooges

The president won't fire Alberto Gonzales. He needs him to protect White House secrets, including the scheming roles of Cheney and Rove.

By Sidney Blumenthal

"Omertà (or a code of silence) has become the final bond holding the Bush administration together. Honesty is dishonorable; silence is manly; penitence is weakness. Loyalty trumps law. Protecting higher-ups is patriotism. Stonewalling is idealism. Telling the truth is informing. Cooperation with investigators is cowardice; breaking the code is betrayal. Once the code is shattered, however, no one can be trusted and the entire edifice crumbles.......

Even Nixon, in asserting executive privilege in the heat of the Watergate scandal, did not claim that it applied to decisions made in the Justice Department. Attorney General John Mitchell, found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice, could not be protected from prosecution for his part in what he called the "White House horrors."

Dick Cheney, the greatest exponent of the Nixonian concept of the presidency, more successful than Nixon, has usurped in his grasp of executive power even command of domestic legal policy. But we have seen only a flicker of a shadow of his power. And Bush knows that Rove, too, has played puppet master. Losing Gonzales would raise the curtain on this era's "White House horrors." So Bush throws executive privilege over everyone he can. The yes man has become the indispensable man."

Bravery, tears and broken dreams

Mount Ararat, towering symbol of Armenia, is an awful reminder of wrongs unrighted

By Robert Fisk

"There is nothing so infinitely sad - so pitiful and yet so courageous - as a people who yearn to return to a land forever denied them; the Poles to Brest Litovsk, the Germans to Silesia, the Palestinians to that part of Palestine that is now Israel. When a people claim to have settled again in their ancestral lands - the Israelis, for example, at the cost of "cleansing" 750,000 Arabs who had perfectly legitimate rights to their homes - the world becomes misty eyed. But could any nation be more miserably bereft than one which sees, each day, the towering symbol of its own land in the hands of another?

Mount Ararat will never return to Armenia - not to the rump state which the Soviets created in 1920 after the Turkish genocide of one and a half million Armenians - and its presence to the west of the capital, Yerevan, is a desperate, awful, permanent reminder of wrongs unrighted, of atrocities unacknowledged, of dreams never to be fulfilled. I watched it all last week, cloud-shuffled in the morning, blue-hazed through the afternoon, ominous, oppressive, inspiring, magnificent, ludicrous in a way - for the freedom which it encourages can never be used to snatch it back from the Turks - capable of inspiring the loftiest verse and the most execrable commercialism......."

Nasrallah: Lebanon gov't part of US national security

Al-Manar special - Mohamad Shmaysani /

"Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah delivered his fourth televised speech in two weeks Friday evening through a large screen in the town of Baalbek in the Lebanon Valley. He first addressed the residents of this decades long deprived region that is also very well known as the reservoir of the resistance......

"We are looking for real coexistence at a time the US is bringing arms into this region to start up wars. We are looking for unity, cooperation and solidarity because Lebanon cannot be divided. This country cannot rise unless there is cooperation and unity. Let us implement the Taef Accord. Unfortunately, some people don't see anything in this accord except the truce of 1949 with Israel and disarming the resistance."......

"We told you that these are arms of a resistance organization, not a militia. We also told you that we agree to discuss the issue of the arms in the framework of a defensive strategy. We do not want to keep our weapons forever. We would be very thankful when a strong state exists with a strong army to protect all of Lebanon. I have presented them with a defensive strategy at the table of national dialogue. I tell you now and I swear that the response to this strategy was the July war of 2006.".....

".....Here, I address the Christians…The Free Patriotic Movement made an understanding with Hezbollah, but with whom did the other bloc make alliances with? I need to ask the Christians: Did Hezbollah destroy your houses, committed massacres against you and ruined your Churches? Is Hezbollah stopping you from returning to your villages in Mount Lebanon? Did Hezbollah commit this was it those you've made alliances with? Didn't you see how Hezbollah acted when the Israelis withdrew in the year 2000? Did we burn any house, harm anyone, destroy Churches, change the demographic landscape in the south? Didn't we preserve the people and their dignity, knowing that many of them have killed many of our fighters, bombed our cities and villages and committed massacres, tortured our people in the Khiam detention center? How did we respond, did we hold the Christians responsible for this? Of course not. Yes, there are some who feel ashamed of making an alliance with the resistance that has been fighting Israel and had liberated Lebanon, but they don't feel ashamed of making alliances with those who spent their lives in Israeli training camps and trenches,"

Hezbollah's Secretary General also said the United States was trying to intimidate the Lebanese people by taking punitive financial action against opponents of the Western-backed government of Fouad Saniora. His eminence said US President George W. Bush was doing all he could to protect the governing coalition. "Bush said that Saniora's government has become a part of US national security, Sayyed Nasrallah reminded. "Bush comes out and says: 'You Lebanese, whoever shakes the Saniora government, I will act against legally, financially and economically." "Bush considers the Saniora government part of American national security and part of American policy. We are demanding a government which represents Lebanese national security and not American national security," Sayyed Nasralla said.

His eminence criticized the United States plan to increase military assistance to Middle Eastern countries including Israel at a time it bans the Lebanese army from arming, accusing Washington of seeking to drown the Middle East in wars. "The United States is bringing billions of dollars worth of arms to ignite wars in this region. The American administration is working on instigating sectarian strife and civil wars in Palestine, Iraq, the Gulf and ... between the countries of this region.""

Arafat was poisoned by Israeli agents, says his former political adviser

"Bethlehem – Ma'an – Former political adviser to the late Yasser Arafat, Bassam Abu Sharif, said on Saturday that ex-French President Jacques Chirac and three French doctors, which treated the late leader, are adamant that he was killed and know which poison killed him.

Abu Sharif also said that Chirac decided to keep the findings of the French doctors a secret, claiming that it was in the interests of the Palestinian population.

During a press conference in Ramallah, Abu Sharif renewed his accusations against Israel and said that they poisoned the former Palestinian leader. He added that the method of assassinating Arafat was the same as the one used to kill former Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader, Wadie Haddad, in East Germany in 1978.

According to a recent publication Haddad was poisoned by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad who sent him biologically-infected chocolate which caused him to die within a month.

Abu Sharif said that the poison used in both cases prevent the body from producing red blood cells and that the affect of the poison does not appear for a long period after the death, making the assassins difficult to reveal and the crime harder to detect.

Arafat's former political adviser refused to go into detail regarding the poisoning, saying that this would enable those responsible to hide the evidence. "It is not wise to go into details," he said......"

Friday, August 3, 2007

New American Definition of Human Rights and Spreading Democracy
By Abu Mahjoob

Bush’s Executive Order on Lebanon Even Worse than the One on Iraq

By Matthew Rothschild

"George W. Bush is churning out executive orders and Presidential directives just as fast as Dick Cheney’s lawyers can fill up yellow legal pads.

