Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bush visit to Israel revives talk of a strike on Iran

By Dion Nissenbaum McClatchy Newspapers

"JERUSALEM — President Bush's historic speech to the Israeli parliament was as telling for what it didn't say as for what it did.

In 22 minutes, Bush offered one of the strongest demonstrations of support for Israel ever made by an American president. And he reawakened lingering hopes among hawks in Israel or the United States for a U.S. military strike to thwart Iran's nuclear program.

Israel's Army Radio reported Friday that the possibility of an American strike on Iran was raised in private discussions during Bush's visit.

And Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said that the Israeli prime minister and American president were "on the same page" on the issue of Iran......

Meanwhile, Bush practically ignored a central foreign policy goal for his final year: to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that the president himself launched in Annapolis, Md., last November.

Some Israeli analysts viewed the omission as a realistic assessment of the diminishing chances for progress by year's end.

"I think he made a decision, or his aides made a decision, that it's better to play down this thing. Otherwise he would look ridiculous," said Uri Dromi, who served as a spokesman for Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres......

The skepticism of Israeli lawmakers about peace talks became clear even before Bush spoke. Two conservative religious lawmakers walked out during a speech by Olmert when he raised the subject of ceding land to the Palestinians.

One of them suggested that Bush is a stronger Zionist than Olmert. Olmert should "learn from the president of the United States what Zionism is," Israeli lawmaker Zvi Hendel said in a statement after walking out of the session as Bush looked on......"

He Can Run; But Can He Hide?

Report: Israeli intelligence chief says Abbas might flee if peace fails

Contributed by Lucia in Spain

"JERUSALEM: Israel's chief of military intelligence said in comments published Friday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may flee the area if peace efforts fail.

Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin told the Haaretz daily that he is not optimistic about Israeli-Palestinian attempts to reach a final peace deal by the end of the year.

Yadlin predicted that such a failure of the U.S.-backed efforts would severely weaken Abbas and force him to leave the West Bank.

"If there is a sharp confrontation, with accusations hurled, I think the Palestinian Authority leadership will be very much weakened, so much so that very senior officials will leave," Yadlin told the newspaper.

When asked if that means Abbas could flee the Palestinian areas, Yadlin replied "I do not rule out that possibility."......

"The Palestinian camp that supports a settlement will be weakened and the present leadership is liable to disappear," Yadlin said. "Processes of disintegration are liable to develop in the Palestinian alignment — chaos and a takeover by Hamas."

If an agreement is reached, Abbas could probably get it ratified in a referendum, the intelligence chief said. But the weakness of the Palestinian security forces on the ground would make it difficult to implement a deal [meaning to crush Palestinian popular resistance to any sellout by Abbas], Yadlin said......."

The American Zionist and The Palestinian Zionist.....
How Touching!

Abu Zaid: Gaza is experiencing its own unique Nakba

"GAZA, (PIC)-- Karen Abu Zaid, the commissioner-general of UNRWA, stated on Saturday that Gaza is experiencing its own unique Nakba, a catastrophe which was wrought on it by the cruelties of continuing occupation and the tightening siege.

These statements came during a photo exhibition held in Gaza by UNRWA, "I am from there and I remember," which commemorates and celebrates the Palestinian life before the Nakba.

"As you view each photograph, I urge you to spare a thought for the lives and the humanity that lie behind them, the sheer human resourcefulness, and the sense of lost potential. These are real people, people whose history cannot be airbrushed away. Indeed they are a people with a past, a history that will cannot be denied," Abu Zaid said at the opening of the exhibition.

In another context, the popular committee against the siege announced Saturday the death of an eight-month-old female infant called Salwa Abu Tawaheen who was suffering from blood cancer.

The Abu Tawaheen family said that they submitted 20 days ago a request to the IOA to allow their daughter to receive medical treatment outside Gaza, but the infant died in hospital while her family was waiting for the permission.

Palestinian medical sources also announced the death of another Palestinian patient called Husni Salah, 45, who suffered cardiac failure due to the lack of medicines and the Israeli restrictions imposed on travel.

These new deaths bring the number of Israeli siege victims to 156 patients, while the specter of death is threatening a long list of patients in Gaza who have serious and chronic diseases."

Salvador Allende and Hugo Chavez: Similarities and Differences on the "National Road to Socialism"

I have known and advised three left wing president including President Papandreou (Greece 1981-85), President Salvador Allende of Chile (1970-73) and President Hugo Chavez.

By James Petras

"Both Allende and Chavez share many strategic goals and embrace policies favoring the working class, peasantry and the urban poor. They also pursued programs regaining national control over the strategic sectors of the economy, redistributing land (agrarian reform), reallocating budgetary expenditures in favor of social programs for the poor and pursuing independent anti-imperialist foreign policies.

In broad historical and sociological terms, they also share a common belief in constitutional, electoral processes, in a multi-party system, a mixed economy and independent trade unions, business and civic associations.

Despite the convergences and similarities between Allende and Chave, there are important political differences, which account for their different trajectories. Chavez proceeded toward political change before undertaking a deep socio-economic structural transformatio, thus creating a solid constitutional and political framework. Allende, on the other hand, accepted the existing political system and proceeded to implement radical socio-economic changes. As a result, Allende constantly faced political blockages, institutional obstacles that limited his capacity to realize the full potential of the structural changes. In contrast, Chavez’ political reforms led to the compatibility between political institutions and socio-economic change – minimizing opposition obstructionism......."

Refugees are the Key

Bush in Israel


"President Bush addressed the Israeli Knesset to mark Israel’s sixtieth anniversary. The President’s speech was absent of any real insight or policy. Instead of addressing the politics of a region that can only be equated to a powder keg about to explode, he assumed the other worldly role of bestowing on Israel a religious right, one dangerously terrifying because it represents the views of the most rabidly extremist Jews, similar to the Jewish law student that assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the gun-toting Israeli settlers (many holding dual U.S./Israeli citizenship) that populate Israel’s Jewish-only settlements across the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

President Bush used the out-dated words “Eretz Yisrael” [biblical Land of Israel] to depict the Israeli state. This sort of usage was, and is, exactly what most right-wing Jewish fundamentalists use to refer to an Israel that reaches from the Euphrates River, in what’s left of today’s Iraq, to the Mediterranean Sea.

Adding insult to injury, he went on to praise Israel’s welcoming of immigrants from around the world to populate the newly created State of Israel. It meant absolutely nothing to President Bush that the indigenous Palestinian population, lingering for 60 years only hours away from where he was standing while addressing the Knesset and on whose ruins Israel was built, remains today’s longest standing refugee community......

It does not come as a surprise to Palestinians, and an ever-growing number of non-Palestinians, that President Bush’s speech reflected blindness to the plight of Palestinian refugees. Those Palestinians from the Diaspora, not refugees, but Palestinians with their homes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, along with non-Palestinian foreign nationals trying to assist Palestinians by working and serving in the occupied territory, have become the latest category of victims of the most recent application of the Israeli “might is right” mindset. Israel has been denying entry to scores of foreign nationals, Palestinians and others, trying to enter the occupied territory. The mass majority of these foreign nationals are U.S. citizens and the Bush Administration, although acknowledging that Israel is discriminating against U.S. citizens based on their ethnicity, have done very little in standing up to its “eternal” ally Israel in order to resolve this latest problem......."

What Next in Lebanon?

In the Wake of the Doha Truce

A Good Piece
(Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Political Studies and Public Administration at the American University of Beirut)

"......There is little doubt that the Doha truce averted a descent into the nightmare of a large-scale civil conflict most Lebanese were dreading, and as such was welcome by all. However, there is equally little doubt that this truce represents a temporary pause in an on-going regional war fomented by the unrelenting US ‘war on terror’. In this larger war, unlike the street battles of last week, there can be no winners among the Lebanese people, only losers, just as their has been among the Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans, Somalis and others who have been caught in the same global, and apparently perpetual, conflict.

