Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ali Ferzat Cartoon : Truce... Drop it gently

2 Hamas leaders killed in Syria, sources say


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Two Hamas leaders were killed by the Syrian army in Deraa refugee camp on Saturday, Palestinian sources said.

Ahmad Khalil Khalil and Ahmad al-Kharoubi were shot by Syrian soldiers in the country's southern refugee camp, sources told Ma'an. 

The bodies reportedly lay in the street for several hours before ambulances were able to reach the area. 

Syrian opposition activists reported a return to heavy government bombardment in major cities on Saturday, further undermining a truce intended to mark the Muslim Eid al-Adha religious holiday.

More than 150 people were killed on Friday, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based opposition organization with a network of sources within Syria.

Earlier in October, Assad's forces bombed Deraa camp killing at least 20 Palestinians and injuring dozens more, Palestinian refugees in Damascus told Ma'an. Sources in Deraa camp said that artillery shells and mortars targeted several streets near the area's mosque.

Some 225,000 Palestinian refugees have been directly affected by the 18-month-old uprising against Assad.

In August, Palestinian official Muhammad Shtayyeh said around 400 Palestinians had been killed in the internal conflict, although that figure is estimated to have significantly increased in recent months.

Al-Jazeera Video: 220 خرقا ارتكبها جيش النظام السوري

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria fighting rages despite truce deal

"Syrian opposition activists have reported a return of heavy government bombardment in major cities, further undermining a truce intended to mark the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday. Activists in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, the suburbs of Damascus and in Aleppo, where rebels hold big swathes of territory, said mortar bombs were being fired into residential areas on Saturday morning. The bombardment came on the second day of a truce called by international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who had hoped to use it to build broader moves towards ending the 19-month-old conflict. Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker reports."

Beneath Bahrain's Shia-versus-Sunni narrative, only the tyrants benefit

Through its repressive policies, the regime's long-term goal is to shift Bahrain's demographics: diluting the Shia majority,

"When you pick up the day's newspaper, it is not likely that you will find much coverage of the ongoing popular revolt in Bahrain. But on the off chance that Bahrain is mentioned, it is almost certain that two words will jump at you: Sunni and Shia. It is even more likely you will see some mention of a Shia revolt against a Sunni monarchy.
This is unfortunate; a very complicated situation is expediently packaged into a soundbite-like myth. That narrative is ahistorical and dangerous because, like all myths, there is a grain of truth to it.
Last year, when Bahrain's revolution began, it was not about sects. Sunnis, Shia along with Bahrain's "sushis" (people of mixed background), non-Muslims, atheists; all came together in Bahrain's version of Tahrir – Pearl Square. Their unifying demand was for a constitutional monarchy to be established in Bahrain. The people were demanding that the king honour his lofty reform promises made when he inherited the position from his Emir father.
This was the third act in a struggle predating the so-called Arab spring.....

Aided by more than 13 different European and American public relations companies at times, the regime aims to turn its blatant repression into a net asset by capitalising on the fear of the enemy du jour: Shia Iran. At the end of the day the fact remains the same: you can be Shia and loyal to the regime, like Sameera Rajab who is minister of information; and you can be Sunni, sentenced by a military court, tortured and serving time in prison, like Ebrahim Sharif.
Next time you pick up a newspaper remember that the sectarian Shia-versus-Sunni narrative only serves Bahrain's tyrants. That is, of course, if Bahrain is written about at all."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

In the aftermath of the assassination of the intelligence chief in Lebanon, do you support the call for the Lebanese government to resign?

With about 200 responding so far, 80% said yes.

Syria fighting rages despite truce deal

Shelling reported in several areas as rebels and government forces blame each other for violations of Eid ceasefire.

"Syrian opposition activists have reported a return of heavy government bombardment in major cities, further undermining a truce intended to mark the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.
Activists in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, the suburbs of Damascus and in Aleppo, where rebels hold big swathes of territory, said mortar bombs were being fired into residential areas on Saturday morning.
The bombardment came on the second day of a truce called by international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who had hoped to use it to build broader moves towards ending the 19-month-old conflict which the opposition says has killed an estimated 32,000 people.
Reports of violence appeared to show that both sides had violated the ceasefire after the country experienced a relative lull in fighting on the first day of Eid.
"The army began firing mortars at 7am I have counted 15 explosions in one hour and we already have two civilians killed," said Mohammed Doumany, an activist from the Damascus suburb of Douma, where pockets of rebels are based.
"I can't see any difference from before the truce and now."......"

Friday, October 26, 2012

الاتحاد البرلماني الدولي يطالب إسرائيل بإطلاق سراح النواب الأسرى

البرغوثي وسعدات
طالب المجلس الحاكم للاتحاد البرلماني الدولي في قرار اتخذه اليوم، في كيبك بكندا، وبإجماع أعضائه بالإفراج الفوري عن نواب المجلس التشريعي الذين تعتقلهم إسرائيل في سجونها والتوقف عن سياسة الاعتقال الإداري بحقهم، معبراً عن رفضه استمرار احتجاز النواب الفلسطينيين في سجون الاحتلال الإسرائيلي وعلى رأسهم النائبين مروان البرغوثي واحمد سعدات.
Read more

Bankruptcy of Arab Dictators: Black is White! البشير: هجوم اليرموك أثبت ضعف إسرائيل

"قال الرئيس السوداني عمر البشير إن قصف إسرائيل للمجمع أثبت ضعفها وخوفها، مضيفا أن التغييرات السياسية التي حدثت في المنطقة أصابت إسرائيل بالطيش والرعب. ويعد هذا أول تعليق للبشير على الهجوم على مجمع اليرموك للتصنيع العسكري جنوبي الخرطوم الذي أسفر عن مقتل شخصين وأضرار جسيمة بالمصنع

Who Owns the World? Noam Chomsky on U.S.-Fueled Dangers, from Climate Change to Nuclear Weapons

Democracy Now!

