Saturday, November 22, 2008

Israeli gunboats kidnap Gaza fisherman, peaceworkers

Eva Bartlett, The Electronic Intifada, 21 November 2008

(Eva Bartlett is a Canadian human rights advocate and freelancer who spent eight months in 2007 living in West Bank communities and four months in Cairo and at the Rafah crossing. She is currently based in Gaza, after the third successful voyage of the Free Gaza movement to break the siege on Gaza)

"On the evening of Tuesday 18 November Khalid al-Habeel sat surrounded by his wife, family, and other concerned fishermen. Until the early hours of the following day, they had no idea what charges were being laid against 15 fishermen, including two of al-Habeel's sons, Adham (21) and Mohammed (20), after they were nabbed from Gaza's territorial waters earlier that morning and taken to an Israeli interrogation center at Ashdod port. Nor did they know when or if their boats -- their livelihoods -- would be returned....."

Gaza's hospitals struggle to save lives amid Israeli siege

Rami Almeghari writing from occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 21 November 2008

"Over the past two weeks, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have faced a sharply deteriorating humanitarian situation as Israel further tightened its closure of the border crossings. Virtually no food, medicine or other vital supplies have been allowed in to the territory that is home to 1.5 million people. The impact of the siege is most directly observed in Gaza's health sector. Despite desperately needed medication, equipment, supplies, and spare parts, doctors continue to try to save lives and look after their patients at the European Gaza Hospital, one of territory's largest medical centers...."

DN! US Activist Detained in Israeli Jail Condemns Blockade of Gaza

"US Activist Detained in Israeli Jail Condemns Blockade of Gaza

Israels tightened blockade of a million and a half Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is now entering its third week. On Monday, the Israeli navy seized fifteen Palestinian fishermen and three international activists off the coast of Gaza. The fishermen were released, but the activists remain in an Israeli jail. We speak to Darlene Wallach from inside the Masiyahu Prison near Tel Aviv. "


The Free Gaza Movement

BY JOE FALLISI Date : 11-22-2008

"Joe Fallisi : Dear Greta, dear Mary, you’re two of the founders and deeply involved organizers of Free Gaza. In my opinion, it is one of the few new world realities in the fight for human rights. It truly was and is able to make something concrete, new, positive and useful change - as well as a radical change. A change that otherwise very probably wouldn’t even happen. The initiative comes from civil society and has nothing to do with the old politics. How, where and when did it start, and what did you personally do and are continuing to do within this movement?

Greta Berlin (*) : The Free Gaza Movement was organized two years ago by five people on two continents. Paul, Mary and I were working from California, and Eliza and Bella were working in parallel in the UK. We found each other and thought sailing a boat to Gaza would be a great idea. The original idea came from Michael Shaik in Australia who thought we should sail a boat from the US to Gaza.

"Why not sail a boat to Gaza?" Why not, exactly? And that was the beginning of this long two-year process that ended up with 44 people taking two small boats to break Israel’s draconian blockade of Gaza. I have been responsible for much of the media work, especially in the last two trips......"

Interview: Palestinians in Europe

Numbering some 500,000 in the EU, they seek greater political representation.

By Firas Al-Atraqchi in Stockholm


"On November 16, delegations representing Palestinian communities in EU countries gathered in Stockholm, Sweden to pave the way for a conference to be held in a European capital in May 2009.

Zaid Tayem, the head of the cultural division of the Union of Palestinian Minorities in Europe and a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), says the May meeting will solidify Palestinian ranks and push for political representation in European parliaments.

Tayem, who is based in the Netherlands, says he sees no reason why a Palestinian academic living in Europe as an EU citizen cannot become a member of parliament.

However, he warned that the Palestinians must unite their ranks and work to overcome their political differences..... "

Heil, Feiglin!

Khaled Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem shudders at the drift to fascism in Israeli politics

Al-Ahram Weekly

"....However, two more hawks are also joining Likud. The first is Moshe Yaalon, a former chief of staff, who is also widely viewed as a certified war criminal, not only by Palestinians, but also by human rights organisations around the world. Yaalon has been warned against entering several European countries, including Britain and Spain, lest he be arrested for his role in the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians.

Yaalon's tenure as chief of staff of the Israeli army 2002- 2005 was marked by numerous acts of almost pornographic murder of civilians in both Gaza and the West Bank, including the bombing and extermination of many Palestinian families as well as the deliberate targeting of children and other civilians. Yaalon is also a leading proponent of bombing Iran's nuclear facilities, with or without American backing......

Nonetheless, the most dangerous and problematic right- winger, dubbed by some Israeli intellectuals in Israel as the Hitler of Israeli politics, is Moshe Feiglin, who advocates the ethnic cleansing or extermination of non-Jews in Israel-Palestine Old Testament-style.

Feiglin is very popular within Likud and there are serious concerns in Israel and within Likud itself that he would be elected as the number two man in the party. This prospect is reportedly causing a lot of unease to Likud leader Netanyahu who is worried that the character of Feiglin would have a decidedly negative impact on the Likud image, especially if the party formed the next government, as widely expected.

Feiglin advocates the idea of manhigut Yedhudit or "the Jewish leadership". According to this concept, Israel would have to adopt four steps towards resolving the Arab Israeli conflict once and for all:

First, induced Arab emigration from both Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Needless to say, "induced emigration" is effectively a mere euphemism for genocidal ethnic cleansing.

Second, Israel would have to reconquer and tightly control every part of the occupied territories and place non-Jewish inhabitants under a harsh military occupation until they can no longer endure the persecution, which then would force them to leave.

Third, Israel should resume intensive Judaisation of the territories, including the destruction of Christian and Muslim holy places.

And, fourth, Israel should dislodge itself from the peace process since this process is incompatible with the rules and teachings of the Torah and Talmud.

....One Israeli journalist has compared the ascendancy of Feiglin as the number two man within Likud, conceivably succeeding Netanyahu as prime minister, to the ascendancy of Adolph Hitler to power in Germany, nearly 80 years ago......"

Bearing out the betrayal

With Israel's breach of the ceasefire in Gaza, Saleh Al-Naami laments yet another example of Israeli-PA collusion which victimises Hamas

Al-Ahram Weekly

".....Israeli officials claim that the purpose of the latest military operations in Gaza is to prevent Hamas from conducting kidnapping operations across the border using tunnels dug by Hamas operatives. Tsvi Barel believes that this was only a pretext for launching a military offensive aimed at accomplishing other objectives. In an analysis appearing on the Haaretz Hebrew website on Sunday, the Israeli writer and journalist argues that Israel deliberately broke the ceasefire in order to keep Hamas from bringing the ceasefire to the West Bank.

The historic ceasefire obliges Israel to suspend its campaign of raids and detentions against Palestinians in those occupied territories. It had been scheduled to end in about a month, after which it was to have been renewed by agreement to include the West Bank. Israel was keen to forestall this development at all costs, Barel wrote. Palestinians would see Hamas, instead of the PA president, as the agency capable of halting Israeli aggression and effectively fusing the West Bank and Gaza back together again. This would constitute an enormous political victory for Hamas and debilitating blow to PA President Mahmoud Abbas's credibility. People would ask more loudly why Abbas's term should be extended when his political approach did nothing to restore the Palestinians' sense of security whereas Hamas's did.

