Saturday, August 22, 2009

The battle for the mosque at Beersheva

Jonathan Cook
The National

August 22. 2009

"......A report published in 2004 by the Arab Human Rights Association, based in Nazareth, identified 250 places of worship, both Islamic and Christian, that had either been destroyed or made unusable since Israel’s establishment in 1948. Nearly 200 were razed in the wake of the 1948 war, but the threat of destruction hangs over many surviving places of worship too. The century-old mosque of Sarafand, on the coast near the northern city of Haifa, was bulldozed in July 2000 as several Muslims had started to restore it.

Other buildings, including mosques in Tiberias and Beit Shean, have been the target of repeated arson attacks. The famous Hasan Bek mosque in Tel Aviv is regularly vandalised and was desecrated in 2005 when a pig’s head bearing the name of the Prophet was thrown into its yard.

Two historic Galilee mosques that are still standing, at Ghabsiyya and Hittin, have been left to fall into ruin surrounded by fences and razor wire. The latter was built by Saladin in the 12th century to celebrate the defeat of the Crusaders.

In Palestinian villages now re-invented as Jewish communities, such as at Ein Hod and Caesariya, mosques have been refurbished as bars or restaurants. In at least four cases, mosques have been converted into synagogues. And Jewish farming communities sometimes use remote holy places as animal pens or warehouses........"

The Truth About The Afghan Election


"......The main American success in Iraq was that, having backed the Shia and the Kurds against the Sunni, the US military did a side deal with the Sunni insurgents to turn on al-Qa’ida. The Sunni needed an agreement with the Americans because they were getting the worse of a civil war with the Shia. The recent bombings were probably Sunni parties, using al-Qa’ida as their messenger, brutally demonstrating to the Iraqi government that they will not be marginalized. The idea, popular in some Washington think tanks, that a few obvious tactical innovations won the war in Iraq, and can do so again in Afghanistan, is wholly misleading and will lure the US and Britain further into the morass."

S. Africa: War crime suspects must think twice

Sayed Dhansay, The Electronic Intifada, 21 August 2009
(Sayed Dhansay is a South African writer and political activist who volunteered for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in 2006-2007.)

"The international condemnation over Israel's winter invasion of Gaza and allegations of war crimes has made it increasingly uncomfortable, if not difficult, for members of the Israeli military to travel abroad. A recent incident in South Africa reveals the power and limitations of attempts to enforce international law and to hold war criminals accountable.

At the beginning of August, accused international war criminal Lieutenant Colonel David Benjamin visited South Africa. Benjamin, a native South African who obtained his law degree from the University of Cape Town in 1989, was scheduled to address Limmud, a Jewish cultural and educational organization. Limmud takes the form of an annual conference, and is widely viewed as a highlight on the local Jewish calendar as it usually offers a star-studded lineup of South Africa's most prominent Jewish academics, business leaders and political heavyweights.

This year however, the conference was mired in controversy due to Lieutenant Benjamin's participation. After completing his studies in South Africa, Benjamin moved to Israel, where he has been serving as a legal advisor to the Israeli military for the past 17 years. Aside from this being in violation of South Africa's Foreign Military Assistance Act, he is also credited with being one of the architects of Israel's winter invasion of Gaza, which killed nearly 1,500 persons........"

Manufacturing Consent to Attack Lebanon......, Again!

Peres: Hezbollah Has 80,000 Missiles that Might Bring Disaster to Lebanon


"22/08/2009 Israeli President Shimon Peres said in comments published Saturday that Israel knew about "80,000 missiles" in the possession of Hezbollah.

In an interview with the Kuwaiti al-Rai newspaper, Peres cast doubt on "Hezbollah's goals and the justifications for its presence."

"Hezbollah is working for its own interests and will always find a pretext to continue its policy against Israel, even if the (Israeli army) withdrew from Shebaa Farms and the Lebanese Ghajar village," he claimed.

"Lebanon used to have an ambition to become the Switzerland of the Orient, and why not? But instead it has become the Iran of the region," he said........"

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The Poll asks:

In light of the failure of Egyptian mediation effort (between Fatah and Hamas), do you support other parties getting involved in the mediation effort?

With about 1,000 responding so far, 81% said yes.

From the crusaders on, contempt for the Arabs is written in stone

What was it that bestowed upon our ancestors such ill-will towards the Arabs?

By Robert Fisk

"Not long ago, the owner of a Majorcan palace found 13th-century graffiti on his basement wall. It was scrawled there by a knight en route to the Crusades. Translated, it read: "Sod the Arabs.".....

Ten years later, Frederic Manning – who wrote the wonderful First World War novel of the Somme, Her Privates We – was writing a note of praise for Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom and at least tried to enter the Arab mind (as Lawrence himself had done). Manning described the wartime Arab revolt, led by Lawrence, as "so ambiguous, a racial movement striving to assume a national character, the nomad entering into possessions, arresting his own movement by prescribing a boundary to it. You took me right back to Genesis and Job ... Job, of course, was an Arab, and his present day progeny stand in the same relation to Allah as he stood in relation to Jahveh, so passionately asserting his own individuality against that engulphing [sic] one-ness..." The problem, of course, as Bell had noticed long before, was that the boundary the Arabs had in mind included all of a land called Palestine.......

But what was it that bestowed upon our recent ancestors such marked ill-humour towards the Arabs? Even Caroline Doughty (Charles' wife) would write of the painter Eric Kennington that "he is so imbued with the strange strongly marked features of the Arabs that it will be sometime before he can return to European colouring and softness of touch."......

George Bernard Shaw shrugged off Lawrence's assumed anonymity in the RAF with the exclamation that "the people have their rights too ... They want to you to appear always in glory, crying, 'This is I, Lawrence, Prince of Mecca!' To live under a cloud is to defame God."

Perhaps that is the problem. We like the Arabs if we pose at being an Arab. Otherwise, the undertow of all these remarks echoes the crusading knight who wrote so imperishably on the wall of that Majorcan palace."

Lockerbie: now it's payback time

Prospect of lucrative trade deals fuels anger at Megrahi's release

"British businesses were poised for a Libyan windfall last night after the release of the convicted terrorist Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi completed a five-year rehabilitation for the north African state.

British trade leaders said the release of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing was a major breakthrough in relations between the two nations, which have progressed at breakneck speed since Tony Blair met the former pariah leader Muammar Gaddafi in a bedouin tent outside Tripoli in 2004......"

For the truth, look to Tehran and Damascus – not Tripoli

By Robert Fisk

".....I have read all the interviews which the German police conducted with their suspects. They are devastating. There clearly was a Lebanese connection. And there probably was a Palestinian connection. How can I forget a press conference in Beirut held by the head of the pro-Syrian "Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine" (they were known, then, as the "Lockerbie boys") in which their leader, Ahmed Jibril, suddenly blurted out: "I'm not responsible for the Lockerbie bombing.....

.....It was Iran's revenge, they said, for the shooting down of a perfectly innocent Iranian passenger jet by the captain of the American warship Vincennes a few months earlier. I still happen to believe this is close to the truth.

