Saturday, August 29, 2009

Minority Death Match: Jews, Blacks, And The “Post-Racial” Presidency

By Naomi Klein

".....The press release was a response to some disappointing news. The previous night, the United States, under the leadership of its first African-American president, had announced that it would boycott the United Nations Durban Review Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, citing its alleged anti-Israel bias. The conference was to start the following day, April 20, 2009, with Pillay presiding. Known by critics as "Durban II," this was the only United Nations gathering specifically focused on pushing governments to combat racism inside their borders, a task that had become increasingly urgent as financial crises continued to stoke ethnic tensions around the world.

Despite Pillay's official claims of being "shocked and deeply disappointed," the U.S. boycott had long been expected. The nasty surprise was that, on the eve of the conference, it had triggered an exodus of other countries. As we met, the press was reporting that Australia, Germany, and New Zealand had joined the boycott. After all, if Barack Obama—a global symbol of the victory against racism—wasn't coming, why should they?.....

She would need all the help she could get. The attempt to stage a follow-up to the World Conference on Racism, held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, had led to one of the most fractious negotiations in the history of the United Nations, with organizers attempting to satisfy a shifting array of demands from the United States—most in direct conflict with pressure from Muslim countries—while a phalanx of pro-Israel pressure groups did their best to sink the gathering......

Every U.N. conference—whether on women or refugees or biological weapons—aims to produce a "final declaration" that represents the gathering's agreed-upon consensus. Most of the work is done at the preparatory conferences ("prepcoms," in U.N. lingo), and the final wording is hammered out at the event itself. The Durban Review Conference was different. There was such a fervent desire to bring Obama's government to the table that virtually every member state in the United Nations agreed on the text of the final declaration before the conference even opened. The hope was that, with the negotiations completed, Obama could be assured of no nasty surprises and would send a delegation to the conference. The declaration to which all these countries—including Iran and Syria—agreed did not cross any of what the State Department had described as its "red lines." It contained no references at all to Israel or to Palestinians.......

.....Worse, the strategy hadn't worked: after succeeding in dramatically weakening the document, the U.S. chose to boycott anyway, taking many of its allies with it. For the U.S. civil rights movement, which had regarded the first Durban conference as an historic turning point, the boycott was Obama's most explicit betrayal since taking office......."

Abbas’s election scare

By Khalid Amayreh
in the Occupied West Bank

"Mahmoud Abbas, whose term in office had expired in January 2009, has been vowing to organize general elections in January 2010, giving the impression that these elections will be a magical cure for the many problems facing the Palestinian people and their enduring just cause........

More to the point, it is clear that even if the Israeli occupation army, which controls every corner and street in the West Bank, didn’t interfere with the elections, which is very unlikely given Israel’s hostile fixation on Hamas, the police state apparatus now prevailing in the West Bank, would make the idea of conducting free elections not only unlikely but impossible.

We are talking about a total absence of basic civil liberties whereby political opponents are arrested, tormented and often tortured to death. Furthermore, every conceivable political activity, even an act as simple as raising an Islamic flag, is immediately criminalized. In some cases, the “perpetrators” wouldn’t live to regret their “misdeeds.”

In fact, it is perfectly safe to claim that insistence on holding elections under these morbid circumstances reflect a malicious intent to falsify the results of the elections beforehand......

For all these reasons, it is imperative that Hamas must not fall into the trap and reject this trick by the man who had called resistance “futile” and who voiced his willingness to compromise inherent Palestinian rights pertaining to al-Quds al Sharif and the refugees.

The Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said “A true believer shouldn’t be bitten from the same snake hole twice.” "

In a Rotten State

By Eva Bartlett
in Gaza

"....."The Israelis don't allow the fruit to enter Gaza right away. It sits at the crossings for five or six hours under the sun," he said, pointing to a box of rotted mangos......

A report this month by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes that during the first five months of 2007, an average of 583 trucks entered Gaza per day. Now, the daily average is 112, of which 70 percent are food products.

OCHA further notes that "95 percent of the industrial establishments, or 3,750 establishments, were forced to shut down, and the remaining five percent were forced to reduce their level of activity."

With crossings closed or barely functioning, most of Gaza's goods are brought in at steep prices via the tunnels. Last week Egyptian authorities announced a seizure of such goods bound for Gaza before the start of Ramadan. Among the millions of dollars worth of goods seized were wood, glass, electronic equipment and appliances, tyres, carpets, and large quantities of sweets, nuts, and foodstuffs used during Ramadan. "

US wants 20,000 more troops to fight Taliban


British and American soldiers to shoulder brunt of surge's next phase

By Kim Sengupta in Kabul
The Independent

"The commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan will ask for 20,000 more international troops as part of his new strategic plan for the alliance's war against a resurgent Taliban, The Independent has learned.

The demand from General Stanley McChrystal will almost certainly lead to more British soldiers being sent to the increasingly treacherous battlegrounds of Helmand, the Taliban heartland, despite growing opposition to the war.

General McChrystal, tasked with turning the tide in the battle against the insurgency on the ground, has given a presentation of his draft report to senior Afghan government figures in which he also proposes raising the size of the Afghan army and police force......."

Habila Says: "Islamic "Awakening" in Gaza is Our Response to the Siege." So, is He in Favor of Tightening the Siege? One Wonders About This Habila!

هنية: الصحوة الإسلامية العارمة في غزة ردٌّ على من تآمر على الشعب الفلسطيني وحاصره

"غزة - المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

قال إسماعيل هنية رئيس الوزراء الفلسطيني إن كثرة عدد المصلين وعدم قدرة المساجد على استيعابهم؛ يؤكد وجود صحوة إسلامية عارمة في قطاع غزة، لافتًا إلى أن وزارة الأوقاف ودار القرآن الكريم والسنة ستخرِّج هذا العام أكثر من عشرة آلاف حافظ وحافظة للقرآن الكريم.

وأضاف هنية، في كلمة ألقاها خلال صلاة التراويح في مسجد "عباد الرحمن" بمدينة غزة مساء الجمعة (28-8): "إن الشعب الفلسطيني عاد إلى الله سبحانه وتعالى مبكِّرًا؛ لأنه أدرك أن عوامل الثبات في وجه التحديات والمؤامرات وتحرير القدس وفلسطين؛ لن تتمَّ إلا بالقرب من الله".

وأكد أن الصحوة الإسلامية العارمة ردٌّ على من تآمر على الشعب الفلسطيني وحاصره لينفضَّ الناس عن دينهم ومشروع المقاومة والمساجد، مشيرًا إلى أن الناس بعد الحصار والتضييق باتوا أكثر قربًا من الله؛ على عكس ما أراد المتآمرون.

