Saturday, August 30, 2008

Al-Jazeera Video: Gaza opens historical museum - 30 Aug 2008

"A Palestinian living in Gaza opens an archaelogical museum in the Gaza Strip to showcase the area's history.

Al Jazeera's Ashraf Amritti reports from Gaza where Jawdat al-Khoudry, the museum's owner, fulfilled his dreams."

The other face of western democracy

Comment by Khalid Amayreh

"....Of course, George Bush is by no means the only villain in the arena. Most of the “democracies” of Western Europe have played a shameful role in effecting the genocidal wars in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, and they all, with a few appreciable exceptions, have done so in the name of democracy and human rights.

We saw recently how the leaders of Germany, Italy, France and Britain embraced the Nazi-like Israeli state on its 60th anniversary, the state whose very existence is a crime against humanity.

Similarly, we saw how British Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently described the extirpation of the Palestinian people from its ancestral homeland and the creation thereon of the terrorist state as the “greatest event in the 20th century.” This is the leader of the very country that had enabled Zionism to rape Palestine and expel its native inhabitants to the four corners of the world. And at the top of all this monumental oppression, British leaders still have the moral and intellectual depravity to denounce us as “terrorists” for resisting our tormentors and wanting to be free.

Today, western democracies are busy fostering “democracy and human rights” in occupied Palestine by funding a police state apparatus where political activists are abducted and tortured and even killed, and journalists and university professors are incarcerated and maltreated by young, ignorant security cadres who would do anything for a few hundred dollars at the end of the month.

This is indeed the “democracy” that is being exported to us and which the West in coordination with Israel is trying to force down our throats.

Well, sorry guys, your democracy is killing us, we don’t want to have any part of it."

The Ovens in Bergen-Belsen Will Shut Down fot Two Days as a Goodwill Gesture

Egypt opens sealed Gaza crossing as goodwill gesture before Ramadan

"Palestinian officials say Egypt has opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip, allowing hundreds of people to enter and leave the coastal territory.

Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing for two days beginning Saturday.

Thousands of Egyptian citizens had been stuck in Gaza with the border sealed......"

How Arab normalization is undermining the boycott movement

Wassim Al-Adel, The Electronic Intifada, 29 August 2008

"While boycott and divestment campaigns in the West become more sophisticated and widespread, the Arab world's longstanding boycott of Israel is being undermined by Arab governments, companies and businessmen. This attempt at no-concession normalization with Israel must be countered by all those working for justice in Palestine. The recent Adalah-NY campaign against Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev sheds light on the burgeoning relationship between Arab governments and businesses, and Israel......

The list of examples can go on almost indefinitely but the central concern remains: there is an urgent need for investigating and documenting this trend which seeks to undermine the Arab world's boycott of Israel and the viability of resisting its occupation of Palestine. Arab governments can no longer be, if ever they were, considered reliable champions of the boycott. The recent experiences of groups like Adalah-NY and the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign has helped to expose the power relations which underlie the economic collaboration of Western and Arab states and companies with Israel. They have also served to embarrass those Arab governments, forcing them to maintain pressure on Israel. Otherwise, neglecting this trend could lead to an undermining of current and future Western-based boycott campaigns against Israel."

The Democrats endorse the "Global War on Terrorism": Obama "goes after" Osama

By Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, August 29, 2008

"Obama's "American Promise" is War.

Barack Obama has embraced the "Global War on Terrorism" (GWOT).

The Obama-Biden campaign has endorsed the very foundations of the Bush administration's foreign policy agenda: "Go after Osama bin Laden, "take him out".

The rhetoric is softer but the substance is almost identical.....

What Prospects under an Obama Presidency?

Apart from the rhetoric of "bringing the troops home" from war torn Iraq, which may or may be carried out, what distinguishes the Democrats from the Republicans?

A more articulate, knowledgeable and charismatic President?

A more dignified and diplomatic approach to US foreign policy?

An opportunity to the US ruling elite "to present a different face to the world that could revive illusions in its democratic pretensions, not only internationally but within the United States as well." (Patrick Martin, Tensions rise in Democratic contest as Obama nears nomination, Global Research, May 11, 2008)

A spurious and counterfeit "humanitarian" approach to Empire, which serves to mask the truth and gain popular support.

A less reckless Commander in Chief, who has an understanding of geopolitics and is capable of taking foreign policy decisions. A more carefully thought out military agenda than that experienced during the Bush administration? But with no substantive shift in direction.

A means to quelling mounting dissent and opposition to the ruling corporate establishment by providing the illusion that the Democrats constitute a Real Alternative.

A means to sustaining the illusion that African-Americans can move up the social ladder in America and that their fundamental rights are being upheld.

A means to undermining real progressive movements by further embedding civil society organizations, trade unions, grass-roots organizations not to mention "Leftist" intellectuals into the realm of the Democratic Party.

A distraction from the extensive war crimes committed under successive US administrations.

A "human face" to war and globalization? "

Break-Their-Legs-Abul Gheit Wants to Send Arab (read Egyptian) Troops into Gaza to End Hamas' Presence

أبو الغيط: وجود قوات عربية في غزة فكرة جذابة وحُكم "حماس" وضع غير طبيعي

I will post the English version of this very important story, as soon as it is available. I posted a couple of items in the past week about this critical issue.

The recent meeting between King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and the Pharaoh, as well as the subsequent meeting of Ehud Barak with the Pharaoh dealt with implementing this very dangerous plan. The Pharaoh needs Israel's approval before he attempts to send Egyptian troops into Gaza.

Hamas has warned that it will consider any and all such troops as hostile occupation troops and that it will fight them. This remains to be seen. But this is the unfolding drama together with Abbas spearheading efforts to declare Gaza a "renegade territory!"

"القاهرة - المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

وصف وزير الخارجية المصري أحمد أبو الغيط فكرة إرسال قوات عربية إلى قطاع غزة بأنها "فكرة جذابة تستحق أن تؤخذ بالجدية اللازمة".

وقال: "إن وجود قوات عربية على الأرض يمكن أن يساعد على منع الاقتتال ووقف الصدام الإسرائيلي الفلسطيني، ويمكن أن يتيح للفلسطينيين إعادة بناء إمكانياتهم داخل القطاع وبشكل يحقق الوئام"، على حد تعبيره.

وحذّر أبو الغيط، الذي تتوافق تصريحاته بشأن تواجد قوات عربية في غزة مع دعوة رئيس السلطة محمود عباس، من استمرار الوضع الحالي الفلسطيني على مستقبل القضية الفلسطينية والشعب الفلسطيني، وقال "إذا استمر هذا الوضع فسوف يأتي يوم يكون في الحديث عن كيف سقطت القضية الفلسطينية .. وكيف سقطت الدولة الفلسطينية .. وكيف سقط مستقبل الشعب الفلسطيني".

وأضاف يقول في حديث صحفي ينشر في القاهرة غداً الأحد: "إن غزة تحكم حالياً من قبل حماس، ومصر لازالت ترى أن هذا الوضع غير طبيعي وأن طبيعة الأمور وشرعيتها تفرض عودة السلطة الفلسطينية لممارسة أعمالها، وهناك الكثير من الآراء التي تطرح حالياً من حيث تحقيق المصالحة".