Israel has absolutely no intention of allowing Hamas to gain a foothold in the West Bank, Barel stressed, which is why it decided to breach the ceasefire. The true purpose was to extricate Abu Mazen from his current predicament and bolster his deteriorating position. Barel writes, "the question is whether the Israeli army is more prepared to invade the Gaza Strip today than it was last year. If the answer to this is yes, then another question comes to mind: might a major operation in Gaza at this time appear more like an electoral gambit than a practical step to put an end to Palestinian terrorism? Won't it seem that Israel is taking advantage of the period of the handover of power in the US to impose new realities on the ground? And there is another disturbing question: is the IDF now prepared to create a situation that will endanger the possibility of the release of the long-forgotten [sic] Gilad Shalit?"......"

Real News Video with Pepe Escobar: Obama and al-Qaeda

In the renewed battle for Muslim hearts and minds, al-Qaeda's number 2 launches a pre-emptive strike

"Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian doctor who is al-Qaeda's number 2, has released a tape where he blasts President-elect Barack Obama as a "house slave" whose policies will be no different than George W.Bush's. This may signal either an al-Qaeda call rallying dormant troops or real worry that Obama's appeal may dry up al-Qaeda's source of recruitment among young, disenfranchised Muslims. Pepe Escobar argues that Obama has a unique opportunity - in ideological terms - to render al-Qaeda totally irrelevant."

Real News Video with Eric Margolis: What does the West owe Afghanistan?

Eric Margolis: The US and NATO must cease military operations and negotiate with Taliban Part 4/4

"Senior Editor Paul Jay kicks off the fourth and final segment of his interview with Eric Margolis with the question of how to properly negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Eric outlines his belief that the negotiations must be real, not just a tactic to divide the Taliban and other resistance forces and thereby prolong the occupation. Real negotiations would require a ceasefire on US and NATO military operations accompanied by an offer of negotiation invitations to all parties in the country. Eric gives a brief explanation of the history and demography of the country in reference to Afghanistan's traditional absence of central governance, and what he views as their wishes to continue with such an arrangement. For this reason Eric finds deep flaws in the efforts of the West to try and impose such centralized structures. Eric also lists the various activities being carried out by foreign occupiers in Afghanistan that he feels are ill-advised, from the bombing of villages to the decision to deal with the Karzai government."

Real News Video with Pepe Escobar: Joe and Barack: who owns who?

The President-elect's calculation: valuable asset Senator Joe Lieberman should be kept in the fold

"Once Senator Joe Lieberman was Senator Barack Obama's mentor and urged him to "reach for the stars". Then he fiercely campaigned against Obama alongside his close friend, Republican Senator John McCain. He lost his bet. Many a Democrat believed there was only way out as far as Lieberman was concerned: heavy punishment by the Democratic party. The President-elect ordered otherwise. Pepe Escobar argues this is a political marriage of convenience."

Kabul 30 years ago, and Kabul today. Have we learned nothing?

'Terrorists' were in Soviet sights; now they are in the Americans'

By Robert Fisk

"....Thirty miles north, all those years ago, a Soviet general told us of the imminent victory over the "terrorists" in the mountains, imperialist "remnants" – the phrase Kabul communist radio always used – who were being supported by America and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Fast forward to 2001 – just seven years ago – and an American general told us of the imminent victory over the "terrorists" in the mountains, the all but conquered Taliban who were being supported by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The Russian was pontificating at the big Soviet airbase at Bagram. The American general was pontificating at the big US airbase at Bagram.

This is not déjà-vu. This is déjà double-vu. And it gets worse......

In 1840, Tanner writes, Britain's supply line from the Pakistani city of Karachi up through the Khyber Pass and Jalalabad to Kabul was being threatened by Afghan fighters, "British officers on the crucial supply line through Peshawar... insulted and attacked". I fumble through my bag for a clipping from a recent copy of Le Monde. It marks Nato's main supply route from the Pakistani city of Karachi up through the Khyber Pass and Jalalabad to Kabul, and illustrates the location of each Taliban attack on the convoys bringing fuel and food to America's allies in Afghanistan.

Then I prowl through one of the Pakistani retread books I have found and discover General Roberts of Kandahar telling the British in 1880 that "we have nothing to fear from Afghanistan, and the best thing to do is to leave it as much as possible to itself... I feel sure I am right when I say that the less the Afghans see of us, the less they will dislike us".

Memo to the Americans, the Brits, the Canadians and the rest of Humpty Dumpty's men. Read Roberts. Read history."

Friday, November 21, 2008

الاطفال يموتون جوعا في غزة

الاطفال يموتون جوعا في غزة

A Powerful Editorial in Arabic by Abdel Bari Atwan

عبد الباري عطوان

"مليون ونصف المليون فلسطيني يواجهون الموت جوعا بفعل الحصارين الاسرائيلي والعربي، ولا احد يتحرك، او يريد ان يتحرك، وكأن هؤلاء ليسوا عربا ومسلمين، بل ليسوا بشرا على الاطلاق.
جون جينغ ممثل وكالة غوث اللاجئين في القطاع المحاصر يصرخ مناشدا الضمائر الميتة عبر قناة 'الجزيرة' ويقول ان هناك 750 الف طفل فلسطيني على حافة الموت، لا يجدون الطعام ولا الدواء ولا حتى الحليب، ومع ذلك يدير العرب وجوههم الى الناحية الاخرى، لا يريدون ان يسمعوا، وبالتالي ان يتحركوا، حتى لا تغضب منهم الحكومة الاسرائيلية حليفتهم الجديدة.
السيدة كارين ابو زيد المسؤولة عن منظمة الاونروا تؤكد ان امراض فقر الدم وسوء التغذية متفشية في اوساط الاطفال في قطاع غزة، وان بعضهم اصبح يعاني من تشوهات خلقية، وقصر قامة اقل بكثير من المعدلات الطبيعية للنمو، ومع ذلك نرى تعتيما اعلاميا عربيا متعمدا على هذه المأساة.
السيدة ابو زيد، والسيد جينغ هما من الاجانب، فالاولى غير محجبة او منقبة، والثاني حليق اللحية والشارب، اي انهما ليسا عضوين في حركة 'حماس' حتى يتم اتهامهما بالانحياز او المبالغة، فهما يعكسان الواقع المخجل على الارض، ويطرقان ابواب العالمين العربي والاسلامي، ومن بعدهما المجتمع الدولي، على امل ان تتحرك الضمائر وتهرع لانقاذ الابرياء.
العرب، وللأسف الشديد، منخرطون هذه الايام في حوار الاديان، ويريدون نيل الرضى الاسرائيلي بكل الاشكال، والسلطة الفلسطينية في رام الله تتوسل السلام مع ايهود اولمرت وتسيبي ليفني، وتنشر اعلانات مدفوعة الثمن في الصحف الاسرائيلية لشرح مبادرة السلام العربية، لا شرح الاوضاع المأساوية في قطاع غزة، فيبدو ان القطاع وابناءه باتوا خارج دائرة همومهم ومسؤولياتهم، ويتعاملون معهم كأنهم من كوكب آخر، ليست لهم علاقة بفلسطين او العرب او المسلمين، فليموتوا جوعا وقهرا وبردا ومرضا.