But the moment Syria sent its tanks to defend Saudi Arabia after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, all the MI6 truth-telling turned into a claptrap of nonsense about Col Gaddafi. And Gaddafi, let's face it, was in deep trouble. Libya almost certainly was responsible for the earlier bombing of French UTA flight 772 over Chad in 1989. Why not frame him with Lockerbie too?......

I suspect that the truth (speak it not, Mr Miliband, for you do not wish to know) lies in Lebanon, in Damascus and in Tehran. Given your cosy new relationship with the last two cities, of course, there's not a whimper of a chance that you'll want to investigate this, Mr Foreign Secretary. And not much encouragement will "Mad Dog" Gaddafi give to such an undertaking, not after the gifts – oil deals, primarily, but let's not forget the new Marks & Spencer in Tripoli – which he has given us......

Ironically, Megrahi flew home to Tripoli on an Airbus A300 aircraft, exactly the same series as the Iranian plane the Americans shot down in 1988 – and about which Gaddafi never said anything......"

Commentary: Drones and democracy

In Afghanistan, the US continues to believe that threat of death is the best way to win hearts and minds

By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Ahram Weekly

".....But one thing cannot be disputed regarding US contributions to the people of Afghanistan: a lot of people have been ripped to pieces by botched drone operations; a lot of young minds have been moulded, through the tragedies that they endure and witness each day, to distrust this notion of "democracy"........"

أحداث رفح ليست وليدة الصدفة

تسلسل تاريخيمحاولات إسرائيليةاتهامات متزايدة بعد حسم غزةلماذا الإصرار على وجود "القاعدة"؟
أحداثٌ مؤلمة ومؤسفة تلك التي شهدتها مدينة رفح جنوب قطاع غزة، أحداثٌ يعتصر لها القلب ألماً وحزناً على شباب ضاع وضيّع، على طاقات كان من الممكن أن تُستغل في وجهة صحيحة وبشكل إيجابي، أحداثٌ كان كل شريف يتمنى أن لا تحدث وأن لا تراق الدماء الفلسطينية لا في رفح ولا في غيرها، لكنها أيضاً أحداث ليست وليدة الصدفة، وليست من صنع واختراع شخص قرر إعلان إمارة أو خلافة، وقرر وأعلن التحدي فأودى بنفسه ومن معه، هي ليست كذلك إطلاقاً كما نظن ونعتقد، بل هي أمرٌ دُبّر بليل.
شواهد كثيرة تستوجب التوقف عندها في محاولة فهم ما حدث في رفح، لماذا؟ من؟ كيف؟ لمصلحة من؟ متى؟ أين؟
أسئلة دارت في رأس الكثيرين، والإجابة عنها قد لا تكون حاضرة، لكن ما يلي هو رصد لمواقف وأحداث، وتقارير إخبارية وتصريحات، ربما ساعدت في فهم ما جرى ويجري

• من ضمن تلك المحاولات الإصرار الغريب على أن "القاعدة" دخلت ووصلت غزة، في تحريض ضد القطاع وأهله وحكومته، وفي محاولة لتأليب العالم ضد غزة وصمودها، وهو ما صرّح به عباس يوم 27/2/2008 لصحيفة الحياة اللندنية قائلاً وبالحرف ودون أي دليل أو إثبات "أعتقد أن القاعدة موجودة في الأراضي الفلسطينية وتحديدا في غزة، والذي جاء بالقاعدة حركة حماس، والذي يساعدها على الدخول والخروج بالطرق المعروفة هو حركة حماس"، وأضاف أن "القاعدة موجودة في غزة وأعتقد أنهما حلفاء.. أعتقد أن ذلك الوجود للقاعدة تم بتسهيل من حماس وفي غزة بالتحديد".

عباس خرج بهذه التصريحات بعد يوم واحد فقط من تصريح مشابه لأحد قادة الاحتلال، حيث ذكرت وسائل إعلام عبرية عن اللواء رئيس شعبة الاستخبارات العسكرية الإسرائيلية عاموس يدلين خلال اجتماع للجنة الخارجية والأمن التابعة للكنيست، قوله إن عناصر من تنظيم القاعدة تسللوا إلى قطاع غزة بعد هدم مقطع من الجدار الحدودي بين القطاع ومصر، وكأن مصر تعج بأعضاء من القاعدة ينتظرون على الحدود الفلسطينية الإسرائيلية.
مما لاشك فيه أن قطاع غزة وقيادته مستهدفون وبشراسة، مما يستوجب التعامل بحذر وتأن مع أي
حدث أو ظاهرة، وبعيداً عن ردود الأفعال العنيفة، فإن ما حدث في رفح ليس صدفة أو ظاهرة عابرة، لكنه حلقة في مسلسل طويل يستهدف "استعادة" غزة، وبكل الوسائل والطرق. ولا نستبعد في ظل ما يجري وبعد فشل المحاولات العديدة لزعزعة أمن القطاع.. لا نستبعد عدواناً إسرائيليا جديداً على غزة، لكن هذه المرة بموافقة وتصريح ومشاركة علنية ممن يريدون "استعادة القطاع" وبأي ثمن.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Behind Hamas' Own War on Terror

By Tony Karon

"Eyebrows were raised around the world Aug. 14 when Hamas security forces in Rafah swiftly, and brutally, destroyed an al-Qaeda-inspired group that had proclaimed the southern Gaza town an "Islamic emirate.".....

Still, there was little surprise about the Rafah confrontation for longtime observers of Palestinian politics. Hamas, in fact, has always been at odds with al-Qaeda. Despite its Islamist ideology, Hamas is first and foremost a nationalist movement, taking its cue from Palestinian public opinion and framing its goals and strategies on the basis of national objectives, rather than the "global" jihadist ideology of al-Qaeda......

The harsh crackdown on Jund Ansar Allah sends two emphatic messages from Hamas: one to potential rivals, the other to potential interlocutors. The speed and violence with which it suppressed the jihadist group is a warning to all potential rivals that Hamas will tolerate no challenge to its authority in Gaza. But it also signals that as long as Hamas maintains a cease-fire, it is willing and able to forcibly restrain others in the Strip from launching attacks on Israel.

That display of force will likely reinforce the emerging consensus in the West that no credible Israeli-Palestinian peace process is possible without the consent of Hamas. Indeed, one European diplomat in the region told TIME that U.S. officials were pleased by the Hamas action in Rafah. The action "benefited Hamas because it allowed them to show that they're capable of enforcing their authority and order, in Gaza, and also to distinguish themselves from the radical jihadists," says Rabbani.......

Some of the leading elements in Jund Ansar Allah were former Hamas members who broke with the movement over its decision to join in the political process of the Palestinian Authority by running for election in 2006......"

Zogby: Obama Hits Record Low in Poll


"President Barack Obama's popularity has plummeted to a record low, with just 45 percent of voters now approving of his performance, according to the latest Zogby International poll.

Asked whether they approve or disapprove of the president's job performance, just 45.3 percent of likely voters say they approve. That compares with 50.5 percent who disapprove of the job Obama is doing.

