Saturday, December 12, 2009

Real News Video with Transcript: Copenhagen and capitalism

Minqi Li: No legally binding agreement the result of elites seeking short term profits first

Hannukah Without the Taliban

By Tony Karon

"In a country occupied by a Western power, the locals are faced with a choice. Some have opted to reconcile their own traditions with those of their occupier, borrowing from Western ways that open the path to philosophy and science, and integrating themselves into a wider culture. Others fiercely resist, waging a bitter and bloody war not only on the occupier, but also on those in their own community who seek to collaborate or integrate with the occupiers who are denounced as defilers.

If this were contemporary Afghanistan-Pakistan, you’d know who was whom, right? But before you bite into that latke or sing the dreidel song, you may want to consider that in Judea in the second century BC, the Taliban role is played by the Maccabees. And it is the Maccabees, of course, who are lionized in the Hanukah tale.

In fact, they pretty much invented the holiday.......

Working with the format of eight candles, here’s a draft list of eight Jews for whom I’d be happy to light a yahrzeit candle to honor their contribution to enriching our identity through connecting it with and enriching a wider humanity. (There are, of course, hundreds more — send in your own!) But the point is that if you’re going to do Hanukah, think about what kind of Jew you want to be…... "

Plank by plank, Blair's case collapses

The most devastating evidence describes the former PM’s sheer servility towards Bush

Geoffrey Wheatcroft
The Independent

(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

".....While Tony Blair sees his reputation being trashed daily, he may dimly perceive that the interventionist doctrine he once espoused is utterly discredited. As he sits in Jerusalem on his futile mission, he can see, if he bothers to look, that the peace process is dead. When he visits JP Morgan's Wall Street office to collect his sinecure, or when – more bizarrely – he lectures on ethics at Yale, he might recall what Gerhard Schröder said about "the 'special relationship' so special that only the English know it exists", a truth Blair has dramatically personified.

A well-worn line says that all political careers end in failure. Has any ever ended in such failure as this?"

Gaza one year on: The aftermath of a tragedy

To mark the anniversary of the offensive which left hundreds of innocent civilians dead, Donald MacIntyre revisits the scene of one of the most horrifying conflicts of our time

A Good Piece

The Independent

"..... The graffiti in English and Hebrew on the interior walls, left by the men of the Israeli army's Givati brigade, are the only relics of their two-week occupation of the buildinga gravestone drawn beside the words "Gaza we were here"; "One down and 999,000 to go"; "Death to Arabs". Has the family deliberately kept the graffiti visible? "Yes, but anyway we didn't have paint to cover them," he says. One of Hilmi's duties is to help look after his dauntingly self-possessed 11-year-old sister Mona, who turns the pages of artwork inspired by her memories of the morning of 5 January 2009. "This is me cleaning the face of mother who is dead. This is my father who was hit in the head and his brains came out. This is my dead sister-in-law. This is my sister taking the son from my sister in law..."......

As a man for whom belief in international law is a driving passion, he has sought to combat this trend with a human-rights curriculum in UN schools which is anything but routine, less than a year after a war about which the Goldstone report accused mainly Israel but also Hamas of war crimes. Ging is convinced about the positive response of Gazan civilians. "You only have to talk to them," he argues, to know that "they are not terrorists, they are not violent people. They are deeply civilised people ... not withstanding the provocative nature and injustice of their circumstances."

Their aspirations are not, he says, "vengeance or revenge or violence or destruction – their aspirations are the same as any civilised person on this planet. They want the space to live, basic fundamental freedoms of human rights. They understand the difference between right and wrong and sanctions against those who are in violation of the law, but their claim – which I fully support – is that the innocent should not be sanctioned."......"

More Gaza Photos

US-Occupied Pakistan: Blackwater operating at CIA Pakistan base, ex-official says

• Contractor said to be helping to load missiles
• US denies controversial company is in country

Declan Walsh in Islamabad and Ewen MacAskill in Washington, Friday 11 December 2009

"The US contractor Blackwater is operating in Pakistan at a secret CIA airfield used for launching drone attacks, according to a former US official, despite repeated government denials that the company is in the country.

The official, who had direct knowledge of the operation, said that employees with Blackwater, now renamed Xe Services, patrol the area round the Shamsi airbase in Baluchistan province.

He also confirmed that Blackwater employees help to load laser-guided Hellfire missiles on to CIA-operated drones that target al-Qaida members suspected of hiding in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions, confirming information that surfaced in the US media in the summer......"

Surprise, Surprise! We Waited 7 Years to Hear This? What a War Criminal, and With No Shame or Remorse!

Tony Blair admits: I would have invaded Iraq anyway.
WMD were not vital for war says ex-PM ahead of appearance at Chilcot inquiry.

Riazat Butt and Richard Norton-Taylor
The Guardian, Saturday 12 December 2009

(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

"Tony Blair has said he would have invaded Iraq even without evidence of weapons of mass destruction and would have found a way to justify the war to parliament and the public.

The former prime minister made the confession during an interview with Fern Britton, to be broadcast on Sunday on BBC1, in which he said he would still have thought it right to remove Saddam Hussein from power......

Blair told the former This Morning presenter how his religious beliefs helped him in the invasion's immediate aftermath.

"When it comes to a decision like that, I think it is important that you take that decision as it were on the basis of what is right, because that is the only way to do it," he said.

"I think sometimes people think my religious faith played a direct part in some of these decisions. It really didn't. It gives you strength if you come to a decision, to hold to that decision. That's how it supports your character in a situation of difficulty."........"

Christian Palestinian leaders call for church boycott in Kairos document

Press release, Palestinian BDS National Committee, 11 December 2009

"Today, prominent Christian Palestinian leaders are releasing a historical Kairos Palestine Document, calling on churches around the world "to say a word of truth and to take a position of truth with regard to Israel's occupation of Palestinian land." Unambiguously endorsing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as one of the key nonviolent forms of solidarity that international faith-based organizations are urged to adopt, the document affirms: "We see boycott and disinvestment as tools of justice, peace and security ..."

Kairos is an ancient Greek term meaning the right or opportune moment. The Kairos Palestine Document is inspired by the liberation theology, especially in South Africa where a similar document was issued at a crucial time in the struggle against apartheid. Informed by a lucid vision based on the universal principles of "equality, justice, liberty and respect for pluralism," Palestinian Christians issue this document today to explore a morally sound way out of the "dead end" reached in the Palestinian tragedy, "in which human beings are destroyed."..........."

Clinton Warns Latin America: Think Twice about Iran Ties


"12/12/2009 U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Latin American countries on Friday not to get too close to Iran, calling it "a really bad idea" that could have consequences.

Clinton said the United States was well aware Iran had stepped up its diplomatic activities in the region, citing Venezuela and Bolivia in particular. "We can only say that is a really bad idea for the countries involved," Clinton told a State Department briefing on Latin American relations.

"This is the major supporter, promoter and exporter of terrorism in the world today," she claimed. "If people want to flirt with Iran, they should take a look at what the consequences might well be for them. And we hope that they will think twice."

Latin American leftist presidents including Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Bolivia's Evo Morales and Ecuador's Rafael Correa are fierce critics of U.S. foreign policy and have forged close ties with Iran, Russia and other countries in recent years........."