وأوضح أن الناس أصبحوا يصلون في العراء؛ نتيجةً لعدم اتساع المساجد وتدمير الاحتلال الصهيوني لها خلال الحرب الأخيرة على قطاع غزة، لافتًا إلى أن الغزيِّين ردُّوا على الاحتلال ببناء السرادقات مكان المساجد ليصلُّوا فيها، لافتًا إلى الفرق بين مساجد الدول العربية الواسعة والمكيَّفة ومساجد قطاع غزة، التي تعاني من الارتفاع الشديد في درجة الحرارة وضيق مساحتها؛ الأمر الذي يدفع المصلين إلى الصلاة في العراء.

وأشار إلى أن وزارة الأوقاف والشؤون الدينية عاجزةٌ عن تلبية احتياجات المساجد من كهرباء وخدمات؛ نتيجة الحصار، وقلة الدعم المالي الموجَّه إليها، داعيًا الشعوب العربية والإسلامية إلى دعم صمود الشعب الفلسطيني.


Dream on Habila! Your "Umma" does not give a fig about the Palestinians, Jerusalem, or Al-Aqsa mosque.

Now if you want to get them mobilized and excited, get one of those Danish cartoons republished, then the "Umma" wakes up, and only for a few minutes before going back to the couch to watch TV serials (it is Ramadan after all).

Good luck Habila with your reliance on such an "Umma!"

The curious case of the missing Egyptian and the Swiss police

By Robert Fisk

"Now here's a weird story from Cairo. Or rather from Geneva. Or wherever ex-Colonel Mohamed el-Ghanem, formerly a senior officer in the Egyptian interior ministry, happens to be. Just over nine years ago, when we met behind the old Marriott Hotel on the Nile, he had been newly fired by his Egyptian spookmasters. And he was having a little problem. Every time he went to Cairo airport for an international flight, the cops put an exit stamp in his passport – then told him he wasn't allowed to leave......

An unlikely whistleblower, you may say. But he was furious at Egyptian government corruption, nepotism, fraudulent charges against Egyptian journalists, torture in Egyptian jails, human rights abuses – even the unfair treatment of Christian Coptic Egyptians when they wanted to build a church in majority Muslim Egypt. Can you ask Amnesty for help, he pleaded with me?

I published a long report on his campaign, along with his photograph. This appeared to be one brave man.......

The general again called me up in Beirut in 2003 to say that the Swiss secret police were trying to force him to penetrate al-Qa'ida and Switzerland's Arab community, that he had refused – and that the Swiss secret police were threatening him.....

Then last year, el-Ghanem's brother Ali rang me up in Beirut from his home in Washington DC to tell me that Mohamed el-Ghanem had disappeared. He was being held, he claimed, in a Swiss prison, without any contact with his family or friends......

....Why on earth is el-Ghanem being held? When I met him in Cairo, he was campaigning for Christian Copts to have equal rights with Muslims. Is this really the man who would write the tract I've quoted above? And the Swiss have denied his disappearance.

So why is he locked up in Geneva? If he's imprisoned incommunicado and can't talk to anyone, then he surely has disappeared......."

Al-Jazeera Video: The Palestinians' security paradox

"....Ahead of an initiative expected to be announced in September, Al Jazeera is examining the prospects for peace in a week-long series from Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan.

One of the issues in the quest is the use of security forces in the Palestinian territories and the guidelines that they operate under.

In the final part of the Planning for Peace series, Al Jazeera's Nour Odeh reports on whether Palestinian security forces can provide security in the West Bank under the "road map to peace" and protect Israel from armed groups.

Al Jazeera's Sami Zeidan questioned Mouin Rabbani, a senior fellow at the Institute of Palestinian Studies and contributing editor to Middle East Report, a quarterly journal, on the conflicting commitments of Palestinian security......"

Friday, August 28, 2009

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This poll asks:

Do you believe that outside parties are aggravating the internal struggle in Saada Province in Yemen?

With over 800 responding so far (it is early), 81% said yes.

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Israel - Sweden relations strained-Aug 28 09

Swedish journalist Donald Bostrom and Palestinian Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi interviewed.

"Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has joined broad Israeli criticism of the Swedish Aftonbladet newspaper over the claims Israeli troops took organs from Palestinians killed to sell for transplant.

The article claimed Israeli soldiers kidnapped Palestinian youths and returned their dismembered bodies a few days later - with incidents dating back to 1992.

The article has been branded anti-semitic quote "hate porn." It has also been labeled an "unspeakable piece", "outrageous and appalling."

Netanyahu has urged the Swedish government to condemn the article while Sweden, citing a right to free expression, refuses to interfere.

A diplomatic crisis between the two countries is looming.

Has Israel overreacted - and what about the allegations themselves, are they credible? Has the incident been blown out of proportion? Or is it, as some say, a sign of lingering anti-semitic sentiments in Europe?"

Hakims death highlights Nasrallah's contradictions: Sectarian Solidarity Prevails and Hypocrisy Abounds


".....Sayid Hassan Nasrallah has squandered his popularity in the Arab world and lost much credibility as a result of his stance in Iraq in the past 6 years. And now as he eulogizes Hakim whom he refers to as an "older brother", and describes his murderous and treasonous history as a "struggle" to "uplift" and "rescue" the Iraqi people, Nasrallah has, once again, fallen into the trap of sectarian solidarity. How else can any objective observer who supported both the Arab resistance to Israeli occupation in Lebanon and US occupation of Iraq explain the contradictory positions of Nasrallah on the occupations of Lebanon and Iraq? What is the difference between the South Lebanese Army and the Badr Brigades? And what is the difference between the traitors and collaborators in Lebanon and their counterparts in Iraq?"

Tutu to Haaretz: Arabs paying the price of the Holocaust


""The lesson that Israel must learn from the Holocaust is that it can never get security through fences, walls and guns," Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa told Haaretz Thursday.

Commenting on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statement in Germany Thursday that the lesson of the Holocaust is that Israel should always defend itself, Tutu noted that "in South Africa, they tried to get security from the barrel of a gun. They never got it. They got security when the human rights of all were recognized and respected."......"

'United' Jerusalem Has Two Faces

By Mel Frykberg

"EAST JERUSALEM, Aug 28 (IPS) - Israel says "united" Jerusalem will be the eternal capital of the Jewish state. However, a quick walk across the Green Line which marks the international border dividing the two parts of the city reveals a city very much divided.....

Under international law East Jerusalem is occupied, and considered part of the Palestinian West Bank. Following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war Israel annexed East Jerusalem, and systematically implemented a system to Judaise that part of the city.

Palestinians hope to make East Jerusalem the capital of their future state. Foreign embassies in Israel are based in Tel Aviv as the international community does not recognise Israel's control over the eastern sector of the city. "

Afghanistan Apocalypse

By Robert Dreyfuss
The Nation

"Yesterday afternoon at the Brookings Institution, four analysts portrayed a bleak and terrifying vision of the current state of affairs in Afghanistan in the wake of the presidential election. All four were hawkish, reflecting a growing consensus in the Washington establishment that the Afghanistan war is only just beginning.

