Saturday, July 22, 2006

Irreligious Questions To Ayatollah Sistani

Sistani had issued the following announcement concerning the onslaught on Lebanon on July 16, 2006, calling upon "The world community needs to move on to stop the continuation of this flagrant aggression". There is not a single mention of the United States of America.
The following are a few questions that might be posed to him (as he is an authority to respond):
- Who is supporting Israeli to the hilt militarily, financially, diplomatically and politically?
- Who is claiming that what is happening to Lebanon are merely "birth pangs of a new Middle East" and that "Israel should ignore calls for a ceasefire"?
- Who is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel in order to swiftly replenish those American munitions that were dropped by Israel on the heads of Lebanese civilians, villages and cities?
- Who initiated, encouraged and promoted the original death squads in Iraq?
- Who has forcefully wedged religious strife into the Iraqi society that is leading to the death of thousands of Iraqis every month as a consequence of it?
- Who issued an edict in March 2003 exhorting the faithful "not to fight the American occupiers" and has not, till now, rescinded it? (It should be noted that all edicts, and only those issued after the occupation, are posted on the site)
- What will be the position of his eminence in the event that the conflict does expand to include an Israeli/American attack on Iran itself, as the neoconservatives and the Israeli government have been clamoring for? What will be the position of his eminence's religious/political parties? Will they defend those that are protecting them in the 'Green Zone' or scramble to assist their political mentors in Tehran?
These humble questions were posted to the page where his eminence is hoped to answer them. They were posted under the section of "abortion".

Collective punishment isn't self-defense

As commander of a Nazi einsatzgruppen death squad in occupied Poland, Dr. Werner Best came to believe that the most effective response to terrorism was collective punishment. After the fall of France he went on to draft the Third Reich's counterterrorism policy for countries occupied by Germany. Towns where acts of "passive" resistance such as the cutting of telegraph cables had taken place were placed under curfews, fined and slapped with travel restrictions. "Active" resistance--the killing of a German soldier--would be met by reprisal killings of local civilians....

Now Israel is "reacting" to the capture of two of its soldiers by the Palestinian resistance organization Hezbollah by invading and bombing Lebanon. Death tolls that fall disproportionately heavily upon Palestinians have long been a hallmark of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During the 2000-03 intifada, for example, at least seven Palestinians were killed by Israelis for every Israeli killed by a Palestinian. Now, as of this writing, more than 500 Lebanese civilians have been killed by Israeli bombs. On the Israeli side, 15 civilians have died in Hezbollah rocket attacks and 14 soldiers have been killed in combat.

Current ratio: 30-to-1.

Read the rest

Lebanon's 9/11 or Why Do They Hate Us? Picture Album

Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land

The content of this video is familiar to anyone exposed to the Palestinian cause; it is an EXCELLENT free resource for people who have been shielded from the truth about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Please pass it on to everyone you know, ask people to post it on their websites and blogs.

Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land

Here is a summary of the video from the Media Education Foundation:

Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land provides a striking comparison of U.S. and international media coverage of the crisis in the Middle East, zeroing in on how structural distortions in U.S. coverage have reinforced false perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This pivotal documentary exposes how the foreign policy interests of American political elites--oil, and a need to have a secure military base in the region, among others--work in combination with Israeli public relations strategies to exercise a powerful influence over how news from the region is reported.

Through the voices of scholars, media critics, peace activists, religious figures, and Middle East experts, Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land carefully analyzes and explains how--through the use of language, framing and context--the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza remains hidden in the news media, and Israeli colonization of the occupied terrorities appears to be a defensive move rather than an offensive one. The documentary also explores the ways that U.S. journalists, for reasons ranging from intimidation to a lack of thorough investigation, have become complicit in carrying out Israel's PR campaign. At its core, the documentary raises questions about the ethics and role of journalism, and the relationship between media and politics.
The Israelis can rain bombs down on them, destroy their infrastructure, and kill their children--but nothing, N O T H I N G will kill the Lebanese OR the Palestinian spirit.

People around the world condemn Israeli crimes in Lebanon

Soldiers claim ordered to 'kill all military age males'

EL PASO (AP) — Four U.S. soldiers accused of murdering suspected insurgents during a raid in Iraq said they were under orders to "kill all military age males," according to sworn statements obtained by The Associated Press.

The soldiers first took some of the men into custody because they were using two women and a toddler as human shields. They shot three of the men after the women and child were safe and say the men attacked them.

"The ROE (rule of engagement) was to kill all military age males on Objective Murray," Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard told investigators, referring to the target by its code name.


Meanwhile in Iraq, Iraqi Parliament Speaker: U.S. Butchers Should Leave Iraq

Iraqi speaker decries US 'butchery'

By Aljazeera


"Aljazeera" -- -- US forces have committed butchery in Iraq and should leave, the speaker of the country's parliament has said.

Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was speaking on Saturday at a UN-sponsored conference on transitional justice and reconciliation in Baghdad."

Just get your hands off Iraq and the Iraqi people and Muslim countries, and everything will be all right," he said in a speech as the conference opened.

"What has been done in Iraq is a kind of butchery of the Iraqi people." He also criticised US support for Israeli attacks against Lebanon.

The two-day conference, which was originally supposed to be opened by Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, will address the issue of dealing with the crimes of previous regimes and a plan to reconcile warring factions.

The prime minister is expected to name a reconciliation committee on Saturday.Al-Mashhadani told the audience of UN officials, foreign experts, Iraqi politicians and civil society representatives that the Iraqi people had little use for foreign advice on running the country or for foreign-sponsored conferences.

"If a reconciliation project is going to work it has to talk to all the people," he said. "It must go through our Iraqi beliefs and perceptions. What we need is reconciliation between Iraqis only, there can be no third party."

He related an anecdote about how American soldiers keep people waiting in lines at checkpoints for hours because they insist on resting their bomb-sniffing dogs."The sleep of American dogs is more important than people being stopped in the street for hours," he said.

The UN representative who then opened the conference referred to al-Mashhadani's speech as "spirited".

Meanwhile on Saturday, the US moved to bolster American troop strength in Baghdad to cope with the escalating violence as seven Shia workers were shot dead in west Baghdad and explosions in the heart of the capital shattered a one-day calm after a ban on private vehicles expired. The seven Shia died in a drive-by shooting at noon in the Furat neighbourhood near Baghdad airport, police Lieutenant Maitham Abdul-Razzaq said. Two other workers were wounded.