وبشأن معبر رفح؛ أكد أبو الغيط تمسك مصر باتفاق عام 2005 الخاص بالمعبر، وقال "إن مصر تتمسك بهذا الاتفاق لأنها تعترف بالسلطة الفلسطينية وبسيطرتها الموحدة على الضفة وغزة وبكل ما وقعته من اتفاقيات"، كما قال
. "

Abu Al-Ghait: Sending Arab troops to Gaza is an attractive idea

"CAIRO, (PIC)-- Egyptian foreign minister Ahmad Abu Al-Ghait has described on Saturday the idea of sending Arab troops to control the Gaza Strip as an "attractive" idea that should be seriously taken into consideration.

According to Abu Al-Ghait, the presence of Arab troops in the tiny Gaza Strip would help prevent inter-Palestinian fighting, and it would serve as buffer between the Palestinians and the Israeli occupation army that, according to him, would give the Palestinians enough time to rebuild their capabilities inside the populated Strip.

The statements of Abu Al-Ghait harmonize with the call of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas who welcomed the idea of dispatching Arab troops into Gaza Strip.

Hamas Movement took over security in Gaza Strip after it succeeded in defeating elements of the mutiny trend in Fatah faction and the defunct PA security apparatuses that were working on command of the disgraced Fatah leader Mohammed Dahalan, and routed them out of Gaza Strip nearly 14 months ago, which was met with overwhelming popular support and satisfaction from the Strip's inhabitants.

The Egyptian official also opined that leaving the current Palestinian internal disputes unsolved would harm the Palestinian issue and would badly affect the Palestinian people.

"If the status quo in the Palestinian arena is prolonged, then a time when we would ask how the Palestinian cause was lost?… how the Palestinian state was lost?….and how the future of the Palestinian people was lost? would come", Abu Al-Ghait said in an press interview in the capital Cairo which is expected to be published on Sunday.

Hamas Movement and the rest of the Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza Strip had repeatedly opposed sending any Arab or foreign troops into Gaza Strip, and vowed to deal with such troops as "occupation troops".

Furthermore, Abu Ghait clearly voiced out his government's opposition to Hamas's control over the Gaza Strip, and publicly supported the return of Abbas's Fatah authority to it.

"Gaza [Strip] is currently ruled by Hamas, which Egypt still considers as an abnormal situation as Egypt believes that the [Fatah-controlled] PA leadership [in Ramallah city] should return to control the Gaza Strip once again… There were many ideas that are suggested to achieve Palestinian national reconciliation", Abu Al-Ghait pointed out.

Hamas Movement led the PA unity government before Abbas abruptly dissolved it last year; and currently serves as a caretaker government in accordance with the Palestinian basic law.

According to local and foreign observers, Hamas Movement succeeded in efficiently steering security and day-to-day life matters of the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Strip despite the crippling Israeli economic siege on it for more than two years now.

Moreover, Abu Al-Ghait reiterated his government's adherence to the infamous crossings agreement that was signed by Dahalan and the Israeli occupation government on 2005 denying the Palestinians any authority over the Rafah crossing point ( the only exit that links the Gaza Strip with the rest of the world).

Abu-Ghait was once quoted as saying that Egypt would break the legs of any Palestinian who attempts to cross the Rafah gate without permit."


Contributed by Lucia in Spain


"FREE GAZA MOVEMENT announces the arrival at 20:30 (10:30am PDT), Friday 29 August, 2008 of the FREE GAZA and LIBERTY vessels, in Larnaca Harbour, returning from Gaza, and a successful end to this first of such missions.

The historic return voyage represents the first time since 1967 that Palestinians have been able freely to enter and leave their country. The Free Gaza Movement will mark this historic moment with a reception at Larnaca Harbour , as will Palestinians in Gaza , as both boats return safely from Gazan and international waters after a calm and uneventful crossing.

Organiser Paul Larudee: “This endeavour has been a huge success, far more significant and wide-reaching than anyone ever dreamt it could be. It has had obvious beneficial effects on the Palestinian people, but also on Israel . In fairness, credit must go where credit is due -- despite threats or obstacles, a responsible decision was made by Israeli authorities not to interfere with our mission and this is a model for the future."

As reported by the world press, news has travelled worldwide of the Free Gaza Movement. Supportive messages have come in, including from UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the OPT, Richard Falk, who wrote:

The landing of two wooden boats carrying 46 human rights activists in Gaza is an important symbolic victory. This non-violent initiative of the Free Gaza Movement focused attention around the world on the stark reality that the 1.5 million residents of Gaza have endured a punitive siege for more than a year. This siege is a form of collective punishment that constitutes a massive violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The siege, the coastal blockade, and overflights by Israeli aircraft all bear witness to the fact that despite Israel’s claimed ‘disengagement’ in 2005, these realities on the ground establish that Gaza remains under Israeli occupation, and as a result Israel remains legally responsible for protecting the human rights of its civilian population. By severely restricting the entry of food, fuel, and medicine the economic and social rights of the people of Gaza have been systematically violated. There is widespread deafness among the people of Gaza that is blamed on the frequent sonic booms produced by over-flying Israeli military aircraft. For this reason the peace boats brought 200 hearing aids to Gaza.”

Mr. Falk strongly urged the international community to take action to uphold human rights in the Gaza Strip.

“Above all, what is being tested is whether the imaginative engagement of dedicated private citizens can influence the struggle of a beleaguered people for basic human rights, and whether their courage and commitment can awaken the conscience of humanity to an unfolding tragedy.”

Or, in the words of Palestinian voyager, Musheir El-Farra, originally born and raised in Khan Younis in Gaza but currently living in Sheffield , UK :

For the first time in my life, I went to Gaza without being humiliated, without having to ask Israel for permission. We did it. We finally did it. And now others must join us and do it as well.”....."

Iran Warns Any Attack Would Start 'World War'


"30/08/2008 A senior Iranian military commander has warned that any US or Israeli attack on the Islamic republic would start a world war, the state news agency IRNA reported on Saturday.
"Any aggression against Iran will start a world war," deputy chief of staff for defense publicity, Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, said in a statement carried by the agency.
"The unrestrained greed of the US leadership and global Zionism... is gradually leading the world to the edge of a precipice," Jazayeri said, citing the unrest in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and Georgia. "It is evident that if such a challenge occurs, the fake and artificial regimes will be eliminated before anything," he said, without naming any countries....."

Real News Video: Nader and the Democrats

Ralph Nader talks about the DNC

CNN's English transcript of Putin interview (a must read!)

From The Vineyard of The Saker

Contributed by DJ

"(CNN) -- CNN's Matthew Chance interviewed Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

Matthew Chance: Many people around the world, even though you're not the president of Russia anymore, see you as the main decision maker in this country. Wasn't you that ordered Russian forces into Georgia and you who should take responsibility for the consequences?.....

Vladimir Putin:.......So who was the attacker, and who was attacked? We have no intention of attacking anyone, and we have no intention of going to war with anyone.

During my eight years as president, I often heard the same question: What place does Russia reserve for itself in the world; how does it see itself; what is its place? We are a peace-loving state and we want to cooperate with all of our neighbors and with all of our partners. But if anyone thinks that they can come and kill us, that our place is at the cemetery, they should think what consequences such a policy will have for them......."