Their conclusions: (1) A significant escalation of the war will be necessary to avoid utter defeat. (2) Even if tens of thousands of troops are added to the US occupation, it won't be possible to determine if the US/NATO effort is succeeding until eighteen months later. (3) Even if the United States turns the tide in Afghanistan, no significant drawdown of US forces will take place until five years have passed......."

Obama’s Road to War

It's not just Afghanistan …

By Justin Raimondo

"Obama is keeping his eye on the prize – the Nobel Prize, that is, as a reward for brokering a Middle East "peace" deal. Unfortunately, he’s doing it on the backs of the Palestinian people – and the rest of us, as well.

The news out of the negotiations with the Israelis is that Bibi gets everything, and Obama gets to make an announcement that the perpetually stalled talks with the Palestinians will resume. By "everything," I mean to include what the Guardian describes as "a partial freeze" on settlement construction – an oxymoron that could only exist in the context of an agreement between Israel and the US.

But isn’t that what the "special relationship" is all about? Love, as Ayn Rand put it, is exception-making – and I certainly can’t imagine the US capitulating so quickly and completely as it has in this instance.

Quite aside from the settlements, however, the Obama-ites really gave away the store when they agreed to "adopt a much tougher line with Iran over its alleged nuclear program." What this means, more precisely, is that the bar for judging whether Iran is building useable nukes is going to be considerably lowered: get ready for a slew of "intelligence" reports claiming they’re on the verge of nuking Tel Aviv. With Congress getting ready to impose strict economic sanctions on Iranian energy exports, the stage is set for a military strike..........

In any case, Blankley’s conception of Obama facing a momentous decision needs to be put in its full context: the President isn’t deciding between war and peace. He and his foreign policy advisors are merely debating which war to fight first, with the more pro-Israel faction voting for a strike against Iran, and the more pragmatic types wanting to finish the job in Kabul and environs before tackling Tehran.

This is a repetition of rather recent history, when the neocons in the Bush administration, such as Paul Wolfowitz, argued that an invasion of Iraq had to be our first response to 9/11, while others argued for taking on the Taliban. I suspect the latter types will win out, just as they did during the Bush years......."

This is an idiot's version of her masterpiece

By Johann Hari
The Independent

"Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine is one of the most important political books of the past decade. She takes the central myth of the right, "that since the fall of Soviet tyranny, free elections and free markets have skipped hand in hand together towards the shimmering sunset of history", and shows that it is a lie. It is a major revisionist history of the world that Milton Friedman and the market fundamentalists have built.

In the new Depression, with their vision lying in smoking rubble, it is a thesis whose time has come, yet its film, alas, has not. The new "adaptation" of the book by Michael Winterbottom is garbled to the point of meaninglessness.......

Klein's account of this "disaster capitalism" is written with a perfectly distilled anger, channelled through hard fact. So what happened to the film?......."

Jumblatt: the Middle East bellwether

The shift in allegiances of Lebanon's chameleon-like Druze leader has sent tremors through the country's political system

James Denselow, Thursday 27 August 2009

".........Arguably one of the most significant turning points can be attributed to an astonishing shift in the allegiances of the PSP leader, Walid Jumblatt, on 2 August – from seemingly being Syria's arch-enemy in Lebanon to heading back into the Damascene fold. The ramifications of Jumblatt's departure from the (Saudi and US-backed) March 14 alliance continue to send tremors through the country's fragile political system. If Lebanon can be said to represent a microcosm of the Middle East's politics, then Jumblatt can be described as a bellwether of prevailing trends in political power. Indeed, he described himself as "an exceptional and independent case".

His defection is evidence of the death of the Bush conceptual framework for the Middle East that divided the area into "moderates" and "extremists". The battle lines were drawn between a US-supported alliance of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Jordan, Egypt, Fatah Palestinians and the Lebanese March 14 alliance versus Iran, Syria, the Lebanese March 8 alliance and Hamas. Previously Jumblatt decided to side with the aggressive new US neocon administration at a time in which Bush's "you're either with us or against us" approach left little room for compromise........

In his history of modern Lebanon, Fawwaz Traboulsi observed that "the Lebanese entity was to be periodically reproduced by means of a compromise between the dominant regional and international powers". It would appear that Jumblatt's change of direction is a symptom of the new compromise of the Obama era towards Syria. What this means for the future of Lebanon will become clearer once its tortuous cabinet negotiations are finally resolved."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sectarians, Hypocrites and Liars!

(Click on photo for a larger image)

Arab, Islamic Figures Mourn Sayyed Hakim's Death


".....Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei praised Sayyed Abdel Aziz al-Hakim as the symbol of the struggle against Saddam Hussein's regime on Thursday. "His death is a big loss for the Iraqi people and government, and is a painful incident for the Islamic Republic (of Iran)," said Sayyed Khamenei, in a message read at the mourning ceremony in Tehran.

"He symbolized the hardship involved in jihad in fighting tyranny," Sayyed Khamenei said......

In a statement released on Wednesday, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah expressed his 'great sorrow' over the passing of Sayyed al-Hakim and paid tribute to his family and the Iraqi people. Sayyed Nasrallah also praised Sayyed Hakim’s history that was full of Jihad and science for the sake of al-Islam and saving the Iraqi people [the Shiite portion, that is?].

Deputy Chairman of the Shiite Islamic Supreme council in Lebanon Sheikh Abdel Amir Qabalan mourned Sayyed al-Hakim describing him as the great Mujahed (resistance fighter) and the fighter of tyranny and injustice.

Speaker Nabih Berri also sent a statement to the Sayyed al-Hakim’s son, Ammar, paying tribute to the late figure who was a fighter against the occupation [are you serious, Mr. Berri? Who are you trying to fool? Shame on you and pity your sectarian mind!] and oppression......."

Fighting for the Right to Walk

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

Left: Samar, 4, was supposedly one of the lucky ones on that day.

"......Nearly eight months after the bloodletting of Operation Cast Lead, a 34 page report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was released on August 13, pressing for a lifting of the Gaza blockade. The new report, which will be presented along with Goldstone’s report in September, lays out the many incomprehensible details of how the Israelis battered the Strip, one of the most impoverished and the most densely populated piece of Planet Earth. The details were laid out, chastising Israel for snubbing the most basic norms of human decency......

One has to wonder, and even after so many years of witnessing such amazing ingenuity when it comes to tormenting the Palestinians, does the Israeli government, and further, does the Israeli public feel any sense of shame, remorse or even the slightest embarrassment when the most basic norms of human behavior must be laid out in so elementary a fashion, reminding, and then re-reminding them that it is a fundamental human right to have access to something as basic as food and clean water?......"