"Transcript |
In the week when President Obama and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney debated issues of foreign policy and the economy, we turn to world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and MIT professor, Noam Chomsky. In a recent speech, Chomsky examined topics largely ignored or glossed over during the campaign: China, the Arab Spring, global warming, nuclear proliferation, and the military threat posed by Israel and the U.S. versus Iran. He reflects on the Cuban missile crisis, which took place 50 years ago this week and is still referred to as "the most dangerous moment in human history." He delivered this talk last month at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst at an event sponsored by the Center for Popular Economics. Chomsky’s talk was entitled "Who Owns the World?"...." 

Praying for More Cluster Bombs?

Praying for More Cluster Bombs?

Al-Jazeera Video: How temporary is Syria's Eid truce?

"Al Jazeera speaks to Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma."

Real News Video: Gaddafi and 66 Others Murdered After Capture - Human Rights Watch

Vijay Prashad: Report says that Misrata-based militias butchered Gaddafi then captured and disarmed members of the Gaddafi convoy and executed at least 66 at the nearby Mahari Hotel

More at The Real News

Israel: End Arbitrary Restrictions on Rights Group Officials Researcher Detained, Chairman Banned From Traveling

Researcher Detained, Chairman Banned From Traveling

Human Rights Watch
"(Jerusalem) – Israeli authorities should stop harassing members of a Palestinian prisoners’ rights group. Israeli authorities should immediately lift a travel ban on the group’s chairman and release a recently arrested researcher, or present evidence justifying the measures against them.

In August and September 2012, Israeli authorities issued orders prohibiting Abdullatif Ghaith, chairman of the board of the group, Addameer, from traveling abroad as well as from East Jerusalem, where he lives, to the rest of the West Bank, where the organization’s offices are located. On October 15, Israeli forces raided the West Bank home of Ayman Nasser, a researcher for the group, arrested him and questioned him about radio interviews he gave about prisoners and his membership in a youth organization. At military court hearings on October 18 and 24, military judges extended his detention on the basis of evidence he was not allowed to see. The Israeli military has not charged either man with wrongdoing or allowed them to see any evidence against them.

“It’s deeply ironic that Israel is arbitrarily detaining a researcher who has documented arbitrary detention, and violating the rights of the head of a human rights group,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Israel should provide valid justifications for its measures against Nasser and Ghaith or drop those measures immediately.”

Ghaith, 71, co-founded Addameer and served on its board for 20 years, the group said in a statement. On August 3, Ghaith responded to a summons to appear at the “Moskobiyya” detention facility in Jerusalem. Israeli security officials there handed him an order signed by the Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, prohibiting his travel abroad for six months because he was an unspecified “state security” threat......"

Syria: Free all prisoners of conscience after amnesty

25 October 2012

"All peaceful activists and other prisoners of conscience detained in Syria must be set free, Amnesty International said today after a mass amnesty was granted ahead of the Eid al-Adha religious festival.

On Tuesday, President Bashar al-Assad announced a general amnesty, reducing or eliminating prison terms for most crimes.

But as the amnesty did not cover anyone who had not yet been charged, it excluded many people currently held merely for exercising their basic rights such as freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, or for providing medical treatment or humanitarian assistance. It also excluded anyone who had been charged or convicted under the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2 July, which has in some cases has been used to imprison peaceful activists.

“This is the sixth amnesty decree to be issued since last year. Yet hundreds of peaceful activists, aid workers, lawyers, doctors and journalists will again be excluded – ironically in part because in many cases they are being held for prolonged periods without charge,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

“The Syrian authorities must free all prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally. All others should be charged with a recognizable criminal offence and tried in accordance with international fair trial standards, or released.

“The Syrian government should also grant immediate and unfettered access to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria and other independent international monitors to the country, including to all places of detention.”......"

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Weam Amasha: Fighting Occupation and Tyranny

