Saturday, November 13, 2010

U.S.: We'll fight delegitimization of Israel in exchange for settlement freeze

The United States has offered Israel a package of incentives to reinstate a freeze on West Bank settlement construction.
The package of incentives includes American commitments to fight against efforts to delegitimize Israel.
According to "The Cable" blog, White House Middle East adviser Dan Shapiro told a group of American Jewish leaders on Friday that the incentives package includes commitments to oppose anti-Israel diplomatic efforts in the international arena.
The U.S. incentives package would include: curbing actions by the United Nations on the Goldstone Report; blocking anti-Israel UN resolutions concerning the Gaza flotilla raid; defeating international resolutions aimed at exposing Israel's nuclear program at the International Atomic Energy Agency; and strengthening pressure on Iran and Syria in regards to their nuclear and proliferation activities. [Congratulations to all you Arab morons that voted for Obama]

Real News Video: Austerity Road to 19th Century

James Crotty: Right-wing billionaires use crisis to weaken social safety net

More at The Real News

New Pilger film 'The War You Don't See' opens in cinemas and on ITV in December

"In an extraordinary alliance of TV and cinema, John Pilger's new film, 'The War You Don't See', opens in the UK mid-December. Following its premiere at the Barbican on Tuesday 7 December 2010, the first Pilger film since 2007 will be showing at the Curzon Soho on Monday 13 December 2010 and at cinemas nationally, followed by a satellite Q&A. The following night, Tuesday 14 December, ITV will broadcast 'The War You Don't See' at 10.35pm.

The new film is a powerful and timely investigation into the media's role in war, tracing the history of 'embedded' and independent reporting from the carnage of World War One to the destruction of Hiroshima, and from the invasion of Vietnam to the current war in Afghanistan and disaster in Iraq. As weapons and propaganda become even more sophisticated, the nature of war is developing into an 'electronic battlefield' in which journalists play a key role, and civilians are the victims. But who is the real enemy?...."

Major Dutch pension fund divests from occupation

Adri Nieuwhof and Guus Hoelen, The Electronic Intifada, 12 November 2010

"The major Dutch pension fund Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW), which has investments totaling 97 billion euros, has informed The Electronic Intifada that it has divested from almost all the Israeli companies in its portfolio.

PGGM, the manager of the major Dutch pension fund PFZW, has adopted a new guideline for socially responsible investment in companies which operate in conflict zones.

In addition, PFZM has also entered into discussions with Motorola, Veolia and Alstom to raise its concerns about human rights issues. All three companies have actively supported and profited from Israel's occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip......"

Canberra, Ankara and other 'fake' capitals

By Robert Fisk

"Just up behind my Beirut home is a narrow, shady laneway called Makhoul Street. And in Makhoul Street, there is a small shop with a rusting door behind which an Armenian sells ancient postcards of Beirut.

There is a picture of the port, the rear of a steam loco protruding from a small station. There is a tree-lined street with horses pulling a covered cart, Lebanese men wearing the old Ottoman tarbush, the distant roof of the St George Maronite cathedral. But it's the postmark that catches my attention, dated 11 October 1906. "Beirut, Syria," it says.

For of course, in the dying days of the Ottomans, Beirut was in a land whose regional capital was Damascus. True, the French were there in force under the political ruins of what were called the "capitulations" – French authorities ran the "Levant" post office – but the "Lebanese" regarded Damascus as their principal city. So what makes a city?.....

.... I guess, in the end, the capital is where you think it is. Beirut is now the capital of the totally artificial country of Lebanon. Politically, you might say its real capital is indeed still Damascus, in "sister" Syria. Some would say – after the recent presidential visit of the elected (?) leader of Iran – that Lebanon's "real" capital is Tehran. Tough one, that."

Iraq's disappearing Christians are Bush and Blair's legacy

The irony of the Iraq invasion is it may have wiped out their faith where other conquests failed

William Dalrymple, Friday 12 November 2010

"When George W Bush sent the US into Iraq in 2003, he believed he would be replacing Saddam Hussein with a peaceful, pro-American Arab democracy that would naturally look to the Christian west for support. In reality, seven years on, it appears that he has instead created a highly radicalised pro-Iranian sectarian killing field, where most of the Iraqi Christian minority has been forced to flee abroad.....

Certainly, for the first time, that now looks like being a possibility in Iraq: last week Michael Youash, of the Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project, warned that in the near future "perhaps we'll find no Christians in Iraq". Given the overt Christian faith of the two architects of the invasion, Bush and Tony Blair, there is a tragic irony in the fact that their most lasting contribution to the region may well be to have created the environment that led to the destruction of Christianity in one of its ancient heartlands – something Arab, Mongol and Ottoman conquests all failed to pull off."

The "Revolutionary" Matchmaker: Gaddafi flies Italian women to Libya for 'cultural' tours - and romance

Libyan leader aims to marry off young hostesses to local men, beginning with his nephew

The Guardian

"Building on his friendship with Silvio Berlusconi, Libya's leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has begun flying groups of Italian women to Libya for "cultural" tours of the country, with the aim of marrying them off to local men – starting with his nephew.

"The leader wants young people from other countries to visit Libyan hospitals and universities as well as understand its history," said Alessandro Londero, the manager of the Italian hostess recruiting agency which supplies the women.

"But he is also interested in romances developing between youths from Libya and Italy." Gaddafi reportedly has high hopes that romance will spark between Clio Evans, 24, a half-English actor from Rome who has visited Libya four times, and his nephew, Ghazali......"

Right: The Revolutionary Leader's Other Friend.

سري للغاية - الطريق إلى عتليت - الجزء الأول

سري للغاية - الطريق إلى عتليت - الجزء الثاني

Friday, November 12, 2010

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This new poll asks:

Do you support the selection of Nuri Al-Maliki as Iraq's Prime Minister, again?

With about 1,500 responding so far, 91% said no.

Word up, G-20?

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"It certainly beats any dreary Group of 20 (G-20) communique. Everything one needs to know about the US Federal Reserve's quantitative easing (QE), currency wars and the mudslinging tsunami that passes for the current global financial system can be found at this animated rap video by Taiwan-based Next Media Animation (see the video here) ......

France is next in holding the G-20 presidency. It's no secret that the embattled, mega-unpopular, micro-Napoleonic and macro-narcissistic Nicolas Sarkozy will pull all stops to come up with "his" Bretton Woods II next year in Paris, and thus save the world, not to mention his reelection in 2012.

Now that's a soap opera worth waiting for. Till then, let's rap. From the Mao to the Deng to the Jiang to the Hu/ You think you can keep on telling us what to do... "

Ass, by Mr. Fish

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Israel Presses for a Tougher U.S. Line on Iran

By Tony Karon

"The last time Israel's Prime Minister asked the U.S. to bomb the nuclear facilities of one of its enemies, he was rebuffed. "I cannot justify an attack on a sovereign nation unless my intelligence agencies stand up and say it's a weapons program," President George W. Bush says in his new memoir, Decision Points, that he told Ehud Olmert in response to the then Israeli Premier's request that he bomb a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria. And the CIA's assessment was that while the Syrian facility appeared to be a nuclear reactor under construction, it did not believe Damascus had a nuclear-weapons program. (Israel itself eventually bombed the facility.) Bush's rebuff of Olmert, however, hasn't deterred current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from making a similar request to President Barack Obama on Iran.....