Earlier, two large explosions occurred in eastern Baghdad about 20 minutes apart at midmorning. One targeted an Iraqi police patrol, but killed a civilian. The other occurred near the Rasheed military camp, killing an American soldier.

A ban on private vehicles had kept down violence on Friday after one of the most violent weeks in the capital this year. It expired on Friday evening, and within hours, heavy bursts of automatic weapons rang out.

A senior US defence official said the Pentagon was moving ahead with scheduled deployments to Iraq next month and was moving one battalion to Baghdad from Kuwait, where it was in reserve.Agencies

Robert Fisk: Once again, truth is the first casualty of war

The exchange rate for Lebanese vs Israeli deaths now stands at 10 to one

Published: 22 July 2006

As many lies are now falling upon Lebanon as bombs. The explosions are easy to count – three on the southern suburbs of Beirut yesterday morning and many on the main highway to Syria, destroying more of the great viaduct at Mdeirej along with three passengers buses which were returning to Lebanon after carrying foreigners to Damascus. The lies were less obvious but just as powerful.


Fury Grips Syria Over Lebanon Attacks

Fury Grips Syria Over Lebanon Attacks

By Dahr JamailInter Press Service

07/22/06 "IPS" -- --

DAMASCUS, Jul 21 (IPS) - The daily Israeli bombardment of Lebanon and the floods of refugees pouring in have set off a wave of anger through Syria.

"How can people watch this destruction in Lebanon and do nothing," Hassan Majed Ali, president of the Union of Engineers in Damascus told IPS. "What is happening in Lebanon is opposed by 100 percent of us here in Syria.

"Ali, who heads a union of 19,000 engineers, said "the Israelis have not complied with any of the UN resolutions since 1949. Why hasn't the world forced Israel to comply with UN resolution 224 which told them to withdraw from Arab lands? And now nobody is forcing them to stop their destruction of Lebanon."This will also be Israel's loss, he said. "The Lebanese, our brothers, have now lost everything.

And now the Israelis have lost what friendship they may have had left with the Arab world.

"Maher Skanderani, a 37-year-old merchant in downtown Damascus said everyone is furious over what is happening in Lebanon. "And everything which is happening illustrates the main problem -- which is Israel invading Palestine and taking Palestinian land."

Anger is spilling over against the U.S. government - and its citizens.

Ola Saleh, a 25-year-old civil rights volunteer from Latakia said: "In Syria people used to differentiate between the Bush regime and the American people. But now not only do Syrians not respect the Bush regime, they no longer respect the American people for allowing this to happen.

"Few believe that the Israeli attack is a reaction to the abduction of two soldiers. "Israel has a political and military strategy, they do not react," said 60-year-old Ibrahim Yakhour, information and communications advisor at the State Planning Commission in Damascus.

"They understand the region very well and know how to exploit it. When they lose two soldiers they exploit this for their own interests."

Syria could become involved in the conflict, he said. "It just depends if they (Israel) have this in their plans."

Yakhour said Israel has "used American actions in their own interests," and has in the past "pushed Arab states to reactions which they can exploit for their own interests."

Others, like 45-year-old literary critic Emad Huria, believe that Syria will inevitably become involved in the conflict. "The whole region is now involved," he told IPS. "If not today, then tomorrow."

Hamad al-Khatib, 26-year-old owner of a mobile phone shop told IPS that "Israel doesn't care about law, and eventually they will involve Syria in this disaster. But Syrians will always resist the plans of the Israeli government, because we have our dignity."

Ali from the Union of Engineers said Syria has been put in a difficult situation already by the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

"If we had said the invasion of Iraq was democratic, Bush would support us. We in Syria opposed Saddam, but we are not with this destruction and killing of Iraqis in Iraq. I don't know anyone in the world who supports what is happening in Iraq."Ali finally told this correspondent: "We welcome you to Syria. We welcome you to Damascus. But don't kick me from my house."

They put the 86 corpses into plain wood caskets. Many were just big enough to fit a small child

Dozens of dead buried in temporary mass grave until fighting ends

By Clancy Chassay in Tyre

07/22/06 "The Guardian"

In the driveway of Tyre's Government hospital yesterday the sour smell of rotting flesh mingled with spray paint as the chief coroner wrote the names of the dead on their coffins.

Empty wood caskets, which had been neatly stacked by a large white freezer truck - one of two being used to store the bodies of many of those killed during Israel's bombardment of south Lebanon - were now being filled; 86 of the 150 corpses in the truck were to be buried in the afternoon.

The continuous drone of Israel's Apache gunships could be heard over a clamouring crowd that had gathered to witness the burial. As an old man nailed coffins shut, friends and family members of the victims wept or stared at the bodies, loosely wrapped in plastic or bloodied blankets, as they were passed out of the truck. The noisy gathering quietened each time a smaller bundle emerged from the makeshift morgue.

Once sealed, the coffins were placed along the length of a wall outside the hospital each underneath a large black painted number. Several hours passed before they were finally ferried to a nearby field where two trenches had been dug to serve as a mass grave. It will not be their last resting place. They will lie there until the fighting subsides and the bodies can be exhumed and handed over to their families. The caskets, many only big enough to hold a small child were laid in two large trenches, less than 100 metres long, two metres wide and no more than a metre deep.

Watching the burial was Qasim Shaala, the chief medic at Tyre's Red Cross offices. "Most of the casualties are women and children," he said. "They [Israel] are not letting us save them.



Alive and Still Kicking Hard: Washington's Neocons

by Ehsan Ahrari

"There is little doubt that President Bush has opted to give diplomacy a chance in the case of North Korea and Iran. However, there is little reason to expect that such a course of action would be pursued for a long time, especially involving Iran. In the case of North Korea, Kim Jong Il seems to have reestablished the import of nuclear deterrence, even though there have been suggestions that it lost its primacy under the new untamed vagaries of the post-9/11 era.

The alleged presence of nuclear weapons in North Korea creates sufficient ambiguities in Washington about the rationality of using military strikes against that country. The presence of certainty that Iran does not have nuclear weapons emboldens the neocons to advocate a military strike against it. The neocons are saying what a whole lot of US government officials might be thinking."