Friday, December 11, 2009

حرق المساجد في فلسطين

حرق المساجد في فلسطين
رأي القدس

A Good Editorial in Al-Quds Al-'Arabi

"اقتحم مستوطنون مدججون بالاسلحة مسجداً فلسطينياً ليلة الخميس الجمعة الماضية في بلدة ياسوف قرب مدينة نابلس في الضفة الغربية، واحرقوا مصاحف ومراجع دينية قبل ان يشعلوا النيران في المسجد، وهم في طريق عودتهم الى مستوطنتهم القريبة.
شهود العيان قالوا ان المستوطنين المهاجمين كسروا ابواب المسجد قبل اقتحامه، وكتبوا على جدرانه عبارات تتوعد الفلسطينيين بحرق 'كل شيء'، مما يعني ان هجمات مماثلة قد تقع في الايام القليلة المقبلة تستهدف مساجد اخرى.
هؤلاء المستوطنون يأخذون القانون بأيديهم، ويتصرفون بحرية مطلقة وهم يقدمون على جرائمهم هذه، ولا غرابة في ذلك، لان الدولة التي يتبعونها تتصرف كما لو انها فوق كل القوانين الوضعية والسماوية، تقتل وتحرق وترتكب المجازر وهي مطمئنة الى الدعم الامريكي الغربي لها، ومنع فرض اي عقوبات عليها.
السلطات الاسرائيلية تعرف جيداً نوايا هؤلاء المستوطنين، وتصمت على جرائمهم، ولا نبالغ اذا قلنا انها تتواطأ معهم، وتوفر لهم الحماية الكاملة، لان هؤلاء هم الذين اوصلوا الحكومة الاسرائيلية اليمينية الحالية الى الحكم.
انها ليست المرة الاولى التي يقتحم فيها المستوطنون مسجداً ويشعلون فيه النيران، ولن تكون الاخيرة، فقد اقتحموا المسجد الاقصى قبل ذلك وأحرقوه بطريقة متعمدة، دون اي احترام لمكانته الدينية المقدسة لأكثر من مليار ونصف المليار مسلم.
الرئيس الفلسطيني محمود عباس ندد بهذا الاعتداء ووصفه بانه يشكل انتهاكا لحرية العبادة والمعتقد وحرمة المقدسات، متهما المستوطنين اليهود بتهديد الامن والاستقرار في الاراضي الفلسطينية ولكن هذا التنديد لا يكفي، لانه يمكن ان يصدر عن دولة محايدة، لا عن رئيس السلطة.
السؤال الذي يطرح نفسه هو عن قوات الامن الفلسطينية التي لا تتورع عن اطلاق النار ضد متظاهرين فلسطينيين لمنعهم من التعبير عن غضبهم، سواء احتجاجا على العدوان الاسرائيلي على قطاع غزة، او جرائم المستوطنين الاسرائيليين في حق القرى والبلدات الفلسطينية المجاورة لمستوطناتهم.
فاذا كانت حماية بيوت الله والمواطنين الفلسطينيين ليست من صميم اختصاصها، فلماذا اذن تحمل اسم فلسطين زورا وبهتانا، ويدعي القائمون على تدريبها وتمويلها وتوفير الغطاء السياسي والوطني لها انها تتبع السلطة الفلسطينية وتطبق القانون؟
من الواضح ان مهمة هذه القوات الامنية الفلسطينية تتلخص في حماية المستوطنات والمستوطنين، بتنسيق كامل مع نظيراتها الاسرائيلية، فلم يسجل مطلقا انها تحركت لحماية مواطنين او مصالح ودور عبادة فلسطينية، بل شاهدناها تقتحم بعض المنازل لاغتيال المطاردين من رجال المقاومة.
اننا نخشى ان تكون جريمة اقتحام مسجد بلدة ياسوف مجرد 'بروفة' لاقتحام المسجد الاقصى وحرقه، ولاختبار ردود الفعل الفلسطينية والعربية تجاه مثل هذه الجرائم.
صحيح ان بلدة ياسوف صغيرة، وان مسجدها صغير ايضا، ولكن المسألة ليست في الحجم، وانما في النوايا والدلالات. فحرق المساجد بالطريقة البشعة التي شاهدناها مؤشر خطير لما يمكن ان يحدث في الايام والاسابيع والشهور المقبلة.
مثل هذه الاستفزازات المتعمدة لا يمكن ان تمر بالسهولة التي يتصورها هؤلاء، لان حالة الغضب الفلسطينية الناجمة عنها اقتربت من مرحلة الانفجار على شكل انتفاضة كبرى لن تستهدف الاحتلال فقط وانما السلطة الفلسطينية ونهجها الاستسلامي.

Author & Journalist Naomi Klein: Fate of Planet Rests on Mass Movement for Climate Justice

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"Hundreds of activists from across the globe are gathering every day in downtown Copenhagen for the people’s climate summit the Klimaforum. On Thursday night, Shock Doctrine author and journalist Naomi Klein addressed a packed hall at a panel on ecological debt and climate justice.

We go now to people’s climate summit, the Klima Forum taking place in the heart of Copenhagen where hundreds of activists from across the globe are gathering every day. Reparations, justice, models of alternative development, sustainable consumption, non-market solutions, climate refugees, indigenous rights. These are some of the many concerns being raised at the People’s Climate Summit away . On Thursday night, Shock Doctrine author and journalist Naomi Klein addressed a packed hall at a panel on ecological debt and climate justice......"

Real News Video: A "game changer" in the Middle East

Haddad: Israel's prisoner exchange with HAMAS will release much of the Palestinian political leadership.

More at The Real News

"Within days Israel is rumored to complete its long standing negotiations with HAMAS over a prisoner exchange. In return for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier the al-Qassam Brigades kidnapped while the Israeli army invaded Gaza in 2006, Israel is said to agree to release 980 Palestinian political prisoners. Toufic Haddad, Palestinian-American journalist based in Jerusalem, speaks to Lia Tarachansky about the significance of this exchange. He says among the released, Israel may free Ahmad Sa'adat (Saadat) and Marwan Barghouti, popular leaders whose freedom will change the political game in the Palestinian leadership."

The Pogrom Escalates: Colonists Torch a Mosque Near Salfit

"A group of fundamentalist Jewish settlers burnt on Friday at dawn large sections of the “Great Mosque” in Yasuf village, near the central West Bank city of Salfit. The settlers also sprayed “Price Tag” and “We Will Burn You All” on the walls of the mosque...."

(Right: Copies of the Quran burned in the mosque by Jewish terrorists.)

Obama Peace Prize, by Mike Luckovich

Our Murderers in the Sky

By Scott Ritter

".....Rather than furthering the U.S. cause in the “war on terror,” the RPV program, which President Obama seeks to expand in the Af-Pak theater, in reality represents a force-enhancement tool for the Taliban. Its indiscriminate application of death and destruction serves as a recruitment vehicle, with scores of new jihadists rising up to replace each individual who might have been killed by a missile attack. Like the surge that it is designed to complement, the expanded RPV program plays into the hands of those whom America is ostensibly targeting. While the U.S. military, aided by a fawning press, may seek to disguise the reality of the RPV program through catchy slogans such as “warheads through foreheads,” in reality it is murder by another name. And when murder represents the centerpiece of any national effort, yet alone one that aspires to win the “hearts and minds” of the targeted population, it is doomed to fail. "

RIGHTS: Dispute Over Veil Spreads Across Egypt

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa Al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Dec 11 (IPS) - A decision by the government to ban the veil in some academic institutions has reignited debate about personal rights.

