Saturday, December 20, 2008
"- دوافع الأطراف المختلفة لقبول التهدئة- لماذا لم تجدد حماس التهدئة؟- أسئلة المرحلة التالية
أسئلة المرحلة التالية
من الواضح أن عدم تمديد اتفاق التهدئة يُدخل أطرافه الثلاثة في مأزق حقيقي، على تفاوت بينها، إذ سيجد الإسرائيليون أنفسهم في مأزق على مشارف الانتخابات، وحيث تنهمر الصواريخ من جديد على المستوطنات تاركة مئات الآلاف منهم أسرى الرعب والملاجئ، بينما ترد هي باغتيالات وهكذا دواليك.
أما الطرف المصري فيعيش حالة من الخوف والارتباك خشية التصعيد الشامل، إلى جانب مواجهة الاتهامات الشعبية العربية بخنق مليون ونصف مليون فلسطيني من أهالي القطاع، الأمر الذي سينعكس حراكا شعبياً داخليا قد يتطور أكثر فأكثر في حال تزامن مع تصعيد إسرائيلي.
حماس بدورها تعيش مأزق الخيارات في مواجهة هذه اللعبة، وفي ظل تواطؤ مصر الرسمية ضدها، ومواقف عربية أخرى تسجل أسوأ تحولاتها، كما هو حال الموقف السعودي، وهي ستدفع ثمنا كبيرا في المواجهة، لكنها تبدو واثقة من قدرتها على التصدي لأي اجتياح إسرائيلي، أكان جزئيا أم شاملا، من دون أن تغلق الباب أمام اتفاق تهدئة آخر بشروط جديدة وضمانات مختلفة.
في هذه الأثناء لا مجال أمام حماس سوى قلب الطاولة في وجه الإسرائيليين والنظام المصري في آن، ولن يتم ذلك من دون موقف انقلابي يعيد الاعتبار للقضية برمتها بعيدا عن هواجس السيطرة على قطاع غزة بأي ثمن.
في هذا السياق يبدو أن عليها التفكير في طريقة جديدة تؤكد قيادتها للمشهد الفلسطيني، ولن يتم ذلك سوى بطرح مبادرة مختلفة تحرج سلطة رام الله أمام الجمهور الفلسطيني، وأمام الشارع العربي والإسلامي، وستكون الأجواء أفضل من دون شك إذا أسفرت الانتخابات الإسرائيلية عن فوز الليكود بزعامة نتنياهو، وإن لم تتغير كثيراً في حال فوز ليفني التي لن تقدم عرضا مقبولا للفلسطينيين.
من الضروري هنا الحديث عن وضع جديد يرد على الانقسام الداخلي، في ذات الوقت الذي يرد فيه على عبث المفاوضات الجارية منذ سنوات، والتي لم توقف حركة الاستيطان والتهويد، كما لم توقف الاجتياحات والاعتقالات، في ذات الوقت الذي فرضت على فرعها (أعني حماس) في الضفة الغربية دفع ثمن باهظ لم يدفعه في أي من مراحل الصراع، وهو ثمن يجبى بيد سلطة الجنرال الأميركي دايتون ومعها سلطات الاحتلال.
عليها أن تتجه نحو الجمهور الفلسطيني، وكذلك شرفاء حركة فتح بمبادرة تخلص القضية من عبء السلطة وديمقراطيتها المصممة لخدمة الاحتلال، وهو ما يمكن أن يحدث عبر إعلان قطاع غزة قاعدة شبه محررة للمقاومة تدار بالتوافق بين الفصائل، مع إعلان برامج مقاومة في الضفة والقطاع حتى دحر الاحتلال (فرص المقاومة في القطاع، باستثناء الصواريخ تبدو أقل بوجود السياج وغياب الأهداف الإسرائيلية، بينما هي متوفرة في الضفة)، أقله حتى التحرير الكامل للأراضي المحتلة عام 67 من دون قيد أو شرط، وذلك بدل استجداء ما دون ذلك بكثير، معطوفا على اعتراف بما تبقى من فلسطين ملكاً للعدو من خلال المفاوضات.
ليس مهما أن يوافق محمود عباس وزمرة المنتفعين الذين يعيشون على مزايا الاحتلال على طرح من هذا النوع، وبالطبع لأنه طرح قد يؤدي إلى شطب السلطة، مع أن من الأفضل أن يفعل ذلك لكي يعود الصراع إلى وجهه الأصلي وتنتزع المزايا السياسية والأمنية والاقتصادية التي جناها الاحتلال من وجود تلك السلطة.
إن برنامجا من هذا النوع قد يساهم في استعادة حركة فتح من زمرة الاستسلاميين الذين سرقوها بعد اغتيال ياسر عرفات، وقد يحقق إجماعا فلسطينيا داخليا غير مسبوق، وقد تأكد على الدوام أن الفلسطينيين لا يتوحدون إلا على خيار المقاومة.
ثمة أجواء داخلية إسرائيلية، وإقليمية ودولية جديدة قد تساهم في دعم هذا الخيار، وعلى حماس أن تستغلها بدل البقاء في دائرة المراوحة والحديث عن شرعية وديمقراطية، وكأننا في السويد ولسنا في دولة تقع بالكامل تحت الاحتلال."
from Gaza to Larnaka and then Manchester -Uk
".......It has been very difficult for me to leave Gaza. I tried to leave several times to reach my youngest daughter who was not allowed re-entry to Gaza. She is now at one of the British schools trying hard to adjust to the educational, cultural, and social system here.
I am very busy trying to support my daughter, but at the same time I am anxious to go back home to continue my work. I cannot rest knowing of the difficulties and ordeals people face daily. I know exactly how inhumane life can be without electricity, gas, petrol, or a way out. And on top of that the daily military operations against Gaza.
With a torn heart, I sailed last week on board of one of the Free Gaza Movement boats and watched Gaza's beach slowly disappear. On the way to Larnaka I sobbed a lot. It was hard for me to be on board a small boat in the midst of a dangerous hostile sea and harder still was to think about the unpredictable future. Even though I was on my way to see my children I did not feel the normal, natural human feelings. You see, everything in Palestinian psychology is mixed with sadness, uncertainty, and great suffering.
When the captain announced that we had reached international waters, I threw fifteen bouquets of wild flowers from my garden in loving memory of the 15 fishermen who were killed by the Israeli naval forces in last five years. Their only crime was accidentally fishing farther out than the Israeli army permits, though they were still within Gazan waters according to international treaties. They were killed while trying to secure some sort of living for their families amidst the cruel, unjustified occupation and collective punishment that are imposed on all of us under the slogan of security. Their executions go against all humanitarian values.
I am looking forward to hearing from you. Please pass my warm regards to all the friends who support us in Gaza. It is with their solidarity that we can continue and show resilience during the most difficult times, while we face the occupation and the world's shameful silence.
Mona El Farra"
The siege -closure- and my personal story
"This time I’m writing my own very personal story. But it is also the story of 1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza who are living under the siege and the hurtful cruel occupation and collective punishment......
