Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wanted: A Panel Discussion in Which YOU Are a Panelist

Here is a new idea which I would like to try and I appreciate your feedback.

Once in a while a good and useful discussion ensues in the comment section which triggers several ideas. I thought that instead of scattered and disjointed contributions buried in the comment section, we instead periodically organize panel discussions. The topics can be decided upon collectively. Everyone is invited and encouraged to participate. I will collate and organize the contributions and present them as a panel discussion. You are encouraged to contribute your own ideas on the subject as well as supply links to articles, videos, audios that relate to the topic of the panel.

I propose this as the topic of the first panel:

De-development in the Arab world: causes, implications and projections.

It is becoming increasingly clear that while the rest of the world moves ahead, the Arab world has been going back. This is true using just about any measure: democracy, freedom of expression, distribution of wealth, education, health, housing, name it. This de-development has been reflected in the total political bankruptcy and irrelevance of the Arab world. The regimes of the region have, by and large, become vassals of Washington. Never, even during the colonial era of a century ago, have the Arabs reached such lows. The question is how did this come about? Was it unintentional or a direct result of globalization? If it is the latter, why and how is Latin America breaking away?

I hear from people who lived in countries such as Algeria which had great promise, due to natural resources, that conditions today are much worse than they were in the seventies and eighties. The rich elite are richer than ever while the vast majority are struggling with grinding poverty. People in such conditions have no time nor energy for political action and participation. Was this the plan all along?

The same is true in Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, you name it.

What do you think of this idea? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section, and those are much appreciated.

Dr. Benny and Mr. Morris

The Historian and the Twisted Politics of Expulsion


"Is it possible for someone who matter-of-factly supports crimes against humanity to be a good historian? A startling and provocative question, no doubt, but one that inevitably arises upon consideration of the remarkable career of Israeli scholar Benny Morris. A professor in the Middle East Studies department at Ben-Gurion University, Morris is well-known as one of the most important of the “New Historians,” a group that upended traditional Zionist historiography of the Israeli-Arab conflict. In the first edition of his book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem (1988), Morris conclusively demonstrated, through the mining of newly released Israeli government archives, that the refugees from the 1948 war had, overwhelmingly, fled or been expelled by Israeli forces rather than left as a result of encouragement by Arab leaders, as a previous generation of Israeli propagandists had claimed.......

So we return to our original conundrum: can a man seemingly without ethical scruple, who exuberantly supports ethnic cleansing and damns entire religions and ethnicities to perdition, who blames the victims of a historic tragedy for their misfortune, make valuable contributions to historiography? It doesn’t seem possible. And yet Benny Morris, at least by the evidence presented in 1948, seems to have done just that. The political judgments may often be twisted, and the moral sensibility may be damaged beyond repair. But the well-trained historian lives on."

The Untold Story of Ni'lin

Resisting Israeli Land Seizures


(Neve Gordon teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University)

".....The events unfolding in Ni'lin also provide the perfect ingredients for a good story. During the first three days of the curfew ambulances were not allowed into the town; the body of one deceased resident was kept for four hours at Ni'lin's entrance before the military let his family bring in the remains for burial; a woman in labor was prevented from leaving the village and was forced to deliver the baby at home; a 12-year-old boy was taken from his home by soldiers and held for two days without charges; elderly women were beaten; and three residents were seriously wounded by live ammunition.

So why do most media outlets fail to cover this ongoing campaign? The reason is straightforward: covering the struggle in Ni'lin would shatter the stereotypical perception of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict provided by mainstream news sources. Unlike the bulldozer attack, which reinforces the pervasive understanding of this conflict, the events in Ni'lin uncover a much more complex reality. This story does not involve Palestinians perpetrating terrorism against a civilian population but rather popular acts of civil disobedience that persist despite the ruthless repression of an occupying power.

Another aspect of Ni'lin that goes against existing stereotypes is that Palestinians and Jews are not fighting on different sides of this fray, but rather scores of Jewish Israeli and international activists are standing beside the Palestinians residents as they try to stop military bulldozers from destroying Ni'lin's land. Indeed, among those injured are many Israelis.

The story of Ni'lin is, in other words, the story of a colonized people resisting colonization. This is not the way the mainstream media has been accustomed to portraying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and judging from the Google news results, most editors are not ready to change their approach. The historic campaign in Ni'lin--as well as many other nonviolent, mass civil disobedience campaigns against the occupation in places like Bi'lin and A'ram--is still unfit to print......"

Different Planets

The Israel / Hezbollah Prisoner Swap

By Uri Avnery

".....IT WAS, of course, Hassan Nasrallah's big day. In the eyes of tens of millions of Arabs, he has won a huge victory. A small organization in a small country has brought Israel, the regional power, to its knees, while the leaders of all the Arab countries are bending the knee before Israel.

Nasrallah promised to bring Kuntar back. For that purpose he captured the two soldiers. After two years and one war, the newly freed prisoner stood on the tribune in Beirut, dressed in a Hezbollah uniform, and Nasrallah himself, endangering his personal safety, came out and embraced him in front of the TV cameras, as a cheering crowd went wild with enthusiasm......

Those who remember Lebanon as a doormat in the region, and the Shiites as a doormat in Lebanon, can appreciate the immensity of the change......."

Faced with this demonstration of personal courage and self-confidence, its dramatic flair so characteristic of the man, the Israeli army reacted with the inane statement: "We would not advise Nasrallah to leave his bunker!"

Aljazeera brought all this live, hour after hour, to millions of homes from Morocco to Iraq and the Muslim world beyond. It was impossible for Arab viewers not to be swept along on the waves of emotion. For a young person in Riyadh, Cairo, Amman or Baghdad, there was only one possible reaction: Here is the man! Here is the man who is restoring Arab honor after decades of defeats and humiliation! Here is the man, compared to whom all the leaders of the Arab world are dwarfs! And when Nasrallah announced that "As from this moment, the era of Arab defeats has come to an end!" he captured the spirit of the day.

I suspect that there were also quite a number of Israelis who made unflattering comparisons between this man and our own cabinet ministers, the champions of empty, boastful verbiage. Compared to them, Nasrallah looks responsible, credible, logical and determined, without spin and hollow words.

On the eve of the huge rally, he addressed the public and forbade firing into the air, as is common in Arab celebrations. "Anyone who shoots, shoots at my breast, my head, my robe!" he declared. Not a single shot was fired...... "

'Israel rejects Nasrallah mediation'

"Israel has turned down an offer by Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah to take Egypt's place as mediator between Israel and Hamas for the release of captive soldier Gilad Schalit, Channel 2 reported Friday evening.......

Israel reportedly declined Nasrallah's overtures from a desire not to raise Nasrallah's status in the Arab world. Nasrallah garnered intense media attention Wednesday, promising to address Israel and the West during the celebrations planned to mark Kuntar's release. "

Jewish guerrillas told British: quit Palestine or die. Notice That the Times Does not Refer to the Terrorists of the Irgun as Terrorists.

Times Online

"A pamphlet warning Britons to leave the Middle East or face death has come to light in a stash of illicit propaganda.

The document does not hail from Basra or Baghdad, nor was it penned by the Islamists of al-Qaeda or the al-Mahdi Army. It was found in Haifa, about 60 years ago, and it was issued by the underground group led by Menachem Begin – the future Prime Minister of Israel and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The document, which surfaced at an auction house this week, is addressed to “the soldiers of the occupation army” and aimed at British soldiers serving in Palestine, then under the British Mandate, preceding the establishment of Israel in 1948. The print has faded and the paper has discoloured since it was unearthed from a grove of trees in Haifa in the summer of 1947. Yet the language and the concerns remain current.

Bombings and murders by underground groups, such as Begin’s Irgun, hastened the British withdrawal and the United Nations declaration that led to the founding of modern Israel.

Irgun propaganda targeted the British Army’s wavering morale, already dented by the bomb attack on the Mandate’s headquarters – the King David Hotel in Jerusalem – which killed 91 people. (see photo) .......