The power that he is asserting—no, grabbing—with these executive orders is astonishing and alarming. Such power imperils our liberties and our democratic system of government.

Two weeks ago, Bush issued an extraordinary executive order entitled, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq.”

It gives to the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to freeze the property of people who are engaging in violence or who “pose a significant risk” of engaging in violence against the Iraqi government or the economic and reconstruction plan for Iraq. It also bans donations of “food, clothing, and medicine, intended to be used to relieve human suffering” to anyone whose property has been frozen.

On August 1, Bush issued a similar executive order, this one entitled, “Blocking Property of Persons Undermining the Sovereignty of Lebanon or Its Democratic Processes and Institutions.”

Syrian meddling in Lebanon constitutes an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” Bush asserted, adding, “I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.”

This executive order is even more sweeping. Where the one on Iraq applies to people who engage in violent acts or pose a significant risk of engaging in violent acts, this one doesn’t even bother to limit it to that. Anyone who engages in any act—violent or nonviolent—against the government of Lebanon can now have his or her property frozen.

And it also gives the Treasury Secretary the authority to freeze the assets of “a spouse or dependent child” of any person whose property is frozen. What’s next? Impounding the family dog?

The executive order on Lebanon also bans food, medicine, and humanitarian aid to anyone whose property is frozen—and that includes the “dependent child” mentioned above.

Representative Dennis Kucinich denounced the new executive order as “reckless and dangerous.” He said it is part of a strategy to “generate more turmoil” in the Middle East. And amass more power in the Executive Branch."

Olmert wants to shake hands with the Saudis

From Khalid Amayreh in Occupied East Jerusalem

"Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been pressing the Bush administration and other international and regional players to pressure Saudi leaders to hold a public meeting with Israeli leaders, preferably himself or foreign minister Tzipi Livni.

According to reports in the Hebrew press, Olmert told visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who arrived in Israel last week, that he was interested in establishing “a diplomatic breakthrough” in the form of a meeting between himself and a Saudi official.

Israeli sources, quoted by the Ha’aretz newspaper, said an Israeli-Saudi meeting would show that Israel was making a diplomatic headway, which would boost Olmert’s public standing among Israeli Jews.

Olmert earlier asked two visiting Arab foreign ministers, Ahmed abul Gheit of Egypt and Abdul Ilah al Khatib of Jordan , to press other Arab officials to visit Israel.....

Olmert has been saying that he needs a dramatic event, e.g. a meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, to convince the Israeli public to support “bold diplomatic initiatives,” by Israel, especially with regard to the Palestinian issue.

Olmert told visiting American officials recently that unlike Israel, where the Prime Minister is answerable to the people and has to carefully watch his behavior, Arab leaders could embark on bold steps toward Israel without having to worry about public opinion in their respective arenas......"

Same old tune

The current campaign by the US to reproduce the Oslo euphoria is painfully off-key

An Excellent Comment

By Khalid Amayreh

"When Israel and the PLO signed the ill-fated Oslo Agreement in 1993, many people, save the "pessimists" and "extremists", thought that peace was finally around the corner and that a new politically stable and economically prosperous Middle East was in the offing.....

The ensuing euphoria prompted the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to declare Palestinian towns "liberated, liberated, liberated," with Peres telling the world in every TV interview that Israel had virtually ended its occupation of the "Palestinian territories" and that 99 per cent of Palestinians were living under the rule and control of the Palestinian Authority. Peres neglected to tell the world that the PA itself was under Israeli occupation and that the PA leader couldn't leave his headquarters in Ramallah and Gaza without an Israeli permit.....

Now, 14 years later, it seems that we are about to witness Oslo-2 as the US, Israel and other players, such as the new quartet peace envoy, former British prime minister, Tony Blair, are trying to reproduce Oslo-1 with the same public relations, same euphoria and the same lies. Indeed, it might be safe to conclude that the putative Oslo-2 agreement being contemplated, even if doesn't bear the Norwegian appellation, is going to be a poor cousin of the first Oslo Agreement.....

For its part, the American administration is also giving the impression of déjà-vu. In the early 1990s, when the US wanted to mobilise as many Arab states as possible for the war of liberation of Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's army, the US administration convened the Madrid Peace Conference, the Oslo Agreement's predecessor, in order to placate Arab public opinion and convince the Arab world that the US was serious about resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Now, the US is ostensibly trying to do it again, by cajoling and if necessary bullying its Arab allies into joining Israel in a part- international part-regional conference to discuss the proverbial peace process, as if that moribund process needed any more discussion after all these years of peace initiatives and negotiations and agreements. The renewed American attention, however, is hardly altruistic and may well be related to and motivated by possible plans to attack Iran's nuclear installations on Israel's behalf. So, is the US trying to sell the Arabs another deception? Another Oslo agreement, in preparation for a new war on another Muslim country, this time Iran?.....

Needless to say, the Israeli prime minister seems convinced that the current PA leadership's obsession with "statehood" overrides its demands for total Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank. This week, the London-based Arabic newspaper reported that Olmert and Abbas were holding secret talks on a permanent settlement. Israeli and Palestinian officials have neither confirmed nor denied the report. However, with the Abbas- Fayyad regime in Ramallah almost completely dependent on Israel, it is amply clear that the secret negotiations are not being conducted between two equal partners but between a parsimonious occupier that owns or controls nearly all the assets and a vanquished supplicant that has to beg for everything from the occupier.

Hence, it is safe to conclude that any agreements or compromises reached or imposed outside the umbrella of UN resolutions, including any prospective outcome of the proposed American-backed regional conference, slated to take place in the autumn, will ultimately meet the same fate and same failure that the Oslo Agreement met....."