The results are a strong indication that contentious national debate over healthcare reform has taken a major toll on the president's popularity.

Those numbers also indicate that Obama clearly is in serious political trouble......

Of greatest concern to Obama may well be his decline among all-important independent voters. Just 37.5 percent of self-identified independents say they approve of how Obama is handling the presidency. That compares with 59.2 percent of independents who disapprove......"

Zionism: An "Abnormal" Nationalism


"..... Jewish ‘nationalism’ was abnormal for two reasons. It was homeless: it did not possess a homeland. The Jews of Europe were not a majority in, or even exercised control over, any territory that could become the basis of a Jewish state. We do not know of another nationalist movement in recent memory that started with such a land deficit - that is, without a homeland. Arguably, Jewish nationalism was without a nation too. The Jews were a religious aggregate, consisting of communities, scattered across many regions and countries, some only tenuously connected to others, but who shared the religious traditions derived from, or an identity connected to, Judaism.

Over the centuries, Jews had been taught that a divinely appointed Messiah would restore them to Zion; but such a Messiah never appeared; or when he did, his failure to deliver ‘proved’ that he was false. Indeed, while the Jews prayed for the appearance of the Messiah, they had no notion about when this might happen. In addition, since the nineteenth century, Reform Jews have interpreted their chosenness metaphorically....."

Loving Oneself at the Expense of Another

The Hostage Dream



".....In her dream she was kidnapped and held hostage by the Lebanese paramilitary Amal. While the Amal combatants were making their final preparation for her execution, the activist made a desperate effort to persuade them that she was actually on their side. She stated again and again that she was in South Lebanon to support the Lebanese people and the Palestinian refugees. In her dream, to her dismay, her hijackers ignored her plea. She was murdered (2).

The activist’s interpretation of her horrendous dream was pretty elegant, coherent and valid. She grasped that, in the eyes of her imaginary captors, she was personally liable for the entire list of crimes committed by the ‘white man’. In her eyes she was punished for a reason. To a certain extent her reasoning is similar to Robert Fisk’s interpretation of his own personal experience in Pakistan in 2001. After being attacked by a (real) mob he said “If I had been them, I would have attacked me."(3)

Interestingly enough, it took me a day to realize that I myself had experienced some very similar dreams in the past......

The hostage dream is our reaction to our repetitive failure to attain a real comprehensive bond with our subject of solidarity. Like Achilles who is closing in on the tortoise but never manages to reach it, the solidarity activist, at least in the dream, faces his or her doomed failure to reach a true bond with his or her (political) object of desire. The more we empathize, sacrifice and give, the greater is the abyss that threatens to swallow us while we are asleep.

The hostage dream should be interpreted as a genuine call for integrity. It is a moment of moral awakening. It is the mind that demands that we replace our empty symbolism with dynamic ethical awareness.

The hostage dream is a beam of truth; it is there to suggest to us that we may never understand. This is probably the real meaning of true solidarity, the acceptance of the other as a mystery......

Obama’s Trust Problem

by Paul Krugman
The N.Y. Times

"......But there’s a point at which realism shades over into weakness, and progressives increasingly feel that the administration is on the wrong side of that line. It seems as if there is nothing Republicans can do that will draw an administration rebuke: Senator Charles E. Grassley feeds the death panel smear, warning that reform will “pull the plug on grandma,” and two days later the White House declares that it’s still committed to working with him.

It’s hard to avoid the sense that Mr. Obama has wasted months trying to appease people who can’t be appeased, and who take every concession as a sign that he can be rolled.

Indeed, no sooner were there reports that the administration might accept co-ops as an alternative to the public option than G.O.P. leaders announced that co-ops, too, were unacceptable.

So progressives are now in revolt. Mr. Obama took their trust for granted, and in the process lost it. And now he needs to win it back."

Al-Jazeera Video: Hamas faces allegations of Gaza prisoner abuse - 21 Aug 09

"A Palestinian human rights group has accused Hamas' internal security forces of mistreating prisoners detained in secret locations across the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Independent Commission says the detainees have been beaten, starved and subjected to psychological abuse.

But Hamas officials have denied the allegations, and on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, ordered the release of nearly 100 political and criminal prisoners in a humanitarian gesture.

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin has more from Gaza. "

Israeli-Swedish relations at odds

"After Aftonbladet Swedish paper published a report accusing the Israeli army of killing Palestinians for their organs, Israeli officials slammed Sweden for declaring that its ambassador’s condemnation of the report does not represent the official stance of the government.

The Swedish Ambassador to Israel, Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier, condemned the accusations made by the paper against the Israeli army.

The issue started after a reporter writing for Aftonbladet Swedish newspaper said that Israeli soldiers kidnapped and killed Palestinian youths to trade their organs......."

Islamic Jihad: "Two-state solution, a very dangerous project"

"The Islamic Jihad movement reiterated its stance rejecting a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, and added that such a solution is very dangerous and only serves the Israeli interests....."

Palestine: the view from South Africa

Gaza, One More Bantustan

By Alain Gresh

(Photo: Ronald Kasril)

"During the Gaza war, South Africa expressed strong solidarity with the Palestinians. No one here has forgotten the collaboration between Pretoria and Israel under apartheid, and many see parallels between the Palestinian situation today and that of black and coloured South Africans back in the days of white rule.

Ronald "Ronnie" Kasrils looks just like the caricature of him drawn by the cartoonist Zapiro in November 2001. It showed him at the head of a line of Jews, including the Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer and Zapiro himself, escaping from a fortress. Kasrils has a big smile on his face. The fortress is emblazoned with the words "unconditional support for Israel". The jailers are shouting "Catch them! Catch them!"......"

Bilin's unwavering spirit of resistance

Jody McIntyre writing from Bilin, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 20 August 2009

(Jody McIntyre is a journalist from the United Kingdom, currently living in the occupied West Bank village of Bilin. Jody has cerebral palsy, and travels in a wheelchair. He writes a blog for Ctrl.Alt.Shift, entitled "Life on Wheels," which can be found at He can be reached at jody.mcintyre AT gmail DOT com. )

As we rounded the last corner coming into Bilin, we saw the flags which had been put up, the children running out onto the street with arms aloft, and Ahmad turned the music up full blast on the car stereo. When Palestinians are released from prison, it is tradition for their family to put up the flag of the political party they support. But for Mohammed, it wasn't Fatah or Hamas waving in the sky, it was the Palestinian flag.

Our hero was home

That same evening, Mohammed told me that being locked up as a political prisoner was something he felt proud of.

"Yes, the conditions were terrible, but I knew that the resistance was still alive in the village. I told the officer in charge of the operation, if you think that by arresting me, you will stop the demonstrations, you are completely wrong."

Bilin will never, ever give up."

In Gaza, only cancer sufferers get only painkillers

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 20 August 2009

"GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IRIN) - Arafat Hamdona, 20, has been confined to the cancer unit of al-Shifa, Gaza's primary hospital, since he was diagnosed with maxillary skin tumors in June 2008. Red lesions protrude from his face, his features are distorted and his eyes swollen shut.

