Saturday, February 14, 2009

"حماس" تحمل الاحتلال مسؤولية أي تراجع عن تفاهمات التهدئة

استغربت التصريحات المصرية عن عدم ضمانة الاتفاق

COMMENT: I Told You Not to Trust the Zionist Pharaoh; He is an Israeli Agent!

The Egyptian regime can't be a mediator or a guarantor of any agreement; it and the Zionist regime are two faces of the same coin.

When (if?) is Hamas going to learn?? It is awfully naive still.

"بيروت – المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

حمّل أسامة حمدان ممثل حركة المقاومة الإسلامية "حماس" في لبنان الاحتلال الصهيوني مسؤولية أي تراجع عن تفاهمات التهدئة، داعياً القاهرة لاتخاذ موقف من هذا التراجع، بصفتها الراعي والضامن للإتفاق.

وأكد حمدان في تصريح لقناة الجزيرة مساء السبت (14/2) أنه حصل اتفاق كامل بين حركة "حماس" مع مصر حول تفاهمات التهدئة، موضحاً أنه وأثناء البحث عن الصياغات النهائية حدث هناك تراجع صهيوني نعتبره مماطلة صهيونية بهدف تحقيق مكاسب في اللحظات الأخيرة.

وقال: "موقفنا واضح ونحن توصلنا إلى تفاهمات ويجب أن تدون، وإلا فإن الاحتلال سيتحمل عواقب كل فشل"، متمنياً أن يكون هناك موقف مصري من هذا التراجع لو حصل.

وحول ما أعلنه رئيس حكومة الاحتلال ايهود أولمرت عن ربط التهدئة بقضية شاليط، أكد حمدان أن هذا الأمر لم يكن وارداً منذ بدء المباحثات، حيث تم الاتفاق على فصل المسارين.

وعما إذا كانت عملية الفصل هذه فهمتها حركة "حماس"، أكد حمدان، أن الأمر ليس مجرد إشارات إنما تفاهمات وعندما تحدثنا في الصياغة لم يكن جلعاد شاليط حاضراً، وقال: "حدث تراجع يفترض ان يفسره الاحتلال أو الوسطاء".

واعتبر أن محاولة استعادة قصة جلعاد شاليط هي عملية إفشال مبرمجة لقضية التهدئة، مؤكداً أن قضية شاليط رفعت من الصفقة وكان الحديث فقط عن التهدئة ورفع الحصار والمدى الزمني الذي جرى التوافق عليه لمدة عام ونصف.

وقال: "هناك محاولة للعبث في التفاصيل من شأنه تخريب هذا الجهد"، معتبراً أن تفسير ذلك أن الاحتلال تراجع في اللحظات الأخيرة، أو أنه لم يكن هناك نقل دقيق للمواقف" في إشارة للوسيط المصري.

وبخصوص ضمانة الاتفاق، أكد القيادي في حركة "حماس" أن مصر هي الضامنة، وقال: "كلمة ضمانات واضحة ومفهومها معروف وسمعناها على مدار شهر".

واستغرب تصريحات الناطق باسم الخارجية المصرية حسام زكي الذي نفى فيه أن تكون مصر ضامنة للاتفاق، وقال: "هذا التصريح مفاجئ وغير دقيق وكان الحديث يدور عن ضمانات وهي كلمة سمعناها على مدى شهر".

ودعا إلى توضيح هذا الموقع مؤكداً أن "هذا التصريح يمكن أن يكون له انعكاسات سلبية على حوارات الوصول إلى التهدئة".
Hamdan: Israel is fully responsible for its retreat from the truce agreement

"BEIRUT, (PIC)-- Osama Hamdan, the representative of the Hamas Movement in Lebanon, on Saturday held Israel fully responsible for any retreat from the understandings of calm, adding that the Egyptian mediator should take a stance towards this Israeli procrastination.

Hamdan told Al-Jazeera TV channel that there was full agreement between Hamas and the Egyptian mediator about the understandings of the truce, but during the search for a final formula for the agreement, there was an Israeli retreat aimed to achieve gains in the last moments.......

With regard to the guarantee for the Israeli implementation of the truce agreement, Hamdan stated that Egypt is the guarantor, adding the Egyptian mediator kept repeating and talking clearly about guarantees for over a month.

He expressed shock and dismay at the statements of the Egyptian foreign ministry in which it denied that Egypt pledged to guarantee the agreement, warning that such statements could have negative impacts on the efforts to reach a truce agreement......

Nunu also said that the discussions with the Egyptians are ongoing, ruling out the possibility of declaring a truce at the present time unless all outstanding issues are resolved.

The Israeli government retreated Saturday from its agreement on the truce in return for opening the crossings and returned to its previous demand for the release of Shalit.

Olmert's office said in a statement that the premier's position is that Israel will not reach a compromise on the calm issue before the release of Shalit."

Al-Jazeera Video: Gaza women struggle in aftermath of Israeli war - 14 Feb 09

"Following Israel's war on Gaza, many women are struggling to come to terms with the deaths of their husbands and children.

Al Jazeera's Mike Kirsch hears their stories of survival, and reports on the challenges they face as they try to rebuild their lives."

Crossing the Line: US role in the war on Gaza

Crossing the Line: US role in the war on Gaza
Podcast, Crossing the Line, 13 February 2009

"This week on Crossing The Line: As US President Barack Obama stood before a crowd of two million and gave his inaugural address, he pledged to work with those in the Arab and Muslim world towards peace. But absent in the address was any condemnation of Israeli atrocities committed against the Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Host Naji Ali speaks with The Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah about the Obama administration, the recent massacre in Gaza and the prospects of peace in the region.

Also this week, Ali speaks with Gaza-based journalist Rami Almeghari about the current situation on the ground in Gaza in the aftermath of the 22 days of Israeli attacks....

Click Here to Listen

Video + Press Release: Israeli Soldiers Shooting at Farmers in Abassan Jadida on Feb. 12

Saturday, 14 February 2009 10:45
Written by ISM Gaza Strip

"Nine International Human Rights Workers will be accompanying Palestinian farmers in Al Faraheen village, east of Khan Younis. Farmers and international accompaniers were fired upon by Israeli Forces in the same area on Thursday, February 12th......

"We are accompanying these farmers to harvest their crops because they have a right to their land. Palestinians who live or have land within 1 kilometre of the Green Line are being driven out by Israeli military violence. We consider this to be a form of ethnic cleansing. With international accompaniment, these farmers are able to harvest their crops with a much greater degree of safety than if they were to come to these areas alone" Andrew Muncie (Scotland) - International Human Rights Worker

This action comes after farm worker Anwan was shot and killed by Israeli forces as he worked his land close to the 'Green Line'.....

Interviews with volunteers are possible.

Please Contact:

Fida Qishta (Palestine) - +972 599 681 669

Eva Bartlett (Canada) +972 598 836 308

Vittorio Arrigoni (Italy) - +972 59 8378945

Tara Jenson (Australia) +972 598 359 607

Jenny Linnel (Britain) +972 598 765 377

Ewa Jasiewicz (Britain/Poland) +972 598 700 497

Andrew Muncie (Britain) +972 598 058 250

For General Information:

ISM media office: +972 22971824 or +972 598503948"

Israel Says No Truce without Release of Captured Soldier


"14/02/2009 Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Saturday that the Zionist entity would not agree to any truce with the Hamas Resistance movement without the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

"The position of the prime minister is that Israel won't reach any arrangement on a truce before the release of Gilad Shalit," Olmert's office said.

