Saturday, May 23, 2009

Real News Video: "Absolutist" to defend the law?

Michael Ratner: It's outrageous to equate people who demand the rule of law with those who break it

More at The Real News

Swine Flu's Hidden Agenda, by Carlos Latuff

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Video interviews with fishermen in Gaza

The Free Gaza Movement

Sami Al Najar lost his hand in an Israeli attack on his boat:

Ebraheem Al Najar whose son was killed in an attack on his boat:

Biden's real mission is to stop Hizbollah

By Robert Fisk

"When Joe Biden came to town yesterday he was accused by Hizbollah of interfering in Lebanese domestic affairs. And I thought, they may be right....

So the American Vice-President believes in democracy. That's good news. And the President of Lebanon, Michel Sleiman – a man with infinitely more intelligence than Mr Obama's number two – warned him of the number of Israeli "spies" caught in the past few weeks – and asked him to protect Lebanon.

Mr Biden went along with this and talked about "the will of the Lebanese people" (always important if they are voting for pro-American candidates) and talked about "our commitment to mutual principles and values" (which might not last too long if the Hizbollah alliance wins the 7 June national elections)......"

Video Interview in Arabic with Azmi Bishara on May 22, 2009

COMMENT: A great and wide-ranging interview. If you have a little over an hour, it is well worth watching.

Video in Arabic of Sayyed Nasrallah's Speech on May 22, 2009

Video (1 hr., 17 min.): ( عيد المقاومة و التحرير ( السيد حسن نصر الله

عيد المقاومة و التحرير ( السيد حسن نصر الله )

Friday, May 22, 2009

How Not to Win Votes for Team USA

Biden in Beirut


Baabda Palace, Beirut

"U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Beirut with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman aboard a U.S. military helicopter at 11:50 am Friday morning....Biden’s first words, shouted to some journalists outside the Baabda Presidential Palace were, “I am happy to be in Libya…I mean Lebanon…this morning!”

If Biden was having a good morning, many Beirutis were not. Many woke up furious as they learned they will be on “lockdown” from 11 am to 6:30 pm for Vice President Joe Biden’s quick visit. It will be the 14th visit by a US official over the past six months to assure the people of Lebanon that the US will not interfere in the June 7 elections. In fact, US interference has now reached a near fever pitch just sixteen days before the voting.....

This is getting too ridiculous. Why don’t the Americans just run a TV ad telling us what they have repeated so many times? Nobody cares that Biden is coming here except that it affects our daily lives”, Abed, an AUB security guard fumed......

Meanwhile, after meeting with Defense Minister Murr to photo-op some more military equipment for the Lebanese army, ‘smokin Joe’ Biden will blast ‘up and outa’ Lebanon en route to Washington.

The Levant’s ‘fateful’ election: 16 days and counting. It’s getting interesting here in Lebanon. May the best team win. "

Hezbollah: Israel Plotting to Assassinate Sayyed Nasrallah


"22/05/2009 “Israel is planning to assassinate Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, a development which would set the region ablaze,” a senior Hezbollah member told pan-Arab London-based daily newspaper Asharq al-Awsat on Friday.

Sayyed Nawaf al-Moussawi, who was Hezbollah's top foreign policy official and who is now running for a seat representing the south Lebanese town of Tyre in Lebanon's upcoming parliamentary elections, said that Israel's plan was hatched in concert with Arab governments.

Moussawi spoke in detail about the elections. He also told the newspaper that Israel's planned large-scale military drill is really a simulation of the army's plan to liquidate Sayyed Nasrallah.

"The resistance is addressing this military maneuver responsibly and seriously," Moussawi said, adding that Hezbollah is on high alert "because a decision was taken in Israel to assassinate Nasrallah, and many states have conspired with Israel on this front." "

Human Rights Attorney Vince Warren: Obama’s “Preventive Detention” Plan Goes Beyond Bush Admin Policies

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"We get reaction to President Obama and Vice President Dick Cheney’s dueling speeches on torture from Vince Warren, the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Warren took part in a secret meeting Wednesday between Obama and several human rights groups. Warren says although he welcomes Obama’s willingness to hear critical views, he’s disappointed in Obama’s new support for preventive detention....."

King Abdullah's 57-State Solution

Muddying the Waters

A Very Good Piece


"......So it’s the work that needs to be done over the next couple of months that has a regional answer to this – that is not a two-state solution, it is a 57-state solution.

“That is a very strong statement when we are offering a third of the world to meet them with open arms. The future is not the Jordan River or the Golan Heights or Sinai, the future is Morocco in the Atlantic to Indonesia in the Pacific. I think that’s the prize.”

-- Jordan’s King Abdullah in an interview with the Times of London, 11 May 2009......

We must also not overlook the plight of Palestinians in Gaza. Subjected to a cruel war which saw the use of white phosphorus against civilians, destruction of United Nations schools and warehouses, deliberate targeting of civilians waving white flags, and an 18-month siege which left nearly half of Gaza’s children malnourished, they continue to suffer to this day.

Now, Abdullah says the future is not the Jordan River or the Golan Heights – and by extension not Gaza, the West Bank or Jerusalem? – but “Morocco in the Atlantic to Indonesia in the Pacific.”

Gazans and other Palestinians, with due respect to fellow Muslims between Morocco and Indonesia, have their own exigent circumstances. Palestine is being swallowed, bit by bit and piece by piece. The separation barrier snaking around Jerusalem and the West Bank is but one form of annexation complementing the expansion and building of settlements there. Gaza remains in rubble, with no construction materials being allowed in and continued difficulties in getting the sick and dying out.

Imagine them hearing him speak to Israel about the “prize” of Morocco and Indonesia while their land continues to shrink.

Abdullah’s plan is not an incentive to Israelis, but an insult to Palestinians.

Let us be clear: there is one track that must be solved before any other can even be entertained. It is the outstanding issue of the Middle East which cannot afford to be diluted or marginalized by linking it to agreements with countries on opposite ends of the world.

