Saturday, October 4, 2008

Crossing the Line speaks with Norman Finkelstein

Podcast, Crossing the Line, 3 October 2008

"This week on Crossing The Line: As Israel continues to colonize Palestinian land and deny the Palestinian people their right to self-determination, a world-wide boycott and divestment campaign is gathering pace. But how do supporters of the boycott movement best approach confrontation with Israel and its supporters? In the first of a series, Crossing the Line will rebroadcast a talk by noted scholar, lecturer and author Dr. Norman Finkelstein about the movement for peace and justice and what kind of solution is possible to bring an end to the conflict....."

Click Here to Listen

ISRAEL: Up Against the Red Light on Attacking Iran

Analysis by Peter Hirschberg

"JERUSALEM, Oct 4 (IPS) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will travel to Moscow next week for talks that will focus largely on Iran's nuclear programme at a time when there seem to be growing signs that the U.S. is unenthusiastic about the idea of an Israeli military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Since President George W. Bush's visit to Israel in May to mark the 60th anniversary of the Jewish state, there have been reports that Washington is sticking to its policy of sanctions on Iran and that, for now, Israel does not have a green light to strike at its nuclear sites.

Media reports emerged about two months ago that the U.S. had denied an Israeli request for a weapons package that would have increased its capability of launching an attack on Iran's nuclear installations. Last month, the daily Haaretz reported that the security aid package included "a large number of bunker-buster bombs, permission to use an air corridor to Iran, an advanced technological system, and refuelling planes."......

Without U.S. consent, says Ephraim Kam, deputy head of the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies, it is highly unlikely that Israel would carry out an attack. But, he adds, if the U.S. does not give Israel the green light, then they need to offer an alternative.

"Some have mentioned the possibility of a (U.S.-Israel) defence treaty," he told IPS. "We need a clear-cut statement saying that any nuclear attack on Israel will be considered an attack on the U.S. That America would respond with nuclear weapons against Iran. This would be an important deterrent."......."

U.N. Report Castigates Israel for Harassing Journalists

By Thalif Deen

"UNITED NATIONS, Oct 3 (IPS) - A new United Nations report on the human rights situation in Palestinian territories blasts the Israeli government for its heavy-handed treatment of journalists reporting on the military occupation.

The 20-page report, which will go before the 63rd sessions of the General Assembly currently underway, singles out the mistreatment of award-winning Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer who was stripped, interrogated, kicked and beaten up when he returned from Europe to his home town in the occupied territory of Gaza last June.

A stringer for Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency, Omer, 24, was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism for "displaying courage and ability in covering war zones".

The U.N. report, by Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, says that Omer was convinced the brutal assault on his person was carried out by personnel from Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency.....

Nadia Hijab, senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for Palestine Studies, told IPS: "Richard Falk is absolutely right." She said other journalists have been killed or injured by Israeli security forces, even though they and their vehicles were clearly marked as "press".

But there are several particularly chilling aspects to Israel's assault against Mohammed Omer, she added. "He had just been on a successful European speaking tour and received a prestigious award, and he was being met by European diplomats on his return home," she noted. Through its actions, said Hijab, Israel was sending a message that no Palestinian, journalist or otherwise, is safe and that even European diplomats are no match for Israel......"

Tunnels feed besieged Gaza


"Hundreds of tunnels under the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt are keeping many of the Palestinian territory's 1.5 million impoverished residents supplied with food and fuel.

On Saturday, Egyptian authorities found the entrances of three tunnels and confiscated a large amount of fuel about to be smuggled into the territory.

Sources say there are more than 6,000 Palestinians employed in the clandestine industry, which merchants say is heavily controlled by the Hamas authorities. Strict rules are imposed on what can be brought in - weapons, drugs and people-trafficking are prohibited - and tunnel operators are taxed.

Ehab Gheissen, a Hamas spokesman, said: "It is the right of the Palestinian people to do whatever they can to break the siege they live under. "They have a right to do whatever they can to get what they need, including through tunnels, but at the same time we are watching all of the things that are being brought in."

Basic necessities

The tunnels were previously used to smuggle weapons to fight the Israeli occupation, but the blockade that was enforced after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 has made the smuggling of basic supplies a necessity.

Shortages have sent prices of flour and milk soaring, and the industry established around the tunnel smuggling system is now worth millions of dollars.

Sami Abdel Shafi, a Gaza-based business analyst, said: "These days, most of the anecdotal evidence we hear is that the tunnels are being used to bring in very human items, for lack of proper medicine in the Gaza Strip. "They are used to bring in shoes, chocolate and 7-Up, things like that. "Then again, all of the quantities being brought in are being blown out of proportion I feel, 1.5 million people deserve a lot more than having to operate under ground, they deserve a much better chance at operating an economy above ground."

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin visited a nondescript warehouse in Rafah where one tunnel operator was waiting for merchants to pick up the goods that they had ordered. A diverse range of items, such as cigarettes, teacups and spare parts for motorcycles, were among the items awaiting collection.

But no matter how important the tunnels are in keeping the Palestinian economy going, there is a human cost. At least 35 people have died in the tunnels since the beginning of the year, according to the UN......."

Real News Video: Massive US military budget passed

Chalmers Johnson: US wrong to believe it can maintain both a military and civilian economy

"While debate over the Paulson bailout package dominated the headlines, the US Congress quietly passed a landmark $615 Billion defense spending bill. One of the few people to comment on the measure was Chalmers Johnson, in his article "We have the money". Chalmers explains to Real News Senior Editor Paul Jay how the military-industrial complex is a driving force behind the current financial crisis and a determinant of much of what happens in Washington. He also criticizes the omission of the military-industrial complex from the political discourse determined by the two major parties and the media."

Real News Video: Bailout a "really big number"

Bailout bill no relief on foreclosures as159,000 more jobs were lost in September, markets down again

"The financial bailout package was passed by the US House of Representatives on Friday but 108 Republicans and 63 Democrats still refuse to approve the bill. Markets drop anyway with the Dow Jones losing 818 points on the week. Jobs in September slashed by 159,000 and home foreclosures at 770,000 since August 2007 expected to continue to rise. The Real News Network talks to Michael Perelman, Professor of Economics at California State University, Chico."

When it comes to Palestine and Israel, the US simply doesn't get it

Biden and Palin hid like rabbits from the centre of the Middle East earthquake

Contributed by Lucia in Spain

By Robert Fisk
(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

"Palestinians ceased to exist in the United States on Thursday night. Both Joe Biden and Sarah Palin managed to avoid the use of that poisonous word. "Palestine" and "Palestinians" – that most cancerous, slippery, dangerous concept – simply did not exist in the vice-presidential debate. The phrase "Israeli occupation" was mercifully left unused. Neither the words "Jewish colony" nor "Jewish settlement" – not even that cowardly old get-out clause of American journalism, "Jewish neighbourhood" – got a look-in. Nope.

Those bold contenders of the US vice-presidency, so keen to prove their mettle when it comes to "defence", hid like rabbits from the epicentre of the Middle East earthquake: the existence of a Palestinian people. Sure, there was talk of a "two-state" solution, but it would have mystified anyone who didn't understand the region.

