Saturday, July 26, 2008
"WASHINGTON, Jul 26 (IPS) - The controversial Christian Zionist pastor John Hagee and thousands of supporters filled a convention centre in downtown Washington this week for his Christians United for Israel (CUFI) organisation's Washington-Israel Summit, where the "Iranian threat" was a recurrent theme.
CUFI is a proponent of Christian Zionism -- the belief that the modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of Biblical "End Times" prophecy and thus deserving of political, financial and religious support. Its founder, Pastor Hagee, recently came under fire from Jewish groups and others for a sermon in which he described Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust as part of God's plan to drive the Jews from Europe and bring them to Palestine......."
House of Saud in Service of the Empire: Outsourcing Guantanamo and Torture to Riyadh! What Could be More Natural?
"Saudi Arabia is to build five modern prisons in the kingdom to replace US Guantanamo detention facility, a new report has revealed.
Jordanian Al-Majd daily quoted unnamed sources as saying that US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Saudi officials are cooperating to construct the prisons which are to replace Guantanamo and US secret prisons in Europe.
Riyadh is to spent about two billion Saudi Rials for the project which can accommodate up to 18000 inmates, they added.
Bin laden firm and with the help of German engineers will build the prisons in the Saudi cities of Mecca, Haer, Demmam, and Qasim.
The US has been under pressure due to violating individual rights in its detention camps in Europe and Guantanamo Bay.
UN human rights investigators have urged the White House to shut down the Guantanamo camp."
By JAMES ABOUREZK
"Back in the good old days of the Vietnam War General Westmoreland, Lyndon Johnson and Bob McNamara kept sending more troops into battle, calling it “escalation.” It was a term fraught with negative meaning, but capitalizing on the horrible public relations experience of that war, George Bush has since hired PR experts who have given it a new name, i.e., “surge.” It sounds much better, and despite the horrors of what’s happening in Iraq, Bush and his political clone, John McCain, are chanting the mantra, “the surge is working,” meaning the escalation is working. Sen. McCain has come out for victory and against surrender in Iraq.
What Sen. McCain means by “the surge is working,” is that he sees America as winning the war in Iraq and that we shouldn’t stop what we are doing in order to finalize the victory there. Aside from never explaining what he means by “winning the war” he also hints that American casualties are way down because of the escalation. That chorus is intended to help him win the Presidency this fall......."
By JONATHAN COOK
"It must be the smallest Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories: just half a house. But Palestinian officials and Israeli human rights groups are concerned that it represents the first stage of a plan to eradicate the historical neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, cutting off one of the main routes by which Palestinians reach the Old City and its holy sites......
Israeli officials have been leasing an olive grove belonging to the Arab Hotels Co. to a settler group called Ateret Cohanim in a deal the local Haaretz newspaper recently termed “underhand”. Together with a right-wing US Jewish millionaire, Irving Moskowitz, who has bought the Shepherd’s Hotel on nearby Mount Scopus, the settlers hope to build 250 flats on the grove.
“For the settlers, Sheikh Jarrah is the link they need between the western half of the city and neighbouring Mount Scopus. Although they seem to be acting on their own initiative in this case, they are in fact doing the dirty work of the government.”
The settlers next to the Khurds refused to comment. However, a friend, Shira Ganz, 32, an immigrant from Ukraine who has been squatting in an empty Palestinian home nearby with her husband and three young children, said the families were committed to living in Sheikh Jarrah. “It’s written in the Bible that we have a right to everywhere in this land, and here we are only minutes from the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. We are not frightened of living next to the Palestinians. If we were, we would leave the promised land and move to Britain or the US."
Friday's blast next to a car used by men from the armed wing of Gaza's ruling Islamist Hamas group killed the girl and three militants. Two others died of their wounds in hospital, Hamas and medical officials said.
The blast, the third of its kind in a day, marked one of the biggest flare-ups in internal Gaza violence since Hamas routed the forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's more secular Fatah faction to seize control of the territory a year ago.
Abbas, finding his authority limited to the occupied West Bank, split with Hamas and revived peace efforts with Israel. He recently sought reconciliation with his Islamist rivals but they have balked at his precondition that they give up Gaza.
Hamas officials blamed "members of the fugitive party" -- a derogatory term for Fatah -- for Friday night's blast at a major junction outside Gaza City.
Although Fatah officials in Ramallah denied any involvement, a group called the "Al-Awda Brigades", which said it is aligned with Fatah, claimed responsibility for the attack. The authenticity of the claim could not be verified.
"The turn will come to all those who shared in executing and liquidating our people," the al-Awda statement read. "Our revenge will reach all members of the black militias of the executive force and leaders of Qassam (Hamas)."
Earlier, Fatah officials in Ramallah said the violence was part of Hamas infighting.
"The Fatah movement has no link whatsoever with these internal disputes within Hamas," a Fatah statement said.
Another statement from Abbas's office said: "The claim that Fatah carried out these explosions aims to cover up the fact that there are disputes within Hamas."
Hamas security forces stormed offices of Fatah officials throughout the Gaza Strip, confiscating documents and computers. Fatah put the number of detainees at 120.
Thousands turned out for the funerals of the six victims of Friday's attack, some chanting "Revenge, revenge" as shots were fired into the air.
Senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya, whose nephew was killed in the blast and whose oldest son was wounded, vowed to punish those responsible.
"Those who did this must be hanged in a public square and must be fired upon," Hayya said before the burials.
He accused Fatah leaders of responsibility for the attack and said the statement by the Al-Awda Brigades proved this.
Hayya said Hamas had "hot warnings" that Fatah members were planning a series of assassinations against the Islamist group.
At least 19 other Palestinians were hurt in Friday's blast, medical officials said, many of them passersby on their way to the beach.
The factional violence has eclipsed Israeli-Palestinian fighting in Gaza, where an Egyptian-brokered truce has largely held since last month despite some violations on both sides.
The ceasefire stoked intra-Palestinian tensions as Hamas sought to prevent other groups from firing rockets across the border into Israel. (Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, additional reporting by Mohammed Assadi in Ramallah, Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Alistair Lyon and Richard Balmworth)
Comment by Tony:
HAMAS MUST BE VERY FIRM WITH THE CONTRAS
It is such a pathetic lie for Abbas and his Junta in the Israeli-protected Ramallah Green Zone to put the blame on "Hamas infighting." The pattern is very clear and is reminiscent of the bombings in Gaza by the Palestinian Contras of Dahlan, just before Hamas routed them.
The introduction of car bombs is a grave escalation which threatens a repeat of what happened before in Lebanon and is still happening in Iraq.
Elliott Abrams and his creative destruction must be stopped, whatever it takes. Hamas has to be very firm in dealing with these Contras; they have no place in Palestinian society.
By Uri Avnery
"......For some reason, the poet did not write: "If I forget thee, O Umm Touba!" nor "If I forget thee, O Sur Baher!" nor "If I forget thee, O Jabal Mukaber!" nor even "If I forget thee, O Ein Karem!"