It adds: “Most of you have been in this country for quite a long time. You have learned what the word ‘terrorist’ means, some of you may even have come into direct contact with them (and heartily desire not to repeat the experience). But what do you know about them? Why does a young man go underground?”......

Richard Westwood-Brookes, Mullock’s historical documents specialist, said the pamphlet was a remarkable find, which “ amounted to a manifesto for terrorist action”. He added: “It also raises the question as to who are ‘terrorists’ and who are ‘freedom fighters’. It’s a debate which raged through the troubles of Northern Ireland and continues in the Middle East.”

Begin’s Irgun set aside its differences with Haganah, a rival underground Jewish group led by David Ben Gurion – the first Prime Minister of Israel, who once likened Begin to Adolf Hitler....."

Seismic Shift or Non-Decision by Bush on Iran?

By Gareth Porter

"The US decision to send the State Department's third-ranking official to sit in on the meeting between European Union foreign affairs chief Javier Solana and Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili Saturday has been hailed as a major diplomatic breakthrough, but it is too soon to pop the champagne cork.

The caveats associated with decision and the circumstances surrounding it suggest that it may be yet another in a string of non-decisions on diplomatic talks and other Iran policy issues by George W. Bush over the past three years......

Any sign of US interest in negotiations has encouraged Iranian leaders to be more forthcoming on talks. Even Rice's willingness to sign the six-power incentives document was reported by the Times to have "visibly stunned" Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki. So Iran may well seek to exploit Burns's presence in the meeting to offer a new proposal for a deal in order to extend the talks.

But against Bush's history of pulling back from negotiating decisions under Cheney's influence, the approval of the Burns trip to Geneva for a single meeting with Iran's negotiator seems more like a Bush non-decision on Iran policy than it does a fundamental policy shift."

Real News Video: Obama and the Cold War mentality

Gareth Porter: Will Obama be truly post-Cold War?

"Historian and author Gareth Porter discusses with Pepe Escobar the positioning of Senator Barack Obama relative to the power of the national security establishment in the US; the legacy of JFK; the feasibility of the US refusing to occupy Muslim lands; and what it takes to be elected president of the United States."

Real News Video: Who can and who can't have nuclear weapons?

Aijaz Ahmad: What would a rational American foreign policy look like? Part 4

Khalil Bendib's Cartoon: Obama's Conservatism

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

مشاحنة بين اليهود والمسلمين تعصف بحوار الاديان في مدريد

مشاحنة بين اليهود والمسلمين تعصف بحوار الاديان في مدريد

اشتعلت بين مستشار رئيس الامارات ورئيس المؤتمر اليهودي العالمي وحاخام وصف الحدث بانه لا يعدو مناسبة لالتقاط الصور

"مدريد - رويترز: انتهى مؤتمر حوار الأديان الذي تنظمه السعودية الجمعة بمشاحنة عكرت صفوه بين المسلمين واليهود. وكان المنظمون السعوديون يودون تفادي حدوث مثل هذا الأمر. وبدا أن الآمال بعقد مؤتمر متابعة قد تبددت. وقال دبلوماسي من الشرق الأوسط إن المشاحنات التي أذاعها التلفزيون بين الحاخامين اليهود والمشاركين المسلمين تجاوزت المدى.
واضاف الدبلوماسي الذي طلب عدم الإفصاح عن اسمه 'هذا كثير.. لقد تجاوز الحدود'.
وهون المنظمون من شأن مناقشة بشأن الصهيونية بين عز الدين إبراهيم مستشار رئيس الإمارات العربية المتحدة والحاخام مارك شناير رئيس المؤتمر اليهودي العالمي في أمريكا الشمالية مما أثار اهتمام وسائل الإعلام. وقالت صحيفة 'نيويورك صن'، 'هاجم مسؤول من الإمارات العربية المتحدة الصهيونية في المؤتمر السعودي'.
وقال إبراهيم لـ'رويترز'، 'الناس قالوا إنني هاجمت الصهيونية وأنا لم أفعل'. وأضاف أنه لن يكون مؤتمر للأديان مكتملا من دون اليهود.
وقدم شناير دفاعا قويا عن إسرائيل في مناظرة جرت الخميس بعد أن أشار مشارك مسلم إلى الصهاينة.
وقال عبد الله التركي الأمين العام لرابطة العالم الإسلامي التي تنظم الحدث إن وجود بعض التباينات والخلافات بين المشاركين أمر طبيعي.
ولكن البيان الختامي للمؤتمر خيب أمل الكثيرين.
وأضاف التركي ان إعلان مدريد لا يمهد الطريق لمؤتمر آخر. وأشار إلى أنه ما زال يتوجب توخي ما إذا كان المؤتمر سيؤكد على تنظيم مؤتمرات أخرى أو ندوات في أجزاء أخرى من العالم.
وفي وقت سابق قال الحاخام دافيد روزين من اللجنة اليهودية الأمريكية إن الحدث لا يعدو كونه فرصة لالتقاط الصور ما لم يؤد لمتابعة في السعودية ليهود إسرائيل.
ولكن المشاركين قالوا إن جمع أناس من عقائد مختلفة كثيرة تحت سقف واحد هو إنجاز في حد ذاته حتى لو لم يكن هناك يهود من إسرائيل أو مسلمون ومسيحيون فلسطينيون.
More on the Normalization with Israel, Courtesy of the Chief Thief of the House of Saud:
Spat between Jews and Muslims sours Saudi interfaith summit

"MADRID - A groundbreaking interfaith conference this week ended on a sour note, with a political spat between Muslims and Jews that Saudi organizers wanted to avoid. Hopes of a follow-up meeting appeared to be dashed.......

It was the first time Saudi Arabia, where non-Muslims cannot practice their faith openly, had invited Jews to such a meeting and the aim was to skirt hot issues like the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in order to focus on problems facing humanity.

But televised exchanges between Jewish Rabbis and Muslim participants went too far, according to one Middle Eastern diplomat. "This was too much, it crossed the line," said the diplomat, who asked not to be named.

Organizers played down a discussion on Zionism between Ezzeddin Ibrahim, an adviser to the president of the United Arab Emirates, and Rabbi Marc Schneier, North American chairman of the World Jewish Congress, which drew media attention.

"UAE Official Attacks Zionism at Saudi Conference," read a headline in the New York Sun newspaper. "People said I attacked Zionism, I did not," Ibrahim told reporters, adding that no interfaith conference would be complete without Jews.

Schneier also gave a strong defense of Israel in a debate on Thursday, after a Muslim participant referred to Zionists.......

Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee had said earlier the event would be little more than a photo opportunity unless it led to a follow-up in Saudi Arabia with Israeli Jews........ "

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question is:

Do you expect any thawing of relations between Tehran and Washington to lead to abatement of the Iranian nuclear crisis?

With over 4,000 responding so far, 59% said no.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hamas in Politics

Since the 2006 election victory of Hamas in the Palestinian territories, the big debate has been whether a hawkish militant movement could evolve into an accommodative political actor. The answer could determine whether Israel and the United States will ever allow a full-fledged Palestinian state to emerge. As long as Tel Aviv and Washington fear Hamas taking over an independent Palestinian state and turning it into a jihadi paradise, a final settlement will be delayed.

In a new book based on extensive field research, British political scientist Jeroen Gunning argues that although Hamas is self-consciously motivated by Islamism, its practices are "confined by necessity and opportunity" (p 55). His thesis is that Hamas is a
changing product of a dynamic environment and should not be judged as an unmoving monolith.

Hamas was launched in 1987 as the quietist Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood's paramilitary wing. It was a move by the Brotherhood to remain politically relevant when radicalization was becoming the norm under the first Intifada. Hamas outgrew its creators and soon became the central Islamist player by virtue of sound grassroots organization and deft relationships with donors in the Gulf Arab states. Its heterogeneous and decentralized structure, with an internal leadership separated from an external leadership, helped expand following from wide sections of Palestinian society.