"The niqab (Islamic face veil) is certainly one of the more extreme manifestations of Islam," Hossam Bahgat, director of the Cairo-based Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights tells IPS. "But according to the constitution, no one has the right to force women not to wear them."

The controversy began Oct. 3, the first day of the academic year, when the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi visited a girls-only school. Tantawi reportedly ordered an 11-year-old student to remove her niqab, saying the practice was not an Islamic obligation......."

The Afghan ‘Experiment’

When all else fails, mobilize the social scientists!

By Justin Raimondo

"The spectacle of a US President receiving the Nobel "Peace" Prize just as he’s announced the escalation of the war in Afghanistan – and, since his inauguration, doubled the number of US troops occupying that country – should forever confirm the thesis, which I’ve argued in this space since the 9/11 attacks, that we’ve been pushed into an alien dimension......

That’s what a real war is all about, period, full stop, but we are engaged in much more than that, in spite of the President’s protestations that he’s not interested in "nation-building." We have launched a massive social engineering project in the wilds of Central Asia and it’s only natural, therefore, that we should deploy platoons of sociologists "to place the expertise and experience of social scientists and regional experts, coupled with reach-back, open-source research, directly in support of deployed units engaging in full-spectrum operations," as the HTS web site puts it.......

"Science" cannot defeat the natural human desire for freedom from foreign domination, and in the Afghans this universal trait is unusually pronounced. Just ask the former Soviet leaders – those ill-starred advocates of "scientific" socialism – whose hubris was humbled and brought down by the mujahideen. We emulate their example at our peril."

An honourable exit

Is there any way for the Palestinian Authority to escape its current predicament? Yes, but only if long bankrupt strategies are jettisoned once and for all

A Great Piece

By Azmi Bishara
Al-Ahram Weekly

NOTE: I posted the Arabic version of this piece here.

"The consequences of Netanyahu's election have gradually hit home, as has the nature of US-Israeli relations for the thousandth time, even in the Obama era. Palestinian political forces have been thrown in a spin, treading circles and wringing their hands. A succession of grave and important statements and stances reflects their deep consternation.....

Israel, naturally, will not look kindly on the foregoing recommendations. They were not made with Israel in mind but for Arab parties who operate in accordance with the negotiating attitude. This is not the opinion of this author, who believes that the Arab peace initiative should be withdrawn. But that said, at least there is a certain consistency to the recommendations and they offer an honourable way out. Then, when the Arab initiative fails -- and I have no doubt that it will -- Arab governments can call on Jordan and Egypt to abolish their separate peace agreements with Israel. Only then can the Arabs consider alternative options, options related to confrontation and the logic of resistance. This will turn the Palestinian/Arab dilemma into an Israeli/American one. It will also offer a solution to the revival of Arab solidarity. Even if there is reluctance to forego the logic of negotiations, at least the Arabs should consider airing this solution in a convincing way so as to make Israel and the US truly worried. Whatever the case, there is no honourable way out without abandoning the Oslo process. "

A glittering palace that's built on shifting sands

Our man in the Middle East finds Abu Dhabi's opulence undermined by the encroaching financial crisis

By Robert Fisk

".....But the Emirates are still not a modern state and matters are not settled by laws but rather "in front of the tent". Strategic decisions and control of money is kept inside the tent. People from outside – banks, for example – are asked to come and do the job. No, it's not "Goodbye Dubai". Foreign investors use the place primarily as a hub – and, I suppose, pub – from which to do business in India, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar. And if real-estate continues to sink, foreign companies – even the movie world – could find Dubai an even more attractive place to be based.

After all, didn't Hollywood make millions from Titanic?"

Leaders of the rich world are enacting a giant fraud

Corporate lobbyists can pressure or bribe governments to rig the system in their favour

By Johann Hari
The Independent

"Every delegate to the Copenhagen summit is being greeted by the sight of a vast fake planet dominating the city's central square. This swirling globe is covered with corporate logos – the Coke brand is stamped over Africa, while Carlsberg appears to own Asia, and McDonald's announces "I'm loving it!" in great red letters above. "Welcome to Hopenhagen!" it cries. It is kept in the sky by endless blasts of hot air.

This plastic planet is the perfect symbol for this summit. The world is being told that this is an emergency meeting to solve the climate crisis – but here inside the Bela Centre where our leaders are gathering, you can find only a corrupt shuffling of words, designed to allow countries to wriggle out of the bare minimum necessary to prevent the unravelling of the biosphere....."

Richly Deserved: The Kissinger Prize for Satire, by Dave Brown

Egypt constructs huge Gaza wall

Hamas expresses its dismay as Egypt acts to cut Gaza's smuggling routes

By Ben Lynfield in Jerusalem
The Independent

"Egypt has reportedly begun building an underground iron wall along its border with the Gaza Strip in a major upgrading of its efforts to end smuggling through tunnels. Egyptian security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the wall project is under way. Local residents reported Egyptian clearing work was in progress 90 metres from the border over the last three weeks.

The Egyptian project comes at the encouragement of the US. After Israel's devastating Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last winter, Washington took the lead in encouraging international efforts to stop smuggling of weaponry into the Strip through the tunnels. Israeli defence officials say that the Qassam rockets that struck Israeli targets before and during the Gaza war came from Egypt via the tunnels.

But the underground links also form a vital lifeline for the passage of everyday necessities in the face of a draconian Israeli blockade of the Strip that has at times gone so far as to bar the import of pasta into the coastal enclave......"

UK issues new guidance on labelling of food from illegal West Bank settlements

Stickers could read 'Israeli settlement produce' , but move is not a boycott, says Foreign Office

Ian Black, Middle East editor, and Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, Thursday 10 December 2009

"Britain has acted to increase pressure on Israel over its West Bank settlements by advising UK supermarkets on how to distinguish between foods from the settlements and Palestinian-manufactured goods.

The government's move falls short of a legal requirement but is bound to increase the prospects of a consumer boycott of products from those territories. Israeli officials and settler leaders were tonight highly critical of the decision.

Until now, food has been simply labelled "Produce of the West Bank", but the new, voluntary guidance issued by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), says labels could give more precise information, like "Israeli settlement produce" or "Palestinian produce"......."

Video (Arabic): المفكر د.عزمي بشارة في برنامج "في العمق" على قناة الجزيرة حول "الطائفية السياسية في لبنان والعراق

المفكر د.عزمي بشارة في برنامج "في العمق" على قناة الجزيرة حول "الطائفية السياسية في لبنان والعراق

The Traitor Who Sold Cement to Israel to Build the Apartheid Wall: Obama let us down

Press TV

"Former Palestinian Authority prime minister Ahmed Qurei says Palestinians made a mistake in thinking that President Barack Obama would change US policy significantly.

In an interview with Ramallah-based Palestine Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) on Wednesday night, Qurei noted that the Palestinian Authority together with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) were mistaken in thinking that Obama would change US policy significantly.

“We had good intentions and we thought that there would be a change in US policy, but the US position on settlement shows that we misread the US position,” Qurei said.

Pressure was exerted on us [by the US] to return to the negotiations and we found out that negotiations was [the US'] goal, not ending the occupation.”[COMMENT: DUH!]......"

Blackwater, 'CIA's partner in secret operations'

Press TV

"The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has recruited private security guards from Blackwater for clandestine operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a report says.