It's already plain to see that being "soft on Tehran" will be a key trope used by Republicans aiming to prevent President Obama's re-election in 2012, and any attempt at engagement of any sort with Iran will likely bring relentless attacks on Capitol Hill. That will certainly suit the Israeli leadership, who not only want to see a more confrontational U.S. position on Iran, but who also came into office insisting that Iran's nuclear program, rather than peace with the Palestinians, should be Washington's priority in the Middle East."

How Lebanon can't escape the shadow of Hariri's murder

Five years after the former prime minister was killed, rising sectarian tensions and a teetering government are threatening a new conflict

By Robert Fisk

"I guess that you have to live here to feel the vibrations. Take last week, when I instinctively ducked on my balcony – so did the strollers on the Corniche – at the supersonic sound of an F-16 fighter aircraft flashing over the seafront and the streets of Beirut.

What message were the Israelis sending this time? That they do not fear the Hezbollah?....

But who cares about the Israeli plane? Supposing a Syrian MiG had buzzed Tel Aviv during a busy shopping day last week? Hillary Clinton would be shrieking condemnation from the State Department, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon would have solemnly warned Syria of the consequences and the Israelis would be pondering an air strike on Syria to teach President Assad a lesson. But no.

The Israeli overflight was a clear contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 – Israel breaks 1701 every day with overflights, but not at this low level – and I could find not a single report of the incident in the American press. The Israelis are the good guys. The rest are bad......

So what does all this mean?

Well, what we are seeing is an horizon of foreign powers all longing to interfere in Lebanon as they did during the country's merciless 1975-90 civil war. Washington is ranting about the tribunal's importance, so is France – the Brits, whose diplomats talk to the Hezbollah, are quietly and wisely asking if there might be a postponement of the tribunal's accusation – while the Syrians and Iranians are crowing at the UN's crisis.

The Israelis are, as usual, threatening semi-Armageddon.

The Saudis, who back the Sunnis – Hariri holds a Saudi passport – have been trying to mediate.

So, in a backward way, have the Syrians. A week ago, Syria's ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul-Karim Ali, invited to lunch both the Saudi ambassador, Ali Awad al-Assiri, and his opposite number in the Iranian embassy, Ghadanfar Rokon Abadi, an old Beirut hand who was here during the 1996 war. All of which suggests the Muslim nations of the region don't particularly want a civil war......"

Tunisia, our supposedly stable 'friend'

The west's search for Arab allies should not be at the expense of support for political freedom within those countries

Rachel Linn, Thursday 11 November 2010

" I am standing in a cramped, three-room office in an unmarked building in central Tunis. I have been led here by Nejib Chebbi, the chairman of the Parti Démocrate Progressiste (PDP), the most credible opposition party in Tunisia. We have just finished lunch during which Chebbi discussed the week-long hunger strike he and Maya Jribi, the PDP secretary-general, had finished only the previous evening in protest at the government's attempt to block publication of the latest issue of the PDP's newspaper....

Since independence in 1956, Tunisia has been ruled by one party and two presidents – Habib Bourguiba and, since 1987, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali......

Today, foreign or domestic journalists who publish material that is seen as critical of the government quickly find themselves unable to work in the country. Similarly, Tunisians who join unapproved movements of any political shading are liable to find themselves followed by police and quietly dismissed from their job, while their family is harassed and they are perhaps thrown into jail or, worse, tortured.....

Nearly a decade after 9/11, the US and EU are still desperate to bring the Muslim world on side. Throughout this period, they have been courted by Arab autocrats who saw an opportunity to shore up support for their rule by promising to co-operate on security. Yet despite jumping into bed with these supposed friends, anti-western extremism has not demonstrably been lessened. Meanwhile, the Arab democrats eager to befriend us in places like Tunisia politely tell us they view our governments as hypocrites.

If we truly want to improve the brand image of the west in the Muslim world, we ought to consider seriously whether our engagement in such countries is genuinely supporting the best outcome for their populations......"

إما الوحدة أو التنسيق مع إسرائيل

د. عبد الستار قاسم

من يريد الوحدة، عليه ان يتوقف عن التنسيق الأمني، أي عليه أن يرفض الاعتراف بإسرائيل، ويرفض كل ما ترتب على هذا الاعتراف. وله أن يختار ما بين الوحدة مع شعبه أو خدمة عدو من كان شعبه. من يصافح العدو لا يصافح الشعب، ومن يلاحق بندقية مقاتل فلسطيني لا يدعي أمن الشعب، ومن يتواطأ مع العدو يتوارى عند الحديث عن الوطن والوطنية.

لكي نحل الأزمة، علينا أن نميز بين الأمن المدني والأمن الوطني. الأمن المدني يجب أن يكون بيد الشرطة، مع ضرورة إحداث تغيير جوهري في هيكليتها وإدارتها. أما الأمن الوطني فلا يمكن تحقيقه من خلال أجهزة أمنية علنية ذلك لأنها لا تملك القوة الكافية لمواجهة جيش نظامي كجيش إسرائيل.

الأمن الوطني يجب أن يكون بيد المقاومة التي يجب تطويرها بطريقة تتلافى أخطاء الماضي، واختراقات الصفوف، والعشوائية في العمل. ولهذا من الضروري حلّ الأجهزة الأمنية القائمة حاليا من مخابرات واستخبارات وأمن وقائي وغير ذلك، واستيعاب أفرادها في مؤسسات ومرافق مدنية. نحن لسنا بحاجة لمن يلاحقنا ويكتب فينا التقارير، ويطردنا من أعمالنا، ويحاربنا في لقمة عيشنا. نحن بحاجة لمن يقف معنا في مواجهة إسرائيل.

ولهذا مطلوب من حماس أن تتوقف عن المطالبة بإصلاح الأجهزة الأمنية لأنها في ذلك تعني أنها تريد أن تكون شريكا في إدارتها والسيطرة عليها. نحن لسنا بحاجة لهذه الأجهزة في الضفة الغربية، ويجب حلها.

المطلوب تطوير المقاومة على أسس علمية ومهنية، وإقامة قيادة موحدة سرية لها في مكان سري في هذا العالم، وعلينا أن نودع العلنية في العمل، والعنجهية في استخدام السلاح. وأظن أن الجميع أصبح على يقين بأن السلاح العلني في ظل الاحتلال إما سلاح خائن أو جاهل. وإذا كان لمحادثات المصالحة والوحدة أن تكون حقيقية فإنه مطلوب من حماس وفتح أن يوكلا الأمر لخبراء فلسطينيين ومستقلين للتفكير في الوضع الأمثل للشعب الفلسطيني، ووضع ميثاق جديد يلتزم به الجميع

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Banality of Evil - IOF soldiers celebrating the destruction of houses

The video above was posted to YouTube by Assaf Kintzer, an Israeli activist with Anarchists Against the Wall. The caption reads, "IOF soldiers celebrating the destruction of houses in Gaza during 'Cast Lead'." Kintzer says the video, which was shot using a mobile phone, was sent to him by an anonymous Israeli soldier who served in Gaza. (via Mondoweiss)

Video of Sayyed Nasrallah's Speech (Arabic), 11-11-2010

السيد حسن نصرالله في ذكرى يوم الشهيد ( السيد حسن نصر الله)
(Almost 2 hr.)