Jordanians demonstrating in Amman, in support of Hizbullah and in protest against the barbaric Israeli savagery in Lebanon

Palestinians in Jabalia refugee camp, Gaza Strip, demonstrating in support of Hizbullah and protest against the barbaric Israeli savagery in Lebanon


Rice sees bombs as birth pangs

Condoleezza Rice has described the plight of Lebanon as a part of the "birth pangs of a new Middle East" and said that Israel should ignore calls for a ceasefire

And the Princess of Darkness, acting as a midwife, is rushing more bombs to Israel to speed up the birth process.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Memory for Forgetfulness

By Mahmoud Darwish

"August, Beirut, 1982
Out of one dream, another dream is born:
-Are you well? I mean, are you alive?
-How did you know I was just this moment laying my head on your knee to sleep?
-Because you woke me up when you stirred in my belly. I knew then I was your coffin. Are you alive? Can you hear me?
-Does it happen much, that you are awakened from one dream by another, itself the interpretation of the dream?
-Here it is, happening to you and to me. Are you alive?
-And have the devils cast their spell on you?
-I don't know, but in time there's room for death.
-Don't die completely.
-I'll try not to.
-Don't die at all.
-I'll try not to.
-Tell me, when did it happen? I mean, when did we meet? When did we part?
-Thirteen years ago.
-Did we meet often?
-Twice: once in the rain, and again in the rain. The third time, we didn't meet at all. I went away and forgot you. A while ago I remembered. I remembered I'd forgotten you. I was dreaming.
That also happens to me. I too was dreaming. I had your phone number from a Swedish friend who'd met you in Beirut. I wish you good night! Don't forget not to die. I still want you. And when you come back to life, I want you to call me. How the time flies ! Thirteen years! No. It all happened last night. Good night!
Three o'clock. Daybreak riding on fire. A nightmare coming from the sea. Roosters made of metal. Smoke. Metal preparing a feast for metal the master, and a dawn that flares up in all the senses before it breaks. A roaring that chases me out of bed and throws me into this narrow hallway. I want nothing, and I hope for nothing. I can't direct my limbs in this pandemonium. No time for caution, and no time for time. If I only knew--if I knew how to organize the crush of this death that keeps pouring forth. If only I knew how to liberate the screams held back in a body that no longer feels like mine from the sheer effort spent to save itself in this uninterrupted chaos of shells. 'Enough!' 'Enough!' I whisper, to find out if I can still do anything that will guide me to myself and point to the abyss opening in six directions. I can't surrender to this fate, and I can't resist it. Steel that howls, only to have other steel bark back. The fever of metal is the song of this dawn.
What if this inferno were to take a five-minute break, and then come what may? Just five minutes! I almost say, 'Five minutes only, during which I could make my one and only preparation and then ready myself for life or death.' Will five minutes be enough? Yes. Enough for me to sneak out of this narrow hallway, open to bedroom, study, and bathroom with no water, open to the kitchen, into which for the last hour I've been ready to spring but unable to move. I'm not able to move at all.
Two hours ago I went to sleep. I plugged my ears with cotton and went to sleep after hearing the last newscast. It didn't report I was dead. That means I'm still alive. I examine the parts of my body and find them all there. Two eyes, two ears, a long nose, ten toes below, ten fingers above, a finger in the middle. As for the heart, it can't be seen, and I find nothing that points to it except my extraordinary ability to count my limbs and take note of a pistol lying on a bookshelf in the study. An elegant handgun--clean, sparkling, small, and empty. Along with it they also presented me with a box of bullets, which I hid I don't know where two years ago, fearing folly, fearing a stray outburst of anger, fearing a stray bullet. The conclusion is, I'm alive; or, more accurately, I exist.
No one pays heed to the wish I send up with the rising smoke: I need five minutes to place this dawn, or my share of it, on its feet and prepare to launch into this day born of howling. Are we in August ? Yes. We are in August. The war has turned into a siege. I search for news of the hour on the radio, now become a third hand, but find nobody there and no news. The radio, it seems, is asleep.
I no longer wonder when the steely howling of the sea will stop. I live on the eighth floor of a building that might tempt any sniper, to say nothing of a fleet now transforming the sea into one of the fountainheads of hell. The north face of the building, made of glass, used to give tenants a pleasing view over the wrinkled roof of the sea. But now it offers no shield against stark slaughter....
'Our Lady of Lebanon, protect him for all Lebanon!' The barely audible prayer spreads like a prophet's tent, like the raised turrets of Israeli tanks. The Israeli secret habit has now become an open marriage. Israeli soldiers stretch out on the shores of Junieh. And Begin on his birthday eats a whole tank made of halva and calls for signing a peace treaty, or for renewing the old one between Israel and Lebanon. And he chides America: 'We've made you a present of Lebanon.'
What is this old treaty, now up for renewal?
It is a fact that Begin doesn't live in this age or speak a modern language. He's a ghost, come back from the time of King Solomon, who represents the golden age of Jewish history that passed through the land of Palestine. In Jerusalem,
he made coins as common as stones. He built the luxurious temple on a hill and decorated it with cedar and sandalwood, and with silver, gold, and dressed stone; and he made the royal throne of gilded ivory. He struck a treaty with Hiram, king of Tyre, who offered metals and master craftsmen, and fished with him in the Mediterranean. Solomon built the boats, and Hiram gave him the seamen; he built the temple and ruled when he became king. His people learned metalworking and the making of weapons from the Philistines, navigation from the Phoenicians, and agriculture, house building, reading, and writing from the Canaanites.
Begin has assumed the persona of Solomon, pushing aside Solomon's wisdom, his songs, and his cultural resources. He's taken only the golden age, hoisted on combat tanks. He hasn't learned the lesson about the fall of the kingdom, when the poor became poorer and the rich, richer. His only concern with Solomon is to seek out the king of Tyre to sign a peace treaty. Where is the king of Tyre? Where's the king of Ashrafiya? Begin freezes history as of this moment, not seeing the end of the temple, of which nothing remains except a wall for crying--a wall that archaeology hasn't been able to prove Solomon built. But what have we to do with the history of what came out of history? For in the mind of the king of the legend everything has been frozen as it had been, and since that time history has done nothing in Palestine and on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean except wait for the new king of the legend....
Let Beirut be what it wants to be:
This, our blood raised high for her,
Is an unbending tree. I now wish,
I wish I knew where the heart will fly,
That I may release for her the bird of my heart
And from my body let him set me free.
I am not yet dead and know not if I'll grow
One day older, to see what can't be seen
Of my cities. Let Beirut be what it wants to be:
This, our blood raised high for her,
Is a wall holding at bay my sorrow.
Should she want it, let the sea be ours,
Or let there be no sea in the sea,
If that's what she wants.
Here, within her, I live,
A banner from my own shroud.
Here, I leave behind what's not mine.
And here, I dive into my own soul,
That my time may start with me.
Let Beirut be what it wants to be.
She will forget me,
That I may forget her.
Will I forget? Oh, would, oh, would I could
This moment bring back my homeland
Out of myself! I wish I knew what I desire
I wish I knew!
I wish I knew!"
From Mahmoud Darwish, Memory for Forgetfulness: August, Beirut, 1982, translated by Ibrahim Muhawi ( Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1995 ).