That issue is Palestine. And King Abdullah’s haughty “57-state solution” does it a great disservice."

Al-Jazeera Video: Egyptian tycoon found guilty in singer's murder - 21 May 09

"In a dramatic fall from grace, for one of Egypt's leading businessmen, the property tycoon, Hisham Talaat Moustafa, has been sentenced to death for the murder of his former lover, the Lebanese pop star, Suzanne Tamim. Moustafa, who's also a prominent member of Egypt's ruling party, was found guilty of hiring a hitman to kill the singer, in a case that has gripped the Arab world...."

Real News Video: Policy differences or high crimes?

Swanson: Obama allowing Cheney to play offense; constitution demands prosecution

More at The Real News

Not better but worse

Pre-empting the outcome of national dialogue, Mahmoud Abbas has reappointed his unpopular premier. It won't do him good.

By Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah

".....Indeed, the Fayyad government, despite its rhetorical proclamations against Israel, has utterly failed to impede Israel's efforts to expand Jewish colonies in the West Bank, and especially in the Jerusalem region. The government has also miserably failed in safeguarding the human rights and civil liberties as thousands of Palestinians, particularly Islamic activists have been incarcerated without charge or trial, with some even tortured to death.

Under the Fayyad government, the security agencies, such as the Preventive Security Services and the Mukhabarat, or general intelligence, assumed disproportionate powers, in many instances outside the rule of law.

Finally, the formation of the new government is likely to further undermine the popularity of Abbas and his allies while strengthening the standing of their opponents within Fatah, especially Marwan Barghouti, the imprisoned Fatah leader.

Abbas on several occasions suggested that he had no choice but to retain Fayyad as prime minister since dismissing him wouldn't bode well with Western powers that pay the salaries of tens of thousands of PA civil servants and security personnel and generally keep the PA financially afloat. One PA official, who is close to Abbas, summarised the whole issue in a few words: "He who pays the piper, decides the tune.""

Zionism: A Plight Unto the Nations. Israel destroying Gaza's farmlands

A wheat field destroyed by fire.

Eva Bartlett, The Electronic Intifada, 22 May 2009

"On the morning of 4 May 2009, Israeli troops set fire to Palestinian crops along Gaza's eastern border with Israel. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reported that 200,000 square meters of crops were destroyed, including wheat and barley ready for harvest, as well as vegetables, olive and pomegranate trees.

Local farmers report that the blaze carried over a four-kilometer stretch on the Palestinian side of the eastern border land. Ibrahim Hassan Safadi, 49, from one of the farming families whose crops were destroyed by the blaze, said that the fires were smoldering until early evening.....

In addition to the physical threat and the destruction of agricultural land and equipment, Gaza's farming sector is further devastated by the destruction of what is believed to be hundreds of wells and sources of water and the contamination of farmland due to Israel's invasion of Gaza at the beginning of the year. As reported by the Guardian newspaper in February 2009, these attacks have left nearly 60 percent of Gaza's agricultural land useless.

The consequences of the active destruction of Gaza's farming sector are amplified within the context of Israel's siege and the stagnant state of rebuilding efforts since the ceasefire. With only a trickle of aid entering Gaza and poverty and malnutrition rates soaring, the ability to produce food is all the more vital to Palestinians in Gaza. "

Hezbollah Slams Biden's Visit as Meddling in Lebanese Affairs


"22/05/2009 As expected, the US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Beirut couldn't pass unnoticed, especially that it comes amid reports that the US has increasing concerns about a possible victory for the national opposition in the forthcoming parliamentary elections

In a statement it released on Friday, Hezbollah commented on the visit and the sequence of US officials' visits to the country ahead of the parliamentary elections.

"The US high interest in Lebanon triggers strong doubts over the reasons behind it," the statement read, adding that this suspicious US concern "constitutes explicit meddling in the Lebanese affairs, which is obviously reflected in the series of visits paid lately by US administration officials to the country."

Hezbollah warned against the US administration's intentions. "We must not forget that the US administration is putting the Zionist enemy's interests at the top of its priorities, and therefore is exerting pressure on everyone and inducing concessions to achieve its goals," the Hezbollah statement noted. "This same administration seems to have completely no concern in the nations' just causes and their rightful requests."

Hezbollah condemned the US insistence on having identical interests with the Zionist entity......"

Gaza Disowned: The Pope, Israel and 'Reconciliation'

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"....Now, there are a lot of important religious sites to see around the Holy Land, lots of old churches, stones, ruins and the like…sites of much more significance, such as the Western Wall, the Holy Sepulcher and so on… far more important than visiting the site of a fresh massacre, where the stench of rotting bodies - laid to rest beneath a tomb consisting of the rubble of their own homes - has just faded. Such sites are apparently of little import to the Holy See. Rather, there are memorials to victims of greater standing, in shrines of superior grandeur, such as Yad Vashem…now, that’s something to see......

The Vatican needs some serious introspection. It ought to replace its highly politicized and, frankly, questionable apologies, with an earnest apology to oppressed people, who might have little political worth. The Pope should apologize to Palestinians and to Gazans in particular for failing to appreciate the seriousness of their plight, for cozying up to the very Israeli leaders who champion the suffering in Gaza, and fail to console the very victim of their onslaught......

And it is completely unacceptable for anyone to have the ‘audacity’ to urge Palestinian youth not to allow, as the Holy Father stated, “the loss of life and the destruction you have witnessed to arouse bitterness or resentment in your hearts”. More, when making a stop at Aida Refugee Camp, he blamed the plight of the displaced population on “the turmoil that has afflicted this land for decades.” It would have been far more favorable for him to stay home and not insult these sites of misery at all.

But in the end, the Pope finally was able to muster up some courage and took one truly audacious stand: When at the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority’s chief Islamic judge, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, declared that Israelis had killed innocent women and children in Gaza, the Pope stood up and in an act of defiance, walked out. Now that’s courage.