الاخوان المسلمون والانتخابات في الاردن ومصر

الاخوان المسلمون والانتخابات في الاردن ومصر
راي القدس

"تشهد حركة 'الاخوان المسلمين' مواقف سياسية متباينة تكشف عن استقلالية في اتخاذ القرار وفقاً لظروف كل بلد ونظام الحكم ومساحة الديمقراطية المتاحة فيه.
فبينما قاطعت جبهة العمل الاسلامي الجناح السياسي لحركة الاخوان المسلمين في الاردن الانتخابات البرلمانية التي ظهرت نتائجها بالأمس، حرصت شقيقتها في مصر، اي جماعة الاخوان المسلمين، خوض الانتخابات البرلمانية التي ستجري آخر الشهر، رغم الاعتقالات والمضايقات التي تعرض لها الكثير من عناصرها ومرشحيها.
ومن المفارقة ان النظام الاردني يعترف بحركة الاخوان كحزب سياسي شرعي ويسمح لها باقامة المقرات وممارسة النشاط السياسي والدعوي بشكل علني، بينما لا يعترف نظيره المصري رسمياً بحركة الاخوان المسلمين، من منطلق معارضته لتأسيس احزاب سياسية ذات طابع ديني.
اخوان الاردن قاطعوا احتجاجاً على التلاعب بالاصوات والدوائر الانتخابية، وعدم شفافية الانتخابات، والتمثيل الصحيح لفئات الشعب في البرلمان، علاوة على تحفظات كثيرة تتعلق بتدخل الحكومة وتوجيهها لسير العملية الانتخابية بما يؤدي الى خروج النتائج وفق حساباتها، وبما يقلص دور المعارضة لسياساتها الى الحدود الدنيا.
واللافت ان جميع الاسباب التي دفعت اخوان الاردن لمقاطعة الانتخابات البرلمانية، هي نفسها التي يشتكي منها اشقاؤهم في مصر، مع فارق اساسي وهو ان عمليات التزوير والبلطجة في الانتخابات المصرية اكبر بكثير من نظيرتها الاردنية.
السؤال الذي يطرح نفسه بالحاح، ويبحث عن اجابة واضحة هو عن الحكمة في عدم اتباع اخوان مصر نهج زملائهم في الاردن، ومقاطعة انتخابات يعرفون جيدا ان نسبة التزوير فيها كبيرة جدا، وان وجودهم في البرلمان مجرد 'ديكور' يخدم النظام ويوفر له شرعية ديمقراطية لا يستحقها.
المقاطعة موقف سياسي مشروع، اذا جاءت في الوقت المناسب، ولايصال رسالة تهدف الى تصحيح اخطاء في العملية الديمقراطية، لا يمكن السكوت عليها، خاصة اذا فشل الحوار في ايجاد الحلول المناسبة لها، وبما يرضي جميع الاطراف.
وربما تكون الحكومة الاردنية قد حصلت على البرلمان المستأنس الذي تريد، وبما يمكنها من تمرير سياساتها وتشريعاتها دون مضايقة، ولكن غياب المعارضة الاسلامية خصوصا، بما لها من ثقل شعبي، سيجعل هذا البرلمان مثل الماء دون لون او طعم او رائحة.
فنسبة المشاركة في الانتخابات في المدن الكبرى مثل عمان والزرقاء، حيث يوجد نصف سكان البلاد تقريبا، كانت متدنية وفي حدود خمسة وثلاثين في المئة، الامر الذي يعكس المزاج الشعبي العام اللامبالي تجاه هذه الانتخابات.
وجود المعارضة في البرلمان افضل بكثير من وجودها خارجه واقل خطورة بالنسبة الى الحكومة، لانها في الحالة الثانية ستكون في حال صدام مع الحكومة، وستلجأ الى الشارع لتجنيده ضدها وسياساتها.
الاردن الذي يمر بظروف اقتصادية صعبة، وعجز قياسي في الموازنة يصل الى ملياري دولار، وديون خارجية متفاقمة تقترب من رقم الخمسة عشر مليار دولار، بحاجة الى وفاق داخلي لتجنب اي اضطراب يؤدي الى تهديد الاستقرار الذي هو اهم ما يميز الاردن وسط محيطه الصاخب والمتفجر.


In this regard, it is worth noting Hamas' bizarre attempts, led by no less than its Politburo Chief Mish'al, to convince Jordan's Muslim Brothers to change their minds and to follow the lead of the Egyptian Brothers and to run for the sham elections. What gives Hamas? A deal with both the Jordanian and Egyptian regimes?

What opportunists!

Egyptian Flags “Made In Israel”

"An Egyptian paper reported that it managed to obtain documents from the Egyptian ministry of Trade and Finance revealing that a number of Egyptian businessmen imported Egyptian flags that were made in Israel......"

America's Puppets. Maliki, Allawi and the Quest for Power. Iraqis Pay the Price

by Rannie Amiri
Global Research

".......Maliki, desperate to remain in power, could not fathom stepping aside in favor of a consensus candidate; a move that would have likely led to the formation of a unity government long ago.

While members of parliament continue to receive extravagant stipends, salaries and perks for having convened just once since March (and only for 20 minutes at that), ordinary Iraqis hope to just arrive home safely at night. They suffered under the blazing Iraqi sun this summer, where temperatures can soar to 49° C (120° F), with only two hours of electricity available daily to run air conditioners (for those who have them).

Average citizens’ frustration and aggravation are not about the political machinations of leaders, but because no one bothered to express concern over their plight or address their needs: electricity, clean water, education, jobs and security.

In Iraq , steps on the path to power are not steps in sand, but quicksand. Now that their obstinate quest for power has been fulfilled, Maliki and Allawi could well find themselves sinking in it if they fail to provide these basic services. And the quicksand that swallows them will be the fury of the Iraqi people."

Another Baghdad Massacre: Iraqi Christians Are Already at Home

Another Baghdad Massacre: Iraqi Christians Are Already at Home

by Ramzy Baroud
Global Research

".....As for “Iraq’s Christians”, I must disagree with that depiction which is used widely in the media. They are not Iraq’s Christians, but Iraqi Christians. Their roots are as deep as the history of Mesopotamia, their history as rich as the fertile soil of Tigris and Euphrates. No matter how far their numbers may dwindle, like the rest of Iraqis of all backgrounds, they will remain Iraqis. And their return to their country is only a matter of time."

Obama Deficit Commission Criticized for Proposals to Slash Social Security, Medicare

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"The co-chairmen of the bipartisan presidential deficit commission released a list of recommendations Wednesday on ways to reduce the nation’s deficit by $4 trillion by 2020. Co-chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson have proposed raising the retirement age for Social Security to 69 by the year 2075, decreasing the cost of living benefits for Social Security recipients, imposing new limits on the Medicare health insurance program, and ending several middle-class tax breaks. We speak with economist Robert Kuttner......."

Behind Drone Issue in Yemen, a Struggle to Control Covert Ops

By Gareth Porter

"WASHINGTON, Nov 10, 2010 (IPS) - The drone war that has been anticipated in Yemen for the last few months has been delayed by the failure of U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) to generate usable intelligence on al Qaeda there.

That failure has given the CIA a new argument for wresting control of the drone war in Yemen from the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) which now controls the drone assets in the country. But some key administration officials are resisting a CIA takeover of the war in Yemen, as reported by the Washington Post Nov. 7.