As for me, I was invited by the Palestine Solidarity Committee, Liverpool Friends of Palestine, and others to give talks about my life in Gaza. So I tell audiences about the Gazans who died because they weren’t allowed to travel abroad for treatment and we didn’t have the necessary medicines or equipment to treat them in Gaza. I explain what it’s like to live in the dark because the power supply is cut off most of the days and nights. I give voice to the hundreds of newborn and premature babies in our hospitals who are dying slowly , because we cannot accurately measure the gas system in their tiny bodies due to the interrupted power supply.
The numbers are staggering. Eighteen percent of children under the age of 15 in Gaza have stunted growth and forty-five percent have iron deficiency anemia due to lack of proper nutrition. Eighty percent of the population is now living in poverty and two thirds are refugees that were ethnically cleansed from their villages 60 years ago. More than 650,000 children under the age of 16 suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
But the stories are worse. I explain what it PTSD means for these children, how they suffer from all sorts of nightmares, anxiety, and inability to focus at school, phobias, bedwetting, stress, and depression.
But the worst feeling of all is our feeling of abandonment. Enduring the hardships of daily life in Gaza under the siege and occupation is less harmful than having to live day after day without hope. We are losing of faith in the outside world for not taking serious actions against Israel’s crimes against humanity in Gaza.
I'm determined to go back to Gaza, to continue my responsibilities, in the Red Crescent Society ,as well as my responsibilities as MECA Projects director, where I coordinate cultural and health projects , for children community centers and the relief work I coordinate for hundreds of families ,
. My life will be torn between the two things I love most: my children and my work for my people in Gaza."
"This video describes in pictures and words the shocking details of Israels deliberate ravaging of Palestinian life and society in Gaza. Its purpose is to call attention to the plight of a people under siege, which so far has been chillingly ignored by governments and the world media unwilling to call Israel to account for its criminal execution of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from their own land. The video was created by Sonja Karkar for Australians for Palestine on 9 December 2008 using images captured by various courageous photographers on the ground in Gaza, and the haunting sounds of Sada (Echo), composed and played on the oud by Ahmad Al-Khatib. See, http://www.australiansforpalestine.com "
"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date : 12-20-2008.........
(Gaza Port, Gaza, 20 December 2008) The DIGNITY pulled into Gaza Port at 8:00 am today after the Israeli Navy threatened to board them and take the two Israelis off the boat. "We know you have Israelis on board, so either turn back, or we will board and take them off," said the voice on the radio.
"We are going to Gaza," Huwaida Arraf, the delegation leader, replied.
Neta Golan, one of the Israelis on board and a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement stated, "Countries that commit crimes against humanity often hide those crimes from their own people. Israel is doing exactly that, by not allowing Israelis to come in to witness what they are doing in our name."
The Dignity also carries two envoys from the Eid Charity in Qatar who are going to Gaza to assess the tragedy there. They will go back with concrete proposals on what they can do to help alleviate Israel's collective punishment of the 1.5 Palestinians.
"This is just the beginning. We are delighted that we are finally able to see the shores of Gaza and be the first Arab envoys to arrive. We will see how we can work together to help relieve this terrible situation in Gaza," said Alaze Al-Qahtani.
This is the fifth voyage for the Free Gaza movement. "Everyone said it couldn't be done, that we would never be able to get to Gaza. But we have now arrived for the fifth time. Now, other ships, especially cargo ships, need to follow in our wake," said Darlene Wallach, one of the internationals kidnapped from a Palestinian fishing boat by the Israeli navy on l8 November......"
by Jonathan Cook
"Jewish peace groups have accused the Israeli police of fueling racism by canceling a "Jewish Pride" march by a far-right group that was to have taken place through one of the largest Arab towns in Israel.
The police postponed the march, due last Monday, claiming they had evidence extremist residents of Umm al Fahm in northern Israel would open fire on the marchers and police.
"There was a real danger that lives could be lost," said a police spokesman, adding that the decision to ban the march would be reassessed in two weeks.
But local Arab leaders and Jewish peace activists claimed the police concocted the story to justify the cancellation of the march. Thousands of Jews had planned to form a human chain with the residents of Umm al Fahm at the entrance to the town to block the way of the Jewish National Front.
Adam Keller, of the peace group Gush Shalom, said the planned show of solidarity would have been nonviolent. He denounced the police for exploiting the stereotype of violent Arab citizens promoted by the marchers, many of whom are hardline settlers in the West Bank.
"It is a supreme irony that we had organized for thousands of Arabs and Jews to prove we can live here as citizens in harmony," he said. "Then the police cancel the march but use the false pretext that the marchers are in danger rather than that they seek to inflame violence."
Claims by the police that Arab residents would shoot at the marchers were derided by Jewish and Arab organizations......."
By Robert Fisk
"......And Lord Blair, since he'll be communing with God next week, might also reflect that he still – to his shame – hasn't visited Gaza. But the nit-picking has got to be our old friend United Nations Security Council Resolution 242. This, you'll recall, was supposed to be the resolution that would guide all future peace efforts in the Middle East; Oslo was supposed to have been founded on it and all sorts of other processes and summits and road maps......
Readers who know the problem here will be joined by those who will immediately pick it up. The Israelis say that they are not required to withdraw from all the territories – because the word "all" is missing and since the definite article "the" is missing before the word "territories", its up to Israel to decide which bits of the occupied territories it gives up and which bits it keeps.......
I've been going back through my files on 242 and discovered a most elucidating paper by John McHugo, who was a visiting fellow at the Scottish Centre for International Law at Edinburgh University. He points out that pro-Israeli lawyers have been saying for some years that "Resolution 242 unanimously called for withdrawal from 'territories' rather than withdrawal from 'all the territories'. Its choice of words was deliberate... they signify that withdrawal if required from some but not all the territories".
...... The French and Spanish versions of the text actually use the definite article. But the Brits – apparently following a bit of strong-arm tactics from the Americans – did not use "the"...... Abba Eban, Israel's man on the East River, did his best to persuade Caradon to delete both "the" and the bit about the inadmissability of territory through war. He won the first battle, but not the second.......
It's intriguing to note that several other nations at the UN were troubled by the absence of "the"........ In other words, the future tragedy was spotted at the time. But we did nothing. The Americans had stitched it up and the Brits went along with it. The Arabs were not happy but foolishly – and typically – relied on Caradon's assurances that "all" the territories was what 242 meant, even if it didn't say so. Israel still fought hard to get rid of the "inadmissability" bit, even when it had got "the" out.
Ye gods! Talk about sewing the seeds of future catastrophe. Well, Colin Powell, when he was George W Bush's secretary of state, gutlessly told US diplomats to call the West Bank "disputed" rather than "occupied" – which suited the Israelis just fine although, as McHugo pointed out, the Israelis might like to consider what would happen if the Arabs talked about those bits of Israel which were not included in the original UN partition plan as "disputed" as well. Besides, George W's infamous letter to Ariel Sharon, saying he could, in effect, keep large bits of the West Bank, set the seal on Johnson's deception.