There was even a Biden jibe at George Bush for pressing on with "elections" – again, the adjective "Palestinian" went missing – that produced a Hamas victory. But Hamas appeared to exist in never-never land, a vast landscape that gradually encompassed all the vast and black deserts that stretch, in the imagination of US politicians, from the Mediterranean to Pakistan......

Israelis deserve security. But where were the promises of security for Palestinians? Or the sympathy which Americans would immediately grant any other occupied people? Absent, needless to say. For we must gird ourselves for the next struggle against world evil in Pakistan.....

But it's the same old story. All we have learned in America these past two weeks, to quote Joan Littlewood's Oh! What a Lovely War, is that the war goes on."

Real News Video: America pays the piper, big time Part 2

Robert Parry: Reagan told the American people the magic of the market will work

"There was an effort to build an infrastructure to sell the free market and reduced regulation for business society. Cut taxes and cut the social net was sold as the magic fix."

The Illusions of Hamas About France's Role! Is Hamas Copying (without thinking) Syria's Illusions?

Masri: Kushner's visit to Palestine incomplete

"GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas lawmaker in the Palestinian legislature MP Mushir Al-Masri said on Friday that his Movement stresses the importance of the French role in the Middle East, but he criticized the "incomplete" visit of French foreign minister Bernard Kushner to occupied Palestine.

"This is an incomplete visit", Masri said about the visit of Kushner to the occupied Palestinian territories on Friday, explaining that the French official was meeting those "who appointed themselves as representatives of the Palestinian people without a mandate from the people", which would make his visit fruitless.

"If the French want this visit to be fruitful, then they should meet with all concerned parties", the Hamas's official added.

However, Masri stressed the crucial role of France in the Middle East, and that his Movement was keen on making that role successful.

He underlined, "France has its history, place, and weight in the political equation, and thus, it is capable of playing a positive role in the region, and in the Palestinian arena in particular away from the American influence and dominance, and we [in Hamas] are concerned to see a balanced French role where France should stand the same distance from the Palestinians and the Israelis".

According to Palestinians and Israeli sources, Kushner is expected to meet high-ranking PA and Israeli officials in order to discuss the PA-Israeli negotiations, especially on the points of the final status issues."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Message to Wall Street

Real News Video: America pays the piper, big time part1

Robert Parry: After 28 years of drunken optimism and blind nationalism the US wakes up to a grim future

Real News Video with Pepe Escobar: The banality of it all

Paul Jay and Pepe Escobar search for meaning in the VP debate

Dueling Partners: Pakistan and the U.S.

An Interview with Tariq Ali


"....... Even Sarah Palin received a surreal crash course in U.S.-Pakistan relations due to a memorable and friendly meeting with newly elected Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari. However, as respected and prolific commentator, author and critic Tariq Ali observes in his new book “The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power, the selfish, inequitable relationship between both countries has far reaching, historical roots directly contributing to the tenuous geopolitical stability of modern day Central Asia. In this exclusive interview, TariqAli, a seasoned journalist and Pakistani insider, focuses on all major players, including the Bush Administration, Bhutto, Musharraf, the Pakistani military, and a self centered and oppressive elite as prime contributors to Pakistan’s current volatility. .........."

Can't Afford it by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

The Souring of a West Bank Romance

Israeli Army and Settlers Fall Out


"The Israeli army officer in charge of the occupation of the West Bank, Gen Gadi Shamni, has lambasted extremist Jewish settlers, blaming rising levels of violence on the encouragement of their leadership and right-wing rabbis.

It is rare for a senior commander to speak so critically of the settlers, many of whom themselves serve in senior positions in the army.......

Akiva Eldar and Idit Zertal, two Israeli analysts, recently documented in their book Lords of the Land the close ties between the settlers and the army over many decades. They note that most of the settlements were originally set up as military posts; that army units are used to defend the settlements, even those unlicensed by the government; and that the settlers are given weapons by the army.

In addition, the army has established special units composed entirely of settlers and allowed them to serve in the occupied territories close to their settlements. Today, about one-third of the army’s company commanders are religious men, likely to have strong sympathies with the aims of the settlers.

Last year, Haggai Alon, a senior official in the ministry of defence, accused the army of furthering the settlers’ goals. He said it was co-operating with the settlers to implement “an apartheid policy” in which Palestinians were being ethnically cleansed from parts of the West Bank........"

Israel tries quashing arrest warrants against officials

Dan Halutz

"Israel and Spain have reportedly been trying to untangle a diplomatic mess of sorts, brought on by a Spanish human rights group, which is demanding seven Israeli officials involved in the 2002 assassination of Hamas operative Salah Shehade, be arrested if they set foot on Spanish soil.

Salah Shehade, who led Hamas' Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was targeted in a Gaza Strip operation in the summer of 2002. The operation carried an unfortunate civilian toll, as 15 Palestinians, including 11 children, were killed and dozens of other were wounded.

According to a Friday report in Yedioth Ahronoth, the Spanish rights group petitioned a Madrid court in June, demanding it issues arrest warrants against the Israeli officials involved in ordering Shehade's assassination.

The group named Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, then-Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, then-Shin Bet Chief Avi Dichter, former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon, then-Air Force Commander Dan Halutz, Giora Eiland, then-head of the IDF Operation Branch and Doron Almog former IDF Southern Command chief.

The Spanish authorities have recently relayed a secret communiqué to the Israeli government, advising it on the proceeding and inquiring as to what – if any – measures had been taken against each of the people involved; and whether or not any of them still hold official state positions which grant them diplomatic immunity.

Israel expects the Spanish government to quash the petition, as the UK before it........"

Stern US warning to Syria not to invade Northern Lebanon

"Washington accompanied this warning to Damascus, DEBKAfile has learned, with its first explicit threat of military intervention to aid Lebanon should Syria go through with its planned incursion of the North.

DEBKAfile first revealed the concentration of 10,000 Syrian troops on the Lebanese border on Sept. 20 and again on Sept. 27.
Click HERE

The warning, according to our sources, was delivered on Sept. 28 by secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to the Syrian foreign minister Walid Mualem whom she invited for an urgent meeting in New York. The day after they met, Mualem was handed a second warning by undersecretary of state David Welch, who specified precisely whic Syrian movements the US government would deem crossing the Lebanese border.

The harsh words from the top two American diplomats left the Syrian minister with little option but to promise there would be no Syrian incursion. However, in a number of subsequent interviews, Mualem claimed his talks with the two American officials focused on Washington’s support for the indirect talks between Jerusalem and Damascus, a tale made of whole cloth.

In the week since Washington warned Damascus off, nothing has changed in the Syrian military deployment on the Lebanese, our military sources confirm.

Syrian officials talking to Western diplomats are now maintaining that Islamic extremists are setting up an emirate in northern Lebanon which will jeopardize the stability of the entire region......."

Breaking the Silence

By Cherrie Heywood

"RAMALLAH, West Bank, Oct 2 (IPS) - An Israeli police commander has called them "provocateurs", "militants", and, "lawbreakers". Earlier in the year the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) decided that their presence in the city of Hebron, 30km south of Jerusalem in the Palestinian West Bank, constituted a security threat and banned them from the city, stating that any member of the organisation caught there would be expelled forthwith.