The struggle between the CIA's operations directorate and SOF officials over management of a drone war in Yemen has been a driving force in pushing the war against al Qaeda and affiliated organisations into many more countries – along with President Barack Obama's eagerness to show that he is doing more than his predecessor on terrorism....."

Wingnuts on Parade

by Philip Giraldi, November 11, 2010

"Most voters seemed to understand that the outcome of America’s midterm election was the result of a devastated economy and the President Barack Obama’s failure to create jobs or even to understand the difficulties that are confronting many American families. But it’s nevertheless strange how America’s elites never seem to get it, probably because they are completely immune to the consequences of their own actions through their possession of money and power. The latest failure to compute comes from the triumphant Republican Party, which appears to believe that the electoral results were an endorsement of the foreign and security policies of George W. Bush, which will mean blanket approval of a prolonged stay in Afghanistan coupled with new adventures in Iran, Yemen, and Somalia. There is also sure to be a continuation of the highly effective US embargo directed against Cuba, which has been so successful at removing Fidel Castro from power......

And just to demonstrate that foreign policy idiocy is bipartisan, there was a congressional race in Illinois between incumbent Democrat Jan Schakowsky and Republican challenger Joel Pollak. The two candidates eschewed any debate over the economy and instead traded insults over who was a better candidate for Israel. According to the Israeli media Pollak, an Orthodox Jew born in South Africa, started the exchange by claiming that Schakowsky was "soft on Israel’s security," that she was "too sympathetic to the Palestinians" and supportive only of "weak" sanctions against Iran. Pollak, one of whose supporters is Alan Dershowitz, asked Schakowsky to join him in "condemning the Obama administration’s ongoing attack on Israel." In a debate with Schakowsky, Pollak unrolled a map of Israel and announced "My focus tonight will be Israel."

Schakowsky’s campaign countered that she had a 100% pro-Israel voting record, which was the truth, including even a vote in favor of Israel’s right to defend itself after it killed 300 Palestinian children in operation Cast Lead against Gaza. She also cited self defense when signing a congressional letter endorsing the killing of US citizen Furkan Dogan on the Gaza flotilla. In addition, she has enthusiastically endorsed every actual and proposed piece of legislation sanctioning Iran.....

....And congressional candidates arguing about who adores Israel the most brings back memories of Joe Biden and Sarah Palin’s lovefest on the issue. Wasn’t there anyone out there running for office who pledged to put the interests of the American people first?"

UN: No change in Gaza despite easing of Israel blockade


"The UN says there has been "no material change" for people in Gaza since Israel announced it was "easing" its economic blockade of the Palestinian territory.

In June Israel said it would lift some of its restrictions on Gaza to allow in more food and consumer goods.

The move followed international pressure after the deaths of nine Turkish activists aboard a flotilla of ships trying to break the blockade.

The head of UN operations in Gaza said few people had noticed any difference.

"There's been no material change for the people on the ground here in terms of their status, the aid dependency, the absence of any recovery or reconstruction, no economy," the UN's John Ging told the BBC....."

Sun sets on US influence in Iraq as deal on new government looms

By Patrick Cockburn

"The United States is facing a decisive political defeat in Iraq over the formation of a new government, as its influence in the country sinks lower than at any time since the invasion of 2003.

The increased power of Iran
is expected to be underlined with a vote in parliament today in Baghdad to name the leadership after eight months of political stalemate during which political violence has continued throughout the country.

The US campaign to promote its favoured candidate, Iyad Allawi, as president appears to have failed spectacularly.....

Along with its ally, Syria, Iran has shown flexibility in dropping its earlier opposition to Mr Maliki and persuading the followers of the nationalist Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, who did well in the Iraqi election, to do the same. It thereby reunited the Shia coalition which, with the Kurds, has ruled Iraq since 2005. The only Shia party left out is the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, once seen as an Iranian pawn. "

The Palestinians of Israel are poised to take centre stage

With the peace process going nowhere, common experience on both sides of the Green Line is creating a new reality


Seumas Milne, Wednesday 10 November 2010

"In a quiet street in the Sheikh Jarrah district of occupied East Jerusalem 88-year-old Rifka al-Kurd is explaining how she came to live in the house she and her husband built as Palestinian refugees in the 1950s. As she speaks, three young ultra-orthodox Jewish settlers swagger in to stake their claim to the front part of the building, shouting abuse in Hebrew and broken Arabic: "Arab animals", "shut up, whore".

There is a brief physical confrontation with Rifka's daughter as the settlers barricade themselves in to the rooms they have occupied since last winter. That was when they finally won a court order to take over the Kurd family's extension on the grounds that it was built without permission – which Palestinians in Jerusalem are almost never granted. It is an ugly scene, the settlers' chilling arrogance underpinned by the certain knowledge that they can call in the police and army at will.....

Pressure on Palestinian leaders and communities is becoming harsher. A fortnight ago more than a thousand soldiers and police were on hand to protect a violent march by a far-right racist Israeli group through the Palestinian town of Umm al-Fahm. The leader of the Islamic Movement, Ra'ed Salah, is in prison for spitting at a policeman; the Palestinian MP Haneen Zoabi has been stripped of her parliamentary privileges for joining the Gaza flotilla; and leading civil rights campaigner Ameer Makhoul faces up to 10 years in jail after being convicted of the improbable charge of spying for Hezbollah.

Meanwhile Israel is also demanding that the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah recognise Israel as a Jewish state as part of any agreement....

The focus of the Palestinian-Israeli struggle has shifted over the last 40 years from Jordan to Lebanon to the occupied territories. With the two-state solution close to collapse, it may be that the Palestinians of Israel are at last about to move centre stage. If so, the conflict that more than any other has taken on a global dimension will have finally come full circle."

Christianity's place in the Middle East

Overextrapolating from the al-Qaida church attack plays into the hands of radicals wanting to push the clash-of-civilisations myth

Chris Phillips, Thursday 11 November 2010

"The brutal attack on a Baghdad church by al-Qaida in Iraq last week, together with subsequent attacks this week, has prompted a renewed interest in the declining numbers of Christians in the Arab world. While some commentators have limited their views to the tragedy unfolding in Iraq, others have generalised about the doomed fate of Christians across the region.

One article in Foreign Policy went so far as to suggest the church attack might spell "the end of Christianity in the Middle East" altogether. Yet such generalisations play into the hands of radicals wanting to perpetuate the clash-of-civilisations myth. Though anti-Christian feeling may be rising on the extreme radical fringe of some Arab societies such as Iraq, this should not obscure the harmony that has long been a characteristic of other parts of the Arab world......

Christian numbers may be diminishing and the radical fringe may sadly be gaining the upper hand in certain pockets such as Iraq, which the international community should rightly condemn. However, the Arab world in general remains a place where Christians and Muslims have lived side by side for centuries, and look certain to continue doing so. Perhaps we should be celebrating this fact rather than exaggerating the extent to which the whole region is suddenly becoming anti-Christian."

Behind an Israeli Strike in Gaza, Help from Egypt


"The Nov. 3 assassination of Mohammad Namnam looked pretty much exactly like the fiery deaths of a lot of other Islamic militants in the Gaza Strip over the years. He was making his way in broad daylight through the tattered streets of Gaza City when his sedan turned into a fireball. The missile arrived from an Israeli helicopter hovering so far away that onlookers at first thought the explosion was a car bomb.