كرمى لعيون السنيورة

تقرير قناة المنار – منار صباغ /

"جرعة دعم أميركية جديدة منحت لحكومة السنيورة غير الشرعية، حيث اصدر الرئيس الأميركي جورج بوش قراراً يقضي بتجميد الأموال الموجودة في الولايات المتحدة لأي شخص يعتبر تهديداً للاستقرار السياسي في لبنان.
فبموجب السلطة المنوطة بي كرئيس من قبل دستور الولايات المتحدة وقوانينها، وضمنها حالة الطوارئ القومية، أنا جورج بوش، رئيس الولايات المتحدة، أقرر أن أعمال أشخاص محددين لتقويض الحكومة الشرعية اللبنانية المنتخبة ديموقراطياً، يشكلون تهديداً غير عادي واستثنائياً للأمن القومي والسياسة الخارجية للولايات المتحدة، وبموجب هذه الوثيقة أعلن حالة طوارئ قومية لمواجهة هذا التهديد.
هو بالتأكيد زمن العجائب، فلعلها المرة الأولى في التاريخ التي يعلن فيها احد الرؤساء الأميركيين حالة الطوارئ القومية كرمى عيون فريق سياسي في بلد يبعد عنه آلاف الأميال.
قرار بوش الذي يقضي بتجميد الممتلكات الموجودة في الولايات المتحدة لأي شخص يهدد الاستقرار السياسي في لبنان ويدعم ما وصفها بعودة الهيمنة السورية عليه، كان واضحاً انه الطلقة الأميركية الأخيرة لمواجهة خيار تشكيل حكومة ثانية من قبل الموالين لسوريا على حد ما جاء في القرار، كرمى عيون السنيورة. وعلق على هذا القرار رئيس حزب الحوار الوطني فؤاد مخزومي بالقول"أنا الذي استغربه من جماعة 14 آذار عندما كانوا يعترضون على قرارات غازي كنعان ورستم غزاله وعبد الحليم خدام في التدخل في الشأن اللبناني، كيف كانوا يعتبرون ذلك تدخلا في القرار اللبناني والقرارات التي تصدر في أميركا لا تعتبر تدخلا بالشأن اللبناني. اليوم اذا قلنا باراك اوباما في أميركا أو هيلاري كلينتون التي تقف ضد حكومة بوش نحن نمنعها من القدوم إلى لبنان، أو اذا كان لديها استثمارات في هذا البلد نجمدها لها كان العالم قام ضدنا وقال أننا لا نفهم لا بالقوانين الدولية ولا بالاستثمار اليوم إذا كان عندك استثمار في أميركا وعندك اختلاف بالرأي مع شخص موجود في بلدك ليس أميركيا إلا إذا الرئيس السنيورة وليس حسب علمي انه أميركي، أنا اليوم كلبناني آخذ موقف من شخص لبناني ثاني والموجود في موقع سلطة اين هي مخالفتنا للدستور والأنظمة والديمقراطية التي ينادون بها، أنا اعتقد أنها عملية تهويل وضربة استباقيه لمنع حكومة ثانية من التشكل".
لكن الخطير في القرار انه لم يحدد من يشمل، بل تُرك مفتوحاً للتطورات السياسية التي يمكن ان تحصل، وقد كلف بوش وزارتي الخارجية والخزانة تحديد الشخصيات والجهات التي سيشملها القرار، مانعاً السلطات الأميركية من إبلاغ المشمولين بالقرار مسبقاً.
نائب المتحدث باسم وزارة الخارجية الأميركية طوم كايسي قال ان وزارته تعمل بنشاط من اجل البحث عن الأشخاص والكيانات التي يفترض ان يطالها القرار، متوقعا الانتهاء من هذه المهمة خلال فترة قصيرة.
وبالعودة الى ابرز ما جاء في القرار فهو يقضي:
- بتجميد ممتلكات الأشخاص الموجودة في الولايات المتحدة، وتلك التي ستأتي في المستقبل إليها أو تلك الموجودة أو التي ستكون في المستقبل بحوزة أو سيطرة أي أشخاص في الولايات المتحدة، ضمنها أي أصول في فروع ما وراء البحار لمن:
1- عمل، أو يشكل خطراً كبيراً للقيام بأعمال، تتضمن أعمال عنف، بهدف تقويض أو التأثير على العملية الديموقراطية في لبنان أو مؤسساته، ويساهم في تعطيل حكم القانون في لبنان، دعم إعادة الهيمنة السورية أو المساهمة بطريقة أخرى في التدخل السوري في لبنان، أو انتهاك سيادة لبنان أو تقويضها.
2- ساعد مادياً، رعى، أو قدم دعماً مالياً، مادياً، أو تقنياً، أو بضائع أو خدمات دعماً لمثل هذه الأعمال، ضمنها أعمال العنف، أو أي شخص جمدت ممتلكاته ومصالحه بموجب هذا القرار.
3- زوجة الشخص الذي جمدت ممتلكاته ومصالحه بموجب هذا القرار.
4- أي شخص يملك أو يسيطر، أو يعمل، بشكل مباشر أو غير مباشر، لمصلحة أي شخص جمدت ممتلكاته ومصالحه بموجب هذا الأمر.
6- حظر أي تبرعات لمصلحة أي شخص جمدت ممتلكاته ومصالحه."

Syracuse University Enlists in the Global War on Terror

My alma mater now informs me that to be a citizen of the Maxwell School is to team up with Israeli military institutions in order to learn the methods that they have found successful against the Palestinians, a people they have occupied and suppressed for over 40 years.

Linda Ford and Ira Glunts
Special to

"Imagine my surprise as I leafed through what is usually a fairly bland magazine that, as an alumna (PhD. History ’84) , I periodically receive from the Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship, to find that therein is a new ideal of citizenship. My alma mater now informs me that to be a citizen of the Maxwell School is to support continual and all-out war against a vaguely defined “terrorist” enemy, to condone lethal collateral damage to civilians, and to team up with Israeli military institutions in order to learn the methods that they have found “successful” against the Palestinians, a people they have occupied and suppressed for over 40 years.

Shouldn’t an institution of higher learning stand for peace, diplomacy and understanding among all nations? Why does my alma mater’s magazine feature photos of men masked, armed, and in full combat gear? Paul McCartney said his song “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” involved a story of how bad things get much worse, and how senseless killing leads to more senseless killing. Definitely not the ideal of the humanities.

What we may have here is an indication of a very alarming trend. That trend is the continuing and accelerating militarization of American society. It seems that Maxwell has been militarized now—in an excess of patriotic fervor? Fear of unknown assailants? Or desire for federal or patriotic alumni money? Is the almighty dollar reigning supreme in academe, so that even though a program is abhorrent to someone schooled in peace and the humanities, if it brings money to the university, it is perfectly fine?....."

Bush's Way or the Highway (Chain Gang)

Making Putin Look Like James Madison


"It is time I set the record straight. I applaud all George Bush has done as president during the past 6.5 years and if any one reads anything I have written during the past five years as threatening stabilization efforts in Iraq, attribute it to my impoverished style and not malevolence towards Mr. Bush and his foreign policy for which I have the highest regard.

Furthermore, like George W. Bush, I, too, am a big fan of Vladimir Putin and I was delighted to see that at the same time Mr. Bush was signing his most recent executive order, Mr. Putin was strengthening police-surveillance powers and broadening the definition of extremism in Russia giving the Russians the same kind of protection Mr. Bush is giving all of us.....

It says that property and interests of certain defined bad people can be confiscated without advance notice to those bad people. The order doesn’t apply to everyone in the United States. It only applies to people who have what is referred to in the EO as a “constitutional presence” in the United States. That term is not defined in the order but presumably it applies only to people who have the complete panoply of constitutional rights accorded citizens. Thus, terrorists and unlawful combatants who lack those rights are probably not affected by the EO.