The continued US, Israeli and Saudi obsession with Iran (which these days is being used interchangeably with “Shia’a” in a bid to fan sectarian flames) means that they will already be planning ahead for the next battle, probably in Lebanon and almost certainly in Gaza (since Hamas is placed in the “Iran” column), in order to halt the perceived Iranian gain in Lebanon last week. In such a case, the recent conciliatory sentiments expressed by some March 14 leaders like Walid Jumblatt must be read as a strategic objective to gain time and space to regroup.

The disconcerting silence of Saudi Arabia is perhaps the most troubling. Not only have the Saudi-sponsored sectarian militias in Lebanon been defeated, but now its tiny but increasingly ambitious Gulf rival state of Qatar has rubbed salt into its wounds by stealing the diplomatic limelight and consolidating its role as regional peacemaker. The Saudis have both the means and influence to mobilize Sunni Salafist groups in Lebanon in a protracted sectarian war against Hizbullah, or precipitate the collapse of the Lebanese economy, if it decides it has ‘lost’ the country to Iran. As such, the Doha participants will want to pacify the Saudis......

....The Doha negotiations will likely reinforce this sectarian tendency rather than address its root causes, and as such the Lebanese, rather than coming together as citizens of a nation, will once again be divided into disparate communities regulated by sectarian patrons......."

The View from the Crusaders' Castle


Krak des Chevaliers, Syria

"Thirty years ago, when the state of Israel had traveled only half its present journey through time since 1948, I interviewed General Matti Peled in New York. As an army general Peled had been a notably tough administrator of the Occupied Territories, but in retirement had become a dove, publicly urging his country to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians, abandon the illegal settlements, return to the ’67 borders and resolve all the other major issues obstructing a proper peace.

What do you think will happen,” I asked the former general, “If no Israeli government ever emerges strong enough to take such a path?”

Oh, I think we’ll end up like the Crusaders,” he answered. “It might take some time, but just like them, in the end, we’ll be gone.” It was startling at the time to hear any Israeli, particularly a military man, talk like that.......

Bush may rant in the Knesset , but US policy in the region has sustained a humiliating rebuff as the government of Lebanon rescinds its efforts to cut back on Hezbollah’s communications systems and ability to monitor all traffic at Beirut airport. With Israel in a uproar about missile salvoes on Ashkelon from Gaza, no one will forget Hezbollah’s ability to launch similar salvoes.....

Earlier this week I looked south toward Israel from the Krak des Chevaliers, the greatest of the Crusaders’ castles, looming above the Syrian coastal plain about four hours drive from Damascus. The odious T.E.Lawrence called it “perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world.” Despite the efforts of Saladin, the Hospitallers were never dislodged from the Krak by force. It was eventually the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, Baybars, who winkled them out by negotiation, in 1271 after the Crusaders had held it for 162 years.

Standing on the great south tower (actually completed by French engineers in the 1930s) I remembered Peled’s remarks about Israel and the Crusaders, who held the Krak three times longer than Israel’s present span. The hawks, just as Peled and scores of other doves in recent years charge, have not buttressed Israel’s security. In the middle and long term they have gravely compromised it. The balance of forces in the region have changed drastically from the US dominance of a generation or two ago. Soon Bush will be gone; Olmert maybe sooner. Just all all new visitors to Iarael are given a tour of Yad Vashem, perhaps all politicians pondering Israel’s security and justice for Palestinians should also be given a compulsory tour of the Krak des Chevaliers. "

Best Foot Forward

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)
By Mr. Fish

Report: Egypt warns Hamas of major IDF Gaza raid if Shalit not freed

"Head of Egyptian Intelligence General Omar Suleiman has warned Hamas that the failure to include kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit in a prisoner exchange with Israel will lead to a wide-spread IDF operation in the Gaza Strip, according to a report in the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar.

"Israel will use a heavy hand against Hamas in the Gaza Strip if an agreement is not reached that secures the release of the kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit" Suleiman told the second-in-command of the militant group's political bureau Moussa Abu Marzook, according to Al-Akhbar.

Senior Palestinian officials reportedly told Al-Akhbar that even though Hamas is ready to include Shalit in a future deal, they are not willing to accept the list of prisoners Israel has offered to release in exchange for the soldier, held by the militant group since he was kidnapped and wounded by Gaza militants in a cross border raid in June 2006......."

Exclusive: Command vessel USS Mount Whitney posted opposite Lebanon

"DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Saturday, May 17, the USS Mount Whitney , considered the US Navy’s most advanced command, control, communications, computer and intelligence vessel, took up position opposite Lebanese shores for an “unscheduled mission.”

The Sixth Fleet spokesman Lt. Patrick Foughty said the ship would be there “to support additional communication requirements for our ships already underway.”

DEBKAfile’s sources add that the USS Cole missile destroyer arrived in that sector last week, while the USS Harry Truman carrier strike group began cruising in the Mediterranean around Greece, whence the aircraft on its decks can reach Syrian and Lebanese skies. The fleet spokesman added there are no long-term plans to keep the Mount Whitney away from its home base.

Although the US lieutenant did not name those plans, military observers gained the impression that the American navy-air build-up off Lebanon was designed for a short stay or a specific operation, after which it will disperse.

Our sources disclose that, during the fierce Hizballah onslaught on Beirut last week and its closure of the international airport, the Americans ran a helicopter lift from Cyprus to the US embassy landing pad with provisions of food, water, medicine and personnel.

The Mount Whitney enables a joint task commander to effectively control all the units of his force. The ship can receive and transmit large amounts of secure data from any point on earth and provide timely intelligence and operational support as needed."

Danger: Tough Talk & Wishful Thinking

By Robert Parry

"If the American people should have learned one lesson from the past seven years, it is that the careless mix of tough talk and wishful thinking gets good people killed – and pushes even powerful nations to the brink of bankruptcy.

Yet, the current and possibly future Republican presidents combined these two dangerous elements on the same day: George W. Bush eschewing “appeasement” in the Middle East and John McCain offering a dreamy image of military victory in Iraq by 2013........"
The Emperor Has No Clothes.....
The Pharaoh Has No Balls....

مكافأة سعودية لبوش

مكافأة سعودية لبوش

عبد الباري عطوان

الرئيس بوش بزيارته للعاصمة السعودية وبعد هذه الاشادات بالانجازات الاسرائيلية في تشريد شعب عربي مسلم وممارسة التطهير العرقي في حقه، يضع مضيفيه السعوديين في موقف حرج للغاية، خاصة انه لم يتطرق مطلقا الي معاناة الفلسطينيين، وتهويد القدس، ولم يذكر الدولة الفلسطينية التي تعهد باقامتها قبل ختام ولايته الا عرضا وبعد ان اكد الدعم الامريكي المطلق للاسرائيليين علي الصعد كافة.
فزيادة انتاج النفط السعودي تجاوبا مع طلب الرئيس بوش، سيفسر في الشارع العربي علي انه مكافأة له علي مواقفه المعادية للعرب والمسلمين، وحروبه التي يخوضها ضدهم في العراق وافغانستان، وهي الحروب التي ادت الي تمزيق البلدين وقتل ما يقارب المليونين من ابنائهما، وجرح وتشريد بضعة ملايين اخري.
ان اكثر ما نخشاه هو ان ينجح الرئيس بوش في توريط القيادة السعودية في حرب جديدة ضد ايران وسورية، تنطلق من لبنان وربما فلسطين، فتهديداته بانهاء حزب الله و حماس ، وتوارد تقارير اخبارية عن استعدادات اسرائيلية لاجتياح قطاع غزة كمقدمة لاجتياح لبنان، تجعلنا نضع ايدينا علي قلوبنا، لان معظم طلبات الرئيس بوش من حلفائه العرب مجابة دائما.
فتوقيع اتفاق سعودي ـ امريكي علي هامش زيارة الرئيس بوش، بتعهد الاخير بحماية المنشآت النفطية السعودية، يوحي بأن حربا اقليمية قادمة الي المنطقة، وستكون ايران قطعا الهدف الاساسي فيها، بعد ان توسع نفوذها في العراق، وبات علي وشك ان يصل الي الساحل الغربي من الخليج العربي، وبما يهدد الهيمنة الامريكية الممتدة منذ قرن تقريبا.
نصحنا القيادات العربية الحليفة لواشنطن اكثر من مرة بعدم تقديم خدمات مجانية للادارات الامريكية المتعاقبة، والادارة الحالية علي وجه الخصوص، ولكن لم يستمع احد الينا، وهو امر متوقع علي اي حال، وربما من المتأخر تكرار هذه النصائح الآن، بعد ان اصبح الرئيس بوش في طريق عودته الي واشنطن وقد حقق معظم الاهداف التي ارادها من جولته الحالية، ولكن ما يمكن قوله هو ان هذا الرئيس، وسياساته المدمرة في تفتيت هذه الأمة، واغراقها في حروب طائفية، هي الاخطر علي المنطقة العربية من ايران وربما اسرائيل ايضا، ونضيف الاخيرة لانه اثبت انه الرئيس الاكثر صهيونية منذ قيام الدولة العبرية.
من المؤلم ان الرئيس بوش يستقبل في جميع عواصم العالم، بما فيها العواصم الغربية، بالمظاهرات الاحتجاجية الصاخبة، والبيض الفاسد بسبب جرائمه التي يرتكبها في بلادنا، اما في عواصمنا العربية فيفرش له السجاد الاحمر، وتعلق الأوسمة والنياشين علي صدره، تكريما له، واحتفاء بمقدمه. لا بد ان هناك خللا في العقلية العربية بحاجة الي علاج.