The Palestinians, and millions of people around the world, expected more from a person who should be advocating the New Testament teaching:let justice flow like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”......"

Hailing the leader as a War President and the powers that go with it

A Good Piece

By Glenn Greenwald

"In a February, 2004 interview with Tim Russert, George Bush provoked much derision by proudly declaring himself to be what he called a "war president." This week, Newsweek's Editor Jon Meacham interviewed Barack Obama, adopted Bush's label and applied it to Obama, asking him:

Can anything get you ready to be a war president?

Nothing excites our media stars more than saluting and fetishizing the President as a "War President" and "Commander-in-Chief"......

This is what being a "nation at war" and viewing the President as a "War President" --- first and foremost the "Commander-in-Chief" -- does to a country. Fear predominates everything. No government power needs to be limited. Blind faith is placed in presidential judgments, the assessments of the War President go unquestioned. Being in the military means following orders, so when all citizens start viewing the President in military terms -- he's "our" Commander-in-Chief -- that mentality of obedience is the natural by-product.

Most of the people at Guantanamo have now been kept in cages for seven years by the U.S. without any charges or trials of any kind -- based solely on the President's say-so -- and very few people seem particularly bothered by that. It's not really hard to understand why political establishments prefer this state of affairs to be permanent, and why Presidents are so eager to claim the mantle of "War President." What political leaders wouldn't be eager to receive the blind faith and virtually unlimited powers that the title entails?"

Six Ways the Af-Pak War Is Expanding

by Tom Engelhardt, May 22, 2009

"Yes, Stanley McChrystal is the general from the dark side (and proud of it). So the recent sacking of Afghan commander Gen. David McKiernan after less than a year in the field and McChrystal’s appointment as the man to run the Afghan War seem to signal that the Obama administration is going for broke. It’s heading straight into what, in the Vietnam era, was known as “the big muddy.”.....

We now have a more aggressive “team” in place. Soon enough, if the fighting in the Afghan south and along the Pakistani border doesn’t go as planned, pressure for the president to send in those other 10,000 troops Gen. McKiernan asked for may rise as well, as could pressure to apply more air power, more drone power, more of almost anything. And yet, as former CIA station chief in Kabul, Graham Fuller, wrote recently, in the region “crises have only grown worse under the U.S. military footprint.”

And what if, as the war continues its slow arc of expansion, the “Washington coalition” is the one that cracks first? What then? "

Why Liberals Love Obama

Even as he betrays them on civil liberties and foreign policy

by Justin Raimondo, May 22, 2009

"If I were a liberal Democrat – and, as my regular readers know, this is very far from being the case – I’d be mad as heck over the way President Barack Obama has reversed himself on key foreign policy and civil liberties issues. I’d be positively furious about his "reconsideration" of preventive detention, the revival of military commissions, rendition, JSOC-style assassinations, denial of habeas corpus, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Not to mention the general direction of his foreign policy, which rationalizes escalating the fighting in Afghanistan – and its extension into Pakistan – under the general exculpatory rubric of fighting the "war on terrorism."

As Glenn Greenwald trenchantly makes the point, what appears to have happened is that:
"Obama’s political skills, combined with his status as a Democrat, is strengthening Bush/Cheney terrorism policies and solidifying them further.....

In short, these are the issues that liberals really, really care about: abortion, gay rights, and economic equality – and they are quite willing to throw overboard whatever remains of their old classical liberal baggage in order to achieve these goals.

So – at last! – we return to the question asked at the beginning of this inordinately long column: why has the liberal-progressive community given Obama a pass on such vital issues as foreign policy and civil liberties?

The answer, given the above, is staring us in the face: because the old liberalism is largely dead. No one remembers Randolph Bourne’s very apt aphorism that "war is the health of the state" – heck, almost no one remembers Bourne, whose contributions to the history of liberal thought are buried in the graveyard of lost causes.

Obama will be given a pass by progressives as long as he holds out the promise of power and the means to reward his followers with perks, prestige, and the novelty of popularity. A few, like Greenwald, resist, but, alas, they are the valiant few – who will soon either desert the ranks of "progressivism" or be expelled."

Palestinian rights deserve Anglican action

A obsession with even-handedness is stopping Anglicans taking a firm stand on Israel's disregard for Palestinian rights

Ben White, Thursday 21 May 2009

"At the 14th Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting, held in Jamaica earlier this month, a resolution on the Middle East was passed, criticising the Israeli occupation. An original version of the resolution was originally submitted by the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN), but as the language was felt by some to be too "strong", a new resolution was put forward and adopted.

The resolution staked out a position based on international law, a rejection of violence as a means of conflict resolution, and opposition to Israel's occupation and colonisation of the Palestinian territories......

The Anglican Church has trodden an uneasy path in recent years when it comes to words and actions on Israel/Palestine. Despite recommendations by the APJN to pursue divestment as means of opposing Israel's occupation, this has never been followed through......."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A misbegotten government

By Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah

".....In the context of this disgraceful subservience to our historical enemy and its intelligence apparatus, the PA relayed to Israel every piece of data on members and supporters of Hamas.

The cooperation between the Palestinian security apparatus and the Shin Beth reached so high a level that nearly every Palestinian arrested by the PA security apparatus was rearrested and imprisoned for prolonged periods by the Israelis and vice versa.

This means that the PA has effectively become an additional layer of the Israeli occupation since the ultimate outcome of this disgraceful and treasonous coordination with the occupier of our country and oppressor of our people meant the doubling of suffering for the Palestinians.

This is what the Fatah parliamentary leadership is beginning to understand, namely that the Fayadh-Abbas alliance is detrimental to Palestinian national goals.

I believe Fatah, PFLP, the People’s Party should be applauded for deciding to boycott the new government, ostensibly the worst since the creation of the PA 15 years ago......"

Afghan life is cheap

US says only 30 Afghan civilians died in bombing

U.S. military aircraft hit eight buildings with 13 missiles, Julian said.