"We will not open the crossings without Shalit's release. Anything other statements are irrelevant. This is Israel's clear stance to Egypt," Ehud Olmert's office said.

"Either way, the crossings will not be open without Shalit's release. This is a commitment that the prime minister has made and he intends to act accordingly," read the statement from Olmert's office......"

Students angered by Gaza revive sit-ins

A new wave of student activism sparked by events in Gaza has seen dozens of university buildings occupied in Britain, with some of the UK's top educational establishments agreeing to set up scholarships for Palestinians or disinvest in arms companies linked to Israel.

News Coverage Throws Up Arab Rifts

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Feb 13 (IPS) - Coverage of Israel's recent war on the Gaza Strip by regional news stations has reflected longstanding political divisions within the Arab world. Qatar-based Al- Jazeera's reporting drew a particularly angry response from Egypt.

"Coverage of the Gaza conflict by certain Arab language news channels aggravated the rift between the Arab 'moderate' and 'rejectionist' camps," Mohamed Mansour, professor of mass media at Cairo University told IPS.....

Al-Jazeera won especial praise for its thorough reporting of the crisis. Over the course of the conflict, the Doha-based satellite channel provided non- stop coverage of events, with correspondents reporting live from battle- scarred areas inside the Gaza Strip.

"Al-Jazeera's reporting was by far the best," said Sabahi. "With correspondents based in Gaza and Israel, it managed to broadcast events live as they were unfolding, exposing the grim results of Israeli aggression in real time."

"Although it obviously sympathised with the Palestinian resistance, Al- Jazeera's coverage was also very professional," said Sabahi.....

To the chagrin of Egyptian officialdom, however, Al-Jazeera also gave considerable airtime to opponents of Egypt's official approach to the conflict.

Egypt's reluctance to open its border with the Gaza Strip to desperately needed humanitarian aid during the crisis came in for particular censure. Speaking live to Al-Jazeera, critics from around the Arab world - including Egypt - blasted Cairo's position, which many saw as proof of Egyptian complicity with Israel against the Palestinian resistance.

Four days into the conflict, facing mounting popular displeasure both at home and abroad, the Egyptian regime mobilised its formidable media machine to retaliate.....

Opposition critics, in turn, condemned the state media's attack on Al- Jazeera, which they say only served to highlight the government's sensitivity to any criticism of its dubious policies.

"The only thing lower than Egypt's border policy was its subsequent media campaign against anyone critical of that policy," said Sabahi. "The base manner in which government editors-in-chief attacked critics ended up hurting the regime's image even more.".....

On Feb. 3, independent daily Al-Dustour reported that Egyptian authorities had barred two prominent Al-Jazeera journalists from entering the Gaza Strip through Egypt's Rafah border crossing."

The Israeli Smashing of Gaza and International Silence

by Ann Wright

"I travelled to Gaza last week with Medea Benjamin and Tighe Berry of Codepink: Women for Peace. We were allowed by the Egyptian government to enter Gaza for only 48 hours.
I knew that 1026 of the 1330 who were killed in the Israeli attacks on Gaza were civilians. Of the 1026 civilians, 282 were children, 111 women, 168 civilian policemen and 501 civilian men died in Israeli bombings. 274 have been classified as combatant deaths.

I knew that the estimates for the cost of reconstruction to the destruction done by Israeli bombing is over $2 billion. After seeing the destruction in Gaza City, I thought I would be prepared for North Gaza. I had heard the damage done by F-16s and tanks was substantial, but I was stunned by the large number of apartment buildings and industries that had been blown up and destroyed by the Israeli military in the northern Gaza border region with Israel.

The Israeli military destroyed virtually everything in a corridor along the border......"

Lurch to the right

The results of the Israeli elections are a disaster for moderates

By Khaled Amayreh from occupied East Jerusalem
Al-Ahram Weekly

".....Palestinian intellectuals seem to have lost all faith in any Israeli will to end the occupation that started more than 40 years ago.

"The Palestinian Authority has been holding protracted peace talks with the Kadima government but to no avail. Imagine how futile and pointless peace talks will be with a government led by Netanyahu and Lieberman and other extremists," says Hani Al-Masri, a leading political analyst.

Al-Masri argues that "Israel has decided to elect an extremist government despite Palestinian illusions about peace." "I think we have to rebuild our strength because neither Israel nor the world will respect us if we continue weak and divided."

Hamas has denounced the outcome of the Israeli elections, arguing that "a racist society has produced a racist leadership".

"Now we have a manifestly fascist leadership in Israel that doesn't believe in peace and doesn't recognise a Palestinian state. So why does the hypocritical West not boycott these fascist parties, such as Lieberman's party, as it boycotted the Hamas- led government that was elected freely and democratically by the Palestinian people more than two years ago," said Ahmed Youssef, a senior advisor to Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Gaza- based Hamas-led government.

Youssef advised the Arab and Muslim worlds "not to pay attention to what Netanyahu and his cohorts say but to what they do". "They will claim to want peace but they will be building more settlements and stealing more Arab land.""

A fair point: Everyone is equal in their suffering during wartime

By Robert Fisk

"....I recalled this searing passage this week when I received a letter from a reader, taking me to task for my "constant downplaying of the suffering of the Palestinians on the grounds that their deaths and suffering are minimal when compared with that of the Second World War". Now, I should say at once that this is a bit unfair......

Yet our reader does have a point. The Second World War, she says, "does put it in a category apart ... but surely if one is caught up in any war and sees one's loved ones killed or maimed, one's home destroyed ... then that must be the greatest cataclysm in one's life. The fact that a hundred others, a thousand, a hundred thousand, a million are suffering likewise is immaterial to the individual's suffering. The Second World War lasted six years. The Palestinian suffering has lasted over sixty..."

But our reader has another point. "After all," she says, "in the Second World War, after the entry of the US and USSR on our side, people could feel pretty positive about the outcome. But where is such hope for the Palestinians? And now to cap the horror the BBC is refusing to even show an appeal to help Gaza..."......

I think, however, there is yet one more point. The rules of war – the Geneva Conventions and all the other post-Second World War laws – were meant to prevent another Holocaust. They were specifically designed to ensure that no one should ever again face the destruction of Mrs Greenman and her child. They were surely not made only for one race of people. And it is these rules which Israel so disgracefully flouted in Gaza. It's a bit like the refrain from Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara and a whole host of other apparatchiks when the torture at Abu Ghraib was revealed. Well, yes, they told us, it was bad – but not as bad as Saddam Hussein's regime......"