Here are some of the kinds of bad people who pursuant to the EO may find their property confiscated without notice.

People who undermine “efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.” I fear that columns I have written making fun of the failed reconstruction efforts in Iraq or the torture in Abu Ghraib could be considered undermining the efforts of the government to continue engaging in failed reconstruction efforts and that was not my intent......"

In Freedom's Name

Learning from Reyam

(Monica Benderman is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman, a ten-year Army veteran who served a combat tour in Iraq and a year in prison for his public protest of war and the destruction it causes to civilians and to American military personnel)


"Reyam is fourteen years old. Her name means “white gazelles”. She’s a beautiful girl who loves to draw and chat with her friends. She’s bright, and works hard on her lessons. It’s three in the morning in Georgia, and the computer monitor and two candles cast the only light in the room as Reyam and I chat on the internet. She hopes she does well on her test in school. She would love to have a puppy, and her instant message icon changes weekly to fit the current teenage trends.

The miracle of technology, Reyam is teaching me Arabic using microphones, instant messages and something I’m still getting used to called an IMvironment. Reyam is in Baghdad. She “buzzes” my computer and I hear her talking – she is gentle, intelligent and caring, her parents should be proud. She tells me she hears bombings and it makes her scared. She tells me she sometimes wants to hide under her bed and she thinks she might cry. She tells me she tries so hard not to cry. She doesn’t want to cry, “I am an Iraqi, and I must be brave.”

Her generator loses power and our connection is ended for the night.


In Iraq, the United States military is “surging” to strengthen the security of a country whose borders had once been secure, now decimated from an invasion by the United States military. Some people in the United States actually still believe our soldiers are over there fighting for our freedom. Thousands of Iraqis become refugees from their homeland every day. Thousands more have died in the four years this fiasco has continued on. This is for freedom? ......"

Palestinians: Nazi justice system prevails in Israel

From Khalid Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem

"The Israeli "justice" system continued to pardon or give extremely light sentences to Israeli occupation soldiers convicted of murdering Palestinian civilians or causing them grave bodily injuries.

Earlier this week, an Israeli military court in Tel Aviv released four soldiers who a few days earlier seriously injured a Palestinian citizens from the town of Dahiriya, 19 kilometers south west of Hebron. The Palestinian received multiple gunshot wounds in the neck as he was walking in the town's main market.

According to Israeli press sources, the soldiers stole a taxi cab at gunpoint, blindfolded the driver before driving to the village center in order to "hunt some Palestinians." At one point, the soldiers shot and critically wounded the local Palestinian, leaving him bleed heavily, according to Palestinian sources.

The judge, an extreme right-winger, reportedly exonerated the soldiers, arguing that they didn't know that what they were doing was "illegal." The Israeli army described the soldiers' murderous behavior as "resulting from excessive motivation."

On Thursday, an Israeli army court in Jaffa decided to release the soldier who shot the Palestinian to what was described as "open remand" on his base. Other soldiers involved in the "incident" had already been released for absence of any incriminating evidence.....

Israeli army sources later admitted that the soldiers' account of the entire affair was concocted and that none of them had sprained an ankle.

Two weeks ago, another Israeli soldier who murdered a Palestinian in the West Bank was also acquitted of any wrongdoing by a military court.

In 2004, an Israeli occupation soldier who murdered a 13-year-old Palestinian school girl in Rafah at the southern edge of the Gaza Strip, and confirmed the kill in IOF lingo, was acquitted of any wrong doing. Far from being indicted for murder, the soldier, dubbed Captain R., was later awarded thousands of dollars for "getting his reputation tarnished by the media."

Normally, the Israeli press and media as well as intellectuals and civil society keep silent in the face of such outrageous behavior by the Israeli justice system.

Israel, nontheless, continues to claim that it is the only true democracy in the Middle East and that it is a country where the rule of law prevails. A Palestinian lawyer from Hebron region described the Israeli justice system as "very much like the Nazi justice system." "It is like a Nazi court prosecuting a Gestapo policeman, so what do you expect," said Hussein Raba'i. Raba'i argued that the Israeli justice system was based on race. "So if you the victim is Palestinian and the murderer is a Jew, every conceivable trick is employed to acquit the murderer." The lawyer stressed that justice and Israel shouldn't be used in the same phrase. "You see there can be no justice under such a Nazi-like occupation. The two are simply inherently incompatible. A state and an army that murders children on their way to school and shoots civilians knowingly and deliberately and practices the vilest acts of terror and humiliation can't really be expected to observe the principles of justice. Israeli courts normally don't indict soldiers involved in killing Palestinians for murder or even manslaughter. Instead, the usual charge brought against these murderers is "misuse of IDF-issued weapon" and "behaving in a manner unbecoming of soldiers."

Until a few years ago, Israeli soldiers convicted of killing innocent Palestinians were fined the equivalent of one US cent. The symbolic fine is meant to underscore the racist Israeli perception of non-Jewish lives as worthless.

Many of the Israeli courts, whether military or civilians, are staffed with religious-Zionist judges who are indoctrinated in Jewish racism which views non-Jews in general as lesser human beings or even outright animals.

Since the outbreak of the Palestinian Aqsa intifada, Israeli occupation troops killed thousands of Palestinian civilians, including as many as 1300 children and minors. Thousands of other Palestinian civilians were also injured or maimed in what human rights organizations have called "Israel's liberal slaughter of Palestinians.""


Unidentified gunmen lead failed assault on Palestinian writer and political analyst, Dr Shawar

I wonder how far and wide is the reach of the Abbas death squads? I am sure that this will not be the last time that these Fascists try to quash dissent. These tactics prove that they can only "rule" through terror and intimidation. It also shows that they are desperate since most Palestinians now know them as outright agents of the occupation -- Tony Sayegh

Read This Important Story

"Qalqilia – Ma'an – Unidentified gunmen opened fire on Friday morning at the home of writer and political analyst Dr. 'Isam Shawar. Although he was at home, he was not injured during the attack.

Shawar declared that "around 2:00am, shots were fired at my home. Some shots penetrated the house, causing no injuries."

According to the writer, the motives behind the attack could be his latest article, which bore the title: "We die at the checkpoints, and still contend stubbornly."

In the article, Shawar criticises the standpoint of the Palestinian representative to the United Nations and the Palestinian authorities towards the Qatari-Indonesian initiative which aims at lifting the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, and to open the closed Rafah Crossing to ease the situation of Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of the border

PRC: Israel recruiting Palestinian refugees

Spokesman for Popular Resistance Committees says Israeli security officials attempted to recruit collaborators while dozens of refugees returned from Rafah to Gaza this week: 'We fear some may have agreed to cooperate and will be working for the Israeli intelligence'

".....According to Abdel Al, also known as Abu Abir, two Palestinians who returned to the Gaza Strip in recent days after being stranded for weeks on the Egyptian side of the Rafah Crossing claimed that Israeli security officials attempted to recruit them.