كان امرا مؤسفا ان يذهب الرئيس محمود عباس، الذي يقول انه رئيس لكل الفلسطينيين وليس لمربع سلطة رام الله، الى القدس المحتلة للقاء ايهود اولمرت رئيس الوزراء الاسرائيلي، ويتبادل معه القبلات والابتسامات، وابناء القطاع يتضورون جوعا، والكهرباء عنهم مقطوعة.
ليته استمع الى تلك السيدة التي صرخت بحسرة امام عدسات التلفزة ملخصة الوضع المخجل بكلمات بسيطة معبرة: لا ماء.. لا كهرباء.. لا خبز.. لا شموع.. لا شيء على الاطلاق.. ماذا تريدوننا ان نفعل، ولما كل هذا الظلم، ماذا فعلنا حتى نستحقه؟!
نعم أهل القطاع فعلوا.. فعلوا ما عجزت عنه الأمة العربية بأسرها.. فعلوا ما لم يفعله مليار ونصف المليار مسلم ينتشرون في قارات العالم الخمس.. قاوموا الاحتلال، ورفضوا الذل والاهانات، وتصدوا للفجور الاسرائيلي بأجسادهم الطرية، وعزيمتهم الأقوى، وصمدوا في وجه كل أنواع الابتزاز والاستفزاز برجولة الصحابة والمؤمنين الأوائل.
اعرف جيداً معنى ان تفرغ مخازن وكالة غوث اللاجئين من الفول والعدس والأرز والسكر والدقيق، فهذا يعني الجوع لمئات الآلاف من الأسر التي تحمل بطاقة التموين الصادرة عن الأونروا، فقد كنت أحد الذين عاشوا على هذه الاعانات حتى السابعة عشرة من عمري. فقد كنا ننتظر يوم توزيع الاعانات هذه على أحر من الجمر، لأنها ضمانة لإسكات جوع المعدة لعدة أيام قادمة.

أتعاطف كثيراً مع ذلك المواطن الفلسطيني البسيط، العاطل عن العمل الذي يعيل أسرة من ثلاثة عشر طفلاً، بينهم اثنان من ذوي الاحتياجات الخاصة (معاقان) ولا يجد رغيف خبز لإطعام أطفاله، بينما صناديق السيادة العربية المستثمرة في أوروبا وامريكا تطفح بآلاف المليارات من الدولارات.
لن يتحرك السيد عمرو موسى الذي يتطلع إلى ضم اسرائيل إلى جامعته بعد قبولها مبادرة السلام العربية، ولن يتحرك الرئيس المصري حسني مبارك الذي يشارك الاسرائيليين في إحكام الحصار على قطاع غزة بإغلاق معبر رفح، وتفجير أنفاق الكرامة التي تقوم بإيصال بعض الغذاء والدواء ولعب الأطفال للمحاصرين في القطاع. ولن يتحرك أيضاً خادم الحرمين الشريفين وحكومته لكي يصرخ في وجه الرئيس جورج بوش، مطالباً بوقف هذه المأساة فوراً وإلا فعليه تحمل العواقب، وما أكثر الأوراق الحاسمة في يده، وأبرزها ورقة النفط واسعاره وانتاجه.
اسرائيل تتمادى في جرائمها، والغرب يصمت ولا يتحرك، لأن العرب لا يتحركون، لأن العرب الرسميين، ولا أقول الشعوب الشريفة الكريمة المسحوقة، متواطئون لإبقاء الحصار وتشديده، على أمل ان تسقط سلطة 'حماس' التي يكرهونها جميعاً، فلا بأس من تجويع وقتل مليون ونصف المليون فلسطيني بسبب هذه 'الحماس'.

توقعت ان يتحرك هذا الغرب 'الحضاري' وهو يرى صور 'الصيصان' في مزارع الدواجن تُعدم لأن أصحابها لا يجدون العلف لها، ولا الوقود اللازم لتدفئتها، قلت ربما ان هذا العالم الذي يتحرك بأسره لنصرة كلب اعرج، او قطة مريضة، او بطة ملوثة بالنفط على شواطئ الكويت، سيتحرك عندما يرى هذه الكتاكيت الصغيرة توضع في اكياس بلاستيكية تمهيدا لحرقها، ولكنه غرب منافق، تتراجع كل قيم ومبادئ حقوق الانسان التي يتغنى بها عندما تكون اسرائيل هي الجلاد، والعرب هم الضحايا.
الشعب الفلسطيني سيصمد في مواجهة هذا 'الهولوكوست' العربي الاسرائيلي، وسيتجاوز محنة الحصار هذه، مثلما تجاوز محناً عديدة قبلها، وربما اخطر منها، لأنه شعب تعلم ان يمشي مرفوع الرأس، متحلياً بالايمان والصبر، ومتحديا جلاديه.
لا نملك الا ان نكتب، محاولين لفت الانظار الى هذا الظلم التاريخي، لعل بعض الدماء تتحرك في عروق عربية وعالمية تيبّست، وباتت عصية على الحركة والانتصار للضعفاء.
السيد جون جينغ ممثل الاونروا في قطاع غزة قال في ختام ندائه الذي اصدره من قلب القطاع المحاصر، إن ما يحصل هناك هو عار على البشرية، عار على المجتمع الدولي، ونضيف بأنه ايضا عار على كل الحكام العرب، دون استثناء اي منهم

How Do You Say, "Yes We CON!" in Hebrew? Netanyahu hires 2 of Obama's advisors

"After designing website similar to that of US president-elect, Likud chairman recruits Obama's consultants to help him in his election campaign....."

Sic Transit: The Honeymoon is Looking a Bit Wan


"Two years without a single leak and suddenly, last week, Obama’s operation was like a sieve. That’s what happens when you pick up the phone and call one of the Clintons. Or, to put it another way, that’s what happens when someone claims you, the president elect, picked up the phone and called Mrs Clinton to ask whether she’d like to be secretary of state.

Out the window goes the sense of purposeful strides towards a new-look Administration. In comes a dreadful feeling that somehow we’ve slipped a dimension in the space-time continuum and are heading back into the Clinton era. A couple of more weeks and the Republicans will be calling for a special prosecutor....."

US Activist Detained in Israeli Jail Condemns Blockade of Gaza

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"AMY GOODMAN: Israel’s tightened blockade of a million and a half Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is now entering its third week. Tel Aviv rebuffed calls Thursday from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to reopen the crossings into Gaza for humanitarian aid. Israeli government officials cited continuing Palestinian rocket fire as the reason for closing the crossings.

Residents of Gaza are running out of essentials, like food, medicines and fuel, as a result of the almost continuous blockade imposed November 4th.

Meanwhile, the fifteen Palestinian fishermen seized by the Israeli navy off the coast of Gaza were released on Wednesday. The three international volunteers accompanying the fishermen, however, remain in a prison near Tel Aviv.

