Saturday, March 17, 2007

'I try to forget - but i can't'

She was the 12-year-old girl filmed crying alongside her father and siblings as they lay dying - victims of an explosion at a family picnic. But what happened to Huda Ghalia next? Rory McCarthy meets the shy, teased girl who became a symbol of Palestinian despair

Saturday March 17, 2007
The Guardian

"......Then he took a call from a contact in the ambulance service: the Israeli military were shelling the beach at Beit Lahiya and there were casualties. He called his driver and they jumped into the car.

That afternoon at the beach, Abu Harbeed shot about 10 minutes of film for which he later won two awards. He arrived just in time to record the aftermath of a terrible explosion that had killed most of the Ghalia family. Seven were dead: Ali Ghalia, 49, and one of his wives, Ra'eesa, 35, together with five children: Haitham, five months old; Hanadi, 18 months; Sabreen, four; Ilham, 15; and Aliya, 17. Several others were injured, some severely, including more children from the family.

Much of the film Abu Harbeed made that day is so graphic it would never be broadcast on television in the west. One clip, however, was broadcast repeatedly that day and in the days that followed. It showed Huda Ghalia, aged 12, distraught and sobbing by the body of her dead father. It was an image distilling Palestinian despair, one that recalled the film of Mohammad al-Dura, the 12-year-old boy who died in his father's arms in Gaza in a hail of gunfire six years ago, at the start of the intifada.......

They don't have time to notice that several of the bodies they are carrying are dead, the wounds horrific, impossible to survive. One of the men reaches for a girl, grabs her black clothes at the shoulder and places her on a green canvas stretcher. Her left arm has been blown off just above the elbow. She is pale, unconscious and looks dead, but in fact she survives. I learned later that her name is Amani. Somewhere among the bodies is her sister, Ayhaam. She, too, is badly injured but survives.....

In the months after the explosion on the beach, I went to visit Huda and her family many times, to listen to the story of a household struck by a tragedy, a family that captured the headlines and then dropped from sight. I ate with them, went to school with them, drove with them to see relatives and visited their injured in hospital.....

After a while, Huda appeared. She was barefoot and dressed in a black cloak with a white veil on her head. A gold bracelet hung from her wrist. She was quiet and monosyllabic: still visibly affected by what had happened. Huda and her two younger sisters have started at a new school, a Hamas-run girls' school in Gaza City, their tuition another gift from Hamas. She said she preferred the new school. "I have new friends now," she said. "I don't see the old friends any more." She had just returned from a visit that she, her two sisters, her mother and her aunt made to the United Arab Emirates. "It was fine," she said. It was her first time out of Gaza....."

Anti-War Demonstrations Around the World (but not in Arab countries; that is a different world)

Demonstrators march towards the American Embassy during an anti-war protest to mark the fourth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion in Iraq, in Copenhagen, Denmark Saturday, March 17, 2007. (AP Photo)

Protesters against the war in Iraq participate in the 'March on the Pentagon' in Washington, March 17, 2007. Thousands of anti-war protestors, some carrying yellow and black signs reading 'U.S. out of Iraq now!' marched toward the Pentagon on Saturday, one of a number of protests held or planned around the country and the world. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Protesters carry placards and shout slogans during an anti-war protest, ahead of the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq, in Madrid March 17, 2007. The placards read "For Peace" and "Spain and its symbols belong to everybody. (REUTERS)

Nicaraguan dancers participate in a protest against the Iraq war in front of the U.S Embassy in Managua, Thursday, March 15, 2007. (AP Photo)

Protesters carry a banner which reads "End the Occupation" as they shout slogans during an anti-war march through Sydney March 17, 2007. The demonstration was part of a global action marking the fourth anniversary and opposition to the war in Iraq. (REUTERS)

Anti-war protesters march through central Seoul during a rally to mark the fourth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Saturday, March 17, 1007. (AP Photo)

Turkish demonstrators wave peace flags and hold placards that read: 'We are all Iraqis' during an anti-war protest in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, March 17, 2007. (AP Photo)

Turkish demonstrators wave peace flags and hold anti-US banners during an anti-war protest in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, March 17, 2007. (AP Photo)

People hold placards and wave peace flags during an anti-war demonstration in Madrid Saturday March 17, 2007 marking the fourth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. (AP Photo)

Demonstrators march over the Arlington Memorial Bridge from the National Mall to the Pentagon in Washington, Saturday, March 17, 2007 during a protest opposing the war in Iraq. (AP Photo)

Those Israel-Syria Peace Talks

Thrice-Told Tales


"Gabriel Kolko's work as a historian casts a giant shadow, but his recent account of "Israel, Iran and the Bush Administration" (CounterPunch, February 10/11) is open to challenge. The Israeli peace talks with Syria, which Kolko finds of "enormous significance," are a thrice-told tale which has not yet come true, least of all because of intervention by the United States.......