Real News Video: Putin accuses US of staging Georgia conflict

Gareth Porter: The US is going to use a double standard to condemn Russia

"Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the US of staging the Georgian conflict. His statements echo two articles pointing to Senator John McCain's foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, in which conservative politician Pat Buchanan calls Sheunemann " a dual loyalist, a foreign agent whose assignment is to get America committed to spilling the blood of her sons for client regimes who have made this moral mercenary a rich man." Gareth Porter also states that The US is going to use a double standard to condemn Russia.""

Why do we keep letting the politicians get away with lies?

By Robert Fisk

"......But now here comes Israel's environment minister, Gideon Ezra, with an equally huge whopper as he warns of an even bigger, more terrible war should Hizbollah attack Israel again. "During the (2006) war, we considered the possibility of attacking Lebanon's infrastructure but we never (sic) resorted to this option, because we thought at the time that not all the Lebanese were responsible for the Hizbollah attacks... At that time, we had Hizbollah in our sights and not the Lebanese state. But the Hizbollah do not live on the moon, and some (sic) infrastructure was hit." This was a brazen lie. Yet the Americans, who arm Israel, said nothing. The European Union said nothing. No journalistic column pointed out this absolute dishonesty.

Yet why should they when George Bush and Condoleezza Rice announced that there would be peace between Israelis and Palestinians by the end of 2007 – then rolled back the moment Israel decided it didn't like the timetable. Take this week's charade in Jerusalem. The moment Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni announced that "premature" efforts to bridge gaps in the "peace process" could lead to "clashes" (Palestinians, it should be remembered, die in "clashes", Israelis are always "murdered"), my friends in Beirut and I – along with a Jewish friend in London – took bets on when Condi would fall into line. Bingo, this was Her Holiness in Jerusalem last week: "It's extremely important just to keep making forward progress rather than trying prematurely to come to some set of conclusions." "Some set", of course, means "peace"'. Once more, US foreign policy was dictated by Israel. And again, the world remained silent.

So when the world's press announced that Barack Obama's new running mate, the silver-haired Joe Biden, was "an expert in foreign policy", we all waited to be told what this meant. But all we got was a reminder that he had voted for the 2003 Iraq invasion but thought better about it later and was now against the war. Well, Goddam blow me down, that certainly shows experience. But "expertise"? No doubt in government he'll be teemed up with those old pro-Israeli has-beens, Madeleine Albright and Martin Indyk, whose new boss, Obama, virtually elected himself to the Israeli Knesset with his supine performance in Israel during his famous "international" tour......

But wait. The counterinsurgency school, which claims links to the US government, is reported to be a branch of Total Intelligence Solutions, a company run by infamous Cofer Black, a former director of CIA counterterrorism, and Erik Prince, a former US navy seal. Both men are executives with the Prince Group, the holding company for Total Intelligence Solutions and – and here readers will not laugh – a certain company called Blackwater. Yes, the very same Blackwater whose mercenary thugs blithely gunned down all those civilians on the streets of Baghdad last year. So Canada's soldiers are now going to be contaminated by these mercenary killers before they head off to the Muslim world with their unique understanding of "the history of Islam". How do they get away with it?"

The Israeli ambassador is wrong

Mandy Turner
(Mandy Turner has just returned from the West Bank.), Friday August 29 2008

"The Israeli ambassador's article yesterday was astonishing in its disregard for the facts. To argue that Israel is not to blame for the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is an incredible attempt to rewrite history. Israel largely controls the purse strings of the Palestinian Authority, it controls goods and services into and out of the occupied Palestinian territories, and it controls all borders. This was enshrined in the Paris Protocols and the Oslo Accords. The PA was supposed to be the first step towards an independent state. The cruel truth is that it is more akin to a ship in a stormy sea with no engine or navigation tools......

The current focus on Gaza is because we are witnessing a man-made humanitarian crisis. But while the eyes of the world are on Gaza, there is a tightening of Israel's occupation in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) through the creation of a "matrix of control" which to all intents and purposes looks like a colonisation of Palestinian lands.....

The potential for a two-state solution is being destroyed because the basis for a viable Palestinian state is rapidly being undermined. With all focus on the failings of Hamas, Israeli settlement activity and the construction of the '"separation barrier" have continued unabated. The Quartet has failed to put pressure on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law and the peace agreements. The reference to Iran as the mysterious secretive puppet master pulling strings from Tehran is a red herring. The only puppet master I see from where I am standing is Israel."

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The Zio-Saudi Paper, Dar Al-Hayat, Promoting the Mossad Agent Dahlan; Why Be Surprised?

Contributed by Fatima

تحدّث عن محاصرة المقاطعة وغياب عرفات وعلاقاته برؤساء الحكومات الاسرائيليين... دحلان لـ «الحياة»: «حماس» رهينة إيران والقضية مهدّدة والحل بالانتخابات

وقال: «حماس كانت تنظر بعين سلبية الى الرئيس أبو عمار. خوّنوه وأساؤوا إليه ودمّروا مشروعه السياسي في كثير من الأحيان. لم يحدث أن ذهب الرئيس أبو عمار في زيارة رسمية الى أوروبا أو الى واشنطن إلاّ وجهّزت له «حماس» عملية تحت بند النضال، والهدف إحراجه وإظهاره ضعيفاً». وأضاف أن عرفات هو «الفلسطيني الوحيد الذي عرف حماس أكثر منّي» وأدرك باكراً أن برنامجها ليس فلسطينياً.

وحمل دحلان بعنف على «حماس» واعتبرها «رهينة لدى إيران»، مشيراً الى ان «الإمارة» التي أنشأتها في غزة كلّفت الفلسطينيين مئات القتلى والجرحى، فضلاً عما ألحقته بالقضية برمتها. ودعا الى «إنقاذ حماس من نفسها» وورطتها و «إمارتها» على رغم كل الجروح، معتبراً ان مبادرة الرئيس محمود عباس التي تدعو الى قيام حكومة انتقالية وإجراء انتخابات تشريعية ورئاسية هي الخيار الوحيد للخروج من المأزق.

A Repost of a video of Dahlan telling Mofaz that he would be his (Mofaz's) man:

Sheikh Kassem: Hezbollah Will Avenge Imad Moghniyeh


"30/08/2008 Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Kassem told Al-Manar TV Friday that revenge for the assassination of top resistance commander martyr Imad Moghniyeh (Hajj Redwan) was a legitimate right of the resistance and “will come as a surprise to the Israelis when it happens.” "Revenge is the legitimate right. For everything there is a time, God willing," Sheikh Kassem continued. "We won't get into details, but the Israelis will be surprised."......

....Sheikh Kassem also warned Israel against heating up the border. “Should the situation on the border heat up once again, and war erupts, Kassem warned that Hezbollah was more prepared than ever and Israel would suffer even worse casualties than before. The next war will be worse than the aggressions of July. The mental situation of the Israelis is dejected, and if the Israelis come in, they will suffer heavy human losses."

"Israel always prefers that the fighting take place out of its territory," Kassem said. "If the fighting is in its territory, you can use pressure and create a balance of fear," he added.
The Hezbollah Deputy S.G. rejected the party was violating UNSC resolution 1701.
"Israel has flown more than 20 sorties a day from August 14 [2006] until today. We have not violated UN resolution 1701 even once," he said. "Buying weapons, preparation, and training are not connected to 1701. The decision talks only about a ban on armed men south of the Litani River, and in the past two years UNIFIL has not seen one armed man.""

Dutch pull spies on Iran attack fears

Press TV

"The Dutch AIVD secret service has had an ultra-secret operation underway in Iran in recent years that was halted in connection with plans for a US attack on Iran.