They've been spat at, stoned and assaulted, but these former members of the IDF, many of whom served in Hebron, are determined to expose what is being done in their name and in the name of Israel's security.

Breaking the Silence (BTS) was co-founded in 2004 by Yehuda Shaul, 26, an Israeli soldier who served for nearly three years in the volatile city of Hebron.

The organisation's main aim is to break the silence and taboo surrounding the behaviour of Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian territories in an endeavour to enlighten ordinary Israelis on what happens behind the scenes as their sons and daughters, husbands and wives serve the Jewish state.......

While hundreds of Yesh Gvul activists have been jailed for being conscientious objectors, Ofer Neiman, 37, a computer science lecturer from Jerusalem, was kicked out of an intelligence unit of the Israeli Air Force (AIF) where he served.

"I refused to be part of an intelligence unit which provided information on the possible bombing of civilian targets in the territories," Neiman told IPS. "I also began a campaign of letter writing to the then IDF chief of staff, Dan Halutz."

Halutz was responsible for ordering the dropping of a one-tonne bomb on a crowded residential apartment building in a densely populated Gaza neighbourhood in 2002. The bomb killed Hamas leader Salah Shehade. Amongst the civilian casualties were 14 children."

The Peace of Make Believe, President Bush Legacy

A Good Piece

By Hasan Afif El-Hasan
Palestine Chronicle

"President Bush foreign policy legacy in the Middle East is not limited to the human tragedy that he inflicted on Iraq and the region or the destruction of Lebanon and the massacres of civilians including children that was described by his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as the "birth pangs" of a new Middle East. Bush will leave a lasting legacy in Palestine too.

Bush created the make believe “peace process” while doing everything to prevent the peace. Bush aborted the Palestinian democracy experiment, the first in the Arab Middle East, by refusing to deal with the elected government. He supported murdering Palestinian civilians and abduction of their lawmakers by the Israelis and he refused to condemn Israel’s expansion policy and dividing the occupied land into ghettos. The US has spearheaded the movement to de-legitimize the only democratically elected government in the Arab World while at the same time declaring that the lack of democracy is the core problem in the Middle East........
The PA is wasting precious time in the endless negotiations that have given Israel time to create facts on the ground in the occupied lands, brought despair and division among the Palestinians and rendered the establishment of a viable Palestinian state impossible. It is time the PA leaders should do what honorable leaders with principles and courage do when they fail to deliver on their promises. They should turn to their long suffering people and acknowledge their failure to achieve peace; they could not halt settlement expansion, incursions by the Israeli military, settlers’ attacks on Palestinian farmers and they could not remove Israeli checkpoints. The PA leaders should step aside and make room for new blood and new approach for dealing with Israel. But I am certain the PA chief Mahmoud Abbas will follow the tradition of the Arab despotic leaders who cling to power even after conceding their people’s aspirations. I hope I am wrong!"

The Bubble Boys

The Greenspan bubble benefited the banks, the real estate moguls, and, most of all, the war profiteers

By Justin Raimondo

"......Just remember, all you left-wing foes of U.S. intervention, that it isn't just the banks that are getting bailed out. As you get behind Obama, and rationalize his backing of welfare for the well-connected, remember that the War Party, too, is getting bailed out.

The limitations imposed by finally facing the reality of bankruptcy, and doing something about it, would be fatal to the imperial project. Once we realize we're flat broke and act to turn things around, our government won't be sending tax dollars to, say, the former Soviet republic of Georgia, recent site of pilgrimages by Joe Biden and Cindy McCain. (Can Sarah Palin be far behind?)

Like lightning at midnight, what the economic crisis throws into stark relief is the corruption at the heart of our system. The Empire is like a towering tree hollow at its center, its core eaten out by termites and dry rot. It will surely make quite a crash when it falls, or is pushed over."

Learning from South Africa

Savera Kalideen and Haidar Eid, The Electronic Intifada, 2 October 2008
(Savera Kalideen is a South African solidarity activist, Haidar Eid is a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and one-state activist based in Palestine)

"The strategic value of international solidarity with the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, refugees in the Diaspora and Palestinians in Israel raises some fundamental questions. The most immediate and urgent are: what the nature of international solidarity should be and how it can best support the Palestinian struggle for self-determination?......

We have all watched as the results of the 2006 elections in Palestine have been denied legitimacy by the international community and the Palestinian people collectively punished for their temerity in choosing their own leaders. South Africans had to wait 27 years for their chosen leader and political party to be free to lead them; during those long years they rejected all false leaders that were foisted on them even when these quislings were celebrated by the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. As recently as 1987, Thatcher was confident enough to say that "Nelson Mandela would never be the president of a free South Africa."

Like Thatcher's government, other governments around the world were forced to isolate apartheid South Africa. They would not have done so without the pressure exerted on them by their own people. Israel needs to be isolated in exactly the same way as apartheid South Africa. Today, there is a growing mass-based struggle inside Palestine, as well as other forms of struggle, exactly as there was inside apartheid South Africa. An intensified international solidarity movement with a common agenda can make the struggle for Palestine resonate in every country in the world, thus closing off the world to Israelis until they open the world to Palestinians."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Iraq Facing New Civil War, Insurgency

BY Robert Dreyfuss
The Nation

"......Yesterday I wrote a lengthy piece for The Nation about the likehihood of a new civil war and a new Sunni resistance movement stemming from the sectarian Shiite government's refusal to make a political deal with Iraq's Sunnis. The American military may indeed be "watching the numbers" of murdered Sunnis "closely," but there's not much that they intend to do about it. (Here's a clue for the vaunted US military intelligence people "watching" these assassinations: they're not "criminal." They're political.) .......

He's right, in case you're wondering. Iran pretty much runs the show, through its teams of death squads, its influence of the powerful Badr Brigade of the Iranian-created Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), and its strong influence over Maliki.

It's having an effect, across Baghdad and much of Iraq. From an Italian source, here's one account about Adhamiya, a neighborhood in north central Iraq just east of the river......."

USrael and the Pharaoh, Partners in Starving Out the Gaza Palestinians......

"US and Egyptian soldiers pair up in recent weeks in a project to uncover Palestinian weapons' smuggling tunnels [COMMENT: the tunnels are used to bring in badly needed medicine, food and other critical supplies, in very short supply because of the siege imposed on 1.5 million people!]; 42 tunnels discovered in less than a month.

American soldiers have teamed up with Egyptian troops in the Sinai in recent weeks for an operation designed to uncover Palestinian weapons' smuggling tunnels underneath the Philadelphi Route, along the Egypt-Gaza border.

The operation has already yielded important fruits: Thanks to new, secret American-developed technology, the US Army's Corps of Engineers uncovered 42 tunnels running between Egypt and Gaza in less than a month, an unprecedented number in such a time span.

The joint American-Egyptian initiative was agreed upon half a year ago, during Defense Minister Ehud Barak's visit to Egypt. American experts arrived in the region a few weeks ago, making an effort to keep a low profile by using civilian dress.