American Darlene Wallach, Italian Vittorio Arrigoni, and Scottish Andrew Muncie had arrived by boat into Gaza in late August as part of the first Free Gaza delegation. They remained in Gaza working with the International Solidarity Movement alongside Palestinian fishermen, documenting any harassment by the Israeli navy.

The three internationals are reportedly beginning a hunger strike today to protest their detention. They are also demanding the Israeli navy release the Palestinian fishing boats they confiscated this week.

US citizen in detention, Darlene Wallach, joins me now from a phone inside the prison near Tel Aviv. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Darlene...."

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the Election of Barack Obama, the Israeli Blockade of Gaza, US Foreign Policy under President Bush and More

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of the leading voices for peace, justice, and human rights around the world. He was a central figure in the South African struggle against apartheid and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

Archbishop Tutu chaired the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and currently chairs “The Elders,” a group of 12 activists and former public officials advocating for peaceful solutions to global conflicts.

The Archbishop is in Washington DC today to receive the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding for his work for peace in South Africa and elsewhere.

I caught up with him Thursday at the South African Vice Consul’s apartment in New York, right before Archbishop Tutu received the Global Citizens Award....."

By Mike Luckovich

Shameless in London, obscene in Israel, stupid in Ramallah

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Jerusalem

"The decision by the Buckingham palace to bestow an honorary knighthood on Israeli President Shimon Peres should be viewed as a blatant disregard for propriety and moral conduct by Queen Elizabeth II and the British government. It is also a definitive sign of the decadence of our time.....

Now this title is being bestowed upon another war criminal, Shimon Peres, the man who in the spring of 1996 ordered the Israeli army to bomb the UN peace keepers’ headquarters at the village of Qana in southern Lebanon.

In that hideous massacre, more than a hundred Lebanese children and women were murdered and mutilated in the most barbaric manner. Headless and limbless children were scattered everywhere as Peres and his henchmen were indulging in endless lies to justify the Nazi-like atrocity and fend off blame. Interestingly, until this moment, Peres has not apologized for the massacre. Hence, one begs the question of whether a man as such deserves to be accorded the highest or one of the highest honorary titles in the UK......"

"Shimon Peres, you're a war criminal!" say Oxford students

Abigail Humphries, The Electronic Intifada, 21 November 2008

".....Silent women in black, shouting students, small babies in prams, university lecturers and a local elected official were just some of the crowd gathered to voice their protest against an Oxford college's decision to honor Peres on Tuesday, 18 November as he gave the inaugural lecture in a series to be named after him. Some handed out leaflets and many were carrying signs, one of which read "Globalization of Apartheid," a pun on the title of the lecture, "Globalization of Peace."......"

Settlement financier to sell jewelry at Dubai hotel despite ban

Press release, Adalah-NY, 20 November 2008

"Adalah-NY has learned that the jewelry of Israeli billionaire and settlement-builder Lev Leviev will be on sale at this week's gala opening of the luxury hotel Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai. Despite Leviev's ongoing construction of Israeli settlements and claims by United Arab Emirates officials that Leviev would receive no license to sell his jewelry there, the New York-based human rights coalition Adalah-NY has confirmed that Leviev's jewelry will be on sale at the Atlantis branch of the Levant Jewelry chain on the fabled Palm Jumeirah island.

Adalah-NY has also heard from a Dubai source that Leviev will attend the grand opening events in person, but the group has been unable to corroborate this report....."

More on the story from The Angry Arab Blog

" I would like to draw your attention to the terrible thing that is happening at Atlantis Hotel in Dubai. As you know, there was a big storm in the summer, when it became known that Leviev was due to open at diamonds store at the hotel. The Dubai Municipality themselves said that there would be no way that Leviev could open a store in the UAE, because it is an Arab country and a Muslim country that supports our brothers and sisters in Palestine. Sadly, Leviev has gone ahead and opened the store. It is right next to the main lobby, and everybody who goes through to the shopping area walks right passed it. The store is called 'Levant' but it is clear Leviev store. It uses the same lettering and has the locations of the other shops - Moscow, London, New York - on the door. All the display cases in the window are marked Leviev, and there is even a photo of the man behind the counter. You can image what this does to our feelings. Today, I learned that Lev Leviev has been invited as a VIP guest to the grand opening of Atlantis this weekend, when they will hold a big party in Dubai. The whole Palm island will be closed off by security, so VIPs can mingle and watch the fireworks. I cannot believe that such a man will be a guest of Dubai.. I work for a company that works for the Atlantis, so please do not make my name public. However, anything you can do to make people aware of this problem would be very good. I do not believe that the people of Dubai would want this and it is only pressure from the hotel which is not making this fact known."

Fears that desperation may drive popular explosion in Gaza

Popular Committee Against the Siege

"Gaza City, 21, Nov, 2008- PCAS – The Gaza Strip is under complete closure again Friday marking 17 days of food, water and power shortages. As last night’s blackout fell, hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated for their right to bread and justice.

As the march moved through Gaza City Jamal El Khudary warned of the catastrophe if the Israeli siege continues. At the statue of the Unknown Soldier under the light of a torch, the Legislative Council member said, “Life is being executed in Gaza.”

Independant Palestinian Legislative Council member and director of the Popular Committee against the Siege said, “The tight closures must be broken through. It is unreasonable that a million and a half people are being strangled, that children will die awaiting a meal or medicine without electricity or water and a free life.”

Indicators in the Strip suggest that the desperation is becoming so high some fear a massive movement to the commercial crossings, which would surely lead to Israeli forces opening fire. El Khudarysaid, “We do not want this to happen. We do not want to see people move spontaneously and without organization to the commercial crossings. The world must act before it is too late.”

He called on the international community and Arab and Islamic countries to pressure the Israeli administration to end the siege before it reaches a point of “popular explosion.” PCAS Chairman said."

Video / Israeli Prof. Avi Shlaim: Settlements turned Israel into apartheid state

".....Shlaim, a historian of the Arab-Israeli conflict at Oxford University, made headlines last year when he decided to speak at an Oxford Union debate in favor of the motion, "This house believes that one state is the only solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict."

But Shlaim, an opponent of campaigns pursued by some of his British colleagues to boycott Israeli universities, has always been a fervent supporter of the two-state solution, a stance he repeated in this month's event, which was organized by the Institute of Ideas.

He continues, he said, to believe in Israel's legitimacy to exist within its pre-1967 borders, but "rejects uncompromisingly the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line."

In his talk, entitled "Obsession with Territory Post-1967," Shlaim blasts the settlements, which he says have turned Israel into an apartheid state, as the primary source of failure for peace efforts with the Palestinians.

Shlaim believes Zionism was derailed from its course after the Six-Day war, when its universalist principles were replaced with "religious messianism and secular nationalism." Israel must give up land, he says, not just as a concession to the Palestinians, but because "a people that oppresses another cannot itself remain free." "


"...... 20:10. If at any time thou come to fight against a city, thou shalt first offer it peace.

20:11. If they receive it, and open the gates to thee, all the people that are therein, shall be saved, and shall serve thee paying tribute.