McHugo mischievously adds that a mandatory warning in a city that says "dogs must be kept on the lead near ponds in the park" clearly means that "all" dogs and "all" ponds are intended. These days, of course, we use walls to keep dogs out. Palestinians, too. "
Bush will probably have to pardon Rumsfeld and Cheney – so how about adding shoe-thrower Muntazar al-Zaidi to the list?
guardian.co.uk, Friday 19 December 2008
"Hey! Congratulations on the way you dodged those shoes! You made it look so easy – like you'd being dodging stuff all your life! And that smart remark likening the incident to "driving down the street and having people not gesturing with all five fingers" – whatever it meant it sounded cool, man! Fantastic!
But I'm a bit worried about what's happened since. Muntazar al-Zaidi has become a bit of a hero – with all those rallies in Sadr city and Fallujah, with people marching around holding up their shoes like the crowd scenes in Monty Python's Life of Brian. And the longer he stays in custody of the Iraqi police the more of a martyr he is likely to appear. His brother, Dargham, says he's already had his hand and several ribs broken, and is suffering from internal bleeding and has an eye injury. And some say he's liable to seven years imprisonment (some even say 15), but as long as he remains being beaten up in prison he's liable to be seen as a martyr.
So would it would it be OK for me to offer you a little bit of advice, Mr President? You know it's customary for US presidents on their last day of office to issue a slew of pardons, so why not pardon Zaidi as you go – you know, just to undermine his position as hero/martyr of the Muslim world.
Now, I know he's officially in the hands of the Iraqi police, but you and I and the rest of the world knows that Nouri al-Maliki will do more or less whatever you like and he's bound to take a lenient view, if you do.......
And while I'm thinking about it, it might be advisable to pardon yourself before you leave office for any possible war crimes, such as your involvement in killing and maiming over a million Iraqi civilians over the last few years, destroying their country's infrastructure, destabilising the place and creating chaos in the Middle East.
If Zaidi gets 15 years for throwing his shoes at you, Mr President, there could be problems getting away with all that. Best to pardon him, as well as Cheney, Rumsfeld and yourself, and get it over with.
What d'you say?"
Friday, December 19, 2008
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
"....In terms of financial and psychological impact, Bernard Maddow’s $50 billion heist certainly ranks as a major ethnic cleansing here in America, a hugely traumatic event for American Jewry. Of course Madoff had clients of every creed and nation, but he made a specialty of trolling for Jewish money....
"‘It’s an atomic bomb in the world of Jewish philanthropy,’ Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network, told Anthony Weiss and Gabrielle Birkner of The Forward newspaper. ‘There’s going to be fallout from this for years to come.’ The collapse of the investment firm of Bernard Madoff has opened a black hole at the center of the tight knit circles of wealthy Jews who socialize and do business together, and who, year after year, support Jewish causes… ”.....
To keep their libraries, laboratories, scholarship programs, hospital services, meal programs and the like, universities and other non-profits who continue to operate in the wake of the Madoff scandal will also almost certainly have to retain law firms to combat efforts to strip those non-profits of past Madoff-related donations – whether directly from Madoff or indirectly from Madoff investors.”
Maybe not. Since a lot of Madoff-derived money went to Israel, I think perhaps we will soon see Congress rush through legislation to limit the liability of Madoff recipient non-profits, with President Obama , whose campagn contributions surely included Madoff money too, only too happy to sign on the dotted line......"
A Very Good Comment
By RANNIE AMIRI
(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)
"Gaza is an island.
Although located in the middle of the Arab world and bordering one of its principal and most populous countries, it could very well be in the middle of the ocean, isolated and unbeknownst to anyone. Its residents, if given the choice, may actually prefer this setting than bear witness to the malignant neglect afforded them by their fellow Arabs as Gaza inexorably withers under the barbaric Israeli siege.
If there were any doubts of its dire situation, they were removed by Dr. Richard Falk, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories.
On Dec. 9, Falk clearly and forcefully stated that, "An urgent effort should be made at the United Nations to implement the agreed norm of a responsibility to protect a civilian population being collectively punished by policies that amount to a Crime Against Humanity.”
Yes, crimes against humanity are being committed in Gaza according to a Jewish-American professor of international law, and nary a peep was heard from Cairo, Amman, Riyadh or Doha.....
In the face of Dr. Falk’s and the UNHRC’s findings and conclusions, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, King Abdullah of Jordan, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the princes, sheikhs and emirs of the Gulf fiefdoms, and the feckless Arab League, all remained silent......
The Real Threat Posed by Gaza: Democracy
No one should be surprised at the Arabs’ foot dragging (at best) or collusion with the Israelis (at worst) in maintaining the siege.
Egypt is the most egregious offender of course, easily able to open the Rafah crossing at will, or permanently, to allow desperately needed supplies in, and civilians in need of medical care, out. The deafening—and deadly—silence from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states is not unexpected. In the July 2006 invasion and destruction of Lebanon for example, the leaders of all of these nations gave their tacit approval to the Israeli onslaught in the hopes that Hezbollah would ultimately be destroyed.
But what threat does Hezbollah and Hamas pose to them?
These groups are looked at much differently in the Middle East than in Western Europe or the United States. Whereas the latter two narrowly question how they may imperil Israel, the Arab leaders question what ramifications the democratic elections they call for, or were elected by, may have on their own grip on power......"
(Richard Falk is professor of international law at Princeton University and the UN's special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories)
guardian.co.uk, Friday 19 December 2008
"On December 14, I arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Israel to carry out my UN role as special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories.
I was leading a mission that had intended to visit the West Bank and Gaza to prepare a report on Israel's compliance with human rights standards and international humanitarian law. Meetings had been scheduled on an hourly basis during the six days, starting with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, the following day.
I knew that there might be problems at the airport. Israel had strongly opposed my appointment a few months earlier and its foreign ministry had issued a statement that it would bar my entry if I came to Israel in my capacity as a UN representative.......
The purpose of my reports is to document on behalf of the UN the urgency of the situation in Gaza and elsewhere in occupied Palestine. Such work is particularly important now as there are signs of a renewed escalation of violence and even of a threatened Israeli reoccupation.
Before such a catastrophe happens, it is important to make the situation as transparent as possible, and that is what I had hoped to do in carrying out my mission. Although denied entry, my effort will continue to use all available means to document the realities of the Israeli occupation as truthfully as possible."
"أعرب أعضاء من حملة "غزة الحرة" التي تسعى إلى فك الحصار عن القطاع المحاصر عن استغرابهم وأسفهم لتصريحات الرئيس الفلسطيني محمود عباس التي وصف فيها سفن فك الحصار بالمحاولات السخيفة، وتشكيكه في جدوى تلك المحاولات.
وفي تصريحات للجزيرة نت قال فاغيليس بيسياس رئيس الحملة ومالك السفينتين اللتين قامتا بأول رحلة تجاه غزة، إنه لما سمع الخبر من وسائل الإعلام اعتقد أن الأمر مجرد شائعة وبأنه لا يمكن صدور مثل هذا التصريح.
ولكنه مع تأكيد الخبر تشكل لديه رأي بأن من يدلي بهذه التصريحات "لا يمكن أن يكون زعيما فلسطينيا"، متسائلا "كيف يمكن لهذه الكلمات القليلة أن تحوي كل هذا الكم من عدم الدقة وإنكار جهود المجموعة؟".