The death was not routine, however. Israel has refrained for months from assassination by missile, just as Hamas, the fundamentalist militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, has held back from launching homemade rockets into Israel. And the dead man was a senior operative not of Hamas but of another, more extreme militia called the Army of Islam......

But the most striking element of the operation was the source of the tip: Egyptian intelligence gleaned news of the plot from Army of Islam operatives captured earlier in the Sinai. Egyptian security forces work to interdict arms and explosives on smuggling routes that run across the vast expanse from Sudan to Gaza. But sharing the intelligence on Namnam with their Israeli counterparts marked a level of Egyptian cooperation not seen by the Jewish state in years. "Egypt is helping much more," a security source in the region tells TIME......"

CIA tortured to get 'inaccurate' info

Interview with Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst from Washington

Press TV

"The US Justice Department says CIA officials who have been accused of destroying videos showing torture of detainees are immune from prosecution.....

To discuss the issue further, Press TV conducted a phone interview with Ray McGovern who is a former CIA analyst.

Press TV: After two years of investigation, the Justice Department says they will not press for criminal charges, so why such an exhaustive probe was launched in the first place?

McGovern: Well, I think it is three years and it is a window-dressing. When you hear that evidence of torture has been destroyed, you cannot be seen to be doing nothing......

They tortured people for a couple of reasons. One was, well you know that you cannot get accurate information from the torture. The head of Army Intelligence said that on the 6 of September 2006 when he said, “No good intelligence is ever going to come through harsh interrogation techniques.” History has shown that and the experience of the last five years, difficult years, also shows that. So number one: no accurate intelligence. So why do you torture? You know, to get inaccurate information. If you want to prove for example that there are ties between Iraq and Al-Qaeda, there is nothing that works better than torture and that is precisely what they did. Primary aim was to get somebody to admit the “ties" between Iraq and al-Qaeda, to allow the president and his underlings to say to the American people, Iraq was involved in 9/11 and that is why we have to attack Iraq.

The whole thing is unprecedented as to its duplicity, its lying and its consequences."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Matthew Norman: How did this wastrel ever find his way to the White House?

It takes a certain minimal intelligence for the truly dim to have a notion of their own dimness, but this is denied George Bush. He has the self-awareness of a bison

How could anyone in possession of a three-figure IQ (still a moot point with Bush) fail to see what a golden gift that image is to satirists? There he is, in the cartoon in my head, scooping up a couple of Cumberland sausages while following him, shovelling up the Augean Stable-sized steaming pile he left behind in the Oval Office, is Barack Obama at the wheel of an industrial digger.
The Independent

US must begin criminal investigation of torture following Bush admission

Amnesty International

"Amnesty International today urged a criminal investigation into the role of former US President George W Bush and other officials in the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" against detainees held in secret US custody after the former president admitted authorizing their use.

In his memoirs, published yesterday, and in an interview on NBC News broadcast on 8 November 2010, the former President confirmed his personal involvement in authorizing "water-boarding" and other techniques against "high value detainees".

"Under international law, the former President's admission to having authorized acts that amount to torture are enough to trigger the USA's obligations to investigate his admissions and if substantiated, to prosecute him," said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director at Amnesty International......"


A Quiz:

Which One is in a coma?

Documents Leak from Notorious US-Backed Unit as Obama Lands in Indonesia

Secret Files Show Kopassus, Indonesia's Special Forces, Targets Papuan Churches, Civilians

by Allan Nairn

"JAKARTA - Secret documents have leaked from inside Kopassus, Indonesia's red berets, which say that Indonesia's US-backed security forces engage in "murder [and] abduction" and show that Kopassus targets churches in West Papua and defines civilian dissidents as the "enemy."

The documents include a Kopassus enemies list headed by Papua's top Baptist minister and describe a covert network of surveillance, infiltration and disruption of Papuan institutions.....

The Kopassus document cited above is embedded below, followed by supplementary field reports.Satgas Ban - 5 Kopassus Triw...."

Nir Rosen on "Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World"

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"Independent journalist Nir Rosen has been covering the Middle East since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. In his new book, Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World, Rosen writes in length about Iraq, the US occupation, the civil war, and how the war affected the broader Middle East, from Jordan to Syria to Lebanon. Rosen also writes about Afghanistan, and his time unembedded with the Taliban, as well as the role of independent media and the failures of the US press....."

Drive-by shootings, Metro bombings in DC and parcel bombs on planes but spies in training go unnoticed

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

"TAMPA BAY, FL, (WMR) -- While the political power duopoly of the "homeland security" and fake news industries are concentrating on a series of drive-by shootings of Marine Corps targets in the Washington, DC area and an FBI-concocted terrorist bombing plot directed against busy Washington Metro train stations, followed by a cargo plane package bomb plot directed by "Al Qaeda" from Yemen, no mention is made of continuing aggressive field training of Israeli intelligence agents being employed in shopping malls across the country, some near America's biggest military bases....."

All hail the decider-in-chief

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"Those on a metaphysical quest to explain former US president George W Bush's decisions to follow the September 11, 2001, attacks with an invasion of Iraq and authorize Spanish Inquisition-era torture techniques are unlikely to find answers in Decision Points. All the memoir proves is that "if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people eventually come to believe it".....

So yes, doublespeak is indeed the law of the land. War is peace. Truth is lies. Invasion is liberation. Resistance is insurgency. Cluelessness is decision. And the boy emperor is not where some believe he belongs - the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague."

The great book robbery of 1948

Arwa Aburawa, The Electronic Intifada, 9 November 2010
(Left: Stolen Palestinian books labeled "absentee property." )

"A new documentary reveals a hidden chapter in the history of the Nakba -- the Palestinian expulsion and flight at the hands of Zionist militias as Israel was established in 1948 -- which saw the systematic looting of more than 60,000 Palestinian books by Israeli forces and the attempted destruction of Palestinian culture.....

This untold story of the Nakba has remained hidden over the years until, by complete accident, Israeli graduate student Gish Amit stumbled across archives documenting the systematic looting of Palestinian books.....

The cultural destruction that occurred during the Nakba has remained a relatively marginalized aspect of the wider narrative of Palestinian suffering. It is seen as a small, irrelevant detail which affected a small minority of urban elites living in the cities, as apposed to the complete annihilation of Palestinian villages that affected a large portion of the Palestinian population.

"What you need to understand is that the Palestinian loss was so massive that such details were overwhelmed," says Karmi, who now lives and works as a university lecturer in the UK. She is also the author of several books including In Search of Fatima, a memoir of her family's experience during the Nakba. "People lost their homes, their lives, their land and I guess the loss of books in the homes of a small Palestinian elite would not have been high up on the scale. Now that all these years have passed since the Nakba, these details are starting to emerge and their importance is being acknowledged."

In fact film director Benny Brunner, Arjan El Fassed (co-founder of The Electronic Intifada) and others have made it their task to highlight the state-sponsored looting of 1948-49. The Great Book Robbery is a project and documentary in the making which hopes to expose the untold story of the book looting and help Palestinians reclaim their cultural heritage and even revive it (a brief video is available on the film website).