20:12. But if they will not make peace, and shall begin war against thee, thou shalt besiege it.

20:13. And when the Lord thy God shall deliver it into thy hands, thou shalt slay all that are therein of the male sex, with the edge of the sword,

20:14. Excepting women and children, cattle and other things, that are in the city. And thou shalt divide all the prey to the army, and thou shalt eat the spoils of thy enemies, which the Lord thy God shall give thee.

20:15. So shalt thou do to all cities that are at a great distance from thee, and are not of these cities which thou shalt receive in possession.

20:16. But of those cities that shall be given thee, thou shalt suffer none at all to live:

20:17. But shalt kill them with the edge of the sword, to wit, the Hethite, and the Amorrhite, and the Chanaanite, the Pherezite, and the Hevite, and the Jebusite, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee:

20:18. Lest they teach you to do all the abominations which they have done to their gods: and you should sin against the Lord your God.

20:19. When thou hast besieged a city a long time, and hath compassed it with bulwarks, to take it, thou shalt not cut down the trees that may be eaten of, neither shalt thou spoil the country round about with axes: for it is a tree, and not a man, neither can it increase the number of them that fight against thee.

20:20. But if there be any trees that are not fruitful, but wild, and fit for other uses, cut them down, and make engines, until thou take the city, which fighteth against thee......."

The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

By Ralph Nader
Palestine Chronicle

"While the liberal intelligentsia was swooning over Barack Obama during his presidential campaign, I counseled, "prepare to be disappointed." His record as an Illinois state and U.S. Senator, together with the many progressive and long overdue courses of action he opposed during his campaign, rendered such a prediction unfortunate but obvious.

Now this same intelligentsia is beginning to howl over Obama’s transition team and early choices to run his Administration. Having defeated Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primaries, he now is busily installing Bill Clinton’s old guard. Thirty one out of forty seven people that he has named so far for transition or appointments have ties to the Clinton Administration, according to Politico. One Clintonite is quoted in the Washington Post as saying – “This isn’t lightly flavored with Clintons. This is all Clintons, all the time.”....."

This Is Change? 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama's White House

By Jeremy Scahill

"U.S. policy is not about one individual, and no matter how much faith people place in President-elect Barack Obama, the policies he enacts will be fruit of a tree with many roots. Among them: his personal politics and views, the disastrous realities his administration will inherit, and, of course, unpredictable future crises. But the best immediate indicator of what an Obama administration might look like can be found in the people he surrounds himself with and who he appoints to his Cabinet. And, frankly, when it comes to foreign policy, it is not looking good......"

Stop Hillary!

Yes we can!

By Justin Raimondo

"We had a breather during the final stretch of the presidential election campaign, but the way is now cleared for a renewal of the propaganda campaign urging war with Iran. The latest salvo: a UN report claiming Iran plans on building 3,000 new centrifuges, and headlines are screaming – in the West, at any rate – that Iran will have enough uranium to build a nuclear bomb by sometime next year. Is this true?

Undoubtedly not......

With Hillary Clinton as Obama’s secretary of state, and a bevy of war hawks ensconced in key national security posts – just like the neocons in the Bush administration – the War Party will be well-represented in the foreign policy councils of the new administration. It looks like we’re in for a long, agonizingly drawn out drama, which may very well end the same way the last one did.

There’s just one way to preempt this and that is to show, early on, that the voters who gave Obama his victory won’t stand for this kind of betrayal. We don’t want another war – and that means we have to stop Hillary, the War Party’s chief Democratic asset, before she’s officially designated the new Secretary of State. If thousands (upon thousands!) of Americans protest, who knows but maybe we can stop it.

Yes we can!"

Making movies the Afghan way

Cinema was banned under the Taliban, but film-makers are once again at work inside Afghanistan. Robert Fisk visits a set near Bagram

"....For incredibly, as Afghanistan sinks back into the anarchy which became its natural state these past 29 years, Afghan film-makers are producing movies of international quality, turning out pictures which prove – even amid war – that a country's tragedy can be imaginatively recreated for its people. Safaid Sang – Dari (Persian) for White Rock – was an Afghan refugee detention camp inside Iran whose Iranian guards helped to massacre more than 630 of their prisoners in 1998 after inmates protested at their treatment. The atrocity – largely unknown in the West – ended after two Iranian helicopters strafed the Afghans with machine guns. Quite a story. Quite a movie.....

In all, 630 Afghan prisoners – women as well as men -- are believed to have died in the original camp massacre, which lasted for six hours. Some of the prisoners managed to escape and hid in the mountains. Daoud Azimi was one of them and plays an Iranian police guard in the film. What does it feel like to wear the uniform of his oppressors? "I feel good," he says, "because I can actually show the world what they did."......"

End the siege of Gaza

It was not Hamas that broke the truce - but it is willing to revive it if Israel shows its commitment

Azzam Tamimi
(director of the London-based Institute of Islamic Political Thought, author of Hamas: Unwritten Chapters and has advised Hamas on media strategy ), Friday November 21 2008

"....Why did Israeli politicians feel the need to end the peace despite the benefits reaped? Though they blamed Hamas for starting the violence, not a single rocket had been fired from the inception of the hudna to the raid on Gaza.

The Israeli military escalation has been accompanied by a further tightening of the siege of Gaza in what can only be seen as another attempt to press the population to turn on Hamas. The Israelis seem to cling to a vain hope that the people of the besieged Strip might blame their elected leaders. Clearly, there is no sign of this happening. The reality, however, is that the sanctions have only bolstered the popularity of the movement among Palestinians and support for the cause around the world.

These tactics have been tried before. Military incursions into Gaza have indeed wrought heavy losses among Palestinians, but the Israelis suffered losses, too, and eventually had to withdraw, leaving an embittered population and a strengthened Hamas movement. Attempts at targeted killings of Hamas leaders did no better. Making martyrs of Palestinian symbols of resistance and defiance can only ever fuel rage. For more than two years the Israeli state, fortified by an unhinged US-led world order, have tried collectively punishing the Palestinians for supporting Hamas. That strategy has only backfired......"

2025: the end of US dominance

Julian Borger, diplomatic editor, Thursday November 20 2008

".....The global trends review, produced by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) every four years, represents sobering reading in Barack Obama's intray as he prepares to take office in January. The country he inherits, the report warns, will no longer be able to "call the shots" alone, as its power over an increasingly multipolar world begins to wane.

Looking ahead to 2025, the NIC (which coordinates analysis from all the US intelligence agencies), foresees a fragmented world, where conflict over scarce resources is on the rise, poorly contained by "ramshackle" international institutions, while nuclear proliferation, particularly in the Middle East, and even nuclear conflict grow more likely....."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stratfor: Iraq, U.S.: The SOFA and What Could Still Go Wrong


"......Besides making a big show of protest in parliament, the al-Sadrites are intentionally trying to delay the SOFA proceedings with the knowledge that many Iraqi parliamentarians will be leaving over the next few days for Saudi Arabia to perform the annual Hajj. If the al-Sadrites can stall deliberations on the agreement, they could deny the pro-SOFA parliamentary bloc a quorum to approve the deal.