Syria's fate is obviously bound up with the Iraq war and the buildup against Iran. Kolko deprecates Israel's animus against Iran as a political ploy to distract the public from scandal and corruption. Yet Israel bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, and Iran is a national phobia. "If the annual Herzliya Conference [north of Tel Aviv] is any indication, the Israeli establishment, though reeling from one political scandal to another, has only one thing on its mind: Iran. Panel after panel declaimed, ad nauseam, the 'existential threat' emanating from the 'messianic totalitarian government' in Teheran." Speakers included prime minister Olmert, Israeli politicians and security personnel, and European and North American officials. Bernard Lewis, doyen of academic orientalism, who invented the "clash of civilizations" which Samuel Huntington popularized, was like Sam Cooke returned to reprise his greatest hits for an audience which knew only the bubblegum versions. The "general consensus," after duly weighing the alternatives and risks, was that if Iran's "race to acquire a nuclear weapon" outpaces "regime change or reform," "an overwhelming military strike by the USwill become inevitable." Or by Israel, which has negotiated US permission to overfly Iraq to strike Iran on its own. In an Israeli poll on November 9, 49 per cent answered yes, and 46% no, to the question, "If it turns out that all the international diplomatic efforts fail, should Israel attack the Iranian nuclear facilities even alone and without international support?"

Kolko is obviously right about the lethality of modern armaments and the suicidal course Israel and the US are pursuing, but because it is logical, a benign resolution is hardly inevitable. The disrepute of the Israeli establishment is matched by the Bush Administration's. Yet the loss of Congress in the mid-term elections, and the rebuke of the Baker-Hamilton report, were met with "troop surge" by the neoconservatives and radical nationalists who planned the Iraq war and the Iran buildup. These forces have found minimal diplomacy with Syria and Iran over Iraq hard to avoid, but they are gripped by reactionary dread, like Hitler in the late 1930s, obsessed with "encirclement" by Germany's "enemies," and with a dwindling opportunity for war. Nothing is determined, further catastrophe may yet be avoided, and Israel-Syria talks may even take place. In any case, Israel is not a victim of the United States, but of its own striving for power, in concert with the US organized Jewish community, and with the US government."

What Hilllary Clinton Should Know About Palestinian School Books

While the IDF is Destroying Schools and Shooting Children ...

A Good Article
By SAMI ADWAN (Professor of Education Bethlehem University)

"On February 8, 2007 Mrs. Clinton made an incendiary statement on Palestinian schoolbooks to Itamar Marcus. This is not the first time Mrs. Clinton accused the Palestinian schoolbooks of inciting violent, teaching to hate and de-legitimizing Israel existence.....

She depended mainly on reports produced by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP), of which Itamar Marcus was the director. CMIP is a right-wing center that has offices in New York and Jerusalem and is well funded, though if you read the goals of the center one can easily be deceived that it is a peace-oriented center.....

The Palestinian Authority by that time only published school books for grades one and six. Even so, CMIP's baseless accusations and allegations were presented as if they are from the newly produced Palestinian school books. The first CMIP report was circulated all over the world causing serious problems for the Palestinian education system because many countries stopped funding the development of the Palestinians school books.

The report was criticized by many scholars like, Nathan Brown, IPICRI, Daniel Bar Tal, Nurit Peled El-Khanan and Ruth Firer and others. All disagreed with CMIP's findings and found many mistakes in its translation, selective analysis, taking phrases out of context and drawing false conclusions.

Most of them concluded that Palestinian school books do not teach hate nor instigate violence, are free from stereotypes and praised them for being highly moderate, even though they were produced in extremely difficult situation-the Occupation. (See Akiva Eldar's articles in Ha'aretz. ).....

Still, Israeli school books include negative stereotypes of Palestinians. Of course they are called Arab and not Palestinians: primitive, bloodthirsty, backward, a problem, dirty, etc (For more details see Daniel Bat Tal and Nurit Peled's analysis)......

The best resource of knowledge and experience Palestinian children learn is their reality, where they are forbidden to go to schools and stopped, harassed and humiliated at Israeli military check points, their schools destroyed and sometimes used as military posts. Many pupils are shot while going to their schools or playing in streets; others are jailed. They are daily terrorized and traumatized, seeing their parents humiliated in front of them. Their books were torn apart and their childhoods spoiled. These are facts Mrs. Clinton could not or dared not include in her statements......

Most scholars agreed the analysis of the CMIP was not professionally done and is motivated by a political agenda. Mainly, the purposes of the report are to fight the development and crystallization of the Palestinians identity, to keep the public from sympathizing with the Palestinians' suffering during forty years of continual Israeli Occupation and to cut funds to Palestinian education in general and to the development of the Palestinian school books in particular.....

Who is this Itamar Marcus? Itamar Marcus is originally from New York, moved to live in an illegal Efrata settlement/colony that was built south of Bethlehem in 1982 on the 1967 Occupied Palestinian land. He physically attacked Prof. Siri Nussauba, the President of Al-Quds University while the later tried to enter a building to give a talk in the US......

Itamar Marcus (and his followers) will not be satisfied until he himself writes the Palestinian school books."

The Palestinian Unity Government

Another Opportunity for US Diplomacy?

A Lousy Article Written by One of America's Palestinians

"......If looked at objectively, the administration will find that the eight-level platform of the new Palestinian government concurs with many of the principles that guide domestic and foreign U.S. policy, including its ill-fated three conditions.