A turning point

By Amira Howeidy

"Strangely enough, Nasrallah's appeal seems most evident within leftist circles that, from an ideological viewpoint, should not be smitten with a turbaned religious Shia.

Left-leaning novelist and academic Radwa Ashour, who describes herself as an admirer of Nasrallah, offers an explanation. It takes in Nasrallah's victory in South Lebanon six years ago, and his success in transforming the image of Lebanon's Shia from a poor and weak group to a powerful, organised one. Then there is the "fascinating speed with which he managed to move from being a leader of one organisation among many to becoming a prominent nationalist figure in Lebanon and now the most credible Arab leader in the Arab world."

Nasrallah and his group, argues Ashour, are doing something extremely important. "They are sending a message to Arabs, Muslims and Third World peoples that victory is possible. His message is one of confidence, which is crucial in popular struggles."

And it is this, she says, that is a turning point in the Arab Israeli conflict."

The wrath to come

By Graham Usher

"This dangerous mix of Israeli self-righteousness and miscalculation suggests the latest assault on Lebanon could last a while. There are some, Iran and Syria apparently among them, who believe an internationally brokered ceasefire, followed by a prisoner exchange, could lead all back to politics and the negotiating table.
But Israel is not interested in a ceasefire, still less in politics. This is not 1996, when operation Grapes of Wrath was eventually tamed via "understandings" reached between Israel, Hizbullah, America and Syria's Hafez Al-Assad. This campaign is closer to 1982, when Israel believed it could recast Lebanon and thence the region in line with its own ambition. "Israel is not looking for an understanding with Hizbullah," said Israeli analyst, Guy Becher, on 16 July. "It is looking for victory.""

Blackmail by bombs

By Azmi Bishara

"The timing is an Israeli-American one. And the answer resides with the Arabs and the US, and their inability to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and dismantle the Lebanese resistance with Arab tools. So Israel stepped forward. The only difference between today and the earlier bombardments -- the "Day of Reckoning" and "Grapes of Wrath" between 1993 and 1996 -- is that Syrian forces are no longer present in Lebanon. Instead there is an American-sponsored project for the country, involving the rest of the Arab world, which was to change the structure of government in Lebanon and transform it into an ally of the US, a good neighbour to Israel and a participant in US- oriented alliances in the region.

International delegations will soon appear in Lebanon to reap the fruits of the aggression. They will promise the Lebanese a ceasefire if they implement 1559, saying that there is no longer any excuse for delaying implementation now that the Israeli army has demonstrated the consequences of non- implementation.

The US, meanwhile, is futilely trying to regulate Israel's cowardly assault against civilians and its destruction of civilian infrastructure. It wants Israel to target the resistance and the society that supports it without jeopardising the American project in Lebanon. It wants Israel to bully and blackmail America's allies without crushing them, alienating them completely or driving their supporters into the arms of the resistance. The difference between the Israel and the US, here, maybe tactical, but it is important. It is one of degree, of pushing or not pushing people over the edge. "



استمرار التنديد بالعدوان الإسرائيلي على لبنان وفلسطين

المتظاهرون في الأردن ندووا بالموقف العربي الرسمي

تظاهر آلاف الأردنيين في وسط العاصمة عمان لنصرة الشعبين الفلسطيني واللبناني واستنكار العدوان الإسرائيلي عليهما.
وندد المشاركون في المسيرة التي نظمتها الحركة الإسلامية بالموقف الرسمي العربي، وقالوا إن هذا الموقف ساند العدوان سواء بالصمت أو بانتقاد المقاومة اللبنانية التي يقودها حزب الله.

وفي القاهرة اشتبكت قوات الأمن المصرية مع آلاف المتظاهرين في الجامع الأزهر عقب صلاة الجمعة لمنعهم من التعبير عن غضبهم إزاء استمرار العدوان الإسرائيلي على فلسطين ولبنان.
وندد المتظاهرون بموقف الحكومات العربية ووصفوه بأنه عاجز أمام التصعيد العسكري الإسرائيلي، وطالبوا بفتح باب التطوع لنصرة إخوانهم.


Southern Lebanese families from Tyre leaving their homes in a truck and heading north fleeing the savage Israeli destruction of the region.

Another Lebanese fiamily leaving the southern village of Adloun, heading north.

Hezbollah, Hamas and Israel: Everything You Need To Know


As the tv networks give unlimited airtime to Israel’s apologists, the message rolls out that no nation, least of all Israel, can permit bombardment or armed incursion across its borders without retaliation.

The guiding rule in this tsunami of drivel is that the viewers should be denied the slightest access to any historical context, or indeed to anything that happened prior to June 28, which was when the capture of an Israeli soldier and the killing of two others by Hamas hit the headlines, followed soon thereafter by an attack by a unit of Hezbollah’s fighters.

Memory is supposed to stop in its tracks at June 28, 2006.

Let’s go on a brief excursion into pre-history. I’m talking about June 20, 2006, when Israeli aircraft fired at least one missile at a car in an attempted extrajudicial assassination attempt on a road between Jabalya and Gaza City. The missile missed the car. Instead it killed three Palestinian children and wounded 15.