وأوضح بيسياس أنه تريث طويلا في التعقيب على التصريحات للتأكد أولا ولفهم دواعيها ثانيا، مؤكدا أنه لا يزال عاجزا عن فهم السبب وراءها.
لا تفتيش إسرائيليا
وأضاف أن الجميع يعلم أن نشطاء فك الحصار لم يكن لديهم خلال رحلتهم أي اتصال مع السلطات الإسرائيلية ولم يقبلوا بأي تفتيش إسرائيلي لسفينتهم، وهذا الأمر تؤكده الوثائق الرسمية للرحلة وتصريحات مسؤولي الحملة لوسائل الإعلام العالمية.
وأوضح بيسياس أن السبب في هذا الرفض هو أن النشطاء رفضوا أن تمارس إسرائيل أي سلطة مخالفة للقانون الدولي، وأنهم اعتقدوا أن لا حق لها في تفتيش ركاب أو محتوى أي سفينة ترفع علما أجنبيا (العلم اليوناني) في المياه الدولية أو في المجال البحري لقطاع غزة.
وأكد أن السلطات الوحيدة التي قامت بتفتيش قانوني للسفينتين كانت سلطات المرافئ في اليونان وقبرص.
كما استنتج بيسياس أنه من غير المقبول أن يحاول أي أحد أن يغير المعنى الرمزي لمحاولة كسر الحصار وهو التضامن المجرد مع الشعب الفلسطيني بأكمله خاصة مع شعب غزة المحاصر.
واعتبر أيضا أن التصريحات مرفوضة كذلك لأمر آخر وهو أن النشطاء لم يتدخلوا في أي أمر فلسطيني داخلي وقبلوا نتائج الانتخابات الديمقراطية التي أجراها، كما أنهم يدعمون فكرة المقاومة الفلسطينية الموحدة وهي الفكرة التي وصفها بالمقدسة.
واختتم بيسياس بالقول إن هذه التصريحات (تصريح الرئيس الفلسطيني) "ترتد على الذين يقبلون بالهيمنة الإسرائيلية على الشعب الفلسطيني وللأسف هم تصالحوا مع تلك الهيمنة"، معتبرا أن رده يعبر عن آراء المشاركين في حملة "غزة الحرة" الدولية.
وفي تصريحات أخرى للجزيرة نت قال ناشط من حملة "غزة الحرة" طلب عدم الكشف عن هويته إنه من المستغرب في تصريحات الرئيس الفلسطيني أن تطلب إيصال المساعدات عبر مصر أو الأردن، مذكرا أن الأردن ليس له حدود برية مع غزة وأن السلطات المصرية لم تضمن علنا مرور المساعدات عبر حدودها كما أن المعبر بينها وبين القطاع يبقى مقفلا لفترات طويلة.
وأوضح الناشط أن هناك سببا مهما وهو أن الشعوب والحضارات المتوسطية منذ القديم عرفت التواصل البحري الذي أغنى ثقافاتها وفنونها وأنه ليس من المنطقي أن تحرم من هذا التواصل لأي سبب من الأسباب.
وكان الرئيس الفلسطيني أدلى بتصريحات اعتبر فيها أن حركة فك الحصار عن قطاع غزة لعبة سخيفة وأن السلطات الإسرائيلية تفتش وتوافق على ركاب ومحتوى السفن، مطالبا بتسليم تلك المساعدات عبر مصر أو الأردن."
"Wall Street broker Bernard (‘Bernie’) Madoff, former president of NASDAQ, revered and respected investor confessed to pulling off the biggest fraud in history, a $50 billion dollar scam. Bernie was known for his generous philanthropy, especially to Zionist, Jewish and Israeli causes......"
"The Free Gaza Movement is sending the Dignity on its fifth mission to Gaza .....
On the eve of this voyage, the Free Gaza Movement would like to correct a few of the statements made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a December 11 interview with Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. In that interview, Abbas suggesting that our efforts are coordinated with the Israelis – that the Israelis check the passports of the passengers aboard our ship and officials from the Israeli Embassy in Larnaca, Cyprus, check our boat before we leave the port.
And as a result of this interference, President Abbas stated that ours is a "silly game" and that we are not really breaking the siege.
We do not coordinate any of our actions with the Israelis. Israel has grossly abused its authority as an occupying power by collectively punishing the people of Gaza and denying them basic human rights. As such, we neither seek Israel's permission, nor submit to their searches, to assert the right of the Palestinian people to have access to the outside world, which includes the right to invite and welcome us to Gaza.
So, why do we get in, while other efforts are stopped by the Israeli authorities? Because we remove the "security" pretext with which Israel tries to justify its brutal actions and inhumane policies towards the Palestinian people. Amongst other things, we publicize our passenger list; we depart from Cyprus, a neutral European country; and we submit to a search by the Cypriot Port Authorities to verify that we are not carrying anything that can be considered a threat to Israel's security. We sail from Cyprus waters, into international waters, directly into Gaza's territorial waters, without entering Israeli waters. Israel realizes that it cannot stop us without using force against us, because we will not be turned around easily.
President Abbas' statement that we coordinate with the Israelis was misinformed. However, Abbas was correct when he said that we are not really breaking the siege on Gaza. Our boats cannot break the siege alone. Our hope is that we have started something that others can build on. We have shown that the concerted efforts of ordinary civilians working together in the name of justice can confront and successfully challenge Israel's brutal policies and hope we have inspired other people to break their silence over Israel's war crimes in the Gaza Strip and throughout the occupied Palestinian territory. From the continued and accelerated Judaization of Jerusalem and the rabid violence of the settler movement, to the vicious racism of Israeli politicians, Israel is committing massive violations against the people Gaza and Palestine as a whole. The world must stand up to this.
The Free Gaza Movement will continue to send boats to Gaza to challenge Israel's imprisonment of 1.5 million Palestinians, and we will continue to work for freedom and justice for all of the Palestinian people. We do not need Israel's permission and we will never ask for it. We do need President Abbas, the Arab world, and the entire international community to join us. "
(Cartoon by Khalil Bendib)
"19/12/2008 The Egyptian government sensed the growing outrage at the closure of the Rafah crossing which has left Gaza and its people in an inhumane situation. As action in the Arab and Islamic worlds began Friday to break the siege of Gaza, Egypt’s foreign ministry sought to justify the closure of the sole lung that 1.5 million Gazans breath from. In a statement, the ministry played on the international law chord to justify the closure and pinned the blame on Israel for the situation in Gaza.
"The legal status of the Gaza Strip stipulates that the Palestinian is still under Israeli occupation," the ministry said. "Israel still controls the sea and the airspace of the Gaza Strip, as well as most of its borders and crossings," the statement added.
"Under international law and the 4th Geneva Convention in particular, Israel, as the occupying power, must ensure the basic needs of the inhabitants of the territory it occupies are met, such as electricity, water, fuel, food and medicine."
The statement warned against “responding to the suggestion that the Strip is considered as a liberated territory” saying this goes with the “plot aimed to burden Egypt with the responsibility of administering Gaza…This will never be acceptable as it gives Israel the ideal exit from the impasse of occupation.”