Based on the new evidence, the investigating team "estimates that 60-65 Taliban extremists were killed in these engagements, while at least 20-30 civilians may have been killed during the fighting," the U.S. statement said.

"We regret the loss of any civilian life and express our condolences to the families who lost loved ones in this fighting with insurgents firing from and regrouping in villagers' homes," Julian said.

He said that because some 300 villagers were seen fleeing before the fighting, no more than 30 would likely have remained.

Obama to Keep Israel’s Nuclear ‘Secrets’

Previous speculation was that President Obama might make Israel come clean about its vast arsenal while pursuing an agreement with Iran on its civilian program, but the diplomat claimed assurances that the US would maintain the “don’t ask, don’t tell policy.”

Israel to US: We reserve 'right' to bomb Iran

Press TV

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told the Obama administration that Tel Aviv “reserves itself operational freedom” on Iran, according to an aide.

The premier during his recent visit to Washington "clarified that Israel reserves itself operational freedom, and several of the most senior figures in the Obama administration said 'of course'," Netanyahu's national security advisor Uzi Arad told Israel Army Radio......"

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This new poll asks:

Do you believe that Obama's policies regarding a settlement in the region are different from Bush's?

With over 700 responding so far, 69% said no.

Lieberman: Israel, US on 'Same Page' Regarding Iran


"21/05/2009 This week's White House summit meeting between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was more positive than what has been portrayed by the news media, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lierberman said on Thursday.

The Zionist entity's top diplomat said that Israel and the United States see eye-to-eye on a final resolution to the Palestinian issue, and that "the argument is about how to get there."....."

US Colonel Advocates US 'Military Attacks' on 'Partisan Media' in Essay for Neocon, Pro-Israel Group JINSA

“The point of all this is simple: Win,” writes Col. Ralph Peters. “In warfare, nothing else matters. If you cannot win clean, win dirty. But win.”

by Jeremy Scahill

".......A new report for a leading neoconservative group which pushes a belligerent "Israel first" agenda of conquest in the Middle East suggests that in future wars the US should make censorship of media official policy and advocates "military attacks on the partisan media." (H/T MuzzleWatch) The report for JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, was authored by retired US Army Colonel Ralph Peters. It appears in JINSA's "flagship publication," The Journal of International Security Affairs. "Today, the United States and its allies will never face a lone enemy on the battlefield. There will always be a hostile third party in the fight," Peters writes, calling the media, "The killers without guns:"........"

Al-Jazeera Video: Pakistan's displaced struggle to find shelter - 20 May 09

"Fighting between government forces and Taliban have forced two millions of Pakistanis to flee their homes.

Al Jazeera's Imran Khan reports from Mardan district in the North West Frontier Province, where every available space that can house the displaced is being utilised. "

The Pharaoh in the Service of Zion....Hamas Applauds the Pharaoh.

Six Palestinians injured as Egyptian military bombs a tunnel at Gaza borders

"Six Palestinian workers were injured on Thursday midday when the Egyptian military bombed a tunnel located at the Egyptian-Gaza borders.

Sources in Gaza reported that the six workers sustained moderate wounds and were moved to a hospital at Rafah city for treatment.

Since Israel sealed-off the Coastal Strip in June 2007, the tunnels between the Gaza and Egypt became the main sources of supplies to Gaza."

Waiting in Port Said for the Hope Fleet delegation to Gaza.

How much longer will the Egyptians tolerate it - and him?

"For three days now we have been waiting here in Port Said for the boat with its cargo of 12 fully equipped ambulances and 40 trucks loaded with medical supplies and special needs equipment.

Part of the 120-member delegation has already left, brokenhearted, unable to enter Sinai, let alone Gaza, and others are due to return to Europe in the next few days.

But some have stayed on, among them Senator Fernando Rossi and 12 European Parliament members who joined us yesterday in Port Said.

The ship is presently in Libya and should be arriving in Port Said at the end of the week—that is, if permitted by the Egyptian authorities, who have been playing a game of nerves with us since our arrival.....

In the last four days, 56 activists have been arrested in Egypt for having participated in or having announced their intention to participate in the “Day of Anger”—organized demonstrations to protest the founding of the state of Israel.

In the past, many other Egyptians have been arrested for speaking out about their government’s “Egypto-Zionist” policies concerning Gaza. Some are still under arrest, like Magdi Hussein, Secretary-General of the Labor Party, or the poet-blogger Ahmed Doma, who were sentenced, respectively, to 2 years and 1 year in prison for illegally crossing the eastern Egyptian border, after their solidarity visit to the Gaza Strip following the Israeli attack that killed 1434 Palestinians wounded more than 5000, and left more than 100,000 homeless.

We have decided to keep on waiting, even though we have no idea what will happen next.

I hope to be able to tell you soon: “We are in Gaza.”

Netanyahu At The White House: Not Yet Change We Can Believe In

By Phyllis Bennis

".....Palestinian parliamentarian and pro-democracy activist Mustafa Barghouti wrote in the Los Angeles Times just before the meeting, "It's now or almost certainly never. If Obama lacks the political will to stand up to Netanyahu now, he will lack the capacity later. And by the time Obama leaves office, it will be too late to salvage anything more than an archipelago of Palestinian bantustans. We Palestinians seek freedom, not apartheid, and not the sort of Potemkin villages on the West Bank that Netanyahu is trying to package to the West as visionary economic boomtowns for desperate Palestinians."

It's only going to get harder from here, but so far we still don't really know where "here" is. Obama's public posture didn't challenge Netanyahu's fundamental claims - but he did not accept them either, and made clear his own position....."

Slouching towards balkanization

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"Washington is focused on the Pakistani province of Balochistan like a laser. In an evolving strategy of balkanization of the country - increasingly popular in Washington foreign-policy circles - Balochistan has very attractive assets: natural wealth, scarce population and a port, which is key for Pipelineistan plans.....