The two Palestinians, aged 24 and 37, said the Israeli security official asked them to collect information on Palestinian organizations in Rafah, and particularly on members of Hamas’ special task force.

The two claimed they were questioned by the security officials regarding who they knew, and were asked questions about specific activists. According to Abu Abir, the 24-year-old Palestinian was detained for three hours until he agreed to say that he would cooperate.....

The 37-year-old Palestinian, who had returned from Egypt where his son had undergone medical treatments for the eyesight problems he was suffering from, said that he was detained for about six hours.

"The Israeli security officer gave him a card for a cellular phone and told him that he would be compensated according to the quality of the material and information he will provide his operators with.".....

"Immediately after his return he contacted us, and this proves that if the Israelis control the crossings, they will endanger the Palestinians by being able to recruit additional collaborators."

According to Abu Abir, the Rafah crossing should be opened in order to minimize the possibility that Israel will extort those who pass by. "We fear that among those who returned in the past few days were some who agreed to cooperate, but we have not reached them and they may start working on the missions given to them by the Israeli intelligence."

According to Abu Abir, the people responsible for the situation are Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for "assisting in the continued closure of the Rafah crossing." "

Maliki out on his feet

By Sami Moubayed
Asia Times

"DAMASCUS - Leaders worry about how history will label them. Adolf Hitler once said he wanted nothing to be written on his tombstone - the name would explain itself. Hitler might have thought he would be remembered as a great leader who brought pride and justice to Germany. Most recall him as a failed military leader who destroyed Europe.

Similarly, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki - whose days in office are surely numbered - might want to to be remembered as the man who brought democracy and justice to Iraqis; the man who rooted out terrorism and killed al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Instead, Iraqis will remember Maliki as a selfish, sectarian politician who divided the country as never before, between Shi'ites and Sunnis. They will remember the death squads that flourished under his regime, the targeted assassinations of Sunni notables, and they will see him as a stooge of the Americans who was unable to fulfill any of the promises he made when coming to power in May 2006......"

After Two Months, The Lebanese Army is Still "Making Progress" in Nahr El-Bared Palestinian Refugee Camp....
There Are a Few Palestinian Refugees in it Who Are Still Alive...
I Think the "Army" Should Stick to Tea Service to the IOF, That is All it Does Right

Good news from Baghdad at last: the oil law has stalled

The panic and distraction of the security crisis should not be used as cover for handing Iraq's wealth to foreigners

Jonathan Steele
Friday August 3, 2007
The Guardian

".......That said, the administration - particularly the vice-president, Dick Cheney - and the oil lobby are enraged that the oil law is stalled. The main reason is not that the Iraqi government and parliament are a lazy bunch of Islamist incompetents or narrow-minded sectarians, as is often implied. MPs are studying the law more carefully, and have begun to see it as a major threat to Iraq's national interest regardless of people's religion or sect.

This is the second bit of good news from Iraq. Civil society, trade unions, professional oil experts and the media are stirring on the oil issue and putting their points across to parliament in the way democracy is meant to work. The oil unions have held strikes even at the risk of having leaders and members arrested.

The pervasive outside image of Iraq as a country in free-fall where violence on a mass scale is an ever-present threat is not wrong. But it can mask the fact that "normal life" and indeed "normal politics" are still possible. The real reason why the Bush administration wanted the oil law rushed through was that it feared public discussion, and was worried that the more people understood what the law entails, the greater the chances of its defeat.......

The law that Washington and the US oil lobby really want would set the arrangements for foreign companies to operate in Iraq's oil sector. Independent analysts say the terms being proposed are far more favourable for foreign oil companies than those of any other oil-producing state in the region, including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. They all impose some safeguards for the national interest, whether it is having a national company that controls production; specifying in contracts the maximum level of foreigners' profits; limiting foreigners to a small number of fields; or insisting that disputes are arbitrated in local rather than international tribunals......

As a staunch supporter of the current international financial architecture, Gordon Brown is unlikely to press for a relaxation of these unfair terms. More's the pity, since the best way for Iraq to prosper once the occupation is over and it finally solves its sectarian crisis is to have maximum control over its major natural resource. Most Iraqis believe the invasion of 2003 was largely about oil. Peace is also about oil, and it surely makes sense not to let the panic and distraction of the current security crisis be used as a cover for handing the country's wealth to foreigners."

By Steve Bell, The Guardian

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Empty-hearted secularism

False oppositions and machinations are rife in the Arab world, where secularism has become a corrupted political fashion

By Azmi Bishara
Al-Ahram Weekly

".....But what is sadder yet is that these panderers to American rhetoric dropped democracy like a hot potato as soon as the neo-cons (apart from Bush) realised that their advice was backfiring and decided to revert to their former pragmatism that entailed taking their allies for better or worse, laying off with the democratisation blackmail and reconciling themselves to that bitter truth that political reform only opened the floodgates to their enemies. So much is perfectly understandable. What defies comprehension, however, is how fast our neo-liberals, here, took up "secularism" in the course of this past year. "Secularism," now, has become a multipurpose word. It can even be used to justify siding with Bush, Olmert and the secular Arab regimes against what the legitimately elected Hamas movement did, let alone to support the practices of corrupt security agencies in defending the secular consumerist way of life in the face of the backwardness of those who turned against it.....

......It is a position that expresses itself in the Arab world in the form of corrupt regimes that have hitched themselves to the skirts of Western powers and, occasionally, Israel. Here, secularism is not a prerequisite for democracy, or a means to rationalise politics, but a form of the worship of consumerism and the wares of certain classes......

.....For Arab nationalists to turn around now and exclude Islamists on the pretext that they are not "secularist", and therefore not ready to practice democracy, apart from being hypocritical, is unrealistic. What kind of democracy excludes that many people from across the various sectors of society and with such enormous potential to offer the nation?.......

.....However, the transformations through which mainstream Islamist movements are passing are not hypocrisy, but a historic imperative for the type of reforms needed to make the transition to a real and robust democracy. This fact must be acknowledged and handled appropriately.....

.......Those who do not recognise that the Muslim Brotherhood has undergone a sea change since the days of Sayed Qotb, that Hamas today is not what it was a few years ago and that Hizbullah is not the same party that shot Shia leftists in the 1980s are, themselves, fundamentalists of a different stripe. They cling to their ideas or preconceptions without subjecting them to rational scrutiny or the light of reality, whether out of rigid closed-mindedness or simply because it is not in their interests to try to understand. Or perhaps it is because they, too, have changed? I, for one, find it difficult to understand a left that now finds itself collaborating with the US and Israel against Islamists. I find it even harder to understand a left that is now so remote from the poor and the culture of the underprivileged, and from the quest for social justice, and is so cosy with the prosperous classes that are so aloof from their own societies."