The New York Times cited statements by former company employees and intelligence officials as evidence that Blackwater guards participated almost nightly in "snatch and grab" raids on suspected militants during the height of the Iraqi insurgency from 2004 to 2006.

Blackwater's cooperation in the operations implies a far deeper relationship between the spy agency and the private security firm than government officials have previously acknowledged, the paper reported....."

White Man's Burden?
By Emad Hajjaj.

Al-Jazeera Video: Egypt accused of building Gaza wall - 11 Dec 09

"Israeli newspaper claims that Egypt is building an underground steel fence along its border with Gaza have been denied by the governor of Northern Sinai.

Haaretz had claimed metal sheets were being installed underground to block tunnels used to bring essential goods and medicines into Gaza.

But tunnel workers say Egypt has been enacting a far simpler plan - drilling holes into tunnels in order flood them with water.

Sherine Tadros reports."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This brand new poll asks:

Do you believe that there are Palestinian entities which are obstructing a prisoner exchange deal (with Israel)?

With about 100 responding so far (it is very early), 89% said yes.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Palestinian Taliban Has Arrived!

وزارة المرأة تستنكر تنظيم مسابقة "ملكة جمال فلسطين" في رام الله

"غزة - المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

استنكرت وزارة شؤون المرأة ما قامت به شركة خاصة تدَّعي أنها فلسطينية من إعلانها إجراء مسابقة "ملكة جمال فلسطين" في 26 كانون الأول (ديسمبر) بمشاركة 58 متسابقة؛ من بينهن 26 من الأراضي المحتلة و32 من الضفة المحتلة.

وأكدت الوزارة، في بيانٍ لها الخميس (10-12)، تلقى "المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام" نسخةً منه؛ أن الإعلان يأتي في إطار السقوط الأخلاقي الذي يجري في الضفة على مرأى ومسمع من "حكومة" رام الله بمشاركة وزاراتها في هذا السقوط خلال لجنة التحكيم لاختيار "ملكة الجمال"، ضاربة عرض الحائط بكافة الأعراف والتقاليد الفلسطينية النابعة من ثقافة المجتمع الفلسطيني.

وطالبت أبناءَ الشعب الفلسطيني في الضفة الغربية بهبَّةٍ لوقف هذه المهزلة التي تضر بسمعته الطاهرة وتاريخه المشرِّف، مؤكدةً: "إننا ندرك تمامًا أن الذي يقف وراء هذه الشركة هي "حكومة" رام الله التي تريد طمس جهاد أشرف شعبٍ عرفته الدنيا؛ بدليل المشاركة الرسمية لـ"وزارتي" الإعلام والثقافة".

وطالبت سلطةَ رام الله بوقف عمل شركة "تريب فاشن" فورًا، ومساءلة مديرتها سلوى يوسف، داعية أهاليَ الفتيات اللواتي سيشاركن في هذه المسابقة بسحب أسماء فتياتهن؛ لأن هذا العمل الفاضح يتعارض مع مبادئ الشعب الفلسطيني.

وشددت على أنها لن تقف مكتوفة الأيدي إزاء هذه المهزلة، "وسنقدم كل من ساهم في إيذاء سمعة الشعب إلى المحاكمة"، وحثت أصحاب الرأي والأقلام الفلسطينية والشخصيات الوطنية على شَرْع أقلامهم تنديدًا وفضحًا بمن يمس سمعة الشعب الفلسطيني، والضغط على "حكومة" رام الله لوقف هذه المهزلة.


I waited for an English version of this post, from the Hamas Information Center, but since they have not provided it (and probably will not later), let me translate this truly shocking declaration from the so-called Ministry of Women affairs in Gaza.

It blasts the PA's "Ministries" of Culture and Information for participating in the planned beauty contest to be held in Ramallah, December 26.

Hamas has completely gone bonkers over this story. It attacks the PA for what it calls "moral degeneration" and "ignoring the traditions and culture of Palestinian society." It considers holding the beauty contest (arranged through a private firm) a farce and an insult to the reputation and pure history of the Palestinians.

The statement asks the Palestinians in the West Bank for an uprising(!) to stop this "farce." It demands that the PA should stop the private firm arranging the contest and to question its proprietor!

In addition, the Hamas statement demands that the families of the 58 contestants should withdraw their participation in this "shameful act since it conflicts with the principles of the Palestinians."

And here is the new Taliban: The statement said that Hamas will not stand idle, but it will pursue those responsible and bring them to trial(!) for defamation of the Palestinian people.

Finally, it urges Palestinian writers and opinion makers to speak up against the event and to pressure the PA into stopping this "shameful" event.

Who needs liberation if it means living under the Palestinian Taliban?

Sweden to Israel: Don't divide EU over Jerusalem stance

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt warned Thursday that Israel must not play "divide and rule" with the 27-member European Union over a recent resolution calling for Jerusalem to become the shared capital of Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Bildt, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, said Thursday the bloc was united and would not "remain shy" on so crucial an issue.

The EU's adoption Tuesday of the new resolution on Jerusalem sparked an angry reaction from Israel, which captured the eastern half of the city in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel Foreign Ministry said the statement by the European Union on the status of Jerusalem was substantially softer than Sweden's initial draft, once again demonstrating the Scandinavian country's failure as the EU's rotating president.

EU foreign ministers called for negotiations over Jerusalem, saying a way should be found to make it the capital of two nations, Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Document reveals: Golda Meir told Poland: Don't send sick or disabled Jews to Israel

In 1958, then-foreign minister Golda Meir raised the possibility of preventing handicapped and sick Polish Jews from immigrating to Israel, a recently discovered Foreign Ministry document has revealed.

"A proposal was raised in the coordination committee to inform the Polish government that we want to institute selection in aliyah, because we cannot continue accepting sick and handicapped people. Please give your opinion as to whether this can be explained to the Poles without hurting immigration," read the document, written by Meir to Israel's ambassador to Poland, Katriel Katz.

Bil’in (non-violent movement) leader Abdallah Abu Rahmah arrested during military night raid

As part of a recent escalation of political arrests in Bil’in, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a school teacher and coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee was arrested by Israeli soldiers.....
Abu Rahmah’s arrest is part of an escalation in Israeli military’s attempts to break the spirit of the people of Bil’in, their popular leadership, and the popular struggle as a whole – aimed at crushing demonstrations against the Wall. Recently, Adv. Gaby Lasky, who represents many of Bil’in’s detainees, was informed by the military prosecution that the army intends to use legal measures as a means of ending the demonstrations.

Following Abu Rahmah’s arrest, Adv. Lasky, stated that “My client’s arrest is another blatant illustration of the Israeli authorities’ application of legal procedures for the political persecution of Bil’in residents. The Bil’in demonstrators are being systemically targeted while it is the State that is in contempt of a High Court of Justice ruling; a ruling which affirmed that the protesters have justice on their side and instructed 2 years ago that the route of the Wall in the area be changed, which has not been implemented to date.”

Iran's Fuel for Conflict

A New Cycle of Sanctions?


".....If the talks do break down, it will be because of the logic behind the proposals put forward by Washington. Russia and China have been ambiguous in their support. As Samore suggests, Washington wants an agreement that it can present as a diplomatic victory over Iran. Samore believed that the administration would have done better to try a broader discussion that took account of Iran’s political and economic interests. In the end, the Obama administration seems to have adopted a position that makes it impossible to achieve an agreement acceptable to Tehran and move towards a global settlement with the US. If this is the case, the US may have started down the long, dark corridor to confrontation."