In April, Arafat was permitted to travel to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem where he received three series of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. He was scheduled to return for further treatment, but has not been granted permission by the Israeli authorities to leave Gaza.

"He is only given pain killers," said Arafat's father, Faraj Hamdona, explaining that it is all al-Shifa has to offer....."

Court Reins in Terror Finance Policy

By William Fisher

"NEW YORK, Aug 20 (IPS) - A federal court this week ruled for the first time that the U.S. government cannot freeze an organisation's assets under a terror financing law without a warrant based upon probable cause and without telling the organisation the basis for its action and a meaningful opportunity to defend itself.

If the decision of U.S. District Judge James G. Carr is upheld, it will strip the government of a key weapon in the broad counter-terrorism authority claimed by the administration of former President George W. Bush following the attacks of Sep. 11, 2001.

The ruling came Tuesday in a lawsuit originally filed in November 2008 by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio and several civil rights attorneys on behalf of KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development, Inc., a charity based in Columbus, Ohio.
Lawyers from the Obama Justice Department defended the position of their predecessors......"

US War against Iraq: Destruction of a Civilization

A Great Piece and Recommended Reading

By James Petras
Palestine Chronicle


What does the United States (and Britain and Israel) gain from establishing a retrograde client regime, based on medieval ethno-clerical socio-political structures in Iraq? First and foremost, Iraq has become an outpost for empire. Secondly, it is a weak and ackward regime incapable of challenging Israeli economic and military dominance in the region and unwilling to question the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian Arabs from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Thirdly, the destruction of the scientific, academic, cultural and legal foundations of an independent state means increasing reliance on the Western (and Chinese) multinational corporations and their technical infrastructure – facilitating imperial economic penetration and exploitation.

In the mid 19th Century, after the revolutions of 1848, the conservative French sociologist Emil Durkheim recognized that the European bourgeoisie was confronted with rising class conflict and an increasing anti-capitalist working class. Durkheim noted that, whatever its philosophical misgivings about religion and clericalism, the bourgeoisie would have to use the myths of traditional religion to ‘create’ social cohesion and undercut class polarization. He called on the educated and sophisticated Parisian capitalist class to forego its rejection of obscurantist religious dogma in favor of instrumentalizing religion as a tool to maintain its political dominance. In the same way, US strategists, including the Pentagon-Zionists, have instrumentalized the tribal-mullah, ethno-religious forces to destroy the secular national political leadership and advanced culture of Iraq in order to consolidate imperial rule – even if this strategy called for the killing off of the scientific and professional classes. Contemporary US imperial rule is based on supporting the socially and politically most backward sectors of society and applying the most advanced technology of warfare.

Israeli advisers have played a major role in instructing US occupation forces in Iraq on the practices of urban counter-insurgency and repression of civilians, drawing on their 60 years of experience. The infamous massacre of hundreds of Palestinian families at Deir Yasin in 1948 was emblematic of Zionist elimination of hundreds of productive farming villages, which had been settled for centuries by a native people with their endogenous civilization and cultural ties to the soil, in order to impose a new colonial order. The policy of the total deracination of the Palestinians is central to Israel’s advise to the US policymakers in Iraq. Their message has been carried out by their Zionist acolytes in the Bush and Obama Administrations, ordering the dismemberment of the entire modern Iraqi civil and state bureaucracy and using pre-modern tribal death squads made up of Kurds and Shia extremists to purge the modern universities and research institutions of that shattered nation.

The US imperial conquest of Iraq is built on the destruction of a modern secular republic. The cultural desert that remains (a Biblical ‘howling wilderness’ soaked in the blood of Iraq’s precious scholars) is controlled by mega-swindlers, mercenary thugs posing as ‘Iraqi officers’, tribal and ethnic cultural illiterates and medieval religious figures. They operate under the guidance and direction of West Point graduates holding ‘blue-prints for empire’, formulated by graduates of Princeton, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Yale and Chicago, eager to serve the interests of American and European multi-national corporations.

This is called ‘combined and uneven development’: The marriage of fundamentalist mullahs with Ivy League Zionists at the service of the US."

The First Israeli Jew in Fatah's Parliament

By Jonathan Cook
Palestine Chronicle

".......While he admits to no longer living in Israel, he is wary of saying more, possibly for good reason: it is against Israeli law for an Israeli citizen to be living in an area under the Palestinian Authority control. Equally, his wife, Miyassar, has been denied a permit to live in Israel, as is the case for almost all Palestinians in the occupied territories. A perfect illustration of the apartheid nature of the Israeli state, he said.

The plight of the Palestinians under occupation has come into much sharper focus since his marriage.

Last month, he had to watch the indignities heaped on his wife after her brother, suffering from cancer, was transferred to a hospital in East Jerusalem, which is illegally annexed to Israel. She was denied a visitor’s permit and could only hear about her brother’s slow demise from Dr. Davis and friends.

“This situation is not unique to my family, of course. It is part of the cruelty perpetrated by the occupation authorities against the mass of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Dr. Davis has yet to find out how Israel will respond to his regular attendance at Revolutionary Council meetings in Ramallah......"

War? What War?

"Netroots Nation" comes down with amnesia

by Justin Raimondo, August 21, 2009

"....."What’s truly striking in Greenberg’s poll is the degree to which the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have fallen off the progressive radar. I attended the first YearlyKos convention, in 2006, and have kept up with later ones, and it’s safe to say that while people who attended those gatherings couldn’t stand George W. Bush in general, their feelings were particularly intense when it came to opposing the war in Iraq. It animated their activism; they hated the war, and they hated Bush for starting it. They weren’t that fond of the fighting in Afghanistan, either.

"Now, with Obama in the White House, all that has changed. Greenberg presented respondents with a list of policy priorities and asked, ‘Please indicate which two you think progressive activists should be focusing their attention and efforts on the most.’ The winner was passing comprehensive health care reform, with 60 percent, and number two was passing ‘green energy policies that address environmental concerns,’ with 22 percent. Tied for eighth place, named by just eight percent of respondents, was ‘working to end our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.’"

It gets worse: when Greenberg queried attendees as to which issues "you personally spend the most time advancing," "working to end our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan" came in eleventh place – dead last, with a mere 1%......

"I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it" – Digby’s advice to her progressive confreres applies to domestic policy, but is null and void when it comes to the vital issue of war and peace. That’s what progressives are afraid to discover, or acknowledge: when it comes to the wars in Afghanistan and beyond, he doesn’t agree with them, he doesn’t want to disengage, and nothing short of harrying him as Lyndon Baines Johnson was harried out of office, will make him cut short our futile Afghan crusade, or nix the coming confrontation with Iran. Or, I should say: he doesn’t agree with their former selves, as they were back in the Bush era. However, now that Obama has inherited – and expanded – his predecessor’s wars, they embrace the War Party as if they were old friends. As they are, indeed …."

Blackwater’s Unwritten Death Contract

By Ray McGovern

"Hats off to Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times for reporting that it was after CIA Director Leon Panetta’s holdover lieutenants finally told him that, under President Bush, they had farmed out assassinations to their Blackwater subsidiary, that he abruptly stopped the project and told Congress.