Hasan Nasrallah and `Abdul-`Aziz Al-Hakim: symptoms of Sectarian Shi`ite solidarity

By Angry Arab

"I saw this telegram that Hasan Nasrallah sent to `Ammar Al-Hakim regarding the death of `Abdul-`Aziz Al-Hakim. The statement talks about "the Jihad and struggle" of Al-Hakim to "rescue" and "uplift" the Iraqi people. Every occupation has its Muhammad Dahlan, and Al-Hakim is the Dahlan (or one of them) of the American occupation of Iraq. This is a servant of the Bush Doctrine. Why would Hasan Nasrallah who champions resistance to occupation defend and glorify a tool of foreign occupation? The answer is simple: pure sectarian solidarity. If one supports resistance to occupation one is obligated to oppose the stooges of foreign occupation, like the family of `Abdul-`Aziz Al-Hakim who used to jump and down when they would see Bush. Also, Al-Hakim did nothing to uplift the Iraqi people, although he did a lot to uplift the financial fortunes of his family. Sectarian calculations all around me."

The secret deal behind Megrahi’s release

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

"British intelligence sources report to WMR that a series of high-level financial deals between Libya, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, Business Secretary Peter Mandelson, former Speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin, and Scottish First Minister Alexander Salmond resulted in the release from a Scottish prison of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan Arab Airlines officials convicted of planting the bomb on board Pan Am 103...."

An impossible reconciliation

Hasan Abu Nimah, The Electronic Intifada, 27 August 2009

Halevy's bloodless coup against Arafat was planned such that Arafat would remain as a "titular head," but would be stripped of all his powers, which would be vested in a new prime minister. The man selected for this job "on the urging of Washington and the Israelis," writes McGeough, was Mahmoud Abbas, who later succeeded Arafat as Fatah leader and PA president. Control of funds was vested in a finance minister; an unknown World Bank official called Salam Fayyad was drafted in for this role. Today, Fayyad serves as Abbas' appointed prime minister.

It is hard to find in history an example of a liberation movement being transformed so completely into a tool of the oppressor. But understanding this sad reality is the key to understanding why talk of intra-Palestinian "reconciliation" is futile as long as this situation persists.

The failure of the recent Egyptian mission has inevitably led to the postponement of the scheduled Cairo reconciliation round until after Ramadan. In the absence of the will to declare the reconciliation effort sterile, most likely this will not be the last postponement."

Terror and Racism Unto the Nations

Israel Turns Up the Heat to Evict Bedouin from Desert Lands

By Jonathan Cook - Amra
Palestine Chronicle

"The inhabitants of the Bedouin village of Amra have good reason to fear that the harsh tactics used by the Israeli army against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have been imported to their small corner of Israel’s Negev desert.

Over the summer, the Tarabin tribe, all of them Israeli citizens, have had the sole access road to their homes sealed off, while the dirt track they must use instead is regularly blocked by temporary checkpoints at which their papers and vehicles are inspected at length.Coils of razor wire encircle much of the village, and children as young as eight have been arrested in a series of night-time raids......."

Closing In on the Torturers

by Ray McGovern, August 27, 2009

"Do you think the wardens will let George Tenet wear his Presidential Medal of Freedom over the orange coverall?

Perhaps he and Donald Rumsfeld will end up doing time together in one of the prisons also slated to host what Rumsfeld called "the worst of the worst" from Guantánamo.

That would be poetic justice of a most ironic kind. And if the two former leaders do end up in prison they can count themselves fortunate for having dodged execution for their roles in a slew of capital offenses......."

Just 6 More Months to Victory!

by Philip Giraldi, August 27, 2009

"Somehow it’s always six more months. Back in the Vietnam War Secretary of State Robert McNamara and Army General William Westmoreland repeatedly promised that with the commitment of more soldiers in six more months the war would enter into a final phase leading to American victory. The U.S. fled Vietnam with its tail between its legs.

Regarding Iraq, designated cheerleader Tom Friedman of the New York Times has written about "six more months" on at least fifteen occasions, promising that the exercise in occupation and nation building only needed a little more time to bear fruit. Last spring it was the turn of Afghanistan, with a surge in U.S. troop strength and an intensification of pressure on the Taliban certain to lead to successful presidential elections and, eventually, victory. Well, six more months are over and the results are in. Iraq is still occupied by 130,000 Americans and is experiencing a major increase in sectarian violence, and the fraudulent elections plus a rising death toll in Afghanistan suggest that the country is going down the toilet even faster than many pessimists would have predicted......."

Palestinians pay the price for Israel's illegal settlements

As Benjamin Netanyahu is pressed by the US to halt the construction of settlements, Donald Macintyre exposes the reality of surviving in the West Bank

The Independent

"......It was close to here that the couple were severely beaten last summer by four masked, club-swinging Jewish settlers in the barley field. Tamam, her face still bleeding after being clubbed in the jaw, was driven in an Israeli Army ambulance to Beersheeva's Soroka hospital, where she required three days of treatment.

And it was here that they received the news last week that the Israeli police had closed an investigation without making charges, even though the attack was caught on video, causing shock and outrage across Israel and beyond when it was shown on television last year.......

But it is the Palestinian Nawajas who have found it difficult to live "normal lives" since the attack on their five-acre plot in the arid and remote hill country south of Hebron in sight of the red-roofed Jewish settlement of Susiya. "I cannot leave this place for a single day or the land will be theirs," said Mr Nawaja, 61, who was also injured in the attack 14 months ago......"

Click Here to See This BBC Short Video of the Attack of the Settlers.

From BBC: Settler attack investigation ends

US peace plan gives Israel too much

The Middle East talks look like an act of grand displacement unless Obama stops giving Israel an unequal say

Peter Beaumont, Thursday 27 August 2009

"It may be early days in the hammering out of the details of a new US-sponsored plan to broker a resumption of Middle East peace talks, but what are clearly visible are the operating assumptions. At their very heart, the reporting in this paper suggests, is what the government of Binyamin Netanyahu has always wanted: a link between Iran's nuclear programme and a very partial freeze on settlement building, offered in exchange for opening up an even more partial track of a peace process whose focus would be on the West Bank.

A step forward? Hardly.......

A truly honest and equitable approach – as suggested by Obama in Cairo – requires the abandonment of an unequal approach that for too long has allowed Israel a unique say in defining and redefining the contingent conditions for each step of progress. Depressingly the indications are that there is very little chance of that. And if that is true, Obama will have failed in the "responsibility" he set for himself."

Al-Jazeera Video: Negotiations exclude Hamas


"Barack Obama, the US president, is attempting to seal an Arab-Israeli peace deal that has eluded the region for more than six decades.

Ahead of an initiative expected to be announced in September, Al Jazeera is examining the prospects for peace in a week-long series from Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan.

In the fourth of the series, Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin looks at the consequences of a peace plan without the involvement of Hamas......"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Great Disappointment in Sayyed Nasrallah: He Eulogizes the Puppet Hakim as a Hero!

السيد نصر الله يبرق معزياً برحيل السيد عبد العزيز الحكيم

I am waiting for the English version to post!