Sacrificed to Zionism

Just as Jews in Egypt and Iraq in the 20th century were manipulated by Israel, so now Iran's Jewish community is in peril

By Jonathan Cook
Al-Ahram Weekly

"Iran is the new Nazi Germany and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the new Hitler. Or so Israeli officials have been declaring for months as they and their American allies try to persuade doubters in Washington that an attack on Tehran is essential. And if the latest media reports are to be trusted, it looks like they may be winning the battle for hearts and minds. US Vice-President Dick Cheney is said to have diverted the White House back on track to launch a military strike.....

But Netanyahu has been far from alone in making extravagant claims about looming genocide from Iran. Israel's new president, Shimon Peres, has compared an Iranian nuclear bomb to a "flying concentration camp". And Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a German newspaper last year: "[Ahmadinejad] speaks as Hitler did in his time of the extermination of the entire Jewish nation."

There is an interesting problem with selling the "Iran as Nazi Germany" line. If Ahmadinejad really is Hitler, ready to commit genocide against Israel's Jews as soon as he can get his hands on a nuclear weapon, why are some 25,000 Jews living peacefully in Iran and more than reluctant to leave despite repeated enticements from Israel and American Jews?.....

In the meantime, the 25,000-strong Iranian Jewish community is the largest in the Middle East outside Israel and traces its roots back 3,000 years. As one of several non-Muslim minorities in Iran, Jews there suffer discrimination, but they are certainly no worse off than the one million Palestinian citizens of Israel -- and far better off than Palestinians under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.....

Despite the absence of any threat to Iran's Jews, the Israeli media reported recently that the Israeli government has been trying to find new ways to entice Iranian Jews to Israel. The Maariv newspaper pointed out that previous schemes had found few takers. There was, noted the report, "a lack of desire on the part of thousands of Iranian Jews to leave". According to the New York-based Forward newspaper, a campaign to convince Iranian Jews to emigrate to Israel caused only 152 out of these 25,000 Jews to leave Iran between October 2005 and September 2006, and most of them were said to have emigrated for economic reasons, not political ones.....

... Israel is now backing a move by Jewish donors to guarantee every Iranian Jewish family $60,000 to settle in Israel, in addition to a host of existing financial incentives that are offered to Jewish immigrants, including loans and cheap mortgages. The announcement was met with scorn by the Society of Iranian Jews, which issued a statement that their national identity was not for sale.....However, this unwelcome financial gesture may not be as innocuous as it seems. Israel introduced a similar scheme a few years ago, when Argentina's economy plunged into deep recession, broadcasting an offer of $20,000 to every Argentinean Jew who settled in Israel. Months later the Israeli media reported a rise in anti- Semitic attacks in Argentina, only adding to the pressure on Jews there to leave. Of course, there was no mention of a possible causal connection between the attacks and Israel's generous offer to Jews to abandon their homeland as other Argentineans sank into poverty.....

Even more notoriously, Israel went to greater lengths to ensure the exit of the Arab world's largest Jewish population, in Iraq. In 1950 a series of bombs targeting Jews in Baghdad forced a rapid exodus of some 130,000 to Israel, convinced that Arab extremists were behind the attacks. Only later did it emerge that the bombs had been planted by members of the Zionist underground, supported by the Israeli government......

More important than the welfare of Iranian Jewish families, it seems, is the value of Iranian Jews as a propaganda tool in Israel's battle to persuade the world that coexistence with the Muslim world is impossible. For those who want to engineer a clash of civilisations, the 3,000- year-old Jewish legacy in Iran is not something to be treasured, but is merely an obstacle to war."

Lebanon is Now a Part of the U.S. Commonwealth

US Targets Threat to Lebanon's Stability

"President Bush announced Thursday the United States will freeze the property and interests of people deemed to be undermining Lebanon's democratic government. Bush's executive order targets anyone found to be helping Syria assert control in Lebanon or otherwise trying to break down the rule of law, including by means of violence.

"Such actions constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States," Bush said in an accompanying message to Congress.

Bush's order also applies to spouses and dependent children of those deemed to be contributing to instability in Lebanon, and to those providing aid to such people.......

Bush in June barred U.S. entry to people deemed to be undermining Lebanon.

"All of these orders and presidential determinations related to Lebanon are saying, from the United States, that Syria needs to quit meddling in Lebanon's affairs," said Gordon Johndroe, Bush's national security spokesman....."


Bring it on, DECIDER....

A couple of weeks ago, the Decider issued the same directive concerning Iraq. Let me see..., who will be next? I have a sneaky suspicion that the Decider will issue a similar directive against those suspected of "undermining" the American stooge in the Green Zone in Ramallah, but I could be wrong.

Report from the Land of Apartheid

Two Weeks in the Occupied Territories


".......This is just one of many outrages. Conditions for Palestinians are deplorable all across the apartheid state, from the 130,000 living as Israeli citizens in "unrecognized" villages, to the thousands living in Israel or the West Bank in homes slated for demolition, to the people living in Jerusalem "suburbs" who never have their garbage picked up, to families who are cut off from relatives by the Apartheid Wall, to the people in the richest Arab towns closing up their businesses because of Palestinians can't travel and buy goods, to families living in the H2 section of Hebron who are seeing their homes taken over by religious fanatics.

I've been here for nearly two weeks. Coming in was a breeze for me, a Jew in his late 50's......

Things are not that nice in the West Bank. Israeli soldiers stage constant raids. The night before we went to Jenin they captured a resident. People in Nablus say there's a raid every day. A few nights night ago six Palestinians were killed, including three by missiles in Gaza. One man supposedly attacked soldiers at a Bethlehem checkpoint. He was hit by gun butts and then shot to death.......

The Veils of Apartheid

I met with Uri Davis in Jerusalem. He's an Israeli, one of a handful who lives in Palestinian communities. He has maintained for decades that Israel is an apartheid society. He says, however, there's a major difference from the old South Africa. Under South African apartheid a visitor would immediately see signs for Africans, whites and coloreds. In Israel it's much more veiled. For instance take land. By and large land in Israel is controlled by the state and is not owned by individuals. Jews are granted long term leases to land, but through a maze of laws and bureaucracy Arab Israeli citizens can't lease it.....

Another aspect of the apartheid is "unrecognized villages". In 1947-1948 thousands of the Palestinians expelled from their towns and villages fled to rural areas that were still in Israel. The government dreamed up a delightful category for them, "present absentees" and took all their land and bank accounts. 130,000 of their descendants live in villages that the Israeli government will not recognize. These are all Israeli citizens, but they live in towns without services, no water and no electricity......