Hizballah has tripled its pre-2006 arsenal

There are some 2,500 non-uniformed Hizbullah fighters in southern Lebanon, and the organization has trebled its pre-war missile arsenal, government sources said Wednesday following a security cabinet meeting on Hizbullah's current strength and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

According to the sources, Hizbullah today has some 40,000 short and medium-range missiles inside Lebanon, and UN Security Council Resolution 1701 - the resolution that put an end to the Second Lebanon War and provided an expanded mandate for UNIFIL - has been completely ineffective in stopping arms from pouring in to Hizbullah from Syria.

The vast majority of the missiles are north of the Litani river, but can still "blanket" the northern part of Israel, the sources said.

Benny Morris advocates war on Iran

ISRAEL will almost surely attack Iran’s nuclear sites in the next four to seven months — and the leaders in Washington and even Tehran should hope that the attack will be successful enough to cause at least a significant delay in the Iranian production schedule, if not complete destruction, of that country’s nuclear program. Because if the attack fails, the Middle East will almost certainly face a nuclear war — either through a subsequent pre-emptive Israeli nuclear strike or a nuclear exchange shortly after Iran gets the bomb.

Israel threatens West Bank village with expulsion

Testimonies given to B'Tselem indicate that the Civil Administration recently informed residents of the Palestinian village 'Arab a-Ramadin al-Janubi that they will be demanded to vacate their village and move to another site, in contradiction of Israel's explicit undertaking to the High Court of Justice. The village is an enclave situated west of the separation barrier, near the site on which the Alfe Menashe settlement was established.
The villagers in 'Arab a-Ramadin al-Janubi have lived there, on land they purchased and recorded in the Land Registry Office, since the late 1950s. In 2002, with the construction of the separation barrier, which de facto annexed the Alfe Menashe settlement, the village became an enclave. On 5 June 2008, a delegation from the Civil Administration -- a number of soldiers and an officer who introduced himself as the Civil Administration official in charge of Qalqiliya - demanded a meeting with village elders. The officer suggested that the villagers vacate the village and move to a site on the eastern side of the separation barrier. According to villagers, the officer said that, sooner or later, the residents would be made to leave, and if they moved now, the Civil Administration would assist them, by providing electricity and water, for example. The village elders refused to listen to the offer and left the meeting.

Interfaith dialogue? from the Angry Arab

Saudi media are brimming with pride over the inter-faith dialogue festival in Spain. They are hailing the role of the Saudi king. But they Arab and Western media ignored the actual text of the speech (read haltingly and embarrassingly by the illiterate head of the House of Saud) in which King `Abdullah railed against atheism and atheists. He wanted the believers to unite against the atheists of the world. He apologized for the absence of Bin Laden who was invited but could not attend for security reasons. The conference was well-organized. Sessions were divided along different themes: Wahhabi clerics presided over workshops to train people on anti-Semitism, takfir, intolerance, misogyny, and homophoebia. A workshop on beheading was the highlight of the conference.

"So, there is hoopla when Obama shakes hands with his wife, but no one cared when the President held hands with the dictator of the country that sent 14 of the 911 hijackers."

Russia's energy drive leaves US reeling

By M K Bhadrakumar
Asia Times

"President Dmitry Medvedev is pursuing Russia's energy diplomacy with a vengeance. As a former head of Gazprom he is balancing the energy giant's oil export strategy between Europe and Asia-Pacific, and, significantly, has secured the right for Gazprom to handle the entire output of Libya's gas, oil and liquefied natural gas. Medvedev has also revived with Iran the idea of a "gas cartel". Ferocious rivalries over energy security will rock the foundations of overall United States-Russia relations....."

Bush’s Rampage in Somalia

by Mike Whitney
Global Research, July 17, 2008

".....The Ethiopian invasion, which was sanctioned by the US government, has destroyed virtually all the life-sustaining economic systems which the population have built without the government for the last fifteen years. And the militia that are supposed to protect the population have been looting shops. For instance, the Bakara market, which is the largest market in Mogadishu, has been looted repeatedly by the militias of the so-called Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, supported by Ethiopian troops. And the new prime minister of Somalia, Mr. Hassan Nur Hussein, has himself announced in the BBC that it was his militias that — who have looted this place. So what you have is a population that’s hit from both sides — on one side, by the militias of the so-called Transitional Federal Government, which is recognized by the United States, and on the other side, by the Ethiopian invaders who seem to be bent on ensuring that they break the will of the people to resist as free people in their own country…. What you have is really terror in the worst sense of the word, a million people have been displaced that the Ethiopians have been denying humanitarian aid, and the United States which seems to just watch and let it happen.

It’s like there’s has been a calculated decision made somewhere in the world, maybe in Washington, maybe in Addis Ababa, maybe in Mogadishu itself, to starve these people until they submit themselves to the whims of the American military and the Ethiopians, who are acting on their behalf.

Amnesty International has called for an investigation of the United States role in Somalia.

Regrettably, neither the United Nations nor the establishment media are at all interested in Bush’s war crimes in Africa. All they care about is Mugabe. "

Normalization Update: Interfaith meet signals thaw in in Saudi hostility toward Israel

"In an apparent easing of traditional Saudi hostility toward Israel, King Abdullah has urged followers of all the world's leading religions to embrace reconciliation.

"We must tell the world that differences don't need to lead to disputes," he said at the opening of an interfaith conference in Madrid, addressing Muslim and Christian delegates and even one Israeli envoy who also shook his hand.

Rabbi David Rosen, who is also the Chief Rabbinate's adviser on interfaith dialogue, had been invited to the conference as Chairman of IJCIC, the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations.

The conference organizers knew he was Israeli, following media reports to that effect last week. He met King Abdullah, told him he was a rabbi from Jerusalem and even received his blessing......."

Israeli Claims over Journalist Challenged

By Sanjay Suri and Mel Frykberg

"LONDON, Jul 17 (IPS) - Medical reports seen by IPS appear to confirm the testimony of IPS Gaza correspondent Mohammed Omer of physical abuse at the hands of Israelis last month.

Omer said he was physically and mentally abused at the Allenby crossing into Gaza while on his way back from a European tour. In London, he was awarded the Martha Gellhorn prize for investigative reporting......

But an ambulance report of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society says: "We note finger signs on the neck and chest." A report from the European Gaza Hospital of the Palestinian National Authority's Ministry of Health includes the following notation after examination of Omer: "Ecchymosis (discolouration caused by bleeding underneath, typically caused by bruising) at upper part of chest wall was found."

The report makes these further observations: "Tenderness on the anterior part of the neck and upper back mainly along the right ribs moderate to severe pain," and "by examination the scrotum due to pain varicocele (varicose veins in the spermatic cord) at left side detected and surgery was decided later."......

In the face of allegations and denials by the Israeli GPO, the focus now shifts to the medical records, which seem to indicate use of force, as Omer had earlier testified.

International press freedom groups have called for an immediate and public investigation of Omer's treatment.

Ahmed Dadou, spokesman from the Dutch Foreign Ministry at The Hague, told IPS shortly after the events, "We are taking this whole incident very seriously as we don't believe the behaviour of the Israeli officials is in accordance with a modern democracy." "

I Say Fire The Pharaoh Ehud Mubarak: 'Germany will get better Schalit deal'

"In the aftermath of Wednesday's prisoner swap between Israel and Hizbullah, there are increasing calls in Hamas to replace the Egyptian mediators with German intermediaries in the talks on abducted IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit.

Several Hamas officials have been quoted over the past 24 hours as expressing deep disappointment with the way the Egyptians have been handling the Schalit mediation effort.

"The Egyptians have proved that they are unable to put enough pressure on Israel to accept our demands," one Hamas official reportedly said.