Budour Hassan

The Syrian revolution as seen through the eyes of a former prisoner in Israeli dungeons
When Weam Amasha was released on October 18, 2011 in the prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas, hundreds of Syrians from the occupied Golan Heights welcomed him with bellowing chants in support of the Syrian revolution. The euphoria that accompanied his release, however, would soon die down and be supplanted with hostility and even violence against him and his family because of his staunch opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Born in Buqa’ata, a village in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Amasha’s first arrest by Israeli occupation forces came when he was only 16 after he set fire to an Israeli police station. He was released after serving an 18-month sentence but was re-arrested shortly after his release while suffering wounds due to a landmine that exploded in his hand. Amasha was sentenced to 20 years in occupation prisons after he was convicted of membership in a resistance group that planned to capture Israeli occupation soldiers. In May of 2011, Amasha wrote a letter in solidarity with the Syrian revolution from his cell in Gilboa prison. He stated that he would go on a hunger strike in protest of the killings of unarmed protesters by the Syrian regime and in solidarity with protesters’ demands for freedom, dignity and a modern and civil country.
It was his outspoken and uncompromising support for the Syrian uprising that deprived him of the warmth and community support that typically overwhelms released political prisoners in the Golan.
When I was released, I expected to be embraced by my community after long years of suffering behind Israeli bars, but instead, our home was attacked by regime supporters; they broke my father’s leg, assaulted my brothers. We were even boycotted,” Amasha told me. “It’s much more painful when your own people do this to you,” he added, heaving a tormented sigh.
Divided by the revolution
The small population in the occupied Golan has long been known for its strong unity and its tight-knitted, largely homogeneous social fabric. However, the Syrian revolution–which some regard as a Gulf-backed imperialist conspiracy–has markedly divided residents of the Golan. Regime supporters have held several large rallies pledging their loyalty to the regime and the Syrian Arab Army as well as expressing their unshakable faith in the promised reforms. On the other hand, anti-regime activists have been holding small weekly vigils to support the uprising and call for the downfall of the regime. This polarisation, Amasha says, is “an extension of the chasm we’re seeing in the Arab world in general. As patriarchal societies, we’re not fully prepared yet for radical changes brought up by youth.”
However, Amasha admits that the Golan has its own unique situation. Amasha affirms that although the people of the Golan are under Israeli occupation, they haven’t escaped the vigilant surveillance of the Palestine Branch–one of the most notorious intelligence branches in Syria.
“The Syrian regime has embedded its own agents in the Golan and their job is not to spy on Israeli occupation forces, but rather to spy on residents and file reports about any anti-regime activity,” he said. “This explains why, despite not being under its direct control, the barrier of fear hasn’t been broken here, especially for those who study in Syria or have family members there.”
Amasha added: “While the Syrian regime was committing the Hama massacre in 1982, the people in the Golan were collectively rising up against the Israeli occupation’s decision to annex the Golan Heights and the attempt to force Israeli citizenship on us. This popular mobilisation for freedom actually rankled the Syrian regime because it did not want any segment of the Syrian people to find their voices and perhaps inspire other Syrians. This is why it’s been important for Hafez and then his son to keep the Golan under the boots of the mukhabarat.”
A bulwark of resistance?
I asked Amasha to explain why so many prominent resistance activists in the Golan and Palestine, including former prisoners who spent decades in Israeli occupation jails, vehemently back the regime: “You obviously cannot question the patriotism and the ethics of these freedom fighters. They genuinely believe that this regime is part of the resistance axis, and overthrowing it is a massive blow to resistance.”
When I asked him whether he thinks that this regime is indeed a bulwark of resistance, he replied: “For the regime, supporting resistance is not a moral and principled stance, but rather a position based on interests. The regime monopolised the idea of resistance and used it to subjugate and maintain control over the Syrian people, on the one hand, and as a bargaining chip in international arenas, on the other hand. If the Syrian regime was principled about its support for resistance,” Amasha wonders, “why did it disperse by force pro-Palestinian protests in Damascus during the Second Intifada? Why did regime forces attack demonstrators against the war on Iraq? The history of this regime is full of massacres against Palestinian resistance movements in Lebanon, but not once has it come close to firing a bullet at the Israeli occupation army since 1973.”
“Freedom cannot be compromised”
Amasha’s message to resistance activists who insist on siding with the Syrian regime against what he describes as the “popular revolution in Syria” is clear: “You cannot oppose a foreign occupier but accept the oppression of a local tyrant. Freedom cannot be compromised and divided.”

Rebel Troops Take Two Christian and One Kurdish Neighborhood Thursday Morning (Oct 25, 2012)

By Joshua Landis

"Reports from friends inside suggest that Aleppo is falling to rebel troops. Both major Christian areas – al-Syriaan al-Jadide and al-Syriaan al-Qadime have fallen. The regime’s largest Mukhabarat station is in the second area. FSA sharpshooters have gone to the tops of all buildings in these areas with no government opposition. The major Kurdish neighborhood – Ashrafiya – gave no resistance. The government had been counting on the Kurds to hold back the FSA fighters. If opposition troops can hold these neighborhoods in the center of town, it is bad news for the government. Regime seems to have cut it loose....."

The Philosophy of Tyranny

By Maysaloon

"Stalin once said that half a million deaths is a statistic but the death of one is a tragedy. As Syrians we've stopped registering shock at the news of a hundred deaths a day in the country.....

Solzhenitsyn knew about Stalin, and he wrote about the Lie. He knew that the violence cannot sustain itself without the Lie. Assad's friends know about the Lie as well. They know how to cultivate it like a weed, and then they help to gently spread it wherever it can grow. When it covers everything then they will be happy, because their job is done and the violence is stabilized. Everything Assad learnt about the violence, he learnt from his father, who, in turn, learnt a lot from Stalin. So we too should learn from those who came before us. We should learn about Solzhenitsyn and about the Lie. We should know that its harmlessness threatens us all, that it is the life support for Assad's violence. We cannot stop his violence, but we can stop the Lie and in this way deny tyranny a shelter. We must force this tyranny out into the open and expose its ugliness and brutality, that nobody can be under any illusion about it. Only when the brutality is seen for what it truly is that it can die out, because it cannot sustain itself by naked violence alone.

There are some who might think that we can counter a lie with a lie and they are right to a certain extent, but the point is not to counter Assad's lies, the point is to destroy them. To do that we only need to say the truth. It is this truth which can be used to shame those people who are outwardly good but justify such evil. When they only use their freedom of speech to deny it to others, in the civilized discussions where they can present their "point of view", they use the Lie shamelessly, and are only silenced by the truth. The only weapon they have against the truth is time and the frailty of human memory and so they wait and listen in silence. A year passes, then two. Assad digs in and from his bunker in Damascus wages war upon those who will not worship him. One day, he knows, people will grow tired and forget. Then he can maintain with the Lie what he could only seize with violence. Until then, he waits, and waits and waits while the killing goes on."