The machinery that they brought with them, which probably relies on sonar in some way to identify underground tunnels, seems to be one of a kind. To date, it appears that Israel does not possess similar technology....."

“The Age of the Warrior”: Robert Fisk on the U.S. Elections, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Israel-Palestine

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"Robert Fisk is Britain’s most celebrated foreign correspondent and has borne witness to countless tragedies in the Middle East for over three decades. With the publication of a new collection of essays, Fisk joins us to talk about the U.S. elections and their bearing on Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel-Palestine....."

How I became a target for Israel's 'Jewish terrorists'

Peace campaigner attacked with a pipe bomb tells Donald Macintyre why right-wing extremism should be feared

The Independent

"Zeev Sternhell is careful about his choice of words when he unhesitatingly calls the pipe bomb which exploded outside his front door last week "an act of Jewish terrorism."

As a Holocaust survivor orphaned by the age of seven and a combat veteran of Israel's wars, Professor Sternhell, 73, who was lucky to have only been injured in the leg by flying shrapnel from the bomb, is "horrified" not for himself but because it might have hit his wife, daughter his grandchildren on one of their sleepovers, or their neighbours. "It was a terror act because they couldn't know who would have been hit.".....

But if the attack was meant to silence one of the country's foremost public intellectuals, it hasn't worked. For a start he does not rule out a connection with strong signs of increasing violence by settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank. In recent weeks, extremist settlers have rioted, blocked roads, burned Palestinian orchards and in one case, armed settlers have attacked a village.

Lamenting that the army and the police are "either unwilling or unable or probably both" to enforce the law against attacks on Palestinians in a West Bank where the settlers enjoy a kind of "self rule", he says the extremists believe that "people like me who think that they are the real danger to Zionism, to the future of the Israeli state, should be neutralised and should be punished... So I think there is a link between the brutality and violence that is the reality of everyday life in the West Bank and this attack."....."

37% - Ready on Day One?

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)
By Mike Luckovich.

"In advance of tonight’s vice presidential debate, fewer than four-in-ten (37%) Americans say Sarah Palin is qualified to serve as president if necessary, while a majority (63%) say her opponent, Joe Biden, is qualified for the job. More than half (52%) viewed Palin as qualified in early September. Women are slightly less likely than men to view Palin as qualified. Both Palin and Biden are viewed favorably by a majority of Americans, but while views of Biden have remained virtually unchanged over the past month, the number of people viewing Palin unfavorably has risen from 32% to currently 40% as views have become increasingly polarized along partisan lines."

"President George W. Bush, who in the last 8 years has never been right about anything, asks Congress for permission to buy $700 billion of worthless loans from his millionaire bank buddies."

Syrian FM denies Syria is providing weapons to Hezbollah

"Walid Al Moallem, the Syrian Foreign Minister, denied on Wednesday Israeli allegation which claims that Syria is providing the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party with weapons and military equipment. The statements of Al Moallem came during an interview with the Al Sharq Al Awsat (Middle East) newspaper.

He said that these claims are false and that Hezbollah does not need the Syrian help in arming.

The Syrian FM also said that Israel is faking these allegations in order to justify its breaches to the Syrian sovereignty as Israeli war-jets carried repeated over-flights over Lebanon.

One of the top Israeli demands to hold direct peace talks with Syria is that Damascus stops its support to Hezbollah.

AL Moallem said that Syria cannot do anything to stop the smuggling of arms and ammunition to Hezbollah and stated that it is virtually impossible to seal the borders with Lebanon.

On Wednesday, Hezbollah party requested its leaders to refrain from visiting Syria in the wake of the deadly car bombing in Damascus on Saturday, Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported. 17 residents were killed and 14 others were wounded in the blast. Yet, the report regarding refraining visits to Syria was not confirmed by Syria or by Hezbollah. "

Gang of Democracies

Woodrow Wilson’s dream may yet become our nightmare.

By Justin Raimondo

"When I hear the word “democracy,” I reach not for my revolver, but for my wallet. I freeze and wait for the next blow to fall: a tax hike, another war, a new form of knavery masquerading as well-intentioned ignorance.

Imagining a “League of Democracies,” as a number of foreign-policy mavens have, I reach instead for the history books and recall the many incarnations—and failures, most of them bloody—of this perennial panacea. The League of Nations, Woodrow Wilson’s stillborn brainchild, was supposed to be just such an agency, deterring aggression and enforcing the right of nations to self-determination......

All too many of America’s leaders and would-be leaders do want a new Cold War, however, and the Concert of Democracies is a key weapon in their arsenal. The Russian defense of South Ossertia and Abhkazia against the Georgian invasion has renewed the debate over Georgia’s admission to NATO, but the Europeans are reluctant—they don’t want to go to war for Georgia’s dubious territorial claims, and Abkhazia has a long history as a distinct nation.

If NATO as an instrument of the new Cold War isn’t working as the War Party hoped, then the Concert of Democracies is Plan B, one that will have appeal beyond the offices of the American Enterprise Institute and the Weekly Standard. Neoconservative internationalists, such as Robert Kagan, are reaching out to liberal internationalists, such as Ivo Daalder of the Brookings Institution: the two recently authored an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for the establishment of such a league to fulfill “the responsibility to protect.” Daalder is an influential advisor to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, while Kagan, Newsweek noted, is “McCain’s foreign policy guru.”......"

War on Two Fronts, Without Railways

By William S. Lind

".....Without railways running on interior lines, we cannot move three brigades from Iraq to Afghanistan this week, then move them back to Iraq again a few weeks later if the situation there demands them. That means any shift of forces requires long-term stability in Iraq. Neocon voices in Washington are now claiming "victory" in Iraq, which, if it were true, would release American forces stationed there for redeployment. This appears to be what Secretary Gates is counting on when he says we should be able to meet commanders’ request for 10,000 more troops in Afghanistan next spring or summer.

But I fear this represents a falsely optimistic reading of the situation in Iraq. In my view, the current relative quiet in Iraq is merely a pause as the parties there regroup and reorient for the next phase of the war. Unless we have the good sense to get out of Iraq now, while the going is good, we will be stuck there when that next phase starts......

Even with the advantages of interior lines and excellent railways connecting both fronts, Germany was not able to deal with such a situation from the summer of 1944 onward. Lacking those advantages, our predicament will be worse. We will find ourselves face-to-face with failure both in Iraq and Afghanistan, with few if any options. If an attack on Iran has meanwhile brought that country into the war against us, we will face a third front. Events in Pakistan could create a fourth. It is the nature of long wars that they tend to spread.

Whoever the next President is, he is likely to find himself living in interesting times."

Al-Jazeera Video: Nahr al-Bared camp faces rebuilding delays - 2 Oct 08

"More than a year has passed since the Lebanese army clashed with fighters from Fatah al-Islam in a camp housing Palestinian refugees.

The battles left much of Nahr Al Bared in ruins, and most of the residents living in temporary shelters.

Since then, the international community has promised to rebuild the camp, but so far, little has been done."