Thus a Pakistan not unlike an Iraq still under US occupation - broke up into three parts - now starts to emerge as a distinct possibility. Unless an improbable Pakistani popular revolt, backed by middle-ranking Pakistani soldiers, rumbles on to make the top heads of the army/security/politico establishment roll. But drones, not guillotines, are the flavor of the moment in AfPak."

No hope or change from Obama-Netanyahu meeting

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 21 May 2009

".....On the surface it may seem there are real differences and that the forces arrayed on each side -- including the formidable Israel lobby -- are gearing up for an epic battle to determine the fate of US-Israeli relations.

But Obama offered little new, reaffirming well-worn US positions that view Palestinians, particularly Hamas, as the aggressors, and Israel as the innocent victim. While calling for Israel to halt settlement construction (as US presidents have done for decades), Obama offered no hint that he would back those words with action. Quite the contrary, the president said he would urge Arab leaders to normalize relations with Israel, rewarding it in advance of any renewed peace talks.....

....All the signs are however that the Obama administration will push to try to force Palestinians and Arabs to accept and normalize Israel as it is and that the US will continue to underwrite a morally and politically bankrupt Zionist settler-colonial project with a permanent American military, economic and diplomatic bailout......"

Power Struggle Killing Patients

By Mel Frykberg

"GAZA CITY, May 21 (IPS) - The lives of hundreds of critically ill Gazans continue to be jeopardised by the power struggle between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, and political blackmail by Israel.....

Gaza's dilapidated medical system, and a critical shortage of equipment due to Israel's embargo on the strip, has forced many to seek travel to neighbouring Arab countries, Israel and further abroad for treatment.

But for a patient to leave, both the Israelis, who control the northern Erez crossing, and the Egyptians who control the southern Rafah crossing into Egypt, require the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Authority (PA), which controls the West Bank, to approve exit documentation.

Following Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, the Egyptians and Israelis refuse to recognise the legitimacy of the Islamic resistance organisation, even though it won democratic elections at the beginning of 2006......"

From Antiwar Law Professor to Warmonger in 100 Days

By Alexander Cockburn

"How long does it take a mild-mannered, anti-war, black professor of constitutional law, trained as a community organiser on the South Side of Chicago, to become an enthusiastic sponsor of targeted assassinations, 'decapitation' strategies and remote-control bombing of mud houses at the far end of the globe?

There's nothing surprising here. As far back as President Woodrow Wilson, in the early 20th century, American liberalism has been swift to flex its imperial muscle and whistle up the Marines. High-explosive has always been in the hormone shot.

The nearest parallel to Obama in eager deference to the bloodthirsty counsels of his counter-insurgency advisors is John F. Kennedy......."

Torture and empire

By Stephen M. Walt

".....Last point: we also need to reflect on the connection between U.S. grand strategy and these sorry episodes. It is tempting to blame this whole problem on the misguided machinations of Bush, Cheney, and their minions, who took advantage of the post-9/11 climate of fear to implement a torture regime, but that convenient explanation is a bit too simple. In fact, this sort of abuse is likely to be repeated as long as the United States maintains a highly interventionist foreign and military policy. If the United States continues to send military forces and lethal armed drones to attack people in far-flung lands, some of the people we kill will be innocent civilians -- thereby fomenting greater hatred of the United States -- and the people we are going after will try to hit us back. Our enemies will use our actions to recruit sympathizers -- just as Osama bin Laden did -- and every time some terrorist group gets lucky and get through, the U.S. government will be tempted to adopt even harsher measures to try to stop the next attack. Not only does this cycle threaten civil liberties here at home, but it tends to embroil us in social engineering projects in societies that we do not understand (see under: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, etc.). We can also be confident that other potential rivals are secretly thrilled to see us squandering lots of blood and treasure on lengthy occupations and open-ended counterinsurgency operations.

Unfortunately, history also shows that prolonged occupations and counterinsurgencies always lead to significant abuses. It is the nature of the beast. This is what happened to Britain in the Boer War, Belgium in its central African empire, France in Indochina and Algeria, Russia in Afghanistan and Chechnya, Israel in Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank, and the United States in Iraq. The United States may not be as heavy-handed as some earlier imperial powers, although our treatment of native Americans was horrible and our handling of Japanese-Americans in World War II is a dark stain on our past. The key point is that the idea of a purely benevolent "empire" is a contradiction in terms and we are fooling ourselves if we think we can run one.

Bottom line: if you don't like Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, waterboarding, etc., the best way to make the problem go away for good is to get out of the business of occupying and trying to govern other countries."

Watching Obama Morph Into Dick Cheney

by Paul Craig Roberts, May 21, 2009

"......The people’s good will toward Obama and the expectations they had for him were sufficient for Obama to end the gratuitous wars and enact major reforms. But Obama has deserted the people for the interests. He is relying on his non-threatening demeanor and rhetoric to convince the people that change is underway.

The change that we are witnessing is in Obama, not in policies. Obama is morphing into Dick Cheney......

Obama can give a great speech without mangling the language. He can smile and make people believe his rhetoric. The world, or much of it, seems to be content with the soft words that now drape Dick Cheney’s policies in pursuit of executive supremacy and U.S. hegemony. "

Iran and the west: lessons from history

Ever since Shah Abbas tried to reach out to Europe, our dealings with Iran have been lost in translation

Brian Whitaker, Wednesday 20 May 2009

".......Disappointingly for Abbas, his hopes for a grand east-west alliance against the Ottomans came to nought. The Europeans proved fickle and were much more interested in fighting among themselves, though in 1622 the English did help him dislodge the Portuguese from the strategic island of Hormuz.

It is probably around this time that Iranians first developed their perception of a duplicitous west – a view reinforced by more recent events such as the US-instigated overthrow of Mossadeq's government in 1953 which Iranians still treat as a cause célèbre......