Through a message relayed by one of his aides Nov. 20, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, admonished Iraqi Shiite parliamentarians for resorting to such tactics and for leaving for the Hajj early, accusing them of directly defying his orders. Al-Sistani had earlier given his typically ambiguous endorsement of the SOFA and is now feeling pressured to take a harder line against those opposing the pact. Further complicating matters, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, leader of Iraq’s largest Shiite party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), is very close to dying of cancer. ISCI’s support in parliament is critical to the SOFA’s passage, but if al-Hakim dies in the coming days, the mourning period has a good chance of disrupting the vote.....

Meanwhile, the Iranians appear to be playing a complex game. On one hand, Iran’s judiciary chief gave his indirect endorsement of the SOFA after it passed in Iraq’s Cabinet, signaling that Tehran was satisfied with the revised draft of the agreement that included a hardened date for withdrawal. At the same time, Iran’s influential parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, has issued statements calling on Iraqi leaders to continue their resistance against the security pact.

In many ways, Iran is operating from a weak position. Though it has strong political connections inside Baghdad, many of Iraq’s Shiite parties, including the ISCI, have maintained a careful balancing act between Washington and Tehran and are acting in their own interests. After spending months lambasting the SOFA and bribing and threatening Iraqi officials, the Iranians cannot let it appear that this deal was imposed on them. At the same time, Iran has been heavily involved in back-channel negotiations to influence the language of the SOFA text to ensure that severe limitations are placed on U.S. forces in Iraq. Whether or not the SOFA passes, Iran needs to create the impression that it is largely calling the shots on the deal so it can set the stage for negotiations with the incoming U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s administration."

Thanks to Lousy and Incompetent Successive Palestinian Leadership.....
The Palestinian Struggle Has Been Reduced to This!

Hezbollah Condemns US-Iraq Pact, Calls to Reject It


"20/11/2008 While the Iraqi parliament was likely to approve a "suspicious" pact with the US occupation forces allowing them to stay in the country for another three years, Hezbollah finally broke its silence on Thursday and denounced the pact as harmful and called on all Iraqi MPs to assume their responsibilities and reject it as soon as possible.

In a statement it released, Hezbollah emphasized that the US occupation of Iraq actually represents a big crime and an international terrorism against the Iraqi people as well as the region's people "who are still suffering from the occupation's various repercussions at all levels."

The Resistance movement, known to oppose the occupation and haughtiness policies, went on to affirm that all pressures the US was seeking to exert in order to "polish" its picture have actually failed in their mission. "All pressures would lead to more damages and disadvantages for the occupation," Hezbollah's statement read, adding that the security pact, in its actual form, will lead, in its turn, to additional negative impact on Iraq and its people.

Hezbollah pointed out that the pact under question would, if adopted, give the US occupation a supplementary opportunity to organize its domination and plunder the generous country's fortunes.

"What's required at this moment is not to reward the occupation and give it presents or legitimacy," Hezbollah's statement stressed, explaining that "regardless of all the justifications that anyone could give to legalize the occupation, the US withdrawal without conditions remains the major interest for the Iraqi people."

"Iraqis have suffered a lot and paid big sacrifices, they fought against occupation at the most difficult circumstances and strived to achieve the sovereignty and independence of their country," Hezbollah pointed out, recalling how Iraqis have also rejected foreign tutelage.

The Resistance group concluded its statement by calling on members of the Iraqi parliament to reject the pact, drawing their attention to its negative effects on the Iraqi sovereignty, unity as well as fate and future.

Hezbollah called upon the MPs to take such a "courageous" and "historic" position, assuring them of its positive effects on the country "that deserves stability, unity and honorable life." "





Maguire: UN should suspend Israeli membership

"Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire says the United Nations should suspend or revoke Israel's membership.

Maguire, in a news conference Thursday, said that it's time for the international community to take action against Israel. She claimed Israel should be punished for ignoring a series of United Nations resolutions over the years.

Maguire, who won the 1976 peace prize for her work with Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, is currently visiting the Palestinian territories to protest Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip....."

Agents of Change or Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons? A Discussion about Barack Obama’s Advisers and Transition Team

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"As speculations abound over who President-elect Barack Obama will name to key cabinet positions, we look at some of the central figures advising Obama, many of whom are leading candidates for posts in the next administration. We speak with Jeremy Scahill, author of the new piece “This Is Change? 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama’s White House,” and David Corn, author of “The Agents of Change on Obama’s Transition Team.”....."

At the Erez Crossing

"Flowers Are Not Allowed"

(Dr. Eyad al-Serraj works with the Gaza Community Mental Health Project)

"......How much painful it was to realize time and time again that I am not and we, people of Gaza, are not allowed to feel normal or think normal.

Our right to our land, to freedom and to justice were systematically raped. Now they are after our sanity. The aim is to destroy what has remained -- our identity. It is our identity that is so threatening: our humanity, our attachment to the family and the holy Jerusalem, to falafel and the music of Fairuz and women weaving traditional dresses.

I was three months waiting for a medical permit or a travel permit. All attempts failed until Uri Hadar intervened and won for me a one-day permit to see my doctor in Tel Aviv and travel immediately to Amman to join you and the Cyprus group.......

The first human I saw was a Rambo with dark glasses and a grin carrying a huge machine gun across his massive body. He must feel the power of his muscles and his gun and the weakness of me with my frail body and obedience to his orders. But I could not escape the question, " Who is frightened?" because I was not. I was angry but not afraid.

When I crossed to the Israeli side of the border, I saw the BBC correspondents and few journalists waiting to cross into Gaza. They were not allowed for the eighth day running. On the same day twenty European diplomats were barred from coming into Gaza. On the same day Israel decided to cut the fuel supply to Gaza’s sole generator and to close the borders to UN food. On the same day the Israeli army kills four Palestinians in Gaza, while stressing their adherence to the truce......"


Dr. Eyad Serraj was one of my classmates and neighbors in Gaza, back in the fifties!

This War Crime Will Not Be Televised

Essential health facilities at the Al Shifa medical center stopped functioning

"Thursday November 20, 2008 02:13 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

Dr. Hussein Ashour, head of the Al Shifa medical center in Gaza, one of the biggest medical centers in the Gaza Strip, stated that main facilities at the center stopped functioning due to the lack of fundamental equipment and tools.

Ashour added that the Oxygen Department, the Heart Unit, Physical Therapy Unit and the main laboratory completely stopped functioning as they lack fundamental equipment and tools.

He also said that the main power generator also stopped functioning due to the ongoing siege and Israeli blockade as the generator needs fuel to run.

The closure of border crossings barred the entry of fuels to the Gaza Strip forcing the main power plant to stop functioning. Gaza residents spend 12-18 hours a day without power. "

Arab "Support" For Gaza
By Naser Jafari

Syria and Britain all ears now

By Sami Moubayed
Asia Times

"British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has made it clear from Damascus that Syria is a problem-solver, rather than a problem-seeker in the Arab world. This signals a new start in relations between the two countries and bodes well for tackling problems in Lebanon and Iraq. Some intelligence-sharing is also a help.....