Stop Laughing, It's US Policy That's the Joke

"St. Petersburg, Tuesday. The President of the United States, unplugged.

GWB: Hey Blair, howya doin'? Like your tie. You British do stripes real good.

TB: Thank you so much.

GWB: Not a problem. Now gimme your take on this Middle East shit.

TB: Well, you see, you've got Hezbollah …

GWB: Remind me, Blair. Them the Jewish guys or the Islamic guys?

TB: They're the bad guys.

GWB: Got it. Who's the chick over there with the hot boobies?

TB: Do you mean the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel?

GWB: Kraut, huh? Now here's what we do with the Middle East thing: the Israelis get two weeks to kick ass, let the UN screw up, then Condi fixes a ceasefire. Sound good to you, Blair?

TB: Just what I was thinking myself, actually.

GWB: Done deal. But, hey, gotta get back to Washington. Some serious stuff goin' down with Cheney and Rummy tonight.

TB: Iraq?

GWB: Nope. New York Yankees playin' the Boston Red Sox. Got $100 on the Sox with Dick.

TB: I hope that microphone is not turned on, George.

Bush's buffoonery in St. Petersburg - manhandling Merkel, dropping the "shit" word - were funny or offensive, depending on your take on these things. But there is no humor in the fact that American policy in the Middle East now lies in ruins. The neo-conservative fantasy of a swift war in Iraq magically spreading peace and democracy throughout the region has brought nothing but catastrophe.
Sooner or later, when Hezbollah has killed enough Israeli civilians, and the Israelis have killed enough Lebanese, some sort of ceasefire will happen. But new hatreds will pile upon the old. The seeds are sown. Next, the whirlwind."




إسرائيل تبحث استراتيجية الخروج من الأزمة:

استخدام الضغط الدولي لإلزام لبنان بتفكيك حزب الله
حلمي موسى

وفي ظل انعدام أفق الحسم العسكري، تشكلت في إسرائيل طواقم من ديوان رئاسة الحكومة ووزارتي الدفاع والخارجية والاستخبارات لتحديد استراتيجية الخروج من الأزمة. وأشارت مصادر إسرائيلية إلى أنه يجري البحث في ثمانية سيناريوهات تفضل لأكثرها البحث عن مخرج سياسي. وتأمل إسرائيل أن تشكل زيارة وزيرة الخارجية الأميركية كوندليسا رايس نافذة للأفق السياسي. ويطالب وزراء إسرائيليون، اليوم أكثر من أي وقت مضى، بضرورة نقل المعركة الآن من مستواها العسكري إلى المستوى السياسي. ويرى هؤلاء وجوب استغلال التفكك العربي للحصول على قرار دولي يلزم لبنان بتفكيك حزب الله.

Doing bin Laden's Work

by Michael Scheuer

"Most damaging for G-8 leaders will be this week's validation for Muslims of bin Laden's assertion that the West considers Muslim lives cheap and expendable. They will see that three kidnapped Israeli soldiers and several dozen dead Israelis are worth infinitely more to the West than the thousands of Muslims held for years in Israel's prisons, the hundreds already killed in Lebanon, and the eradication of Lebanon's modern infrastructure.
So bin Laden wins without lifting a finger. The G-8 leaders, their Arab allies, and Israel have behaved in a way that will burn bin Laden's words deeper into Muslim perceptions and push more to accept jihad as the only recourse. Western leaders can argue forever that they are honest brokers but, because perception is reality, it will be bin Laden's words, not theirs, that echo long and tellingly in Muslim ears.
The impact of this Israel-Hezbollah round will not stop with the inevitable truce that will be declared after Israel ruins Lebanon. While temporary order may return to the Levant, America, Britain, and the West should not fool themselves. They have again gratuitously picked sides in a fight between two inconsequential nations; the survival of neither is a genuine national security interest for any G-8 state. Led by Washington's absurd, 30-year obsession with the minimal Shia threat to America, and blind to the hatred generated among Muslims by their foreign policies, the G-8 have mightily strengthened the enmity, durability, and resolve of the Sunni extremist movement that bin Laden leads and personifies."

America Held Hostage

It's day 10 – and Israel is still threatening the lives of 25,000 Americans in Lebanon

By Justin Raimondo

""A reliable source tells me that the reason the United States has been so slow in evacuating its citizens from Lebanon is that the public diplomacy (i.e., P.R.) issues raised by evacuating under Israeli assault are so complicated. Individuals within the State Department, I am told, have been reluctant to create an impression that the Israeli assault on Lebanon is as bad as it is or that civilian U.S. citizens are being threatened by U.S. ally Israel. If a conflict this severe had broken out in, say, Indonesia, the American embassy would have been shut down the next day and its personnel and families rapidly brought to safety. That's how things normally work. (See Laura Rozen on the evacuation from Albania here.) In this case, however, the diplomatic message sent by shutting down the U.S. embassy in the face of Israeli bombing would have contradicted the U.S. government message of support for the Israeli mission against Hezbollah terrorists, which, when added to the general concern within lower-level diplomatic circles about ever creating a Fall of Saigon-style visual for the news media, have led the Americans to be slower than they could have been about getting U.S. citizens out of harm's way."

Step 1 – Seize a pretext, any pretext, to goose-step into Lebanon.
Step 2 – Simultaneously denounce Syrian influence and a hidden "spy network" supposedly still remaining in Lebanon – this in spite of the recent bust-up of a Mossad cell by Lebanese intelligence, which had been responsible for several assassinations.
Step 3 – Restart the Lebanese civil war – and drag Syria into it.
Step 4 – Engage the enemy on two fronts:
A. Diplomatically, in the United Nations, by imposing sanctions on Iran and demanding inspections of its nuclear facilities. This long drawn-out ritual is meant largely for American and European consumption – to convince world opinion that every possible avenue for a peaceful settlement has been explored, before the second front is opened up.
B. Militarily, in Lebanon, and beyond. Bashar al-Assad is a pincer movement away from being deposed. A right hook from U.S.-occupied Iraq and a left from the Israelis would knock out the last remaining Ba'athists and open up a veritable Pandora's box of ethnic and religious conflicts long masked by the dictatorship of the Assads.
Step 5 – On to Tehran!"