I use "they" advisedly, since the CIA officials who had kept Panetta in the dark continue to function as Panetta’s top managers at the agency.....

As for an American President’s freedom of action, all a President need do is surround himself with eager co-conspirators like the sycophant former Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, (not to mention his, and Panetta’s, lingering lieutenants) who give allegiance to their secret world of unchecked power, rather than to the Constitution of the United States.....

Washington Post veteran Jim Hoagland, who was extremely well plugged in to the Bush administration, on Oct. 31, 2001, wrote an open letter to President Bush.

Apparently no Halloween prank, Hoagland strongly endorsed the wish for "Osama bin Laden’s head on a pike," a wish he attributed to Bush’s "generals and diplomats." The consummate insider, Hoagland then almost gave the real game away, giving Bush a list of priorities:

"The need to deal with Iraq’s continuing accumulation of biological and chemical weapons and the technology to build a nuclear bomb can in no way be lessened by the demands of the Afghan campaign. You must conduct that campaign so that you can pivot quickly from it to end the threat Saddam Hussein’s regime poses."

I have the feeling we are in for many more chapters recording how the savage mood in Washington played out during the last seven years of the Bush/Cheney administration."

Democracy will not bring freedom

By Robert Fisk

"......It's not just the stitched-up Karzai administration that will almost certainly return, nor the war criminals he employs (Abdul Rashid Dostum should be in the dock at The Hague for war crimes, not in Kabul), nor the corruption and the hideous human rights abuses, but the unassailable fact that ethnically-divided societies vote on ethnic lines.

I doubt if anyone in Afghanistan voted yesterday because of the policies of their favourite candidate. They voted for whoever their ethnic leaders told them to vote for. Hence Karzai asked Dostum to deliver him the Uzbek vote......

In the end, the people of these foreign fields must decide their own future and develop their societies as and when they wish. Back in 2001, things were different. Had we hoovered up every gun in the land, we might have done some good. Instead, the Americans sloshed millions of dollars at the mass murderers who had originally helped to destroy the place so that they would fight on our side.

Then we wandered off to Iraq and now we are back to fight in Afghanistan for hopelessly unachievable aims. Yes, I like to see people – women and men – voting. I think the Afghans wanted to vote. So, too, the Iraqis. But they also want freedom. Which is not necessarily the same as democracy."

Afghan Elections, by Steve Bell, The Guardian

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Afghanistan Holds National Elections Amidst Violence, Fraud Allegations and Media Censorship

"Millions of Afghans are voting in presidential and provincial elections today amid tight security and threats of violence from the Taliban. There are also widespread concerns about corruption, with reports of voting cards being openly sold and of candidates offering large bribes. We speak to independent journalist Rick Rowley in northern Afghanistan and get analysis from radio host and author Sonali Kolhatkar......"

CIA Hired Private Military Firm Blackwater for Secret Assassination Program

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"The New York Times is reporting the CIA hired contractors from Blackwater in 2004 as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of al-Qaeda. The CIA spent several million dollars on the program, which the Times claims did not successfully capture or kill any terrorist suspects. We speak to independent journalist Jeremy Scahill, author of the bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army......"

Boycott Israel

by Neve Gordon

"...... I consequently have decided to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that was launched by Palestinian activists in July 2005 and has since garnered widespread support around the globe. The objective is to ensure that Israel respects its obligations under international law and that Palestinians are granted the right to self-determination.

In Bilbao, Spain, in 2008, a coalition of organizations from all over the world formulated the 10-point Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign meant to pressure Israel in a "gradual, sustainable manner that is sensitive to context and capacity." For example, the effort begins with sanctions on and divestment from Israeli firms operating in the occupied territories, followed by actions against those that help sustain and reinforce the occupation in a visible manner. Along similar lines, artists who come to Israel in order to draw attention to the occupation are welcome, while those who just want to perform are not.

Nothing else has worked. Putting massive international pressure on Israel is the only way to guarantee that the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians -- my two boys included -- does not grow up in an apartheid regime. "

ما هي معايير "وطنية" المالكي ؟ـ

Free Iraq Blog of Imad Khadduri

""يحاول رئيس الوزراء "العراقي" نوري المالكي أن يقدم نفسه كزعيم وطني، بدلاً من الصفة المعروفة عنه كرئيس لحزب طائفي، وكممثل لمشروع طائفي
حزب الدعوة الإسلامية، الذي أعاد انتخاب المالكي رئيساً له الأسبوع الماضي، بالطبيعة والجوهر، قبل أي تعريف، هو حزب طائفي، فكره طائفي ومرجعيته الفقهية طائفية، وولاءاته الخارجية مع إيران قائمة على أساس طائفي. وهو انخرط في العملية السياسية التي صممها بول بريمر رئيس الادارة "المدنية" (المدعومة بـ250 ألف جندي أمريكي ومرتزقة!)، بوصفه جزءا من مشروع طائفي. وهذا المشروع قسم العراق، وتقاسمت الحصص على أساس طائفي.ـ
ولا تحتاج طائفية حزب الدعوة الى دليل، كما لا تحتاج طائفية الائتلاف الحاكم الى دليل أيضا. فأحزاب السلطة، تبدو في كل مظهر من مظاهر عملها وشعاراتها وهتافاتها وسياساتها وميولها ومرجعياتها وصداقاتها وعداواتها، طائفية حتى نخاع العظم. حتى أن اعتبارها أحزابا "سياسية" أمر فيه الكثير من التأويل والمجاز، لانها ليست "سياسية" إلا بمقدار ما هي طائفية.ـ
مع ذلك، بدا المالكي، وفقا لتصريحاته الأخيرة، رجلاً يرغب بالتخلي عن طائفيته لحساب "مشروع وطني" لم تتضح معالمه ولا شروطه بعد. إذ قال الأحد خلال لقائه برؤساء تحرير الصحف المصرية في بغداد أن "الائتلافات التي تشكلت سابقا شئنا أم أبينا أخذت بعدا طائفيا أو بعدا قوميا بالنسبة للكرد". وقال "لكن من خلال العمل والتجربة والممارسة السياسية في بناء الدولة اتضح الكثير مما ينبغي عمله، على مستوى الدستور وتعديلاته أو على مستوى إدارة العملية السياسية، وفق أسس وطنية. لذلك أنا قراري وعملي الآن هو أن لا عودة للائتلافات الطائفية إنما نحو الائتلافات الوطنية، وجهدي وجهد الإخوان معي ينصب على إيجاد ائتلاف وطني".ـ
وزاد على ذلك بالقول "يجب تشكيل ائتلاف وطني غير طائفي وغير عرقي. نحترم السنة ونحترم الشيعة ونحترم العرب ونحترم الأكراد ونحترم الأحزاب، ولكن إن لم يتعاملوا إلا على أسس وطنية ونحن نقود هذا الائتلاف، وان شاء الله لا نتراجع عنه أبدا".ـ
هل هذا تحول جذري؟ ـ
وهل التحولات الجذرية تحصل في لقاء مع رؤساء تحرير صحف؟ ـ
ألا يجب أن تتوفر عليها أدلة وبيانات ووثائق ونقاشات وحوارات تتخذ على ضوئها قرارات؟ ـ
وعلى أي حال، فللوطنية معايير. ومن دون معايير، فماذا تصبح؟ـ
بعد ست سنوات من أعمال القتل والدمار التي خيضت على أساس طائفي، والتي أسفرت، وما تزال تسفر عن أعمال قتل وحشية على الهوية، ومليشيات تتاجر بالموت على أساس طائفي، بما في ذلك تجارة الأعضاء البشرية، ربما يجد العراقيون إن من حقهم أن يعرفوا على أية أسس ومعايير تكون الوطنية؟فالمشروع الطائفي لا يصحو من نومه ليكتشف انه "وطني" بعد سنوات من عمله كـ"طائفي". وهو لا يغسل يديه من سلسلة مجازر إرتكبها في الصباح والظهر والعصر على أساس طائفي، ثم يعود العشيّة ليقول انه "وطني". وهو لا يتحالف مع غزاة أجانب، ويعقد معهم اتفاقيات، ويلبي مصالحهم الإستراتيجية، ثم في غفلة من الزمن يكتشف مساوئ الطائفية، ليقول انه، من الآن فصاعدا، "وطني".ـ
ولكن هناك ما يستوجب الحذر. فالأحزاب الطائفية التي تتخذ من "التقية" ستارا لعملها، قد تقول أي شيء وهي تقصد عكسه.ـ
فهل هذا تحول جذري أم "تقية"؟ـ