Another Hamas official said his movement was under the impression that the Egyptians "were on Israel's side more than on our side." "

Coercive 'Diplomacy' – Prelude to War

Don't be fooled by Washington's diplomatic overtures to Tehran

By Justin Raimondo

"The conventional wisdom is that the US government is taking a new tack when it comes to confronting the Iranians......This is flat out wrong. The war drums are still belting out a martial ditty, albeit accompanied by a "diplomatic" chorus. To get closer to the truth about what is really happening on the front lines of our latest Middle Eastern crusade, take a look at this Washington Post report on the same "diplomatic" dog-and-pony show.....

The Europeans, who tend to resent Washington's unbridled arrogance, don't want a war that would wreck the world economy. They can't be trusted to deliver our intended message to Tehran: surrender or die. This is just foreplay – if such a thing can be said of an intended rape – and White House spokeswoman Dana Perino didn't try very hard to put a good face on it:

"The substance remains the same, but this is a new tactic. What this does show is how serious we are when we say that we want to try to solve this diplomatically."

The Bush administration is interested only in appearing to be serious about resolving this peacefully, when in actuality this diplomatic "surge" is merely a new tactic aimed at their real goal, which is regime-change in Iran. ....."

The secret of Hizbullah's success

Hizbullah's unbudging resistance to Israel – and the results that has achieved – explains its clout in the Arab world

A Good Comment

By Charles Harb
(Professor Charles Harb teaches social psychology at the American University of Beirut), Friday July 18, 2008

" Lebanon celebrated with lavish festivities the return of the last prisoners held in Israeli jails, and clamoured to be the only Arab country to have done so, and to have done so by imposing its demand on a reluctant Israel. Hizbullah fulfilled yet another pledge, and successfully ended another chapter in its longstanding battle with Israel.

Lebanese dignitaries from across the political and religious spectrum, Muslims and Christians alike, were lined up to welcome the freed prisoners, in a display of unity not seen since the earlier prisoner exchange of 2004. While many had previously lamented the cost of war and resistance, they now seemed eager to share in the glory of welcoming the last Lebanese prisoners of war.

Hizbullah's success can be added to its already long list of achievements, and reminds Arab and Muslim audiences worldwide of the effectiveness of a steadfast resistance. In an Arab world used to humiliations and defeats, the list of achievements claimed by Hizbullah in the past decade is indeed noteworthy.

The resistance movement was able to liberate most of Lebanon's territory from a two decade-long Israeli occupation, conducted a successful prisoner exchange in 2004, broke the invulnerability myth of the Israeli Defence Forces in the 2006 war, and managed to return all Lebanese prisoners held in Israel this past week. Hizbullah's charismatic leader has argued that his movement has never capitulated to Israeli demands, and thus never been defeated in its 25-year history – "the era of [Arab] defeats is over".

This is in stark contrast to what "Arab moderates" could show for in the same decade they spent negotiating with the Israeli state. The much-publicised and now barren "peace process" keeps edging "forward" through road maps, countless summits, visits, and vague "visions" of a Palestinian state that fails to materialise, and which remains as elusive as it did 60 years ago.

Expanding Israeli settlements keep shrinking the space of a Palestinian state, and Israeli checkpoints still pepper the West Bank. Half the population are refugees scattered around the globe, and the other half live in confinement behind a segregation wall. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's repeated pleas for the release of some (if any) of the 11,500 Palestinians held prisoner keep falling on Israeli deaf ears.

Only armed resistance seemed able to edge Israeli settlements and checkpoints out of the Gaza strip, and only Hamas seems able to force Israel into negotiating a prisoner release. Israel seems more likely to yield to the demands of resistance movements (Hamas, Hizbullah) than to friendly pleas and peace offers. This is a strong message that further undermines the US's Arab allies.

The difference between the two approaches cannot be stronger and echoes dramatically in Arab public opinion polls. It is no surprise that the Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah comes on top of the popularity contest in all surveyed Arab countries (including Saudi Arabia and Egypt), and by a large margin. The battle for hearts and minds was indisputably won by those who offered to resist the "US-Israeli axis of evil".

The festivities in Lebanon brought the flags of resistance movements from across the political divide: the "party of God" and the Communist party joined within the same crowd, highlighting the common denominator that binds all. This was also made clear by the diversity of nationalities and creeds associated with the 199 bodies Israel returned to Lebanon this day.

Current western support for Arab dictators and the associated labelling of resistance movements as terrorist organisations may not be to its best interest. Striking mutually beneficial deals with those that more closely represent Arab populations rather than with the corrupt dictators that rule them may have better long-term pay-offs......"

Hayya: Hamas wishes Egyptian mediator could pressure occupation (??) on swap deal

"GAZA, (PIC)-- The prominent political leader in Hamas Movement Dr. Khalil Al-Hayya expressed hopes on Thursday that the Palestinian resistance could achieve honorable prisoner swap deal with the Israeli occupation government.

In an interview with the Palestine now website, Hayya explained, "in swap deals, the mediator plays a significant role in achieving the deal although the deal depends basically on the desire of the concerned parties to achieve it".

He also expressed hopes that the Egyptian mediator would form a "pressure force" [Dream on ....] on the occupation [to achieve the deal], and to be merely a mediator between the Palestinian resistance that hold IOF corporal Gilad Shalit and the Zionist enemy".

Deriving a number of lessons from the Hizbullah-Israeli recent swap deal, Hayya confirmed that the Palestinian resistance learnt a number of lessons from the recent swap deal of Hizbullah, and other previous swap deals carried out by the Palestinian resistance factions in the past.

He asserted that steadfastness and resoluteness of the Palestinian people would force the Israeli occupation to release Palestinian prisoners serving high sentences.

The Israeli occupation government released Samir Al-Kuntar after 30 years in prison although it repeatedly insisted it wouldn’t release him.

"The Zionist enemy bragged in the past and insisted not to release Palestinian and Arab captives with blood in their hands; yet, they were forced by the resistance to release captives who carried out heroic armed operations and killed Israeli soldiers and settlers, and this would doubtlessly benefit captors of Shalit in insisting on their demands", Hayya underlined.

Moreover, Hayya underscored that Hamas Movement would follow the technique of Hizbullah party in not publishing any news about the swap deal in the media unless it is achieved.

"We decided in the coming stage not to talk about the swap deal in the media till it is, Allah willing, completed and achieved, and we wish the deal would be achieved very fast in the event the occupation met our demands and conditions", Hayya confirmed.

Finally, Hayya called on Palestinian mothers with sons serving long imprisonment terms not to lose hope, and to always have the hope that they will return one day to their beloved ones."

Under a poster of slain Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah members stand guard in front of coffins of nearly 200 Lebanese and Palestinian fighters as they are displayed south of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, July 17, 2008 (AP)


Bishara: Israel an Apartheid State


"18/07/2008 Former MK and Balad Chairman Azmi Bishara, who is currently residing in Qatar, delivered an address to the party's youth convention on Thursday via video conference.

The former MK fled Occupied Palestine last year, after being accused of treason and aiding and abetting the enemy - Hezbollah – during the Second Lebanon War.

The speech was said to be the highlight of the evening, which was held in a Nazareth Illit (Upper Nazareth) hotel and was titled "No to National Service."

The matter of Arab youths, who are exempt from mandatory Israeli occupation army service, volunteering for National Service, is a volatile subject: Just nine months ago, current Balad Chairman, MK Jamal Zahalka announced that anyone in the Arab sector volunteering for the service would be considered a pariah.

Following the party's fierce objections, its youth movement launched a "prevention campaign," going around Arab communities and informing their peers – who may have been contemplating joining the National Service – the Israeli promises that volunteering would make them eligible for certain benefits, were empty ones.

Bishara began his speech by reminding his listeners he no longer holds official position in the party, adding "you are the Palestinian people's political future and we are all counting on you. This is a state of Apartheid. Israel uses citizenship as a weapon against some people and ties it in to political allegiance."