On the political level, the Palestinian government states that it will "achieve national objectives through the resolutions of the PNC, the Articles of the Basic Law, and the resolutions of the Arab Summits, and shall respect the international resolutions and agreements signed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)." To an objective reader, this indicates that Hamas, as part of a coalition government, has accepted and recognized Israel's existence. In its 19th session in 1988, the Palestinian National Council (PNC) called for a two-state solution. Palestine would be established on the territory occupied by Israel in 1967-the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital. By accepting to abide by the resolutions of the Arab League summits, the government and, by extension, Hamas has accepted the 2002 Saudi Peace Initiative which was adopted by the Arab League. The initiative offers Israel a peace deal that includes recognition of the Jewish state's right to exist and secures its borders. Furthermore, it states that it will work with the agreements signed by the PLO-the third condition of the U.S.-backed Quartet-and with the international community to end Israel's occupation of Palestine.

On the level of occupation, the Palestinian government recognizes the right of Palestinians to "defend themselves against Israeli aggression." Yet despite this natural right, the government will work on "consolidating calm and expanding it to a comprehensive reciprocal truce."[Ending armed struggle] The U.S. should acknowledge that every government should recognize its people's right to self-defense and should work to guarantee that both sides commit to a truce. Past experience has shown that unless a truce is reciprocal, violence is sure to continue.

On the legal level, the Palestinian government promises to fulfill a long-standing U.S. desire [really? just as the U.S. is working towards a similar objective in Egypt, for example?], the empowerment of the judicial branch and the implementation of the Basic Law, which calls for the separation of the three branches of power.

On the economic level, the U.S. should be ready to engage the new government, which promises to respect the principles of a free economy, to protect the private sector and encourage investments-all treasured principles of the U.S. economy and legislation.

On the level of reform, the Palestinian government outlines its commitment to fight corruption and to reinforce the values of integrity and transparency, which are U.S. demands [really?] as well as long-held Palestinian demands......

U.S. foreign policy toward the new Palestinian government should be based on the same realization that forced the Palestinians into a unity government. Neither Hamas nor Fateh alone in power can deliver on Palestinian and international demands for reform and a peace agreement. Without Hamas' approval, Fateh cannot present the Palestinian people with a final peace accord or guarantee that an "end to conflict" deal can be sustained [so, final capitulation needs Hamas' blessing]. And without Fateh, Hamas will not have the financial backing to implement its program of domestic change and reform. Only a unity government can enforce law and order and guarantee that the truce achieved in Gaza be extend to the West Bank [Hamas is needed to end armed struggle, once and for all].

A U.S. foreign policy, which seizes the current opportunity presented in the form of a unity government, will be one that serves U.S. national interests in the Middle East as well as those of its allies. "

This cartoon is an example of the silly, upside-down world, cartoons you see in the Arabic press now.

How a Traitor Became a "Hero"
Celebrate, Now!

What's behind the American/European policy shift towards Syria?

A Good Article
By Salim Nazzal

Al-Jazeerah, March 17, 2007

".....Muhammad Al-Zubaidi, a veteran Palestinian politician well-acquainted with the Syrian political scene, warns against what he describes as over-optimism at such meetings. >From his perspective, nothing has changed in the situation regarding the three primary Middle Eastern problems, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon, to raise expectations unduly. The USA and Europe still accuse Syria of providing support to the resistance movements in these countries. Al-Zubaidi postulates that the recent political moves are being made by Bush as a tactical step to win the support of the "Iraq study group" which, to find an honorable exit for the Americans bogged down in Iraq, advocates opening dialogue with Syria and Iran. Bush desperately needs the support of the Democrats and the sceptical Republicans in Congress to continue his policy of sending more soldiers to Iraq and probably to bomb Iran. Last week's speech by the American military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, insisting that there is no military solution to events there, has given more support to the increasing skepticism among senior American politicians about the war in Iraq, contradicting the arrogant and hubristic language of the neoconservative team during the invasion. If there is a relation between the shifts in American and European policy towards Syria, Al-Zubaidi is unsure whether these policy shifts were consciously coordinated, but since Europe has not so far adopted any independent policy stance towards the Middle East, it is hard to believe that such a change in attitude is entirely unrelated to the change in the Americans' approach, even if the two were not systematically coordinated.

In the view of more sceptical observers, the American and the European policy change towards Syria is an attempt to isolate Syria from Iran at this critical time, when pressures are being increased on Iran regarding its nuclear power program. According to this view, the Americans have pressurized Israel to accept, at least for the time being, the Saudi Arabia peace initiative (after separating it from the right of return issue which is the main issue in the Palestinian question ) adopted by the Arab League summit in Beirut in 2002, which it has consistently refused to recognize to date.

From this viewpoint, Bush is primarily concerned at present with exerting more pressure on Iran, with the visit to Syria seen as part of isolating Syria from Iran in his efforts to prepare the political ground for launching a strike against Iran. However regardless of the reasons behind these recent policy shifts, the American approach towards solving the Middle Eastern problems remains, in essence, the same as before. The diplomatic maneuvering must not blind Arabs from seeing the negative results of American policy in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, nor blind them to perceiving the possible very real dangers which lay ahead."