Thursday, July 20, 2006

From Israel, with love

Cartoon by Carlos Latuff

Call to Action in Defense of Lebanon, Eyad Kishawi

As a Palestinian who grew up in Lebanon, I lived through the Lebanese civil war and the multiple Israeli attacks on the country. Most of the attacks were targeting Palestinian and Lebanese resistance, not only by attacking obvious anti-aircraft sites and ammunition storage areas, but also by attacking highly populated civilian areas. Israeli strategy, ever since the war of 1947 has been to attack civilians, and even publicize its atrocities in megaphones as was the case of Deir Yassin, in order to achieve two objectives:

1) Either to depopulate the region so that it could conquer the land, or
2) To alienate the guerillas from their civilian support base.

Israel even has a euphemistic name for this illegal aggression, and is an accepted norm in military practice. The label is: Rational Prospect. If Israel’s battle is with the indigenous people, and not necessarily with the local bankrupt regimes that were setup by colonial rulers, then later on supported by the United States government, then it targets the people who produce the guerillas. In an interview during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the Israeli chief of staff was asked why target children as young as eight years old. He answered that some of these children are attacking Israeli tanks with magnetic explosives, and although it is a tiny minority participating in the resistance, there is a high probability that these children would grow up to become guerillas. The subtext: Kill them before the grow.

In short, no photographs or footage could capture the degree of devastation that Israel is capable of inflicting on a neighborhood. It has and continues to attack residential towers, with weapons such as vacuum and phosphorous bombs that facilitate the collapse of high rises to the ground, while scorching every piece of flesh within reach. Israel continues to use illegal nerve gas and cluster bombs, without the so-called international community flinching. It is now time to admit that although Israel is a violator of tens of UN resolutions, including 194, 242, 338 and 495, the UN is even less of an international body in a unipolar world. Even Kofi Anan attends the G8, where the real decisions are made. The United Nations, in its Security Council and powerless general assembly has become an occupation force for the Haitian people and a sick playground for the criminal John Bolton, who vetoed resolutions condemning the Zionist state for its actions. Mr. Bolton proudly proclaims that he engineered overturning Zionism is Racism.

I speak as a Palestinian and say that what is happening to the Lebanese people in intensity and scale is much more horrific than the brutality endured by the people of the West Bank and Gaza. It is devastation beyond the scope of human imagination, because it is unnatural for us to think that people ought to, or could be killed in this manner. Israel drops leaflets for people to leave their areas, and then bombs them on the roads. When we escaped Lebanon, the Israeli proxy militias, the Phalangists who helped Israel commit the massacres of Sabra and Chatilla, stopped us and tried to convince us that our convoy would be bombed and coerced us to join another. We quickly escaped from the new convoy and joined an international caravan and soon found out that our assigned car caravan was destroyed by Israel’s fighter jets.

In short, this is Israel and this is how it behaves and it is exactly for these reasons that George Bush and previous presidents have supported it with your tax dollars. A country that is built on settle-ethnic purity, left unchecked, has finally reached its natural outcome, a genocidal exclusionary state.

If we don’t rise up and mobilize during this all-out massacre, then we are complicit, for silence is an act of participation. We must intensify our actions and escalate in a manner that is compatible with the demands of the era. Iraq is occupied. Palestine is experiencing a systematic campaign of sociocide, displacement, and collective imprisonment coupled with starvation. The Lebanese people are being slaughtered in front of our own eyes, and yet there are Zionist apologists who feel that there is a place for them to participate in the discourse and come out to the streets waving these flags representing supremacy and devastation.

Shame on the Israel Action Committee, the new manifestation of the Ku Klux Klan. Shame on the JCRC for calling for an action in support of these atrocities, as if the words of the Holocaust survivors of “Never Again” simply ring hollow in their ears and empty conscience. It is time to protest, time to escalate and intensify our actions. It is time to stop the attacks on the Lebanese people. Moreover, we ask the Jewish community to rise up with us and break away from the criminal representative of their identity, the State of Israel and the local bankrupt institutions that support it. Let us all take to the streets and think Vietnam.

Eyad Kishawi

Analysis: Hizbullah tactics surprisingly effective

Two Israeli soldiers killed, 6 injured in the major battle with Hizballah ongoing for its second day at Maroun er Ras in S. Lebanon. Hizballah has suffered heavy losses

The two sides are pumping reinforcements to the battlefield opposite the Israeli town of Safed. Earlier, 3 Israeli soldiers were injured, one seriously, by Hizballah anti-tank fire in the same sector.

Maroun er Ras is where 1st Sgt. Yonatan Hadasi, 21, from Kibbutz Merhavia, and 1st Sgt. Yotam Gilboa, 21, from Kibbutz Maoz Haim lost their lives in a fierce battle with Hizballah Wednesday, July 19.

Nine members of the unit were injured in Wednesday's battle which was fought over Hizballah's bunkers at Maroun er Ras opposite Safed.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report the epic battle evolved from a small Israeli special forces operation just inside Lebanon at noon Wednesday, July 19, to blow up Hizballah positions and destroy small fortified tunnels riddling the hills around Maroun er Ras opposite the Israeli town of Safed. Hizballah suffered an unknown number of losses. Reinforcements and medical teams crossed the border and the fighting spreads.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report the epic battle evolved from a small Israeli special forces operation just inside Lebanon at noon Wednesday, July 19, to blow up Hizballah positions and destroy small fortified tunnels riddling the hills around Maroun er Ras opposite the Israeli town of Safed.

The tunnels were assumed to be unoccupied. The Israel force were horrified to find the first packed with Hizballah fighters heavily armed with automatic and anti-tank weapons. The force took casualties in the first blast of fire. At least one tank was blown up. The combat quickly spread to additional sectors of the warfront, joined by Hizballah fighters who sprang out of more secret tunnels which the Israeli force had not known were there.


Just because Israel is bombing Lebanon...

Doesn't mean it stopped bombing Gaza.

Israel doing what it does best, killing children.

Third of Lebanon casualties are children, says UN

07/20/06 "Irish Examiner"

Nearly one third of all casualties in the Lebanon-Israel conflict have been children, according to the United Nations’ emergency relief co-ordinator, Jan Egeland.