"Israel is hysterical. There are cocky on the one hand – boasting about their military strength, academia and strong economy; and on the other hand it nurtured the fear Israelis have of the strategic threat the Arabs pose – all to justify its undemocratic, racist, manipulative use of the citizenship tool," he said.

The Palestinians, he continued, "must reinforce our national consciousness and mount an objection. We have to use our citizenship to demand our rights."

The 20-minute speech was interrupted occasionally by the crowd's cheers. Bishara chose to end his speech by addressing the matter of National Service, stressing that he was all for Arab youths serving their country, but not through the National Service "which is an attempt to erase our identity."

"National Service is an Israeli attempt to erase the psychological barrier teenagers have when it comes to serving in the Israeli army, thus trying to erase our identity," he said.

As for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Bishara said he believed it was doomed to begin with, adding he thinks 95% of the Arab nations will not support it."

By Emad Hajjaj (Abu Mahjoob)

What a Traitor to the Land of His Birth....

Mofaz: No choice but to attack Iran

Press TV

"Israeli transportation minister Shaul Mofaz has reiterated his previous threats against Iran, saying Israel must be ready to act.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post published late Thursday, Mofaz said sanctions were not effective in halting Iran's nuclear program and "there will be no choice but to attack Iran to halt the Iranian nuclear program."

"Israel cannot let Iran get to the point of nuclearization," Mofaz said. "All options are on the table. If there won't be a choice other than a nuclear Iran or a military option, it's clear what our decision has to be."

"The strategy against Iran has not changed and it will continue to be led by the United States," Mofaz said, adding Israel could not let Iran 'threaten the entire world.'

Mofaz had told Yediot Aharonot on June 6 that Israel would attack Iran if it did not cease nuclear development.

Following his remarks in June, Israeli officials condemned his threats, calling them 'irresponsible' and 'cynical.'......"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hezbollah's deal leaves Israel short

By Sami Moubayed
Asia Times

"Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is trumpeting that he has "kept his promise" in having five prisoners and the remains of 199 others returned to Lebanon by Israel. This indeed enhances Hezbollah's prestige, while Israel, although getting back the bodies of two soldiers abducted in 2006, has drawn widespread criticism for appearing to come off worse in the exchange. And why did the Israelis wait so long before agreeing to the deal?....."

Doves Outnumber Hawks in Jewish Community

By Daniel Luban

"WASHINGTON, Jul 16 (IPS) - A new poll suggests that U.S. Jews hold views about the Middle East that are considerably more dovish than frequently acknowledged, with large majorities favouring diplomacy with Iran, supporting a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine, and advocating U.S. withdrawal from Iraq......"

Obama's brave (new?) world

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"At first glance, Democratic Senator Barack Obama's "new overarching strategy" for Iraq and Afghanistan is streets ahead of the approach proposed by his US presidential rival, Republican Senator John McCain. But from the planned withdrawal of troops from Iraq to dealing with the Taliban, Obama's vision, when it comes to implementation, will likely founder on the harsh realities that have so frustrated the George W Bush administration.....

The current status quo in Iraq - and with at least 30,000 "residual" US troops. Withdrawal it isn't. Is this "change we can believe in", part of a new "overarching strategy" - or is this the same status quo as defined by half a century of continuous, many would say imperial, US foreign interference? "

Real News Video: Tom 'Dispatch' on Bush and the media

"Editor and author Tom Engelhardt runs one of the most influential political websites on the net - In this interview Engelhardt and Pepe Escobar discuss the tribulations of Empire, the relationship of oil and war, and how mainstream media in the US constantly edits out crucial stories."

Real News Video: Ex-CIA Ray McGovern on Obama's 'new world'

Is Obama realistic about pulling our of Iraq and will he face up to 'big oil'?

McGovern: "The game is over with Iraq and so the question is how does this strategic change effect the real players in the area. The Israeli right wants a confrontation with Iran to keep US forces in the region. The US military leadership is against a "third front" but has to contend with Cheney.

'Theatrical return for the living and the dead'

A Lousy Piece
By Robert Fisk

"......History lay piled in layers yesterday: a long-ago murder in Israel and the release of the killer who now, courtesy of the Israeli prison system, speaks fluent Hebrew and English; the body of a Palestinian girl whose killings on the Tel Aviv coast road provoked Israel's first invasion of Lebanon in 1978 (total dead about 2,000) as surely as Hizbollah's capture of two soldiers prompted the bloodbath of Israel's revenge (total dead about 1,200). But what would this matter to Mr Nasrallah in his hour of final triumph?

Once more, despite Hizbollah's capture of west Beirut earlier this year and the gun battles that broke out across Lebanon (total dead 65), he has recaptured his old popularity as the only man with the only army to stand up to Israel's legions. And there will most assuredly be another war. By the roadside south of Tyre yesterday, there was a huge poster of an Israeli warship struck by a Hizbollah missile in 2006, burning fiercely. "And more to come," the caption announced, archly......."

From the Independent....

Triumph and tragedy in the Middle East

There was mourning in Israel and Lebanon today, but most pundits see the exchange of prisoners and bodies as a victory for Hizbullah

Jonathan Steele in Jerusalem, Wednesday July 16, 2008

".....So while there was mourning on both sides, only in Lebanon was there any real sense of triumph today. The Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora sought to make it a state occasion by going to Beirut airport to meet the Hizbullah fighters, but pundits in Israel as well as Lebanon see the swap as a victory mainly for Hizbullah. After all, it was not the Lebanese government which arranged it. Hizbullah did, through intermediaries. Inevitably it now claims the return of the four prisoners as Olmert's final humiliation and, in effect, an admission of defeat......."

A test of US flexibility toward Iran

Laura Rozen, Wednesday July 16, 2008

"The Bush administration's decision to negotiate with Iran is a symbolic gesture but not necessarily a shift in US policy....."

Development: US fails to measure up on 'human index'

· Nation slumps from 2nd to 12th in global table
· Richest fifth take home $168,000, poorest $11,000

Ashley Seager
The Guardian, Thursday July 17, 2008

"Despite spending $230m (£115m) an hour on healthcare, Americans live shorter lives than citizens of almost every other developed country. And while it has the second-highest income per head in the world, the United States ranks 42nd in terms of life expectancy.

These are some of the startling conclusions from a major new report which attempts to explain why the world's number-one economy has slipped to 12th place - from 2nd in 1990- in terms of human development......"

No Mediterranean Union shortcut around Arab-Israeli conflict

By Hasan Abu Nimah, The Electronic Intifada, 16 July 2008

".....The summit, which convened in Paris on 13 July is supposed to officially launch the Union, and to establish its permanent offices. All the would-be members were represented at the summit except the Libyan leader who harshly criticized the project as a neo-colonial European plan to divide the Arabs, and to impose normalization with Israel upon them. He predicted the plan's failure.

It is indeed a plan fraught with risks and intertwined with serious contradictions. It is not even easy to count the number of disputes that separate the 43 members of the Union, the social and economic disparities, the varied nature of problems facing each and the wide range of divergent interests and objectives.

If one of the primary goals is to combat terrorism and reduce radicalization and fundamentalism, the road to that is purely political and requires first and foremost resolution of the very chronic disputes such as the Arab-Israeli conflict which the Paris summit planned to avoid. No such grand goal can be achieved by simply bringing Arabs and Israelis, Muslims, Jews and Christians together, as Sarkozy seems sincerely to believe......."

The Israel-Hizballah prisoner deal

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Electronic Lebanon, 16 July 2008

A Palestinian woman holds a picture of Samir Kuntar, the Lebanese prisoner jailed in Israel for nearly 30 years, during a weekly protest at the International Red Cross building in Gaza City calling for the release of Palestinian and Arab prisoners, 14 July 2008.