Because of a dreadful agreement between Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and the Israeli government Hebron was divided into two parts H1 and H2. H1 is all Palestinian and is under the Palestinian Authority. H2 is about a quarter of the whole city and is home to Jewish settlements at war with their Palestinian neighbors.......

We took a walk through several blocks that had once held Arab shops which were now all closed. Each building was alike, a concrete rectangle with a large folding metal doors in front. Each door was decorated with a six pointed Jewish star. The settlers have desecrated the Jewish star, making the holy symbol into a graffitti of fear, much like a swastika.......

The Wall

Palestinian removal is a goal sought everywhere from the Jordan to the Mediterranean by Israel's apartheid government. What it can't empty right away it surrounds and walls in. The Apartheid Wall is everywhere in the West Bank, supremely ugly and gobbling up thousands of acres of land. When you walk through the Bethlehem checkpoint to Jerusalem upon the wall you see a huge banner with a cheerful slogan "Peace be Upon You". As they say it gives hypocrisy a bad name.......

One last bit of cruelty connected with the wall. We were interviewing one man who told us that the soldiers demanded they dig up the village graveyard and move the bodies because the graves were "too near the wall". They could do nothing to stop the order so they dug up the bodies....."

The Sign Reads:
Rice, You Are Not Welcome in the Land of Resistance

Haniyeh aide: Any future agreement depends on Hamas

Contributed by Lucia

"Israel and the Palestinian Authority will never succeed in implementing a permanent political agreement, unless Hamas decides to approve it, adviser to former prime minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah yesterday told Haaretz.

The adviser, Ahmed Yusef, went on to say that the negotiations between the U.S. and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas hinged on future negotiations between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah. The two rival organizations severed all connections following Hamas' violent seizure of power in the Gaza Strip last June. "Abbas' talks with the U.S. will continue to be no more than 'photo-ops' for as long as Hamas is not involved in the talks," said Yusef....

Yusef added that any agreement Abbas might eventually sign with Israel will need to be approved either by a national Palestinian referendum, or in a general election. "No such event will take place, unless Hamas authorizes it," he explained. "Hamas is an important regional player and it will continue to be a cardinal player in any sort of political agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.".....

Yusef was equally pessimistic about the prospects of the international peace conference that U.S. President George W. Bush announced he was planning for sometime this fall. "This summit has virtually no chance of getting off the ground. It represents nothing more than Washington's desire to secure an achievement in the Israeli-Palestinian sphere, to make up for its failures in Iraq."......"

The Peace Broker

By Mr. Fish

Media Blitz for War: The Big Guns of August

By Norman Soloman

"This week the U.S. media establishment is mainlining another fix for the Iraq war: It isn’t so bad after all, American military power could turn wrong into right, chronic misleaders now serve as truth-tellers. The hit is that the war must go on.When the White House chief of staff Andrew Card said five years ago that “you don’t introduce new products in August,” he was explaining the need to defer an all-out PR campaign for invading Iraq until early fall. But this year, August isn’t a bad month to launch a sales pitch for a new and improved Iraq war. Bad products must be re-marketed to counteract buyers’ remorse.....

For years now, many opponents of the Iraq war have assumed that the tides of history were shifting and would soon carry American troops home. “President Bush may be the last person in the country to learn that for Americans, if not Iraqis, the war in Iraq is over,” New York Times columnist Frank Rich wrote in August 2005. He concluded that the United States as a country “has already made the decision for Mr. Bush. We’re outta there.”

As I wrote at the time, Rich’s storyline was “a complacent message that stands in sharp contrast to the real situation we now face: a U.S. war on Iraq that may persist for a terribly long time. For the Americans still in Iraq, and for the Iraqis still caught in the crossfire of the occupation, the experiences ahead will hardly be compatible with reassuring forecasts made by pundits in the summer of 2005.”

Or in the summer of 2007.

Unfortunately, what I wrote two Augusts ago is still true: “We’re not ‘outta there’ — until an antiwar movement in the United States can grow strong enough to make the demand stick.”......"

The Uncounted Casualties of War

By Amy Goodman

"U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Lucey is not counted among the Iraq war dead. But he did die, when he came home. He committed suicide. His parents are suing the Department of Veterans Affairs and R. James Nicholson, the secretary of veterans affairs, for wrongful death, medical malpractice and other damages.

Kevin and Joyce Lucey saw their son’s rapid descent after he returned from combat in Iraq in June 2003. Kevin said: “Hallucinations started with the visual, the audio, tactile...."....

Jeffrey told his family that he was ordered to execute two Iraqi prisoners of war. After he killed the two men, Jeffrey took their dog tags and wore them until Christmas Eve 2003, when he threw them at his sister, calling himself a murderer....

Three years later, his parents have filed suit. They are not alone. A separate class-action suit was filed by Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth on behalf of hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been denied medical benefits.

Jeffrey Lucey’s suicide note begins, “Dear Mom and Dad, I cannot express my apologies in words for the pain I have caused you but I beg for your forgiveness. I want you to know that I loved you both and still do but the pain of life was too much for me to deal with.”....."

US military has a lose-lose dilemma in Iraq

From the way violence simply floods into areas just beyond the reach of new US combat brigades to the perilously long supply lines on bomb-planted roads, a military "solution" to the Iraqi situation is worse than impossible: it guarantees the country's instability will be prolonged, with no end in sight.

By Michael Schwartz
Asia Times

"President George W Bush has called on Congress, the American public, the Iraqi people and the world to suspend judgment - until at least September - on the success of his escalation of the war in Iraq, euphemistically designated a "surge". But the fact is: it has already failed and it's obvious enough why.....

....For Bush, who has visibly put all his eggs in Petraeus' "surge" basket, this would be inconceivable, which means that the next crisis in Iraq policy - and probably several after that - is already under way.

As Mahmoud Othman, a veteran Iraqi politician, put it, "The Americans are defeated. They haven't achieved any of their aims.""


I disagree with Mr. Mahmoud Othman's statement; USrael has already succeeded in achieving a major objective: the destruction of Iraq as a state and as a society. The Arabs better learn the lesson (not falling for foreign-engineered sectarian divisions) or it will be repeated in many other countries. The indications are not encouraging as the Arab regimes are being inducted in a much larger, and region-wide, sectarian war, this time against Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

Letter Sent By "Christiano-Islamo" to the U.N. Palestinian Mission

Dear Sir,

I am a Palestinian-American, the son of refugees from 1948. I am shocked and deeply offended that the Palestinian mission to the UN would collaborate so blatantly with the United States to stop the Qatari resolution in support of stranded Palestinians at the Egypt-Gaza border.