Why You Should Know About Ali Sibat

A Victim of Saudi Arabia's Irreligious Police


"At the time of this writing, Ali Hussain Sibat is still alive.
It is unknown for how long he will be however, for he is set to be executed in Saudi Arabia at any moment for the undefined crime of practicing “sorcery” and “witchcraft.”

As Robert Fisk aptly penned, “Some stories from the Middle East make you want to weep. But this one is truly heart-breaking.”.......

After spending a year-and-half in jail, he was sentenced to death in a secret trial on Nov. 9. Yes, a Lebanese citizen, who once gave callers advice on a Lebanese television station in Lebanon, was given a death sentence while visiting Saudi Arabia. As Fisk again writes, “the story is almost too awful to relate because it should be untrue.”
His execution is set for today, December 10......."

Al-Jazeera Video: Egypt wants Rosetta stone back - 09 Dec 09

"The Egyptian government is demanding the return of an ancient stone tablet which was key to deciphering Heiroglyphics.

The Rosetta Stone is currently on display in Britain, but the head of Egypt's supreme council of antiquities wants it back after initially asking for the stone to be loaned back to Cairo, Egypt's capital.

Al Jazeera's Jessica Baldwin reports."

Al-Jazeera Video: Afghans' anger at Obama's Nobel peace prize win - 10 December 09

"Barack Obama, the US president, is due to receive the Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo - days after he ordered an escalation of US involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

In making Obama the third sitting US President to win the award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee praised Obama's co-operative approach to global issues.

But many critics say that Obama's resume is too thin to stand scrutiny with other Nobel peace laureates.

And for many Afghans, Obama's strategy of even more troops does not fit into their vision of what will bring peace. From Kabul, Steve Chao reports."

Real News Video: Paul C. Roberts on Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s trial

Roberts: The main victim of the trail will be the US legal system

More at The Real News

Islamic Party Slams P.A For Sponsoring Miss Palestine In The West Bank

"The “Liberation Party” voiced sharp criticism of the Palestinian Authority (P.A) for sponsoring “Palestine Beauty Pageant” Contest in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

“Miss Palestine” is to be held for the first time starting on Thursday December 10 and ending on December 26.

The Islamic party said that “the honor of Muslim women is not for trade or pleasure”, and accused the Palestinian Authority of being shameless and of aiming at spreading corruption and obscenity among the Palestinian people....."

Obama's War Speech: The Questions It Raises… And The Answer That Must Be Given

A Good Piece
by Larry Everest
Global Research, December 9, 2009

The Answer That Must Be Given

People need to do just the opposite. We have pointed to the fundamentally antagonistic interests, worldwide and within this country, concealed and obscured by talk of "we the people," and by the chauvinist notion that American lives are more valuable than those of other people. The imperialists are pursuing their interests, and we've had eight years to see where that all leads—whoever the President is. It is time and past time to see that these interests are directly opposed to those of humanity as a whole … and to take up and fight for those larger interests.

Obama spoke the truth when he said America was "passing through a time of great trial," and in the midst of "storms." These storms are due to the workings of imperialism and the whole cauldron of contradictions the U.S. "war on terror" has set roiling in the Middle East and Central Asia in particular, as well as to the most profound financial crisis since the 1930s.

If anything positive for humanity is going to come out of this "time of trial" it will happen because millions of people refuse to heed Obama's call and refuse to choose between supporting either imperialism or Islamic fundamentalism. It will happen—and it will only happen—if people instead can be led to break out of the entire framework set by this current clash. Humanity does need another way, in the interests of the people. This means revolution and it requires the broadest and most determined possible resistance to this criminal escalation.

With the whole world watching, Obama and the U.S. rulers have been openly debating just how much force and violence they should bring to bear against the people of Afghanistan. Now the whole world is going to be watching what the people in the U.S. do when it's decided to escalate and continue this war of conquest and empire. Will they resist? Or will they passively go along? Will they shed their delusions about Obama—or will they face reality and judge him by what he's actually doing, not his false narratives, his empty promises, and his double-talk?"

US a step closer to Iran sanctions

By Eli Clifton
Asia Times

"While a United States deadline nears for a breakthrough on Iran's nuclear program, the US Congress is pushing through legislation imposing tough economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic. The bill has raised fears it will alienate the Iranian people and key international allies, while its timing may derail the US's attempts at engagement....."

Israel's Notorious Hannibal Procedure

By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth
Palestine Chronicle

"The fatal shooting by Israeli soldiers of an Israeli man earlier this week as he tried to scale a fence into the Gaza Strip was reportedly part of a drastic procedure the army was supposed to have phased out several years ago.

The Israeli media reported that Yakir Ben-Melech, 34, had bled to death after he was shot under the "Hannibal procedure", designed to prevent Israelis from being taken captive alive by enemy forces.

One critic, Uri Avnery, a former Israeli legislator and leader of Gush Shalom, a small radical peace group, defined the procedure as meaning: “Liberate the soldier by killing him”.

The controversial directive, which was once one of the army’s best-kept secrets, was drafted more than 20 years ago after the Israeli government had come under domestic pressure to release hundreds of enemy prisoners for the return of three captured soldiers.

Israel is currently involved in just such negotiations over Gilad Shalit, a soldier who has been held prisoner in Gaza by Hamas for more than three years. According to reports, he may be freed in the near future in a deal expected to see several hundred Palestinians released from Israeli prisons.

Israel was supposed to have stopped the Hannibal procedure after it withdrew its occupying army from south Lebanon in May 2000.

However, there is strong evidence that it has continued to be used, particularly during the events that triggered Israel’s attack on Lebanon in the summer of 2006 and again last year during Israel’s assault on Gaza........."


The Hannibal Procedure

Afghanistan: No More the Good War

By John J. Mearsheimer

"In the beginning, Afghanistan looked like a good war. The United States won a quick victory, drove the Taliban and Al Qaeda out, and installed a friendly government. The results seemed so impressive that even before the fighting stopped, the Bush administration decided to replicate the model in Iraq.

But the victory was a mirage. Contrary to what most Americans thought, the United States had jumped into a quagmire in Afghanistan. The root of the problem is simple: a superpower can often topple a hostile regime with relative ease, but then it morphs into an occupying power without an exit strategy. And that usually generates an insurgency.

This problem was not immediately apparent in Afghanistan because the United States overthrew the Taliban with a combination of air power, local allies, and small Special Forces units—not a large-scale invasion. Thus when the fighting ended, the United States didn't look like an occupier, at least at first. Washington then helped place Hamid Karzai in charge, hoping he would pacify Afghanistan without much U.S. help.

These optimistic expectations were soon dashed, however......"

The Nobel Prize for Irony

Even Obama Understands He Doesn't Deserve this Award

by Jason Ditz

(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

".....Perhaps it is something of a victory, albeit a small one. Champion of the endless escalation of the Afghan War and opponent of the ban on land mines, surely, and one of the least deserving recipients of what was supposed to be a prize for radical peace activists who oppose standing armies. But at least he’s ashamed enough of his behavior that he isn’t going to stand there before the world and make a big deal of winning the award.

This sudden self-awareness is a welcome change, though it would surely be far more welcome if it actually prompted him to tone down his unabashedly pro-war policies. It has also irked Norway, which has had to cancel an awful lot of the festivities.