So just where does the madness end?

All the monsters buried in the mass graves of the civil war have been dug up

By Robert Fisk

"I am not sure what was the worse part of this week. Living in Lebanon? Or reading the outrageous words of George Bush? Several times, I have asked myself this question: have words lost their meaning?.......

The roads were open again; the hooded gunmen had disappeared; the government had abandoned its confrontation with Hizbollah – the suspension of the Shia Muslim security chief at the airport (who bought me a bottle of champagne a year ago, I seem to remember – some Hizbollah "agent" he!) and the abandonment of the government's demand to dismantle Hizbollah's secret telecommunication system was a final seal of its failure – and I opened my newspaper and what did I read?

That George Bush declared in Jerusalem that "al-Qa'ida, Hizbollah and Hamas will be defeated, as Muslims across the region recognise the emptiness of the terrorists' vision and the injustice of their cause".

Where does the madness end? Where do words lose their meaning? Al-Qa'ida is not being defeated. Hizbollah has just won a domestic war in Lebanon, as total as Hamas's war in Gaza. Afghanistan and Iraq and Lebanon and Gaza are hell disasters – I need no apology to quote Churchill's description of 1948 Palestine yet again – and this foolish, stupid, vicious man is lying to the world yet again.

He holds a "closed door" meeting with Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara – a man stupendously unfit to run any Middle East "peace", which is presumably why the meeting had to be "closed door" – but tells the world of the blessings of Israeli democracy. As if the Palestinians benefit from a democracy which is continuing to take from them the land which they have owned for generations.

Do we really have to accept this? Bush tells us that "we consider it a source of shame that the United Nations routinely passes more human rights resolutions against the freest democracy in the Middle East than any other nation in the world".

The truth is that it is a source of shame that the United States continues to give unfettered permission to Israel to steal Palestinian land – which is why it should be a source of shame (to Washington) that the UN passes human rights resolutions against America's only real ally in the region.

And what is Washington doing in the country where I live? It has sent one of its top generals to see the Lebanese army commander, signalling – a growing Fisk suspicion, this – that it has abandoned its support for the Lebanese government. The Americans promise more equipment for the Lebanese army......."

President without shame

George Bush's suggestion of a moral equivalence between appeasing Nazi Germany and negotiating with Palestinians is an outrage

By Richard Silverstein
The Guardian

"Malvina Schwartz survived Auschwitz as a young girl. She managed to make her way to America and eventually came to Los Angeles where I published her oral history in 1977 in the Los Angeles Times. I am certain that Malvina is no longer alive. But if she had managed to survive to today, I'd like to think she would have something to say about George Bush's misuse of the Holocaust for political gain in his speech to the Israeli Knesset.........

Bush's speech lauded Israeli democracy and even went so far as to claim that our Puritan ancestors were incipient Zionists (Bush's speechwriters lifted this from Netanyahu's favorite pundit, Michael Oren, and his latest book about the roots of Zionism in American political thought).

Bush's version of Israel in this speech was air-brushed to remove the moles, scars and other imperfections. Gone was the second-class Israeli-Arab minority and gone too those Palestinians who seek to realize their own national vision in their own country. In their place Bush posited Israel as a model western democracy. What the president does not understand is that true democracies are states of all their citizens, not just a privileged majority as Israel is........

.........It is Bush who is the radical breaking from American diplomatic convention. He should be in the dock and called to account for wreaking havoc with our international relations. Instead, he attempts to tar his Democratic opponent with the brush of weakness and defeatism.

Bush proves in this speech that he understands nothing about the Middle East. He certainly doesn't understand Islam. He sees it all through the narrow prism of terrorism. It is the struggle of good versus evil; God and the devil. There is no subtlety, no nuance. His views are utterly hopeless.

It is outrageous for an American president to use the term "appeasement" in describing the policy of an opponent when speaking before the parliament of a foreign nation. Democrats have rightly reacted with deep anger to this affront. It seems that when it comes to American traditions, George Bush is content to play Samson and topple the pillars of the temple in order to smash precedents he dislikes. What he forgets is that Samson not only killed his enemy, the Philistines, but himself as well.

Bush's interminable and self-destructive presidency will continue to be so till the bitter end. And if he can topple the campaign of his political enemy, he's prepared to bring the walls down on himself as well. So ends one of the most shameful of American presidencies."

Hebron is a ghost town where joggers carry automatic rifles

For the settlers, subsidies and tax breaks have become as important a motive as Deuteronomy

A Good Comment

Ian Jack
The Guardian, Saturday May 17 2008

"At Birzeit University in Ramallah last week a young woman student in a headscarf asked how it was that Nadine Gordimer, the South African novelist and Nobel laureate, could agree to visit and speak in Israel. Hadn't Gordimer fought apartheid for years - famously fought it in her writing and her actions? And now she was about to appear at the International Writers Festival in Jerusalem, a guest in one way or another of the Israeli government. What did we think of this? Weren't these double standards? Wouldn't we condemn her?

The question was asked of Roddy Doyle and myself, both of us participants in another literary jamboree, the first Palestine Festival of Literature, whose six-day tour of the West Bank and East Jerusalem ended last Monday........

Perhaps less wisely, certainly less clearly, I suggested that to equate apartheid in South Africa with Israeli behaviour towards Palestinians in the occupied territories was still "a big step" for most people in Europe and North America. Really, I was talking of myself: it was a big step for me and one I was reluctant to take. Two days' experience of the West Bank didn't seem enough to reach such forthright condemnation, and yet the evidence was already abundant that Israel's behaviour towards its captive Palestinian population is profoundly racist, oppressive and unjust.......

According to United Nations figures, there are now 621 Israeli army checkpoints and barriers spread throughout the West Bank - this week Tony Blair was celebrating the good news that he had persuaded the Israelis to remove four of them (though "subject to Israeli security assessments") and at most of those we passed through we witnessed the same kind of caprice in action: Palestinians of all kinds - women, children, old men with hospital appointments - sent back for "security reasons" or because they had the wrong piece of paper, journeys abandoned or started again by circuitous routes.

On our last evening in Jerusalem our programme of readings was meant to include a performance by a sextet from the Edward Said Conservatory of Music in Ramallah, which turned into a quartet because the lute player and the percussionist were refused entry to the city. Nobody could say why. Perhaps a security manual categorised lutes and drums as more dangerous than flutes and violins. More likely, a soldier broke his boredom by the small exercise of power.

But checkpoints are the least of it. Throughout the West Bank, Israel is steadily, relentlessly and apparently unstoppably imposing what old South African regimes used to know as "separate development". Israeli and Palestinian cars have different number plates (yellow and green) and travel on separate roads (the Israeli roads newer and straighter). Jewish settlements march east into Palestinian territory in acts of illegal conquest unknown even to Dr Verwoerd. And then there is The Wall, more properly known as the West Bank Barrier, which when complete will run eight metres high for 400 miles north to south, often looping forward impudently to take 10% of the West Bank's land that before the 1967 war belonged to Jordan. The wall separates neighbour from neighbour, farmers from their olive groves, and strikes into the heart of Bethlehem to "protect" Rachel's tomb, which is sacred to the Jews.