Al-Jazeera Video: People & Power - Egypt: The Future Awaits

"It has been 20 months since the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's president, and four months since his successor was elected. But when the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi became the country's first democratically elected head of state on June 24, 2012, there were still many grievances outstanding."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria rebel army faction admits mistakes

"Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, announced a temporary truce on Wednesday, saying Bashar al-Assad's government will sign up.
The UN Security Council has now unanimously endorsed the ceasefire.
Brahimi also said many rebel groups had agreed, but one of the greatest obstacles of the ceasefire is the division within opposition groups.
The Free Syrian Army - an umbrella term for opposition fighters there - has been described as unco-ordinated, untrained and hampered by infighting.
General Rahal, a senior defector from one of the Syrian government's military academies, talked to Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught in the northern Idlib province about the mistakes that have been made.
"There is no revolution in the whole world without mistakes," he said."

Al-Jazeera Video: ما وراء الخبر/ اتهام إسرائيل بقصف مصنع أسلحة سوداني

Emad Hajjaj's Cartoon: Bashar's Candy for the Eid; Cluster Bombs!

Egypt Revolution Makes It Worse for Women

"During the uprising that toppled Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak women stood shoulder to shoulder with men in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, pressing the revolution’s demands for freedom, justice and dignity. But those who hoped the revolution would make them equal partners in Egypt’s future claim they may be worse off now than under Mubarak’s authoritarian rule....."

Americans would also gain from scaling back the empire

The presidential foreign policy debate showed how close the candidates were – and how far from their own public opinion
(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

The Guardian,
Whoever runs Washington heads a global empire. American politics affects people's lives in every part of the world, often as a matter of life or death. So it's scarcely surprising that more than 40% of those polled around the world say they want the right to vote in US presidential elections.

After all, the American revolution was fought on the slogan of "no taxation without representation". So long as the US government arrogates to itself the right to impose its "leadership" by force across the world, a contemporary version of the colonists' demand might be: "no global power without accountability".....

Of course the rest of the world doesn't really want a vote in American elections but the US off its back. Far better for most Americans, too, if that bloated military budget were to be slashed, troops withdrawn and bases closed – and the money spent instead on jobs, schools and health in the US itself."

Syria: Live Updates

The Guardian


Spreading the conflict to Lebanon?

Wissam al-Hassan, the intelligence chief of Lebanon’s internal security forces who was assassinated in Beirut last week, offered a grim view of the Syria conflict during a visit to the US in August, the Washington Post reports.
Dictator Bashar al-Assad, he told us, still had a chance to outlast the rebellion against him, though “it will take a couple of years and more than 100,000 killed.” For the Assad regime, he added, “one of the solutions of the Syrian conflict is to move it outside Syria. He survives by making it a regional conflict.”
Hassan's death in a bomb attack last Friday was seen by many as confirming his prediction about the conflict spreading......."

Syria bombing is a blast against social harmony

My old Damascus neighbourhood, the lively district of Bab Touma, brings together people from all faiths – it is that community spirit which Bashar al-Assad is trying to destroy

The Guardian

"When I heard that Bab Touma in Damascus had been bombed last Sunday morning, my first thought was how many people in my old neighbourhood I would have known, at least by sight, as they poured out of mass or went about their shopping. In a community so tight, where all of life is conducted within a few dense streets, it was inevitable. The police station – apparently the bomb's target – was where I registered my son's birth when I brought him home from the French hospital down the road. Our family doctor might well have been having his watch mended at the Armenian shop next door, and our local Aramaic-speaking baker, who baked communion bread for the quarter's churches, could have been riding his rusty bike home over the Roman bridge across the square when disaster struck.
Bab Touma Street is the heart of Damascus's Christian quarter, but it also encapsulates the essence of Syria and all that Syrians could be proud of, at least until last year, when words such as "sectarian" first began to rear their ugly heads. The busy, cobbled thoroughfare runs from Bab Touma (which means the Gate of St Thomas), to the street called Straight, a road mentioned in the Bible, and boasts two mosques and three churches (Maronite, Roman Catholic and Syrian Orthodox) on its 300m stretch. Its bakeries are owned by Shia families, Druze ladies sell homemade white cheese and herbs on the narrow pavements between the Greek Catholic florist and the Armenian photography shop, and the popular juice bar is run by Brylcreemed Kurds. Bab Touma street was where everyone rubbed along, as they visited its many hairdressers, shopped for hardware, lace mantillas, spices or underwear. It is, or at least was, the centre of Damascus's restaurant scene and nightlife, and the crowds that flocked there on Thursday evenings – the beginning of the weekend – would always surprise anyone who had previously doubted that hijabs, skinny jeans, skimpy Lycra and heavy makeup could coexist on one girl in the so-called conservative Middle East. Muslims come to Bab Touma for the lively restaurant scene, but it is also not unusual to see women in hijabs tending to the Virgin Mary shrines at street corners.
Of course, no Syrian I knew found it odd that the Greek Catholic florist, Jihad, had that surprising name. None of my neighbours thought it strange that the Shia owner of the bakery, famous for his thyme-filled croissants and lurid baptism cakes, should have the Virgin Mary tattooed on to his forearm, nor that in the summer of 2006, the Christian quarter's cake shops should sell large yellow and green Hizbollah flag-cakes in solidarity for the Lebanese victims of Israeli bombing. It was totally normal that school children of all faiths sported rucksacks with the face of Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi "George Bush shoe-thrower" and pan-Arab hero. My best Christmas decorations were bought in the shade of the Umayyad mosque just down the road in the souq. Days before my son's baptism, I was cheerfully told that he was a Jew – like St Paul, another local, you were Jewish until christened.
It has long been said of Syria that this unselfconscious harmony makes it a paragon in the Middle East. And yet, this harmony is precisely what one man, Bashar al-Assad, along with a handful of family members, is bent on trying to destroy."