Brunner, a Dutch and Israeli citizen who has worked on various films related to Israel and the Palestinians, says "The story is really significant because it's more than the fact that 60,000 books were looted -- it's about the destruction of a culture. That's the real impact of this event; that's the real significance and I think that needs to be communicated. And if possible, efforts have to be put in resurrecting the lost cultural world that was destroyed in 1948." ......"

The Oslo Virus and the Struggle for Bantustans

By Haidar Eid - Gaza
Palestine Chronicle

"In 'The Music of the Violin,' a short story by South African writer Njabulo Ndebele, one of the characters comments on the 'concessions' made by the apartheid regime to the indigenous people: "That's how it is planned. That we be given a little of everything, and so prize the little we have that we forget about freedom."

This is what the endless “peace process” looks like seen from Gaza, where we live under a four-year-old Israeli siege. We pass the time struggling to survive, wondering if this is the day an air strike will take away our life, our loved ones or our home.

I spent six years in Johannesburg, where I got my PhD. That time makes me very aware of the similarities between Israel and the apartheid regime in South Africa. I was inspired by how the world responded to apartheid in South Africa, particularly the United States considering that it was still dealing with its own history of racial discrimination and treatment of the indigenous population.

And I am disheartened by the lack of similar outrage toward Israeli policies.....

The Oslo virus has reduced the Palestinian struggle for liberation to a struggle for Bantustans. The concept of statehood is being fetishized at the expense of true liberation and justice. This is not what the Palestinian people aspire to, the majority of whom are refugees guaranteed the right of return under international law.

In Ndebele’s story, a black revolutionary intellectual says that "[he'd] rather be a hungry dog that runs freely in the streets, than a fat, chained dog burdened with itself and the weight of the chain." There was no potential for coexistence with apartheid in South Africa. Americans, Europeans, Palestinians and Israelis must accept no less in Israel-Palestine."

Targeting Fun in the Gaza Strip

Hamas' Tightening Grip on Power

By Ulrike Putz in Gaza City
Spiegel Online

"For the few with money in the Gaza Strip, a new water park provided relief from monotony and widespread misery. Hamas, though, has now burned it down -- and sent a message that even the elite must conform to the Islamists' restrictive rules......

Rise of the Extremists

Given his past, Araj is surprised that Hamas targeted his water park with its new hard-line policies. Between 2006 and 2007, Araj served as the economics minister for the Hamas government. Although he isn't a member of Hamas, he has always cultivated close connections to those in power. "I thought I was one of the few people in Gaza that everyone got along with," he says.

He says that targeting of his water park comes due to the increased influence hard-liners have been able to gain for themselves within the government. "Unfortunately, it's the same as in any revolution," Araj says. "The extremists are pushing their way into leadership positions."

For months now, the new buzzwords in Gaza have been "Erdoganis" and "Talibanis": Hamas has split into two camps, say the political intelligentsia during their gatherings in cafés and living room. The moderate faction supposedly adheres to the ideas of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, advocating a democratic system with only a slight nod to Islam. The hard-liners, on the other hand, allegedly model themselves after the Taliban in Afghanistan and aspire to install a theocratic government.

"There is a clear dispute within Hamas," says Araj......"

This bid to rehabilitate Bush must be defeated: he left a trail of destruction

The former president's memoir may seem to be all about the past, but it is most emphatically about America's present

Jonathan Freedland, Tuesday 9 November 2010

".....So, with a loud voice, they have to stop this incipient attempt to rehabilitate Bush in its tracks. They need to remind the public of a record whose litany of failures is so inarguable, much of it can be evoked by names alone: Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo, Katrina, Abu Ghraib, Lehman Brothers. They have to recall a world view that still condones torture – not "coercive interrogation" as the Times euphemised it – a "kick their ass" approach that never understood that by its actions it strengthened, not weakened, America's and liberty's most extreme enemies.

They need to recall an administration that cherry-picked intelligence, that misled a nation to war on false pretences, that ignored expert advice that it didn't want to hear, that invaded a country with barely a modicum of planning, then declared Mission Accomplished.

They need to remind the world of an economic policy that gave billions to the very richest in tax cuts and turned a healthy surplus into a ballooning deficit, that allowed a deregulated Wall Street to run riot and to crash the global economy....."

Jordanian "Elections", by Emad Hajjaj

The Typical Choice in All Arab "Elections":
A Parliament with no Opposition.....
...or Opposition with no Parliament?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Young Jews Disrupt Netanyahu at Jewish General Assembly

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This latest poll asks:

Do you support holding a referendum to determine the fate of southern Sudan?

With over 1,100 responding so far, 79% said no.

As Obama Arrives in Jakarta, Secret Docs Show U.S.-Backed Indonesian Special Forces Unit Targets Papuan Churches, Civilians

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"President Obama arrived in Indonesia today on the second stop of a ten-day trip to Asia. It’s Obama’s first state visit to Indonesia after having lived there for four years as a child. We go to Jakarta to speak with investigative journalist and activist Allan Nairn, who has just released secret documents from Kopassus—the feared Indonesian special forces to which Obama has just restored funding. While Obama talks about human rights, the documents indicate that Kopassus targets churches and civilians and includes a Kopassus enemies list topped by a local Baptist minister in West Papua....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Riz Khan - Politics of terror threats

"The recent incidents over parcel bombs across Europe and the continuing threat of extremist attacks against some countries around the world is forcing governments to adopt stricter security measures. Do governments use terror alerts to advance their political agendas?"

Audio: Highlights from Montreal BDS conference

Gretchen King, The Electronic Intifada, 8 November 2010

"More than 600 activists from Quebec, Canada, and the United States gathered in Montreal from 22-24 October for a weekend-long conference on growing the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. The opening public panel at the conference offered reflections on the five years since the unified Palestinian call for BDS was first made, including views from Palestine and South Africa. Much of the weekend drew participants together in sector-oriented working groups and on Sunday the final session offered a report back to a crowd of hundreds.

This audio report by Gretchen King features keynote speakers Areej Ja'fari (Palestine Freedom Project), Stephen Faulkner (Congress of South African Trade Unions) and Omar Barghouti (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the Boycott National Committee). The audio report includes highlights from the final session, such as the conclusions of Judy Da Silva, an indigenous activist who traveled from Grassy Narrows in northwestern Ontario to participate in the conference...."

Click Here to Download

Netanyahu Pounds War Drums

By Jim Lobe

"WASHINGTON, Nov 8, 2010 (IPS) - Less than a week after Republicans made major gains in the U.S. midterm elections, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called on President Barack Obama to "create a credible threat of military action" against Iran.....

But, with sympathetic Republicans taking over the House of Representatives, the Israeli government appears confident it can press for more.

According to "diplomatic sources" quoted by the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu warned Biden that Iran "is attempting to mislead the West, and there are worrying signs that the international community is captivated by this mirage."....

U.S. neo-conservatives and other hawks have been making much the same argument for some time. In a speech to the influential Council on Foreign Relations in late September, Independent Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who is close to Graham and former Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, called for Obama to "take steps that make clear that if diplomatic and economic strategies continue to fail to change Iran's nuclear policies, a military strike is not just a remote possibility in the abstract, but a real and credible alternative policy that we and our allies are ready to exercise."....."

Galilee Cities Vie for Title of 'Most Racist'

By Jonathan Cook – Nazareth
Palestine Chronicle

"The tranquility of Safed, a small Israeli city nestled high in the hills of the Upper Galilee close to the Lebanese border, is not usually disturbed except by the occasional pilgrimage by Madonna or other famous devotees of the Jewish mystical teachings of Kabbalah.