Channel 4 Video: Taliban warning to Afghan voters

Taliban fighters warn voters not to go to the polls or risk death or a "finger"

A Ramadan Appeal for all People of Conscience in the World

The Free Gaza Movement


The landing of two wooden boats carrying human rights activists in Gaza is an important symbolic victory ... Above all, what is being tested is whether the imaginative engagement of dedicated private citizens can influence the struggle of a beleaguered people for basic human rights, and whether their courage and commitment can awaken the conscience of humanity to an unfolding tragedy. (Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the OPT)

DONATE. You have donated generously to us in the past. We need you to do it again. Donate in support of civil resistance and people to people solidarity. Please consider making a donation of $500 (€500 or £500) and asking 9 friends to do the same. Go to:
Please do it now.

FUNDRAISE. Plan a fundraiser in your home or community. Hold an Iftar dinner for Free Gaza this Ramadan. A dinner, Ramadan’s Sweet Bazaar, or other event could be a great way to get your friends and family more involved in our efforts, while contributing to our goal of confronting the Israeli siege until it collapses.

EDUCATE. We have volunteers in various countries that might be available to come speak at your school, university or other venue about their experiences in Gaza, the horrifying effects of Israel’s illegal blockade, and what the Free Gaza Movement is doing to break the siege. Consider hosting an event or a speaking tour for the Free Gaza Movement. For help in doing this, please contact us This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

OUTREACH. We would like to get celebrities, dignitaries, and community leaders to join our next mission in order to draw more attention to the dire situation in Gaza and the need for immediate action. If you have contact to a public personality, please ask them to lend their voice and presence to this nonviolent action in defense of human rights. If someone is not able to physically be on our boat, ask him or her for a statement or letter of endorsement.

VOLUNTEER FOR ACTION. We need volunteers to help us with research, writing, local outreach & organizing in your community, website maintenance, graphic design, and much much more. If you are interested in volunteering with the Free Gaza Movement, please contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Karzai and Warlords Mount Massive Vote Fraud Scheme

By Gareth Porter

(Left: The three stooges)

"Afghanistan’s presidential election has long been viewed by U.S. officials as a key to conferring legitimacy on the Afghan government, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his powerful warlord allies have planned to commit large-scale electoral fraud that could have the opposite effect.

Two U.S.-financed polls published during the past week showed support for Karzai falls well short of the 51 percent of the vote necessary to avoid a runoff election. A poll by Glevum Associates showed Karzai at 36 percent, and a survey by the International Republican Institute had him at 44 percent of the vote.

Those polls suggest that Karzai might have to pad his legitimate vote total by much as 40 percent to be certain of being elected in the first round......

Australian counterinsurgency specialist David Kilcullen, who will shortly become a senior adviser to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, declared at the U.S. Institute of Peace Aug. 6, "The biggest fear is Karzai ends up as an incredibly illegitimate figure, and we end up owning Afghanistan and propping up an illegitimate government." "

Today's Afghan election is a moment of truth for zealous liberal aggressors

A bombastic crusade has mutated into despair. Where next will they bless with democracy at the blast from a drone?

Simon Jenkins, Wednesday 19 August 2009

"During the last Afghan elections, a UN official outside a polling booth grabbed a voter's blue-stained finger and raised it before the cameras. "Look," he said ecstatically. "This is what it's all about."

No, it isn't. Even in its present belligerent stance, the western world does not go about bombing and killing people just so they can vote. The Afghan war and occupation were about punishing the Taliban for harbouring Osama bin Laden and to prevent them ever doing it again. The punishment was delivered. The prevention was, and remains, ill-conceived and elusive......

A bombastic crusade has mutated into a long, hard slog, and now into a state of despair. The daily ritual of soldiers' deaths should be acceptable to a nation at war. But there comes a point in the rhetoric of heroism when the pointlessness of it all bursts the shackles of jingoism. Surely an election, the ultimate moment of political realism, is the time to stop mouthing insincerities and call a mistake a mistake."

Video: Syrian president proposes regional alliance

Press TV

Syrian President Proposes Regional Alliance: Click Here to Watch Video.

COMMENT: A few days ago the Turkish military conducted joint maneuvers with Israeli and American forces. When Ahmadinejad visits his puppet Maliki in the Green Zone of Baghdad, he is protected by U.S. Marines. About 200,000 U.S. occupation troops still occupy Iraq, while Iran and Syria talk about "resistance" while tacitly supporting that occupation. Syria and the puppet Maliki have just signed a treaty for strategic military and political cooperation (Iranian and American orders?). And this came on the heels of a visit by a high level U.S. military team to Damascus to discuss steps Syria must take to "enhance security" in Iraq.

Based on the alliance proposed by Assad, are we to expect joint Syrian-Iraqi-Turkish-Israeli-U.S.-Iranian military exercises pretty soon? Why not? It is all for "regional stability" and to defeat "Al-Qaeda!"

Celebrate the "New Middle East" now; or else!

Israel Knows How to Protect its Stooges: Shin Bet guards top Palestinian leaders in parts of West Bank


"Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad are guarded by Israel's Shin Bet security service on some of their trips around the West Bank.

According to an agreement between Israel and the PA, a team from the Shin Bet's VIP security unit accompanies Abbas and Fayyad whenever they are in Area C, meaning that part of the West Bank that is under full Israeli control according to the Oslo accords......