Syria: Free Peaceful Activists, Journalists, Aid Workers in Amnesty

Give Independent Monitors Access to Detention Facilities
October 25, 2012

"(New York) – President Bashar al-Assad should release all peaceful activists, media professionals, and humanitarian assistance providers as part of an amnesty announced on October 23, 2012, Human Rights Watch, Alkarama, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Index on Censorship, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Reporters Without Borders, and Samir Kassir Foundation – Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom said today. These persons have been detained purely for exercising their basic rights such as freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, or for assisting others and therefore should not have been detained or prosecuted in the first place, the groups said......

“If President Assad is serious about his amnesty, he should open the doors of all his prisons to independent monitors to check who is actually detained and why,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Otherwise, this amnesty will be yet another false promise, with released detainees soon replaced by other activists, humanitarians, and journalists locked up for peacefully doing their jobs.”
Some of the worst human rights abuses in Syria take place outside of public view, behind the cell walls of detention facilities, where thousands of Syrians, including many women and children, are arbitrarily detained and in many documented cases, brutally tortured. Peaceful activists, human rights defenders, aid workers, lawyers, doctors, writers, and journalists continue to be held, often arbitrarily, in incommunicado detention, and subject to torture and ill-treatment......"

Non-Jewish majority: The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?

Security has been a "primary justification" for Zionist policies of land expropriation and removal of Palestinians.

By Mark LeVine

"........It's not merely an historical coincidence that in South Africa the National Party, which was the driving force behind apartheid, came into power in 1948, the year of Israel's establishment. Most every white settler colony, whether South Africa, Rhodesia, or Israel, as well as existing states born out of this model of settlement, such as Australia or the United States, required restrictive racial laws to ensure the ongoing power of the dominant group.

The various apartheid laws enacted in the 1950s were particularly intense because whites were a small minority in South Africa compared with the black population. In contrast, Israel was able to expel and/or prevent the return of most of Palestine's non-Jewish inhabitants, thus producing a strong Jewish majority inside the Green Line and a slight majority in all of mandate Palestine.
This ratio would be skewed significantly towards Jews for several decades before returning to a level of relative parity in the last half decade that hasn't been seen since the immediate aftermath of the 1948 war.
One of the reasons Israel has been able to enact and continue policies of systematic discrimination for decades without serious reproach from Western powers is because of the expert way it has attenuated them to provide a veneer of democracy within Israel and while being subsumed under the rubric of "security" in the Occupied Territories.......

In the Occupied Territories, which have from the start been administered under a de jure system of separation, exclusion, discrimination, economic domination and removal from land - that is, apartheid - these violations are either justified or buried under the discourse of security. Indeed, security has been a primary justification for Zionist policies of land expropriation and removal of Palestinians since the very beginning of Zionist settlement in the late 19th century.
Apartheid is both a crucial strategy and natural consequence of most colonial projects, which require the separation of the coloniser and colonised in order to establish and maintain the political, economic and social hierarchies that entrench the power of the former over the latter....

With the demographic tipping point now having been reached, that balance, if painfully and violently, will inevitably swing toward the Palestinian side. As this occurs Israel/Palestine could suffer the same fate as 1980s-era Lebanon, or Israelis and Palestinians could seek inspiration from the largely forgotten and often distorted memories of Jewish-Arab co-existence to create a future in which all the country's inhabitants, "from the River to the Sea, are free". That may sound naive and pollyanish but one thing is for sure, when practical solutions are no longer viable, utopian solutions suddenly no longer seem so unrealistic. And that offers both peoples a unique opportunity to move towards a just and lasting settlement to their century-old conflict, if they're able to seize it."

Video: عزمي بشارة..حتى تكتمل الصورة

في حلقة من برنامج "حتى تكتمل الصورة" على قناة النيل السودانية
October 24, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria's rebels hold uneasy alliances

"There are many rebel groups in Syria and they have different visions of how the country should be led.

The brigades have joined forces in some of the battles, but there are uncertainties if they are unified enough to win a war.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from the town of Bab al Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Does the visit of Qatar's Emir to Gaza represent the beginning of the siege break?

With about 700 responding, 57% said yes.

Manipulating History: The Different Faces of 'Popular Resistance' in Palestine

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"....It was Abbas’ way of escaping forward. He needed to quell the mounting anger and resentment of his lacking leadership. His message targeted and continues to be aimed at dual audiences: Palestinians, thus the word “resistance” and international, thus ‘non-violence’ and “so that nobody misunderstand us.”

Abbas has little credibility as far as unleashing any form of resistance against Israel.....

The story of popular resistance in Palestine is a century old. However, its origins are often dated to 1936, when Palestinians, Muslims and Christians, rebelled against the Zionist colonial drive and the British role in espousing it and laboring to ensure its success. In April 1936, all five Palestinian political parties joined in under the umbrella of the Arab Higher Committee (AHC). That unity was pressing and was a reflection of the general attitude among ordinary Palestinians. A general strike was declared, ushering the start of Palestine’s legendary civil disobedience campaign – as exemplified in its cry of ‘No Taxation without Representation’. The 1936 uprising sent a stern message to the British government that Palestinians were nationally unified and capable of acting as an assertive, self-assured society in ways that could indeed disturb the matrix of British mandatory rule over the country. The British administration in Palestine had thus far discounted the Palestinian demand for independence and paid little attention to their grave concerns about the rising menace of Zionism and its colonial project.