Israel's Last Chance

by Gabriel Kolko

".....Syria has been attempting desperately to improve its relations with Washington, if only to forestall some mad act on the US’ part. When Israel attacked Lebanon last July, Elliott Abrams, in charge of the Middle East at the National Security Council, along with other neocons in Washington, urged it to expand the war to Syria. At the end of February Syria renewed its appeal to the US to discuss any and all Middle East issues with it in "a serious and profound dialogue." For over two years it has made similar attempts; Baker knew all about these. Talking to alleged adversaries is perhaps the most fundamental point of difference between Cheney, his neocon alliance, and Rice, and it covers North Korea, Iran, and many other places. The debate is less the nature and goals of American foreign policy but how to conduct it – by the application of material power and even the threat of war versus more traditional means, such as diplomacy.

In the past several weeks, taking her cue from the Republican Establishment in the Iraq Study Group last December, Rice has been winning points in this debate but her successes are fragile. Cheney is a powerful, determined and cunning man who knows how to succeed all too well with the president.....

Israel has ignored Washington on at least four very important issues, starting with the Sinai campaign in 1956, and acted in its own self-interest. The Americans were Olmert’s alibi but he can use them no more. There are other crucial issues, such as the Saudi plan for the resolution of the Palestine question, and never has Israel had a greater need for peace than at the present. Instead, like the US, its head of state may be the worst in its history, motivated by short-term political advantage and a consummate desire to retain power.

But the Syrian option is there for the taking. If there is war then the brain drain out will accelerate and migration in will fall; demography will take over. Israel will then become the only place in the world a Jew is in danger precisely because he or she is a Jew. If this opportunity is lost there will eventually be a mutually destructive war that no one will win – the Lebanon War proved that Israel must now confront the fact that its neighbors are becoming its military equals and US aid cannot save it.

Indeed, America’s free gifts enabled Israel to begin a war last July with illusions identical to those that also caused the Bush Administration to embark on its Iraq folly."

HAMAS Has Reneged

A Commentary by Tony Sayegh

Hamas was elected primarily because it promised the following program:

1) To end the corruption and to bring to trial all the crooks and embezzlers. Now we find some of the same chief crooks and embezzlers not only not facing trial, but also serving as "ministers." At the top is Salam Fayad, a U.S. and World Bank crony, who is the "finance minister." The U.S. will talk to him and some NGOs will give him money as a Mafia don, not as a representative of a self-respecting government.

2) To end the charade of the "peace process" which is the drug to which the PA has become addicted while Israel swallows what is left of the West Bank. Hamas opposed the Oslo accord which created the structure of the PA and the endless, fruitless, "negotiations." Now Hamas is a full participant in this structure which it originally rejected and is fully behind the charade of negotiations by "brother" Abu Mazen.

3) The alternative program that Hamas proposed and the Palestinians who voted for Hamas supported was that liberation will come only through serious armed struggle and not through begging and flying from one capital to the next and from one conference to the next. After it was elected, Hamas did just the opposite. It has observed a one-sided "truce" with Israel even while Israel continues daily killing, abduction of hundreds of Palestinians, expansion of the colonies, expropriation of Palestinian land, carving out more chunks from the West Bank by expanding the Apartheid wall and much more. What is worse is that Hamas, shamelessly, wants to expand this truce (or tahdi'a) to the West Bank. Israel couldn't care less as long as it is observed only by Hamas.

So, on every count Hamas has reneged on what it promised the Palestinians. I wouldn't be surprised that if elections were to be held again, many of those who voted for Hamas would not vote for it again. Hamas is increasingly becoming an imitation of Fatah (is this why "unity" was possible?) and the Palestinians are experiencing what the Americans have been realizing in their own political system: there is little difference between the two parties.

What the Palestinians need and what they should be agitating for is a genuine national liberation movement that focuses only on liberation at this stage. Political parties and governments come after liberation and not before. Time is running out.

Friday, March 16, 2007

By Daryl Cagle

In Memorium: Rachel Corrie, Crushed by Israeli Bulldozer While Trying to Save a Palestinian Home in Gaza, March 16, 2003.

A Profile in Cowardice

For U.S. and Sadr, Wary Cooperation

The Washington Post

"BAGHDAD -- U.S. troops are conducting security sweeps in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City for the first time in three years, part of a revamped plan to pacify the capital. Yet the Mahdi Army militia of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has not risen up to fight them, despite U.S. raids on militia members' homes and growing Sunni attacks on Shiites.

"Until now, our leader has ordered us to keep quiet," explained Ayad al-Khaby, a local official in Sadr's organization. "This is in order for the security plan to succeed."

After four years of hostility, Sadr and the Americans are cooperating uneasily as the United States and Iraq attempt to tame Baghdad's sectarian violence. American officials, who in recent months described Sadr's Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias as the biggest threat to Iraq's stability, now praise the Shiite cleric.

The collaboration represents a remarkable shift for two adversaries who control the largest armies in Iraq and who fought some of the fiercest battles since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

For Sadr, it is the latest stage in an evolution from populist cleric to guerrilla fighter to political kingmaker and now to power broker. In the early months of the occupation, U.S. officials dismissed Sadr as irrelevant to Iraq's future. Today, they view him as a political catalyst who can help keep Iraq together -- or implode it.