But in the past few weeks, Safed -- one of Judaism’s four holy cities -- has been making headlines of a very different kind. Gideon Levy, a columnist for the Israeli daily Haaretz, last week declared it “the most racist city in the country”.

The unflattering, and hotly contested, epithet follows an edict from Safed’s senior rabbis ordering residents not to sell or rent homes to “non-Jews” – a reference to the country’s Palestinian Arab citizens, who comprise a fifth of Israel’s population....

In 1948, when Jewish forces captured the town, Safed was a mixed city of 10,000 Palestinians and 2,000 Jews. All the Palestinian inhabitants were expelled, including a 13-year-old Mahmoud Abbas, now the president of the Palestinian Authority...."

SA Rabbi Denies Existence of Apartheid in Israel

By Iqbal Jassat – Pretoria
Palestine Chronicle

"The late Palestinian author and eloquent spokesman for the Palestinian cause in the West, Edward W. Said, in a ‘96 essay titled ‘Mandela, Netanyahu, and Arafat’ brilliantly captured the contrasts amongst these leaders.

But the defining gaps were not related to personalities; instead Said unpacked crucial differences related to and informed by ideology. For instance he cited Nelson Mandela’s commitment to the African National Congress’ [ANC] single goal for which it was created: the end of apartheid, and the institution of legal equality – one person, one vote – between blacks and whites.

On the other hand, Benjamin Netanyahu, who incidentally was on his first official trip to the United States, represented bigotry and falsehood. Today almost fifteen years later, one will fully appreciate Said’s critic of this man. His analysis likened Netanyahu to all other Israeli leaders who denied the past and the reality of the Palestinians. Netanyahu was a man insensitive to the human toll caused by Israel to literally millions of Arabs, claimed one of the leading authorities on the Middle East.

Having read South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein’s open letter to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, I am reminded of the above analogy and thus tempted to attribute Said’s brutal assessment of Netanyahu to Goldstein....."

The betrayal of Gaza

The US is vocal about its commitment to peace in Israel and the Palestinian territories — but its actions suggest otherwise.

By Noam Chomsky
New Statesman

".....On democracy, Obama said that "we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election" - as in January 2006, when Washington picked the outcome with a vengeance, turning at once to the severe punishment of the Palestinians because it did not like the results of a peaceful election. This happened with Obama's apparent approval, judging by his words before and actions since taking office. There should be little difficulty in understanding why those whose eyes are not closed tight shut by rigid doctrine dismiss Obama's yearning for democracy as a joke in bad taste."

عن حركة تحرر وطني تعادي العلمانية وتستخفّ باليسار!../

ماجد كيالي

"ثمة ظاهرة لافتة توطّنت منذ البداية في جسم الحركة الوطنية الفلسطينية، وفكرها،وهي ظاهرة العنجهية والتعميم و"الأستذة"، على رغم أن هذه الحركة تفتقد المواردالذاتية، وشعبها منتشر في بقاع الدنيا، يعاني ويلات الاحتلال والحرمان من الهوية،والخضوع لسلطات متعددة ومختلفة، وعلى رغم أنها أحوج ما تكون الى استقطاب التعاطفمعها، عربياً ودولياً، للتعويض عن مكامن ضعفها، ولمواجهة عدوها الذي يتمتع بشبكةدعم دولية واسعة.

في مرحلة سابقة انطلت على هذه الحركة فكرة أنها "طليعة الثورة العربية"، وأن "الكفاح المسلح" ليس فقط سيحرر فلسطين، وإنما سيغير الأوضاع في هذه المنطقة أيضاً. فهو ليس ضد الصهيونية فحسب، وإنما ضد الامبريالية والرجعية أيضاً! وفي مرحلة لاحقةاعتُبرت الانتفاضة بمثابة مقدمة للنهضة العربية الحديثة، حتى أن بعض المفكريناعتبرها بمثابة انتفاضة ضد العولمة أيضاً!

في المحصلة، هذه الادعاءات لم تثبت في حيز التجربة، وتبيّن عدم صحتها،فالفلسطينيون شعب صغير وممزق ولا يسيطر على حياته، ولا يعتمد في نضاله على موارده؛مع أن قضيته محورية عند القوميين ومقدسة عند الإسلاميين، وتحظى بأهمية دولية (بسبباليهود الإسرائيليين). أيضاً، حمّلت ادعاءات كتلك الفلسطينيين ما فوق طاقتهم،وأدخلتهم في صراعات جانبية استنزفتهم، وأضرّت بقضيتهم، فضلاً عن إصابتها اياهمبعدوى العنجهية والوصاية على الأحزاب العربية (كما حصل في تجربة لبنان مثلا).

الأنكى أن معظم قادة هذه الحركة لم يتعلموا من مسيرتهم المؤلمة والباهظة، ولميستنبطوا العبر من إخفاقات تجاربهم الكفاحية، سواء المسلحة أو التفاوضية، وفيالمنظمة أو السلطة. وكلها بيّنت تدني مستوى إدارتهم للعمل الوطني. ويبدو أنهم مازالوا، على رغم تدهور أحوال شعبهم وقضيتهم وحركتهم الوطنية، تأخذهم العنجهية. هكذا،في أسبوع واحد كان المشهد الفلسطيني على موعد مع تصريحات لا داعي لها، فضلاً عنأنها تنم عن جهل مطلق بالمفاهيم وبحركة التاريخ.

فقد أدلى محمود الزهار (القيادي في "حماس")، بتصريحات (29/10) هاجم فيهاالعلمانية والعلمانيين والدول الغربية، في تعميمات مطلقة، في وقت تعاني إسرائيل منعزلة، وضغوط دولية، لدفعها لوقف الاستيطان والتجاوب مع حقوق الفلسطينيين. ومماقاله: "من حقنا أن ندير حياتنا بالطريقة التي يحددها ديننا وليس دينكم. أنتم لا دينلكم. أنتم علمانيون... لا تعيشون كبشر. بل إنكم (حتى) لا تعيشون كالحيوانات. تقبلونالمثلية... والآن تنتقدوننا... نحن من يحترم النساء ويقدّرهن... وليس أنتم... انتمتستغلون النساء كالحيوانات. للمرأة زوج واحد ومئات الآلاف من العشاق. أنتم لاتعلمون من هم آباء أبنائكم".

هكذا اختلطت الأمور، فاعتبر الزهار العلمانية ضد الدين، وهي ليست كذلك، مثلماإنها ليست وصفة جاهزة، وإن تضمنت عدم قبول توظيف الدين بالشأن السياسي (أي لأغراضالسلطة)، وترك إدارة شؤون البلاد للقوانين الوضعية باعتبارها شأناً دنيوياً. وهوتيار ظهر في وجه السلطات الكنسية والملكية المطلقة والمستبدة في الغرب، علماً أنمعظم الدول العلمانية تحترم الدين ولا تتدخّل بالحيز الديني لمجتمعاتها، بما فيهأديان الأقليات التي تعيش بين ظهرانيها. كذلك خلط الزهار بين نقد الآخرين لكيفيةإدارة حركته الأحادية والاقصائية لقطاع غزة، وبين ما اعتبره تدخلاً في شؤونالناس.