The respected newspaper De Telegraaf reported Friday the "ultra-secret operation" had as its aim infiltration and sabotage of the weapons industry in the Islamic Republic.

"The operation, described as extremely successful, was halted recently in connection with plans for an impending US air attack on Iran. Along with this, targets would also be bombed which were connected with the Dutch espionage action," writes the Netherlands' biggest newspaper.

"One of the agents involved, who was able to infiltrate the Iranian industry under the supervision of the AIVD, was recently recalled because the US was thought to be making a decision within weeks to attack Iran with unmanned aircraft.

Among the potential targets were said to be not only nuclear plants, but also military installations that have been brought to light partly by the agency of the AIVD," according to the newspaper.

"Information from the AIVD operation has in recent years been shared with the American CIA secret service," the paper continued. "Various supplies could also be sabotaged and stopped. These were parts for missiles and launching equipment."

The article was written by Joost de Haas, known for his good contacts in the intelligence world....."

Journalist recounts nightmarish detention in PA prison

From Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

"A Palestinian journalist just released from a Hebron jail has accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) security authorities of mistreating him and incarcerating him in “difficult conditions” for over a month.

Awadh Rajoub told reporters Friday that he was placed in solitary confinement for more than 15 days and that he had to sleep in a rancid cell, using his own shoes as a pillow. “At one point they covered my head with a bad-smelling sack [Comment: the CIA and Mossad must have taught them these techniques; the same are used in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. The idea is to produce sensory deprivation and disorientation to facilitate interrogation and to produce desired confessions.] , apparently in order to prevent me from seeing people they didn’t want me to see.

But I heard people being tortured and I know that several people were transferred to hospital or sent to their homes due to torture.”

Rajoub, who works for the Arabic service of, was charged with writing inflammatory reports and undermining vital national interests. “They confronted me with a huge pile of news reports I had written. They thought that these reports would indict me. They simply had no idea about how the press functions in a free society.”

Rajoub lamented the state of press freedom in the Occupied Territories. “When journalists are arrested by security personnel in broad daylight and threatened to be prosecuted by a military tribunal, it means something wrong is taking place.” The 30-year-old Hebron journalist described his incarceration as “illegal and immoral,” saying that the security agencies had no right to arrest journalists.

Rajoub said interrogators had berated him for interviewing and quoting political leaders and intellectuals whose views they considered detrimental to Palestinian interests and libelous to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. “I told them that this was part of my job as a journalist. I explained to them that as a journalist I am required to report all news and views regardless of my personal opinion. “But they wouldn’t understand this language.”

PA officials initially claimed that Rajoub’s arrest had nothing to do with his profession as a journalist, prompting his family to call them “big liars.”

Last week, Rajoub’s family petitioned the High Court in Ramallah to force the security authorities to release him on the ground that military courts had no jurisdiction in civilian cases.

Asked whether he is going to exercise “self censorship” and stay on the “safe side” in light of his ordeal, Rajoub said he now realized that “nothing can be taken for granted” and that “press freedom under an authoritarian regime is a fantasy.”"

Friday, August 29, 2008

Secular Arab:

You will like today's cartoon by Emad Hajjaj (Abu Mahjoob).

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Wayne Madsen Report (in full): August 28, 2008 -- Russia confirms WMR report that it seized US intelligence equipment

"On August 25, 2008, WMR reported, "Russians also captured another prize, five U.S. Marine Corps Humvees that were providing signals intelligence and electronic warfare assistance to Georgian forces. Along with the Humvees and their classified equipment, the Russians also obtained important and highly-classified encryption codes used by the United States and NATO to scramble their military and diplomatic communications. U.S. intelligence sources told WMR that the Russians obtained an intelligence windfall from the capture of the Humvees."

The Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn told ITAR-TASS that five Humvees captured by Russian troops at the Georgian port of Poti would have been returned to the United States if there "had there been U.S. citizens inside at the moment of detention." The admission indicates that the United States military handed sophisticated Special Operations Forces (SOF) Intelligence Vehicles to Georgian troops, non-members of NATO, possibly compromising NATO and U.S. intelligence sources and methods to Russia.

Izvestia's Moscow edition reported on August 27 that the Russians also seized a specialized military Landrover in Poti, along with the five Humvees. As Izvestia noted, "It's hard to believe that Washington responded so quickly and brazenly to the loss of only six cars. Such vehicles burn by the dozen in Iraq - and the Americans don't complain to the resistance there. But they feel differently about the jeeps in Georgia."

However, the Russians soon realized that the six captured vehicles were not merely for transport but for intelligence gathering. Nogovitsyn stated in Moscow: "Russia is very interested in this incident. We believe the Pentagon has its reasons for worrying about the Humvees. We found a great deal of interest in the internal workings of these vehicles, and we are continuing to work on that." Another translation of Nogovitsyn's remarks had him stating: "It is not accidental the Pentagon is so worried about the future of its Hummers . . . We have discovered many things of interest to us inside the vehicles."

Not only was the Pentagon concerned about the capture of the Humvees but Crawford White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe weighed in: "We'd certainly expect that the Russians would return any equipment that is U.S. equipment and return it quickly, if, in fact, they do have it."

Izvestia also reported another curious element of the Humvee story -- that some of the U.S. electronic equipment in the Humvees were manufactured under U.S. license in Odessa in Ukraine. Like Georgia, Ukraine is not a member of NATO, yet NATO-compatible sensitive military equipment is being manufactured in a non-NATO country. The Izvestia article stated: "The Georgian military not only abandoned valuable equipment, but essentially blew the lid on the U.S. security system. In Gori, Russian troops seized an American intelligence center packed with cutting-edge reconnaissance equipment. All of it is in Russia now. And the six jeeps [Humvees and Landrover] are a mobile reconnaissance and patrol complex, providing troop management in the field. According to our sources, the leading car's equipment wasn't the most modern at all; and most curiously of all, it is produced under license from the USA in Odessa, Ukraine."

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson told Izvestia, "Another reason why the Americans are infuriated is because the Georgians have humiliated the USA in front of the whole world. The Americans trained the Georgian army for five years, arming them with the latest weapons and hardware - but the Georgians ran like rats at the first sign of action against Russian troops, abandoning all their hardware."

Jane's Defense reports that Georgia's tactical intelligence left much to be desired even with their American and Israeli support. Georgia's Israeli-supplied unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were worthless against the Russians because Russia's "rapid assertion of complete air superiority" prevented the use of manned and unmanned aerial reconnaissance flights. Georgia's military intelligence assets inside South Ossetia were confined to Georgian enclaves where they could not report on Russian military movements in the rest of the region.

Georgia's own intelligence failure means that the United States likely supplemented Georgia's reconnaissance with satellite imagery obtainable from mobile intelligence stations such as the one the Russians captured in Gori and the Humvees taken in Poti. Georgia's problems with handling the intelligence provided by the Americans is also hinted at by a Jane's report: "the Georgians proved unable to effectively fuse intelligence from a range of sources in the chaotic and sometimes panicked atmosphere that followed the Russian onslaught."

Nogovitsyn's comment that "we have discovered many things of interest to us inside the vehicles," may be an understatement of the intelligence windfall obtained by the Russians, which means that CIA Director Michael Hayden and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, both former National Security Agency (NSA) directors, have a major security compromise on their hands.