Of course these are not distant histories. That collective action was hardly a passing phase, but was repeated throughout history, even after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 which institutionalized the Israeli occupation and ruthlessly punished those who dared resist.

The PA in Ramallah should quit utilizing and referencing the notion of ‘popular resistance’ while doing everything in its power to suppress it; and Abbas’ rivals must not associate popular resistance with Oslo and its bankrupt institutions, for history can easily delink that distorted connection. Popular resistance in Palestine continues to exist not because of the Palestinian leadership but despite of it."

The starvation diet for Gaza shows the blockade will fall

By Jonathan Cook
The National

"Six and a half years ago, shortly after Hamas won the Palestinian national elections and took control of Gaza, a senior Israeli official described Israel's planned response. "The idea," he said, "is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger."

Alhough Dov Weisglass was an adviser to Ehud Olmert, the prime minister of the day, few observers treated his comment as more than hyperbole, a supposedly droll characterisation of the blockade Israel was about to impose on the tiny enclave.

Last week, however, evidence finally emerged to prove that indeed this did become Israeli policy. After a three-year legal battle by an Israeli human rights group, Gisha, Israel was forced to disclose its so-called "Red Lines" document. Drafted in early 2008, the defence ministry paper set forth proposals on how to treat Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Health officials provided calculations of the minimum number of calories needed by Gaza's 1.5 million inhabitants to avoid malnutrition. Those figures were then translated into truckloads of food Israel was supposed to allow in each day.....

On the first day of the Gaza offensive, Yoav Galant, the commander in charge, explained the aim succinctly: it was to "send Gaza decades into the past". Seen in this context, Mr Weisglass' diet can be understood as just one more refinement of the Dahiya doctrine: a society refashioned to accept its subjugation through a combination of violence, poverty, malnutrition and a permanent struggle over limited resources.
This experiment in the manufacture of Palestinian despair is, it goes with saying, both illegal and grossly immoral. As cracks open in Israel's blockade, including the Qatari diplomatic mission this week, the experiment is also ultimately certain to be futile."

Al-Jazeera Video: ما وراء الخبر- تداعيات زيارة أمير قطر لقطاع غزة

"تناقش الحلقة تداعيات زيارة أمير قطر لقطاع غزة، والتي تعد الأولى لرئيس عربي منذ فرض الحصار على غزة 2007 ، فما هي الأبعاد السياسية والاقتصادية للزيارة؟ وهل يمكن أن يبنى على هذه الزيارة في كسر الحصار من قبل دول أخرى؟

The emir of Qatar's visit to Gaza has provided "a stunning boost" for Hamas

The Guardian
"Qatar, whose per-capita income is now the highest in the world, is in effect using its enormous oil and gas riches and close ties to Islamist organisations to expand its regional influence in the wake of its involvement in the uprisings against Libya's Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad in Syria ...
Observers in the region also see the visit in part as a reward to Hamas for ending its support for Assad. Until a few months ago, the movement's exiled leadership was based in Damascus, helping bolster Syria's credentials as a key member of the "axis of resistance" confronting Israel, along with Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon...."

Video: Noam Chomsky at The American University in Cairo

Emerging world order and the Arab Spring

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Osama Hamdan on Qatari emir's Gaza visit

"Osama Hamdan, a senior member of Hamas, talks to Al Jazeera about the Qatari emir's historic visit to Gaza."

Al-Jazeera Video:Aleppo struggles to survive amid violence

"Amid the destruction and chaos, people in war-ravaged Aleppo are trying to keep going and survive.

In between the onslaughts of Syrian army artillery and airstrikes, small markets are springing up, selling groceries, cooking gas and fresh meat.

Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught has this exclusive report from Aleppo."

Israeli poll finds majority in favour of 'apartheid' policies

Two-thirds say Palestinians should not be allowed to vote if West Bank was annexed, while three in four favour segregated roads

in Jerusalem,
More than two-thirds of Israeli Jews say that 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank should be denied the right to vote if the area was annexed by Israel, in effect endorsing an apartheid state, according to an opinion poll reported in Haaretz.

Three out of four are in favour of segregated roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, and 58% believe Israel already practises apartheid against Palestinians, the poll found.

A third want Arab citizens within Israel to be banned from voting in elections to the country's parliament. Almost six out of 10 say Jews should be given preference to Arabs in government jobs, 49% say Jewish citizens should be treated better than Arabs, 42% would not want to live in the same building as Arabs and the same number do not want their children going to school with Arabs.

A commentary by Gideon Levy, which accompanied the results of the poll, described the findings as disturbing. "Israelis themselves … are openly, shamelessly and guiltlessly defining themselves as nationalistic racists," he wrote......."

Defected woman general trains Syria's rebels

Zubaida al-Meeki was the first woman officer to quit President Bashar al-Assad's forces to join the Free Syrian Army.


"In a revolution that has become associated with masculine bravado and gunfights in the streets, Zubaida al-Meeki stands out.

A former Syrian army general, she became the first woman officer to publicly announce her defection from President Bashar al-Assad's army after seeing what she describes as "crimes and atrocities committed by the regime".

An Alawite originally from the Occupied Golan Heights, bordering Israel, al-Meeki used to work in the army's recruitment division in Bibila, a town south of Damascus that was mostly seized by rebels in August after heavy fighting with regime forces.