He said it appeared neither Hezbollah nor the Israelis seemed to care about civilian suffering.
Nearly a third of the dead or wounded were children and the wounded could not be helped because roads and bridges had been cut by Israeli air strikes.

“It is nearly impossible in southern Lebanon to move anything anywhere because it is too dangerous. It is too dangerous for our people to move things,” Egeland said.Without a truce allowing aid agencies to begin the relief effort there would be a “catastrophe“.

© Thomas Crosbie Media 2006.

A Conservative Estimate of Total Direct U.S. WELFARE to Israel: $108 Billion

Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. aid since World War II. The $3-plus billion per year that Israel receives from the U.S. taxpayer is about one-fifth of the total U.S. aid budget, and amounts to more than $600 per Israeli.


Israel’s historical use of violence


The general surprise that Lebanese civilians are taking the brunt of Israel’s onslaught -- and the unwillingness in some quarters of the media to report the fact -- reflects a poor understanding of Israel’s historical use of violence. Since its birth six decades ago, Israel has always been officially “going after the terrorists”, but its actions have invariably harmed civilians in an indiscriminate manner.

The roll call of dishonour is long indeed, but its highlights include: the massacre of some 200 civilians in Tantura, as well as large-scale massacres in at least a dozen other Palestinian villages, during the 1948 war that established Israel; Ariel Sharon’s attack on the village of Qibya in 1953 that killed 70 innocent Palestinians; the Kfar Qassem massacre inside Israel when 49 farm workers were gunned down at an improvised army checkpoint; a massacre in the same year in the refugee camp of Khan Yunis, in Gaza, in which more than 250 civilians were killed; attacks on dozens of Palestinian, Egytian and Syrian villages during the 1967 war; the killing of six unarmed Arab citizens of Israel in 1976; the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the Lebanese refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla in 1982; the unremitting use of lethal force by the army against unarmed Palestinians, often women and children, during the first intifada of 1987-93; the aerial bombardment of Qana in south Lebanon in 1996 that killed more than 100 civilians; and the endless “collateral damage” of Palestinian civilians during the second intifada, including a half-ton bomb that killed a husband and wide and their seven children a week ago.


South Lebanon, Has Become A Killing Zone

Grim proof ordinary folk are dying in the killing zone

07/20/06 "SMH" -- -- PARKED outside the small general hospital in Tyre is a badly refrigerated lorry container in which are stacked the bodies of 91 Lebanese civilians, 55 of them children.

The bodies have been placed inside black plastic rubbish bags and labelled in anticipation of the time, days or weeks from now, when their surviving relatives - if any - can come to collect them.

"It's a disaster. It's making me cry," the hospital's director, Dr Salman Zeineddine said. "We can't move them anywhere else. Since the attacks came I've been trying to get wounded out of Beit Jbeil and I can't. How could I get critical patients to Beirut, much less move dead people?"

Since Israel began bombing and shelling south Lebanon last Wednesday, about 380 patients have passed through this 65-bed hospital, plus the 91 dead.

Not one of the victims, he says, has been a member of Hezbollah, the militia group that triggered Israel's onslaught with a border raid last week.

"The army and Hezbollah - I don't care if they kill all of them," he said. "But the civilians - it's very hard. Everyone who has come in here has been a civilian."

Even as he spoke, another volley of ordnance - perhaps shells fired from a ship, perhaps missiles from a helicopter - was crashing to earth a block away. Tyre, with the whole of south Lebanon, has become a killing zone.

While the Israeli Defence Force claims that it does its best to avoid harming civilians, it insists on its right to attack the terrorists who, it says, are using the population as "human shields". Its list of self-declared legitimate targets expanded yesterday to include all trucks south of the Litani River and all "structures used by terrorists".

Yesterday morning aircraft even attacked two trucks in the heart of Christian east Beirut that were reportedly carrying well-digging equipment.Judging by the list of actual targets hit so far, what Israeli security experts term "the target bank" includes, in practice, civilian homes, minibuses and cars, as terrified families try to run away.

No one in south Lebanon feels safe. Streets and roads are almost deserted, and the few cars still daring to flee north out of Tyre career towards Beirut at breakneck speed, filled with frightened women and children waving white rags at the sky.Bombing intensified yesterday morning - massive aerial bombs working up and down among the houses on a ridge line to the south, while closer to town sporadic bombs and rockets sent up clouds of debris and plumes of smoke.

There was no answering fire: Tyre is too far north to be a suitable launch site for Hezbollah missiles targeting Israel, and the city has no defence against air attack.The bombs always strike without warning. The constant sound of jets and unmanned drones overhead, out of sight in the hazy sky, makes it impossible to know an attack has been launched until the earth suddenly convulses and - a moment or two later - the concussion strikes.

Yesterday the Israelis dropped leaflets across the region to "ensure the safety of Lebanese civilian population". A statement said: "The leaflets are intended to warn the Lebanese public to stay clear of areas from which rockets are launched against Israel, as these will be targeted by the [Israeli Defence Force] and civilians present in those areas are endangering their lives."

Copyright © 2006.

The Sydney Morning Herald.

A protracted colonial war

Tariq Ali

"Israeli recklessness is always green-lighted by Washington. In this case, their interests coincide. They want to isolate and topple the Syrian regime by securing Lebanon as an Israeli-American protectorate on the Jordanian model. They argue this was the original design of the country.

The latest Israeli offensive is designed to take the castle. Will it succeed? A protracted colonial war lies ahead, since Hizbullah, like Hamas, has mass support. It cannot be written off as a "terrorist" organisation. The Arab world sees its forces as freedom fighters resisting colonial occupation."

نصراالله يتمسك بعدم تسليم الأسرى ويتوعد بمفاجآت

تمسك الأمين العام لحزب الله حسن نصرالله اليوم برفض تسليم الجنديين الإسرائيليين الأسيرين وتوعد بمفاجآت أخرى في المواجهة الدائرة بين مقاتلي حزب الله والجيش الإسرائيلي منذ ثمانية أيام.
وقال نصرالله في مقابلة مع الجزيرة إنه لو جاء الكون كله فإن الحزب لن يسلم أياً من الجنديين الإسرائيليين الأسيرين لديه إلا عبر تفاوض غير مباشر يقود إلى تبادل الأسرى.