Jon Snow of Channel 4 News, who was chairing the discussion, brought it up to date by wondering why the west found itself "allied to some oppressive Sunni regimes" (no names, but Saudi Arabia comes to mind) while adopting a hostile attitude towards Iran. The answer seems to lie in history rather than religious ideology.

Is this likely to alter now as Barack Obama proffers his hand in the hope of meeting an unclenched fist? The reply from Mohajerani was not encouraging. The US president promised change, he said, but since being elected Obama himself had changed and was now behaving more like Bush.

Oh dear. It seems the frustrations felt by Abbas in his dealings with the outside world have returned to haunt us."

Fatah is key to Palestinian polity

As Fatah prepares for its sixth congress, it must recapture the essence of its movement if it is to redeem Palestinian politics

Karma Nabulsi, Thursday 21 May 2009

".....When Fateh is spoken of today, the image immediately conveyed is of a politically and financially corrupted Palestinian Authority elite: a small, unrepresentative clique, subservient to Israeli whims and American dictats. This image applies to a small group at the top of the party, but causes one to overlook the other Fateh, the older and larger Fateh.

The majority of the thousands of cadres in Fateh's middle and lower ranks are as committed to the same old principles as they are disillusioned with its current practices. They also appreciate that their party is the only one capable of redeeming Palestinian politics, because it is the only one historically accommodating enough to carry a pluralist and inclusive national agenda forward.

It is the vital first step needed to overturn the current regime of complete political, social, economic, and spatial imprisonment by Israel. Thus, the redemption of the Palestinian polity is utterly dependent upon the redemption of Fateh . [COMMENT: I personally think that it is too late for that. A movement that allows such corruption and such collaboration with the occupation for so long and yet incapable of removing such quisling leadership, is beyond redemption. This Palestinian will not trust a "new" Fatah "under new management."] And why the elusive sixth congress of the movement is so crucial, and why it is so important it be allowed to take place."

When Hamas Tries to Play Politics.......It Looks No Different From 'Arafat's Fatah. Is the End the Same?

Abu Marzouk: Egypt will not impose solutions

[COMMENT: How is this guy Abu Marzouk different, is his slippery language, from say Sa'eb Erikat? Erikat too tries to play politics. The Palestinians, after 61 years, need real leaders, not more slimy politicians. Enough is enough!]

"DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy political bureau chairman of Hamas, has opined that Egypt would not impose solutions on the Palestinian factions and forces taking part in the national dialog in Cairo.

Abu Marzouk told PIC on Wednesday that it was normal for Egypt to have a certain viewpoint on the Palestinian file and to seek to implement it, especially when it was one of the important countries concerned with the Palestine cause.

He said that no solutions could be imposed on negotiating parties because such a solution would be without conviction and would not achieve the Palestinian people's interests.

The imposition of a solution would destroy the entire dialog, the Hamas leader said commenting on Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Sueliman's statement that Cairo would impose a solution if the negotiating parties did not reach an agreement by themselves.

He expressed the opinion that Suleiman was insinuating that dialog could not drag on for ever.

Abu Marzouk hoped in this regard that Egypt would play an active role in reforming the PLO as it did in the sixties of the past century.

He then accused Fatah of foot-dragging in the dialog and in all negotiations it joins, hoping that Fatah would attend the dialog with solutions in mind instead of just "keep on talking." "

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Obama Steers Toward Endless War With Islam

by Michael Scheuer, May 20, 2009

"In just over 100 days, President Obama is on the verge of ensuring that militant Islam’s war on America will be waged for decades to come and its forces will never suffer manpower or money shortages. How did he accomplish so much in some little time? He simply behaved as all U.S. political leaders behave; that is, as an ignorant and arrogant interventionist.....

Americans will be slower off the mark than Muslims, but they will soon see that Democrats share the Republicans’ eagerness to wage unnecessary wars at the cost of their children and taxes. The inevitable need for more troops and money to stave off U.S. defeat in Afghanistan, the increased Islamist attacks on U.S. interests at home and abroad, and – most of all – the unraveling of "success" in Iraq (which, in turn, will prevent a U.S. withdrawal that would be lethal to Israel) will be seen by Americans for what they are: the price of an ignorant, arrogant interventionism that is ruining not only America’s economy and domestic cohesion, but their kids’ future prosperity and security. At this point, a long overdue foreign-policy debate can begin. It will give Americans a last chance to realign the republic’s foreign policy with the tenets of Washington’s Farewell Address and, in so doing, forever break the corrupting power of the Israel-Firsters, individuals who Washington uncannily described in 1796 as "ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens … [who] betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country."

Pray to God this occurs before a cynical, racist Benjamin Netanyahu presents Obama with a fait accompli that drags 300 million Americans into Israel’s war against Iran."

Progress in Iraq

[ For anonymous: Note that we condemn all sectarian violence in Iraq. Killing innocent people is a crime no matter who does it. What is a crime as well is to be in total submission to colonial forces and occupation. The Current collaborationist regime in Iraq is guilty of that and those who support it are guilty of sectarianism.]

Car bomb kills dozens in Baghdad

At least 41 people have been killed and more than 76 others wounded after a car bomb exploded near a popular restaurant in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, police and hospital officials have said.

The blast went off in the district of Shula, a mostly poor, Shia area, at around 7pm on Wednesday, officials said.

"The explosion happened around a number of restaurants and retail shops," one official at Iraq's defence ministry said.

Real News Video with Pepe Escobar: Bibi plays Barack

Pepe Escobar: Israeli PM tries everything to subvert Obama's priorities

More at The Real News

"Defying enormous expectations, the White House meeting between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was a big let down. Obama wants a Palestinian state, a precondition to solve the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict. Netanyahu just mentioned an "arrangement". Obama wants to talk to the leadership of Iran. Netanyahu tried all the time to change the subject from Palestine to - non-existent - Iranian nuclear weapons. Pepe Escobar warns about the danger of the powerful Israel lobby in Washington hijacking the terms of the debate and helping Netanyahu to derail Obama's strategy."