"......The most likely reason for Israel's decision to sign on to a prisoner-deal with such dire strategic implications is that it is eager to avoid another confrontation with Hizballah and to prevent future abductions of its troops. Israel's defeat in the war of July-August 2006, and its admission that Hizballah has grown even stronger than it was in the past, reflects a diminishing deterrence capability and its reduction of military status (one that casts doubt on its capacity to launch military offensives at this time, including against Iran). The biggest flaw of all is in the area of strategic planning: if Israel had agreed to a prisoner-exchange on or soon after 12 July 2006, it would have avoided further Hizballah provocations and spared itself the humiliation of losing a war, thus exposing its weakness to the world and forcing it to make one painful concession after another."

France calls on EU to lift ban on MKO

Press TV

"French deputies have urged the removal of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) from the European Union's list of terrorist groups.

Some 290 French deputies signed a declaration condemning what they called the “terrible human rights violations in Iran."

The document was presented on Wednesday during a ceremony at France's National Assembly which was also attended by British Members of Parliament and deputies from the European Parliament.

One French Communist Party deputy announced that France would push for the reclassification of the MKO during the country's six-month presidency of the European Union (EU).

A British Conservative MP also called for the EU to lift the terrorist label from the MKO, which Britain did last month.

A British court ruling ordered the reversal of the UK ban on the terrorist organization, a move supported by lawmakers in London. Iran strongly criticized the decision by the British court and urged the UK to reform its hostile policies towards the Islamic Republic.

The European Union has so far declared that it will keep the MKO on the list of outlawed terrorist groups.

The MKO is listed as a terrorist group by much of the international community including the US. The group has claimed responsibility for numerous terror attacks against Iranian officials and citizens. "

Arabic Video of Sayyed Nasrallah's Speech Marking the Freeing of the Prisoners

كلمة السيد حسن نصر الله في استقبال الاسرى المحررين - ملعب الراية في الضاحية الجنوبية لبيروت 16/07/2008


COMMENT: This was a speech of substance and not just style. I do not have time to list all the elements of substance which he addressed, but I will stress a couple that struck me.

He spoke about the unity and the continuity of the resistance movement in Palestine and Lebanon. He stressed that many of the prisoners (alive or dead) were taken at a time when Hizbullah did not even exist. He stated that Hizbullah built on and continued the same resistance path already in place and started by others (Fatah?). He stressed the unity of goals, vision and fate of the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance.

He made a point of stressing that Hizbullah insisted on the release of Palestinian and other Arab prisoners in spite of Israel's excuses that Hizbullah was not in a position to represent these prisoners. His condition was the release of those prisoners regardless of which political entity or state they were handed over to.

He, passionately and in a very firm manner, reminded the Arab and Muslim worlds that they have done nothing to free the more than 11,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. He reminded that some of the Arab countries are some of the richest in the world with very close relations with the US (obvious reference to KSA and the Gulf states); he questioned why they are not doing anything to free these Palestinian prisoners.

He then chided all those "moderate" Arab leaders who keep talking about "diplomacy" and negotiations as an alternative to resistance. He ridiculed them and asked (rhetorically), how many of those prisoners have they freed with their approach? He stated that he did not care which approach the Arab and Muslim countries took as long as the issue of the prisoners and their release becomes a priority towards which they seriously mobilize and start to work.

I liked the theme of united resistance that he spoke of, where the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine (Iraq too?) work together and learn from each other to accomplish complementary goals.

Sayyed Nasrallah 'Most Admired' Arab Leader


"17/07/2008 Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is the most admired leader among the Arab public, a survey released Wednesday showed.

Twenty-six percent of respondents in six countries selected Sayyed Nasrallah as their most admired leader, compared to 16% who chose Syrian President Bashar Assad and 10% who picked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to the survey published by the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

The poll was published the same day Israel completed the “Operation Al-Redwan” with Hezbollah that is likely to further boost Sayyed Nasrallah's standing in the Arab world.

The Hezbollah leader was also the top pick in predominantly Sunni countries such as Egypt, Morocco and Jordan. Ninety-nine percent of Lebanese Muslim Shiites polled said Israel was weaker than it looked and that it was only a matter of time before it was defeated.

The numbers are up from 59% in an identical survey two years ago. The 2008 survey found that 39% of all Lebanese shared this view, compared to 32% who said no one could tell if Israel would get stronger or weaker, and 20% who said Israel would use it power to consolidate its position.

The survey was carried out among nearly 4,000 (non-Palestinian) Arab respondents in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. "

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Al-Jazeera Video: Palestinian family to recieve loved ones remains - 16 Jul 08

"Al Jazeera's Rula Amin met the family of Dalal al-Maghrebi, a female fighter with the Palestinian Fatah movement.

Her remains were recieved by Hezbollah, along with almost 200 other people in a prisoner exchange with Israel."

Reflections on the Israel-Hezbullah Prisoner swap deal

By Khalid Amayreh

"The latest prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hezbullah is a healthy indicator that at least some Arabs are beginning to understand the depraved Zionist mentality, and act accordingly. Such mentality is based on arrogance, insolence, and religious and ethnic supremacy.

Israel, a country whose collective mindset views non-Jews as virtual animals or at least lesser human beings, had to face a new enemy, an enemy that will not be scared by overwhelming brutality, but one that will meet Israel’s state terror with toughness, resilience, valor and defiance.

This is a new reality that Israelis, especially Israeli leaders, have yet to come to terms with, especially psychologically.

This explains the deep frustration that is apparent in the tone of Israeli leaders reacting to the latest swap deal, especially the fact that Israel has been forced to release the Lebanese guerilla Samir Kuntar.....

I also would like to ask her what she would tell the mothers, families and relatives of thousands of Arab prisoners who have been languishing in Israel’s dark, underground dungeons since 1967?

We are talking about POWs and MIAs and other ordinary people whose families have no way of knowing if their beloved ones are dead or a live? Aren’t these “forgotten prisoners” human beings, too? Are they children of a lesser God?

Unfortunately, most Israelis, thoroughly self-absorbed and self-centered, don’t like to be asked such questions lest their superiority complexes and collective psychosis be exposed.

Finally, the latest prisoner swap shows that Israel only understands the language of cold realpolitik which is by definition immoral and coercive.

For Palestinians, who have more than 10,000 of their beloved ones languishing in Israeli concentration camps, the message is very clear: If you want to get Israel to release your beloved ones, take Israeli hostages and swap them for the Palestinian captives. "

Sayyed Nasrallah Takes Part in Person in Celebration


"16/07/2008 Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah refused but take part in person with hundreds of thousands of people who gathered at the Raya playground in Beirut’s southern suburb to mark the release of Samir Kintar, Maher Kourani, Khodor Zaidan, Mohammed Srour and Hussein Suleiman, who were released Wednesday in the framework of Operation Al-Redwan.

His eminence reminded in his brief visit that the era of defeats has gone forever and time now is for victories. Sayyed Nasrallah then left the scene to prepare to deliver his speech through a giant screen.

Political, diplomatic and religious figures attended the ceremony as Lebanese and Hezbollah flags were flying sending cool breezes amidst a very hot weather. Fireworks lighted the sky of Beirut’s southern suburb; the region that was devastated during the 2006 Israeli aggression against Lebanon.