A fact that should be remembered in any discussion about Jerusalem: there is no resemblance between the Jerusalem of the Bible and the "Jerusalem" of the current Israeli map. The object of the yearning of the exiles who wept by the rivers of Babylon was the real Jerusalem - more or less within the boundaries of the Old City, whose center is the Temple Mount. One square kilometer, that's all.....
From the utterances of the commentators this week, one can gather that they cannot even imagine the anger that accumulates in the mind of a young Arab in Jerusalem throughout the years of humiliation, harassment, discrimination and helplessness. It is easier and more amusing to go into pornographic descriptions of the 72 virgins waiting for the martyrs in the Muslim paradise - what they do with them, how they do it to them, who has enough energy for them all.
One of the main contributing factors for the stirring up of hatred is the demolition of "illegal" homes of Arab residents, who are quite unable to build "legally". The dimension of official stupidity is attested to by the demand of the Shin-Bet chief, voiced this week again, to destroy the homes of the attackers' families, for the sake of "deterrence". Apparently he has not heard about the dozens of studies and the accumulated experience, which prove that every destroyed home becomes an incubator for new hate-driven avengers.
This week's attack is especially instructive. It is quite unclear what actually happened: did Ghassan Abu-Tir plan the attack in advance? Or was this a spontaneous decision in a moment of excitement? Was this an attack at all - or did the bulldozer driver run into a bus by accident and try, in a state of panic, to escape - running over his pursuers, becoming a target for a shooting spree by passersby and soldiers? In the atmosphere of suspicion and fear that pervades Jerusalem now, every road accident involving an Arab becomes an attack, and every Arab driver involved in an accident will in all probability be executed on the spot, without a trial. (It should be remembered that the first intifada broke out because of a road accident, in which a Jewish driver ran over some Arabs.)
AND AGAIN there is the question: what is the solution to this complex problem, which arouses such strong emotions, feeds on deep-rooted myths and causes such moral dilemmas for millions around the world?
This week, a lot of proposals were presented, such as building a Berlin-style wall through the middle of Jerusalem (in addition to the one going around it). To punish whole families for the acts of their children, much like the Nazi "sippenhaft". To expel the families from the city or to cancel their resident status. To demolish their homes. To take away their social insurance benefits, even if they have paid for them.
All these "solutions" have one thing in common - they have been tried in the past, here and in other places, and found wanting......."
"UNITED NATIONS, Jul 25 (IPS) - In both the West Bank and Gaza, young people aged 15 to 24 are the most likely of any group to be unemployed, while the number of households in Gaza below the poverty line has reached an historic high of nearly 52 percent, according to a new report by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) issued Thursday.
"The unprecedented level of poverty in Gaza is bad news," UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness to IPS in a call interview from Jerusalem. "To resign a whole generation to a future without hope is not in the interest of anyone. It is not in the interest of the refugees we serve as UNRWA, and it is not in the interests of anyone who believes in the wider interest of peace and stability."...."
"Senator Barack Obama, in his world tour, spent less than an hour in Palestine compared to 32 hours in Israel. Very few people know the facts on the ground in Palestine as well as Mustafa Barghouti. Barghouti, born in Jerusalem and a resident of Ramallah, is a member of Parliament and the leader of the Palestinian National Initiative, a democratic, reformist alternative to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The Real News spoke to Mustafa Barghouti in Washington about Obama's visit to Israel and Ramallah, and the facts on the ground in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
"26/07/2008 Despite recent reports that Israel and Hamas are engaged in talks on the release of captured Israeli occupation soldier Gilad Shalit, senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Zahar says the negotiations are on hold.
"At this time there are no negotiations on a Shalit deal," al-Zahar said in an interview published by the Nazareth-based Kul al-Arab newspaper.
The Hamas leader said his organization did not hand over to Israel a list containing the names of detainees it wishes to secure as part of the deal. Hamas conveyed its demands orally, via Egypt, Al-Zahar said
"Everything you're hearing from the media, regardless of whatever they are Arab, Palestinian, or Israel is not true and is merely an attempt to test the waters," he said. "This issue is now facing new conditions and all the talk about it is false."
'WE’RE FACING ONGOING ISRAELI SIEGE'
Al-Zahar also denied that Israel sought to hold direct negotiation with Hamas and was rejected. "There are no direct negotiations and there won't be any," he said.
Turning his attention to “Operation Al-Redwan” between Israel and Hezbollah, al-Zahar said: "We are happy about every detainee who is released, yet Hezbollah’s conditions are better than ours. They have support, strategic depth, and other means."
Al-Zahar slammed Israel for its failure to meet the Gaza Strip truce conditions. "Israel is clearly not adhering to the terms of the lull agreement," he said. "The electricity supply is disrupted and we suffer from diesel fuel and electricity shortages…we are facing an ongoing Israeli siege.""
Back to Creative Destruction, All Over Again.....
Palestine Must Not Be Allowed to Go the Way of Iraq.
The Body of 4-Year-Old Serien Safadi, Murdered by Abbas' Palestinian Contras, Resuming Elliott Abrams Policy of Creative Destruction; Very Creative Indeed, Mr. Abrams.
Palestinians look at the body of a young girl after she was killed in an explosion, in the morgue at the hospital in Gaza City, Friday, July 25, 2008. A powerful explosion ripped through a car on a busy Gaza City beach Friday night. (AP)
Friday, July 25, 2008
"The Benny Morris op-ed in the NYT last Friday should provide convincing evidence that Israel really really really wants an attack against Iran sooner rather than later. Morris is close to the Israeli government and his case that Iran must be bombed soon and with maximum conventional weaponry to avoid using nukes later was clearly intended to push the United States to do the attacking. The likelihood that Dick Cheney is almost certainly supportive of a US pre-emptive strike and might well be pulling strings behind the scenes, possibly without the knowledge of the Great Decider, makes the next several months particularly significant if a war is to be avoided.
Some intel types are beginning to express concerns that the Israelis might do something completely crazy to get the US involved. There are a number of possible “false flag” scenarios in which the Israelis could insert a commando team in the Persian Gulf or use some of their people inside Iraq to stage an incident that they will make to look Iranian, either by employing Iranian weapons or by leaving a communications footprint that points to Tehran’s involvement.
Those who argue that Israel would never do such a thing should think again. Israel is willing to behave with complete ruthlessness towards the US if they feel that the stakes are high enough, witness the attack on the USS Liberty and the bombing of the US Consulate in Alexandria in the 1950s. If they now believe that Iran is a threat that must be eliminated it is not implausible to assume that they will stop at nothing to get the the United States to do it for them, particularly as their air force is only able to damage the Iranian nuclear program, not destroy it."
A key planning committee at the ministry has approved a plan to build 20 homes in a new settlement in the Jordan valley to be called Maskiot.
The defence minister, Ehud Barak, has not yet given his approval, although Israeli reports yesterday suggested the plan would go ahead soon.
The decision comes in the same week as two high-profile visits to Israel by Gordon Brown and Barack Obama, who both talked about the importance of a two-state solution to end the Middle East conflict. cont.