"We're very encouraged by what we're seeing on the ground right now in Sadr City," said Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the U.S. military's chief spokesman in Baghdad. "There is a tremendous amount of cooperation and dialogue ongoing. It's proven to be very beneficial to both sides."......"


Muqtada Sadr: What a coward and a collaborator. He is a tough guy with his drill team when it comes to terrorizing and killing Iraqis and Palestinians in Iraq and when it comes to ethnic cleansing. When it comes to fighting the occupation, all his empty rhetoric has finally yielded to this: open collaboration with the occupiers and the killers of over 600,000 Iraqis. Now he is hiding somewhere, probably in Iran, wearing a woman's 'abaya!

Mahdi "army": Celebrate Now, you cowards!

"Our Brothers", the Kurds...

By Layla Anwar

"......Could not miss this excellent historical documentary on al Jazeera about Mostafa Al Barazani.
Mostafa Al Barazani is the father figure "par excellence" of the Kurdish separatist (and I would add chauvinist) movement in Iraq.
This program interviewed many personalities who intimately knew and dealt with Mostafa Al Barazani and of course his son Massoud was there too.

They say in order to understand the present, you must know the past. And this is one of the reasons, I am taking pains to summarize this documentary.

According to this documentary and it was quite accurate in its analysis, Mostafa Barazani sought support for his Kurdish "cause" from nearly everyone and everywhere......

Saddam asked him: "What do you exactly want and I will sign it for you on a blank piece of paper". The man replied "If you are willing to sign anything on a blank page, this means that you will not give us anything". Saddam then said: " Tell me what do you exactly want?" The guy replied "We want self rule".
Saddam asked: "Explain to me what self rule means" The guy replied "I will send you a two page memo about self rule"...and Saddam Hussein agreed.

Meanwhile, the Kurds headed by M.Barazani were striking political deals with the Shah of Iran...
Saddam went ahead and agreed to the application of self rule in 1974.

Turkey then intervened and started putting pressure on both the Iraqi government and on the Kurds. The program then says that there were problems in the "applications of self rule" and a disagreement followed, without really telling us what these problems were......

In 1974 two other developments took place and which are in my opinion of great importance

1) the Kurdish leadership sought out help from the Israeli Mossad and this latter gladly helped.
An Israeli former mossad agent A.Tasfirini (as I said I am terrible with names, you can have the exact name by writing said in that same interview/program.
"It is not so much a mossad/kurdish alliance. It was more of a friendly alliance between two "opppressed" people. Us, the Israelis having known the Holocaust, understood very well the Kurdish plight for a state of their own".
This gentlemen then wrote a book in hebrew and the title was "I am a kurd too..."

2) The second important development was a secret agreement orchestrated by Henry Kissinger and the Kurdish leadership.
In fact it was a secret agreement between the CIA and the Kurds and the Iraqi government and Saddam Hussein knew nothing of it.
This unofficial agreement back in 1974 assured that the USA will help the Kurds in realizing their objectives .
Or more aptly, that the CIA will help the Kurds in realizing their aims for an independent state in Iraq.
(Notice not in Iran, not in Syria, not in Turkey where considerable kurdish populations exist, but in Iraq!).......

In 1990, the Kurdish areas became an American/ English "protected zone".
Massoud Barazani, the prodigal son, took over the leadership from his father and so it continued till the second invasion in 2003 until this very day.

Now "our brothers the Kurds" have their own little flag, have excellent ties with Iran, America and Israel who has continued training their peshmergas since 1974......."

In Oil We Trust

'If Israel wants peace it must recognize unity gov't'

Palestinian information minister-designate, Dr Mustafa Barghouti, warns against Israeli boycott of new unity government. 'Today's Palestinian government is not only a Hamas government, but the government of all the Palestinian people,' he says

""If Israel boycotts the Palestinian unity government, this means it is interested in continuing the occupation and is not interested in peace," Palestinian information minister-designate, Dr Mustafa Barghouti, told Ynet on Friday.

The new Palestinian unity government is expected to be sworn in on Saturday.

Barghouti, whose job is to market the new government and its policy to the global and Israeli public opinion, stated that Israel must not stand firm in its stances and should change them in light of the establishment of the new government. "Israel's stance is wrong. The new Palestinian government is not only a Hamas government, but the government of all the Palestinian people. The unity government represents the choice of 90 percent of Palestinian voters," he explained.

Barghouti said it was strange that Israel decided to reject the new government before seeing its plans and platform.

Addressing the platform, which was already reported in the media and includes the right of return, he said that "what was published is speculations, as the platform has not been finalized yet and is now being formed. Apart from that, why shouldn’t it include the right of return?"

'We refuse to live under occupation'

According to him, the Arab peace initiative also talks about a just solution of the refugee problem. "Israel's problem is that it is a colonialist state, but we refuse to be a people living under occupation and under a colonialist regime. The refugee problem should be solved in an appropriate manner, while taking into account the rights and dignity of the refugees," Barghouti said.

The designated minister said that Israel was making a big mistake if it thought the pressures it was exerting would cause the Palestinians to concede their rights. "If Israel wants peace, it must recognize the new government and must agree to a removal of the siege imposed on the PA. Lifting the siege is an Israeli interest," he added......."