Lesch, who recently wrapped up a meeting with Assad, added, "From Syria's perspective, it continues the more than a year-long process of breaking out from US-led isolation, and clearly sends positive signals to the new US administration, and offers an opportunity to, perhaps, assess the possibility of a new US policy direction in the Middle East through the eyes of a trusted US ally."

It is also reported that the main focus of Miliband's visit was the reestablishment of high-level intelligence cooperation between Britain and Syria, which apparently began in secret a few months ago, before The Times of London broke the story. The newspaper reported:

The newly revived intelligence relationship could be hugely beneficial to Britain. Syria is known to have one of the best intelligence-gathering systems in the Middle East, in particular in tracking the movements of Islamic extremists into Iraq and around the region.
Syria is certainly storming back onto the world stage. "

No free pass for Rahm Emanuel

Remi Kanazi, The Electronic Intifada, 19 November 2008

"James Zogby isn't just an Arab American with an opinion. He is the president of the Arab American Institute, a well-known writer, and an esteemed leader within the Arab American community. Many non-Arab Americans highly regard his analysis and look to his articles as a resource to understand the Middle East. This is precisely why his latest article, "Rahm Emanuel and Arab Perceptions," published by The Huffington Post, is so disturbing. Remi Kanazi comments...."

This War Crime Will Not Be Televised....

Gaza bakeries, mills forced to close

Report, PCHR, 19 November 2008

"The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, United Nations agencies and all international humanitarian organizations, to immediately intervene and exert pressure on Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) to reopen border crossings of the Gaza Strip, whose closure has caused further deterioration to living conditions of approximately 1.5 million Palestinians, who have suffered from shortages in foods, medicines and other basic needs, including electricity and fuel supplies.....

Free Gaza Organisation meets Dr Mustapha Bargouti

Interview by Rod Cox Date : 11-19-2008

"So is Abbass just a tool of the Israelis?
The Free Gaza Organisation meets Dr Mustapha Bargouti.....

Bargouti refuses to discuss personalities or political parties for that matter, but he does say that "The Palestine Authority is not doing enough to relieve the siege of Gaza or to secure the release of prisoners held by Israel .

"Since the Annapolis Conference last November, which was supposed to lead to Peace within a year, what has actually happened is that the settlement building programme around Jerusalem has increased by 38 times. Not 38%, but if you double it, and double it 38 times, compared to the previous year. Tony Blair says that he removed 7 checkpoints, but the total number has gone up from 521 to 620. In the same period, the Israel army have killed 521 Palestinians, including 96 children. The Israelis do not intend peace. For them the Palestinians are a demographic problem and they want to cleanse their land of us. Their solution is to create some Bantustans and call it a state.. The Palestine Authority must do more to resist this."......."

Barak: West must reconcile with Russia, China to unite against Iran

"Defense Minister Ehud Barak has called on Western powers to set aside their differences with China and Russia to create a united stance against Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons, in an interview published Thursday with

"The triad of nuclear proliferation, radical Muslim terror, and rogue states, epitomized in the Iran case, can be defeated only through a paradigm shift in international relationships," Barak told Bloomberg during the interview......"

Antiwar groups fear Barack Obama may create hawkish Cabinet

Activists note that most of the candidates for top security posts voted for the 2002 resolution authorizing President Bush to invade Iraq or otherwise supported launching the war.

By Paul Richter
November 20, 2008

"Reporting from Washington — Antiwar groups and other liberal activists are increasingly concerned at signs that Barack Obama's national security team will be dominated by appointees who favored the Iraq invasion and hold hawkish views on other important foreign policy issues.

The activists are uneasy not only about signs that both Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates could be in the Obama Cabinet, but at reports suggesting that several other short-list candidates for top security posts backed the decision to go to war.

"Obama ran his campaign around the idea the war was not legitimate, but it sends a very different message when you bring in people who supported the war from the beginning," said Kelly Dougherty, executive director of the 54-chapter Iraq Veterans Against the War....."

Robert Gates: As Bad As Rumsfeld?

By Ray McGovern

".....Over the past few months, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has generated accolades from FCM pundits – like the Washington Post's David Ignatius – that read like letters of recommendation to graduate school. This comes as no surprise to those of us familiar with Gates' dexterity in orchestrating his own advancement. What DOES come as a surprise is the recurring rumor that President-elect Barack Obama may decide to put new wine in old wineskins by letting Gates stay.

What can Barack Obama be thinking?.....

But can one portray Gates as worse than Rumsfeld across the board? I think not. When you crank in torture, lying, and total disrespect for law, Rumsfeld has the clear edge in moral turpitude.

Still, I suspect this matters little to the thousands now dead because of the surge that Gates did so much to enable – and to the families of the fallen.

Surely, it should not be too much to expect that President-elect Obama find someone more suitable to select for secretary of defense than an unprincipled chameleon like Gates."

السيستاني مستاء من برلمانيين تركوا واجباتهم وتوجهوا للحج

السيستاني مستاء من برلمانيين تركوا واجباتهم وتوجهوا للحج

"النجف - اعلن مصدر مقرب من مكتب المرجع الشيعي الكبير اية الله العظمى علي السيستاني الخميس ان المرجع "مستاء جدا" من برلمانيين سافروا لاداء الحج وتركوا مسؤوليتهم فيما يناقش البرلمان الاتفاقية الامنية.

وقال المصدر الذي رفض الكشف عن اسمه ان "سماحة السيد مستاء جدا من سفر مجموعة من النواب العراقيين لاداء مناسك الحج متجاهلين نداء المرجعية الذي دعاهم لتحمل مسؤولياتهم التاريخية والوطنية وابداء رايهم صريحا حول الاتفاقية".

واضاف "الغريب والمؤسف ان قسما منهم من اعضاء الائتلاف العراقي الموحد (الشيعي) الذين يزعمون انهم يسيرون في خط المرجعية ويلتزمون في توجيهاتها (...) واذا بهم يخالفون نداءها الذي يصب في مصلحة الوطن ومستقبل ابنائه ويتنصلون من بديهيات واجبهم ويتركون ملايين الاصوات التي انتخبتهم لتمثلهم في مجلس النواب".

ويتزعم عبد العزيز الحكيم لائحة الائتلاف التي تضم 85 نائبا وهي الاكبر في البرلمان."

COMMENT: Sistani is mad that some parliament members, even some from within the governing Shiite block, who do not want to vote for the sham "SOFA" agreement, have made excuses and left Iraq so that they would not vote for the agreement. Sistani is angry that some went to perform the Hajj, instead!

He pointedly said that these MPs claim to listen to the directives of the Marji'ia (المرجعية), but when the Marji'ia basically told them to line up and support the SOFA, they did not listen!

This clearly shows you the real role of Sistani and his Marji'ia and those who give it the script in Tehran.

The same story is posted by Al-Manar:

Sistani Demands Lawmakers Vote on US Pact

The "Security" Agreement With Iraq

By Emad Hajjaj

Al-Jazeera Video: Riz Khan - Global meltdown - Nov 19

Part 1:

Part 2:

"Riz Khan asks top economists what needs to be done in order to turn the global economy around.