A Hamas member of parliament escaped injury in a third blast, Hamas said.
The Islamist group Hamas blamed the attacks on members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party. There was no immediate comment from Fatah.
The two factions have been bitterly divided since Hamas drove Abbas' security forces from Gaza last year.
Five of the deaths resulted from an explosion Friday night behind a tent on the beach, the hospital spokesman said. Among the dead were two members of Hamas and a girl 5 to 7 years old, he said. The identities of the other two fatalities were undetermined.
He said 20 people were wounded in that blast, which occurred about 9:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. ET).
Earlier in the day, one man died and two people were wounded when a bomb exploded at a coffee shop.
The Hamas politician escaped injury from an explosion Friday morning outside his home.
The U.S. also demanded explanations for the harassment of Palestinian residents in the West Bank by Israeli settlers.
A diplomatic source told Haaretz that the Foreign Ministry responded that the decision to evict the al-Kurd family was made under civilian jurisdiction, so the state has no standing to intervene in a matter still being heard by the Supreme Court.
Regarding harassment of Palestinians, Israel replied that the state regards this seriously and that law-enforcement officials take all necessary steps to prevent it and bring the perpetrators to trial.
The source said Washington expressed surprise at criticism from Jerusalem that the U.S. administration is dealing with "localized incidents" such as the case of the al-Kurd family and students would could not leave the Gaza Strip for studies abroad.
The diplomat said that handling such incidents is routine both for the embassy in Tel Aviv and the consulate in Jerusalem. He noted that the U.S. administration acts according to policy accepted by Israel that the Palestinian Authority should be assisted and its head Mahmoud Abbas and prime minister Salaam Fayyad strengthened. All the events in which the U.S. has intervened have clashed with that policy.
The administration recently received detailed reports of increased activity by a settler organization in East Jerusalem working to increase the Jewish presence in Arab neighborhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah, Jabal Mukkaber, Silwan and the Mount of Olives. The U.S. consulate in Jerusalem has been tracking new construction plans in those neighborhoods for the Jewish population and reporting on them to Washington.
The protest by the U.S. raises doubts on the authenticity of an Ottoman-era bill of sale on which the Jerusalem District Court relied in ruling that the Shimon Hatzadik property belongs to the Committee for the Sephardic Group. The committee transferred the property to a settler organization called "Shimon's Estate" that sought to evict the family that has lived there since the early 1950s. The al-Kurd family are refugees from West Jerusalem. cont.
"The 5,000 New Zealand dollar (USD 3,700) reward will be paid for a citizen's arrest of Rice for 'overseeing the illegal invasion and continued occupation' of Iraq," Auckland University Students' Association President, David Do announced.
Do noted that students also plan to make a formal complaint to police seeking to have Rice arrested for what they claim are violations of the Geneva Conventions for her role in the Iraq war.
"In light of the crisis we have encountered in talks with Israel, the Authority is testing a number of options," one Palestinian official told the daily. According to the report, the Palestinian Authority is also re-evaluating how to proceed with consolidating its security services.
Salah Rafat, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) council told the daily that "The Palestinian leadership will be able to make a clear and serious decision regarding the peace process," following trilateral talks in Washington next week.
The men, members of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions, IFOU, have been moved to the capital apparently on the personal orders of Hussain al-Shahristani, the Iraqi oil minister, under anti-union legislation left over from Saddam Hussein's rule. Greg Muttitt, co-director of Platform, the human rights, environment and oil industry watchdog, described the men's transfer as "extremely disturbing". He met Shahristani a month ago to protest against the move.
The Iraqi oil minister said the eight men were involved with the militias and in criminal activities, such as smuggling. But Muttitt said: "There is absolutely no substance in these extremely serious allegations and he offered no evidence."
Even if there was such evidence, it should be a matter for the Iraqi judicial authorities and the courts, he added.
John Hilary, executive director of War on Want, said: "The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions has been leading the opposition to the sell-off of Iraq's oil and these members are clearly being targeted for their political actions. We believe the British government should work for the safety of Iraqi trade unionists, not be complicit in their persecution."
Hassan Juma'a Awad, an IFOU spokesman, claimed the transfer was ordered by Shahristani himself. "Those activists, through their hard work, are well known for fighting corruption and corrupt-ministry gangs in the oil sector," he insisted, adding that the transfer amounted to a "human rights crime".
by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, July 25, 2008
"According to Israeli-based author and journalist Jonathan Cook, Halper's book is "one of the most insightful analyses of the Occupation I've read. His voice cries out to be heard" on the region's longest and most intractable conflict. Part II continues the story......"
"Tali Fahima, a Jewish Israeli woman who was tried and convicted for her contacts with Zakariya Zubeidi, former Jenin chief of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, criticized Zubeidi on Thursday, saying that he had turned into the "whore of the Shin Bet security service."....
Fahima, who served two years in prison for charges which include supporting a terror organization and aiding an enemy during wartime, told Channel 10 "I refuse to see him and I won't even speak to him." She explained that it was Zubeidi's duty to inform the Palestinian people that he had negotiated with the Shin Bet to further his own personal needs.
Fahima added that Zubeidi "talks about his private pleasures, like being able to travel around without an [IDF] drone following him, like the occupation is over, like everything is fine - It was nice to believe in the fairy tale, but there are no fairy tales in the resistance. Zubeidi is a disgrace to the resistance. We are still living under an occupation."
However, Fahima added in a personal jab that Zubeidi "is not a big terrorist. A man who fires bullets into the air is not a big terrorist."....."
"BI'ILIN, West Bank, Jul 25 (IPS) - A Youtube video, uploaded on the Internet this week, showing a blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian being fired on at close range by an Israeli soldier in the presence of a Lieutenant-Colonel, has made international and regional headlines.
On Jul. 7, Ashraf Abu-Rahma, 27, from Bi'ilin village near Ramallah in the central West Bank was arrested, beaten up, forced to sit blindfolded and handcuffed in the blazing sun for three hours without water, and then deliberately shot on his foot from less than a metre away, allegedly on his commander's orders.
"I thought I was going to be arrested but not shot," Ashraf told IPS during an exclusive interview in Bi'ilin........"
By By Akram Salhab - The West Bank
"......Another B’Tselem report explains that when Palestinians come to complain about their abuse, they are faced with “a system which tends not to believe them, and which tends to protect rather than prosecute those who injured them”. In most cases where a crime has been committed, procedure is to take an account of events from all those concerned, and use them, along any evidence at the scene to form a picture of what happened and thereby dish out justice accordingly. The fact that Palestinian complaints are ignored so out of hand suggests that Palestinians are not deemed human enough to be considered serious winesses.
Part of the statement by Barak is very revealing in this regard. Amongst the stream of empty words and crocodile tears of sorrow, he committed to “exact the full extent of the law in this case". ‘Only in this case’ because no Palestinian, with their deceptive lying ways, would ever be able to prove to the world that the abuse that they had suffered was real and even if they could, unless the crime they suffered was as blatant as the incident caught of film, then a suitable lie can be fabricated to explain it away.