Real News Video with Pepe Escobar: The People's Republic of Wall Street

Pepe Escobar: What's behind the "no banker left behind" bailout

"The financial crisis may be the number one issue on US voters' minds, but there seems to be no leadership at work in Washington, comments Pepe Escobar. The Wall Street bailout rejected by Congress and then approved by the Senate may not be the solution. It's up to foreign analysts and economists to tell it like it really is. What is in fact being saved - capitalism or a banking oligopoly?"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

قنابل وزير خارجية البحرين

قنابل وزير خارجية البحرين

عبد الباري عطوان

"تعودنا في السنوات الأخيرة أن تأتينا المفاجآت من وزير خارجية دولة قطر الشيخ حمد بن جاسم بن جبر آل ثاني، ولكنها أتتنا هذه المرة، ومن الوزن الثقيل، من نظيره البحريني، حيث دعا وزير خارجية البحرين خالد بن أحمد آل خليفة، في حديثه مع الزميلة "الحياة" إلى اقامة "منظمة اقليمية" تضم الدول العربية واسرائيل وايران وتركيا.

هذا الكلام الخطير لا يمكن ان يصدر، ومن وزير خارجية بحريني، وعلى هامش اجتماعات الجمعية العامة للأمم المتحدة في نيويورك، دون أن يكون هناك اتفاق حوله، أو مقدمة لتحرك جديد من قبل ما يسمى بدول "الاعتدال العربية"، للاعتراف الكامل بوجود اسرائيل كدولة اساسية في المنطقة، تمهيداً للاستعانة بها في الحرب الامريكية - الاسرائيلية ـ العربية المقبلة ضد ايران، التي باتت تشكل التهديد الاساسي لدول الخليج، والهيمنة الأمريكية على منابع النفط، وفق التصور الاستراتيجي الخليجي المتنامي.
نفهم ان يطالب وزير الخارجية البحريني بمنظمة اقليمية تضم العرب إلى جانب ايران وتركيا، وهي دول جميعها مسلمة، وشرق اوسطية، وتستطيع بما تملك من قدرات استراتيجية، وعمق تاريخي، ان تحل جميع مشاكل المنطقة، اذا ما تعاونت في ما بينها، ولكن لماذا يتم حشر اسرائيل، وهي الدولة الغريبة المعتدية، التي تشكل المصدر الرئيسي لمعظم مشاكل المنطقة، وتحتل اراضي لدولها، وتشن الحروب عليها، وتذكي نار التطرف الأصولي في بلدانها، بسبب تعطيلها للسلام، وتهويد المقدسات العربية والاسلامية في القدس المحتلة؟!
فوزير الخارجية البحريني يعلم جيداً ان ايران لا يمكن ان تدخل في تحالف اقليمي يضم اسرائيل، واضافة ايران إلى اقتراحه هذا هي من قبيل ذر الرماد في العيون، واطلاق قنبلة دخان، لاخفاء الهدف الأساسي وهو تشكيل "تحالف سني"، عربي – تركي، تكون اسرائيل ذراعه الضاربة في أي حرب جديدة يتم التحضير لها حالياً لمنع ايران من امتلاك قدرات نووية.
اقصى ما توقعناه في هذا الزمن العربي الرديء هو ان تتبنى "دول الاعتدال" العربي دعوة بضم اسرائيل الى جامعة الدول العربية، لتشجيعها على قبول مبادرة السلام العربية، وطمأنتها الى نوايا العرب السلمية، ولكن لم يخطر ببالنا مطلقاً ان يفكر هؤلاء باطار اوسع، اي جعلها عضواً اصيلاً في تحالف اسلامي يجعلها تتبوأ موقع القيادة، اي اننا نتولى مهمة تسويقها و"تحليل" التعاون معها في العالم الاسلامي الأرحب.
كلام وزير خارجية البحرين خطير للغاية لعدة اسباب، اولها لانه يأتي في وقت تعلن فيه الولايات المتحدة عن تزويد اسرائيل بطائرات "اف 35" العملاقة التي تعتبر احدث ما انتجته الصناعة العسكرية الامريكية، ورادارات متطورة يجري نصبها في منطقة النقب جنوب فلسطين لرصد الصواريخ الباليستيه الايرانية قبل اطلاقها لضرب اسرائيل في اي رد انتقامي ايراني متوقع. وثانيها تصاعد مفاجئ للفتاوى السنية التي "تشيطن" الشيعة، وتتحدث عن اتساع عمليات "التشيع" في الدول السنية، وثالثها تزامنها ايضا مع انباء عن عقد لقاءات سرية عربية ـ اسرائيلية اكاديمية في اوكسفورد بمشاركة سعودية او خليجية رسمية تحت عنوان تفعيل مبادرة السلام العربية.
الرئيس بوش سيدفع 700 مليار دولار لإنقاذ اقتصاد بلاده المنهار بسبب حروبه الفاشلة ضد العرب والمسلمين، ومن المؤسف ان معظم هذه الاموال سيدفعها العرب في اشكال عديدة، ابرزها تمويل الحرب ضد ايران مثلما مولوا حربي امريكا في العراق وافغانستان."

Bombs in the Levant

The Explosions in Damascus and Tripoli


"........The hallmark of al-Qaeda is sowing sectarian strife. And there is no better recruitment ground to help in this endeavor than the teeming Palestinian refugee camps such as Nahr al-Bared and especially Ain al-Hilwah. The latter is completely isolated from the rest of the country and its disenfranchised, disaffected Sunni Muslim inhabitants make them an ideal constituency.

Hezbollah though, is keenly aware of these circumstances and overtures and has proactively attempted to counter them. As so well reported by Dr. Franklin Lamb, they have done this through humanitarian outreach, by providing municipal assistance in the form of sewer and water projects, and successfully lobbying the government to issue Palestinians temporary identification cards, all not insignificant measures.

Rallying the Troops

It was al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a videotaped message released in early September, who lambasted Hezbollah for allowing “thousands of crusaders”—otherwise known as United Nations peacekeepers—into the south after the July 2006 war with Israel. He additionally assailed nearly all Shia political and religious figures in the region.

Quite remarkably, a “memorandum of understanding” had been signed earlier in August between (Shia) Hezbollah and the Salafi Belief and Justice Movement. For this to occur between two groups at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum was stunning (Salafis consider Shia Muslims as heretics at best and non-Muslims at worst). But because of the outrage and intense pressure levied against it by other Salafi movements, the agreement was frozen only a few days later.

Although al-Qaeda and their allies are far from posing a direct military threat to Hezbollah, this was never their modus operandi. Rather, they will attempt to achieve their objectives by creating conditions giving pretext to the Israelis to strike Lebanon, launching attacks on UNIFIL forces, or assassinating high-profile figures in the country so as to foment political instability.

The Damascus and Tripoli bombings are thus meant to convey one simple message:

We have arrived."

Credit Crunch or rather Zio Punch?