But in the end, a Nobel Prize cannot change the nature of a man, and a Peace Prize will no more turn a hawk into a dove than a Nobel Prize in Mathematics would turn an uneducated man with no mathematics background into an insightful genius. It may perhaps serve as a lesson to the selection committee, that these awards are best left to people who have actually accomplished something in their field instead of trendy faces that they hope to co-opt to their own agenda."

المسؤولون الأمنيون: السلطة الفلسطينية تحاول فرض تسوية على إسرائيل عن طريق المجتمع الدولي

بن إلعيزير: أبو مازن ضعيف، والبرغوثي هو الوحيد الذي يمكنه أن يكون قائدا، ومعه فحسب يمكن صنع السلام

من جابنه، سعى وزير الصناعة والتجارة، بنيامين بن إلعيزير، في كلمة القاها في الجلسة، إقناع الوزراء بالموافقة على إطلاق سراح القيادي الفلسطيني الأسير مروان البرغوثي. وقال بن إليعيزير وهو يضرب على الطاولة(بحسب الصحيفة)، إن «أبو مازن ضعيف، والبرغوثي هو الوحيد الذي يمكنه أن يكون قائدا، ومعه فحسب يمكن صنع السلام».
وذكرت الصحيفة أن مسؤولي الأجهزة الأمنية أبدوا تحفظا على مواقف بن إلعيزير وقالوا إنه « من غير المؤكد أن يكون للبرغوثي تأثير كبير خارج السجن، ولا يمكن معرفة ماذا ستكون مكانته الحقيقية إذا أطلق سراحه".

I have always felt that Marwan Barghouti is viewed by Israel as an asset to be used when the time is right. I think that the time has arrived.

There is a convergence of opinion (even including the opinion of Hamas) that he is the one leader who can replace Abbas, "re-unify" the Palestinians and most importantly save the "peace process."

For those Palestinians who have forgotten, in the last elections Marwan challenged Abbas by threatening to run on a separate ticket with none other than Dahlan! This is the Palestinian "hero" of the moment.

Also, at one point in the past, Hamas accused Marwan of treason, but now Hamas insists on his release. As they say, politics makes strange bedfellows.

Erdogan: Israel Can't Use Turkey to Wage Aggression on 3rd Party


"10/12/2009 If Israel were to violate Turkish airspace in order to conduct reconnaissance operations on Iran, Ankara's reaction would resemble an "earthquake," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with Egyptian journalist Fahmi Huwaidi published Thursday morning.

Responding to a question concerning rumors that Israel had entered Turkey's airspace for espionage purposes, Erdogan said that such a thing had never happened, but that the consequences would be dire if it did.

"[Israel] will receive a response equal to that of an earthquake," he cautioned, urging Israel's leaders to refrain from "using the relationship they have with [Turkey] as a card to wage aggression on a third party."

Ankara would not be a neutral party and stand aside with its arms folded, he said.

Erdogan also alluded during the interview to last winter's Israeli occupation army Operation Cast Lead, saying that Israel could not reasonably have expected to participate in a joint military drill with Turkey after "sweeping" the people of Gaza.

He stressed that the Turkish government's policy on Israel was both derived from and backed by the country's voting public. "We cannot challenge the feelings of the Turkish people, who were greatly affected by what happened during the aggression on Gaza," he said......"

Chomsky says Israel, 'US military base'

Press TV

"Renowned American sociopolitical analyst Noam Chomsky says Israel functions as Washington's main weapons storage base in the Middle East.

"Israel is essentially a US military base, the US positions weapons there, that's a very close military and intelligence tie," the Jewish academic told Press TV on Wednesday while explaining the complexity of relations between Washington and Tel Aviv.

Commenting on the weapons that Israel received from the US before launching its 2007-2008 offensive in the Gaza Strip, Chomsky said that the exchange of weapons between the two sides was not surprising.

"[Israel] is receiving weapons constantly. In fact, weapons were sent during the invasion of Gaza. They tried to send them, they were supposed to send them from Greece, and Greece refused to ship them," he said.

"When pentagon was asked about this, they responded (I think correctly) that the weapons were not being sent for the Gaza invasion which was underway with the US weapons of course; rather, the US was positioning weapons in Israel," he added.

The professor, who was taking part in an interview with Press TV after delivering a speech at Boston University, said that although Israel had influence over the US foreign policy, it still had to act within the boundaries of what Washington allowed........"

Also, see this interview with Chomsky:

"In an exclusive interview with press TV Professor Noam Chomsky discusses Turkey's Foreign Policy toward Israel, Afghanistan and Iran.

Press TV: It seems that Turkey is alarmed by the danger Israel poses, how serious of a threat is Israel for Turkey?

Chomsky: Turkey is moving in interesting directions, it is moving in good directions in my opinion, it is moving towards establishing closer relations with states in the region and separating itself somewhat from its very close alliance with the United States and of course with Israel, it has had a close alliance - a military alliance - with Israel for fifty years, that began earlier, Turkey refused US demands that it participate in the invasion of Iraq which caused quite an uproar in here (US) and it has continued to move in those directions. Iran-Turkey relations make a pretty good sense just even from commercial point of view. Turkey needs energy and Iran needs manufacturing goods, perfectly natural relationship......"

Al-Jazeera Video: Naomi Klein on climate change

"At the climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, environmental groups have said that while everybody agrees that there is a climate crisis, no action has been taken in accordance with the consensus.

Naomi Klein, author and journalist, tells Al Jazeera why climate change has emerged as the single greatest barrier to human development, and why there is a critical need for a mass movement to tackle it."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

اتهام عباس بتعطيل صفقة الأسرى


"كشف مصدر إعلامي مصري النقاب عن أن التصريحات التي أطلقها الرئيس محمود عباس اليوم الأربعاء عقب لقائه الرئيس المصري حسني مبارك بشرم الشيخ بشأن العقبات التي تعترض تنفيذ صفقة الأسرى بين حركة المقاومة الإسلامية (حماس) وإسرائيل، تعكس حقيقة الدور الذي لعبه عباس لتعطيل الصفقة أو إجهاضها.

وأكد الإعلامي المصري المتخصص بالشؤون الفلسطينية إبراهيم الدراوي في تصريحات خاصة لقدس برس أن "هناك معلومات عن أن الرئيس عباس لعب دورا في إقناع الإسرائيليين والأميركيين بضرورة تعطيل صفقة الأسرى، لأنه لا يرغب في أن تتضمن لائحة المفرج عنهم القيادي في حركة التحرير الوطني الفلسطيني (فتح) مروان البرغوثي الذي يعتبر من أبرز المنافسين له على منصب الرئاسة.

وأشار الدراوي إلى أن البرغوثي نفسه اتصل بحركة حماس وطلب منها أن يكون جزءا من المفرج عنهم، وتصريحاته بأن المصالحة ستشهد تطورا مهما بعد إتمام صفقة الأسرى، على حد تعبيره.

وفي غزة اتهم المتحدث باسم حماس سامي أبو زهري الرئيس عباس بالضلوع في تعطيل التوصل إلى اتفاق بشأن صفقة الأسرى التي تجرى بوساطة ألمانية مصرية.