Even when a crime is caught on film, however, it is not sufficient evidence for a conviction and as the criminal soldier from the indicent above walked free on Tuesday, Palestinians will be wondering what they need to do to for the world to take seriously the daily attacks that they face. In Palestine, it would seem, even the camera lies."
"I had given up on finding an American with a moral conscience and the courage to go with it and was on the verge of retiring my keyboard when I met the Rev. Thomas L. Are.
Rev. Are is a Presbyterian pastor who used to tell his Atlanta, Georgia, congregation: "I am a Zionist." Like most Americans, Rev. Are had been seduced by Israeli propaganda and helped to spread the propaganda among his congregation.
Around 1990 Rev. Are had an awakening for which he credits the Christian Canon of St. George's Cathedral in Jerusalem and author Marc Ellis, co-editor of the book, Beyond Occupation.
Realizing that his ignorance of the situation on the ground had made him complicit in great crimes, Rev. Are wrote a book hoping to save others from his mistake and perhaps in part to make amends, Israeli Peace/Palestinian Justice, published in Canada in 1994.
Rev. Are researched his subject and wrote a brave book. Keep in mind that 1994 was long prior to Walt and Mearsheimer's recent book, which exposed the power of the Israel Lobby and its ability to control the explanation Americans receive about the "Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
Rev. Are begins with an account of Israel's opening attack on the Palestinians, an event which took place before most Americans alive today were born. He quotes the distinguished British historian, Arnold J. Toynbee: "The treatment of the Palestinian Arabs in 1947 (and 1948) was as morally indefensible as the slaughter of six million Jews by the Nazis. Though nor comparable in quantity to the crimes of the Nazis, it was comparable in quality."......"
"Instead of moving toward accommodating the demand of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a timetable for US military withdrawal, the George W. Bush administration and the US military leadership are continuing to pressure their erstwhile client regime to bow to the US demand for a long-term military presence in the country.
The emergence of this defiant US posture toward the Iraqi withdrawal demand underlines just how important long-term access to military bases in Iraq has become to the US military and national security bureaucracy in general......"
By Ramzy Baroud
"......Consider this bizarre twist. The US Congress passed a resolution, on 22 June 2004, declaring that the violence in Darfur was state-sponsored genocide. The resolution -- named the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act -- was signed into law by President Bush in October 2006.
Between the vote and Bush's signature the United Nations conducted a sweeping investigation -- unlike Congress's rash decision which was based almost entirely on lobby and interest group pressure -- declaring, in early 2005, that both the government and militias were systematically abusing civilians in Sudan's western province. It insisted, however, that no genocide had taken place.
The US is not a signatory of the ICC -- understandably so, given that many legal experts deem the war crimes of invading and occupying Iraq as the worst since World War II. Although the ICC is, in theory, an independent body, it often investigates or provides legal opinions on cases passed on by the United Nations Security Council which is dominated by the United States, its vetoes and foreign policy interests.....
Regardless of whether the ICC judges will honour Moreno- Ocampo's request to issue an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president the Darfur conflict cannot be settled by selective justice, self- serving politics or contract-seeking oil corporations. Justice in Sudan, or anywhere else for that matter, cannot be obtained through such practices which are at best "unhelpful" and at worse could be used by the international order's self-appointed policemen to further legitimatise their destructive policies of "intervention" -- economic sanctions, war, and the rest."
By Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank
"The recent "spectacular" prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hizbullah, which plunged Israel into a state national confusion while feelings of triumph spread in Lebanon and throughout the Arab world, is already impacting on efforts to resolve the Shalit affair.......
There are more than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners languishing in Israeli jails and detention camps, many of them political activists, politicians, lawmakers and cabinet ministers held indefinitely without charge or trial.
There are also hundreds of other prisoners, who are serving life imprisonment sentences for killing Israeli soldiers and settlers in the course of resisting, according to their legal right under international law, the Israeli military occupation.
For those, the only reasonable hope of freedom is a "successful" prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas......."
"American News Project: In late May, after three months of deliberation, John McCain called Pastor John Hagee "crazy" and renounced his endorsement. But Hagee has come back stronger than ever -- thanks to friends like William Kristol, Joe Lieberman . . . and the public relations firm W5, which also represents Microsoft, Snoop Dogg and Pamela Anderson. This week in Washington, D.C., Hagee's non-profit organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), brought together five thousand supporters of the bedeviled pastor, and a new regime of media relations was much in evidence. Hagee avoided issues that have caused controversy in the past (Armageddon, homosexuals, God's purposes for the Holocaust, Hurricane Katrina, etc.). By pulling back the veil and conducting unauthorized interviews with several of Hagee's Christian Zionist followers, ANP reveals the fanatical ideology that still lies behind the CUFI's more restrained rhetoric."
"Senator Barack Obama's Middle East/Central Asia leg of his whirlwind world tour was as smooth as the three-pointer he shot in front of US troops. Military historian Gareth Porter explains what's left unsaid behind the triumphal profusion of meetings and photo opportunities."
A so-so Comment
By Jonathan Steele
The Guardian, Friday July 25 2008
".....The difference is that Europeans know the American president holds the keys to war or peace. He has enormous influence in dragging European governments after him, as the disastrous Iraq adventure showed. So it is not surprising that many Europeans are crying out for a man in the White House who will be less aggressive, less unilateral, less imperial, and more attuned to the complexities of international policy. Obama seems to be the one.
In the Middle East the US leader has much less power. Israel calls the shots, and what's happening on the ground is deeply gloomy and anti-peace. The chances of creating a viable Palestinian state have almost vanished as Israeli settlements on the West Bank go on increasing and yet more checkpoints appear......"
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Video From The New Fox News, Formerly Known as Al-Jazeera: Ripple effect of Hezbollah-Israel prisoner swap - 24 Jul 08
The exhibition is in a stunning hall made partly of stones from old houses, discarded wood ties of a former railroad and bronze lamps and marble columns uncovered by Gazan fishermen and construction workers.
And while the display might be pretty standard stuff most anywhere else — arrowheads, Roman anchors, Bronze Age vases and Byzantine columns — life is now so gray in Gaza that the museum, with its glimpses of a rich outward-looking history, seems somehow dazzling.
“The idea is to show our deep roots from many cultures in Gaza,” Mr. Khoudary said as he sat in the lush, antiquities-filled garden of his Gaza City home a few miles from the museum. “It’s important that people realize we had a good civilization in the past. Israel has legitimacy from its history. We do, too.”
The oldest archaeological site in Gaza dates from the middle of the fourth millennium B.C., when Gaza was part of the caravan routes linking the Arabian Peninsula with the Horn of Africa via the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.
History offers not only legitimacy, of course, but also a framework for coping with the present. Gaza is under an Israeli and international siege aimed at weakening Hamas, widely viewed in the West as a terrorist group. But this is not the first time Gazans have faced a squeeze.