الانتخابات والمغفلون العرب

الانتخابات والمغفلون العرب

عبد الباري عطوان

الغباء العربي (يصفه البعض مرونة) بدأ يتبلور من خلال مبادرة السلام العربية التي ولدت في طبعتها الاصلية على يد 'القابلة' توماس فريدمان، الصحافي الامريكي المعروف، اثناء زيارته الى المملكة العربية السعودية، ولقائه مع العاهل السعودي (كان اميرا في حينها) الملك عبدالله بن عبد العزيز، وعندما رفضتها الحكومة الاسرائيلية بقيادة آرييل شارون في حينه، ثم قبلتها بتحفظ في عهد خليفته ايهود اولمرت، جاء من يقول للمسؤولين للعرب عليكم شرحها لنظرائكم الاسرائيليين في القدس المحتلة، فأوفدت الجامعة العربية، غير مشكورة، وزيري خارجية مصر والاردن للقيام بهذه المهمة السامية، وتأكيدا اضافيا لحسن النوايا.
الشرح لم يكن كافيا، رغم بلاغة المبعوثين، وخاصة السيد المفوه احمد ابو الغيط، الذي بزّ كل وزراء الخارجية المصريين الذين سبقوه في قوة التعبير، خاصة قوله المأثور في تكسير ارجل وعظام اي فلسطيني يتجرأ على اقتحام الحدود المصرية بحثا عن رغيف خبز، او علبة حليب لاطفاله، بسبب الحصار الاسرائيلي والمصري الرسمي على قطاع غزة.
بعد كل هذه الحملات الاعلانية، وجولات حوار الاديان المتعددة، واللقاءات مع الحاخامات والسياسيين في القاعات الرسمية، وفي الغرف المغلقة، وتأليف القصائد، والخطب العصماء، في اهمية التعايش، والتسامح، وضرورة الانتباه الى العدو الايراني المشترك، ومواجهته 'موحدين'، ماذا حدث؟ الناخب الاسرائيلي مدّ لسانه الى العرب المعتدلين، ومنظري السلام ساخرا مستهزئا، ومصوتا للاحزاب اليمينية المتطرفة، وليبرمان على وجه الخصوص، الذي هدد بضرب السد العالي لاغراق المصريين، واهان كبير المعتدلين الرئيس حسني مبارك، عندما سخر منه، واتهمه بالتستر على الانفاق، وكرر طرح برنامجه في طرد جميع الفلسطينيين من عرب عام 1948، وجعل سحق حركة 'حماس' وعدم الانسحاب من الاراضي المحتلة كشرط لاي مشاركة له في اي حكومة اسرائيلية.

السؤال الذي يطرح نفسه بقوة عما اذا كان القادة العرب سيعترفون بعد كل هذا، بخطأ رهاناتهم، وفشل استراتيجيتهم السابقة، والبحث عن خيارات جديدة، تنقذ ماء وجههم، وتكفّر عن سيئاتهم، وما اكثرها للأسف الشديد؟
سؤال آخر، هل سيعترف رجالات السلطة في رام الله بخطيئتهم، وافلاس نهجهم التفاوضي، ويقررون الانسحاب من الحلبة السياسية وحل السلطة، اسوة بكل الشرفاء في التاريخ السياسي العالمي الذين مروا بظروف مماثلة، مثل شارل ديغول ووينستون تشرتشل، واحمد الشقيري، والحاج امين الحسيني وغيرهم، ام انهم سيكابرون ويصرون على الاستمرار في مناصبهم، وكأن شيئا لم يحدث مطلقا، بحجة مواصلة 'نضالاتهم'، وكأن الشعب الفلسطيني لم ولن ينجب غيرهم؟
لا نعتقد ان احدا، سواء في الوسط الرسمي العربي او الفلسطيني، يملك الشجاعة، ويجري مراجعة حقيقية ونقدا ذاتيا يعلن بعده اعترافه بخطأ خياراته، وينسحب بالتالي من الحياة السياسية، لان هذه من اخلاق الفرسان، ولا نعتقد ان هذه الاخلاق موجودة عند معظم مسؤولينا وقياداتنا، وهذا ما يفسر حال الهوان التي نعيشها حاليا على المستويات والاصعدة كافة.

Nato is deeper in its Afghan mire than Russia ever was

Two decades after the Soviet withdrawal, ever more resources are being poured into a war with scant chance of success

Jonathan Steele
The Guardian, Saturday 14 February 2009

".....Two decades later the ironies of America's war in Afghanistan are telling. When Richard Holbrooke, the new US envoy to the region, visited the country this week he may not have been aware of the Soviet anniversary. But the US-led intervention is already almost as long. At this stage of their war the Russians were preparing to leave. Now the US and Nato want to get further in, and if Barack Obama's plans for 30,000 extra US troops are met, along with efforts to get more from Nato, coalition forces will almost equal the 115,000 troops the Russians had at their peak......"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Israel Treated Gaza Like Its Own Private Death Laboratory

Erik Fosse, a Norwegian cardiologist, worked in Gaza hospitals during the recent war."It was as if they had stepped on a mine," he says of certain Palestinian patients he treated. "But there was no shrapnel in the wound. Some had lost their legs. It looked as though they had been sliced off. I have been to war zones for 30 years, but I have never seen such injuries before."

Dr. Fosse was describing the effects of a U.S. "focused lethality" weapon that minimizes explosive damage to structures while inflicting catastrophic wounds on its victims. But where did the Israelis get this weapon? And was their widespread use in the attack on Gaza a field test for a new generation of explosives?

A Comment About Hamas, Again, Accepting an Agreement Mediated by the Zionist Pharaoh:

Fooled Me Once Shame on You; Fooled Me Twice Shame on ME!

Israel: Rise of the Right

by Phyllis Bennis

"The timing of the December-January Israeli assault on Gaza had everything to do with the Israeli elections (well, almost everything - there was that little item of finishing the military attack before Barack Obama's inauguration.).

But now the elections are over. And while final tallies aren't officially finished, a few things are already clear. The two top mainstream parties, popularly known as "right" and "center," placed virtually neck-and-neck. Tzipi Livni's ostensibly centrist Kadima Party ended up in first place, one seat ahead of the officially rightist Likud bloc of Bibi Netanyahu.

Far more significant - for Israelis, Palestinians, and U.S.-Israeli relations - was Israeli voters' choice for third place in the Knesset (Israel's parliament) lineup.

The great victor in the election is neither Netanyahu nor Livni but, rather, Avigdor Lieberman. His racist, indeed fascist, Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Is Our Home) party took third place, leaving the traditionally powerful Labor Party of former Prime Minister Ehud Barak struggling for fourth......

But from the vantage point of justice rather than diplomatic convenience, a return of Netanyahu as prime minister, even with a visible role for Lieberman, may not be such a bad option. Netanyahu's abrasive Likud rhetoric is far more honest in depicting actual Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. The carefully anodyne words of Livni to her pal Condoleezza Rice, the myth of Ehud Barak's "generous offer" to the Palestinians at Camp David: These never reflected reality on the ground. There, settlement expansion in the West Bank, isolation and impoverishment for Gaza, a policy of Judaization of Arab Jerusalem, and discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel remained - and remains - unchanged despite Israeli (and American) political shifts........"

Robert Kuttner and Michael Hudson on the Obama Administration’s $789 Billion Economic Stimulus Package and $2.5 Trillion Bank Recovery Plans

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"Both the House and Senate are set to vote today on the $789 billion economic stimulus package. The vote follows weeks of political wrangling that culminated in compromise legislation struck on Wednesday. The final size of the package is less than what both the House and Senate originally passed and far smaller than what many economists say is needed. But it still marks the nation’s largest economic rescue program since Franklin Roosevelt launched the New Deal.....

Michael Hudson, Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City. A former Wall Street economist, he is the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire. His latest article, “Obama’s Awful Financial Recovery Plan,” is online at

Robert Kuttner, Journalist and economist. He is the co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect magazine, as well as a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the think tank Demos. His latest book is called Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency."

Israel's Repeated Response to the Arab "Peace Initiative"
But the Arab Eunuchs Have Nothing Else.....

So, They Keep Coming Back!

By Emad Hajjaj

Al-Jazeera Video: Hamas says truce with Israel 'only days away' - 13 Feb 09

"Egypt has been mediating between the Palestinian factions in Gaza, and the Israelis, since the end of the three week war.

Now senior Hamas leaders tell Al Jazeera that a long-lasting truce is only days away......"