Obama’s Foreign Policy Failures: Diplomacy, Militarism and Imagery

By James Petras

"President Obama’s greatest foreign policy successes are found in the reports of the mass media. His greatest failures go unreported, but are of great consequence.

A survey of the major foreign policy priorities of the White House reveals a continuous series of major setbacks, which call into question the principal objectives and methods pursued by the Obama regime.

These are in order of importance:

Netanyahu adviser moves out of the shadows

US forced to rehabilitate former spy Uzi Arad

by Jonathan Cook
Global Research, May 20, 2009

"Nazareth. As might be expected of a former senior official with Israel’s spy agency Mossad, Uzi Arad -- the most trusted political adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister -- has got used to being in the shadows as he exerts influence.

But that is fast changing. Mr Arad was prominent in preparing Mr Netanyahu’s tough positions as he headed for Washington this week to meet Barack Obama, the US president, who is seeking to advance a Middle East peace plan.

Mr Arad, recently appointed the head of Israel’s revamped National Security Council, will oversee an organisation that Mr Netanyahu regards as the linchpin of the new government’s security and foreign policy.....

In an indication of his implacable opposition to a Palestinian state, Mr Arad recently told an interviewer: “We want to relieve ourselves of the burden of Palestinian populations, not the territories.”

He has suggested that the Palestinians be required to become economically self-reliant, in the hope that their leaders will be forced to promote family planning methods to reduce the population. His motto is that the Palestinians need “one man, one job” before they need “one man, one vote”.

He has also promoted a complex territorial exchange involving Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt that would see many Palestinians relocated to the Sinai so that Israel could take control of chunks of the West Bank.

But his greatest vehemence is reserved for Iran -- an antipathy apparently shared by the Israeli prime minister. In the past he has called for “maximum deterrence”, including threats to strike “anything and everything of value” in Iran, including its “holiest sites”.

As Mr Netanyahu’s plane touched down in Washington on Sunday, Mr Arad briefed reporters that Tehran posed an “existential” threat to Israel and that “all options are indeed on the table”."

Hamas Sends Condolences to the Pharaoh Directly Responsible for the Killing and Starvation of Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza; Go Figure!

حركة المقاومة الإسلامية "حماس" تعزِّي الرئيس المصري حسني مبارك

"غزة - المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

قدمت حركة المقاومة الإسلامية "حماس" أخلص التعازي لفخامة الرئيس حسني مبارك وابنه الكريم علاء حسني مبارك في وفاة فقيدهم الطفل محمد علاء حسني مبارك، سائلةً المولى عز وجل أن يتغمَّد الفقيد بوافر رحمته.

وقالت الحركة في بيان التعزية الأربعاء (20-5) الذي تلقَّى "المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام" نسخةً منه: "بقلوب مؤمنة بقضاء الله وقدره، تتقدم حركة المقاومة الإسلامية "حماس" بأحرِّ التعازي إلى فخامة الرئيس حسني مبارك رئيس جمهورية مصر العربية وابنه الكريم علاء حسني مبارك لوفاة فقيدهم الطفل/ محمد علاء حسني مبارك".

ودعت حركة "حماس" المولى عز وجل إلى أن يتغمَّد الفقيد بوافر رحمته، وأن يُدخله فسيح جناته، وأن يُلهم أهله وذويه الصبر والسلوان.

Two years later, no reconstruction in Nahr al-Bared

Ray Smith, Electronic Lebanon, 20 May 2009

"About two years ago, a battle broke out between the Lebanese army and the militant group Fatah al-Islam in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in northern Lebanon. The summer-long battle concluded in September 2007 and the camp was totally destroyed -- the rubble indicating that the destruction was systematic, most likely committed by the Lebanese army. After several delays, the UN-mandated core of the camp, the so-called "old camp," has meanwhile been cleared of approximately 600,000 meters of rubble. Yet, reconstruction hasn't begun and residents are still unable to enter the old camp, the access of which is controlled by the Lebanese army, and displaced refugees are increasingly resentful....."

[Video Free Gaza] First edition 20th May 09

The Free Gaza Movement

First edition of the "Video Free Gaza", the latest news on the Free Gaza effort to end the siege on the Gaza strip:

Eye Witness Gaza 2009

Written by Caoimhe Butterly
The Free Gaza Movement

"Audio recording of Free Gaza Coordinator Caoimhe Butterly talking in Sheffield, England on May 12th 2009 about the situation in Gaza and the priorities for international solidarity work with Palestinians in Gaza. As part of a wide ranging talk and discussion, Caoimhe talks about the targetting of ambulance workers, attacks on farmers and fishermen, Palestinian prisoners (the 'living martyrs'); the 'martyrs of the tunnels'; the camps of the displaced."

Unexceptional Americans

by Noam Chomsky and Tom Engelhardt, May 20, 2009

"Murder, torture, abuse… and photos of the same. We’ve seen some of them, of course. Now, evidently under pressure from his top generals, President Obama has decided to fight the release of other grim photos from the dark side of the Bush years of offshore injustice – on the grounds that their publication might inflame opinion in the Middle East and our various war zones (as if fighting to suppress their publication won’t). In this way, just as the president is in the process of making Bush’s wars his own, so he seems to be making much of the nightmare legacy of those years of crime, torture, and cover-up his, too.

The photos his Justice Department will fight to suppress (for how long or how successfully we don’t yet know) are now officially “his”; next, assumedly, come those military commissions, suspended as Obama took office, which are evidently about to be reborn as Obama-era tools of injustice. (This brings to mind, in grimmer form, the old saw about how military justice is to justice as military music is to music.) And with those commissions comes that wonderfully unconstitutional idea of detaining chosen prisoners indefinitely either entirely without trial or with trials that will be mockeries. And with that, evidently, goes the idea of possibly setting up some sort of new “national security court” to try some detainees. (Keep in mind that the Obama administration is already hanging on tightly to Dick Cheney’s “state secrets” privilege to block various lawsuits by those wronged in all sorts of ways in the Bush years.).....