“Gaza has suffered more than most cities,” Mr. Khoudary noted. “There was the siege of Alexander the Great and of the Persians and of the British. At the end of the day this siege will be a footnote.”
His collection includes thousands of items, but some of the most extraordinary will not go on display now, including a statue of a full-breasted Aphrodite in a diaphanous gown, images of other ancient deities and oil lamps featuring menorahs.
Asked why, Mr. Khoudary noted Hamas’s rule and the conservative piety of the population and said simply, “I want my project to succeed.”
He did, however, bring a Hamas government minister to see the exhibition recently and pointed out two crosses on Byzantine columns to make sure he had no objections. The gap between what he calls the narrow-mindedness of today’s Gaza and the worldliness of the past is what most saddens him, he said.
A prominent construction company owner, Mr. Khoudary, who is 48 and a proponent of coexistence and global culture, has been collecting for 22 years, ever since he came across an Islamic glass coin and fell in love with its link to a bygone era. Since then, he has asked all his construction workers to save whatever they dig up so that he can search it for treasures. Local fishermen know that anything old that washes ashore will fetch a decent price from Mr. Khoudary.
In 2005, he persuaded Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to let him set up a national archaeological museum with Swiss help. A site was picked and a show was developed at the Geneva Museum of Art and History. It brought in huge crowds.
Then, in June 2007, more than a year after Hamas won a parliamentary majority, Hamas and the Fatah party of Mr. Abbas fought street battles that ended in the banishment of Fatah and Mr. Abbas from Gaza.
So with the project stalled and Gaza closed off by Israel, Mr. Khoudary decided to do it on his own. He built a restaurant and cafe (with space for a hotel) and, on the same property, added the museum. He called the entire complex on the coast near the Shati refugee camp north of Gaza City El Mat’haf, Arabic for museum. “People here don’t hear this word,” he said. “I want it to enter the vocabulary.”
With so little to do in Gaza — factories are closed and the economy is stalled — El Mat’haf seems likely to attract crowds.
The Israel Museum in Jerusalem has just published a catalog on the Gaza dig of an Israeli team in the 1970s and 80s. Led by the grande dame of Israeli archaeology, Dr. Trude Dothan, the dig at Deir el Balah took place under army guard and uncovered gold jewelry, alabaster vessels and, most important, anthropoid coffins, all of which are now in the Israel Museum. Some of it had been plundered by Moshe Dayan, the defense minister at the time, who was an archaeology buff and something of a law unto himself. His collection is now in the Israel Museum as well.
Told of El Mat’haf, Dr. Dothan said she had long wished there had been a museum in Gaza for what she dug up. Mr. Khoudary said he had visited the Israel Museum and hoped that one day some of the Gaza collection could come back here “after we have a qualified government and the capability to protect the heritage of Gaza.” He said Dr. Dothan “did us a favor because it would all be gone or destroyed today.”
James S. Snyder, director of the Israel Museum, said that if there were a peaceable state in Gaza and a museum here, “I see no reason we couldn’t arrange a long-term loan.”
Such warm talk between Israelis and Gazans is rare these days. Mr. Snyder said that under the current Israeli closing of Gaza, which bars all but humanitarian emergency cases from leaving, “there is the perversity that Gazans today cannot see their own heritage in our museum.”
The committee has given the green light for 20 new homes at Maskiot. Ehud Barak, the defence minister, is expected to authorise construction soon, said Israel Radio. The plans were dropped by Israel in 2006 after pressure from the US.
It is bound to anger the Palestinians and irritate the US, which has called on Israel to halt construction in the settlements as part of the American "road map" for peace in the Middle East.
The 2003 peace plan also called on Palestinians to clamp down on militants who attack Israel.
The Bush administration previously criticised Israeli plans to settle 30 families at Maskiot, a former Israel defence force base, as a breach of Israeli obligations.
Israel has defended the latest move on the grounds that the settlement is not new. The government says it was legally established in 1982, housed an army unit and a school, and has had civilians living there for several years.
Approval has also been granted for construction in areas of East Jerusalem surrounded by large Arab populations but Israel said they are not settlements.
In his visit to Israel this week, Gordon Brown called on the government to freeze building of settlements in the occupied West Bank and withdraw from them.
Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, warned last month that Jewish settlement building was having a "negative effect" on efforts to reach a peace deal. She was referring to Israeli plans to build 1,300 new homes in Ramat Shlomo, an area of the West Bank that Israel considers part of Jerusalem.
The Palestinians have called the settlement plans a systematic policy to destroy the peace process, but Israel has described the new homes as the natural growth of existing communities.
About 260,000 settlers live among 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank. The international court of justice has ruled that Israeli settlements on land captured in the 1967 war are illegal.
Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, yesterday told reporters during a visit to Israel that he would begin working straight away for peace in the Middle East if elected in November.
"On the 23rd July, the father of the girl who filmed the Israeli shooting of a detainee in Ni’lin and a Canadian activist were arrested during a non-violent demonstration again in Ni’lin against the construction of the apartheid wall.
The arrests occurred at a non-violent women’s demonstration again the construction of the wall in which the two were arrested after observing the march towards the construction site.....
Interviewed on Palestinian TV this morning, the 14 year old girl expressed concern that her family would be targeted by the Israeli army due her film being publicized. Her footage was broadcast throughout the world and has caused shock waves in Israel, where a soldier has been arrested and an official investigation launched.
Victor MacDiarmid is from Kingston, Ontario, and has twice been shot by rubber-coated steel bullets while attempting to take in supplies to Ni’lin during a recent a four-day Israeli army blockade of the village. He will be brought to court on the 24th July in Jerusalem, while the details of Jamal Amirra’s case are not yet clear."
A worthy petition
Please consider signing this important petition (forwarded by Willow Heske).
As many of you are aware there was a major human rights abuse in Ni'lin Village, Palestine on July 7, 2008. If you have been following my work with the Advocacy Project this summer, than you already know that Ni'lin has a special place in my heart.
The abuse was documented on video and can be viewed through the following link: http://www.btselem.org/english/Firearms/20080721_Nilin_Shooting.asp
On behalf of the village of Ni'lin I ask you to sign the following petition and distribute it widely across any and all networks you have access to:http://www.petitiononline.com/nilin/petition.htmlWe are trying to get as many signatures as possible in 1 week and then will hold a media event to deliver the signatures. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE distribute this petition to all the networks you can. --
(Click on cartoon by Khalil Bendib to enlarge)
".....Slaughters on this scale are common, and mostly unknown to the British public. I interviewed a woman who had lost eight members of her family, including six children. A 500lb US Mk82 bomb was dropped on her mud, stone and straw house. There was no "enemy" nearby. I interviewed a headmaster whose house disappeared in a fireball caused by another "precision" bomb. Inside were nine people - his wife, his four sons, his brother and his wife, and his sister and her husband. Neither of these mass murders was news. As Harold Pinter wrote of such crimes: "Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."......