By Gilad Atzmon
Palestine Think Tank

The Wolfowitz Doctrine

Back in 1992. Dick Cheney appointed Paul Wolfowitz (Undersecretary for Defence Policy) and his deputy Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby to draft the USA Defense Planning Guidance (DFG) for the 1994-99 fiscal years. The imperialist Zio-centric document that was later named as the “Wolfowitz Doctrine was soon leaked to the New York Times and raised some harsh criticism. However, as history sadly teaches us, not enough or nothing at all was done to curb Wolfowitz’s and Libby’s murderous enthusiasm when it was still relatively young.

The astonishing document was there to merge American and global Zionism interests into a unified belligerent practice. It all happened in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, bearing in mind that America was becoming a single super power.

“Our first objective,” says Wolfowitz, “is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union.”......."

Boston Tea Party, 2008

By Robert Scheer

"How dare you throw that tea into Boston Harbor! Such is the anti-democratic arrogance of the fear-mongering pundits and politicians who tell us if we taxpayers don’t instantly give the Wall Street banking bandits a $700-billion bailout, we are destroying America........"

Despair, trauma, discontent among Nahr al-Bared's impoverished Palestinians

Report, Electronic Lebanon, 30 September 2008

"NAHR AL-BARED (IRIN) - They look like cargo crates: long lines of prefabricated steel units, stacked two high, set on the edge of the ruined Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon.

Inside each airless 18 square meter unit there is a toilet, gas burner and tatty mattresses on the bare wooden floor. This is the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen for Palestinian families like Hayat Jundi's, whose home in Nahr al-Bared was destroyed in last summer's battle between the army and Islamist militants.......

Little Arab financial support for UNRWA

So far UNRWA says it has received just $70 million, 88 percent from Western donations, which also make up 90 percent of funds pledged for short-term relief. To date, no Arab governments have pledged to the long-term reconstruction of the camp, the largest single project in UNRWA's history.

"Sadly this is part of a pattern," said Leila Shahid, a Palestinian representative at the European Union, in a recent editorial.

"Luxembourg donates more than any Arab government to UNRWA's regular budget, while Norway gives more to the same budget annually than all Arab governments combined."

In a bid to highlight the plight of the Palestinians displaced from Nahr al-Bared, UNRWA last week organized a rare tour to areas of the new camp. IRIN's previous visit to the camp was in December........"

More Hot Air About Palestine......

Leader: Islamic world 'awakened'

Press TV

"Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the Islamic world has been awakened and is on alert about Palestine.

"Today, the Islamic world is becoming more sensitive and motivated about the Palestinian issue in comparison to 60 years ago when the enormous catastrophe occurred [COMMENT: Are You Sure About That??]," Ayatollah Khamenei said Wednesday while addressing crowds of Iranians after Eid ul-Fitr prayer, which marks end of the holy month of Ramadan......."

Hizbullah orders its men not to visit Syria

"Lebanese media report organization has issued 'travel advisory' to its members following Mugniyah assassination, car bomb explosion in Damascus last Saturday. Senior Hamas members in Syrian capital on high alert as well.......

According to the report, for years Hizbullah viewed Syria as a safe place for its members, where there was no need for the strict precautions used in Lebanon, but now the organization has changed its perception and views Syria as a dangerous place.

The policy was changed after Hizbullah realized that Syria has become significantly penetrable for the activity of radical Islamic groups, and that the Syrian security organizations have failed to discover who was responsible for the car bomb explosion.

According to the report, Hamas leaders living in Damascus also decided to take unusual security measures following the Mugniyah assassination. In the past, Syria's security organizations were exclusively responsible for their safety......"

Beyond Normalization: Bahraini FM calls for Mideast forum that includes Israel, Iran

"Bahrain's foreign minister said in an interview published Wednesday that Middle East nations should form a regional organization that includes Israel and Iran to try to resolve their disputes. It was a rare call for Arab countries to create a broad grouping alongside Israel, with which most of them do not have diplomatic relations, and Persian Iran, whose growing influence on the region is a cause of concern for them........"

U.S.: Brief Talks with Syria Spur Speculation

By Jim Lobe

"WASHINGTON, Sep 30 (IPS) - A series of meetings between U.S. and Syrian diplomats, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her counterpart, Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, at the United Nations over the past week is stirring speculation that Washington may at last be moving toward engaging Damascus.

Instead of focusing on specific issues of special interest to the U.S. -- mainly Washington's demands that Syria crack down hard against the infiltration of Sunni extremists into Iraq and stop supplying Hezbollah in Lebanon -- the discussions also reportedly covered other topics as well, notably Damascus's appeals for Washington to involve directly itself in a burgeoning peace process between Syria and Israel......."

A Dial Marked 'War'

The last resort of our bankrupt elite

By Justin Raimondo

".......War, like its progenitor, inflation, is a narcotic that causes us to forget the real problems and their causes and permits all sorts of actions that would not be considered normal under any other circumstances. It is a perfect holiday from the rule of law and is fully taken advantage of by our lawless politicians, who seize on it as a pretext for anything and everything [.pdf]. It emphasizes the worst excesses and encourages their fullest development, so that human behavior is distorted beyond all recognition. Human reason is not merely violated, but inverted: we enter a Bizarro World, where those who made bad investments are bailed out – rewarded – while ordinary folk who live by the rules and pay their bills are taxed to make up the difference.

As the wheels of commerce screech to a grinding halt and the empire of lies – funny money, phony "weapons of mass destruction," and bogus threats to our national security emanating from every corner of the globe – begins to unravel, get ready for the alarm to go off signifying the start of yet another war scare. It's a great diversion from economic troubles, albeit an expensive one – but, as the proposed banksters' bailout showed, no expense is to be spared in saving their necks. "

Israel's Breeding Ground for Terrorism

Boundless indulgence has emboldened the settlers

by Jonathan Cook

"The words "Jewish" and "terrorist" are not easily uttered together by Israelis. But just occasionally, such as last week, when one of the country's leading intellectuals was injured by a pipe bomb placed at the front door of his home, they find themselves with little choice.

The target of the attack was 73-year-old Ze'ev Sternhell, a politics professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem specializing in European fascism and a prominent supporter of the left-wing group Peace Now......

Although the head of the Shin Bet, Avi Dichter, immediately branded the attack on Mr. Sternhell as "a nationalist terror attack apparently perpetrated by Jews," it is noticeable that no Israelis are demanding the demolition of the perpetrators' homes.

That contrasts strongly with the response last week after a Palestinian youth drove a car at a group of Israeli soldiers near the Old City of Jerusalem. Israeli politicians called for the youth's home to be destroyed and his family to be made homeless.

In the general outcry against the bomb attack last week, it was left to Prof. Sternhell to remind Israelis that most Jewish terrorism was in fact directed not at people like himself but at Palestinians."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This brand new poll asks:

Do you believe that Washington's recent supply of missiles and fighter aircraft to Israel is a prelude to an attack on Iran?

It is very early in the polling cycle, but with 30 responding so far, 84% said yes.

Al-Jazeera Video: Riz Khan - Robert Fisk - 1 Oct 08

Part 1:

Part 2:

Real News Video: New head of ISI; Karzai calls for Taliban talks

Eric Margolis: Political stability is unattainable in Afghanistan without dialog with the Taliban

"As the ongoing conflict in Pakistan and Afghanistan continue with coalition forces taking a beating, Eric Margolis believes that "there will never be stability in Afghanistan until the largest ethnic group is brought into the political process.""