The only alternative is civil war

By Danny Rubenstein

"RAMALLAH - The news that a Palestinian unity government had finally been formed brought a sigh of relief to Ramallah, coming as it did after long months of negotiations, bloodshed and fears of civil war. In meetings with acquaintances here yesterday, I heard not a single word of criticism or disappointment - only hope.

"What's important to us now is that there be a little quiet and we stop killing each other," explained a doctor at the new Sheikh Zaid hospital. To the Palestinians, the unity government is the only way to stop the street battles. Whether or not it is a good government, or how Israel deals with it, are less important: The only alternative is civil war.

The unity government's ultimate test will be whether it manages to end the economic boycott of the Palestinian Authority and revive the peace process. But first, it will have to arrange a prisoner exchange, in which kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit will be traded for numerous Palestinian prisoners.

To understand the new government's diplomatic platform, it is worth reading a key section of the official announcement of its establishment. Clause 2 of the section on the government's diplomatic program says: "The government is committed to defending the supreme national interests of the Palestinian people and its rights, preserving its achievements and developing it, and working to realize its national goals, as ratified in decisions of the Palestinian National Council, in its founding constitution, in the national unity document [which is based on the prisoners' document - D.R.], and in decisions of the Arab summit, and on this basis, the government will respect international decisions and the agreements signed by the PLO." This tortuous sentence was the result of lengthy and complex negotiations between Fatah and Hamas. Its interpretation, of course, depends on the eye of the beholder.

Journalists in Ramallah said yesterday that this document, and this government, can be viewed as a new page in Palestinian politics. However, some predicted that it would last only a few months, after which chaos would return.

One can certainly find indications in this government of flexibility and pragmatism on Hamas' part: For instance, none of the Hamas ministers arrested by Israel following Shalit's abduction are included in it. Why not? A senior Palestinian journalist explained: "Because they want to be practical. They want the new government to function well, and not to be only a national symbol." "

Insurgents target Strykers in Iraq

"BAQOUBA, Iraq - Dozens of U.S. Stryker combat vehicles roared into Baqouba at sunrise. The enemy was ready. As the dawn call-to-prayer fell silent, the streets blazed with insurgent fire.

Within minutes of the start of their first mission in Diyala province Wednesday a voice crackled across the radio: "Catastrophic kill, with casualties."

Inside the rear of one Stryker, soldiers shushed one another and leaned closer to the radio. They all knew what it meant. A U.S. vehicle had been lost to hostile fire.

Nearly 100 Strykers, armored troop carriers with 50-caliber machine guns, were called north from Baghdad into the province and its capital to try — yet again — to rout Sunni insurgents, many who recently fled the month-old Baghdad security operation.

The fighters have renewed their campaign of bombings and killings just 35 miles northeast of the capital as the war enters its fifth year. Diyala province is quickly becoming as dangerous as Anbar province, the Sunni insurgent bastion west of Baghdad......

Violence has risen dramatically in Diyala since the Feb. 14 launch of the Baghdad security operation. Insurgents have slowly been taking control for months, however. Attacks on American forces in the province have shot up 70 percent since July, according to military figures.

The Stryker group sent to fight the insurgents was hand-picked by Gen. Ray Odierno, the second in command of all U.S. forces in Iraq. It marked the opening of a new front in the Baghdad security operation, a broadening of the mission for which President Bush has promised more than 20,000 additional soldiers.

The Stryker group came to Baqouba on Tuesday full of optimism about pacifying Diyala, as they did earlier in parts of Baghdad and in the northern city of Mosul.

Confidence faded Wednesday in the hail of insurgent fire and news of casualties among comrades.

"Our first day and we lost one already," said 22-year-old Spc. Jose Charriez of Hermiston, Ore. "You realize how quickly your life can go." ....."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question is:

Do you support Iran's stopping Uranium enrichment to avoid further international sanctions?

With close to 8,000 responding, here is the breakdown:



Thursday, March 15, 2007

Israel's right to be racist

A Great Article
Contributed by Lucia

By Joseph Massad
Al-Ahram Weekly

"Israel's struggle for peace is a sincere one. In fact, Israel desires to live at peace not only with its neighbours, but also and especially with its own Palestinian population, and with Palestinians whose lands its military occupies by force. Israel's desire for peace is not only rhetorical but also substantive and deeply psychological. With few exceptions, prominent Zionist leaders since the inception of colonial Zionism have desired to establish peace with the Palestinians and other Arabs whose lands they slated for colonisation and settlement. The only thing Israel has asked for, and continues to ask for in order to end the state of war with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbours, is that all recognise its right to be a racist state that discriminates by law against Palestinians and other Arabs and grants differential legal rights and privileges to its own Jewish citizens and to all other Jews anywhere. The resistance that the Palestinian people and other Arabs have launched against Israel's right to be a racist state is what continues to stand between Israel and the peace for which it has struggled and to which it has been committed for decades. Indeed, this resistance is nothing less than the "New anti- Semitism".....