Obama’s national security world is now coming into view – and it’s not a pretty picture, but then, as Noam Chomsky points out, in a tour de force piece below, it hasn’t been a pretty picture for a long, long time......"

American Death Squad

Obama inherits Cheney's army of assassins – and promotes their commander

by Justin Raimondo, May 20, 2009

"...... “Congress has no oversight of it.It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on. … Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us."

Well, yes, that’s not too surprising, either, actually. It’s so – what’s the word? – Cheneyesque. Those Rethuglicans! Well, we’re past all that now. The Dear Leader’s in the White House, and it’s time to move on, right? Oh wait…

It turns out the commander of this international order of assassins has just been appointed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. As part of the "fresh thinking" in the Obama administration, epitomized by the COIN crowd, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal replaces Gen. David McKiernan. So who is McChrystal? A 2006 profile in Newsweek put it this way.....

Along these lines, I note a completely phony – and obviously plantedstory that "reports" Hersh saying JSOC murdered Rafik Hariri, the Lebanese leader whose assassination set off a countrywide crisis. He has naturally denied saying this, but what’s interesting is that the false story was timed just as questions about McChrystal’s tenure at JSOC and Camp Nama were being raised. Not that the U.S. government or anyone connected with it would ever try to discredit one of its most credible critics – heaven forbid!

With the appointment, and likely confirmation, of McChrystal, it is clear that the "change" we were promised by Obama is just a change of faces: the policies, at least on the foreign policy front, are remarkably similar. Indeed, the Obamaites may prove to be even more brutal and arrogant than their immediate predecessors, and they’ll get away with it far longer than the Bushies did. That’s because the media is in the tank for Obama....."

Hopes and dreams on the Gaza coast

By Ayman Mohyeldin in Gaza

".....A few minutes staring at the coast and one suddenly realises the people are thinking about everything and anything that has nothing to do with Gaza. When people are thinking about Gaza - it is not about Gaza as it is, but what it could or should be.

As a good friend of mine who regularly frequents the Al Deira Hotel terrace put it: "Typical of the melancholy and pride of living in Gaza, its sea not only inspires unending spirit and wonder but it also, often times, instills a sense of sorrow as one sees this great symbol of freedom one is unable to touch.

But Gaza's sea will continue to inspire freedom no matter the circumstances."

So it is that, as the sun sets on its shores and the light merges with nightfall, days become weeks and months become years, Gaza's besieged coast becomes an outlet to nothing but hope for its people."

حكومة تكريس الانقسامات

قرار تشكيل هذه الحكومة ليس الوحيد الذي يعكس حال التخبط التي يعيشها الرئيس عباس هذه الايام، فقد تحدى اللجنة التحضيرية المكلفة بالاعداد للمؤتمر العام لحركة 'فتح'، واصدر قرارات مخالفة لقراراتها، مثل الاصرار على عقد المؤتمر داخل الاراضي المحتلة، وتحت الحراب الاسرائيلية. فكيف يتم عقد مؤتمر لحركة وطنية، تطالب غالبية اعضائها بالعودة الى الكفاح المسلح، سيرتها الاولى، تحت اعين اجهزة الموساد الاسرائيلي؟ ومن يضمن خروج الاعضاء بعد تصويبهم لخطها ورفض البرنامج السياسي التفاوضي العبثي للحركة الذي لم يسفر الا عن خيبات الامل؟
الوضع الفلسطيني في قمة السوء، ولا جدال في ذلك، ولكن نحن امام 'حراك فلسطيني' على درجة كبيرة من الاهمية يتمثل في هذه 'الانتفاضة الفتحاوية' التي رأيناها من خلال اجماع نواب حركة 'فتح' في المجلس التشريعي على رفض حكومة فياض الجديدة.
هذا الحراك يمكن ان يكون ارضية لتصويب مسيرة الحركة، واعادتها الى منابعها الاولى، وازالة كل الشوائب التي علقت بها في الفترة الاخيرة، من خلال تبني عملية تغيير واسعة وجذرية تعيد الثقة الى الشعب الفلسطيني، وتضع حدا لحال الانهيار الحالية.

The Banner Reads, "PEACE!"
By Emad Hajjaj.

Israel goes cold on plan for regional peace deal

Defence minister backs Netanyahu's refusal to endorse Palestinian state

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
The Independent

"The Israeli Defence Minister yesterday issued one of the government's bluntest warnings against linkage between its stance on a two-state solution with the Palestinians and efforts to stop Iran becoming a nuclear power.

In what also appeared to be a defence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not committing himself to a Palestinian state, Ehud Barak declared: "These... words will not cause Iran to stop its centrifuges."

The Labour leader added: "Israel has already said in the past 'two states for two peoples' and this didn't cause the Palestinians to fall into our arms and reach all the tough decisions that are required."......."

No agenda for Middle East peace

Obama's meeting with Netanyahu didn't produce any momentum for future negotiations between Israel and Palestine

Richard Silverstein, Tuesday 19 May 2009

"Quite a disappointing first White House meeting between Bibi Netanyahu and Barack Obama. Each seemed to reiterate the standard rhetoric and pretty much talk past each other. There was one area, Iran, in which Obama seemed to move closer to the Israeli position.

The president seems to have adopted an articulation favoured by Iran envoy Dennis Ross and the Israelis, by which Iran will be given until the end of the year to accede to demands that it renounce its nuclear programme....

This will delight the Israeli intelligence and military echelons who are itching for an Iran attack. It is no different from the policy of the previous administration. But George Bush's approach to Iran was so belligerent that many had hoped for a muscular response from Obama that rejected or at least minimised the possibility of a military attack.

Israel has waged an intense perception management campaign in the US to prepare the ground for such an Israeli attack. Israeli diplomats and intelligence officers intimately involved with such a project will see Obama's pronouncements as a clear victory......"