Fatah’s Long March

By Tony Karon

"The rank-and-file of Fatah has long known that Mahmoud Abbas’ habit of jumping through hoops for Condi Rice was political suicide, and that much has been confirmed in recent weeks: Hamas has emerged from the Gaza war stronger than ever politically, and Abbas’ blaming of Hamas for the carnage at the beginning of Israel’s operation cast him as a collaborator in the eyes of many of his own people. Abbas has spent eight years sitting politely in the back seat of the Bush/Condi limo, pretending that endless photo ops with Olmert and Livni were actually part of a process towards ending the occupation. But they couldn’t even give him a “shelf” agreement for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and sharing Jerusalem. If Olmert couldn’t do even the fetish deal envisaged by Bush, then what could Abbas expect from an Israeli government that will be ten steps to the right? Now, Fatah will seek to redeem itself by reverting to a path of struggle, with its Mahmoud Abbas Old Guard soon to be eclipsed by the Barghouti generation.....

Israel abandoned Oslo eight years ago when Sharon was elected; now, the Palestinian leadership appear to realize that it’s over, and that there’s no diplomatic route in the near term to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. For the new Administration in Washington, that means their working assumptions need to be those of 1988, not 1998 or 2008."

The new Fallujah up close and ugly

By Dahr Jamail
Asia Times

"In a remarkable tour of the heartland of still devastated Sunni Iraq, Dahr Jamail takes a ride in the front seat of a US$420,000 armored BMW, riding with a tribal sheik (whom the US Marines label the John Gotti of Fallujah); note the AK-47 and the shotgun in back, and the vehicles from the sheik's security teams that sandwich your car; then, take a slug of whisky, and don't miss that wad of crisp American $100 bills he's carrying with him........

Reconstruction has yet to really begin in Sunni areas and the movement, sheiks and all, only works as long as the US continues funneling "reconstruction funds" to tribal leaders. What happens when that stops, as it surely must with time? Will the people of Fallujah be better served? Or has this process merely laid the groundwork for future bloodshed? "

Israel sees a lurch to the Right

By Jonathan Cook

"NAZARETH // The near-tie in parliamentary seats between the centrist Kadima party and the right-wing Likud is evidence of a dramatic lurch rightward by the Israeli electorate this week.....

Whatever emerges, the legitimacy of Israel’s system of governance is in the spotlight. Domestic political paralysis is likely to ensue, and Israelis face the threat of another short-lived government. Most Israeli commentators agree that the country desperately needs to overhaul the political system, either through electoral reform or a Lieberman-style presidential revolution.

Both changes would make the government more stable by increasing the large parties’ power. But with the smaller parties in no hurry to vote for their own extinction, no one is expecting reform soon."

Israel lurches into fascism

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 12 February 2009

"Whenever Israel has an election, pundits begin the usual refrain that hopes for peace depend on the "peace camp" -- formerly represented by the Labor party, but now by Tzipi Livni's Kadima -- prevailing over the anti-peace right, led by the Likud.

This has never been true, and makes even less sense as Israeli parties begin coalition talks after Tuesday's election. Yes, the "peace camp" helped launch the "peace process," but it did much more to undermine the chances for a just settlement.....

Lieberman, who previously served as deputy prime minister, has a long history of racist and violent incitement. Prior to Israel's recent attack, for example, he demanded Israel subject Palestinians to the brutal and indiscriminate violence Russia used in Chechyna. He also called for Arab Knesset members who met with officials from Hamas to be executed......

The clearest message from Israel's election is that no Zionist party can solve Israel's basic conundrum and no negotiations will lead to a two-state solution. Israel could only be created as a "Jewish state" by the forced removal of the non-Jewish majority Palestinian population. As Palestinians once again become the majority in a country that has defied all attempts at partition, the only way to maintain Jewish control is through ever more brazen violence and repression of resistance (see Gaza). Whatever government emerges is certain to preside over more settlement-building, racial discrimination and escalating violence.

There are alternatives that have helped end what once seemed like equally intractable and bloody conflicts: a South African-style one-person one-vote democracy, or Northern Ireland-style power-sharing. Only under a democratic system according rights to all the people of the country will elections have the power to transform people's futures.

But Israel today is lurching into open fascism. It is utterly disingenuous to continue to pretend -- as so many do -- that its failed and criminal leaders hold the key to getting out of the morass. Instead of waiting for them to form a coalition, we must escalate the international civil society campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to force Israelis to choose a saner path."

The Zionist Pharaoh at it Again!

Egypt seizes aid supplies for Gaza

Press TV

"Egypt has seized relief supplies for the Gaza Strip as it continues to keep closed the Rafah border crossing for aid flow to the region.

Egyptian police on Thursday seized 2,200 tons of food and medical aid destined for the region, AFP reported.

Two members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hossam al-Shurbagi and Kamel al-Shaarawi, were also arrested, accused of 'illegally' storing the food in three warehouses, a security official said.

Shurbagi said the aid was being stored pending the reopening of the Rafah border crossing.

Cairo has kept closed the crossing despite international concerns over further worsening of the humanitarian situation in the region.

"No humanitarian, media or medical delegations will be allowed through, nor will medical aid deliveries be permitted," an Egyptian border official had told AFP.

The Gaza Strip is suffering from a humanitarian crisis due to the tight 19-month old blockade of the region and a 23-day war which killed nearly 1330 Palestinians mostly civilians.

The Rafah border crossing was closed even during the deadly Israeli offensive in which people were in dire need of basic goods and medical supplies. "

FEATURE-Iraqi refugees in Syria reluctant to return

"DAMASCUS, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Iraqi musician Abdel Razaq al-Ghazawi, who sought refuge in neighbouring Syria from his country's raging conflict, returned home last year after hearing about a fall in the violence.

Within weeks, disillusioned by Iraq's continued insecurity and what he saw as creeping intolerance, he crossed the border back to Syria where he scrapes a living as a refugee.

"I found out that security has not improved enough. The spread of religion has also made life intolerable," said Ghazawi, who trained as an orchestra conductor in Britain.

"Artists and intellectuals no longer have a place in the new Iraq," said Ghazawi as he waited for his turn to collect rice and flour rations at a United Nations centre.

Ghazawi was one of millions who fled the upheaval ushered in by the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. The bulk of them went to Syria, which took in over a million Iraqi refugees, and Jordan, where up to 700,000 fled......"

Out of Iraq?

Not so fast …

By Justin Raimondo

"President Obama's campaign promise to get us out of Iraq in sixteen months gave him the electoral heft to oust "frontrunner" Hillary and catapulted him into the White House. Yet, now that the public's attention is fixed on our swiftly deteriorating economic plight, that promise is being quietly – but definitely – broken. I've been predicting that for god-knows-how-many weeks, but now we have substantial evidence that my hunch presaged an emerging reality. Eli Lake reports in the Washington Times......

Campaign promises? Don't be a fool. By the time Obama is up for reelection, this country will be so mired in the global economic downturn that we won't even remember his out-of-Iraq pledge – or, at least, the average voter won't. The pundits will compliment Obama on his "maturity," and the Washington establishment – and their corporate allies – will breathe a sigh of relief, as war profits continue to flow and the Afghan front opens up all sorts of new investment opportunities for them.