As for those among us who insist that no resolution will ever be possible before Israel revokes all its racist laws and does away with all its racist symbols, thus opening the way for a non-racist future for Palestinians and Jews in a decolonised bi-national state, Israel and its apologists have a ready-made response that has redefined the meaning of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is no longer the hatred of and discrimination against Jews as a religious or ethnic group; in the age of Zionism, we are told, anti-Semitism has metamorphosed into something that is more insidious. Today, Israel and its Western defenders insist, genocidal anti-Semitism consists mainly of any attempt to take away and to refuse to uphold the absolute right of Israel to be a racist Jewish state."

U.S. official: Israeli investors should pump money into Iraq

Israeli Training Kurds in Iraq

"DUBAI - A U.S. defense official on Thursday encouraged Israelis to pump investments into the devastated Iraqi economy. Paul Brinkley, U.S. deputy undersecretary of defense for business transformation, told a business conference here that Israelis and any other investors were welcome in a country crying out for investment "Israeli business people, any business people, we would encourage them to come," said Brinkley, speaking on the sidelines of a conference aimed at spurring investment into Iraq's northern Kurdish-ruled region. Brinkley leads the task force charged with reinvigorating Iraqi industry.

"If they find business opportunities, as I think they will, we encourage them to reach out and engage their Iraqi business partners," he said.

Israel is believed to maintain discreet ties to Kurdish groups, including those in Iraq, although Kurdish officials in the country deny such links.

Earlier this month, Brinkley said he organized a business networking mission last month in which the U.S. Army airlifted 43 international businesspeople around the country in Black Hawk helicopters to meet Iraqi business leaders.

The aim of the visit was to provide expertise to the Iraqi government to revive state-run factories and other enterprises to put more Iraqis back to work, a move the U.S. military believes would help calm the violence....."

Windbag du Jour: Ghazi Hamad, Hamas Spokesman

Rachel Corrie and Palestine

What Rachel Saw

(founder and president of Women for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia)

"A slip of a girl faced one of Israel's most feared war machines in the Occupied Palestinian Territories--the armed bulldozer--and died. This deliberate killing was no accident. Maybe the Israeli authorities would have preferred it not to happen because of the public relations backlash, but the driver of the bulldozer was wielding power that day. He had a mandate from his government to clear Palestinians out of their homes at a moment's notice and he knew that he would be protected regardless of the crimes he dared to commit. Rachel Corrie was a US citizen, but even the US government closed ranks behind Israel and the bulldozer operator. Being an American did not protect Rachel, and four years later, the US administration still refuses to investigate her death denying her American family justice and closure.

The bulldozer killing of Rachel Corrie was not the only case of such a death in Palestine, but it was the first time a US citizen had become the target of Israel's military. Rachel was a peace activist who had gone to Rafah in Gaza because she wanted to help bring the terrible plight of the Palestinians to the notice of the world. With others in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), she believed that non-violent resistance was a means of doing that, and tragically, she achieved that with her death more than she could have ever done with her life.......

The highly politicised nature of the conflict and the fact that Rachel Corrie was American has ensured that the controversy of her death continues. Rachel's courage was perhaps born out of the idealism of youth, but it was a courage far greater than nations with bombs and arms and power to wield who have failed miserably to hold Israel accountable for the war crimes it has perpetrated against the Palestinians over decades of brutal occupation. For this reason, Rachel Corrie will always be a symbol of acting out truth to power in the struggle for Palestinian liberation against the Israeli occupier and a world long desensitised to the immorality pervading the corridors of power of all governments.

You will be remembered forever, Rachel and we hope that out of your tragic death will come a better understanding of the inhumanity gripping our world and what we have to do to bring compassion and justice back into our consciousness. Palestine has waited a long time and Palestine deserves some human kindness in its 40th year of occupation. We have no doubt that Rachel Corrie would have campaigned for that too: we feel her spirit with us as the struggle goes on."

Baghdad Under Surge

A Dozen Different Cities at War with Each Other



"......The justification for blaming Iran for American failures in Iraq may be concocted byWashington. But is a confrontation with Iran such a damaging political mistake from the USpoint of view? It makes little sense in terms of Iraqi politics. The most important elements in the Iraqi government are pro-Iranian, notably the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) which was for long based in Iran. The first time I went to see one of their leaders in Najaf his guards spoke to me in Farsi. The Badr Organisation, SCIRI's well organised militia, was set up by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and fought on the Iranian side in the Iran-Iraq war. It is not likely that SCIRI could simply change sides from Iran to the US. Paradoxically it is the Mehdi Army and Muqtada al-Sadr, the Iraqi nationalist cleric, now denounced as creatures of Iranby Washington, which were traditionally anti-Iranian.

Strangely Bush's new vision of Iran and the Shia militias in Iraq is close to that of the Baath party. They too justify their murderous attacks on the Shia by claiming that the latter are simply instruments of Iran. The US overthrow of the Baathist regime was bound to benefit Iran and al Qaeda because it eliminated their arch enemy Saddam Hussein. "We cannot reverse this outcome by more use of military force in Iraq," said Lt General William Odom, the former head of the National Security Agency, the largest US intelligence agency, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "To try to do so would require siding with Sunni leaders and the Ba'athist insurgents against pro-Iranian Shi'ite groups. The Ba'athist insurgents constitute the forces most strongly opposed to Iraqi cooperation with Iran." Because the Sunni insurgents ­ both nationalist and al Qaeda ­ primarily fight to end the US occupation they cannot ally themselves with Washington as Saddam Hussein did during the Iran-Iraq war in 1980-88. This means that inside Iraq Bush is alienating the Shia without necessarily gaining the support of the Sunni.