Georgia not only suffered an intelligence defeat but also a major naval disaster. Jane's Navy International reports that Russia's Navy destroyed at least six Georgian patrol and fast attack vessels but only after Georgian vessels attacked Russian Federation naval ships off Abkhazia. Jane's reports: "four Georgian craft made two attempts to attack ships of the RFN's [Russian Federation Navy] Black Sea Fleet, with the Nanuchka-class corvettes RFS Mirazh and RFS Shtyl returning fire and sinking one of the boats." Russian ground troops later neutralized Georgian vessels in Poti, including the Greek-supplied Anninos-class fast attack craft Dioscuria, Georgia's most capable naval ship."

"I still cannot farm my own land"

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 28 August 2008

"New Abasan village in South Eastern Gaza looks, and feels, almost haunted. Every third or fourth house is a mound of rubble, or else has been partially destroyed, and the village streets are dusty and devoid of life. Many local Palestinians have been driven out of New Abasan by relentless Israeli incursions into the village. The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have bulldozed huge tracts of land in and around New Abasan, and demolished dozens of local houses.

Beyond the village itself are hundred more dunams of rich agricultural farmland (a dunam is the equivalent of 1,000 square meters) lying near Gaza's eastern border with Israel. Abu Jihad Shaheen is a local farmer who owns a farm about a kilometer outside New Abasan village near the border with Israel. Abu Jihad used to live on his farm with his family, but after years of Israeli invasions of his land, he was finally forced to leave when the IOF demolished his water well earlier this year. After he and his family left the farm the IOF destroyed their farmhouse......"

PA security agency refuses to heed court order to free journalist

From Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

"A Palestinian security agency holding a Hebron journalist in detention for criticizing the American-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) regime in Ramallah has refused to heed a court order to release him, his family said Thursday.

A Ramallah court has ruled that the continued internment of Awadh Rajoub was unlawful and that he ought to be set free immediately. Rajoub was arrested by the Preventive Security Force nearly three weeks ago, reportedly for “smearing the image of the Palestinian Authority” and “generating incitement” against the Palestinian security apparatus.

He vehemently denied the charges, calling his arrest and continued incarceration a “blatant violation of the rule of law” and “a flagrant assault on press freedom.” Rajoub also denounced the “deafening silence” displayed by the Palestinian Journalists’ Union (PJU) toward his plight. “This shows that the ‘union’ is no more than a propaganda tool in the hands of the regime,” Rajoub was quoted as saying by a relative who visited him in prison last week.

Rajoub works for the Arabic service of and PA security officials reportedly were disquieted by reports he had written criticizing the “close collusion” between Israeli occupation forces and PA police forces against Hamas’ sympathizers and civilian institutions in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian General Intelligence continues to detain another Palestinian journalist from the northern West Bank town of Qalqilya for the fourth consecutive week. The journalist, Mustafa Sabri, was summoned for interrogation nine times in the last two years, his wife said. Sabri, who is also an elected member of Qalqilya’s municipal council, had spent a few years in Israeli jails for his peaceful opposition to the Israeli occupation.

Earlier this week, Sabri’s lawyer petitioned the High Court in Ramallah to order the government to release him. However, the lawyer intimated that he was worried that the security agencies would overrule the court, hinting that the Palestinian justice system was still effectively subservient to the security apparatus."

CBC's "As It Happens Part 2" Radio Interview of Paul Larudee on SS Liberty

"Radio Interview of Paul Larudee on board SS Liberty on Thursday 8/28/08 returning to Cyprus from Gaza.

Interview starts at 8 min:39 secs into program and ends at 15 min:07 sec"

Click Here to Listen

Apparently Hizbullah Shot Down the Lebanese Army Helicopter by Mistake, or in Anger Over Slow Tea Service

Hezbollah: Only Probe Would Unravel Shooting Incident


"29/08/2008 Hezbollah issued the following statement:

“The shooting yesterday (Thursday) in the Iqlim Al-Toffah region at a Lebanese army helicopter and the martyrdom of Captain Samer Hanna is a sad and painful incident that involves certain circumstances which will be revealed through investigation, God willing. This entire case, in all of its details, is in the hands of the Lebanese judiciary since it represents the legal reference to settle it. Hezbollah will fully cooperate with the brothers in the Lebanese army as well as with concerned judicial authorities to bring out the truth and guarantee justice......"

Report: Iran supplied Hizbullah with advanced missiles

"Al-Quds al-Arabi reports missiles can accurately hit targets in Israel, weapons to be used by Lebanese organization in event that Israel or US launch attack against Islamic republic....."

Original Story:

صواريخ جديدة لحزب الله لضرب العمق الإسرائيلي

Olympic Follies and Triumphs

Nader al-Masri stretches next to his daughter on a street in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.

Contributed by Lucia in Spain

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"....Human nature is strange. Our weaknesses can sometimes turn into a launch pad for our most triumphant moments. My running "career", however, started in the Gaza Strip. As early as my elementary years in the Nuseirat refugee camp I was habitually chased, along with many school children, by Israeli troops. Running the distance meant dodging a bullet and reaching home alive. My greatest running moment was in high school, though, when I outran a military jeep. Along with my younger brother and a cousin, our goal was to reach a citrus orchard by the Gaza Valley before being run over. As bullets whizzed all around we made our final leap into a thicket. Bleeding from my face and arm after colliding with thorns and branches I looked triumphantly at the rest but said nothing. That day we won more than gold. We won life.

When four Palestinian athletes marched with the Palestinian flag into the Olympic Games in Beijing it was a statement, a declaration of sorts, that Palestinians insist on their right to exist on equal footing with the rest of the world, to raise their flag without fear and wear their country's name spelled out the way it should be, not as a Palestinian Authority but as Palestine. The 1.5 million Palestinians living in besieged Gaza must have savoured that moment more than anyone else. One from amongst them, Nader Al-Masri, had a big smile on his face as he marched, nervously but proudly. Gaza lived a moment of freedom that day, one that even Israel couldn't take away......"

Photo courtesy of The Peoples Voice

Obama's Cheney

Is there a curse on the office of the Vice President?

By Justin Raimondo

"The office of the Vice President has surely undergone a transformation in recent years: from Dan Quayle to Dick Cheney is a long way to travel. The role of the VP, with Cheney acting as the eminence grise of the Bush regime – and, some would say, the real President – has been amplified to the nth degree, and it looks like the administration of Barack Obama is going to continue this ominous tradition.

Joe Biden on the ticket with Obama, as we said on Monday, is a big victory for the War Party, which will not, as a result, be shut out of power if the Democrats take the White House. Today Biden denounces the Iraq war in passionate language, and yet it seems like only yesterday that he bloviated on the need to invade with equal if not more passion. Indeed, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden prevented any and all antiwar voices from being given a podium at the Senate hearings......

Under a Democratic administration, we will see increased U.S. intervention in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The encirclement of Russia, a project begun by the Bush administration, will be continued and perhaps completed by the Obama administration – if there is one. We may be out of Iraq, but we could very well be knee-deep in Georgia (and Kazakhstan, god forbid). Of course, in true Democratic style, we'll do it with the full cooperation of our European allies, in the spirit of sharing the loot – and there's a lot of loot to go around.