The security Israel provides for Abbas and Fayyad is meant to prevent either of two possible scenarios. One is an assassination attempt by Palestinian extremists, such as the Hamas cell that was recently arrested for allegedly planning an attack on Abbas. The other is an assassination attempt by right-wing Israeli extremists.

Fayyad's spokesman, Jamal Zakut, declined to comment on this report. However, both Palestinian security sources and the Shin Bet confirmed it........"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

الامام الخامنئي يوافق على اقتراح الاسد بائتلاف يضم ايران وسوريا وترکيا والعراق


"وافق الامام السيد علي الخامنئي علي مقترح الرئيس السوري بشار الاسد لتشکيل ائتلاف بين الدول الاربع ايران وسوريا وترکيا والعراق واضاف" ان الاتصالات الراهنه بين سوريا والعراق تعتبر اجراء ايجابيا للغايه ويتعين مساعده الحکومه في العراق لحل مشاکل بلادها". واعتبر سماحته لدى استقباله اليوم الاربعاء الرئيس الاسد والوفد المرافق له الوحدة بين ايران وسوريا بانها تجسيد للمقاومة في المنطقة......"

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The poll asks:

Who is behind the latest explosions in Iraq?

With about 800 responding so far, here is the breakdown of responses:

- Sectarian Militias.........27%
- Outside Interests........55%
- Al-Qaeda...................12%
- Iraqi Resistance...........6%

Economic Recovery, by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Americans: Serfs Ruled by Oligarchs


"......Will Americans, smashed and destroyed by “their” government’s policy, which always puts Americans last, ever understand who their real enemies are?

Will Americans realize that they are not ruled by elected representatives but by an oligarchy that owns the Washington whorehouse?

Will Americans ever understand that they are impotent serfs?"

Guess What? He's a Terrible President


"Both President Obama’s health care plan and his presidency are going down the toilet.

This is well, and right, and just as it should be.

Obama is turning out to be a disastrous president, wholly unsuited for the times and our national and global challenges, and his job approval ratings reflect this .......[COMMENT: Khaled Mashaal thinks otherwise, "Hamas is interested in opening a dialogue with the Obama administration because its policies are much better than those of former US president George W. Bush, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said on Sunday"]........"

Real News Video: Elections in Afghanistan

Youssef: Afghans have little faith in the elections, the central government or the foreign forces

More at The Real News

"Jesse Freeston speaks to Nancy Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers' Pentagon correspondent, who recently returned from Afghanistan about the elections tomorrow and the mood in that country. Youssef says most Afghanis are anticipating that the incumbent president, Hamid Karzai will win again. She says many are cynical about the elections, because they view they've seen the past eight years of foreign occupation as a time when their living standards have gone down, rather than improved."

The Latin American policies of Richard Milhous Obama

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

"The Obama administration is not only maintaining the Bush administration’s policies, which seek to promote confrontation with the progressive bloc of Latin American nations, but is actually hearkening back to the past imperialistic policies of the administration of Richard Nixon....."

Israel declares the shooting of American activist, Tristan Anderson to be an “act of war”

International Solidarity Movement

For Immediate Release

"18 August 2009: Israel declares the shooting of American activist, Tristan Anderson to be an “act of war.”

Tristan Anderson, an American national, was critically injured on 13 March 2009 when he was shot with a high velocity tear-gas projectile during an unarmed demonstration against the Wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin (report and video:

The Israeli Ministry of Defense has notified the Anderson family’s lawyers that Israel perceives the incident on 13 March 2009 as an “act of war.” This classification was made despite the fact that Anderson’s shooting occurred during a civilian demonstration and there were no armed hostilities during the event or surrounding it.

The consequence of such classification is that according to Israeli law, the state of Israel is not liable for any damage its’ forces have caused......"

Maliki sees the light in Damascus

By Sami Moubayed
Asia Times

Note: Keep in mind that the author is close to the Syrian regime.

"Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, currently visiting Syria, has signed accords that will increase economic and cultural ties between the countries. Far more important is Maliki's realization that he needs the clout that Damascus has among all the players in Iraq if he is to resolve escalating problems relating to the oil-rich region of Kirkuk and the Sunni community...."

The Afghan pipe dream

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"Washington says success in Afghanistan involves "diplomacy, development and good governance" - but all that the world sees is the 96,500 - and counting - coalition troops now on the ground to "fight the Taliban". As for the election, who cares who's the winner - President Hamid Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah or anyone else? Afghanistan will be ruled by Barack Hussein Obama......

Both Russia and Iran, accomplished chess masters, are honing their moves to make TAPI unworkable. Until then, the AfPak theater basically boils down to the US and NATO at war against nationalist Pashtuns. Washington hysteria will continue to rule - as in "the Taliban" about to take over Islamabad's nukes and convert the US into TalibanUStan. And last but not least, please save the last bowl of opium for that oh-so-savvy wild bunch - the warlords."

Two years later, reconstruction to start in Nahr al-Bared

Report, Electronic Lebanon, 18 August 2009

"NAHR AL-BARED (IRIN) - Two years on from the devastating battle which destroyed their homes and livelihoods, Palestinian refugees from Nahr al-Bared are set to see reconstruction work begin inside the camp's official boundaries.

Despite a resilient recovery under way among Palestinians living in the new camp -- the area around the edge of the official Nahr al-Bared refugee camp -- legal hurdles, political wrangling and the recent discovery of archaeological ruins under the site of the old camp have delayed reconstruction work there.....


Eighteen-year-old Omar Baraka was a farmer from the old camp, until the battle destroyed his home and killed most of his cows. He now runs a bakery amid the cleared rubble and ruined buildings of the new camp and says business is fair, but that army restrictions on Lebanese entering the camp -- just 2,000 permits for Lebanese to enter have been issued -- mean little hope of a return to Nahr al-Bared's once flourishing marketplace.

"The checkpoints let through as much flour as we want, but there are no outsiders coming into the camp, so businesses can't expand," said Baraka. "Money is rotating between Palestinians only."......"

Irish construction giant digs deeper in occupation

Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 18 August 2009

"A recent acquisition by the Israeli subsidiary of brick and mortar giant Irish CRH has placed the European conglomerate under increased pressure from Palestine solidarity activists. Irish CRH, formerly known as Cement Roadstone Holding, owns 25 percent of the Mashav Group, an Israeli construction firm. Mashav recently announced that it will acquire Hanson Israel, a subsidiary of Germany's HeidelbergCement. With the acquisition of Hanson Israel, CRH is further entrenched in violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

Last month, The Electronic Intifada reported that German HeidelbergCement, one of the world's largest construction companies, became the target of legal action in Israel because its subsidiary, Hanson Israel, was involved in illegal mining activities in the occupied West Bank......."

Amnesty int'l withdraws from Israel concert fund following campaign

Press release, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, 19 August 2009

"....Amnesty International has announced today that it will abstain from any involvement in the Leonard Cohen concert in Tel Aviv and will not be party to any fund that benefits from the concert's proceeds. A number of media accounts had reported that Amnesty International was to manage or otherwise partner in a fund created from the proceeds of Cohen's concert in Israel that would be used to benefit Israeli and Palestinian groups. Amnesty International's announcement today followed an international outcry over the human rights organization's reported involvement in the Leonard Cohen concert fund, and an earlier international call for Cohen to boycott apartheid Israel.

Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) commented, "We welcome Amnesty International's withdrawal from this ill-conceived project which is clearly intended to whitewash Israel's violations of international law and human rights. By abandoning the Leonard Cohen project in Tel Aviv, Amnesty International has dealt Cohen and his public relations team a severe blow, denying them the cover of the organization's prestige and respectability."

A statement confirming Amnesty's withdrawal has now been posted on the Amnesty International website......"

Derek Graham in Ireland to get support for the next Free Gaza voyage in October.

Free Gaza Movement

".....Derek & Jenny Graham from Mayo, are here to get Irish support to bring in desperately needed rebuilding materials into the port of Gaza along with supplies for our partners in the Universities and schools as part of “Right to Read” campaign.

Derek was thrown in jail along with 20 others including Mairead Maguire as they tried to deliver building supplies and aid to civillians in Gaza who's homes, schools, hospitals were destroyed by the Israel at start of the year. Seven months later and families are still living on the rubble of their homes with no materials to fix the damage and the winter is now approaching.

It is crucial that we continue sending boats to Gaza to challenge Israel’s criminal closure on the Strip,” said Huwaida Arraf, delegation leader.'“Gaza does not need our charity but needs us to stand up against the forces that continue to deliberately deny an entire people their human rights. "

Even though Israel hijacked our boat, the Spirit of Humanity in international waters, we are not backing down......."

Embattled Hamas Shows its Moderate Face

Analysis by Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, Aug 19 (IPS) - The Islamic resistance movement Hamas's rule of Gaza is facing protracted political and military opposition from within Gaza, other Palestinian territories and abroad.....

"This is not just a few disgruntled extremists but the tip of the iceberg, and a sign of growing extremism in Gaza which is only going to get worse," says Dr. Samir Awad from Birzeit University, near Ramallah.

"The Israelis have shot themselves in the foot with the crippling siege of Gaza," Awad tells IPS. "The suffering and hardship endured by Gazans has not moderated them politically. When people have lost everything and have no hope, they turn to revenge.

"In the future Israel will regret not negotiating with a more moderate Hamas government when these extremists strengthen their grip on power."

Israel helped nurture Hamas when the organisation was first established in 1987 as a bulwark against the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

When the PLO-affiliated PA came to power in 1994 following the Oslo Accords, Israel weakened it with military attacks and mass arrest campaigns. This in turn strengthened Hamas.......

Contributing to Hamas's fall in support has been the increasing abuse of human rights and the stifling of civil liberties.

Last month a prominent Hamas judge in Gaza said that from September all the territory's female lawyers would be required to cover their hair and wear long gowns under their billowing judicial gowns.

Hamas was also said to be formulating a moral code of conduct which would prevent gender mixing in large crowds in public places amongst other things.

"This was the opinion of one minister who had not consulted with the rest of the Hamas government. Most of us are against this and the matter is still being appraised," Dr Ahmed Yousef, political advisor to Haniyeh told IPS.

It would appear that Hamas's political survival is contingent on its ability to adapt to challenges on the ground and to be more flexible politically in regard to the international community and negotiations with the PA......."

Out Now!

At least, that's what the Iraqis are saying…

by Justin Raimondo, August 19, 2009

"........It is commonly asserted that the Iraq war merely succeeded in empowering the Iranians, because it unleashed the Shi’ite majority and enabled them to take power in Baghdad. While this is true in a general sense – the Iraqi and Iranian regimes enjoy good relations – it is usually overstated, with nationalistic tensions and cultural differences significantly underplayed. On the other hand, the really malevolent genie let out of its bottle by the Iraq war was and is a Kurdish one: nearly every one of Iraq’s neighbors harbors a considerable – and restive – Kurdish minority, and these groups are ready and (with assistance from their brothers over the border) able to rise up and declare their intention of creating "Greater Kurdistan" – a region that, if you look at their maps, extends from southern and central Turkey through Syria and the hinterlands of the Caucasus, to Iran in the east and all the way to Kuwait in the south. If and when the Kurds make their move for independence, this entire area could become a war zone in very short order.

So you thought the U.S. was going to be out of Iraq, free to concentrate all its resources on the conquest of Afghanistan and the pacification of the Pakistanis? You thought Iraq was over. Well, think again. There’s trouble ahead, and plenty of it."

Republicans, religion and the triumph of unreason

How do they train themselves to be so impervious to reality?

By Johann Hari
The Independent

"Something strange has happened in America in the nine months since Barack Obama was elected. It has best been summarised by the comedian Bill Maher: "The Democrats have moved to the right, and the Republicans have moved to a mental hospital.".....

Up to now, Obama has not responded well to this onslaught of unreason. He has had a two-pronged strategy: conciliate the elite economic interests, and joke about the fanatical fringe they are stirring up. He has (shamefully) assured the pharmaceutical companies that an expanded healthcare system will not use the power of government as a purchaser to bargain down drug prices, while wryly saying in public that he "doesn't want to kill Grandma". Rather than challenging these hard interests and bizarre fantasies aggressively, he has tried to flatter and soothe them.

This kind of mania can't be co-opted: it can only be overruled. Sometimes in politics you will have enemies, and they must be democratically defeated. The political system cannot be gummed up by a need to reach out to the maddest people or the greediest constituencies. There is no way to expand healthcare without angering Big Pharma and the Republicaloons. So be it. As Arianna Huffington put it, "It is as though, at the height of the civil rights movement, you thought you had to bring together Martin Luther King and George Wallace and make them agree. It's not how change happens."......"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Video:Israel introduces new visa restrictions

Press TV

Click Here to Watch Video

Also, please see Jonathan Cook's Article on the Same Subject, Posted Yesterday.

Assad: Yes We Can! Help the Puppet Maliki, That is. These Are American AND Iranian Orders, After All!

في ختام زيارة المالكي لسوريا
تعاون إستراتيجي بين بغداد ودمشق

"وقعت دمشق وبغداد اتفاقا للتعاون الإستراتيجي بينهما أعلن عنه في مؤتمر صحفي بين رئيس الوزراء السوري محمد ناجي العطري ونظيره العراقي نوري المالكي في العاصمة السورية الثلاثاء.

وانتهت زيارة المالكي إلى دمشق بالاتفاق بين سوريا والعراق على تأسيس مجلس تعاون إستراتيجي عالي المستوى يشمل المجالات الأمنية والعسكرية والاقتصادية والقضايا الإقليمية بين البلدين، تنفيذا لما جرى الاتفاق حوله أثناء زيارة رئيس الوزراء السوري إلى بغداد على رأس وفد وزاري رفيع في العام الحالي.

ونص الاتفاق على أن يرأس مجلس التعاون الإستراتيجي رفيع المستوى رئيس الوزراء في كل من سوريا والعراق، على أن يجتمع المجلس مرتين سنويا بالتناوب بين البلدين.