وبغض النظر عن هذا الجدل، فمعظم المجتمعات الغربية علمانية، بهذا المستوى أوذاك، والفلسطينيون هم الذين بحاجة الى دعمها في كفاحهم ضد الصهيونية والممارساتالإسرائيلية، فهل سيواجهون الادعاءات الدينية ("التوراتية") لإسرائيل في الغرببالايدولوجيا الدينية، وبإظهار الصراع وكأنه ليس على الأرض والحقوق وإنما هو صراعديني وسماوي وأبدي؟ ثم هل هكذا تصدّ الحركة الوطنية الفلسطينية مطالب إسرائيلبالاعتراف بها كدولة يهودية؟

أيضاً، كان الأجدى لحماس، التي تتعرض لحصار كونها حركة إسلامية ومتطرفة، أنتتجنب نقاشات مضرة كهذه، وأن توضح نفسها كحركة تحرر. أما النقاش بشأن العلمانيةفنقاش فلسفي وثقافي، ويفترض انه مجال للتجاذب الداخلي بين التيارات الفلسطينية،وليس له علاقة لا بمهاجمة الغرب ولا بتصنيف أخلاقه، وتوصيف نمط حياته. علماً أناتهام الغرب باللاأخلاقية ينم عن جهل وسطحية وانتقائية، فمن هذا الغرب بات الشعبالفلسطيني يستمد قدرته على الاستمرار في مواجهة العنصرية وجرائم الحرب والاستعماريةالإسرائيلية، وإلا ما معنى نشوء شبكات المتضامنين الدوليين، وحملات المقاطعةالدولية، وأساطيل الحرية، والحملات الإعلامية في الفضائيات وشبكات الانترنت؟

التصريح الآخر كان لعزام الأحمد، أحد قادة "فتح" (منافسة "حماس")، والذي تضمنتهكماً واستخفافاً بقوى اليسار الفلسطينية. وكان حرياً بالأحمد، بدل ذلك، أن يتخوّفعلى وضع حركته "فتح"، التي وصلت إلى هذا الدرك من ترهل بناها، وغياب مرجعيتهاالسياسية، فضلاً عن إخفاق خياراتها، سواء في الانتفاضة أو المفاوضة، كما في بناءالمنظمة أو السلطة. ويبدو أن الأحمد نسي أن حركته، وعلى رغم ما تتمتع به من قوىعسكرية ومادية، وعلى رغم هيمنتها على الساحة الفلسطينية بمنظمتها وسلطتها ومواردها،خسرت الانتخابات التشريعية وقطاع غزة بصورة مهينة (2006-2007) من دون أن تراجع ماحصل.

وما يلفت الانتباه في تلك التصريحات أنها تنم عن ضعف شعور بالمسؤولية، وجهلبالواقع. فلو تمعن الأحمد في الأمر لتبين له أن احتكار حركته لقيادة الساحةالفلسطينية، وتخلف إدارتها، واعتمادها على الزبائنية والفساد، هي التي أدت إلىخسارتها مكانتها وصعود "حماس". بمعنى أن قيادة "فتح" هي التي تتحمل المسؤولية عنالتمحور المضرّ بينها وبين "حماس"، وعن تدهور دور اليسار، وتدهور "فتح" ذاتها.

فأين هي "فتح"، التي كانت في ما مضى تشبه فعلاً شعبها، وتستمد روحها من التنوعوالتعددية داخلها؟ ثم ألم تفقد "فتح" روحها، وجزءاً كبيراً من حيويتها، بسبب تحولهاحركةً لتيار واحد، هو تيار السلطة والتسوية، لا سيما بعدما باتت تفتقد تيار اليسارالذي كان يضفي عليها حيوية فكرية وسياسية؟

عدا ذلك، ثمة حقاً ما يثير الاستغراب إزاء هذا التنكّر، وهذا القصر في الذاكرة،لمن عايشوا التجربة الفلسطينية من بداياتها (كالأحمد)، إذ لا يمكن أحداً أن يفسرصعود "فتح"، من الستينيات إلى الثمانينيات، من دون أن يربط ذلك بنهوض اليسار الدولي،والأحزاب الشيوعية، وبمعين من الاتحاد السوفياتي.

وربما كانت تصريحات كهذه (من الزهار والأحمد) من علامات تدهور الساحةالفلسطينية، وفقرها وضياعها السياسي والفكري. ولنتذكر أنه في زمن مضى، فإن آباءالحركة الوطنية الفلسطينية، من الحاج أمين الحسيني (المفتي)، مروراً بأحمد الشقيريوصولاً إلى ياسر عرفات، لم يدخلوا حركتهم الوطنية في مجادلات ثقافوية أو دينية،وعملوا مع علمانيين ويساريين وشيوعيين، على أساس أن "الدين لله والوطن للجميع"، أيعلى أساس التعددية والتنوع باعتبار ذلك الأفضل لوحدة الشعب ومواجهة المشروعالصهيوني

You Call This Leadership? Hamas Invites Ahmadinejad to Gaza!


"09/11/2010 Hamas Foreign Ministry invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Gaza to "revive the spirit" of the Palestinian resistance movement [A few dollars would do just fine].

“We invite Ahmadinejad to visit the Gaza Strip and we are confident that this trip will be of paramount importance,” the democratically-elected Hamas government's Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmed Yousef [What a charlatan!]said on Monday.

Referring to Ahmadinejad's trip to Beirut, Yousef said the aim of the visit to Gaza would be to raise the spirits and strengthen the Palestinian resistance movement just like what happened in Lebanon......"

حماس وفتح تستأنفان الحوار بدمشق

The Captains of the Palestanic, a Group Photo.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The loyalty oath and Israel's Zionist "left"

On 10 October 2010, the Israeli government proposed a bill obligating non-Jewish naturalized citizens to swear loyalty to a "Jewish and democratic state." The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) deplores this attempt to demand recognition of Israel as a Jewish state -- a state whose existence is premised on the removal of the indigenous people of Palestine.

In response to this bill, members of the Zionist "Left" in Israel issued a "declaration of independence from fascism." Announced at a rally in Tel Aviv, the Middle East's most ethnically cleansed city (indigenous population: four percent), the declaration asserts that the proposed law "violates [Israel's] basic commitment to the principles of equality, civil liberty and sincere aspiration for peace -- principles upon which the State of Israel was founded."

The Zionist "Left" is distancing itself from this policy, but the proposed oath is entirely consistent with Israel's racist foundations and continued ethnic cleansing -- all of which the Zionist "Left" has played a central role in perpetrating and whitewashing.

Today, "Left" Zionists, no less than their right-wing counterparts, view Palestinians as a "demographic threat" to Jewish supremacy. Like the "Right," they insist that Palestinians ratify their own unequal status by recognizing 1948 Palestine ("Israel") as a "Jewish state." Ironically, this Zionist racism, violence and apartheid serve to deliver a segregation of Jews that parallels traditional European anti-Semitism.

The problem, then, is not alleged betrayal of Israeli "principles" at the hands of right-wing "extremists," but Zionism itself -- both "Left" and "Right." For Israeli Jews who reject Israel's racist foundations, we stand with you.

We ask others not only to join us in opposing the loyalty oath, but to reject the Zionist principles upon which it rests. Concretely, that means supporting Palestinian demands for an end to military occupation, implementation of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their land and equal rights for all throughout Palestine.