Real News Video: War and 'Cash for Trash'

Gareth Porter: The state of the empire Part 4

"Gareth Porter discusses US hawkishness in the Caucasus with Real News Network senior editor Paul Jay. As the US and NATO pursue their containment policy, the threat of a new cold war emerges."

Syria and the myth of stability

This weekend's bombing and the long list of possible culprits vividly illustrate the fractious nature of Syrian politics

Chris Phillips, Tuesday September 30 2008

".....The Lebanese daily an-Nahar argues the immediate prompt for the bombing was Syria's tightening of its border with Iraq to prevent Islamist militants from joining the anti-American insurgency. However, the roots go deeper than this. Since the 1980s suppression of the Muslim brotherhood, Syria has had an ambivalent relationship with Islamists. Whilst at home it remained staunchly secular, its foreign policy was anti-western, leading it into alliances with such Islamists as Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas, as well as facilitating the Sunni insurgency in Iraq.

Now, those chickens are coming home to roost. Syria's recent rapprochement with France, its indirect talks with Israel and its decrease in support for Iraqi insurgents has meant that, for the first time in years, Syria and the Islamists' foreign policy goals are divergent. The previous support afforded them by the government means, however, that many of these militants, having intended to move on to Iraq, now have weapons which can be turned against the Syrian state. Whilst Saturday's attack might simply be a warning to Assad to cool his western ties, there's nothing to suggest it can't be repeated and escalated should he resist the urge to perform a volte-face......."

Good day for democracy

Joseph Stiglitz

( university professor at Columbia University and recipient of the Nobel prize in 2001. He was chief economist at the World Bank at the time of the last global financial crisis
The Guardian, Wednesday October 1 2008

"What are we to make of the Congressional rejection of the Paulson proposal? The politics is simple: elections are a rare moment of accountability in our political process, and all 435 members of the House of Representatives are up for re-election in a matter of weeks. The Bush administration has lost the confidence of the American people, and so has Wall Street.....

A sad day for Wall Street, but it may be a glorious day for democracy. Hopefully Congress will now devise a plan that is not based on trickle-down economics. A plan that identifies the real sources of the problem and does something about them - a real stimulus to the economy, a real programme to stem the flood of foreclosures, and a transparent programme for filling the holes in bank balance sheets. A plan that assures US taxpayers the costs will be borne by those who created the problem. Accountability means paying for the full consequences for one's actions - and the financial system has much to account for."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

U.S. Taxpayer Monument by Khalil Bendib

Would you trust the BBC?

By Iqbal Tamimi
Palestine Think Tank

"Are you seeking employment with BBC? Look in the mirror carefully and ask yourself two very important questions, am I white enough? And am I passive enough and there is no record of me on the internet being ‘media or human rights troublesome’? If the answer is NO but you still insist on trying your luck, I would advise you to get ready to waste your breath, time and effort, because the BBC has its own agenda regarding employment......"

Grand Theft America.

Financial Crime of the Century

Featured Article
by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, September 29, 2008

"The crime of the century. The greatest one ever. Author Danny Schechter calls it "Plunder." The title of his important new book on the subprime and overall financial crisis. Economist Michael Hudson and others refer to a kleptocracy. A Ponzi scheme writ large. Maybe an out-of-control Andromeda Strain. An economic one. Deadly. Unrecallable. Science fiction now real life. Potentially catastrophic. World governments trying to contain it. Trying everything but not sure what can work. Maybe only able to paper it over for short-term relief. Buy time but in the end vindicate the maxim that things that can't go on forever, won't......"

Debate Rules by Mr. Fish

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

This cartoon should be emailed to As'ad Abu Khalil (The Angry Arab)!

Arab country 'cooperates with Mossad'

Press TV

"The Israeli spy agency Mossad may have used intelligence provided by an Arab country to carry out assassinations in the region.

Israeli sources confirmed on Monday that Mossad chief Meir Dagan's reliance on cooperation with an Arab country was the reason behind the successful completion of Israeli operations in various countries, IRNA reported.

The Arab country does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, the sources added.

Among the operations attributed to the Israeli regime is the assassination of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement's top commander Imad Mughniyah and Syrian army officer Brigadier-General Mohammed Suleiman.

Israel is also accused of carrying out the recent bombings in Syria and Lebanon.

Lebanon's Al-Manar TV station reported on Monday that Saudi Arabia was the country that provided the intelligence to Mossad, suggesting that Saudi Secretary General of the National Security Council Prince Bandar bin Sultan played a role in the cooperation between the intelligence agencies. "

Syrian FM: We are waiting for Livni government's position

"Wall Street Journal reports senior American, Syrian diplomats held series of meetings in New York. Walid Moallem tells daily indirect talks with Israel 'promising', most important thing is 'to have the political will to achieve peace based on Madrid terms of reference and land-for-peace'......

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that senior American and Syrian diplomats held a series of meetings in New York over the past week, in what the New-York-based daily said was "a sign of a potential thaw between the US and a country that President George W. Bush has alleged is a principal sponsor of international terrorism."

The report said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem were among the senior officials who took part in the talks.

Participants in the talks said told The Wall Street Journal that the diplomats discussed Washington's support for peace talks between Syria and Israel over the future of the disputed Golan Heights region and Damascus's role in the security situations in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories......"

South Lebanon's Witches Brew

By Rannie Amiri
Palestine Chronicle


A Combustible Potpourri

In southern Lebanon, a veritable “witches brew” exists. In this relatively small area, one finds Hezbollah, UNIFIL troops, the Lebanese Army, the Palestinian factions of Ain al-Hilwah including Fatah, Hamas and militant Lebanese Salafist groups; and now, formal al-Qaeda representation. Not to be forgotten of course, are the Israelis across the border.

Although al-Qaeda and their allies are far from posing a direct military threat to Hezbollah, this was never going to be their modus operandi anyway. Rather, they will attempt to achieve their objectives by creating conditions giving pretext to the Israelis to strike Lebanon, launching attacks on UNIFIL forces, assassinating high-profile figures in the country so as to foment political instability, and orchestrating suicide/car bombings as we just witnessed in Damascus.

In the saga known as the "Battle of the Camps", Chapter 1 was titled Nahr al-Bared. Chapter 2 may very well be Ain al-Hilwah. It is a tale Hezbollah hopes will soon finish, but one whose ending, I fear, has yet to be written."

"Happy" Eid From Abu Mahjoob!

Real News Video: Provoking Russian nationalism

Gareth Porter: The state of the empire part 3

"Gareth Porter discusses US hawkishness in the Caucasus with Real News Network's Senior Editor Paul Jay. As the US and NATO pursue their containment policy, the threat of a new cold war emerges."

Stunning defeat of bill exposes failures of the US political system

By Rupert Cornwell
The Independent

"....His lack of clout was first exposed last Thursday when the bailout summit he convened at the White House degenerated into a blazing row. But that humiliation paled beside yesterday's. The President went on TV at 7.30am to plead for the measure that had been thrashed out over the weekend, to no avail. Then he called two dozen recalcitrant House Republicans, begging them to hold their noses and do their patriotic duty – but again to no avail.