The US and its allies are dropping record numbers of bombs on Afghanistan. This is not news. In the first half of this year, 1,853 bombs were dropped: more than all the bombs of 2006 and most of 2007. "The most frequently used bombs," the Air Force Times reports, "are the 500lb and 2,000lb satellite-guided . . ." Without this one-sided onslaught, the resurgence of the Taliban, it is clear, might not have happened. Even Hamid Karzai, America's and Britain's puppet, has said so. The presence and the aggression of foreigners have all but united a resistance that now includes former warlords once on the CIA's payroll......
.....journalists who serve as little more than official amplifiers. Having declared Afghanistan a "good war", the complicit enablers are now anointing Barack Obama as he tours the bloodfests in Afghanistan and Iraq. What they never say is that Obama is a bomber.
In the New York Times on 14 July, in an article spun to appear as if he is ending the war in Iraq, Obama demanded more war in Afghanistan and, in effect, an invasion of Pakistan. He wants more combat troops, more helicopters, more bombs. Bush may be on his way out, but the Republicans have built an ideological machine that transcends the loss of electoral power - because their collaborators are, as the American writer Mike Whitney put it succinctly, "bait-and-switch" Democrats, of whom Obama is the prince......."
On 12 July, the London Times devoted two pages to Afghanistan. It was mostly a complaint about the heat. The reporter, Magnus Linklater, described in detail his discomfort and how he had needed to be sprayed with iced water. He also described the "high drama" and "meticulously practised routine" of evacuating another overheated journalist. For her US Marine rescuers, wrote Linklater, "saving a life took precedence over [their] security". Alongside this was a report whose final paragraph offered the only mention that "47 civilians, most of them women and children, were killed when a US aircraft bombed a wedding party in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday".
Slaughters on this scale are common, and mostly unknown to the British public. I interviewed a woman who had lost eight members of her family, including six children. A 500lb US Mk82 bomb was dropped on her mud, stone and straw house. There was no "enemy" nearby. I interviewed a headmaster whose house disappeared in a fireball caused by another "precision" bomb. Inside were nine people - his wife, his four sons, his brother and his wife, and his sister and her husband. Neither of these mass murders was news. As Harold Pinter wrote of such crimes: "Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."
A total of 64 civilians were bombed to death while The Times man was discomforted. Most were guests at the wedding party. Wedding parties are a "coalition" speciality. At least four of them have been obliterated - at Mazar and in Khost, Uruzgan and Nangarhar provinces. Many of the details, including the names of victims, have been compiled by a New Hampshire professor, Marc Herold, whose Afghan Victim Memorial Project is a meticulous work of journalism that shames those who are paid to keep the record straight and report almost everything about the Afghan War through the public relations facilities of the British and American military.
The US and its allies are dropping record numbers of bombs on Afghanistan. This is not news. In the first half of this year, 1,853 bombs were dropped: more than all the bombs of 2006 and most of 2007. "The most frequently used bombs," the Air Force Times reports, "are the 500lb and 2,000lb satellite-guided . . ." Without this one-sided onslaught, the resurgence of the Taliban, it is clear, might not have happened. Even Hamid Karzai, America's and Britain's puppet, has said so. The presence and the aggression of foreigners have all but united a resistance that now includes former warlords once on the CIA's payroll.
The scandal of this would be headline news, were it not for what George W Bush's former spokesman Scott McClellan has called "complicit enablers" - journalists who serve as little more than official amplifiers. Having declared Afghanistan a "good war", the complicit enablers are now anointing Barack Obama as he tours the bloodfests in Afghanistan and Iraq. What they never say is that Obama is a bomber.
In the New York Times on 14 July, in an article spun to appear as if he is ending the war in Iraq, Obama demanded more war in Afghanistan and, in effect, an invasion of Pakistan. He wants more combat troops, more helicopters, more bombs. Bush may be on his way out, but the Republicans have built an ideological machine that transcends the loss of electoral power - because their collaborators are, as the American writer Mike Whitney put it succinctly, "bait-and-switch" Democrats, of whom Obama is the prince.
Those who write of Obama that "when it comes to international affairs, he will be a huge improvement on Bush" demonstrate the same wilful naivety that backed the bait-and-switch of Bill Clinton - and Tony Blair. Of Blair, wrote the late Hugo Young in 1997, "ideology has surrendered entirely to 'values' . . . there are no sacred cows [and] no fossilised limits to the ground over which the mind might range in search of a better Britain . . ."
Eleven years and five wars later, at least a million people lie dead. Barack Obama is the American Blair. That he is a smooth operator and a black man is irrelevant. He is of an enduring, rampant system whose drum majors and cheer squads never see, or want to see, the consequences of 500lb bombs dropped unerringly on mud, stone and straw houses.
Rachel Corrie Before She Was Crushed to Death by an IOF D9 Bulldozer
"Israel might be able to go on claiming that it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East, but it cannot do the same regarding another weapon of mass destruction: the bulldozer. The claim that terror has adopted an original new weapon, a "new fashion" as the public security minister put it, once again shows how convenient it is for us to present a one-sided and distorted picture.
The bulldozer as a destructive and even lethal weapon was not invented by the Palestinians. They are merely imitating an Israeli "fashion" that is as old as the state, or at least as old as the occupation. Let us forget for a moment the 416 villages Israel wiped off the face of the earth in 1948 - that was before there were D9 bulldozers - and focus on a more modern fashion. In Israel's hands the bulldozer has become one of the most terrifying weapons in the territories. The only difference between the Palestinians' murderous bulldozer and the Israeli bulldozer is in color and size. As usual, ours is bigger, much bigger. There is no similarity between the small backhoe the Palestinian terrorist was driving and the fearsome D9 driven by Israel Defense Forces soldiers......."
Will the "Peace Process" in the region get a boost if Obama wins, McCain wins, or will stay the same regardless of who wins?
With about 500 responding so far (it is early), here is the breakdown:
If Obama wins......... 11%
If McCain wins......... 2%
Makes no difference 87%
Residents of al-Faluja flee in 1949
(Henry Norr covered Intel as a technology reporter and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle until he was fired in 2003, after writing a column about Kiryat Gat and getting arrested in a demonstration the day the US invaded Iraq. In recent years he has spent six months in occupied Palestine as a volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement and the International Middle East Media Center.)
"In an extravagant ceremony that featured acrobats, drummers, a children's choir, and speeches by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (in person) and the two top executives of chipmaker Intel Corp. (on giant video screens), the company this month dedicated a new, state-of-the-art chip-manufacturing plant in the south-central Israeli town of Kiryat Gat.
The hoopla is understandable, from the Intel and Israeli perspectives. The new facility, known as Fab 28, is the largest private-sector investment ever made in Israel......
These recent developments have brought unaccustomed attention to Kiryat Gat, at least within Israel. But even the Israeli press doesn't discuss what's most interesting about the town: its origins.