In America, crony capitalism is in full bloom, and there is every indication that it will luxuriate and even reach full flower no matter who wins the next presidential election. In Obama's America, like Bush's, the system will be fully in place, and Biden's ascension to the number two spot on the Democratic ticket assures the ruling elite that they will endure......."

Al-Jazeera Video With Ghada Karmi: Obama 'will bring no change to US foreign policy' - 28 Aug 08

"The great debate on how much - or how little - Barack Obama would change US foreign policy especially with regard to the Middle East, still continues.

Ghada Karmi, a research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at Exeter University in the UK, told Al Jazeera, that despite Obama's platform for "change" - there is little difference between Democrats and Republicans foreign policy vision. "

Real News Video: Biden's world

Panel Discussion with Gareth Porter and Lawrence Korb

By Dave Brown, The Independent

Why I'm helping Hugo

Despite what the media say, Chávez is a leader who listens to his people. I'm happy to take up a new job as his urban adviser

Ken Livingstone, Friday August 29 2008

"There are some countries whose reality is distorted by sections of the media. And some about which straightforward lies are written. My first trip to Caracas revealed Venezuela to be firmly in the second category.
The idea that this country is a dictatorship is ridiculous – probably some of those assiduously promoting it have difficulty in keeping a straight face. Some "dictatorship" where the president accepts the loss of a referendum to change the constitution, which holds more national elections than virtually any other country in the world, and where walls and lamp-posts in areas of Caracas are vividly festooned with posters of anti-Chávez candidates. No, a dictatorship is a country like Saudi Arabia – whose leader is of course officially feted on visits to London......."

Olmert curbs Palestinian rights

Oslo has entered its final, tragic-comic stage. The onus now is to ensure Olmert's planned dénouement does not become a reality

A Good Piece

By Mustafa Barghouti
Al-Ahram Weekly

"Anyone who followed the Annapolis talks won't be surprised by the features of Olmert's current project. It seeks to set in stone the two- pronged strategy Israel has been pursuing since Oslo: to divide and procrastinate final status issues until they are made redundant by time and de facto realities, and to invoke security as a pretext for refusing to abide by commitments. Any mention of security refers exclusively to Israel's security, the idea being to formalise the peculiar principle that holds that those under occupation are responsible for ensuring the security of their occupiers.

Olmert's proposal is a shelf agreement. It could be put into effect immediately and would cost Israel nothing, not even a halt in settlement expansion. The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, would have to prove two things: that it is a capable proxy policeman for the occupation and that it can resume control of Gaza. Unless it can prove this, the shelf agreement will remain on the shelf and Israel will have killed two birds with one stone. It will have deferred core issues yet again, gaining time to build further settlements, and it will be able to cast the blame on the Palestinians for failing to live up to the agreement and realise the peace that the Israeli government claims it desires.....

The Israelis are preparing, with US support, to take any agreement they reach to the UN for its blessing, thereby cancelling all previous international resolutions and laws in support of Palestinian national rights. The price Israel is exacting, alongside removing Jerusalem from the equation of Palestinian rights, is to put an end to the demands of Palestinian refugees once and for all.....

It is time for the Palestinians to stop their retreat and their disintegration. It is time for them to do more than utter timed reservations on this or that idea of Olmert. They must reject all partial and interim solutions and expose the Israeli policy of imposing de facto realities beneath the guise of negotiations that were never meant to succeed......."

Now That the Palestinians are Dealing Seriously with the Collaborating PA, Abbas's security arrest more than 120 citizens in Tulkarem

"RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The PA security forces, answerable to PA President Mahmoud Abbas conducted a campaign of arrests in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem after their centre came under fire on Thursday morning.

Local sources said that the number people rounded up since the attack on Thursday morning till Friday morning has reached 120, mostly affiliated with Fatah based on internal differences.

PA security men raided shops, cafés and residential blocks. The raid were concentrated on the eastern neighbourhood of Tulkarem, Ezbat al-Jarad and the refugee camp.

On Thursday morning explosive devices went off at the Headquarters of the PA Military Intelligence in the eastern neighbourhood of Tulakarem and the Headquarters was fired on by unknown gunmen, prompting the campaign of raids and arrests which lasted till Friday morning.
The arrests concentrated on people who passed by the building before the incident and concentrated on car drivers as it was suspected that those who fired intensively at the building were travelling in a car.

The function of the PA Military Intelligence is to police other security agencies, but in the past few months this agency has arrested a number of Aqsa Martyrs Brigades activists and transferred a number of them to Jericho and Junaid prisons. The same security agency has arrested tens of Hamas supporters and is notorious for using extreme physical torture to extract confessions."

'Israel Reaches Strategic Decision on Iran'


"29/08/2008 Israel will not agree to allow Iran to achieve nuclear weapons and if the grains start running out in the proverbial egg timer, the Israeli government will not hesitate to take whatever means necessary to prevent Iran from achieving its nuclear goals, the government has recently decided in a special discussion, the Jerusalem Post reported on Friday quoting the Israeli daily Ma'ariv.

According to Ma'ariv, whether the United States and Western countries will succeed in toppling the Iranian regime diplomatically, through sanctions, or whether an American strike on Iran will eventually be decided upon, the Israeli government has put preparations for a separate, independent military strike by Israel in high gear.

So far, Israel has not received American authorization to use US-controlled Iraqi airspace, nor has the defense establishment been successful in securing the purchase of advanced US-made warplanes which could facilitate an Israeli strike.

The Americans have offered Israel permission to use a global early warning radar system, implying that the US is pushing Israel to settle for defensive measures only. The Jerusalem Post reported that because of Israel's lack of strategic depth, the Israeli government has consistently warned over the past years it will not settle for a 'wait and see' approach and retaliate in case of attack, but rather use preemption to prevent any risk of being hit in the first place.

Ephraim Sneh a veteran Labor MK which has left the party recently, has sent a document to both US presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama. The eight-point document states that "there is no government in Jerusalem that would ever reconcile itself to a nuclear Iran. When it is clear Iran is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons, an Israeli military strike to prevent this will be seriously considered."

According to Ma'ariv, Sneh offered the two candidates the "sane, cheap and the only option that does not necessitate bloodshed." To prevent Iran's nuclear aspirations, Sneh wrote, "real" sanctions applied in concert by the US and Europe is necessary. The window of opportunity Sneh suggests is a year and a half to two years, until 2010.

Sneh also visited Switzerland and Austria last week in an attempt to lobby those two states. Both countries have announced massive long-term investments in Iranian gas and oil fields for the next decade

Hearing his hosts speak of their future investments, Sneh replied quietly "it's a shame, because Ido will light all this up." He was referring to Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, the recently appointed commander of the Israeli Air Force and the man most likely to be the one to orchestrate Israel's attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, should this become the necessity, the JPost said.

"Investing in Iran in 2008," Sneh told his Austrian hosts, "is like investing in Krups Steelworks in 1938, it's a high risk investment." The Austrians, according to Sneh, turned pale. "

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Latest From the Joker of Baghdad: 'Sadr suspends Mahdi Army activity'. Why? Because Iran Said So!

Press T.V.

"Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr suspends activity of his 60,000-strong Mahdi Army for an indefinite period, a statement by the group says.

"The Mahdi Army suspension will be valid indefinitely and anyone who does not follow this order will not be considered a member of this group," Sadr said in the statement issued on Thursday.

The cleric had earlier announced plans to transform most of the Mahdi Army into a social organization, while preserving an elite group to fight the US occupation, without harming Iraqi civilians.