"Since June 2007, and following the expulsion of members of the Palestinian Authority from the Strip’s crossings and the withdrawal of European observers, the Palestinian party has seized to have legal capacity to administer the crossing of Rafah which lies on the Palestinian side, which necessitates that Egypt waits for the legitimate Palestinian party which has the legal capacity to administer the crossing.” [COMMENT: What a lie and outrage! But what do you expect from the despicable Ehud Mubarak!]....."
"19/12/2008 Action to end the inhumane Gaza siege has started from Lebanon…
Lebanon, the country of Resistance and patriotism, raised on Friday the voice in response to Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s call, expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people amid a "suspicious" Arab and international calm.
On Monday, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah called upon all Arabs and Muslims to start actions against the siege. His eminence has called on all Lebanese, regardless of the political affiliations, to take part in the action given the importance of the central cause of Palestine. "I call on all the Lebanese, regardless of whether they are loyal to March 8 or 14, to participate in the demonstration that Hezbollah will organize on Friday at 2 PM," Sayyed Nasrallah said.
The response was quick. Lebanese, from all regions, answered on Friday the call… Tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians took part in the first announced step in the massive movement to protest the inhumane siege, call for freedom of Gaza and reject the Arab official calm...... "
The report, "The 2006 Lebanon Campaign and the Future of Warfare: Implications for Army and Defense Policy," warns against placing too heavy an emphasis on classic guerrilla warfare, and raises the possibility of further non-state actors following the Lebanese militant group's example.
"Hezbollah's 2006 campaign in southern Lebanon has been receiving increasing attention as a prominent recent example of a non-state actor fighting a Westernized state," the authors of the report state. "In particular, critics of irregular-warfare transformation often cite the 2006 case as evidence that non-state actors can nevertheless wage conventional warfare in state-like ways." .......
The authors give a high grade to Hezbollah's performance in the 2006 war, describing it as more effective than that of any Arab army that confronted Israel in the Jewish state's history, and that Hezbollah militants wounded more Israelis per fighter than any previous Arab effort.
Unlike a traditional guerrilla force, however, Hezbollah emphasized holding territory and digging in to bunkers, instead of the usual tactic of hiding among civilian populations. Likewise, the militant organization's discipline and coordination highly resembled those of conventional armies.......
The anger, disbelief and protests over this situation have become muted. The people of Qalqilya are waking up to the reality of near imprisonment. The town's legislators spend most of their time in Israeli prisons without being charged of anything.
"The wall is killing the people of Qalqilya", says Emat, a 25-year-old shopkeeper. "Nothing comes in, nothing goes out, we can't make a living. The people here are almost dead."
Behind Emat's empty street is the entrance to the daily vegetable market. A quiet one by Arab standards, with a total of about 20 vegetable stalls. Ten years ago, thousands of Israelis came to this market, making Qalqilya the richest city then in the West Bank.
The economic damage caused by the wall has been enormous, says deputy mayor Dr. Mohammad Hashem Al-Masri ...."
December 18, 2008
"Over the years, Washington has evolved into a city of deceptions where semantics cloud reality and where a hazy mix of lies, half-truths and mythology can combine to unleash the devastating military might of the United States for no good reason.....
Change with Obama?
The big question now is whether President Obama will bring any meaningful change to the deceptive mindset of the Washington Establishment. Or will Obama bend to Washington’s potent conventional wisdom which incorporates these pleasing narratives?
So far, it appears the Washington Establishment is winning out. Obama’s transition has been so much to the liking of the power elite that everyone from Dick Cheney and Henry Kissinger to the many neoconservative writers on the Washington Post and New York Times editorial pages have been pinching themselves to make sure they’re not dreaming.
They have cheered lustily over Obama’s national security picks, particularly the decision to retain Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who oversaw President Bush’s “surge” of about 30,000 troops in Iraq in 2007-2008 after Donald Rumsfeld balked at doing so.
The Gates choice is especially heartwarming to the neocons because it reinforces an important argument as they rehabilitate themselves in the wake of the Iraq fiasco. By keeping Gates, Obama is acquiescing to the myth of the “successful surge,” which the neocons see as crucial in validating their war judgment and discrediting their critics....."
By Ramzy Baroud
"......But Gaza’s history became more relevant to the refugees when it appeared that their temporary journey to the Strip was likely to be extended. Only then the area’s many stories of conquerors, tragedies, triumphs but also sheer goodness, became of essence. A pilgrim to the Holy Land, who passed through Gaza in 570 AD, wrote in Latin, “Gaza is a splendid city, full of pleasant things; the men in it are most honest, distinguished by every generosity, and warm to friends and visitors.”
Gaza’s history became even more relevant when the refugees realized that their violent encounters with Israel were not yet over, and that they needed the moral tenacity to survive what would eventually be viewed as one of most severe humanitarian catastrophes in recent memory. And indeed, there was much history to marvel upon, and from which to extract strength and substantiation.
Conquerors came and went, and Gaza stood where it still stands today. This was the recurring lesson for generations, even millennia. Ancient Egyptians came and went, as did the Hyksos, the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Ottomans, the British, and now the Israelis. And through it all, Gaza stood strong and defiant. Neither Alexander the Great’s bloody conquest of 332 BC, nor Alexander Janneus’s brutal attack of 96 BC broke Gaza’s spirit or took away from its eternal grandeur. It always rose again to reach a degree of civilianisation unheard of, as it did in the 5th century AD.
It was in Gaza that the Crusaders surrendered their strategic control of the city to Saladin in 1170, only to open up yet another era of prosperity and growth, occasionally interrupted by conquerors and outsiders with colonial designs, but to no avail.
All the neglected ruins of past civilisations were only reminders that Gaza’s enemies would never prevail, and would, at best, merely register their presence by another neglected structure of concrete and rocks.
Now Gaza is undergoing another phase of hardship and defiance. Its modern conquerors are as unpitying as its ancient ones. True, Gaza is ailing, but standing, it people resourceful and durable as ever, defiant as they have always been, and hell-bent on surviving, for that’s what Gazans do best. And I should know, it’s my hometown."
"More than 10,000 Pakistanis protested Thursday against allowing U.S. forces to ship supplies through Pakistan into Afghanistan in a sign of growing pressure on Islamabad to harden its foreign policy.
It was one of the largest rallies against the government since it took office in March. Militants have attacked trucks using the critical Khyber Pass route several times in recent weeks......
"We will no longer let arms and ammunition pass through ... and reach the hands of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan," he told the crowd. "They are using the same against our innocent brothers, sisters and children."......"
By Justin Raimondo
(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)
"The idea that the United States is the global hegemon, that we have first dibs on the title of world policemen – indeed, our entire post-WWII foreign policy – is nothing but a delusion. That is one of the chief lessons of the recent economic downturn, one that, unfortunately, the incoming administration has yet to face up to – and the pundits (ensconced as they are in the culture of hubris) have yet to realize......
By Gareth Porter
"US military leaders and Pentagon officials have made it clear through public statements and deliberately leaked stories in recent weeks that they plan to violate a central provision of the US-Iraq withdrawal agreement requiring the complete withdrawal of all US combat troops from Iraqi cities by mid-2009 by reclassifying combat troops as support troops.