When the vote came, his own party voted almost two to one against the bill, more than cancelling out the 140-95 majority of Democrats who did hold their noses to support the wishes of a President most of them despise.

Thus did US politics enter the world of Alice Through the Looking Glass. A president who prided himself on being a champion of free markets was urging the biggest state intervention in the economy in more than 50 years.....

However, yesterday already looks like Black Monday for Mr McCain. He returned to Washington last week as the self-styled statesman who would knock heads together for the country. But he, like Mr Bush, could not bring his Republicans into line. The tumultuous events of yesterday have only strengthened the feeling that America's worst financial crisis since the 1930s has doomed his bid for the presidency – just as the crash of 1929 doomed Herbert Hoover."

Rights org: Eight years of intifada, international failure

Press release, Al Mezan, 29 September 2008

"On Sunday, 28 September 2008, the second intifada (uprising) entered its ninth year in the midst of the Israeli Occupation Forces' (IOF) gross violations of international humanitarian law and the international community's failure to intervene.

Monitoring and documenting work of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) shows that the IOF continue to kill civilians and demolish civilian property especially homes. This is in addition to arbitrary arrests and degrading treatment of civilians that IOF carry out during military incursions and at checkpoints......

Al Mezan Center's information on victims, killed either by the IOF or during confrontations with it, as well as material damages of the Strip's civilians during the intifada shows that the death toll amounts to 3,143, including 611 children, 113 women and 22 disabled persons. It also shows that there are 7,650 demolished homes, including 3,014 pulled down. Furthermore, 33,948 dunums (a dunam is the equivalent of 1,000 square meters) were bulldozed, including 9,684 dunams that were bulldozed more than once. The IOF destroyed 378 public facilities, 647 vehicles of different types and 899 manufacturing and commercial facilities......."

Gaza strikes losing steam

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 29 September 2008

"RAMALLAH/GAZA (IRIN) - Palestinian unions allied with the Fatah movement have extended the strikes in the Gaza Strip's health and education sectors for another two weeks, prolonging the labor action that has been in effect for about a month, although the numbers taking part are falling.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 28 percent of doctors, nurses and administrators of hospitals were on strike, affecting some services in the various medical centers in the enclave, especially psychiatric care.

Medical non-governmental organizations reported treating more patients, saying it was straining their resources. However, the true impact will be felt at the beginning of October, medical officials said, as many Muslim patients avoid elective procedures during Ramadan.

The number of strike participants appears to be gradually decreasing. In the initial days of the strike, it was estimated that more than half the relevant labor forces abstained from work......."

Identifying Palestinian options

Ida Audeh, The Electronic Intifada, 29 September 2008

"......So effectively has Israel tamed and co-opted its Palestinian partners that they use the same terms that Israelis use when referring to Hamas. It is beyond shameful when Palestinian figures, in an apparent attempt to curry favor with the Americans and Israelis, refer to Hamas as "terrorists" and try to insinuate a connection with al-Qaida and Iran. Palestinians listen to this nonsense and seethe; Hamas was never the enemy, and its assessments of the PA's direction have been borne out by events. PA figures in Ramallah faulted Hamas for winning the elections for the Legislative Council in January 2006, which resulted in the withholding of foreign aid, and for defending itself against the US and Israeli-backed attack by militias loyal to the PA's former National Security Adviser Mohammad Dahlan in the Gaza Strip. The sordid details of the campaign against Hamas, orchestrated at the behest of the US and Israel and in which the PA and elements in Fatah were willing participants, was revealed in an April 2008 Vanity Fair article. [3] Moreover, the PA government in Ramallah should be made to explain how it is that the majority of the population was slowly slipping below the poverty line long before that election, when the money was flowing in uninterrupted.

Palestinians have been in a crisis for many years now. The political and national conditions of Palestinians today are arguably worse than they were in the spring of 1948, when Palestine was dismembered and the majority of its indigenous inhabitants were flung into exile. Sixty years later, the majority of us remain in exile (and some, such as the community in Lebanon, are at risk); those who still live in Mandate Palestine are caged, used for target practice, our lives reduced to negotiating checkpoints. According to the World Bank, 79 percent of the population in the Gaza Strip and 45 percent of the population in the West Bank live below the poverty line. [4]
In an attempt to initiate a Palestinian change of game plan, a group of Palestinians acting in a personal capacity met to discuss Palestinian strategic options. The outcome of their meetings is described in "Regaining the Initiative: Palestinian Strategic Options to End Israeli Occupation: A Report," which outlines Palestinian strategic options and discusses them in terms of Palestinian ability to achieve them and Israeli ability to block them. It calls for a reorientation of Palestinian strategy to end negotiations, reconstitute the PA so that it no longer serves Israeli interests, reconstitute the PLO so that it is truly representative, empower Palestinians to conduct "smart" resistance, and shift the strategic goal from two-state to a single state. [5]......."

A prisoner dies under torture in Jericho prison on the eve of Eid

"RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Palestinian sources revealed that a young man from Ramallah died Monday evening in Jericho jail, which is run by Abbas's PA, as a result of severe torture meted to him inside the jail.

Shadi Muhammad Shahin, a Palestinian in his thirties from the Ramallah district died in Jericho jail, according to the sources.

The PA police claimed that Shahin died as a result of illness and not under torture and that an autopsy will be carried out to determine the cause of death.

Reasons behind the detention of Shahin are not clear yet, but the PA police say that he was detained pending prosecution in a case brought by the attorney general in Jericho.

It is, however, known that the Jericho jail is used mostly for detaining political prisoners and elements of the resistance from various resistance factions.

The death of Shahin has resulted in angry reactions in the town of his birth as citizens were angered and shocked at his death on the eve of the Muslim festival of Eid and the eve of national reconciliation talks which are slated to take place in Cairo. "

The holocaust gang and Ahmadinejad

(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

By Khalid Amayreh

"Following Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at the UN last week, Zionist and pro-Zionist circles lashed out at the Iranian leader, calling his speech “anti-Semitic.”......

In 1978, the renowned American Jewish author Alfred Lilienthal wrote a very informative book entitled ‘The Zionist Connection’ which exposed and meticulously documented the Zionist domination of American politics and media. In my view, ‘The Zionist Connection: What Price Peace?’ was one of the best books ever written in the 20th century.

A few years later, a former American senator, Paul Findley wrote a book detailing how Jewish pressure groups were blackmailing American politicians and institutions into supporting Israel and her colonialist policies in Palestine.

And now we have Professors Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s book “The Israeli Lobby and US Foreign Policy” which explains in meticulous details how this Zionist snake is controlling American Foreign Policy by controlling domestic American politics.

In short, Ahmadinejad is not inventing anything. What he said with regard to Israel and Zionism at the UN last week could have been said by Carter or Paul Findley or any other honest observer of the American political scene for the past few decades.

Yes, the tone of his speech may have been sharp and a little provocative, but there is no doubt as to the veracity of he said."