The US empire is like the Borg, or the old Warsaw Pact – once you're absorbed, that's it. Only a complete collapse, economic and/or military, would succeed in cutting the Iraqis loose. That's not out of the question, by any means, but it's a subject best left for another column. In the meantime, don't hold your breath waiting for Obama to make good on his pledge to end the war – unless blue is your favorite color. "

Ripe for revolution

A blinkered west has created conditions in the Middle East that mirror those of late 1970s Iran

A Good Comment

Soumaya Ghannoushi
The Guardian, Friday 13 February 2009

"........For all the religious euphoria that has marked the revolution, its root causes are in reality more sociopolitical than theological. After all, theology cannot create revolution if its conditions are not seething in society's gut and within its political forces. The vast wells of popular anger that erupted at the end of the 1970s were fed by grievances that had been building for years. At the forefront of these was the corruption and despotism of the Shah and his regime; the widening circle of sociocultural marginalisation, fuelled by pseudo-modernisation; and the regime's acquiescence to foreign interventions, particularly from the US.

There is much about this pre-revolutionary Iranian scene that would appear familiar to the observer of the wider Middle East today. While the region's modern history has been mired in a string of crises associated with a fragile post-colonial state, its ills have been further aggravated by the erosion of legitimacy that has accompanied the last few decades. Its first source - national liberation - faded with the departure of the independence generation, and the rise to power of a new breed of colourless technocrats and generals.

And as the promises of development and progress vanished into the smoke of the shanty towns, the Arab state lost its last refuge from its citizens. Stripped of all cover, it degenerated into a terrifying oppression machine. The more depleted its legitimacy, the greater it relied on the police, internal intelligence apparatuses, and on the support of foreign patrons - much like the Shah. Most Arab regimes would not survive without the perpetual use of violence against their citizens and opponents - aided and abetted by their "friends" and allies.

Egypt may represent the clearest manifestation of this state of affairs. For the last decade, its 80-year-old president has been preoccupied with ensuring the accession of his son, Gamal, to the throne of the republic. In the meantime, his country, the most populous in the Arab world, sinks deeper into degeneracy, with receding regional influence, rampant corruption, and millions teetering on the verge of starvation.

What we have before us is a deadly recipe for explosion. By the 1990s, with the collapse of communism and Bush Sr's attack on Iraq, most Arab regimes had reached their sell-by date. Thanks to their "business as usual" Euro-American allies, their expired lives were extended. But one cannot see how they can escape mortality much longer, amid a sea of crises and surging popular anger.

Of course, this is not to say that the Iranian scenario will be replicated in Egypt - or other Arab countries - or that another Khomeini will soon emerge. History does not repeat itself. What is doubtless though is that many components of the Iranian dynamite are today raging beneath the surface of imposed "stability", especially as new sociopolitical forces are entering the stage on the ruins of the discredited official elite.

Four months before the Shah was forced to flee, the CIA issued a report describing his regime as stable. The shah, it predicted, "is expected to remain actively in power over the next ten years". Things haven't changed much since. The same state of wilful oblivion is still in play. Blinded by short-term interests, western governments insist on seeing things in the region as they want, not as they are. In truth, they are the real makers of revolution in the Middle East."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

PLO: Why an Alternative and Why the Panic?

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"When Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal declared before a cheering crowd in Doha, Qatar, on January 28, the need for a new leadership, his words generated panic amongst leaders of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority as well as traditional Palestinian leadership elites stationed in various Arab capitals......

....But Oslo demanded a new political arrangement that expected a non-democratic body to represent Palestinians, for obvious reasons. Thus, the PLO was marginalized, almost entirely. Palestinians in Diaspora, especially those lingering in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere, felt particularly disowned, for the PA didn’t represent them and the PLO was no longer a formidable body that mattered in any truly meaningful way. The PLO however existed, in the minds of some as a symbol of a unifying body that expressed a nation’s political aspirations. For others, it was a useful tool summoned to endorse the PA’s political agenda whenever needed. For example, under pressure from the US and Arafat, PNC members met to nullify clauses of the Palestinian constitution that deny Israel’s “right to exist”, and again, in 1998, under Israeli pressure, and in the presence of former US President Bill Clinton they were summoned once again to stress Israel’s right to exist.

The PNC has not held another meeting since.

The emergence of Hamas as a political power in 2006 was perceived as a great threat to the Old Guard, for inclusion of Hamas carried the risk of canceling all the “achievements” scored by the PA since Oslo. Thus the delay in implementing the Cairo Agreement.

The war on Gaza, which was meant to crush Hamas, emboldened and empowered the movement and its supporters, who now insist that any national unity would have to accommodate post-Gaza realities. In other words, “resistance” would be affirmed as a “strategic choice.” More, a PLO that is revamped based on compromises that satisfy both camps could also mean the end of privilege and domination of the Ramallah-branch over Palestinian affairs. Thus the pandemonium triggered by Mashaal’s declaration.

Many Palestinians are still hoping that the PLO can be revamped without the need for further fragmentation. However, since neither the current PLO nor the PA are truly independent bodies, one has to wonder if national unity under the current circumstances is at all possible."

Ben & Jerry added new Obama Ice cream flavor!

It is called "Yes Pecan"

They are currently asking the public for flavor suggestions for Bush. Here are some of the suggestions so far:

- Grape Depression
- Abu Grape
- Cluster Fudge
- Nut'n Accomplished
- Iraqi Road
- Chock 'n Awe
- Wire Tapioca
- Impeach Cobbler
- Guantanmallow
- imPeachmint
- Good Riddance You Lousy Motherfucker... Swirl
- Heck of a Job, Brownie!
- Neocon Politan
- RockyRoad to Fascism
- The Reese's-cession
- Cookie D'oh!
- The Housing Crunch
- Nougalar Proliferation
- Death by Chocolate... and Torture
- Credit Crunch
- Country Pumpkin
- Chunky Monkey in Chief
- George Bush Doesn't Care About Dark Chocolate
- WM Delicious
- Chocolate Chimp
- Bloody Sundae
- Caramel Preemptive Stripe
- I broke the law and am responsible for the deaths of thousands...with nuts

By Emad Hajjaj

Real News Video: A. Lieberman not 'far right', Part 2

Neslen: Plan to remove citizenship from Arab Israelis not just a 'far right' idea

"The author of Occupied Minds: A Journey Into the Israeli Psyche talks about the racialization of Israeli society and how it played out in the Israeli elections. Describing the history and context of this election, Neslen explains Israel's strong move to the right. "If you look back over the history of Israel's wars, of Israel's elections, I don't think [Avigdor] Lieberman is as far off the map as he's been presented." Speaking to Avigdor Lieberman's proposal of having Arab-Israelis swear allegiance to a Jewish state, Neslen says that "it's extremely racist by all accounts, but it's not that far off what other politicians have suggested.""

Rahm Emanuel’s weirdness follows in Karl Rove’s White House footsteps

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

"WMR has learned from top Democratic Party sources that at a recent political fundraising soiree in Washington, DC, a top Democratic contributor noticed White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the lobby of the hotel where the event was taking place.

The contributor decided to approach Emanuel and meet him and discuss a mutual friend. Upon greeting Emanuel and mentioning their mutual friend, Emanuel gave the man a glassy stare, said nothing in response, and was then interrupted by another man with whom he abruptly departed.

Retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni is the latest to fall prey to Emanuel. Zinni said he was offered the job of U.S. ambassador to Iraq by top Obama administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden. However, Zinni was bypassed for the job in Baghdad by U.S. diplomat Christopher Hill. Zinni was never informed by the Obama White House of the change in plans and felt that he was “blown off.”

WMR’s sources in Washington report that it was Emanuel who pulled the offer extended to Zinni because Israel sees Zinni, President George W. Bush’s short-lived Middle East envoy, as too even-handed between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Zinni was essentially fired by Bush after Pentagon neoconservatives, such as Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, took issue with Zinni’s pressure on Israel to withdraw its forces from the besieged West Bank headquarters of Yasir Arafat in Ramallah in 2002.