"أبرق الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله الى السيد عمار الحكيم معزياً بوفاة والده وجاء في نص البرقية "أود ان اعبر لكم عن مشاعري ومشاعر إخوانكم في حزب الله وتأثرنا البالغ برحيل الاخ الكبير العلامة السيد عبد العزيز الحكيم عن هذه الدنيا الى جوار آبائه وأجداده الميامين بعد حياة حافلة بالعلم والعمل والدعوة الى الله والتبليغ والهجرة والجهاد والنضال والصبر والتضحيات الجسام في سبيل الاسلام من اجل انقاذ الشعب العراقي المظلوم واعزازه ورفع شأنه". واضاف السيد نصر الله: انني اتقدم منكم ومن العائلة الشريفة ومن اخوانكم الاعزاء في المجلس الاعلى ومن الشعب الصابر والمظلوم بأحر التعازي وبأصدق المواساة بهذا المصاب الجلل واسأل الله ان يتغمد فقيدنا الكبير بأوسع رحمته وان يحشره مع الانبياء والمرسلين والائمة الطاهرين وان يلهمكم الصبر والسلوان، واننا على ثقة بأنكم ستواصلون طريق جهاده ونضاله حتى تحقيق اهدافه واماله التي قضى في سبيلها شهداء كثر في مقدمتهم الشهيد الكبير اية الله السيد محمد باقر الحكيم".
كما نعى السيد الحكيم نائب رئيس المجلس الاسلامي الشيعي الاعلى الشيخ عبد الامير قبلان واصفا اياه بالمجاهد الكبير كإخوته الشهداء في آل الحكيم ومقاوماً للظلم والطغيان وعاملا على وحدة وسيادة العراق.


What a let down! This is the first time I am openly disappointed in Nasrallah. He could have kept his mouth shut, or kept the message personal. However, to eulogize the American/Iranian puppet (and his brother before him) as Iraqi "heroes" is a bit much.

On top of that to talk about his struggle for a united and sovereign Iraq! Under the boots of the U.S. occupation, Sayyed Nasrallah? This is a stooge who literally entered Baghdad on an American tank!

Shame on you Sayyed Nasrallah. But again, these are the orders from Tehran; I try to be understanding.

مشروع أوباما للتسوية إلى أين؟

An Important Article (Arabic)

ثمة قرار أميركي لأوباما وفريقه وإدارته يقضي بضرورة إيجاد حل للصراع الفلسطيني الإسرائيلي، يقوم على تنازلات أوليّة إسرائيلية (وقف الاستيطان لمدّة محدودة) وفلسطينية (أمنية وترتيبات داخلية لضمان أي اتفاق قادم) وعربية (تطبيعية)
يقف الجيش الأميركي كما يبدو وراء أوباما ومشروعه إن لم يكن هو صاحب المشروع وأوباما ينفذه، وذلك بهدف نزع الورقة الفلسطينية من يد أعداء أميركا لأجل إنجاح الجيش في العراق وأفغانستان وباكستان ولاحقاً مع إيران، أو في الأقل تجنيبه الفشل الذي يلوح في الأفق.

فالجيش الأميركي، كما صرّح بتراوس قائد المنطقة الوسطى، وكذلك مايك مولن رئيس هيئة الأركان، يرى في حل الصراع الفلسطيني الإسرائيلي حاجةً ماسّة للجيش وبصورة أساسية نزع الورقة الفلسطينية السياسية من أيدي خصوم أميركا وأعدائها وفي المقدّمة إيران وحزب الله وحماس والجهاد وصولاً إلى القاعدة.
- لهذا يجب أن تُعامَل التسوية في هذه المرحلة بأعلى درجات الجدّية والخطورة، ولا يُركن إلى ما جرى في السابق من تعثرات أو فشل المحاولات السابقة. علماً أن العراقيل أمامها ما زالت قويّة جداً سواء كانت من جانب نتنياهو وقوى صهيونية نافذة أم كانت من جانب الفواتير المطلوب دفعها سلفاً فلسطينياً وعربياً، ومنذ البداية لمجرّد إطلاق المفاوضات.
- نتنياهو عملياً سيقبل بحل الدولتين وبوقف الاستيطان لمدّة محدودة ولكنه يضغط ليحصل على مكاسب فلسطينية وعربية وتعهدات أميركية قبل أن يسلّم ورقة وقف الاستيطان. وبالمناسبة دلت التجربة أن الليكود أقرب إلى عقد صفقات التسوية من حزب العمل.

- تحويل الصراع ضد إيران إلى أولوية لدى نتنياهو والإجماع الإسرائيلي. وهو ورقة بيد ميتشل في ضغطه من أجل التسوية فلسطينياً.
ب – الموقف الفلسطيني
- ثمة سيطرة أمنية غير مسبوقة على الضفة الغربية من قِبَل الأميركيين والإسرائيليين من خلال حكومة سلام فياض والجنرال كيث دايتون.

- محمود عباس يغطي حكومة سلام فياض وكيث دايتون من خلال الدعم العربي والخارجي له مثل استيلائه على قرار فتح و(م ت ف) والتحكم في نتائج الانتخابات القادمة إذا حدثت. طبعاً المعارضة له داخل فتح وفصائل م ت ف واسعة ولكنها تعاني من عجز وذلك لأنها لا ترى حتى الآن بأن الظروف العربية مناسبة لاتخاذ خطوات مضادة.
- محمود عباس يسعى لعقد ما يُسمى بمجلس وطني طارئ بمن حضر لعدم توفر النصاب ولمخالفته لكل أنظمة م ت ف، من أجل استكمال أعضاء اللجنة التنفيذية المنتهية الصلاحية والفاقدة النصاب. وبهذا يكون قد سطا على قرار م ت ف كما فعل بقرار فتح. ويبدو أنه سيكمل المشوار من خلال إجراء انتخابات رئاسية وتشريعية لن تكون نزيهة أو حرة بالتأكيد.
- أما على مستوى حماس والجهاد والقوى الفلسطينية المعارضة من فصائل وشخصيات، فسوف يصار إلى معارضة مشروع التسوية المطروح، ولكن كيف وإلى أي مستوى، لم تظهر بوادرهما بعد.
- المطلوب من السعودية وعدد من الدول العربية الدخول في خطوات تطبيعية مقابل وقف الاستيطان، وهو ما كان مرفوضاً في البداية ثم أخذت تظهر إشارات إلى أن التطبيع قد يبدأ مع الدخول في مفاوضات الوضع النهائي، كما عبر عن ذلك من خلال زيارة الرئيس المصري حسني مبارك لواشنطن، الأمر الذي سيدخل السعودية ومصر في حرج شديد جدا، ولا سيما إذا ما تأكد أن لا سيطرة على اتجاهات مقاومة هذا التطبيع وممانعته، وهذه الصفقة المذلّة بين التطبيع ووقف الاستيطان المؤقت والبدء بالمفاوضات قبل الوصول إلى نتيجة. ولهذا من الآن يجب أن يحذر من أي تطبيع مقابل وقف الاستيطان والمفاوضات حول الوضع النهائي
إن موازنة كل هذه العناصر المتضادّة والمتداخلة بالنسبة إلى مدى إمكانية نجاح التسوية أو فشلها يمكن اعتبارها في حالة شبه توازن. ولكنها قابلة للاختراق بهذا الاتجاه أو ذاك. ولهذا على الذين يرجحون فشل مشروع أوباما للتسوية أن يبذلوا الجهود القصوى لإفشاله ولديهم فرصة كبيرة لتحقيق ذلك ولكن حذار من النوم والركون إلى أن التسوية فاشلة في كل الأحوال. فالتسوية في هذه المرّة أكثر جدّية وخطورة من سابقاتها."