.....But I was completely unprepared for Hebron. I'd last came to Hebron in 1981 to see the famous Rabbi Moshe Levinger, who had arrived in the city as its only Jew some years before. Levinger was (and is) a religious Zionist who believed that the borders of Israel should accord with the Book of Deuteronomy. In 1974 he helped establish the settler movement, the Gush Emunim. In 1981 he seemed a lonely, crazy figure with a house full of guns (later he served a brief prison term for "negligent homicide"). But consider his achievement: the occupied territories now contain around 400,000 settlers and their number grows every day. Government subsidies and tax breaks have become as great a motive as Deuteronomy. Their presence in Hebron has killed the commercial and social life of the biggest city in Palestine, home to 160,000 Muslims and Christians who have had their bazaars and thoroughfares blocked by 4,000 Israeli troops who are there to guarantee the safety of the 500 Jewish settlers who have moved in. Hebron is ghost town. Three-quarters of its shops have closed. Among the few people moving freely through the streets were groups of settler joggers, each including a man in shorts and singlet carrying an automatic rifle. In the empty tunnels of the old bazaar, our bus driver said: "They do it to scare and humiliate us."

How could the "peace process" begin to dismantle what Ariel Sharon called these "facts on the ground"? Nobody knows. Sharon himself is being kept alive at vast expense in an Israeli hospital (Palestinian joke: "Is Sharon alive or is he dead?" "Neither, he is still going through the checkpoints.") In fact, no Palestinian I met believed in the peace process, "a process gyrating in an empty circle" in the words of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

Our audiences were touched that we had come. They were, they said, glad to be recognised by the outside world as a people who read and wrote and talked, rather than simply as silent victims or vengeful suicide bombers. What angered and puzzled them was the world's neglect of their isolation and the justice of their cause. I couldn't explain it; European guilt over Jewish history no longer seems a sufficient excuse. The comparison with apartheid may not be completely apposite, but that hardly matters. What is happening in Palestine is a great and tragic wrong."

Real News Video: Iran, Israel and the Arab world

"Iranian government has been using Hamas and Hezbollah to extend its influence in the region since 1980s, however regardless of its ambitions Iran, weakened by the US sanctions, can't pose a serious threat to any other countries. The Real News Network Senior Editor Paul Jay speaks to Babak Yektafar of Washington Prism about Iran's role in the Arab world."

Thousands of Rockets to Pound Israel in Future War


"17/05/2008 The Israeli Air Force's outgoing commander-in-chief has said that during a future war the home front is likely to be bombarded with thousands of missiles and rockets in the possession of Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria.

Major General Eliezer Shkedi made the comments in an interview with Israel Radio which was aired Saturday. He also said that the strengthening of Syria and Hezbollah is very worrying.

Hezbollah resistance fighters fired some 4,000 Katyusha rockets at northern occupied territories throughout the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Shkedi told Israel Radio that during the war, Hezbollah attempted to launch armed drones which the IAF succeeded in downing. The threat of this form of attack still exists, he said, and while its answer is complicated the air force has improved its capability of discovering and identifying unmanned aerial vehicles.

The outgoing Israeli commander also noted that there is no complete solution to rocket fire, while adding that great efforts are being made in order to find a way to deal with the problem.

For over seven years, southern Zionist entity has been pounded with rockets launched from the Gaza Strip. On Wednesday, one such attack on a shopping mall in Ashkelon wounded around 90 settlers, four of whom seriously.

Shkedi also stated that Hamas routinely fires at IAF aircraft flying over Gaza and that his forces face a growing risk. The air force routinely carries out missile strikes against militants in Gaza.

So far, there was only a single incident earlier this year in which an IAF helicopter gunship was struck and damaged by Hamas fire. However, Shkedi said that it is a "risk that is increasing all the time and they [Hamas] are firing at us all the time."

Shkedi and Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter told Israel Radio in separate interviews that Hamas is rapidly arming itself. Dichter says Hamas in Gaza has almost obtained the military capacity of a state. "

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Nakba is our Holocaust

Ajjour masscre (1948), Ajjour was completely destroyed and taken over by 3 Jewish settlements

Comment by Khalid Amayreh

".....Basking in their usual insolence and self-absorbedness, Israeli leaders have been visibly irate over the highlighted commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, the destruction and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian community in 1948.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has been quoted as saying that there can be no Palestinian state unless and until the victims learn to forget the word Nakba.

“The Palestinians will celebrate their statehood when they erase the word Nakba from their lexicon,” said Livni, whose father, Eitan, who died in 1991, played an active part in effecting the genocidal campaign of murder and terror that culminated in the establishment of Israel......

Similarly, an Israeli diplomat at the UN reportedly complained on Thursday (15 May) that the mere use and circulation of the word Nakba carried a whiff of anti-Semitism, and that the word itself ought to be banned.

The obscene raving came after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon telephoned Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and expressed empathy with the Palestinian people in honor of the Nakba anniversary........

The evil-minded lady wants us to hail the massacres, the terror, the ethnic cleansing and all the Nazi acts that led to our own destruction, dispossession and dispersion. In short, she wants us to adopt the Zionist narrative and effectively become bona fide or kosher Zionists in order to be accepted as “true peace partners.”......

Israel, as Spanish Philosopher Santiago Alba-Rico wrote two years ago, may not be the most unjust and criminal State in History, but it is the one that has been at it for a longer period of time and with greater impunity......

Let us not fool ourselves. The nearly daily statements and remarks and warnings that we keep hearing from Israeli rabbis, politicians and generals are a vivid reminder of similar anti-Jewish statements made seven decades ago in Germany by Nazi figures.

In fact, the Holocaust didn’t start with Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943 or even with Kristallnacht in 1938. It began much earlier with a venomously racist discourse that is very much similar to the present Israeli approach toward the Palestinians......."

Bush and Israel’s Alamo

By Tony Karon

"Sobriety remains elusive in Bush’s Middle East policy as he tells the Knesset, “Masada will never fall again!” — as in, “Remember the Alamo!” Having visited the iconic site at which Jewish Jihadists of yore are said to have committed mass suicide rather than surrender to the Romans, Bush was plainly moved to substitute war cries for serious policy. Long on the vacuous militancy that has characterized his entire tenure, Bush reprised the infantile posturing that compared talking to Hamas with appeasing the Nazis (uh, is that what Olmert is doing by negotiating a cease-fire with it via Egypt?), branding Iran the fount of global terrorism and warning that “Permitting the world’s leading sponsor of terror to possess the world’s deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations,” Bush told the Israeli parliament to mark its 60th birthday. “For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”

Don’t talk to Hamas or Iran, don’t allow Iran to have nuclear weapons, etc. etc. But what exactly is he offering? Is he going to bomb Iran? And then what? There’s no policy here, just testoterone......"

Tehran ponders the spoils of victory

By Sami Moubayed
Asia Times

"Hezbollah's display of strength in Lebanon leaves its backer, Iran, emboldened. Tehran is now in a stronger position to negotiate a deal with the United States pertaining to its nuclear file. Or it could do something radical, such as trade off Hezbollah in exchange for a greater piece of the Iraqi cake. All options are on the table....."

Real News Video: Palestinians commemorate al-Nakba--the catastrophe

Al-Jazeera Video: Palestine Street - The Lost Bride - 14 May 08

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

"In a special two-part series Al Jazeera relives the tragic narrative of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) through the stories of one street in the city of Jaffa"

In the eyes of Hizbullah

Hanady Salman reflects on six fateful days in the streets of Beirut
Al-Ahram Weekly

".....For Hizbullah, the facts do not matter anymore. It did not matter how many times the secretary- general of Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah, asserted he did not want an Islamic republic in Lebanon. It did not matter how many times he explained that his party's sole aim was to have a fair share in the decision-making of the country. He repeated his patience had an end vis-a-vis the government's decisions that were alienating both the party and its followers. It did not matter how many times he assured his sole raison d'être is fighting Israel, that he cannot endlessly refrain from taking action, that the government was abusing the party's self-restraint.