When Zinni was tapped as U.S. ambassador to Iraq, the Israel Lobby put pressure on Obama to withdraw the offer and it used Emanuel, their agent-of-influence and someone WMR previously reported as the Mossad’s number two man in North America, to carry out the mission.

In addtion, Emanuel’s vindictiveness and his role in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “demotion” in the foreign policy portfolio is gaining more and more media attention in Washington as seen in this recent report in Washington’s Examiner."

For the first time in two years, Israel allows export of flowers from Gaza

"In three years, Israel allowed on Thursday the export of a small quantity of flowers from the Gaza Strip into abroad.

According to Mahmoud Khalil, head of the Palestinian society for flowers producers in Gaza, the flower producers in Gaza can produce 40 millions flowers every year.

Just two years ago, the Palestinian farmers have lost their source of income due to the Israeli blockade of Gaza, Khalil added.

The quantities allowed for export today were estimated at 25,000 flowers, a very small quantity, compared with the period before the Israeli closure of Gaza in June2007. Last season, farmers of flowers had to damage large quantities of their products due to the Israeli closure of the region."

"بعد رفض مصر استيرادها... غزة تصدر 25 ألف زهرة قرنفل إلى هولندا

غزة – المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

سمحت سلطات الاحتلال الصهيوني، اليوم الخميس (12/2)، بتصدير 25 ألف زهرة قرنفل عن طريق معبر "كرم أبو سالم" الصهيوني إلى هولندا وذلك لأول مرة منذ ثلاثة سنوات تكبد خلاله مزارعو الزهور خسائر تقدر بملاين الدولارات.

وقال عادل زعرب المتحدث باسم الإدارة العامة للمعابر والحدود أنه سمح اليوم بإدخال شاحنة واحدة محملة بالزهور من أصل ثلاث شاحنات ستكون محملة بهذا العدد من الزهور على أن يتم إدخال بقية الشاحنات لاحقاً.

وذكرت مصادر مطلعة أن تجار الزهور في قطاع غزة حاولوا خلال الفترة السابقة تصدير الزهور إلى مصر إلا أنهم واجهوا صعوبات كبيرة من قبل الحكومة المصرية التي رفضت في النهاية لأسباب غير معروفة.

وقال أحد التجار الذي سعى من اجل تصدر هذه الكمية من الزهور أنه بعدما فشلوا في تصدير تلك الكمية من الزهور إلى مصر تحدثوا مع الممثلية الهولندية المسئولة عن تصدير الزهور والتي بدورها وافقت على الطلب فورا وقامت بالتنسيق مع الجانب الصهيوني من اجل تصدري هذه الزهور من غزة إلى هولندا عبر معبر "كرم أبو سالم".

وأضاف أن مسؤولين عن الممثلية الهولندية يتواجدون في الجانب الصهيوني من معبر "كرم أبو سالم" ويستقبلون هذه الشاحنات لنقلها إلى هولندا.

ويشتهر قطاع غزة بتصدير الزهور منذ سنوات عديدة وزهوره مطلوبة إلا أن الاغلاقات الصهيونية قد دمرت هذا النوع من الزراعة حيث تمنع السلطات الصهيونية منذ ثلاثة سنوات تصدير زهرة واحدة من القطاع إلى الخارج.

ويخصص المزارعون الفلسطينيون حوالي 500 دونما لزارعة جميع أنواع الورود والذي يصنف من أفضل الورد عالميا وقد خسر مزارعو الورد ملاين الدولارات جراء السياسة الصهيونية المستمرة لإغلاق المعابر ومنع تصدير الورد الأمر الذي جعل المزارعين يطعمونه للحيوانات.

وتسعى الممثلية الهولندية لتصدير الزهور من أجل استيراد 25 ألف زهرة قرنفل من قطاع غزة وذلك استعدادا لعيد ما يسمى العشاق "الفلنتاين" والذي يصادف في الرابع عشر من شهر شباط (فبراير) من كل عام.

وأخيراً مزارعو الزهور في قطاع غزة ينجحون في تصدير مزروعاتهم من الورد إلى هولندا من أجل أن تحتفل بعيد الحب بورد غزة التي خرجت من الحرب قبل ثلاثة أسابيع، وذلك بعد رفض مصر استيراد هذا الورد.

ويأمل المزارعون الفلسطينيون أن يكون تصدير الورد من غزة بداية جيدة من أجل إعادة تصدير المنتجات الزراعية الفلسطينية إلى الخارج من أجل إنعاش الاقتصاد الفلسطيني المدمر منذ عدة سنوات بفعل الإغلاق والحصار المحكم على القطاع.

وقالت مصادر في فرع الزهور في دولة الاحتلال: " إنه يوجد في قطاع غزة حوالي أربعمائة دونم تكرّس للزهور وقد تضررت بعضها خلال الحرب الصهيونية الأخيرة على القطاع".

Bubble Economy 2.0: The Financial Recovery Plan from Hell

A Feature Report

by Michael Hudson
Global Research, February 11, 2009

"Martin Wolf started off his Financial Times column today (February 11) with the bold question: “Has Barack Obama’s presidency already failed?”[1] The stock market had a similar opinion, plunging 382 points. Having promised “change,” Mr. Obama is giving us more Clinton-Bush via Robert Rubin’s protégé, Tim Geithner. Tuesday’s $2.5 trillion Financial Stabilization Plan to re-inflate the Bubble Economy is basically an extension of the Bush-Paulson giveaway – yet more Rubinomics for financial insiders in the emerging Wall Street trusts. The financial system is to be concentrated into a cartel of just a few giant conglomerates to act as the economy’s central planners and resource allocators. This makes banks the big winners in the game of “chicken” they’ve been playing with Washington, a shakedown holding the economy hostage. “Give us what we want or we’ll plunge the economy into financial crisis.” Washington has given them $9 trillion so far, with promises now of another $2 trillion– and still counting......."

Will Obama say 'we're sorry'?


By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"If United States President Barack Obama is really serious about "unclenched fists" in a new US-Iran relationship, he's got to take a serious, unbiased look at the US record......

If Obama really wants to make the effort to understand Iran he could do no worse than read the great Iranian philosopher Daryush Shayegan, a former professor at the University of Tehran. When Khomeini died, Shayegan identified him and the shah as the two juxtaposed Irans: imperial Iran and the painful Iran of the blood of the martyr, "a juxtaposition that symbolizes an unreal dream: as the 12th century mystical poet Ruzbehan from Shiraz would say, this 'dementia of the inaccessible'."

The good news is that from Obama's point of view, the "inaccessible" can become more than accessible with just a simple "we're sorry"."

Gaza 2009: Culture of resistance vs. defeat

A Very Good Comment

Dr. Haidar Eid, The Electronic Intifada, 11 February 2009
(Haidar Eid is an independent political commentator and activist residing in Gaza)

"The ongoing bloodletting in the Gaza Strip and the ability of the Palestinian people to creatively resist the might of the world's fourth strongest army is being hotly debated by Palestinian political forces. The latest genocidal war which lasted 22 days, and in which apartheid Israel used F-16s, Apache helicopters, Merkava tanks and conventional and non-conventional weapons against the population, have raised many serious questions about the concept of resistance and whether the outcome of the war can, or cannot, be considered a victory for the Palestinian people. The same kind of questions were raised in 2006 when apartheid Israel launched its war against the Lebanese people and brutally killed more than 1,200 Lebanese.