Meanwhile, a senior al-Sadr member, Sayid Fareed al-Fadhili elaborated on the Mahdi Army's new structure and said, "The first section is the armed one for resisting only the occupiers and to not carry weapons against any other side. The second part will undertake ethical and cultural issues to change the society from its tendencies toward a secular and Western orientation to a society based on Islamic and religious culture."

It is noteworthy that Sayid Fareed al-Fadhili heads the Mahdi Army's new non-armed branch, Mumahidoon, an Arabic word "meaning those who pave the way." Fadhili also underscored that Mumahidoon members do not carry weapons.

They never carry weapons and they do not care for the military side at all. Their main work is absolutely cultural and intellectual,” he stressed......"


Diplomatic sources confirm that the Mahdi Army is currently working on an Arabic rendition of the smash musical Mamma Mia, starring Muqtada himself. Just think of the new meaning of songs such as Dancing Queen, I Have a Dream, Voulez-Vous, and Take a Chance on Me when sung by Muqtada and his troops! It will debut at the opening of Baghdad's new, giant Ferris Wheel.

Baghdad: Enjoy your liberation and your new leaders, and yes, Mamma Mia!

US government offers tax breaks for Jewish settlers

"While US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been pressuring Israel to stop the expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, the US government has, at the same time, been offering tax breaks to US-based organizations who engage in settlement expansion.

This news comes from a report produced by Reuters news agency, which conducted an investigation of the tax records of 13 US-based non-profit organizations whose stated goal is to expand Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. The news agency found that these organizations have raised more than $35 million in the last five years alone.

When Reuters asked a State Department spokesman about the inconsistency, he stated that the tax breaks were in a different government department, and thus were not the concern of the Department of State. The spokesman added, "Regarding U.S. policy on settlements, it's clear, it's the right policy to try to help bring about a political settlement between Israel and the Palestinians."

As for the 'charities', they say their focus is on humanitarian concerns. But the money raised in the U.S. by the groups all goes to the development and expansion of the Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land in the West Bank, which Palestinians say are crippling every aspect of their lives.

Israel has never defined its borders since the state was created on historic Palestine in 1948, and Israeli immigrants have continually expanded the territory of the state with settlements, further encroaching onto what is left of Palestine, particularly in the 15 years since the Oslo Accords.

One of the groups, known as 'The Hebron Fund', encouraged donations to renovate a building in Hebron, in the southern West Bank, that was illegally occupied by Jewish settlers last year. The Fund advertised on their website, "Dozens of new families can now come live in Hebron -- only if we renovate this building quickly!"

The head of the Hebron Fund did acknowledge that this is in contradiction to current US policy in the region, but stated, “The U.S. government has no right to use political considerations when judging humanitarian and non-profit needs.” But while settler groups in the US contend that their mission is somehow humanitarian, Palestinians describe the horrors of living under a military occupation that is in place to protect and expand the Israeli colonies, and say these US groups, and the US government, are complicit in their oppression."

Torture As Official Israeli Policy

By Stephen Lendman
Global Research, August 28, 2008

".....The US and Israel are the only two modern states that legally sanction torture. An earlier article covered America. This one deals with the Jewish state....

Israeli Torture Violates International Law

From inception to today, and especially since its 1967 occupation, Israel's military and security forces have willfully, systematically and illegally practiced torture - as official state policy against Palestinian detainees called "terrorists." Yet Israel always denies it, and its 1977 Penal Law prohibits it.

In 1987, the Landau Judicial Commission addressed the practice after two among many revelations became public.....

PCATI's June 2008 Torture Report.....

Abuse Begins at the Start.....

Treatment During Transport - From Place of Arrest to Detention Facilities.....

Treatment in Temporary Army Base Detention.....

Treatment After Arrest.....

Coercive Field Interrogations.....

Israel on the Issue of Torture.....


Khudari: We are seeking establishment of Cyprus-Gaza sea route

"GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the chairman of the popular anti siege committee, has disclosed that his committee, in cooperation with foreign solidarity activists, was seeking to establish a sea route connecting between Gaza Strip and Cyprus to break the siege imposed on the Strip.

Khudari told Quds Press that his committee was trying to establish a permanent sea line between Gaza and Cyprus that would serve as an outlet for Gazans to Europe in coordination with the Cypriot authorities.

He said that the issue was not easy and would take time and effort, but pointed out that it would be legal and would fall in line with the legal framework organizing such activity.

The step would be taken in stages and the siege-breaking sea voyages would continue at the same time, the MP elaborated.

Khudari said that agreement was reached with the foreign sympathizers to coordinate all acts within a legal framework, and added that Palestinian territorial waters would be exploited for the higher interest of the Palestinian people. "Israel has nothing to do with this matter", he underlined."


"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date : 08-28-2008
(GAZA CITY, 28 August 2008) - After having shattered the Israeli blockade of Gaza earlier this week, the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty will depart Gaza for Cyprus at 2pm today. Several Palestinians who have previously been denied exit visas by Israel will join international human rights workers on the journey. Among the Palestinians leaving are Saed Mosleh, age 10, of Beit Hanoon, Gaza. Saed lost his leg due to an Israeli tank shell and is leaving Gaza with his father to seek medical treatment. Also on board are the Darwish family, who will finally be reunited with their relatives in Cyprus.

"I can't believe we're finally able to leave for medical treatment," said Khaled Mosleh, Saed's father. "This is a miracle of God."

Nine international human rights workers will remain in Gaza to do longer-term monitoring and accompaniment, and one, Dr. Bill Dienst of Omak, Washington, will attempt to cross over into Israel later today via the Erez crossing.

By freely traveling to Gaza, on Saturday, August 23rd, in two, small, wooden boats, the Free Gaza Movement forced the Israeli government to issue a fundamental policy change regarding their military and economic blockade of Gaza. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign affairs publicly announced that humanitarian and human rights missions to Gaza will no longer be stopped or threatened by Israel. With the end of the Israeli siege of Gaza, Palestinians should be free to exercise their rights without fear of being stopped or killed by the Israeli military.

Yvonne Ridley, a journalist and member for the Free Gaza Movement, summed up her experience in Gaza by saying, "I missed the start of the Berlin Wall coming down by just a few days, but now I know how people felt when they tore down those first few bricks. This has been a huge victory of people over power."

Since the organizers of the Free Gaza Movement will not be entering Israeli territorial waters, and since they will request an inspection from both the Gaza Port Authority when they depart, and the Cypriot authorities upon their return, they expect no interference on the part of the Israeli authorities when they leave Gaza. By Israel's own admission, it has no authority to inspect the boats or the passengers when they leave Gaza.

With the collapse of the Israeli blockade, the Free Gaza Movement will quickly return to Gaza with another delegation, and they would like to encourage the United Nations, Arab League and international community to organize similar human rights and humanitarian efforts. The Free Gaza Movement will continue to work to ensure that safe passage between Gaza and the outside world will remain free and open.

Maha M.S. Darwish, mother
Omar Darwish, age 5
Sami M.J. Darwish, age 14
Ayman M.J. Darwish, age 17
Tawfiq M.J. Darwish, age 18
Khaled Mosleh, father
Saed Mosleh, age 10....