Finally, they pushed him into the corner......

Here you have a party that, in the summer of 2006, defeated Israel. Yet, it did not abuse that victory to push aside its partners in the nation. For three years, the party has been trying not to act irrationally internally, despite what the other side does: tightening their grip on power, isolating Hizbullah politically, socially and economically, and ignoring its protests.

And how was that possible? Support from the outside. Unbelievable but true.

So true that even after the past four or five days, we are still stuck in the same stalemate.

What now?

Hizbullah would answer: now someone has to convince Saudi Arabia that they should stop trying to replace the lost Sunni influence in Iraq by strengthening Sunni influence in Lebanon. Lebanon will vanish the minute it loses its diversity.

And someone has to convince the US that it cannot keep supporting a group of Lebanese politicians that cannot deliver the way US-backed Iraqi politicians did when the US invaded Iraq. Does the US really want another Iraq?

Today, it has become even clearer to Hizbullah that winning in a war with Israel is a piece of cake compared to avoiding the traps of the streets of Beirut. "

Project tabula rasa

In the Galilee, Jonathan Cook hears how erasing all traces of Palestine and its people was the lynchpin of the Zionist agenda

Al-Ahram Weekly

"Amin Mohamed Ali (Abu Arab), 73, is a refugee from the village of Saffuriya, three miles northwest of Nazareth. The village, home to 5,000 Palestinians, was one of the largest in the Galilee and among the first to be bombed from the air, according to Israeli historian Ilan Pappe. It was occupied on 16 July 1948. Most of its refugees ended up in Lebanon, but some fled to nearby Nazareth, where they established a neighbourhood, Safafra, named after their village. Abu Arab's home overlooks his family's former lands, now farmed by a Jewish community called Zippori. His old home was destroyed, now covered by a pine forest planted by the Jewish National Fund. He is one of the founders of the Saffuriya Cultural Association and organised this year's Nakba procession to Saffuriya......."

Memory for forgetfulness

Al-Ahram Weekly

"Mahmoud_Darwishwas born in 1941 in the village of Birwe, in Upper Galilee. Birwe was destroyed in 1948 after its inhabitants were made to flee the village. The extract which follows is taken from a memoir Darwish wrote during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. In it, he remembers his first encounter with Beirut in 1948, before his family stole back into what has since become Israel, where Darwish remained until 1972 ......"

We remain

Nothing can annul the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle for justice and self-determination

By Mustafa Barghouti
Al-Ahram Weekly

"......Each side has its own way of commemorating the founding of the so-called state of Israel. Perhaps the best book that can be read on this occasion is The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe. In this latest of his works, the Israeli historian systematically and in uncompromisingly objective detail exposes the fallacy of the Zionist narrative of events between 1947 and 1948. Pappe argues that the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians was not the product of the random circumstances of war, but rather the deliberate combat goal of early Israeli military units. He substantiates his arguments with extensive documentation of more than 30 horrific massacres of Palestinian civilians and demolitions of Palestinian villages carried out by members of the Haganah, the Irgun and the Stern Gang. His invaluable work crowns a collection of similar studies undertaken by such eminent scholars as Avi Shlaim, Walid Al-Khalidi and Edward Said.......

Sixty years after its founding, the Israeli establishment -- ruled today by generals of war and captains of the military-industrial complex -- can not, no matter how hard it tries, discredit the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle for the universally recognised basic human rights to equality, freedom and self-determination. Nor will it ever succeed in refuting Mandela's famous observation that the Palestinian cause is the foremost challenge to international humanitarian conscience.

Supporters of the Israeli occupation are ceaselessly amazed at how tenaciously the Palestinians refuse to cave in to the cruellest of blows. Nor can they conceal their wonder at the constantly regenerating impetus the drive for Palestinian rights has received from new generations of Palestinians, even from those born and raised in the Diaspora, whose sense of what is wrong and unjust only deepens with time.

Despite our failures, our divisions and our mistakes, and despite the cruelties the world, both near and far, has meted out to us, we -- the Palestinians -- are moving forward, struggling to keep the torches of self-confidence, hope and faith in the value of human justice alive and burning.

Meanwhile Israel -- the fourth largest arms exporter in the world, possessor of 400 nuclear warheads, the manufacturer of ceaseless wars, the driver of an economy thriving on stolen land and water, and on the sweat of others' brows -- is sinking further and further on the scales of humanitarian values, as though determined to move against the tide of justice which colonialist powers larger and older than Israel failed to turn -- in India, Algeria, South Africa, and certainly in Palestine."

Israel's twilight years

Palestinians are increasingly rejecting the crumbs of a two-state solution in favour of justice for all in a single state, Palestine

By Khaled Amayreh in Occupied Ramallah
Al-Ahram Weekly

"......Qurei's incertitude about negotiations is drawing the ire of a growing sector of Palestinian intellectuals, encompassing elites from across the Palestinian political and ideological spectrum. This week, the Palestine One State Forum formulated a manifesto for the one-state solution, which calls for the creation of a unitary democratic state in all of mandatory Palestine from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan, and where Israelis and Palestinians would live as equal citizens.

The manifesto, published Thursday 15 May, comprises six points:

- Palestine: The historical land of Palestine is the patrimony and motherland of the Palestinian people which in the context of a durable and comprehensive settlement would accept Israelis as equal citizens in a unitary democratic state.

- The right of return: Every Palestinian forced to flee his homeland (Israel proper) has an inalienable right to return as well as receive compensation and reparations for the psychological, economic and social losses he or she incurred.

- Zionism: Zionism is an exclusionary ideology and part of the international colonialist movement, which created and consolidated a racist state for Jews at the expense of the Palestinian people, resulting in the murder and expulsion of over half the Palestinians. Hence, we see that this ideology must be declared illegal and the political infrastructure based on it dismantled.

- One state for all: The creation of one state in historical Palestine is the most just, realistic, moral and humane solution of the Palestinian question which would guarantee peace and stability in the region. The creation of a unitary democratic state encompassing Israelis currently living in Israel and Palestinians, on the basis of equality as citizens and justice for all regardless of religion, race or sex, is the ideal way of resolving this conflict that has been raging since the outset of the 20th century.

- Historical reconciliation: The one-state solution would serve as the beginning of a historical reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians that would erase the destructive effects of decades of occupation and colonisation. However, the process of reconciliation would have to be preceded by genuine acknowledgement of and apology by Israel for the historical injustices and losses inflicted on the Palestinian people. Moreover, Israel along with the international community would have to compensate the Palestinians for their suffering and losses.

- This vision requires the concerted efforts of the Palestinian people everywhere as well as the efforts of peace-loving Israelis and Jews and all men and women of good will around the world.

Such ideas are anathema for Israel, Zionism and the vast bulk of Jews, since they imply the ultimate dismantling of Zionism and the creation of a bi-national state where Palestinians would eventually have a numerical majority. They also represent a jolt to collective Palestinian thinking, long inured in the idea of Palestinian statehood.

But as Qurei pointed out, the one-state solution will become the Palestinian option not as a matter of choice, but rather because all other alternatives have been effaced. Continued Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, coupled with shrinking political prospects for a viable Palestinian state, is already presenting Palestinians with a dilemma, namely to face national dissolution (i.e. the Jordanian option in the West Bank and the Egyptian option in the Gaza Strip), or embark on a lengthy re- evaluation towards adopting the one-state solution........"

An irreducible fact

In the face of the most sustained assault on the collective memory of a people in recent history, the Palestinians still remember who they are

By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Ahram Weekly

"......Since its foundation Israel has laboured to undermine any sense of Palestinian identity. Without most of their historic land the relationship between Palestinians and Palestine could only exist in memory. Eventually, though, memory managed to morph into a collective identity that has proved more durable than physical existence on the land. "It is a testimony to the tenacity of Palestinians that they have kept alive a sense of nationhood in the face of so much adversity. Yet the obstacles to sustaining their cohesiveness as a people are today greater than ever," reported the Economist (8 May 2008).