At the beginning of the Gaza war, we were told by certain sectors of the Palestinian political leadership that "the two sides are to blame: Hamas and Israel" and that "Hamas must stop the launching of the rockets from Gaza." Resistance in all its forms, violent and otherwise, was considered, by these same people, "futile." Now that there are fewer bombs raining down on Gaza, the conflict focuses on whether the outcome of the war was one of victory or defeat.....

The new, much-needed program, however, must make the necessary link between all Palestinian struggles: the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, Israel's ethnically-based discrimination and rights violations of more than one million Palestinian citizens, and the 1948 externally displaced refugees. Gaza 2009 was not a defeat but a victory, because in Gaza the Israelis shot the two-state solution in the head; it is a victory achieved with the blood of those children, men and women who sacrificed their lives so that we could live and continue to resist, not surrender. Those Palestinians that are mourning the demise of the two-prison solution are out of step with new facts on the ground: there can be no going back to fake solutions and negotiations; it is time for a final push to real freedom and statehood. They can join other Palestinians, and internationals, in their demand for a secular, democratic state in Mandate Palestine with equality for all or they can walk into the dustbin of history."

Video: Ann Wright talks about her recent trip to Gaza

Wednesday, 11 February 2009 16:13

"Retired US army colonel Ann Wright talks about her recent trip to Gaza. Throughout Israel's intensive war in Gaza, reporters and international observers have been barred from entering the region. Wright says that the damage is extensive and Israel's disproportionate response "criminal." During her visit to Egypt and Gaza, Philip Rizk, a 26 year old student of Middle Eastern Studies at the American University in Cairo was detained after participating in a rally in support of Gazans. Rizk has been an outspoken critic of the Israeli invasion and of the Egyptian government's feeble response to the suffering of Palestinian civilians. His whereabouts remain unknown and no formal charges have been issued. A demonstration in support of his release will take place on Wednesday, February 11 at 11:30 in front of the Egyptian Consulate in New York.
Wright and Code Pink are also planning fundraising events to aid women's groups in Gaza for International Women's Day. You can find out more here. "

Extremism Dominates Israeli Polls

By Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, Feb 12 (IPS) - "The peace process is based on three false basic assumptions," said Avigdor Lieberman, leader of Israel's extreme right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, which will dictate the formation and political course of the next Israeli government......

Any hope of a compromise with the leadership of Hamas in the wake of the Gaza military operation appears even more remote as Lieberman has ruled out any ceasefire with the Islamic resistance organisation, and advocated its destruction instead.

Meanwhile, on the Palestinian street the indifference to any new Israeli government was evident. Palestinians have seen the settlements grow and the continued expropriation of their land and other resources under all Israeli governments from the supposedly leftist Labour to the rightist Likud."

A toxic force rises in Israel

The country needs to take a long hard look at itself after a vote that has elevated a far right politician to kingmaker

Jonathan Freedland, Wednesday 11 February 2009

".....But it's not this idea which has made Lieberman such a toxic force. For that you have to look to the slogan that drove his campaign: "No loyalty, no citizenship." He would insist that every Israeli swear an oath of loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state: anyone who loses will lose his citizenship.

Israel Beytenu denies this is racist, insisting that every Israeli will have to swear the oath, Jewish or Arab. It is true that plenty of ultra-orthodox Jews who don't accept the authority of a godless secular state may also refuse. But the target is clearly Israel's 1.45 million Arabs. If they will not swear their allegiance, explains Lieberman deputy Uzi Landau, "They will have residency rights but no right to vote or be in the Knesset."

It is a truly shocking idea. I asked several Israel Beytenu luminaries if they could name a single democracy anywhere that had removed citizenship from those who already had it. I asked what they would make of demanding that, say, British Jews, swear an oath of loyalty to Britain as a Christian country on pain of losing their right to vote. I got no good answers.......

Above all, it is Israeli society that has to take a hard look at itself. For so long, it has lived inside a bubble in which it can only see its side of the story: they hit us, so we hit back; we are under siege from hostile forces, we are the victim. In this mental landscape, even a Moldovan-born immigrant stripping people born in their own land of their citizenship can come to seem acceptable. What's needed is not just a change in the electoral system that would allow "strong government" of the kind Lieberman yearns to implement. What's needed is for Israelis to step outside the bubble, to begin to see the causes of their current predicament, instead of dealing again and again, ever more ineffectively, with the symptoms. Tuesday's election prompts no confidence that that is about to happen."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Terrorists, freedom fighters, or schlemiels? You pick

By Landau, Saul

On January 21, President Obama telephoned the King of Jordan, the Prime Minister of Israel, the President of Egypt and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, before dispatching former Senator George Mitchell to spearhead peace negotiations. He excluded Hamas leaders from his phone tree, although they had won the 2006 election to represent the people of Gaza. Obviously, Hamas has also won the label "terrorist" and, as Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni proudly if not smugly assured members of the National Press Club in Washington DC, Israel would not talk with Hamas. 'We do not negotiate with terrorists," she asserted, moral indignation dripping from her words. (January 16)

Her father, Eitan Livni, proudly served as chief operations officer of the Irgun, a right wing Zionist gang that in the post 1945 period sent letter bombs to the British occupying authorities and in 1946 blew up the King David hotel in Jerusalem. Some Jews died in that terrorist act along with others who had no relationship to the issue of an Israeli state. Some British intelligence officials also got blown away.

Livni's ops dressed up as Arabs. Who would suspect benign Arabs? "People who looked like they might be violent Zionists would have attracted suspicion," wrote Juan Cole. "Later generations of rightwing Zionists have attempted to convince the rest of the world that the Arab kaffiyah is an icon of terrorism; but their parents were perfectly willing to display it as a sign of innocence (and perhaps with the intention that the Arabs should take the fall)." (

In 2006, Likudnik and former Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu commemorated that bombing, also honored by surviving Irgun members. In 1948, Irgun members also participated in what Arabs call a massacre of Palestinian civilians at Deir Yassin. Israeli historians differ as to whether the more than 100 dead, including many old people, were shot or died as a result of the battle. Tzipi has not repudiated her father's actions, but feels no apparent sense of shame or even contradiction when she labels her current foes as terrorists with whom she will never negotiate. Well, maybe she never negotiated with her father! Oh, he wasn't a terrorist; he was an Israeli patriot!

As a supposedly anti-terrorist action, Israel dropped thousands of tons of bombs on Gaza in December and January. It had tried a similar "anti-terrorist" tactic against southern Lebanon in 2006. Unlike the relatively primitive explosives used by the old terrorists, like Eitan Livni, Israel today employs white phosphorous and cluster bombs -- anti-personnel weapons originally designed for use against large numbers of troops on a battlefield, but not to be deployed against civilians. Israel dropped these people killers on Lebanese farms just before its army withdrew. Deterrent or child killer? Let¹s not quibble over definitions!

If President Obama's inner sensitivities correspond to what the world witnessed on January 20 as his external sensibilities, he too will recoil from "terrorist" rhetoric and also reject the angelic facade that fits Israel like a fine leather glove on the hoof of a pig. "Change is coming in the Middle East as it is in the United States," Obama might tell Israeli leaders, "and Washington will play a role over there. So make the necessary concessions to facilitate a viable Palestinian state. And include Hamas -- or else!"

Few Peacemakers in Israel's Knesset

By Neve Gordon 
Source: The Nation 

[This is the "Zionist light" perspective or "Diet Zionist" that I like to call]

Israelis have had their say at the polls, and now it is up to the world, and particularly the Obama administration, to respond.