James Galbraith, the author of The Predator State argues that because Europe is lacking the proper structural institutions it will be left to the US to pull the world out of this crisis. Ann Pettifor, the author of The Coming First World Debt Crisis supports a Green New Deal programme and the restructuring of international debts so that failed economies are not excluded from the global stage. Peter Morici of the University of Maryland contends that additional bailouts and stimulus packages are useless without proper regulation. "

Once more fear stalks the streets of Kandahar

Five years after his last visit, our correspondent finds the Taliban back in charge of their spiritual home – and girls attacked with acid simply for attending school

By Robert Fisk

".....Across Kandahar, there is great anger. At the government's corruption, at the Nato occupation and their killings. Little is said of the Taliban. But who condemns those who are winning the war? Taliban officials now speak with near-courtesy of the Tadjiks and Uzbeks and Hazaras who were their sectarian enemies in the awful years of Taliban rule. "If they are against the occupation, they are all friends now," one of the wisest local residents said. There is a new vein of nationalism within the Taliban [COMMENT: Compare this with the Iraqis who, stupidly, fell for the divide-and-conquer scheme. Is it any wonder that the Taliban are winning while the Iraqi resistance is pretty much over (at least for now)?]. "Twenty per cent of the population here are Shias and their mosques were turned into Sunni places of worship by the Taliban during their rule. But now the Shias are asking their mullahs what they should do if America attacks Iran, and their mullahs told them that if this happens, they should support the Islamic Republic and attack all American and Nato interests in Kandahar."......

Barack Obama wants to send 7,000 more American troops to this disaster zone. Does he have the slightest idea what is going on in Afghanistan? For if he did, he would send 7,000 doctors."

Economy first in Palestine?

For some, reviving the Palestinian economiy is the route to peace. For others, it's the route to fragmentation

A Good Comment
By Ben White, Thursday November 20 2008
"....Netanyahu seems to be treading a fine line between staking out a position sufficiently different from Kadima so as to attract dissatisfied voters, and completely writing off any chances for progress with the Palestinians. Yet the interesting thing about his "economy first" stance is that it is actually remarkably conventional, and very similar to the approach taken since the Oslo process in the 1990s through to the Quartet.

The premise of Oslo was that through incremental "confidence-building measures" taken by both sides, the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships would eventually reach a position where the stickier questions of territory, borders, natural resources, Jerusalem and the refugees could be resolved through compromise. A key part was the stimulation of the Palestinian economy and a massive influx of foreign aid into the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

Of course, the paradox of Oslo was that "on the ground" conditions for Palestinian statehood actually worsened as the decade progressed (this book is a must read); Israeli colonies increased and expanded as did the settler bypass roads, the closure system was implemented at will by Israel, and the fragmentation of the OPT began in earnest along the absurdly contrived contours of Areas A, B and C.

....Netanyahu may be portrayed as the archetypal hawk (an image he helps to cultivate), but his ideas on the relationship between the Palestinian economy and "peace" are almost identical to those of the Quartet's envoy, Tony Blair.

In his capacity as official representative of the Quartet (the US, UN, EU and Russia), Blair has consistently responded to questions about continued Israeli colonisation and West Bank fragmentation by pointing to "economic projects" like industrial parks and tourism initiatives in Bethlehem.

In fact, even Blair's language echoes that of Netanyahu. During a Quartet press conference in September, Blair highlighted apparent "economic and social development" in Jenin as an example of "the bottom-up capability being created for a Palestinian state for the future". Perhaps Netanyahu was listening: speaking to the Jewish Agency, he affirmed that "we need to make peace from the bottom up, rather than the top down, by improving the lives of Palestinians so that they have a stake in peace"......

Oddly, the argument by the likes of Netanyahu and Blair that poverty pushes Palestinians towards "extremism" (albeit without looking at the conditions that created and maintain the poverty) goes against the current Israeli strategy for Gaza, where policies are deliberately intended to destroy the local economy and quality of life.

This seeming contradiction can be understood by the Israeli government's attitude to Hamas: punish the residents of Gaza and hit hard the group's interests in the West Bank. The "economy first" strategy, then, is intended for a West Bank dominated by a cooperative Palestinian leadership (made up of technocrats and elements within Fatah) and territorially carved into statelets and industrial zones.....

Netanyahu is thus speaking very much within the mainstream of Israeli politics and the "peace" discourse of the "international community", and if by talking more straightforwardly than others he attracts more flak, then perhaps this could serve to highlight the disingenuous futility of strategies currently favoured by both Knesset and Quartet."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hamas slams PA marketing of the "Arab initiative" minus "the right of return"

"GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement strongly denounced the PA in Ramallah for intending to publish advertisements in Hebrew language in Israeli newspapers in order to market the Arab peace initiative without mentioning the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum considered these advertisements a waiver of the Palestinian right of return and a reflection of the bankruptcy of the PA leadership which is trying to get anything through negotiations with the Israeli occupation in exchange for alleged peace.

"This is cheap marketing by the PA with regard to the rights of our people which we believe are extracted and not auctioned in this way," Barhoum underlined.

The spokesman stressed that the only way to recover the usurped Palestinian rights is not through begging but through the resistance.

Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni had said last week that the Arab peace initiative was good but not enough.

In the same context, the Israeli Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported that the PA in Ramallah intends to publish a commercial to market the Arab initiative for peace in different Hebrew media without including any word about the Palestinian right of return.

According to the newspaper, similar commercials would be published in American and European newspapers. The commercials would be in Israeli newspapers as of Thursday."

Calling a Spade a Spade......

Al-Qaida No. 2 insults Obama, using racial epithet to describe president-elect

"....The message appeared chiefly aimed at persuading Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policies. Ayman al-Zawahri said in the message, which appeared on militant Web sites, that Obama is "the direct opposite of honorable black Americans" like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader.

In al-Qaida's first response to Obama's victory, al-Zawahri also called the president-elect — along with secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice — "house negroes."

Speaking in Arabic, al-Zawahri uses the term "abeed al-beit," which literally translates as "house slaves." But al-Qaida supplied English subtitles of his speech that included the translation as "house negroes."

The message also includes old footage of speeches by Malcolm X in which he explains the term, saying black slaves who worked in their white masters' house were more servile than those who worked in the fields. Malcolm X used the term to criticize black leaders he accused of not standing up to whites......"

Who Will Stop the Settlers?

Rendered homeless, East Jerusalem's Al Kurd family now targeted in tent

Noise But No Action From US Over Family's Eviction


"The middle-of-the-night eviction last week of an elderly Palestinian couple from their home in East Jerusalem to make way for Jewish settlers is a demonstration of Israeli intent towards a future peace deal with the Palestinians.

Mohammed and Fawziya Khurd are now on the street, living in a tent, after Israeli police enforced a court order issued in July to expel them.

The couple have been living in the same property in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood since the mid-1950s, when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian control. The United Nations allotted them the land after they were expelled from their homes in territory that was seized by Israel during the 1948 war.

Since East Jerusalem’s occupation by Israel in 1967, however, Jewish settler groups have been waging a relentless battle for the Khurds’ home, claiming that the land originally belonged to Jews......."