Kintar and his brothers took the stand after they smashed out of an imaginary jail amid loud shouts and claps by the crowd.
Kintar said: “I thank God who gave me strength and hope in this time of weakness, to face my jailer. I thank God who brought this brave resistance to this country. I thank God that we have reached this time; the era of victories. We will not return to the times of defeat. This is thanks to God in the first place, the martyrs who fell as they were defending this country and you, the community of the resistance the community of the sincere promise who endured everything, sacrificed everything and never compromised on your freedom. Allow me to remember Sayyed Abbas Moussawi who asked us to preserve our resistance. I tell him, look Sayyed Abbas, we have preserved the resistance that has become a unique force. I also recall Sheikh Ragheb Harb and I tell him that arms have become a culture that will accomplish victory. I salute the legendary resistance commander martyr Imad Moghniyeh. Today I came back from Palestine, my precious country only to return to it with my brothers in the resistance. My message is one that calls for unity to achieve victory. And allow me to salute (former) president of the Lebanese Republic his Excellency General Emile Lahoud.” "

Video of Sayyed Nasrallah Receiving Freed Prisoners (Arabic)

السيد حسن نصر الله يستقبل الاسرى المحررين في مكان الاحتفال في الضاحية الجنوبية لبيروت ( السيد حسن نصر الله )

From the angry Arab

Watching the prisoner release in Lebanon, somebody of my generation can only reach this conclusion: Israel has been humiliated in Lebanon in the last 2 decades, and its ability to inflict pain on Lebanon and the Lebanese without restraint or punishment (as it has done in 1950s, 1960s, 1970s) has been deterred. What Israel has said (racistly) about all Arabs (that the only language they understand is the language of force) paradoxically applies to Israel itself. It also brings to mind--to my mind at least--that Yaser `Arafat was one of the worst people to preside over a revolution--any revolution. He so miserably mismanaged the confrontation with Israel, and did not treat Palestinian prisoners in Israel with the respect that they deserve. Muhammad Dahlan is the legitimate "child" of Arafat. And none of the Western coverage is pointing out the cruel and inhumane role of Ehud Barak in 1978: the man who shot Dalal Mughrabi while she was dead. He pulled her by the hair (only after she died as he would not dare do that to an alive Dalal) and mutilated her body before tearing her shirt off. Such are the sexual perversions of the former prime minister of Israel. And as for the details of the deeds of Dalal and her comrades, don't ever believe Israeli accounts of "enemy" operations. The state consistently lies and consistently fabricates. And that saying from the Babylonian Talmud applies to Israel: the punishment of the liar is that he is not believed even when he tells the truth. Just go back to my posts during the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006: I tried to catalogue the lies and fabrications of Israel during the war. Don't you remember the account of the three dead Iranian soldiers that Israel "found" in South Lebanon? Don't you remember that Israel claimed to be holding "hundreds" of bodies of Hizbullah fighters? (The number now it admits is five). I don't know what happened in 1979, but the family of Samir Quntar also denies the typically fabricated account that is put out by Israeli propaganda (repeated verbatim typically in the U.S. press). Quntar was 16 at the time and his brother Bassam has something to say about his brother in Al-Akhbar today. Israel lied about Munich and about every other confrontation with its Arab enemies, just as Arab governments lie. It is not easy for a state (Israel) that was founded on a racist ideology to accept that Arabs are like other people: that they cherish their dead and their living just like other...people.

Iqbal Tamimi - Media manipulations: The child was called a murderer while the soldier was called a ‘boy’

One of today’s main articles on the Guardian reads ‘Israel exchanges Lebanese murderer for bodies of two captured soldiers’.

When anyone in the English reading world sees this title and what follows in the article, he or she would immediately think that one of the persons mentioned is a vicious murderer while the others are innocent persons. This is a good example of media manipulation and steering of the public views, aiming to charge the public to hate one side and to sympathize with the other.

The story is about the swap of the oldest Lebanese prisoner in Israel, Samir Kuntar, in return of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who died inside the Lebanese territories while on a military mission.

What were the two soldiers doing on another sovereign country’s land, and why did they sneak there? Of course describing them as soldiers, one would think they were working inside the borders of their own country when they died, defending their soil. Calling someone a soldier is something totally different of calling him a fighter or a criminal, or even a militant.

These double standards are all over the press each and every day. Such titles even strip the reader of his own point of view: he is told from the very beginning who he should think of as a killer and who should be remembered with dignity even before reading the article.

The newspapers are practicing guardianship over the readers, regardless of their ages or knowledge. The newspaper has made up its mind that Kuntar is a murderer, but two Israeli persons, fully armed inside the borders of another country are not, and that what we are supposed to believe.

The Israeli soldiers mentioned were trespassing on the same land that witnessed in the 80s the Sabra and Chatilla massacre by the same Israeli army among many other massacres and attacks done by ‘soldiers’. And it is the same country that the IDF commander has admitted firing more than a million cluster bombs within it.

The Guardian even mentioned the ages of the two dead Israeli soldiers to gain more feelings of sympathy for them, by getting the reader to come closer to their human side. ‘The soldiers Eldad Regev 27, and Ehud Goldwasser 32’, was the text that they had chosen.

Such method of writing is to drive the readers to sympathize with these particular individuals, yet, the writer never cared to touch the human side of Kuntar, who has spent 30 years in Israeli jails. As a matter of fact, he was imprisoned at the age of 16. Which means he was a child. He might have been driven by the same anger of any teenager who witnesses a group of people massacring his own, he was not as responsible as the adult Israeli soldiers who knew exactly what they were doing.

The Guardian then says, ‘Israel was due last night to pardon the Lebanese prisoner, Samir Kuntar’…how very thoughtful of Israel. One would hear the word Pardon and think of goodness and forgiveness, such idea is far from true. Imprisoning a 16 year old for 30 years and going through years of negotiations should not be described with a word like ‘pardon’.

The Guardian never forgot to describe in detail what Kuntar might have done to deserve the prison sentence, but it did not mention any of the Israeli soldiers’ atrocities against the Lebanese and the Palestinians. Such method of writing is to charge the readers with hate against one side, while adding a peaceful innocent victim mask on the other.

Another interesting sprinkle of sympathy is inserted within the article mentioning that Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, who is supposed to sign the ‘pardon’, has said, “It’s not a happy choice. On one hand; we have the most terrible murderer. On the other hand, we have our commitment to our ‘boys’ who were ‘sent’ to ‘fight for their country’.”

So, Kuntar is a terrible murderer, but the Israeli soldiers are not. They were ‘boys’ even though they were on a military mission by the ages of 27 and 32. While Kuntar, who was 16 when he went for his own individual mission, was described as a ruthless murderer.

Peres says, ‘they were sent to fight for their country’. For God’s sake, don’t they feel ashamed even of mentioning that? The soldiers were sent to attack inside the borders of a sovereign country, and still they say they are sent to fight for their country. Fight who? The Israeli attack on Lebanon was witnessed by millions of people all over the world. It was an attack on families, children, women, and old people … all civilians. It seems that the Guardian reporters has lost touch with their human and professional side when they have forgotten to mention millions of cluster bombs used by Israeli soldiers aimed at the Lebanese children.

Of course the emphasis on the human side continues in the Guardian report, it says that Isaac Herzog, a cabinet minister, said, “Clearly we opted for a resolution that fulfils our prime rule since the creation of the state of Israel, and this is to bring our sons home, despite the toll.” … So… the matter is ‘bringing sons home’ - how very touching. Of course nothing was mentioned about Kuntar in this tone, it seems he was a cabbage kid, no one is eager to bring him back home, and he is no son of anyone.

The article is an example of a biased portrait as usual; there are lots of words I would classify as sneaked in, deliberately to make of one side a villain and the other an angel or a victim. This is an example of how the press can steer people’s emotions.

People usually scan the titles of newspapers, not many read the rest of the article. And after a few headlines of this kind, you can’t help but to swallow a ready canned lie, and consider one side guilty and the other innocent. One wonders whether the ethics of journalism has disappeared, or just lost its way.

Drought and Israeli Policy Threaten West Bank Water Security

by Stephen Lendman

Global Research, July 16, 2008

".....Israel's Water Policy in the Territories

The policy works this way - to preserve an unequal division of western, eastern, and northern West Bank aquifer supply. It was the same for Gaza's aquifer prior to disengagement. The result is a hugely disproportionate distribution policy causing growing shortages for Palestinians. Israel does little to alleviate it. It invests little in infrastructure leaving 20% of West Bank Palestinians unconnected to a running-water system......

Consider the disparity between Israeli and Palestinian supply. For Palestinians, per capita West Bank consumption is 60 liters a day - for domestic, urban, rural, and industrial use. It's far below the minimum 100 daily liters required according to the World Health Organization. In contrast, look how much Israelis get - 280 liters a day per capita for domestic, urban and rural use or about four and a half times more than Palestinians. Including industrial use, and it's 330 liters or five a half times Palestinian consumption.