Glenn Greenwald on CIA Interrogation Probe, Obama and Why the Media Failed on Covering Torture

With Amy Goodman

"Attorney General Eric Holder has opened an inquiry into CIA torture. On Monday, Holder appointed veteran federal prosecutor John Durham to look into whether CIA interrogators and contractors should be charged for the torture and abuse of foreign prisoners. Holder says he ordered the probe in response to a Justice Department recommendation to reopen nearly a dozen prisoner abuse cases that the Bush administration had closed. Holder says he was further influenced by the 2004 CIA report on the prisoners’ torture and abuse, which he released on Monday. We speak with political and legal blogger for, Glenn Greenwald....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Jerusalem remains obstacle to Middle East peace - 26 Aug 09

"....Ahead of an initiative expected to be announced in September, Al Jazeera is examining the prospects for peace in a week-long series from Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan.

In the third of the series, Al Jazeera's Dan Nolan looks at the hurdles posed by the fight over Jerusalem, a city holy to Muslims, Christians and Jews. "

Al-Jazeera Video: Debating Israeli settlements - 25 Aug 09

"As Barack Obama, the US president, attempts to develop a plan for peace in the Middle East - one that has eluded world leaders for more than 60 years - the issue of settlements remains a key obstacle.

Al Jazeera's Sami Zeidan questioned Dr Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the political committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council, on the issue of Israeli settlements. "

CIA collusion with “Al Qaeda” financiers and attack planners

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

"WMR has learned from an intelligence source from a NATO country that elements of the CIA have coordinated their activities with top Gulf state officials who have been connected to “Al Qaeda” networks that have planned and financed various terrorist attacks....."

The Pharaoh in the Service of USrael: U.S. Military officials in Egypt to present plan to counter tunnels

"Egyptian security sources reported Tuesday that American military experts arrived at the Al Arish International Airport and headed, while heavily guarded, to the Rafah border terminal where they met senior Egyptian security officials.

The officials held a meeting with their Egyptian counterparts and presented a detailed plan that includes high-tech equipment to uncover tunnels. The equipment was donated by the United States as the country is sponsoring the installation of high-tech devices to stop the smuggling at the Gaza-Egypt border.

The U.S. officials said that the congress-supported plan aims at securing the 13.5 border line between Egypt and Gaza. The congress approved allocating 50 Million USD to secure the borders between Egypt and Israel.

They visited the border area and saw the tunnels that were uncovered and detonated by Egypt. The number of tunnels uncovered so far exceeded 300.

The officials also observed the ongoing installation of surveillance cameras and monitoring systems along the border, and thanked Egypt for its efforts to counter the tunnels on its border with Gaza........"

Sunset, by Mr. Fish

Video: Gaza under siege

Jordan Flaherty and Lily Keber, The Electronic Intifada, 26 August 2009

Gaza Under Siege from Lily Keber on Vimeo.

"Six months after Gaza was devastated by a 22-day Israeli military offensive, rebuilding has barely begun. This is on top of a near-total blockade that Israel imposed in 2007 that has kept most goods and supplies out of the Strip. The range of destruction is breathtaking. Schools, health clinics, houses and the basic infrastructure of both public services and government have been destroyed. The building housing the Palestinian parliament has been reduced to rubble, and legislators are forced to meet in a tent outside. Israeli officials claim that both the siege and the military offensive are aimed at dislodging Hamas from power. But to people on the ground, it feels like an assault on every aspect of life here......

The above video, produced by American filmmakers Jordan Flaherty and Lily Keber, features interviews with a range of people in Gaza, from government leaders to the director of the UN agency for Palestine refugees, to farmers and individuals living in devastated neighborhoods."

Settlement builder Leviev dealt divestment blow

Press release, Adalah-NY, 25 August 2009

"In another stunning blow to Israeli settlement-builder Lev Leviev, the Israeli business magazine Globes Online has reported that BlackRock Inc., one of the world's largest investment management firms, has divested from Leviev's Africa-Israel Investments. The Globes article follows a similar report by the Norwegian news service Norwatch. The move comes after a nearly two-year-long global boycott campaign of Leviev's businesses that developed in response to the billionaire's construction activities in at least four Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, all of which violate international law, and his abusive labor practices in the diamond industry in Angola and Namibia......"

Critical Healthcare Fails to Recover

By Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, Aug 26 (IPS) - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that unless the siege of Gaza is lifted and a political solution implemented, Gaza's badly damaged health system will go from very bad to worse.

The WHO released a report in July stating that since the end of the war in January, most of Gaza's health services have begun to function again. But it says the health system is struggling to deliver advanced and comprehensive medical care to Gaza's 1.5 million people.

"There are a number of factors contributing to the continuing degradation of Gaza's health system," says Gaza and West Bank WHO head Tony Laurence.

"The isolation of Gaza's health system by the siege; the inability of people and equipment to get in and out of the territory; and the damage inflicted on an already compromised system by Israel's Operation Cast Lead are adding up," Laurence told IPS........

WHO stated that even when essential drugs are sent, the quantity, quality and variety were insufficient to meet needs. It warned that without urgent supply the number of items out of stock would rise to 140 by September.

Urgently needed medical equipment and most spare parts have been prevented from entering Gaza since Israel and Egypt imposed a near total siege in June 2007.

"We have hundreds of pieces of medical equipment that would be able to run efficiently but lack one spare part. We have been waiting for over a year for a spare part for our CT equipment but the Israelis have refused to allow it in," says Dr. Bassem Naem, Gaza's Health Minister........"

ElBaradei Foes Leaked Stories to Force His Hand on Iran

by Gareth Porter, August 26, 2009

"Western officials leaked stories to the Associated Press and Reuters last week aimed at pressuring the outgoing chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, to include a summary of intelligence alleging that Iran has been actively pursuing work on nuclear weapons in the IAEA report due out this week.

The aim of the pressure for publication of the document appears to be to discredit the November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the Iranian nuclear program, which concluded that Iran had ended work on nuclear weapons in 2003...... "

Syria: a good European neighbour?

Britain wants to bring the country in from the cold. The EU's European Neighbourhood Policy first needs an overhaul

Chris Phillips, Tuesday 25 August 2009

"As Syria's international rehabilitation continues, Britain has called for "a new beginning" with the previously isolated Ba'athist regime. This would include bringing Syria into the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

The move is part of a wider western strategy to tempt Syria away from Iran and continue its co-operation in Iraq and Lebanon, but are we witnessing another example of human rights and democracy being sacrificed for political expediency?.......