Al-Meeki says she had planned to defect and join the Free Syrian Army (FSA) since October last year but was unable to do so because of constant surveillance imposed on army officers by the regime.
"When they suspected that I may defect, they stormed our house [and] broke the front door," she told Al Jazeera. "Then early in 2012, they fired my brother from his government job in the health administration in the city of Quneitra."

But after the FSA took control of major parts of Bibila, al-Meeki approached a checkpoint manned by opposition forces and told them she wanted to join the fight against Assad's regime...... 

Al-Jazeera Video: Emir of Qatar in historic visit to Gaza

"Qatar's ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, has just arrived in Gaza.

He's the first head of state to officially visit the Strip since Hamas routed Fatah in internecine fighting in 2007.

The emir is expected to inaugurate several reconstruction projects, helping rebuild education, housing and infrastructure facilities.

Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston has more details."

Al-Jazeera Video:Some Syrians abandon refugee camps and head home

: إسقاط طائرات مروحية ومقاتلة في سوريا: Al-Jazeera Video

Al-Jazeera Video: ما وراء الخبر- ابعاد التصعيد الإسرائيلي على قطاع غزة

Over 100,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon now: UNHCR

"(Reuters) - Lebanon has become the third of Syria's neighbors after Turkey and Jordan to register more than 100,000 refugees from Syria's civil war, the U.N. refugee agency said on Tuesday.

In all, more than 358,000 Syrians fleeing the 19-month-old conflict have registered in four neighboring states, including Iraq, and tens of thousands more have fled but not sought international assistance, it said.

Lebanon has seen its own Syrian-related unrest, exacerbated by the assassination last week of a senior intelligence officer who had pursued evidence of Syrian attempts to destabilize Lebanon.
"In Lebanon, we have not seen, despite the recent turmoil, a decrease in people crossing," UNHCR chief spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told a news briefing in Geneva.

Jordan now has 105,737 registered Syrian refugees, followed by 101,834 in Turkey, 101,283 in Lebanon and 42,661 in Iraq. The UNHCR has forecast that a total of up to 700,000 Syrian refugees may have fled abroad by the end of the year......"

Syria Crisis: Live Updates

The Guardian


President Bashar al-Assad is effectively raising the price that hostile neighbouring countries and the major powers must pay for his overthrow, by actively fuelling the region-wide conflagration that UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says could be sparked by unchecked violence inside Syria ...
By constantly raising the stakes for all concerned, Assad hopes he can somehow cling to power – or take everyone down with him......"

Syria: Despite Denials, More Cluster Bomb Attacks

Compelling New Evidence of Use
Human Rights Watch
"(New York) – Mounting evidence shows that Syria’s air force is continuing to drop cluster bombs on towns across five governorates despite the Syrian army’s denial that it is using them, Human Rights Watch said today.  Data compiled by Human Rights Watch shows an important increase in the use of cluster bombs in the past two weeks. The cluster bomb strikes are part of an intensifying air campaign by government forces on rebel-held areas that has included dropping high explosive, fragmentation, and even improvised “barrel” bombs into populated areas.
Following an October 14, 2012 report by Human Rights Watch on Syria’s use of cluster bombs, Syria’s army issued a statement denying it was using cluster bombs and saying it did not possess such weapons. Since then, Human Rights Watch has gathered new evidence of ongoing cluster bomb attacks by Syria’s air force and has confirmed them through interviews with victims, other residents and activists who filmed the cluster munitions, as well as analysis of 64 videos and also photos showing weapon remnants of 10 new cluster bomb strikes in or near the towns of Salkeen and Kfar Takharim in the Northern governorate of Idlib; Eastern al-Buwayda, Talbiseh, Rastan, and Qusayr in Homs governorate; al-Bab in Aleppo governorate; al-Duwair and al-Salheya in Deir al-Zor governorate; and Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus.

Syria’s denial is meaningless as evidence mounts that cluster bombs are raining down on towns and villages,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch. “Syria’s air force is imposing a reign of terror on civilians in rebel-held areas across the country with cluster bombs and other explosive weapons dropped from aircraft.”........"

Tunisia: At a crossroads, Tunisia must choose the path of human rights

"Progress on human rights in Tunisia that followed the ousting of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is being rolled back by the current Tunisian Government, casting doubt on their commitment to reforms, Amnesty International warned as the country marked the first anniversary of National Constituent Assembly (NCA) elections.

In a new briefing, One step forward, two steps back? the organization examines the challenges facing human rights in Tunisia since the October 2011 elections and identifies worrying trends, making a series  of detailed recommendations.

In the months following the ousting of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the caretaker government made important progress on the road to reform including the ratification of key international human rights treaties.

The authorities also ordered the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience held before the uprising, enacted new laws on the freedom of the press and lifted restrictions on the creation of associations. 

However, the new government has failed to maintain these initiatives and a number of setbacks now cast a shadow on Tunisia’s genuine commitment to human rights.

“Tunisia was the birth place of the momentous events that swept the region in 2011. And while we acknowledge that measures were taken by the authorities to address the legacy of abuse and move forward, these did not go far enough, and there are now worrying signs that these and other urgently needed reforms could be at risk,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International

Recent months have seen Those injured during the uprisings and the families of those killed feel the truth has not been increased restrictions on freedom of expression, with journalists, artists, critics of the government, writers and bloggers targeted under the guise of maintaining public order and public morals. told, as they wait for justice and reparation.

The Tunisian authorities have also appeared unable or unwilling to protect individuals from attacks by groups believed to be affiliated with Salafist groups......"