Thirty-three parties ran for the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), ranging from the well-known Kadima, Likud and Labor to a variety of lesser known parties that ran on an array of platforms from the rights of the disabled to legalizing cannabis. However, only twelve parties managed to garner enough votes to secure seats in the Knesset.


The incoming Knesset will have a solid right-wing bloc, made up of Likud with twenty-seven seats, Yisrael Beiteinu with fifteen seats, two ultra-Orthodox parties with sixteen seats and two smaller nationalist parties with seven seats. This bloc has four more than the sixty-one-seat threshold needed to form a coalition.


The center bloc was able to muster forty-one seats. This bloc consists of Kadima with twenty-eight seats and Labor with thirteen seats. The remaining fourteen seats were won by liberal, leftist and Arab national parties.


The results clearly testify to the fact that a large majority of the elected politicians are against an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement based on the two-state solution. Moreover, some parties have blatant neo-fascist tendencies. Yisrael Beiteinu, for example, ran under the banner of "no citizenship without loyalty," and would like to strip any person who is critical of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians of their citizenship. People like me....


The Living Mummy!

The Audacity of Mendacity

Obama's real foreign policy agenda

By Justin Raimondo

".....Obama's answer is a study in obfuscation and chilling sanctimony eerily reminiscent of his predecessor: "Your question is timely," the president averred. "We got reports that four American service members have been killed in Iraq today. And, you know, obviously, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't the question been timely for quite some time? After all, U.S. soldiers have been fighting and dying for eight years now in a war with no clear goal – except, perhaps, perpetual conflict for its own sake – and no visible end. Obama's fabled calmness is really an uncanny ability to utter nonsense with absolute equanimity........

One hopeful sign, however, is that he said he doesn't yet have a timetable. Perhaps a vocal and visible protest against his neo-Bushian foreign policy will help concentrate his mind and speed up the process of timetable-creation. "

Palestinian Lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti on the Israeli Elections: “Israel Has Completed the Transformation into an Apartheid State”

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"With 99 percent of the votes counted Wednesday morning in the Israeli election, Tzipi Livni’s centrist Kadima Party was in first place with twenty-eight seats, while Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party was a close second with twenty-seven seats. They are both claiming victory but would need coalition partners to gather the sixty-one seats needed to form a government in the 120-seat Knesset. For analysis of the election results, we are joined by two guests. Dr. Mustafa Barghouti is an independent Palestinian lawmaker and democracy activist. He joins us from Washington, D.C. And on the line from Beersheba, Israel is Neve Gordon, a professor of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University and the author of Israel’s Occupation......."

By Naser Jafari

Real News Video: Two years of recession, or ten years of hell? Part 4

Engdahl: Mass action in streets needed to demand bank nationalization and cuts in military spending

"F William Engdahl says getting to a real solution to the crisis will take mass action by millions of people in the streets demanding nationalization of the banks, cuts in military spending,a rise in the standard of living of the middle 60% of the population, and rebuilding the infrastructure of the country."

Obama's "War on Terror"

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, February 10, 2009

"The language is softened and deceptive. The strategy and tactics are not. The "war on terror" continues. Promised change is talk, not policy. Just look at Obama's "war cabinet," discussed in an earlier article. It assures:

-- the "strongest military on the planet" by outspending all other countries combined;

-- continued foreign wars;

-- possible new ones in prospect; on February 7, vice-president Joe Biden outlined continuity of the Bush administration's policy toward Iran, including "preventive" wars under the National Security Strategy; demands also that Iran abandon its legal nuclear program meaning nothing going forward will change;

-- permanent occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is planned;

-- a reinvented "Cold War" with Russia; perhaps also with China; "draw(ing) a new 'iron curtain' (between these) formidable Eurasian powers" to prevent their alliance from challenging America, according to F. William Engdahl;

-- an "absolute" commitment "to eliminating the threat of terrorism (with) the full force of our power;"

-- inciting instability for imperial gain, especially in resource-rich parts of the world;

-- militarizing America; keeping Bush administration police state laws in force; dealing with a deepening economic crisis by preparing for hard line crackdowns should popular unrest arise; and

-- readying for another major false flag attack?....."

The Tunnels of Gaza

An underground economy and resistance symbol

by Sara Flounders
Global Research, February 11, 2009
Workers World

"Resistance takes as many forms as life itself dictates.

Life in Gaza could not be more impossible. Its tunnels are a symbol of resistance.

Eighteen months ago, outraged when the Palestinians voted for the militant leadership of Hamas in democratic elections, Israel imposed a total lockdown on the entire population of Gaza.

But the entire people were determined to continue to resist. They found a way to circumvent total starvation.

The Israeli blockade led to a new economic structure, an underground economy. The besieged Palestinians have dug more than 1,000 tunnels under the totally sealed border.

Many thousands of Palestinians are now employed in digging, smuggling or transporting, and reselling essential goods. Smuggling constitutes approximately 90 percent of economic activity in Gaza, Gazan economist Omar Shaban told The Guardian. (Oct. 22, 2008)

The tunnels demonstrate the great ingenuity and enormous determination of the entire population and its leadership......."

Obama's Persian double


By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"......What is certain is that the Pentagon, the Israel lobby in Washington and whoever wins the Israel elections, even Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's Kadima, belong to the clenched fist bunch. They are already vociferously pointing out the successful launch last week of an Iranian satellite - Omid (Hope, in Farsi) - hammering home that the same rocket technology can also deliver warheads.

And most importantly; what does the Supreme Leader think of all this? He is, after all, the ultimate decider in Iran. First of all, national pride is of the essence. In a meeting this past weekend with Iranian air force commanders, Khamenei said, "This revolution has transformed the nation of Iran into a nation of willpower, strength and dignity, a nation capable of influencing other societies."

His - or the system's priorities - could not have been made more clear: "In the past 30 years, world powers have tried everything to hinder Iran's progress, but despite the many years of sanctions imposed on our nation, we have made achievements, such as the Omid satellite, and we have acquired the technology to enrich uranium, a technology only a few countries possess."

And as for the Khomeinist credo of an exportable revolutionary idea, it seems to remain more alive than ever: "The popularity of the message of the revolution can be clearly witnessed in what happened in Gaza and before that in the 33-day war in Lebanon. The well-equipped Israeli army backed by the US was incapable of defeating a handful of besieged youth [Hamas and Hezbollah] and who had nothing but their faith in God."

Fasten your seat belts; it's gonna be a bumpy ride. "

No Tough Love for Wall Street

Cartoon by Mr. Fish

By Robert Scheer

"What an insipid anticlimax! Rising to “a challenge more complex than our financial system has ever faced,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner promised on Tuesday to give trillions more to the very folks who profited from that malignant complexity. For all the brave talk about transparency and accountability in the banking bailout, he gave the swindlers who got us into this mess yet another blank check to buy up the “toxic assets” they gleefully created......"

The war where I was killed and Gaza survived

Eman Mohammed writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 10 February 2009
(Eman Mohammed is a Jordanian-Palestinian freelance photojournalist and reporter based in the Gaza Strip since 2005.)

".....The silence in Gaza is too loud, too bare. Words don't seem to ease the pain or heal the wounds. The shouts are gone without an echo, but Gaza's people still managed to get up from under the rubble and the torn memories. My people proved to me once again that they are stronger than these attacks and invasions. They have vanquished death by rebuilding their lives time after time. Maybe that's something I'll never be able to understand or do myself, since the day they stabbed Gaza, my soul was stolen by an evil force. I believe it was a war on Gaza, not in Gaza as they claim. Their attacks were barbarism, but Gaza managed to survive, one way or another."