A Syrian-EU treaty would therefore be consistent with the ENP's past subordination of its founding principles to the political priorities of the day. European attempts to woo Syria from Iran and minimise its influence in Lebanon are the primary motives for this treaty, not promoting good governance, human rights or democracy. Rather than making Syria an example of how the EU can promote its lofty principles, leaders should take this opportunity to reflect on the failings of the ENP in its current guise. Despite being the major trade partner with Middle Eastern states, the EU has been unable to promote the kind of domestic liberal political reforms so swiftly adopted in eastern Europe after 1989. It's time to work out a better way to turn that economic clout into leverage."

The CIA's willing torturers

The CIA report into prisoner abuse reveals a new, ugly reality: America's torturers weren't simply following orders

Peter Beaumont, Tuesday 25 August 2009

"The CIA report into prisoner abuse reveals a new, ugly reality: America's torturers weren't simply following orders.....

What it demonstrates is how a permissive culture of violence always breeds abuses, especially when those committing the abuse have been equipped with a self-legitimising narrative.

There is one thing more. The need to supply a proper name to this. For while the use of all violence in service of the state inevitably requires special pleading, there is something in the cold conversation between men about the limits to the pain and suffering that they can inflict that speaks of nothing but depravity."

A Related Poll in Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Asks:

Do you have confidence that the U.S. administration will investigate the CIA torture?

With over 3,500 responding, 90% said no.

Brown upbeat on Middle East peace prospects after Netanyahu talks, by Steve Bell

US takes on Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran's nuclear programme in one massive gamble

Washington's plan to link two intractable problems raises international hopes of deal to restart the Middle East peace process

Julian Borger and Ewen MacAskill in Washington, Tuesday 25 August 2009

COMMENT: The good cop- bad cop game playing never stops. The goal is to fool the Arab fools and to line them up against Iran. The fools are more than willing and ready.

"The Obama administration's approach to two of the world's most intractable and dangerous problems, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran's nuclear programme, is to link them together in the search for a solution to both.

The new US strategy aims to use its Iran policy to gain leverage on Binyamin Netanyahu's government.

Sanctions planned against Iran's energy sector if Tehran does not compromise on uranium enrichment by the end of next month are not only aimed at pre-empting Israeli military action; they are also a bargaining chip offered in part exchange for a substantial freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank.......

The Obama administration is setting out to juggle two potentially explosive global crises, while walking the tightrope of a shaky and nervous global economy. It is not going to be easy, but Washington appears to have decided it has no option but to try."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Change ?? U.S. Says Rendition to Continue, but With More Oversight

The Obama administration will continue the Bush administration’s practice of sending terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation, but pledges to closely monitor their treatment to ensure that they are not tortured, administration officials said Monday. [Comment: This is the bone that Obama throws to the "liberals" to shut them up]

“It is extremely disappointing that the Obama administration is continuing the Bush administration practice of relying on diplomatic assurances, which have been proven completely ineffective in preventing torture,” said Amrit Singh, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, who tracked rendition cases under President George W. Bush.

Video: Netanyahu London visit meets with pro-Palestinian protest

Press TV

Click Here to Watch Video

Health Care for the Born? By Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Al-Jazeera Video: Palestinians object to 'alternative homeland' plan - 24 Aug 09

"Israeli politicians have proposed making Jordan an alternative home for Palestinians as part of a Middle East peace deal.

But many of Jordan's two million Palestinian refugees object to the plan and there appears little likelihood that Jordanian officials would agree.

Al Jazeera's Nisreen el-Shamayleh, reports from Jordan, on the Palestinians right to return and the reaction to the Israeli proposal. "

“The Safe Haven Myth”–Harvard Prof. Stephen Walt Takes on Obama’s Justification for Escalating the Afghanistan War

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"U.S. military commanders have reportedly told the US special envoy to the region Richard Holbrooke that they need more troops to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. Last week, President Obama defended the expansion of the war calling it a “war of necessity.” We speak with Harvard professor Stephen Walt who argues that the President’s ‘safe haven’ argument for expanding the US military presence in Afghanistan should be viewed with skepticism...."

Israel establishes special courts for Palestinian child detainees

"The Israeli occupation Authorities announced the formation of special courts for Palestinian children detained by the Israeli Army in the occupied Palestinian Territories. The decision is the first since Israel occupied the Palestinian territories 42 years ago.

Israeli sources reported that Brigadier general Gadi Shamni, GOC Central Command of the Israeli Army, had signed decision number 1644 ordering the establishment of a Military Court for the Youth. The court will be in charge of all cases against underage detainees......

Israel courts never gave special consideration for underage Palestinian political prisoners, and disregarded the fact that the vast majority of the “confessions” were extracted under torture and abuse.

Lawyer Khaled Quzmar, head of the Legal Unit at the Defense For Children International (DCI) – Palestine branch, said that the new military court is a late Israel confession of the failure of their legal system that prosecuted the children as adults. Quzmar added that he does not expect fundamental changes that would end the bad treatment of the child detainees, and that the new court will most likely allow wide intervention from the Israeli Prosecution."

Israel: A Stalemated Action of History


"In late 1949 I worked on a boat taking Jews from Marseilles to Haifa, Israel. Jews from Arab nations were in the front of the boat, Europeans in the rear. I was regarded by many of the Europeans as some sort of freak because I had a United States passport and so could stay in the land of milk and honey. One man wanted me to marry his daughter – which meant he too could live in the land of milk and honey. My Hebrew became quite respectable but the experience was radicalizing or, I should say, kept me radical, and I have stayed that way.

Later I learned from someone who ran a displaced persons camp in Germany that the large majority of Jews wanted to go anywhere but Palestine. They were compelled to state Palestine or else risk receiving no aid. I understood very early that there was much amiss in the countless Arab villages and homes I saw destroyed, and that the entire Zionist project – regardless of the often venal nature of the Arab opposition to it – was a dangerous sham.

The result of the creation of a state called Israel was abysmal. Jews from Poland have nothing in common with Germans and neither has anything to do with those from the Arab world. It is nationality, not religion, that counts most. Jews in Israel, especially the Germans, largely ghettoized themselves by their place of origin during the first generation, when a militarized culture produced the mixed new breed called sabras – an essentially anti-intellectual personality far different from the one the early Zionists, who were mostly socialists who preached the nobility of labor, expected to emerge. The large majority of Israelis are not in the least Jewish in the cultural sense, are scarcely socialist in any sense, and daily life and the way people live is no different in Israel than it is in Chicago or Amsterdam. There is simply no rational reason that justifies the state’s creation......."

The pitfalls of Palestinian national consciousness

A Good Piece

By Haidar Eid, The Electronic Intifada, 25 August 2009

"The sixth congress of the Fatah movement, held in Bethlehem earlier this month, gave us a front row seat to the closing act of an important period of Palestinian nationalism.