Sixty years ago, there was no Kiryat Gat. The land it now occupies was divided between two Palestinian villages, al-Faluja and 'Iraq al-Manshiya. While the area is well within the Green Line, Israel's 1949-67 border, its history is in one way unique: Israeli forces never captured it during the 1948-49 war. Egyptian forces occupied it in late May 1948, and although later Israeli counter-offensives broke up their front and laid siege to the two villages -- known at the time as the "Faluja pocket" -- the 4,000 Egyptian troops deployed there (including a young officer named Gamal Abdel Nasser, soon to become president of his country) held out until Egypt and Israel agreed to an armistice on 24 February 1949.
That's when the Nakba befell al-Faluja and 'Iraq al-Manshiya.*
Stranded and surrounded, the Egyptians were in no position to stay in the area. To their credit, however, they insisted as a condition of their withdrawal that Israel guarantee the safety of the civilians in the area -- about 2,000 locals and some 1,100 refugees from other parts of Palestine......"
"Aijaz Ahmad: "America should understand that other countries have similar strategic interests. I think looking at the world through narrow American interests is itself both immoral and counterproductive.""
"At the annual meeting of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) in Washington its leader, popular televangelist John Hagee, refrained from the kind of controversial comments that have led Senator John McCain to repudiate his endorsement. But McCain's close adviser, Senator Joe Lieberman, did address the meeting, even though progressive Jewish organizations strongly advised him not to. Lieberman painted a gloomy picture of a "fanatical", nuclear-armed Iranian regime which might attack not only its neighbors but also the United States. Outside the meeting, a number of organizations strongly denounced CUFI and Lieberman as warmongers."
"It is crucial for world powers to block the 'Iranian aggression' in the Middle East, says Israeli army chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
Ashkenazi, on his first visit to Washington as the army chief of staff, accused Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons and spreading aggression in the region.
In a brief speech on Wednesday, He also claimed that radical elements were attempting to disturb the regional balance, as part of an imminent paradigm shift in the Middle East.
At the center of this radical axis is Iran, who seeks to achieve its regional aspiration of hegemony by upsetting the existing power balance, he alleged.
Ashkenazi accused Iran of backing terror organizations and radical groups, pursuing nuclear arms, and projecting power within the region and beyond.
He summed up by saying believes it is crucial that 'the Iranian aggression' be blocked, which might in turn weaken the regional radicalization process being observed in such places as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon as well as the Palestinian territories......."
Ashkenazi Rallies Washington for Iran War
"24/07/2008 Israeli Army Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told reporters in Washington that Israel prefers to find a “diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear threat,” but must prepare for all scenarios. “My duty is to ready the army for war, to fight and to win,” he said.
Ashkenazi, who is on an official visit to Washington, met Wednesday with US Vice President Dick Cheney and with Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte.
On Thursday, he is expected to hold a series of meetings with senior US army officials at the Pentagon, headed by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen.
"We are all united in thinking that Iran should not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon, and there is no doubt that the preference is for diplomatic activity and for sanctions," Ashkenazi said following his meetings Wednesday.
Ashkenazi said the goal of his trip was "to understand the American outlook on the issues and problems in the Middle East. This is an excellent opportunity to make it clear to them how we see things. In this sense we see things eye to eye. We have no disagreements. The cooperation is very good.""
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
(Cartoon by Khalil Bendib)
By Khalid Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem
".....Surely, American Zionism and its powerful lobby, which effectively controls American politics and policies, is fond of Obama’s tongue. But they are not so sure about Obama’s mind and heart.
So, far Obama has done a remarkable job hiding whatever discrepancy there might be between his tongue and his conscience. This is what irks Israel’s firsters most.
Well, let us hope that Obama will be the next President of the United States. At least if he can’t stand up to Israel , whose former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was rumored to have said “We, the Jews, control America and the Americans know it,” he, at the very least, would be the lesser of the two evils, since a McCain’s presidency would mean another four years of George W. Bush’s policies."
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday July 23, 2008
When I and other Palestinian-Americans first knew Barack Obama in Chicago in the 1990s, he grasped the oppression faced by Palestinians under Israeli occupation. He understood that an honest broker cannot simultaneously be the main cheerleader, financier and arms supplier for one side in a conflict. He often attended Palestinian-American community events and heard about the Palestinian experience from perspectives stifled in mainstream discussion.
In recent months, Obama has sought to allay persistent concerns from pro-Israel groups by recasting himself as a stalwart backer of Israel and tacking ever closer to positions espoused by the powerful, hard-line pro-Israel lobby Aipac. He distanced himself from mainstream advisers because pro-Israel groups objected to their calls for even-handedness.
Like his Republican rival, senator John McCain, Obama gave staunch backing to Israel's 2006 bombing of Lebanon, which killed over 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and the blockade and bombardment of the Gaza Strip, calling them "self defence".
Every aspect of Obama's visit to Palestine-Israel this week has seemed designed to further appease pro-Israel groups. Typically for an American aspirant to high office, he visited the Israeli Holocaust memorial and the Western Wall. He met the full spectrum of Israeli Jewish (though not Israeli Arab) political leaders. He travelled to the Israeli Jewish town of Sderot, which until last month's ceasefire, frequently experienced rockets from the Gaza Strip. At every step, Obama warmly professed his support for Israel and condemned Palestinian violence.
Other than a cursory 45-minute visit to occupied Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinians got little. According to an Abbas aide, Obama provided assurances that he would be "a constructive partner in the peace process." Some observers took comfort in his promise that he would get engaged "starting from the minute I'm sworn into office". Obama remained silent on the issue of Jerusalem, after boldly promising the "undivided" city to Israel as its capital in a speech to Aipac last month, and then appearing to backtrack amid a wave of outrage across the Arab world.
But Obama missed the opportunity to visit Palestinian refugee camps, schools and even shopping malls to witness first-hand the devastation caused by the Israeli army and settlers, or to see how Palestinians cope under what many call "apartheid". This year alone, almost 500 Palestinians, including over 70 children, have been killed by the Israeli army - exceeding the total for 2007 and dwarfing the two-dozen Israelis killed in conflict-related violence.
Obama said nothing about Israel's relentless expansion of colonies on occupied land. Nor did he follow the courageous lead of former President Jimmy Carter and meet with the democratically elected Hamas leaders, even though Israel negotiated a ceasefire with them. That such steps are inconceivable shows how off-balance is the US debate on Palestine.
Many people I talk to are resigned to the conventional wisdom that aspiring national politicians cannot afford to be seen as sympathetic to the concerns of Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims. They still hope that, if elected, Obama would display an even-handedness absent in the campaign.
Without entirely foreclosing the possibility of change in US policy, the reality is that the political pressures evident in a campaign do not magically disappear once the campaign is over. Nor is all change necessarily for the better.
One risk is that a President Obama or President McCain would just bring back the Clinton-era approach where the United States effectively acted as "Israel's lawyer", as Aaron David Miller, a 25-year veteran of the US state department's Middle East peace efforts, memorably put it. This led to a doubling of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, an upsurge in violence and the failed 2000 Camp David summit where Clinton tried to pressure Arafat into accepting a bantustan. A depressing feature of Obama's visit was the prominent advisory role for Dennis Ross, the official in charge of the peace process under Clinton, and the founder of an Aipac-sponsored pro-Israel think-tank.