Monday, October 22, 2012

Max Blumenthal's foreign policy presidential debate reaction

ما بعد القوة الناعمة: السياسة القطرية تجاه دول الثورات العربية

إذن، فإن قطر تحلم بدور لها في المنطقة لا يتناسب بالضرورة مع إمكاناتها كدولة، ومن هنا جاء الربيع العربي بمثابة فرصة ذهبية أمامها لبلورة وصقل هذا الدور، مستفيدة في ذلك من غياب دور القوي التقليدية في المنطقة المنشغلة بأوضاعها الداخلية، أو تخشي زعزعة النظام الإقليمي الهش. وقد تمكنت الدوحة، نتيجة لصغر حجمها وهيكل اتخاذ القرار، من التعامل بسرعة وجرأة مع الأحداث المتلاحقة، وهو ما يعطيها ميزة نسبية وفرصة لتخطي القوي الكبري(25). إن ما تريده قطر هو أن تظل في قلب أحداث المنطقة، وأن تقوم بدور الوسيط بين المنطقة والعالم الغربي. وهذا بدوره يفسر حرص قطر علي الحفاظ علي علاقات مع مختلف الأطراف السياسية في المنطقة، خاصة المعادية للغرب، أو التي يتوجس الغرب منها ويجد صعوبة في التواصل معها، مثل القوي الإسلامية(26). كما أنه أصبح واضحا لقطر من خلال خبرتها في التوسط في النزاعات أنها تفتقر إلي العمق والثقل التاريخيين، وكذلك الوجود علي أرض الصراع من خلال علاقات قوية بالقوي السياسية المؤثرة في مجريات الأمور، وهو الأمر الذي تحاول قطر بناءه من خلال الرهان علي التيارات الإسلامية الصاعدة. كما أن مجرد تصدرها للرأي العام العربي، كمدافعة عن الثوار الراغبين في الحرية والديمقراطية، هو في حد ذاته فرصة لا تعوض لتسويق الدور القطري دوليا)

Syria Comment

By Joshua Landis
"This video explains to what level Syria has arrived. Syrian soldiers threaten to beat a young man as they make him chant that he loves Bashar and accepts him as God. They smile among themselves in self affirmation and mirth, as they terrify the teenager. He is cowering blindfolded against a wall. Bashar al-Assad claims his soldiers are fighting “fundamentalists” even as they impose their religion of al-Assad on terrified Syrians. The Salafis cannot be worse. This sort of video has become a trope. They have popped up with terrifying regularity since the first months of the revolution and express the ideological endgame of the regime. Assad is God."

Chomsky in Gaza: academic boycott “will strengthen support for Israel”

20 October 2012

"Legendary MIT linguistics professor and political author Noam Chomsky has been visiting the Gaza Strip for a linguistics conference and as a demonstration of political solidarity.

The Electronic Intifada’s Rami Almeghari sat down with Chomsky in Gaza City to talk about his views on the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, the Palestinian Authority’s UN bid, and what a political settlement in Palestine may look like......"

The full story behind the war against free speech in Israel’s universities

By Jonathan Cook
The Electronic Intifada

"A sustained battle by the Israeli right to stifle academic freedom at the country’s universities is close to claiming its first major scalp.

In an unprecedented move last month, officials from Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) — a government-appointed body overseeing universities and colleges — recommended the effective closure of the politics department of Ben Gurion University, based in the Negev/Naqab city of Beersheva.
Unless a rearguard action is successful by the university to mobilize protests from overseas academics, a meeting of the full CHE later this month is expected to rubber-stamp the decision to cancel the department’s enrollment of students for next year.

The threatened closure comes in the wake of a series of repressive measures sanctioned by the hardline right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu to intimidate or silence domestic criticism, from human rights groups to the media and judiciary....."

Bahrain rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja pulls out of UNESCO ceremony over honor to Israel’s Peres

By Ali Abunimah

"Bahrain human rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja has pulled out of a UNESCO human rights conference that is honoring her father, political prisoner Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, because the same event is honoring Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Amnesty International considers Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and other Bahrain rights activists held in prison “to be prisoners of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly” and has called for their immediate, unconditional release.
Maryam Al-Khawaja was scheduled to speak in her father’s place at the 13th Annual UNESCO Chair & Institute of Comparative Human Rights Conference at the University of Connecticut on 23 October, titled “Legacies Of Human Rights Leadership And Struggles.”

Whilst I am honored that you chose my father, I am also utterly disappointed that you would honor him alongside a person who has been responsible for many human rights violations and should be put on trial, not honored,” Al-Khawaja wrote in an open letter to UNESCO, in her personal capacity, announcing her withdrawal. Al-Khawaja sent a copy of the letter to The Electronic Intifada......"

Guardian Video: Journalist attacked in Cairo's Tahrir Square


"Footage from France 24 shows the moments just before a female journalist was attacked and groped by a group of men while filming live during protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Friday night. The footage shows Sonia Dridi surrounded by a mob while filming in the square. Her colleague, Ashraf Khalil, cut off the broadcast and led her away as the crowd began to move in."

Al-Jazeera Video: حديث الثورة - تداعيات اغتيال وسام الحسن

Aleppo May Be Soon to Fall into Rebel Hands — Notes from an Aleppine friend

By Joshua Landis

"......After speaking to contacts in Aleppo, I think that the regime will have a very difficult time taking back the city now. The battle lines have tipped in favor of the rebels if you look at the map of the city. There are only one or two key regime holdouts before the city falls totally under their control."