True, the conference was held on Palestinian soil, but, ironically, under the watchful eye of Israeli soldiers. The failure of the Palestinian Liberation Movement (Fatah) to achieve any of its declared goals was symbolized in its holding the conference under occupation. This reflects not only the demise of Fatah -- the faction that dominated the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for decades -- but the general demise of contemporary Palestinian nationalism.......

What we saw in Bethlehem is the embodiment of Frantz Fanon's "pitfalls of national consciousness" -- albeit with a Palestinian gown. The irony, of course, is that Fanon was theorizing about the future post-colonial states after independence. He wrote of neo-colonial subjugation of the native elites. Black cars, fashionable suits, bodyguards, are some of the characteristics of the rising nouveaux riches of (occupied) Palestine. Fanon wrote scornfully that "[t]he national middle class which takes over power at the end of the colonial regime is an underdeveloped middle class. It has practically no economic power, and in any case it is in no way commensurate with the bourgeoisie of the mother country which it hopes to replace" (emphasis added).

But are we, in Palestine, close to the end of the colonial regime? Here is the crucial difference between the national bourgeoisie of, say Algeria or South Africa, and our own. Ours have fetishized statehood before attaining independence, a game -- unsurprisingly -- encouraged by the US, Israel and even the official Arab regimes. What is independence at the end of the day? A national anthem, flag, ministries, premierships and presidencies? We already have them.

For Fanon, the cycle of delusion, ostracism and dependency goes on unabated after independence. But we are yet to get there!"

Free Gaza Movement Arrives in Veracruz, Mexico

Written by Dr. Bill Dienst 25 August 2009

The Free Gaza Movement

"During the past 10 days, I have brought the message of Free Gaza Movement to Veracruz, Mexico. I have given a total of 4 Palestine related lectures to different groups of Mexican family practice resident physicians in the State’s two largest cities: Xalapa and Puerto de Veracruz (Veracruz Port)........

......In order to prepare these FP residents for trauma care, I gave them a PowerPoint lecture that I had originally prepared a year ago for the first passengers of Free Gaza Movement: The Trauma First Aid Training Manual. I initially gave this lecture in English last year to the Liberty and Free Gaza passengers at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus.

It was designed to orient those passengers to the basics of trauma first aid in the event that our boats were attacked by the Israeli Navy or Air Force, or if we had experienced other disasters at sea and needed to care for our injured fellow passengers. Fortunately none of the FGM sea journeys have suffered seriously wounded passengers thus far.

Here in Xalapa, I translated the PowerPoint slides into Spanish with the help of Mexican friends and gave the lecture in Spanish (Spanglish really). It contains authentic and graphic photos and DVD’s of Palestinian trauma victims based on the November 2006 Israeli massacres of the residents of Beit Hanoun, Gaza, which killed over 100 people and wounded over 300. I visited Gaza a week after these horrors.

Physicians from Palestine Medical Relief Society gave me these graphic images, saying to me, “Go outside with these and show the world what is really happening to us!” And so that is what I have tried to do......."

LEBANON: Shattered Camp Revives Under Military Eyes

By Ray Smith

"NAHR AL-BARED, Lebanon, Aug 25 (IPS) - Palestinian refugees at Nahr Al-Bared in North Lebanon are living under tight military siege two years after a war destroyed the refugee camp. It has now become a test case for a new approach in Lebanon's security policy towards Palestinian refugee camps.......

Since October 2007, more than half of Nahr Al-Bared's 30,000 residents have returned to the camp's outskirts. Mostly living in makeshift dwellings and in the ruins of their homes, the refugees are waiting for the camp to be rebuilt. After several delays, reconstruction work finally started at the end of June 2009.......

NGOs working in Nahr Al-Bared protested against the restrictions in a letter in January this year. Residents have voiced their opposition several times. Charlie Higgins, project manager for reconstruction of Nahr Al-Bared with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), has demanded a review of army-controlled checkpoints.

But the Lebanese government does not intend to withdraw security forces from Nahr Al-Bared once the camp is rebuilt. The camp will be placed under Lebanese sovereignty, meaning that the Internal Security Forces (ISF) will be present inside Nahr Al-Bared........"


By Eric Margolis

"An election held under the guns of a foreign occupation army cannot be called legitimate or democratic. That’s a basic tenet of international law.

Nevertheless, the US and its NATO allies have been lauding last week’s faux presidential elections in Afghanistan as both a sign of growing support for Hamid Karzai’s Western-backed government and the birth of democracy in Afghanistan.

In reality, the carefully stage-managed vote in Afghanistan for candidates chosen by Western powers is unlikely to bring either peace or democracy to this wretched nation that has suffered thirty years of non-stop war.......

President Barack Obama is charging full tilt over a cliff in Afghanistan. Unless he ends this daft misadventure, his grown-up children may see American soldiers still fighting in the badlands of Afghanistan.

The Western powers have added to the bloody mess in Afghanistan. Time for them to go home. "

Abbas Failed To Do the Honorable Thing

By Hasan Afif El-Hasan

Palestine Chronicle

"Nations and organizations reward success. They elect and re-elect leaders who deliver and advance the interests of their constituency and they terminate the tenure of the failure, the incompetent and the corrupt.....

In contrast, Fatah did not show Mahmoud Abbas the door for his failure to name any tangible success. Fatah has rewarded failure and incompetence! It re-elected Abbas as its undisputed leader by unanimous vote even knowing he was the first to stage a coup against the first intifada leadership in 1993 and actively participated with the US and Israel in another coup to topple his mentor, Yassir Arafat, in 2004. And on his watch, the settler population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem doubled, the separation wall was built, the daily life of the non-VIP Palestinians worsened and the occupied lands has been disintegrated and partitioned between Fatah and Hamas.

I will try to answer the following question: Who is the man enthusiastically re-elected by the 1,200 Fatah members to lead Fatah, treating him as a hero? No dissent!......."

Islam's 'enemy within'

Across the Sunni world, growing fear of Shia influence exposes the cultural schism that exists between the two traditions

Brian Whitaker, Monday 24 August 2009

"Six Shia Muslims have gone on trial in Jordan, accused of "promoting Shia ideology and instigating religious sectarianism". Their case – the first of its kind in Jordan – is being heard behind closed doors in a military court.......

There is no suggestion that the accused did anything more than a bit of missionary work – holding meetings, issuing membership cards and raising funds – but the case reflects a growing fear of Shia Islam among the Middle East's Sunni regimes.

Regardless of what the Iranian government does, though, Shia Muslims in Sunni countries have every right to practise their faith and, if they wish, to try to convert others.

It may worry the Sunni regimes but it also worries the Wahhabi/Salafi elements whose ideology has often gone unchallenged in the public discourse. Exposing Arab Muslims to alternative interpretations of their faith will open their eyes to new ideas and possibilities. And, in the long run, that can only be beneficial."