Living in so many disconnected areas, removed from their land, detached from one another, Palestinians have not just been oppressed physically by Israel, but physiologically as well. There are attempts from all directions to force them to simply concede, forget and move on. It is the Palestinian people's rejection of such notions that makes Israel's victory and "independence" superficial and unconvincing.

Sixty years after their catastrophe (Nakba), Palestinians still remember their past and present injustices. But more than mere remembrance is necessary; Palestinians need to find a common ground for unity -- Christians and Muslims, poor and rich, secularist and religious -- in order to stop Israel from eagerly exploiting their own disunity, factionalism and political tribalism. Yet despite Israel's hopes and best efforts Palestinians have not yet forgotten who they are. No amount of denial can change that. "

Nakba ongoing

Unseen and unreported, Israeli police attacked children and parents who wished to remember the Palestinian national tragedy that is the flipside of the birth of Israel

The Exodus by Ismail Shammout

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
Al-Ahram Weekly

"......But this year's Independence Day festivities hid as much as they revealed. The images of joy and celebration seen by the world failed to acknowledge the reality of a deeply divided Israel, shared by two peoples with conflicting memories and claims to the land.

Away from the cameras, a fifth of the Israeli population -- more than one million Palestinian citizens -- remembered the Nakba, the catastrophe of 1948 that befell the Palestinian people as the Jewish state was built on the ruins of their society.

As it has been doing for the past decade, Israel's Palestinian minority staged an alternative act of commemoration: a procession of families, many of them refugees from the 1948 war, to one of more than 400 Palestinian villages erased by Israel in a monumental act of state vandalism after the fighting. The villages were destroyed to prevent the refugees from ever returning.

But in a sign of how far Israel still is from coming to terms with the circumstances of its birth, Israeli police forcibly broke up this year's march. They clubbed unarmed demonstrators with batons and fired tear gas and stun grenades into crowds of families that included young children.....

Most of the refugees are living in refugee camps in neighbouring Arab states but a few remained inside Israel. Today one in four Palestinian citizens of Israel is either a refugee or descended from one. Not only have they been denied the right ever to return to their homes, like the other refugees, but also many live tantalisingly close to their former communities.

All of the destroyed villages have either been reinvented as exclusive Jewish communities or buried under the foliage of national forestation programmes overseen by the Jewish National Fund and paid for with charitable donations from European and American Jews........"

Crossing the Line interviews author Phyllis Bennis

Podcast, The Electronic Intifada, 15 May 2008

"This week on Crossing The Line: Former US President Jimmy Carter met with the political head of Hamas in Syria while insisting that Hamas must be included in any future Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The visit has drawn criticism from both the US and Israel which until now have refused to take part in any official negotiations with the Hamas government. What does Carter's meeting with Hamas mean? Is it as "historic" as some are calling it? Host Naji Ali speaks with author on Middle East issues, Phyllis Bennis about Carter's controversial visit to the Middle East.

Next, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, has suspended food shipments into the Gaza Strip as a result of fuel shortages brought on by the ongoing Israeli siege of Gaza since June 2007. Ali speaks with UNRWA spokesperson in Gaza, Adn Abu-Hasna about the impact of the fuel shortages and aid to the people in Gaza.

Last in the program, incarcerated Palestinian political prisoner Dr. Sami Al-Arian ends his 57-day hunger strike that he began to protest continued harrassment and abuse of power by the US Justice Department. Ali speaks with Dr. Al-Arian's daughter, Laila, about his health and his family's struggle to be reunited with their father."

Click Here to Listen

Remembering the Nakba, 60 years later

Handuma Rashid Najja Wishah spends as much time as she can in her garden in Gaza maintaining her "intimate love of the land." (PCHR)

Report, PCHR, 15 May 2008
(Palestinian Centre for Human Rights)

""I am not sure what year I was born. But it was around 78 years ago, in Palestine." Handuma Rashid Najja Wishah sits on the patio overlooking her large garden, recalling the turbulent story of her long life. "I am a Palestinian from the village of Beit Affa" she says, tucking her long white scarf under her chin. "It was a beautiful village and we had a good life there. There was a small Jewish settlement nearby, called Negba, and we had a good relationship with the Jews. Whenever we had weddings, we would invite them to come and celebrate, and we women all used to dance dabka (Palestinian traditional dance) together. The muktar (chief) of the settlement, was called Michael. He used to arrive at the weddings with a gift, like a goat, and we would cook it and share the meat between us.".......

The Haganah militia entered Beit Affa in the summer of 1948. "They arrived at 1:00 am" Handuma recalls, "and started to kill our people. I saw my husband's cousin axed to death, and an elderly woman being murdered. We hid in our homes, and the killing continued until 7:00 am. Then the Haganah broke down the front doors of our houses and told us all to get out. They separated us, women from men, and then they took the men and blindfolded them, tied their hands together, and forced outside into the hot sun." The surviving villagers' lives were saved when Egyptian troops arrived and drove the Haganah out of Beit Affa. "But we had to leave our village," says Handuma. "We were still afraid for our lives -- and for the honor of our girls. The land would have to wait for us. I took nothing from my home, and left the front door open." She says all of the Beit Affa villagers left together en masse........"