وقال إن "تصريحات عباس في شرم الشيخ وحديثه عن وجود عراقيل تعترضها هو محاولة لإعطاء انطباع بأن له دورا في المفاوضات بهذا الشأن، والحقيقة ليست كذلك، فالمعلومات المتوفرة لدينا أن عباس أحد عوامل تعطيل الصفقة ولأسباب عديدة منها ضيقه الشديد من المصداقية والشعبية المتزايدة التي تتمتع بها حركة حماس في حال إتمام صفقة من هذا النوع".

وأضاف أن "عباس غير معني إلا بالإفراج عن أسرى فتح فقط، وليس أدل على ذلك من الاعتقالات المتزايدة في صفوف الأسرى المفرج عنهم من سجون الاحتلال في الضفة الغربية، فمعظم المفرج عنهم يتم اعتقاله من طرف أجهزة عباس، وهذا يكذب ادعاءاته برغبته في الإفراج عن الأسرى الفلسطينيين في سجون الاحتلال"، كما قال.

وكان عباس قال للصحفيين عقب محادثات مع الرئيس المصري بشرم الشيخ إنه لم يُتوصل إلى اتفاق حتى الآن بين حماس وإسرائيل لإطلاق مئات السجناء الفلسطينيين مقابل الجندي الإسرائيلي الأسير جلعاد شاليط المحتجز في قطاع غزة.

وقال إن هناك أحاديث تجرى الآن تتعلق بتفاصيل الصفقة بين الأطراف المعنية عبر مصر، إضافة إلى الوساطة الألمانية. وأضاف أن التفاصيل تتعلق بالعدد وطبيعة الأشخاص الذين يطلقون من الأسرى الفلسطينيين، وأكد أن السلطة ليست طرفا في صفقة شاليط.

وكان رئيس المكتب السياسي للحركة خالد مشعل قال في وقت سابق إن الصفقة تواجه عقبات بسبب التعنت الإسرائيلي

Also, on the same subject:

Normalising the Crime of the Century

By John Pilger
Information Clearing House

".....The purpose of the Chilcot inquiry is to normalise an epic crime by providing enough of a theatre of guilt to satisfy the media so that the only issue that matters, that of prosecution, is never raised. When he appears in January, Blair will play this part to odious perfection, dutifully absorbing the hisses and boos. All “inquiries” into state crimes are neutered in this way. In 1996, Lord Justice Scott’s arms-to-Iraq report obfuscated the crimes his investigations and voluminous evidence had revealed......

That is why Chilcot is advised by the likes of Sir Martin Gilbert, who compared Blair with Churchill and Roosevelt. That is why the inquiry will not demand the release of documents that would illuminate the role of the entire Blair gang, notably Blair’s 2003 cabinet, long silent. Who remembers the threat of the thuggish Geoff Hoon, Blair’s “defence secretary”, to use nuclear weapons against Iraq?......

The media has granted itself immunity. On 27 November, Scott Ritter, the former UN chief weapons inspector, wrote that the invasion “was made far easier given the role of useful idiot played by much of the mainstream media in the US and Britain.” More than four years before the invasion, Ritter, in interviews with myself and others, left not a shred of doubt that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction had been disabled, yet he was made a non-person. In 2002, when the Bush/Blair lies were in full echo across the media, the Guardian and Observer mentioned Iraq in more than 3,000 articles, of which 49 referred to Ritter and his truth that could have saved thousands of lives.

What has changed? On 30 November, the Independent published a pristine piece of propaganda from its embedded man in Afghanistan. “Troops fear defeat at home,” said the headline....So “defeatism” and “demoralising the troops” are added to the weasel lexicon. Good try. Unfortunately, like Iraq, Afghanistan is a crime. Period. "

Another EU policy statement will not stop Israel's colonization

Hasan Abu Nimah, The Electronic Intifada, 9 December 2009

"Israel started a preemptive campaign against a EU statement on the Middle East session even before it was formally presented for discussion by EU ministers this week on whether to adopt it. Israeli spokesmen expressed outrage at what they saw as an EU effort to "divide" Jerusalem, and claimed that the European position would "harm the peace process," as if it is only Israel that has been carefully protecting it from the harmful moves of others....

Israel probably knows that it has little to fear from the EU, but it made a huge fuss because from experience, such behavior will intimidate the EU into watering the statement down even further before it is adopted in the futile search for "balance" and appeasement.

The EU statement is empty and meaningless. At this stage only real action, in the form of firm diplomatic, trade and economic sanctions against Israel could be taken as evidence of a real European commitment to peace. The EU must also crack down on all European firms -- such as French conglomerate Veolia which is building a light railway linking Israeli settlements -- that war profiteer from Israel's occupation.

But that's not likely, unfortunately. As EU diplomats waste time arguing over words, Israeli occupation forces will continue to demolish Palestinian homes, ethnically cleanse Jerusalem and colonize more Arab lands."

More investors abandoning Lev Leviev and Africa-Israel

Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 9 December 2009

"Last month, the second-largest Dutch pension fund PFZW joined an already impressive group of investors that have divested from Africa-Israel. Africa-Israel is the target of an international boycott campaign by Palestine solidarity activists because of its involvement in the construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.....

In spite of the divestment trend there are still some surprising funds invested in Africa-Israel. For example, the Norwegian State Pension Fund-Global which divested from Elbit, one of the largest Israeli security and defense firms, is reluctant to divest from Africa-Israel. Although the pension was hailed for its divestment from Elbit, it continues to invest in a company that facilitates settlement construction in open violation of international law. Perhaps morality is not the issue and the pension fund like other investors will only begin to question its relationship with Africa-Israel when investments in the company are no longer profitable. Based on the company's performance over the past year, Africa-Israel's day of reckoning is coming faster than anyone, especially Lev Leviev, expected."

In Dubai, they still don't get it

The emirate sees itself as a modern financial centre, yet reverts to authoritarianism and censorship in the face of bad press

Brian Whitaker, Wednesday 9 December 2009

"It began with a caricature of Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, floundering in a sea of debt. At the Sunday Times, they probably thought nothing of it: far less flattering images of politicians appear day after day in the world's press. But in Dubai it proved too much for the authorities, and the paper was duly banned from sale in the once-gilded emirate......

But they can't have it both ways. If you want free markets for investors, you have to have free media, too. Markets are based on differences of opinion about the value of things. If they are to operate as intended, they need access to information. Differing opinions have to be expressed – and challenged – until eventually some kind of equilibrium is reached.

This requires a degree of openness and transparency that many in Dubai (and Arab societies more generally) find hard to accept.

There are genuine cultural differences here, between the rough and tumble of the western media – where questioning the performance of presidents and prime ministers is the routine business of journalists – and the idea that when things go wrong, fingers should not be pointed directly by naming names, or that it is unpatriotic to suggest the economy might be going down the pan.

If Sheikh Mohammed wants to be treated with the respect that he obviously feels he deserves, then he can confine himself to being a titular figurehead. But if he wants to combine being royal with life as a politician and as being the centrepiece of Dubai's business affairs he becomes fair game – just like anyone else."

Dubai: The political model

A Very Good Piece

By As'ad AbuKhalil (Angry Arab)


Antithesis of Palestine?

Dubai hit a dramatic rise in the 1990s and became a success story that was carefully calibrated, promoted and disseminated in the Arab media and collective psyche.

Daniel Pipes, who has a reputation for hostility towards Arabs and Muslims, was interviewed two years ago in the Jerusalem Post praising Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, after the release of his memoirs.

There was not one word about Palestine in that book which nevertheless offered a recipe of unregulated and unrestricted capitalism.