Stop that shit: The Bush-Olmert War

By Uri Avnery

"Lebanese children, covered with wounds, in Beirut hospitals. The funeral of the victims of a missile in Haifa. The ruins of a whole devastated quarter in Beirut. Inhabitants of the north of Israel fleeing south from the Katyushas. Inhabitants of the south of Lebanon fleeing north from the Israeli Air Force.
Death, destruction. Unimaginable human suffering.
And the most disgusting sight: George Bush in a playful mood sitting on his chair in St. Petersburg, with his loyal servant Tony Blair leaning over him, and solving the problem: "See? What they need to do is get Syria to get Hizbullah to stop doing that shit, and it's over."
Thus spoke the leader of the world, and the seven dwarfs - "the great of the world" - say Amen.

Whoever longs for a solution must know: there is no solution without settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And there is no solution to the Palestinian problem without negotiations with their elected leadership, the government headed by Hamas.
If one wants to finish, once and for all, with this shit - as Bush so delicately put it - that is the only way."



Ralph Nader: U.S. Carries "Inescapable Responsibility" for "Israeli Government's Escalating War Crimes"

AMY GOODMAN: Tell us what you wrote to President Bush.

RALPH NADER: I wrote him a letter that basically described the need for him to get advice from his father and Brent Scowcroft and James Baker about how he should deal with this Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which of course violates a whole range of international treaties and Geneva Conventions, to which the United States has been a longtime signatory. And the first priority that Bush should adopt is to recognize that the U.S.'s indiscriminate support of Israel's indiscriminate bombing of Lebanon -- ports and hospital and roads and wheat silos and residential areas -- puts a responsibility on the President, who is shipping a lot of tax dollars to Israel, as well as a lot of weapons, to put a stop to this through a ceasefire and to take a stronger initiative in resolving the core problem, which is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Tom Hayden: Things Come ’Round in Mideast

"What I fear is that the “Israeli lobby” is working overtime to influence American public opinion on behalf of Israel’s military effort to “roll back the clock” and “change the map” of the region, going far beyond issues like prisoner exchange. What I fear is that the progress of the American peace movement against the Iraq war will be diverted and undermined, at least for now, by the entry of Israel from the sidelines into the center of the equation. What I fear is the rehabilitation of the discredited U.S. neoconservative agenda to ignite a larger war against Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. The neoconservatives’ 1996 “Clean Break” memo advocated that Israel “roll back” Lebanon and destabilize Syria in addition to overthrowing Saddam Hussein. An intellectual dean of the neoconservatives, Bernard Lewis, has long advocated the “Lebanonization” of the Middle East, meaning the disintegration of nation states into “a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties.”

It is clear that apocalyptic forces, openly green-lighted by President Bush, are gambling on the impossible. They are trying to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in Iraq through escalation in Lebanon and beyond. This is yet another faith-based initiative. "

"God Speaks Through Me"

The fear is growing in Beirut

Hanady Salman writing from Beirut, Live from Lebanon, 20 July 2006

Dear Friends,The fear is growing in Beirut. Beirut is sad, scared, wounded and ... left alone. By yesterday morning, the UN said 150,000 people (foreigners and Lebanese holders of 2nd nationalities) had already left Lebanon. Evacuations are supposed to be completed by Friday. Today has been an exceptionally calm day: the US marines are evacuating US citizens. By tomorrow, the country will be left to its own people and Israeli shelling. In Beirut, by Saturday, there will only be those who have nowhere else to go and the very few who deliberately decided to stay. There were also be those who managed to flee the south and the southern suburb of the capital. What will happen to us on Saturday?A friend called a few minutes ago, scared and begging me to go hide with her in Baabdat in the mountains. She said her friend who works with the UN and lives in Washington called her to tell her to stay out of Beirut, because she heard that by Saturday, it will be hell, nothing will stop them. The city will be theirs : my city , my dearest city , my only home , is open to their warplanes and shells. Our kids, as of Saturday, will be the targets of Israeli fire. So it's said. What I fear the most is that by Saturday, July the 22nd, Beirut will be cut off from the rest of the country, and the world. Every morning, I rush to the office to make sure the internet is still working. Every day I ask myself: why didn't they stop it?As of Saturday, I fear every city or region will be cut off from the rest of the country. Maybe they won't bomb us. Maybe they will just leave us in our cities and villages to starve and rot to death. Maybe they will do both.Worse than not knowing what will happen is knowing that whatever the Israelis decide to do, nobody wants or can stop them.Hanady




The drums of war sound for Iran

By Jim Lobe
"There has been a lot of connecting of the dots back to Iran," said retired Colonel August Richard Norton, who teaches international relations at Boston University. "This goes well beyond the [neo-conservative] Weekly Standard crowd; we've seen the major newspapers all accept the premise that what happened July 12 was engineered in some way by Iran as a way of undermining efforts to impede its nuclear program." Graham Fuller, a former top Central Intelligence Agency and RAND Corporation Middle East expert, noted that there has been a "buildup of domestic forces that now see Iran as inexorably at the center of the entire regional spider web".

In much the same way that Saddam Hussein was depicted, particularly by neo-conservatives, as the strategic domino whose fall would unleash a process of democratization, de-radicalization, moderation and modernization throughout the Middle East, so now Iran is portrayed as the "Gordian Knot" whose cutting would not only redress many of Washington's recent setbacks, but also renew prospects for regional "transformation" in the way that it was originally intended. "

Lebanon left for dead

By Pepe Escobar

"There are reports that Israel "might" accept these blue helmets - but only temporarily. Israel, though - as Clean Break rules - does not feel any incentive to accept this solution. Its military logic points to a devastating preemption of both Hamas and Hezbollah - so Iran would have much reduced means to retaliate against Israel in the (likely) event of a US or US/Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear installations. No one at this point may predict with certainty what the Bush/Blair/Olmert troika is actually cooking. But there is the terrifying possibility that these may be the early stages of the Great Middle East war outlined in A Clean Break; the chance for the US/Israel axis to strike at both Syria and Iran - with no one, be it Russia, China or the cowardly EU, being able to stop it. "

Wednesday, July 19, 2006