The scheme to engage in chicanery in labeling US troops represents both open defiance of an agreement which the US military has never accepted and a way of blocking President-elect Barack Obama's proposed plan for withdrawal of all US combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of his taking office.
By redesignating tens of thousands of combat troops as support troops, those officials apparently hope to make it difficult, if not impossible, for Obama to insist on getting all combat troops out of the country by mid-2010......
Further evidence emerged last week that Gates is a central figure in that effort. In a Washington Post column Dec. 11, George Will quoted Gates as saying that there is bipartisan congressional support for "a long-term residual presence" of as many as 40,000 US troops in Iraq, and such a presence for "decades" has been the standard practice following "major US military operations" since the beginning of the Cold War.
Those statements evidently represent part of the case Gates, Mullen and the military commanders are already making behind the scenes to get Obama to acquiesce in the subversion of the intent of the US-Iraq agreement. "
"Despite a truce between Israel and Hamas, residents in the Gaza Strip still suffer. Deposed Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniya is due to announce whether Hamas will extend a six month truce with Israel soon. Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reports."
The Guardian, Friday 19 December 2008
"Now they want to bolt the stable door. With British troops at last due to leave Iraq next spring, everyone is for a public inquiry. That is fine. But what about an inquiry into where they are going, straight from the frying pan into the fire, from Iraq to Afghanistan? In Basra the British army had at least a tattered remnant of a war plan. In Helmand the only plan is to be target practice for the Taliban.
The Iraq inquest can be written on a postcard. A British force was sent on the false claim by Tony Blair that Iraq was a threat to Britain. How this made sense was never explained, despite the efforts of Alastair Campbell and his colleagues. It has since emerged that Blair simply could not bring himself to desert the American president, George Bush. That in a nutshell is why 178 British servicemen and women have died in Iraq.......
Frankness continues to be the greatest casualty of these wars. Those who cheered on Iraq and Afghanistan - from left as well as right - dare not admit they might have been wrong. Now a rewriting of the Iraq epilogue as a mission well accomplished is acting as a lethal magnet, drawing British policy to similar disaster and British troops to their deaths in Helmand.
The essence of moral judgment is universality. Eager inquirers should now be turning their gaze to the dusty heights of Kabul. Brown may be relying on the army's spirit of "their's not to reason why; their's but to do or die". That is a soldier's duty, but it is not the duty of a democrat. His duty is precisely to reason why."
Thursday, December 18, 2008
"The Israeli national flag flies high, defiant and arrogant over the Palestinian home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. This flag has never looked as repulsive as it does in the heart of this Palestinian neighborhood, above the home of a Palestinian family that suddenly lost everything. The head of the house, Mohammed al-Kurd, died 11 days after the eviction. Now his widow lives in a tent. The house is reached via a narrow alley: Here Moshe and Avital Shoham and Emanuel and Yiska Dagan live happily. They are the settlers who managed to expel the Palestinian tenants and take over another outpost, in the heart of East Jerusalem. House after house, the transfer here is especially quiet: The media barely report on these houses of contention......"
In a press statement, emailed to press, the UNRWA stated that the food aid delivery will be suspended due to the fact that its warehouses have been run out of basic items such as wheat amidst current siege crisis.
The statement explained that all crossings, leading to the Gaza Strip, have been closed by Israel for the last six weeks, in a time more than half of Gaza's 1.5 million residents are dependent on its food aid.
Last month, the UNRWA ran out of such essential food assistance to Gaza's population as Israel imposed a restrictive closure on the coastal region. UN officials have warned of a looming humanitarian crisis unless crossings are reopened.
During a special interview with IMEMC's correspondent in Gaza last month, UNRWA's operations director, Jhon Ging, described the situation in Gaza as miserable, calling for an end to violence and counter violence in the territory........ "
"Delegates to this week's groundbreaking, wide-ranging, 33-country Latin American and Caribbean summit in Brazil understandably devoted much time to Cuba, and its testy relations with the United States. This is just one of the challenges facing US president-elect Barack Obama in a fast-integrating Latin America in which China, Russia and Iran are increasingly active....."
By Gareth Porter
"Iran's new position in the Middle East depends on its cultural, spiritual and political ties with other Shi'ite populations and movements, most importantly the emergence of Iraq's Shi'ite-dominated regime. Iran's "natural influence" may prove more fundamental and durable than any influence the United States seeks to gain with its military....."
This is the concluding article in a five-part series.
(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)
He declared his backing to the return of policy of assassination against the Hamas leaders.
Mofaz previously served as war minister and is accused of numerous war crimes where many Palestinian women, children and elderly were killed on his orders in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas Movement, said on Wednesday that it was not rushing for truce with the "Zionist enemy" since the latter never abided by the calm agreement.
Abu Obaida, the armed wing's spokesman, told Qassam website that the current form of calm was not likely to be extended.
He said that his armed wing would resist any possible Israeli invasion of the Strip with all available means, warning the "Zionist enemy" that any military adventure into the Strip would be met with severe resistance."
(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)
"Israel on Sunday, 14 December, hosted a virulently anti-Islam conference in Jerusalem, with a number of fascist-minded speakers from Israel and abroad taking part in the one-day event.
The conference was addressed by notorious Islamophobes such as Daniel Pipes, Dutch Legislator Greet Wilders and right-wing Israeli lawmaker Aryeh Eldad.
Wilders, a self-confessed hater of Islam, praised Israel for holding the conference in occupied Jerusalem, saying that it was the time for such an event to take place in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe.
He added, however, that the “cost of security would be much higher in Holland than in Israel.”
After making characteristically venomous remarks about Islam, the Quran and Muslims,
Wilders received a standing ovation, reflecting growing fascist trends in Israel......"
"Shoes are a weapon of the masses. The fact is that most do not have the means to defend against their foreign invaders equipped with superior American-made weaponry. Shoes, like stones and most other projectiles used by people under occupation are not about defeating or causing physical damage to the enemy. It is a symbolic act, and one filled with anger, like I'm sure all of us at one point have thrown something during a fit. It is a clear and simple message from the people to the occupiers that they are not welcome. And it is a message that the occupiers and its media so arrogantly refuse to admit....."
"A Hamas spokesman on Thursday ruled out renewing the truce in and around the Gaza Strip and insisted the Palestinian movement had a duty to respond to any attack by Israel. A Hamas spokesman on Thursday ruled out renewing the truce in and around the Gaza Strip and insisted the Palestinian movement had a duty to respond to any attack by Israel. "There is no possibility of renewing the truce which ends on December 19 (Friday)....."
"President Bush finally found the long-missing Weapons of Mass Humiliation in Iraq. Iraqis, millions of them, are wearing them on their feet. Not exactly WMDs, but WMHs will have to do.
Unfortunately, Bush discovered the WMHs when a pair of them sailed past his head at a press conference in Baghdad. The hurler, Muntader al-Zaidi, is already a hero in Iraq, and beyond......"