By Emad Hajjaj

بوش ومحو حزب الله وحماس من الخريطة

بوش ومحو حزب الله وحماس من الخريطة

"لم يكتف الرئيس الامريكي جورج بوش بالاحتفال بالذكري الستين لقيام دولة اسرائيل علي حساب عمليات التطهير العرقي لشعب بكامله، بل اختار هذه المناسبة لكي يعلن الحرب علي المقاومتين اللبنانية والفلسطينية ويتوعد بالهجوم علي ايران تحت ذريعة برنامجها النووي.
الرئيس بوش قال ان الايام او الاشهر المقبلة، ستشهد اختفاء حزب الله وحركة حماس من خريطة المنطقة، لانهما يعرقلان مسيرة السلام، وتنبأ باحتفال اسرائيل بالذكري المئة والعشرين علي قيامها، دون ان يتطرق الي تعهداته بإقامة دولة فلسطينية قبل نهاية عهده.
ولا نعتقد ان الرئيس بوش زعيم القوة الاعظم في العالم يطلق مثل هذه التهديدات دون ان يكون مستندا الي خطة مفصلة تتضمن موعد الحرب، والاهداف المحددة لها، والقوات المشاركة فيها، فإزالة حماس من الخريطة تعني اجتياحا اسرائيليا لقطاع غزة وارتكاب مجازر جديدة فيه، والقضاء علي حزب الله يعني اجتياحا اسرائيليا اوسع للبنان علي غرار ما حدث قبل عامين تقريبا.
واللافت ان القيادة الاسرائيلية رفضت اتفاق التهدئة الذي جاء ثمرة اتصالات ووساطات مصرية مع حركات المقاومة في قطاع غزة والخارج، من خلال طرحها شروطا تعجيزية مثل منع التهريب عبر الانفاق علي الحدود المصرية مع القطاع منعا باتا، والافراج عن الجندي الاسرائيلي جلعاد شاليط. وهذا الرفض لم يأت من فراغ، وربما يستند الي قرار اسرائيلي اتخذ قبل فترة باجتياح القطاع علي امل القضاء علي حركات المقاومة، وربما جاء القصف الصاروخي يوم امس الاول الذي استهدف سوقا في عسقلان، وأدي الي اصابة 35 شخصا، ليعزز هذا التوجه.
اجتياح قطاع غزة ربما يكون اكثر سهولة من اجتياح جنوب لبنان، ولكنه لن يكون بدون خسائر، فاذا كان الاجتياح الاسرائيلي لمخيم جنين في الضفة الغربية الذي لا تزيد مساحته عن كيلومتر مربع واحد قد كلف الجيش الاسرائيلي 26 قتيلا، واستغرقت عملية اقتحامه تسعة ايام، فان اجتياح قطاع غزة الافضل تسليحا، والاكبر مساحة (370 كيلومتر مربع) سيكلف الجيش الاسرائيلي اضعاف هذا العدد من الضحايا، وقد تتعرض المستوطنات والمدن الاسرائيلية في شمال القطاع لقصف مئات الصواريخ دفعة واحدة.
هناك تقارير اخبارية تقول ان زيارة الرئيس بوش الحالية ليست من اجل دعم العملية السلمية، وانما لوضع اللمسات الاخيرة علي الحرب التي يستعد لخوضها مع اسرائيل، وبعض الدول العربية المعتدلة، ضد ايران وسورية وحركات المقاومة اللبنانية والفلسطينية.
فليس من قبيل الصدفة ان يزور بوش المنطقة مرتين في اقل من خمسة اشهر، وان يتوقف في عاصمتي محور الاعتدال العربي اي الرياض والقاهرة، الي جانب بعض الدول الخليجية مثل دولة الامارات والبحرين والكويت، وهي الدول المقابلة لايران، وتضم قواعد عسكرية امريكية علي ارضها يمكن ان تستخدم في اي هجوم علي ايران.
المنطق يقول بأنه يجب علي الدول العربية التي سيزورها بوش اليوم ان تعتذر عن عدم استقباله، وتغلق ابواب عواصمها في وجهه، بعد مشاركته في احتفالات اغتصاب فلسطين، وتأكيده علي دعم الولايات المتحدة وقيادتها وشعبها لها في مواجهة اعدائها، ولكن لا نعتقد ان هذه الدول سترتقي الي درجة المسؤولية الاخلاقية، القومية والاسلامية، وتقول للرئيس بوش انك غير مرحب بك علي ارضنا، لانك لم تف بوعودك حول اقامة الدولة الفلسطينية، ولم تمارس اي ضغوط علي اصدقائك الاسرائيليين، ووضعت حلفاءك العرب في وضع حرج للغاية.
الرئيس بوش سيجد استقبالا حارا في انتظاره في كل من الرياض والقاهرة، لان العدو الاخطروربما اكثر حرارة من الاستقبال الذي وجده في القدس المحتلة، في نظر دول محور الاعتدال العربية لم يعد الدولة العبرية وانما ايران و حزب الله بالدرجة الاولي، ولذلك لن يكون مستغربا اذا ما تعهدت هذه الدول بالمشاركة في اي حرب يشنها ضد الاعداء الجدد.
محو حزب الله و حماس من الخريطة مثلما توعد الرئيس بوش لن يكون عملية سهلة، بل ربما تكون الاكثر كلفة للولايات المتحدة واسرائيل بالمقارنة مع الحربين الحاليتين في افغانستان والعراق. فزمن الانتصارات الامريكية والاسرائيلية السهلة والمحدودة الخسائر قد ولي الي غير رجعة، وتجربة الغزو الاسرائيلي الاخيرة للبنان هي الدليل الابرز في هذا الصدد.
الرئيس بوش لن ينجح في محو حماس و حزب الله من الخريطة، لانه لم ينجح في إلحاق الهزيمة بالمقاومة العراقية، كما ان هدفي الحرب التي اعلنها علي الارهاب، وهما زعيما تنظيم القاعدة وحركة طالبان ما زالا علي قيد الحياة، ويخوضان حرب استنزاف ضد امريكا وقواتها في افغانستان والعراق. ما يمكن ان ينجح به الرئيس بوش في حال ارتكابه حماقة جديدة هو وضع نقطة البداية في مسيرة انهاء دولة اسرائيل والمصالح الامريكية في المنطقة برمتها."

"J’lem Sources Believe U.S. Could Hit Iran this Year"


"16/05/2008 Israeli daily Haaretz said Friday Israeli Army Radio reported that sources in Jerusalem believe that the U.S. administration could carry out an operation against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime over the next year.

Officials in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office said the possibility was discussed in closed talks between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and U.S. President George Bush, during the latter's visit to the Zionist entity this week. The officials said that Bush wants to deal with Iran on a root level, to weed out the negative influence aiding resistance groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, the radio said.

Meanwhile, senior officials in Jerusalem said Thursday that Israel is fully satisfied with the results of Bush's visit, including policy on Iran's nuclear program. "In talks with the president of the United States during his visit it was made clear that Bush's statements on the subject of Iran's nuclear program are fully backed in practice," a senior official said.

The president's attitude on Iran was well known in Israel, and the expectation had been that he would use forceful language against Tehran, both during talks with Israeli officials and in his address to the Knesset, not only on the nuclear question but on Iran's role in the region.

During meetings with Olmert and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, more data was presented to back the desire for a reassessment of an American intelligence report which concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program.

One Israeli source said that it is hoped that the new information would influence the administration's stance on Iran's nuclear program. The source said that Olmert would discuss the subject during his visit to Washington in two weeks.

President Bush was wrapping up his visit in occupied territories on Friday with a tour and discussion with Israeli students at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.

Bush addressed the Knesset on Thursday, promising unflinching U.S. support. Bush added that calls for negotiations with President Ahmadinejad are akin to the efforts to appease Hitler before World War II.

His address was interrupted no less than 14 times by loud applause. "America stands with you in breaking up terrorist networks and denying the extremists sanctuary. And America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," Bush said.

After the speech made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the Knesset in March, it was hard to expect a more pro-Zionist speech. But as a former Knesset speaker, MK Reuven Rivlin, put it Thursday, "I wish our leaders would make speeches like this." Rivlin described Bush as "manifesting the Zionist vision."

Contrary to the applause Bush received for his address, the speech by Olmert was less popular and stirred considerable controversy. Olmert promised that when there is a peace agreement it "will be approved by a large majority in the Knesset and it will be supported by the vast majority of the Israeli public."

Two MKs from the National Union, Zvi Hendel and Uri Ariel, left the plenum in protest, complaining that the event was "used to promote a political agenda that is opposed by most of the Israeli public."

Hendel issued a statement calling on Olmert "to learn from the president of the United States what Zionism is." MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) called out during Olmert's speech, "in your dreams." He later proposed that Bush should replace Olmert.

On Iran, Olmert said that "the seriousness of the threat demands that no means be discounted." However, he made it clear that "a uniform international political and economic front against Iran is currently in place, and tougher and more effective sanctions are a necessary stage, even if it is not the final stage, on the right way to block the Iranian threat." "

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Resisting the Nakba

The viciousness of Israel is testament to its knowing that Palestinians will always remain steadfast and defeat its past and present attempts to erase them

The Road to Nowhere by Ismail Shammout 1930-2006. He was expelled from Lydda in 1948. The plight of the refugees is depicted in many of his most famous paintings.

A Very Good Piece

By Joseph Massad
Al-Ahram Weekly

"......In my view, the Nakba is none of these things, and the attempt to make this year the 60th anniversary of the Nakba's life and death is a grave error. The Nakba is in fact much older than 60 years and it is still with us, pulsating with life and coursing through history by piling up more calamities upon the Palestinian people. I hold that the Nakba is a historical epoch that is 127 years old and is ongoing. The year 1881 is the date when Jewish colonisation of Palestine started and, as everyone knows, it has never ended. Much as the world would like to present Palestinians as living in a post-Nakba period, I insist that we live thoroughly in Nakba times. What we are doing this year is not an act of commemorating but an act of witnessing the ongoing Nakba that continues to destroy Palestine and the Palestinians. I submit, therefore, that this year is not the 60th anniversary of the Nakba at all, but rather one more year of enduring its brutality; that the history of the Nakba has never been a history of the past but decidedly a history of the present.......

But in resisting the Nakba, the Palestinians have struck at the heart of the Zionist project that insists that the Nakba be seen as a past event. In resisting Israel, Palestinians have forced the world to witness the Nakba as present action; one that, contrary to Zionist wisdom, is indeed reversible. This is precisely what galls Israel and the Zionist movement. Israel's inability to complete its mission of thoroughly colonising Palestine, of expelling all Palestinians, of "gathering" all Jews in the world in its colony, keeps it uneasy and keeps its project always in the present continuous.

While Israel has used this situation to project itself as a victim of its own victims who refuse to grant it legitimacy to victimise them, Israel understands not only in its unconscious but also consciously that its project will remain reversible. The cruelty it has shown and continues to show to the Palestinian people is directly proportional to its belief in their ability to overthrow its achievements and reverse its colonial project. The problem for Israel is not in believing and knowing that there is not one single place in its colonial settlement that did not have a former Arab population, but in its realisation that there is no place today in its imaginary "Jewish State" that does not still have an Arab population who claims it.