Whoever is elected will face a rapidly changing situation in Palestine-Israel. A number of shifts are taking place simultaneously. First, the consensus supporting the two-state solution is disintegrating as Israeli colonies have rendered it unachievable. Second, the traditional Palestinian national leadership is being eclipsed by new movements including Hamas. And, as western and Arab governments become more craven in the face of Israeli human rights violations, a Palestinian-led campaign modelled on the anti-apartheid strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions is building global civil society support. Finally, the demographic shift in Palestine-Israel toward an absolute Palestinian majority in all of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be complete in the next three to five years.
Making peace in this new reality will take leaders ready to listen and talk to all sides in the conflict and to consider alternatives to the moribund two-state solution, such as power-sharing, confederation or a single democratic state. It will require, above all, the courage, imagination and political will to challenge the status quo of Israeli domination and Palestinian dispossession that has led to ever more violence with each passing year.
The soldier was sent back to his unit after lawyers argued he did not pose a danger to anyone, Israeli reports said.
He was shown firing a rubber coated bullet at the detainee's foot as other soldiers stand around watching.
The footage was taken by a Palestinian girl living nearby and released Israeli human rights campaigners.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak condemned the incident saying it was "grave and wrong" and that the military would exact the full extent of the law.
Human rights group B'Tselem released the footage on Sunday. The shooting happened two weeks earlier in Nilin in the West Bank, scene of frequent Palestinian anti-occupation demonstrations.
Israeli press reports say the soldier told investigators that his commander had told him to shoot the Palestinian, who has been identified as Ashraf Abu Rahma.
The Israeli army issued a statement calling the incident "grave" and in "direct contradiction" of its values.
Mr Abu Rahma was treated for a bruised toe by army medics and has not filed a complaint with the military.
B'Tselem has distributed dozens of cameras to West Bank Palestinians with the aim of recording human rights abuses by the Israeli army and Jewish settlers.
Last month, it released footage showing an apparent assault by masked stick-wielding settlers against Palestinian farmers.
You may watch the video here.
In case someone fails to understand, it is a high-ranking Israeli officer who is caught on video holding a handcuffed man as a still target for the merciless vengeance of another IDF soldier. An unavoidable question pops to air. What are these people made of? Do they share any recognised qualities with the rest of humanity? Clearly, cruelty is deeply rooted in Israeli society. It may take two to tango, but apparently it doesn’t take more than two Israeli soldiers to prove to us all what Israel and the Jewish national revival is all about.
Seemingly, barbarism is deeply engraved within Israeli society and the Hebraic culture. It shouldn’t take us by surprise. It was that very barbarism that led to the uprooting of the Palestinian population in 1948. It is a barbarism that is fuelled by a complete dismissal of Otherness that has been maintaining Israel and Zionism since then.
Now when it becomes clear to more and more people that Israel’s days are numbered, some may like to take the opportunity and start to summarise the contribution of the Zionist revival to Jewish history or even history of modernity in general. Though Israel and Jews around the world are always keen to tell us about Israel’s achievements in science, technology, agriculture and the arts, I would bet that not much of it would be remembered as a legacy of the Israeli heritage for future generations.
On the contrary, in the long term, Israel will be remembered as a shameless disaster. Even if we manage to save Israelis from nuking Iran, a sinister mass murder they are really keen upon launching, we would be left with a story of a racist tribal society, an ethnic cleansing ideology, a gigantic wall that shreds the holy land into starving Bantustans, malnutrition in Gaza and the West Bank, torture and lynch practices. As Khalid Amayreh detected recently, Israelis are the Nazis of our time.
Yet, as much as we can see the Israeli crimes that are emerging daily from our TV screens, press outlets and even YouTube, any genuine historical scrutiny of the Nazi era and Nazi crimes is strictly prohibited. Consequently, I believe, Nazi evilness will lose its primacy, and Israeli will eventually grab the crown of absolute evilness.
I am fully aware that Jews, both in the left and the right insist upon telling us about Jewish culture being humanist and universalist. I better admit it, though I am fully aware of many Jewish humanists, I myself have never come across a single text that can be labelled as Jewish humanist or universalist. Instead, rather too often I unfortunately come across some Jewish tribal barbaric teaching and practices, whether it is in the Bible or Zionist preaching and practices.
Zionism was initially there to bring about a humanized Jew, an authentic ethical civilised being that is attached to the land, to the soil - all the while making peace with the rest of humanity. Though it is clear that project was doomed to failure, in the light of Israeli sinister vengeance, the scale of the failure is massive.
"United States Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama has got it right - Afghanistan, and not Iraq, is "the central front in the war on terror". Al-Qaeda couldn't agree more. That is exactly where they want the war to be fought, and then extended into Pakistan...."
"Barack Obama is betraying his promise of change and is in danger of becoming just another political hack. Yes, just like former maverick John McCain, who has refashioned himself as a mindless rubber stamp for the most inane policies of the miserably failed Bush administration....."
Greta Berlin, From Los Angeles
"The Free Gaza Movement plans to break the medical aid blockade of Gaza by sea. On the weekly radio show, Questioning War- Organizing Resistance, Monday, July 21st from 8-10 pm (Pacific Time), seven of the courageous travelers will give details of the upcoming voyage, its purpose, their motivations. Forty-one people from 16 countries are committed to this action and ending the blockade of the truth of the Palestinians' plight from reaching the world........
Listen to Questioning War- Organizing Resistance on WeThePeopleRadioNetwork.comMonday, July 21, 2008, from 8:00- 9:00 pm (PST) in the first hour and to our guests - Darlene Wallach, Kathleen Wang, Hedy Epstein, and Greta Berlin and
in the second hour, 9:00- 10:00 pm (PST) to our guests - Mary Hughes-Thompson, Bill Dienst, and David Halpin.
Our guests are part of The Free Gaza Movement who are gathering in Cyprus to voyage to the Gaza Strip to break through the blockade against urgently needed medical supplies......"
"John McCain has denounced Barack Obama as being “completely wrong” on Iraq, but it was McCain who advocated what turned out to be the fundamental strategic blunder in the post-9/11 conflicts, the hasty – and premature – pivot from Afghanistan to Iraq.
Only weeks after the Taliban were routed from Kabul and the remnants of al-Qaeda had fled from bases in Tora Bora, McCain took the lead in urging the Bush administration to turn its attention toward Iraq.
In a Feb. 2, 2002, speech to the Munich Conference on Security Policy, McCain said the United States and its allies needed to concentrate on overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
“The next front is apparent, and we should not shirk from acknowledging it,” McCain said. “A terrorist resides in Baghdad, with the resources of an entire state at his disposal, flush with cash from illicit oil revenues and proud of a decade-long record of defying the international community's demands that he come clean on his programs to develop weapons of mass destruction.
”A day of reckoning is approaching.”......"