عبد الباري عطوان
السؤال الذي يطرح نفسه بقوة حالياً، هو عما سيحدث بعد يوم الجمعة، اي بعد انتهاء اتفاق الهدنة، ورد فعل كل طرف من الأطراف المعنية؟
الاجابة على هذا السؤال يمكن تلخيصها في النقاط التالية:
أولاً: 'حماس' أدركت انها تعرضت لخديعة كبرى على يد الوسيط المصري الذي لم يلتزم بربط التهدئة في قطاع غزة بأخرى في الضفة، بمعنى منع اعتقال ومطاردة عناصرها ومنظمات المقاومة الأخرى في الضفة، وفتح معبر رفح بصورة دائمة، ولهذا لن تقبل بأي وساطة مصرية جديدة، او على الاقل بالصورة والاسلوب السابقين، فهناك حالة من عدم الثقة متضخمة بين الجانبين. الامر الآخر هو شعور 'حماس' بأن 'الهدنة' التي انتهكها الطرف الاسرائيلي، ولم يحترمها الجانب المصري، اضعفت من شعبية الحركة، ومصداقيتها السياسية، خاصة عندما استغلتها سلطة رام الله في تصوير حركة حماس على انها متهالكة على التفاوض مع الاسرائيليين من اجل تهدئة، بينما عباس يتفاوض في رام الله من اجل دولة.
الأرجح ان تواصل 'حماس' التحلي بأعلى درجات الانضباط ولكن دون اتفاق، والرد على اي توغل او عدوان اسرائيلي باطلاق صواريخ على المستوطنات الاسرائيلية، والاستعداد في الوقت نفسه لمواجهة اي اجتياح اسرائيلي، والعمل بدأب سياسياً واعلامياً على كسر الحصار المتوقع ان يتضاعف على قطاع غزة.
ثانياً: حكومة 'كاديما' الاسرائيلية قد تضطر وهي على بعد شهرين من الانتخابات الى توغلات صغيرة كمقدمة لاجتياح موسع ضد قطاع غزة لتعزيز شعبيتها، وتحسين حظوظها الانتخابية، بعد ان أكدت استطلاعات الرأي تقدما كبيرا لليكود بزعامة بنيامين نتنياهو.
ما يشجع حكومة اولمرت على هذا التوجه وجود مباركة عربية، خاصة مما تسمى بدول الاعتدال التي تعتبر 'حماس' رأس حربة للنفوذ الايراني السوري ومصدر احراج لهذا المحور باستمرارها في المقاومة وتعبئة الرأي العام العربي ضده.
ثالثا: الحكومة المصرية تعتبر 'حماس' الخطر الخارجي الاكبر على امنها، وليست اسرائيل بسبب العلاقة المتطورة والقوية بين حماس وحركة 'الاخوان المسلمين' المعارضة التي تزداد قوة في الشارع المصري. وصرح الدكتور مصطفى الفقي رئيس لجنة العلاقات الخارجية في البرلمان المصري، والمقرب من الرئاسة، ان مصر لن تسمح مطلقاً بقيام امارة اسلامية في غزة.
العام الجديد، وباختصار شديد، هو عام التصعيد العسكري، بعد فشل العمل السياسي. ولا نبالغ اذا قلنا ان كل المؤشرات على الارض تصب في مصلحة التطرف ومنظماته، ليس في الاراضي الفلسطينية فقط، وانما في كل انحاء العالم الاسلامي."
"The United Nation's top human rights official has condemned Israel's expulsion of Richard Falk, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Territories, from the country, calling it "unprecedented" and "deeply regrettable. Al Jazeera's Ghida Fakhry spoke to Falk about his expulsion and the potential repercussions. "
"Taliban fighters in Pakistan have fired at a convoy of trucks transporting supplies to Western forces in Afghanistan. It is the latest in a string of attacks along the treacherous Khyber Pass.
Attackers have torched hundreds of trucks along the mountainous route - the most important supply line for Western forces - in recent weeks.
Kamal Hyder reports from Peshawar. "
".....The British Army in Basra was never able to gain full control of the whole city. One intelligence officer who spent a long time in Basra said the problem for the Army there was that it had no real allies. "We used to patronise the Americans and say we had long experience of counter-insurgency gained in Malaya and Northern Ireland," he said. "But in those places we had the backing of a large part of the local population, while in Basra nobody really supported us."
For years, Tony Blair and a succession of defence ministers spoke of training Iraqi forces, but the central problem was not military expertise but loyalty. Many Iraqi police was in league with militias, either because they were paid or intimidated or for patriotic reasons. On one official British Government press tour, a supposedly pro-British police chief would only meet visiting journalists at night in a warehouse away from his station, and then only on condition that officers he worked with were not told he had done so......"
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 17 December 2008
"....Two years after penning my first piece for Cif, there is still no getting away from the kind of criticism seen in the comment above. No matter that the thrust of georgeindia's rant had nothing to do with the subject of my article, anyone perusing the thread is encouraged to believe that the fact that the Israeli regime has not beheaded me for my dissent is ample proof that all is well in our little corner of the Middle East. Which, of course, it isn't, despite the best efforts of Israel's squadron of cheerleaders to convince the world otherwise.
Although I am a relative newcomer to Israel's Mediterranean shores, the amount of exposure I have had during my four-year sojourn in the Holy Land to the daily humiliation and oppression being meted out to the Palestinians is more than most armchair critics will see in a lifetime. I should know – I was one of them myself for my first 24 years on the planet, and am all too aware how easy it is to be duped by second- or third-hand reporting from the front lines, whether through the media or via friends and family giving their skewed take from inside Israel's borders.......
Those are the lines so eagerly swallowed by the blinkered masses for whom Israel can do no wrong, for whom the mere existence of a Jewish state trumps all other, harsher truths, and which deafen them to the cries of those trampled beneath the wheels of the Zionist bandwagon. "We're here to stay," they cry triumphantly, as though the conflict really is as binary as that: 1 = Jews exert unilateral control over every last inch of Biblical Israel; 0 = Jews are instead driven into the sea by the monster that continually lurks under Israel's bed.
The reason behind the creation of the state in 1948 is the very reason the state (in its current form) is doomed to fail.....
.... since I'm convinced that the only way to effect change is for the truth to be brought to light. And if I can play a small part in helping that to occur, then nothing and no one is strong enough to act as a deterrent.
Listen to Seth Freedman's audio documentary about life for Palestinians in the West Bank"
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
By JEFF HALPER
"......And here is where a president hits up against Israel's fundamental refusal to enter into a peace process that might actually threaten its hold over the Occupied Territories. A framing based on the principles I enumerated or the elements of a genuine Israeli-Palestinian peace as outlined by Scowcroft and Brzezinski will simply not be accepted by either Israel, its allies in Congress or sectors of the American public Israel is capable of mobilizing. For both the principles and the elements are already framed as "anti-Israel" because they lead precisely to what Israel has avoided these past 40-odd years: a complete dismantling of its Occupation and the rise of a genuine Palestinian state. Any presidential statement, especially if it is forceful, that does not place Israel's Occupation at the forefront is simply not acceptable. And yet, without it, there can be no fruitful negotiations or an end to the conflict.......
Only that package – identifying the essential elements of a peace agreement, anchoring them in an approach based on overarching principles of justice acceptable to the Palestinians, and then framing it all in terms of American interests in seeing this conflict resolved – will enable a president to finally break through the obfuscation created by the Israeli framing, the major obstacle standing in the way of a just and sustainable resolution of the conflict. But in reversed order: first the framing, which will present the president's case in a coherent and compelling fashion to the public, followed by the principles and then the specific elements. Tiny points in a global conflict, but then again, if Israel has taught us anything these past four decades of fending off attempts to end its Occupation, it is that the devil is in the details."