Israeli Violations of International Law on Water in the Occupied Territories

By integrating Occupied Territory water resources into its legal and bureaucratic system and denying Palestinians the right to develop them for their own use, Israel violates international law under Articles 43 and 55 of the 1907 Hague Regulations. Also Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relating to treating "all protected persons....with the same consideration by the Party to the conflict in whose power they are...."....

Water security is crucial for Israel. Securing and preserving supply essential. In the occupied West Bank, Arabs are prohibited from drilling new wells without special permission, but it's practically impossible to get and won't likely change. Many existing wells were also sealed to restrict Palestinians to a very low quota, far below Israelis. Most West Bank water goes to Israel and the expanding settlement population. Jordan River water is also diverted - from 50 to 75%. As its population grows, so does its water needs. It was one among other factors behind the 1982 Lebanon invasion - to control the Litani River in the country's south. It remains out of reach today, but a richer resource would be to secure access to major rivers like the Nile, Euphrates or Seyhan and Ceyhan in Turkey......."

By Tab, The Calgary Sun

Operation Al-Redwan…Another Sincere Promise Fulfilled


"16/07/2008 The Islamic Resistance and Israel carry out a prisoner exchange on Wednesday dubbed Operation Al-Redwan. The operation is the last of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s true pledges.

Hezbollah has prepared a hero's welcome for its four fighters and senior detainee Samir Kintar at the Naqura crossing, Beirut’s international airport and Beirut’s southern suburb. The heroes will return to Lebanon wearing their military uniforms......

In return for its two dead soldiers, Israel is to transfer to Lebanon the remains of 199 Lebanese, Palestinian and Arab martyrs exhumed over the past week. Hezbollah received the bodies of twelve martyrs including 8 Islamic resistance martyrs who fell during confrontations with Israeli occupation soldiers in Lebanon in 2006. The other four bodies are for martyr Dalal Moghrabi and three of her comrades who carried out a heroic operation in the late 70's inside occupied territories.

The UN-brokered swap, which was given final approval by the Israeli cabinet on Tuesday, is the eighth between Israel and Hezbollah since 1991.

Israel's Jerusalem Post newspaper has billed the festivities in Lebanon, where the released men are to be flown to Beirut to be greeted by President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Fouad Saniora, as "a celebration of evil."

Sayyed Nasrallah is to give a speech in Beirut's southern suburbs to hail the success of operation Al-Redwan (named after martyr Imad Moghniyyeh or Hajj Redwan) in closing the prisoners file with the Zionist entity. "

RIGHTS: Israeli Magnate Draws Activists' Ire

By Omid Memarian

"UNITED NATIONS, Jul 15 (IPS) - Having successfully lobbied the U.N. Children's Agency UNICEF to stop accepting donations from Israeli billionaire Lev Avnerovich Leviev, activists are urging celebrities who have made public appearances with Leviev to cut all ties with him.

Leviev is the chairman of Africa Israel Investments, a global conglomerate that has been criticised by a variety of NGOs for its involvement in building settlements in the occupied West Bank. During an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz earlier this year, Leviev said that he would continue building in the Palestinian territories as long as he had permission from Israel.
Seven diverse groups committed to justice, human rights and peace and representing hundreds of organisations and tens of thousands of people in the U.S., Palestine and Israel have also called on Susan Sarandon, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, to follow UNICEF's lead and cut all ties with Lev Leviev. Sarandon appeared as a guest at Leviev's Nov. 13, 2007 New York jewelry store gala.

Last month, UNICEF rejected all offers of partnerships and financial support from Leviev, who had previously sponsored UNICEF fundraising events in France. Leviev's support of UNICEF is featured in several places on his company's website......"

Turning the Tables

by Michael Scheuer

"......The Israel-firsters' success is, of course, the stuff of which legends are made. Most recently, for example, we heard President Bush echo Sen. Lieberman's insane and subversive contention that the United States has a "duty" to ensure the fulfilling of God's millennia-old promise to Abraham regarding the creation and survival of Israel. Bush told the Knesset all Americans are ready to endlessly bleed and pay to ensure Israel's security. And where does the president derive authority to make such a commitment in the name of his countrymen? From the Constitution? On the basis of America's dominant religion? From – heaven forbid – a thoughtful, hardheaded analysis of U.S. interests?

No, Bush's pledge was based on none of these. Bush's decision to more deeply involve America in the eternal Arab-Israeli war was based on nothing less than the corruption wrought on the American political system by the Israel-firsters, AIPAC's enormous treasury, and the lamentable but growing influence of America's leading evangelical Protestant preachers......

Neutralizing the Israel-first fifth column must be done, but it must be accomplished using legitimate democratic tools: voting, lobbying, free speech, and support for candidates pledged to keep America out of other peoples' religious wars. The invocation of the anti-Semite epithet by the Israel-firsters should be ignored. To be silenced by the slurs of the Israel-firsters is to ignominiously invite the end of American independence by subordinating U.S. interests to those of a foreign nation, as well as to forget the warning of the greatest American. "If men are precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind," George Washington said in March 1783, "reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent, we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter." As long as the Israel-firsters can define the limits of acceptable public discourse, Americans are on their way to the slaughter. "

First al-Bashir, next ... Bush?

By Mark Levine, Middle East historian


"While there is little chance Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, will ever be brought to trial following his indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC), the charges brought against him nevertheless offer hope for anyone concerned about human rights around the world.

For Americans, however, the ICC indictment should offer a moment of sombre reflection not merely for our relative inaction with regard to years of mass murder in Sudan.

It is equally disturbing that much of the al-Bashir indictment could just as easily be applied to George Bush, the US president.

Here is part of what the indictment says......

In an America that still lived up to its founding ideals Bush and his henchmen and women would not be worrying about an ICC indictment because they would be too busy already defending themselves against a US federal indictment for war crimes and other violations of US law.

At least in this imperfect world, Bush and the architects and executioners of the Iraq war can join al-Bashir in suffering the ignominy of being at-large international criminals."

Children are paying the price of injustice

The beating of a pre-pubescent youth by soldiers is just another example of human rights abuse in the occupied territories

Seth Freedman, Wednesday July 16, 2008

"......In February, Muhammad was snatched by a four-man squad of Israeli special forces while playing with friends near the security wall, a mile away from his home. He was subjected to a vicious beating by the men, who punched him repeatedly and smashed him across the face with the butt of a gun in broad daylight. "No one said a word to me during [the attack]", recalled Muhammad, whose description of the assault bore marked similarities to Rodney King's ordeal.

The difference, however, is that Muhammad is just 14 years old, yet was deemed a sufficient enough threat by the soldiers that he needed to be beaten to the point of almost losing consciousness. His crime? Allegedly throwing stones at the separation wall; something Muhammad strenuously denies.

Whereas Israeli youths are treated as children in the eyes of the law until they turn 18, Palestinians are not accorded such humane treatment, and can be imprisoned from the tender age of just 12. Since September 2000 Israel has arrested and detained almost 6000 children, with 700 under-18s arrested in 2007 alone.

Gerard Horton of DCI, an NGO which has taken up Muhammad's case, pointed to the IDF's flagrant violations of children's rights as yet another example of Israel thumbing its nose at international law. "These abuses have been well documented for many years, yet our pleas for intervention have fallen on deaf ears", he said. "The lack of will by the international community to uphold the rule of law when it comes to the Occupied Territories is deeply disturbing."........

In the meantime, the silence of the outside world is deafening. With every passing week, and with every diplomatic door being opened for Israel, the authorities become more and more immune to the criticism on ground-level from the likes of DCI and their peers, and it is children such as Muhammad who pay the price.

Soldiers savagely beating a pre-pubescent youth would send shockwaves throughout any civilised country, but – when it comes to the occupied territories – such an attack is treated as just another day in the office."