The Remarkable Opportunities of the Free Gaza Project

"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date : 08-27-2008

In the end, the Israeli government acted in a very responsible fashion. It avoided a confrontation with the two small boats of the Free Gaza Movement, carrying 44 human rights advocates to Gaza. In a strategically timed message, it announced that it was not going to interfere with the passage of the boats.

One may argue that, given popular pressure and the harmless nature of the passengers and cargo, Israel had no other reasonable choice. However, this belittles the fact that Israel always has a choice, and that in this case it pursued the constructive option.

Furthermore, Israel has announced that it is likely to pursue a similar option when one or both boats leave Gaza shortly, carrying some of the same passengers and a few Palestinians who already possess European nationality. It has even affirmed that it will consider the same policy with respect to future voyages, albeit on a case-by-case basis.

This remarkable development brings hope to more than 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and potentially to millions more Israelis and Palestinians in Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well. Hope is in short supply here.

During the preparation and voyages of the Free Gaza and Liberty, the project went to great lengths to protect the boats from sabotage and diplomatic obstacles. This level of security and popular pressure is probably not sustainable in the long term. If Israel chooses to use its considerable resources to undermine the project with subterfuge and other actions when the public spotlight dims, it will have the means to do so.

However, if Israel, the Palestinian authorities in Gaza, and the supporters of the Free Gaza Movement choose to act responsibly in order to make it possible for ordinary harmless Palestinians, visitors and cargo to freely come and go to Gaza by sea, it will mark an auspicious beginning to an era of cautious trust upon which the entire region can build.

Israel itself has in fact offered the means. By recognizing inspection by a neutral third party – in this case the Cypriot authorities – it has raised the possibility of an international commission to serve this function. (Perhaps UNIFIL, also based in Cyprus, could perform this service, which is similar to its mandate in Lebanon.)

Can the Israeli and Palestinian societies find common ground for a relationship that provides opportunities for a better life for all? The zero sum rule that has prevailed in the past, where the delivery of misery and death to one side is perceived as an advantage for the other, need not prevail. Let us try instead to offer prosperity and life to all who consider the geographic region known as Palestine, including Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem, to be their home......."

Out fishing in Gaza!

From Laila El-Haddad

"After a long and hard trip to Gaza, international activists who sailed there from Cyprus plan to return, taking with them a few stranded Palestinian Fulbright scholars. In Gaza, they delivered hearing aids to a charity-Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children (one which I absolutely love for their handicrafts, made by deaf men and women which you can purchase online).

But before doing so, they accompanied Palestinian fisherman yesterday morning to help them break the maritime siege on their fishing boats. The Oslo Accords were supposed to "grant them" (a natural right, but they decided it should be bestowed nonetheless) the right to fish 20 nautical miles into see. In reality, this has translated to no more than 12 in the best of times, 4 at the height of the second Intifada based on my interviews with fishermen; and 6 in the past few years.

Their fishing vessels are frequently shot at by the israeli navy, the fishermen themselves harassed, thrown into the water, beaten, detained, and in many cases killed, rendering their once bustling profession and mainstay of the Gazan economy one of its most dangerous jobs.

The hope was that accompanied by international activists and a swarm of media alongside them, the Israeli naval boats would lay off; and despite circling them from afar with their enormous guns pointing towards them, they did.

My father accompanied one of the fishing vessels to aid in translation and protection. Initially, the fishermen were afraid to leave for fear of being shot at by the Israelis, as they frequently are. Slowly , they decided to attempt to surpass the nautical mile limit imposed on them by the Israelis.

And they did.

The fishermen told him it was their most successful catch in four years! "

The Zio Disinformation Machine Never Takes a Break

Report: West fears Hezbollah setting up cells in Venezuela

"The budding strategic partnership between Venezuela and Iran has prompted fears from Western governments that Hezbollah is establishing a growing number of operational cells in the South American country, the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site on Thursday.

The Lebanon-based Shi'ite organization is believed to be one of a number of anti-Western terrorist and non-state actors that have moved "people and things" into South America, an anti-terrorism expert told the Times......."

Passing on the Torch.....
Heart to Heart Talk.....
On How to Lose an Election

Al-Jazeera Video: Somali fighters 'capture Kismayo' - 27 Aug 08

"Somalia's President and Prime Minister may finally be showing signs of trying to work together.
But while they've been squabbling, the opposition has been mobilising.

On Friday, fighters took over the key southern port of Kismayo, after a week of fierce fighting with local clans, who had control of the city.

Al Jazeera gained exclusive access to Kismayo, Rosie Garthwaite has our report."

Real News Video with Pepe Escobar: Joe Biden on the stage

Real News Video: The Obama-Biden worldview

Obama-Biden and US foreign policy with Eric Margolis, Phyllis Bennis and Paul Heinbecker

Egypt is ablaze with conspiracy theories

A Very Good Piece
Jack Shenker, Wednesday August 27 2008

"As fires go, this one was as farcical as it was spectacular. Egypt's Shura council building, a magnificent 19th century palace now home to the upper house of parliament, stood engulfed in flames, belching thick black smoke over downtown Cairo as helicopters ferried buckets from the Nile. Firefighters at the site were paralysed by a lack of water, only to be drenched from above as the choppers missed their target. The thousands of Egyptians who had thronged into sidestreets to witness one of the country's most venerable political institutions descend into a raging inferno were highly amused. "I'm just sorry parliament wasn't in session," remarked one bystander.

A week on and the embers have finally died down, but Cairo remains ablaze with conspiracy theories about the fire and an explosive cynicism about the government's role in the events. The majority of Egypt's citizens have long been scornful of their pseudo-democratic institutions, which are generally viewed as toothless rubber-stamps for the autocratic presidency of Hosni Mubarak, an American-backed "ally" of the west who has become one of the Arab world's longest-serving rulers. But the destruction of the Shura council building, which played host to the famous trial of nationalist hero Ahmed Orabi in 1881 and the signing of Egypt's first constitution in 1923, has galvanised the country's growing opposition movement and left Mubarak's regime on the defensive......

......The most incendiary allegations were splashed on the front page of the left-leaning daily newspaper al-Badeel, which linked these strange occurrences with the destruction of the building's parliamentary archive. Among the papers reduced to ashes by the fire were documents relating to high-profile and ongoing corruption cases against business figures with close links to the president. The state-owned printing presses were ordered not to print al-Badeel and the newspaper never made it on to the street, although pdfs of the banned edition soon spilled on to the web.....

But it is the tale of the incinerated corruption files that has gained the most traction, largely because corruption has been a particularly hot topic in Egypt ever since the courts' decision earlier this month to acquit Mamduh Ismail, a ferry operator with strong ties to the Mubarak regime, of any responsibility for the sinking of one of his boats six years ago, in which more than a thousand Egyptians drowned. The decision produced a wave of popular outrage at a time when the government is facing a huge increase in strikes and protests over the rising cost of living and the failure of political reform. "There is a different, more radical mood in the country today," observed Hamdi Qenawi, an activist speaking at a recent meeting of tax collectors who are trying to form an independent trade union. "Fear from the regime is much less than it used to be."

For Yaser al-Zayat, managing editor of al-Badeel, the importance of the fire lies not in the truth or falsehood of the conspiracies, but in the insight they offer into the nature of the Egyptian government's relationship with its people: "The regime is getting weaker. That's why the government is resorting to indirect censorship." If nothing else, last week's blaze should be a wake-up call to the west of just how volatile this nation has become under Mubarak's stifling rule."