Days After Calling Israeli Blockade of Gaza “A Crime Against Humanity,” UN Human Rights Investigator Richard Falk Detained, Expelled from Israel
With Amy Goodman
"The United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay has accused Israel of “unprecedented and deeply regrettable” treatment of UN human rights investigator Richard Falk. Falk was deported from Israel Monday after being detained at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport for twenty hours. Falk’s detention and expulsion came days after he condemned Israel’s blockade of Gaza as a “flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law” and “crime against humanity.” We speak to Falk about his detention and expulsion from Israel......."
"Call it poetic justice, but in the end President George W Bush found his weapons of mass destruction - in the form of two size 10 shoes hurled at his head. Bush may have dodged them with his "cat-like" reflexes, but metaphorically they managed to strike the huge army of assorted profiteers that made the Iraqi tragedy possible, while putting US public opinion to shame. The thrower, meanwhile, is being hailed across the Arab world...."
By Gareth Porter
"Iran is both willing and able to lend the United States a hand in Middle Eastern conflicts - and with the Sunni extremists the two share as an enemy. But for there to be a grand accord to rekindle US-Iran cooperation, the US will need to recognize Tehran's regional power status and end its fixation on Iran's nuclear enrichment program.....
An adviser to the Foreign Ministry who asked not to be named, because he is not authorized to speak to foreign journalists, told Inter Press Service that a "grand bargain" - an agreement on all the issues that both sides wish to raise - is possible, based on a joint recognition of the threat from al-Qaeda and related terrorist groups.
He added that US-Iran understandings on both Iraq and Afghanistan would be "central" to any such agreement.....
On Afghanistan, Iranian officials appear to view the brief period of US-Iran cooperation against the Taliban and al-Qaeda after the September 11, 2001, attacks, which was terminated as a result of a neo-conservative initiative in Washington, as the template for what should occur in the future. Dehghani hinted that Iran is more concerned about the danger of rising Sunni extremist power in Afghanistan than it is with Obama's intention to increase US troop strength there.
He said nothing about US troops in Afghanistan except that they were suffering more casualties than those in Iraq. Instead, Dehghani made it clear Iran opposes peace negotiations with the Taliban, as proposed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. US support for a "dialogue" with the Taliban, he said, "would be a great mistake".
Europeans and Arab states may be supporting an accommodation with the Taliban, said Dehghani, but the "the real policymakers in the US are not". He suggested that such an accommodation "cannot be supported by the US public".
Dehghani thus implied that Iran and the United States both oppose the same enemy - Sunni extremism - in Afghanistan, providing an objective basis for a broader regional accord......"
This is the fourth article in a five-part series.
"The shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist is now a venerated celebrity throughout the Mideast, and his words to the president—“this is the farewell kiss, you dog”—will stand as the enduring epitaph in the region on Bush’s folly, which is the reality of his claimed legacy of success in the war on terror....."
"Signaling growing outrage at Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev's businesses' global rights abuses, on 12 and 13 December human rights advocates in Dubai, London and two West Bank Palestinian villages held protests against Leviev's settlement construction. According to Gulf News, the protest in Dubai, unprecedented in the United Arab Emirates, came after a screening at the Dubai International Film Festival of a documentary film about Palestinian hip-hop artists. Leviev's sale of his diamonds through Arif Bin Khadra's Levant jewelry stores in Dubai has stirred controversy there.
Dubai's Gulf News reported that on Friday, "Forty T-shirts and one hundred letters from the West Bank town of Jayyous were distributed to the audience at the screening of Slingshot Hip Hop." Gulf News continued, "The distributed T-shirts called on Dubai residents to boycott Leviev as well as Levant Jewellery, owned by Leviev's local agent, Palestinian-Moroccan Arif Bin Khadra. Meanwhile, activists campaigning against Leviev's activities have set up a Facebook group that is calling for a boycott of all Dubai venues that host stores selling Leviev diamonds. The group has gained almost 400 members in less than two weeks since its launch, according to group administrator Jabbar, a UAE-based Palestinian rapper." Jackie Salloum, the Arab American filmmaker who made Slingshot Hip Hop, has visited Jayyous, one of the West Bank villages where Leviev is building Israeli settlements. She described the situation there as "dire," saying that "the 'security barrier' and colonies being built by Israel there have robbed its residents of their livelihoods."....."
"RAMALLAH, West Bank, Dec 17 (IPS) - Israel released over 200 Palestinians from Israeli jails in a "goodwill gesture" Monday. This followed the Muslim feast of Eid Al-Adha and was an attempt to boost the waning popularity of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Several prisoners spoke to the assembled local and international media about their time in detention. They accused the Israelis of maltreating and physically abusing detainees despite Israeli claims that torture and the abuse of prisoners have been outlawed and no longer occur.
Most of the detainees were Fatah members, the movement associated with Abbas and the ruling Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank....
While Israel's "goodwill gesture" was much touted by the Israeli media, the majority of the prisoners were mostly small-time political detainees, who were due for release fairly shortly, having already served most of their sentences.
Many were teenagers when imprisoned and none were convicted of injuring or killing Israelis. As negotiations were under way for the release of the 227 prisoners, hundreds more Palestinians were arrested by Israeli security forces.
The move was widely seen as an effort to boost Abbas's floundering PA....."
By Gareth Porter
".....The pivotal development in the new Iranian position in the region has been the emergence of Iraq's Shi'a-dominated regime.
Hamid Reza Dehghani, director of the Center for Persian Gulf and Middle East Studies at the foreign ministry's think-tank, left no doubt in an interview that the transformation of Iraq from mortal enemy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to a friendly state represents an epochal shift in Iran's security position in the region....
He cites the close connections between the Iranian and Iraqi Shia spiritual communities: the top Shia cleric in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, is an Iranian; Iraqi Shia scholars study in Iran's main spiritual center, Qom; and hundreds of thousands of Iranians have made pilgrimages to the Iraqi holy cities of Najaf and Karbala since 2003......
A paper on the "Shia Factor" in Iran's regional policy, published last month by the Center for Strategic Research, a think-tank that serves Iran's Expediency Council, acknowledges that Iran is now cultivating Shia allies, especially in Iraq and Lebanon, in pursuit of its national security objectives in the region. The author, Dr. Kayhan Barzegar, an international relations specialist at Islamic Azad University in Tehran, argues that Iran's close relations with the Shia in the region are aimed at "building a strategic linkage for establishing security."
The main strategic advantages of Iran's relationships with Shia movements, Barzegar writes, is the "installation of a new generation of friendly elites at the level of states, who have no backgrounds or feeling of enmity toward Iran." The Shia government in Iraq, according to the author, was the "turning point" in putting the "Shia factor" at the center of Iran's foreign policy.
But Iran's Shia diplomacy in the region also extends to Shia movements that either hold quasi-state power, like the Hezbollah in Lebanon, or that have remained shut out of political power completely, as is the case in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia......"