Dubai was supposed to be the antithesis of Palestine. It was designed to create a concrete Utopia that would encourage all young Arabs to forget about their political aspirations and dreams.

In Lebanon, the March 14 opposition movement has been posing this question to the Lebanese people for three years: Hanoi or Dubai? But Hanoi is today a far more promising model than Dubai.

Not only has Hanoi been liberated from foreign occupation and a corrupt puppet regime, but it has also become part of a sovereign country with a record of fast economic growth......

Arabs questioning policies

But the collapse of Dubai may redraw the political and economic pictures of the region. Maybe governments will now be pressed to explain the purposes and motives behind their economic policies. And maybe the Arab public will now raise more questions about the various models that are promoted as exemplary by the West.

It was only a few years ago that Western governments and media believed the emirate of Dubai could do no wrong. Western publications that had once praised the Dubai experiment and the wisdom and vision of "Sheikh Mo" are now discovering the shortsightedness of the policies that guided the emirate's growth. Western media are suddenly discovering the plight of Asian workers in the region.

The Arab public has experienced disappointments and disillusionments before but this one will have consequences for US foreign policy.

The Arab people have been urged to abandon struggle and the search for justice and to seek the model of Dubai. Now, the young generation of Arabs will not seek pilgrimage in Dubai.

Another destination will be sought and this could signal a return to Palestine."

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Letter from a friend

Palestinian expatriate returns home

"....Things are very strange here in Lebanon Norm …Very strange indeed ….It seemed that I was living in a self-made bubble all these years and my short trips to my homeland were very alluding and misleading …

Most women here are into major plastic surgeries and most men are after power and women ….
Many political talk-shows have become sooo boring with people regurgitating the same all stories and others just talking as if they are on Lala land

Many people have deserted their beliefs and convictions about freedom and dignity ….I don’t know how to express this but I can see greed in their eyes and their love for money …Rarely you can find some who are concerned about what is happening to the well-being of the unprivileged Lebanese or the oppressed Palestinians living in Lebanon …It is freaking cold here …I just can’t imagine how they are warming themselves with the price of fuel and gaz increasing as I write ….

When Sayed Hassan mentioned the rights of the Palestinians in Lebanon and their right to return back to their country ( Palestine) in the “Hizbollah Document” …you won’t believe the amount of cynics who came raging after him next day in the media ….it was pathetic …You won’t believe what happened when he nmentioned the right to resist the enemy ….hell broke out ….

Norman , the South is still pure …I still have contacts with some freedom fighters … their stories are so beautiful and my only source of warmth in this cold -hearted country …

Still have not got a job yet …received many promises …nothing is being realized yet …however , something might come up soon …when it happens I will tell u about it ….

The books that I told you about were confiscated by the UAE government …they claimed that they would not be released to “me” …a “potential terrorist” !!! But I am still going to work on my dream on creating a library for the public in my village whatever the price is …

Pls don’t misunderstand me Norm …I have not lost hope …I am just disappointed at people …. How difficult is it to recognize what is right and what is wrong ??? How difficult is it to acquire dignity and keep it ??? Or perhaps how naive am I ?

The Arabs are dead ….they have no history and no future …they are a bunch of savage tribes fighting each other for nothing …Look at what is happening in Yemen …It is unbelievable and monstreous …I suppose you heard what happened between Egypt and Algeria over a ball …. I am sleepless most of my nights ….I spend it reading books on philosophy …It is my only way to escape this world of hate …."

Chavez's Lines: December 6, 11 years later

By Hugo Chavez


"The publication of The Lines of Chávez N° 50 is no mean feat. It coincides with the tenth anniversary of the great popular victory of December 6th, 1998. On this luminous and transcendental date, the sovereign will of the majority definitively finished with the puntofijista [1] political model that misgoverned and looted Venezuela for forty years, opening wide the great doors of a new historical time. The time of revolution transformed into government.

The revolution that started with the popular rebellion of February 27th, 1989 and continued with the military rebellions of February 4th and November 27th, 1992, provoked a long and complex process of organization and accumulation of forces that made possible the splendid and beautiful synthesis of December 6th, 1998......"

Copenhagen's dirty secret

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"As developing countries accuse the industrialized North of trying to side-step cuts in carbon emissions, the real winners of the Copenhagen climate summit are emerging: Wall Street and Big Oil. While Wall Street banks will probably turn climate change into a new commodities market, marketing it as an investment product, Big Oil is likely to make a killing from a global carbon tax.....

It's hard to be astonished by the sight of Wall Street and Big Oil profiting handsomely from everything post-Copenhagen. Their proposed global carbon tax will hit everyone on the planet; but the beauty is that Wall Street and Big Oil won't have to pay for it. But, one might argue, why not, if the world's 1.5 billion cows will be taxed as well. According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, cow "emissions" rank as a key cause of global warming. So despite all the white man's burden shenanigans, it seems that mammals may be finishing off the Mother Earth that humans had already practically destroyed - evolution theorist Charles Darwin would have loved it. "

Dear Barack, Spare Me Your E-Mails

By Robert Scheer

"Barack Obama’s faux populism is beginning to grate, and when yet another one of those “we the people” e-mails from the president landed on my screen as I was fishing around for a column subject, I came unglued. It is one thing to rob us blind by rewarding the power elite that created our problems but quite another to sugarcoat it in the rhetoric of a David taking on those Goliaths.

In each of the three most important areas of policy with which he has dealt, Obama speaks in the voice of the little people’s champion, but his actions cater fully to the demands of the most powerful economic interests......"

Hizballah's call for legitimacy

An Interesting Piece

Matthew Cassel, Electronic Lebanon, 8 December 2009

"....The new political document, however, contained few surprises for some observers like independent Lebanese journalist Bilal el-Amine. "It's not new for the people who have followed Hizballah over the past 20 years," he said. "The new document only formalizes Hizballah's process. [Unlike the 1985 letter] there is no call for an Islamic state which has been the de facto position for many years now; this shows their commitment to become an integral part of Lebanese society.".....

Today, Hassan Nasrallah is considered one of the most popular political figures among Arabs and Muslims around the world.....

"Hizballah reasserted its right as a resistance group but talked about it in the context of coordination between the state, the army and the resistance," el-Amine said. "The new document is a message to ease any worries internally in Lebanon about what Hizballah might be up to."

El-Amine added, "the document was heavy in its use of leftist terminology, much more than Islamist language and particularly in its strong rejection of neo-liberalism."

According to el-Amine, Nasrallah's references to Latin America -- where "Hizballah is heartened and inspired" by leftist leaders and movements that have taken strong positions against US dominance in the region -- "showed that Hizballah has much broader ideas."

Ghassan Makarem, a member of the Leftist Assembly for Change political movement in Lebanon, said the new document is representative of Hizballah's "political wing" because "their only other document is a call for arms. This is not a call for arms, this is a call for compromises.".....

Makarem criticized Hizballah, like most political groups in Lebanon, for paying "lip service" to initiatives aimed at eliminating political sectarianism, one of the most important issues for many Lebanese. However, few groups take practical steps to see that changes are implemented. "The document reflects a serious process of learning past lessons, but it also shows that it is more a program for [maintaining] the status quo," he said.

"All anti-imperialists say 'we support Hizballah when Hizballah is resisting,' but there is a big problem supporting the other policies," Makarem said. "They haven't really shown that they are willing to work on real economic reform, for example, and part of this is because they're still young politically," he said......"