When will we realize the power we have and seize it, instead of continuing such treacherous collaboration? Why can't you take a principled stand for those poor, suffering people in the hot Egyptian desert. Please, Please do something useful and principled in your positions of power at the UN.

We need Palestinian representatives in all world bodies to remain principled toward our cause-- if you want to reap the rewards of American relationships, utilize the hundreds of thousands of successful Palestinians in this country, not the racist, and zionist white powers in this country.


Al-Jazeera Cartoon

American Vision of The "New" Middle East

Palestinian Ambassador to United Nations, Riad Mansour, must be "court-martialled or removed from office", says Hamas

"Gaza – Ma'an – The Hamas movement on Thursday claimed they hold Palestinian President Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad responsible for the siege on the Palestinian people, and for ignoring both the United Nations' Security Council decision, which aims to end this siege and the suffering in the Gaza Strip.

In a statement to Ma'an, the Hamas movement also stressed that they want to see the Palestinian ambassador to the United States, Riad Mansour, either removed from office or court-martialed, because of what Hamas refers to as "irresponsible behaviour in the Security Council".

Hamas expressed their regrets for what happened between representatives of Qatar and Indonesia and those of the Palestinian Authority in the Security Council, saying that Mansour's actions "do not represent the Palestinian people".

On Wednesday, a row broke out in the Security Council between the Qatari and Palestinian delegations on account of a proposal about the humanitarian question in the Gaza Strip. According to Riad Mansour, Qatar and Indonesia made the proposal without consulting him beforehand.

Hamas appealed to Arab governments to continue their efforts to put an end to the Palestinian suffering in Gaza; at the same time Hamas are appreciative of Qatar's and Indonesia's role in supporting the Palestinians.

Israeli newspapers reported that the Palestinian ambassador is the one to be held responsible for the failing of the draft that both Qatar and Indonesia proposed to the Security Council."

The New Flag of Arab "Moderates"
By Abu Mahjoob

"Hard-Hitting" U.S. News Media
By Mike Luckovich

Qatar surprised over Abbas's UN delegate's position, Hamas calls for trying him

"DOHA, (PIC)-- The chief Qatari delegation to the UN Security Council has expressed absolute surprise over the position of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas's delegate to the UN who rejected a draft resolution calling for lifting the siege on Gaza.

The Qatari representative told Ashark Al-Awsat newspaper that he did not expect the Palestinian chief delegate Riad Mansour to object to that resolution in view of the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Strip.

For its part, Hamas, in a press release on Thursday, called for Mansour to be tried for foiling the international statement that was tabled by Qatar and Indonesia.

The Movement held Abbas and his illegitimate government responsible for the continued siege imposed on the Palestinian citizens in the Strip.

Hamas extended an apology to both Qatar and Indonesia over such an "irresponsible behavior" on the part of Mansour. It said that he only represented Abbas and his entourage and did not represent the Palestinian people.

For his part, a spokesman for Hamas in the West Bank denounced the "shameful stand" of the Palestinian diplomatic mission at the UN.

The Movement's spokesman in Gaza said that the move proved Abbas's responsibility for the continued closure of the Rafah crossing and the continued suffering of around 6,000 Palestinians stranded at the Egyptian side of the borders."

-----------------------------------------------------------That's MY Boy!--------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------------------He is Grown Up Now----------------------------------------

Israeli soldiers prepare to lead a line of blindfolded Palestinian civilians across the Israel-Gaza border after they were kidnapped by Israeli forces operating inside Gaza, 01 August 2007 (AFP)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Romney Wants to Imitate Hezbollah

Romney cites Hezbollah as a model

"Mitt Romney cited Hezbollah's social network as a model for U.S. diplomacy.

The former Massachusetts governor, a front-runner in the race for the Republican presidential candidacy, was asked during a campaign stop in Iowa over the weekend whether he would renew President Bush's $50 million campaign to combat AIDS in Africa.

Romney said he would, and would use American know-how to advance U.S. interests.

"Did you notice in Lebanon what Hezbollah did?" he said in remarks broadcast on C-Span and captured by Crooks and Liars, a liberal Web site. "Lebanon became a democracy some time ago and while their government was getting under way, Hezbollah went into southern Lebanon and provided health clinics to some of the people there, and schools. And they built their support there by having done so. That kind of diplomacy is something that would help America become stronger around the world and help people understand that our interest is an interest towards modernity and goodness and freedom for all people in the world. And so, I want to see America carry out that kind of health diplomacy."....."

An E-mail Sent to Palestinian Representative at the U.N., Mr. Riyadh Mansour

Dear Mr. Mansour,

Like countless other Palestinians I was shocked and outraged by the stand that your mission took in the Security Council. I am referring to your decision to work with the hostile U.S. Administration to block a resolution sponsored by Qatar and Indonesia calling for easing of the humanitarian suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and calling for the opening of the Rafah crossing to Egypt.

I am flabbergasted: you call yourselves Palestinian representatives and yet you are actively working with Israel and the U.S. to starve 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, through a total blockade? You call yourselves Palestinians and you, purposely, have been keeping over 6,000 sick and miserable Palestinians stranded in the Egyptian desert for almost two months, because you are demanding that the Rafah crossing remains closed? You are directly responsible for the death of 32 of these people, so far, and you call yourselves Palestinians?

Sir, besides treason, what you are doing is actively taking part in a war crime of collective punishment and genocide; do you realize that? One day the Palestinian people will have the right to try you and your superiors as war criminals just as the Germans tried and convicted Nazi war criminals.

I hope that day will come not in the distant future, so that criminals like you and your superiors starting with Mahmoud Abbas would get the punishment they deserve.

Tony Sayegh
Los Angeles, California


Here is contact information supplied by Lucia:

By mail:

Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations.
115 East 65th Street
New York, NY 10021


Telephone: 212-288-8500

Fax: 212-517-2377

Contact the Palestinian mission and give them a piece of your mind!

A green light to oppression

In the name of 'fighting extremism', the US is arming two of the Arab world's leading human rights abusers: Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

By Brian Whitaker
The Guardian

"In a move supposedly intended to counter Iranian influence, the US has announced a series of arms deals with Middle Eastern countries.

Apart from Israel, which will receive $30bn in military aid, Egypt will get $13bn. Five Gulf states - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE - will also be sold weaponry to the tune of $20bn, with the lion's share going to the Wahhabi regime in Riyadh.

Thus, in the name of "working with these states to fight back extremism" (as secretary of state Condoleezza Rice put it), the US is arming two of the Arab world's leading human rights abusers: Saudi Arabia and Egypt.....

If the Bush administration's goal was to inflame Sunni-Shia tensions across the region and to spread the sectarian strife in Iraq to neighbouring countries, it would be hard to imagine a more effective way of going about it....."