That the Nakba remains unfinished is precisely because Palestinians refuse to let it transform them into mankubin. What we are witnessing at this year's commemorations, then, is not only one more year of the Nakba but also one more year of resisting it. Those who counsel the Palestinians to accept the Nakba know that to accept the Nakba is to allow it to continue unfettered. Palestinians know better. The only way to end the Nakba, Palestinians insist, is to continue to resist it."

Old Man Carter

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)
By Khalil Bendib

There is no alternative to the right of return

Statement, National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba at 60, 15 May 2008

".....Today we reaffirm our rights, not least those articulated in UN General Assembly Resolution 194; we reaffirm our reclamation of our national unity and an end to internal division through open discussion, and we reaffirm our commitment to the project of reviving the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and the uniting framework of the our people and our struggle. As such, it is imperative that we prioritize the following steps in relaunching our march along the road of return:

To reflect the reality that the Nakba did not end in 1948, but has continued every day since then as Israel works to expand its control of our land and expel our people from it. As such we call for the adoption of the phrase "Ongoing Nakba";
That we refer to the Palestinians who managed to stay within the part of Palestine occupied in 1948 as the "Palestinians within the Green Line" or the "Palestinians in 1948 occupied Palestine" when referring to them, instead of phrases that deny them their Palestinian identity. Also to refer to "Historic Palestine" when referring to the Palestine's borders during the British mandate, as well as stressing that the right of return is to the refugees' "original homes and properties";
Consolidating and bolstering the culture of return through our society's formal, popular and civil institutions, and ensuring that this is disseminated consistently and as widely as possible through all means;
Considering a person or organization's stance on the right of return as the litmus test that determines our relationship with Israeli institutions and entities, and a measure for differentiating between projects as ones aimed at normalization or not;
Strengthening the popular campaigns in Palestine, the Arab world and internationally, particularly the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, as well as the campaign for academic and cultural boycott, and the campaign against the Israeli apartheid wall;
Organizing an international campaign to push the United Nations to readopt its resolution recognizing Zionism as a form of racism;
To stress in our work, language, and daily life the important distinction between Zionism and Judaism, and that Israel is a product of international Zionism that is nothing other than a colonial apartheid state;
To be very clear that any political arrangement, including the "two-state solution," that does not include the full implementation of the rights of the refugees, is in no way a solution, and no more than an insulting and deceptive way of conflict-management;
To ensure that the Palestinian narrative is properly documented, and included in all Palestinian educational curricula;
Closely working with international movements that are in solidarity with our struggle to strengthen its place on the international agenda; and mobilizing Palestinian solidarity with the causes and struggles of oppressed people around the world, particularly the struggles of indigenous peoples for sovereignty and liberty.

You who shall undoubtedly return,

After 60 years of expulsion, exile and refuge; after 60 years of international impotence, and the failure of international organizations to enforce their own decisions; and after 60 years of Israeli arrogance, we declare that the commemoration of the Nakba as of today will nothing but a date to renew our commitment to struggle until we achieve our return to our original homes and lands. We declare the return to be the program of our struggle, and not just a demand, and will continue as such until the end of the Nakba, "whether they like it or not" as Yasser Arafat once said.

We shall return."

Planned US Israeli Attack on Iran: Will there be a War against Iran?

by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, May 14, 2008

".....The Decision to go to War: Not a Rational Choice

The decision to go to war is not made by the Military high command.

The decision to go to war is taken by civilians.

The US Military is characterised by a hierarchy and command structure. Orders come from above, emanating from the "civilian government", namely the Bush administration. They are transmitted downwards through the military command structure. Once the order to go to war is taken, it is not discussed or debated, it is carried out by the military. Moreover, in all likelihood, in implementing a "preemptive attack" on Iran, the Bush administration would bypass the US Congress, in blatant violation of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

In practice, the President and Commander in Chief, namely George W. Bush, does not decide. He also obeys orders from above. He follows the diktats of powerful financial and corporate interests.

This war is profit-driven. "War is good for business". It is a money making operation. It results in billions of dollar of profits for Wall Street, the oil giants and the military industrial complex, not to mention the institutional speculators in the oil, currency and commodity markets.

The objective of the proposed war is to extend the frontiers of the global capitalist economy, eventually taking control of Iran's oil wealth. The broader implications of a war using tactical nuclear weapons in the conventional war theater are of no concern to those who decide to go to war.

The Central Role of Vice President Dick Cheney

In contrast to previous adminstrations, the Vice President has played a central role in the Bush adminstration, overshadowing the office of the President. In practice, Vice President Cheney, supported by an army of senior officials and loyal advisers, controls the White House. At the same time, Cheney is part of a powerful corporate apparatus, through his links to Halliburton and the role Halliburton has played in defining a profit-driven military agenda.

Cheney has personally played a key roie in activating war plans directed against Iran........"

The US-Iran sound bite showdown

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's latest comments on Israel have been variously translated in the Western media, the most ominous having it that Israel will not save itself from "death and destruction". This will inevitably be seized on by the George W Bush administration as more evidence that Tehran wants to "destroy" Israel, muscling up the case for a US attack. Maybe that is what Ahmadinejad intends.......

.....There is no evidence the celebrity sound bite showdown will abate any time soon. Bush appears to want war - to bolster his "legacy". Ahmadinejad, too, might want war to bolster his faltering administration. American and world public opinion can only hope the clock does not run out before a possibly upcoming changing of the guard in the White House.

Just as the rhetoric between Tehran and Washington was once again at red alert levels, former Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Edwards stepped into the ring to announce his endorsement of Democratic Senator Barack Obama in the US presidential race - sucking out the hate waves. "Walls" inside and outside the US may soon come tumbling down, as Edwards hinted in his speech. But the fact remains that the hardline faction in the Bush administration centered around Vice President Dick Cheney still has over five months to fulfill its agenda of regime change in Iran. And the danger is Ahmadinejad will do absolutely nothing to dissuade them. "

Real News Video: Russia's new president faces US on Iran

"Eric Margolis: Medvedev will continue policy of opposing any US attack on Iran

Thursday May 15th, 2008

Dmitry Medvedev was inaugurated as the new president of Russia last week, following the resignation of his mentor and predecessor, Vladimir Putin.

The outgoing president will now act as Prime Minister, a position from which he will oversee both domestic and foreign policy. Pressing issues for the new leadership include expanding relations with Iran, and acting as a counterweight to American involvement in the region. Russia's resource-driven economy has flourished as soaring oil prices bring new found wealth and influence to this emerging powerhouse. The Real News Network analyst Eric Margolis examines the implications of a new Russian leadership."

Rethinking Israel after Sixty Years

Did the Palestinians really flee or did we, the Israeli Jews, drive them out?

By Jeff Halper
Palestine Chronicle

"......For Israeli Jews, 60 Years is a cause for celebration rather than reflection. Still, the poltergeist churns, the celebrations are exaggerated, even forced, an unsettled disquiet permeating the festivities, most visibly in the presence of thousands of soldiers and distinctly militaristic character. The Palestinian people, exhausted, brutalized, impoverished, steadfastly refuse to disappear or submit. In 1967 Israel defeated the entire Arab world in six days; after more than 40 years it is unable to pacify the unarmed Palestinians. As the history of colonialism shows, a people cannot be defeated, oppression cannot be normalized or sustained, no matter how strong the dominating regime seems to be. Nineteen sixty-seven had to do with occupation. Had we dealt with that wisely and justly, Israel today could have been a Jewish state on 78% of the Land of Israel living at peace with its neighbors. Nineteen forty-eight, the focus of the 60 Years, is a different matter entirely. With the Occupation having been transformed into a permanent political fact (a Palestinian prison-state a la a South African Bantustan will not resolve the conflict), the question of peace, co-existence, and reconciliation now shifts to the entire country, to an indivisible Israel/Palestine. No need to blame the Palestinian for that; they accepted the two-state solution way back in 1988. It is us, those who thought (and still think) that military power combined with Jewish victimhood can defy a people's will to freedom, who carry the responsibility........"