In terms of Middle East politics Bush's confrontation with Iran makes more sense. In Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan he is appealing to sectarian bigotry against the Shia in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere. This is a powerful sentiment among leaders and people alike. The Shia take over of the Iraqi government in alliance with the Kurds can be portrayed as the cutting edge of Iranian imperialism. Sunni rulers, alarmed by the popular support for Hezbollah as it fought Israel to a standstill in Lebanon last year, knew that its success was being compared to the impotence, incompetence and corruption of their own regimes. To avoid such damaging comparisons they are happy to join the US in stoking the anti-Shiah and anti-Iranian fires.....

US confrontation or war with Iran will prolong the war in Iraq. "The Iranians can afford to compromise in Iraq, but they cannot afford to be defeated there," Ghassan Attiyah, the Iraqi political scientist, told me. If the US stages air raids, assassinations or pin prick attacks againstIran then it is likely to increase rather than reduce its involvement in Iraq. In reality there is little evidence that it gives critical support to either Sunni insurgents or Shia militias though it could do so if it needed to. After spending four years failing to defeat the five million Iraqi Sunni theUS could find itself fighting the 17 million Iraqi Shia as well."

Celebrate the Right of no Return

The Lost Five Years of the Peace Process
By Akiva Eldar

"......Since March 2001, Steinberg has been reading every word written in Arabic about the peace initiative. He has found that the Arab League is not proposing withdrawal first and normalization afterward, but rather arriving at both of them simultaneously. "Anyone who demands that normalization will lead to a withdrawal cannot negate a demand that the withdrawal will be a condition for the normalization."

Steinberg is not proposing that the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert start negotiations with the government of PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on the basis of the Arab initiative. "The Mecca agreement gives Abu Mazen the power of attorney to conduct the negotiations," he says. "Olmert meets with Abu Mazen anyway. The question is not with whom to speak but rather about what to talk."

To demonstrate this last argument, Steinberg plucks a quotation from remarks made by Ahmed Yousef, Haniyeh's advisor, in the most recent edition of the London-based A Sharq al Awsat. "Ideological changes can be expected in Hamas' thought, as we are prepared to relate positively to the Arab peace initiative, on condition that Israel sticks to it. Something that hasn't happened thus far," said Yousef. Steinberg believes that the Arab initiative is even more important today than it was five years ago. "Back then it had mainly an internal Palestinian context, whereas today this text is relevant to an external-regional context. It embodies not only a solution to the Palestinian problem but also reinforces the Sunni Arab center. And furthermore, the regional support can make it easier for the Palestinians to come to terms with concessions they cannot digest on their own."

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is demanding that the leaders of the 22 Arab states, who will convene at the end of the month in Riyadh in order to re-ratify the Arab League's peace initiative, excise the right of return from it. Unlike the Clinton outline (which proposes realizing the right of return in the Palestinian state), the Arab initiative does not mention this phrase, which frightens Israel. But Livni argues that the problematic term is hidden in the phrase "on the basis of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194," in the final section of the Arab League proposal, which calls for arriving at a "just and agreed upon solution to the refugee problem."

Only a little less than a year ago, when Livni was trying to win people over to the disengagement plan, she gloried in a letter United States President George W. Bush had given to Ariel Sharon on the matter of the refugees, in which he pledged that when the refugee issue comes up in negotiations, the United States will support the realization of the right of return only in the Palestinian state that will be established in the territories and not in the territory of the state of Israel. At the time this letter was considered a great achievement on Sharon's part. The official mustering of the United States on Israel's side on the issue of the right of return in effect renders the discussion of the interpretation of Resolution 194 academic.

Professor Ruth Lapidot, who was the legal advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for many years, doesn't understand why Israeli politicians are clinging by their teeth to the right of return. In a position paper she published in 2003 on behalf of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, Lapidot argues that there is no basis to the Arab claim that Resolution 194 grants them the right of return. She explains that the option of return is conditioned on the Palestinians who want to return to their homes being interested in living in peace with their neighbors. This condition, notes Lapidot, has not been fulfilled since the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000.

Lapidot agrees with Professor Geoffrey R. Watson, who was a member of the legal team at the U.S. State Department, in his interpretation of the sentence in Resolution 194, stating that "the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest possible date." The two experts agree that the use of the word "should" (as opposed to the word "shall," for example) turns the option of return into a mere recommendation.

In his book "The Oslo Accords: International Law and the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreements" (Oxford University Press), Watson notes that even the Palestinian delegation to the General Assembly argued that the phrase "should be permitted" does not concord with the right of return. This is a General Assembly resolution, which unlike Security Council resolutions, is not operative and is not binding.

The greatest critics of Livni's version asserting that the Arab peace initiative ensures the right of return can be found among the Hamas leadership and the heads of Al-Qaida. In an official reaction to the Arab League decision in Beirut, Hamas stated, "It is necessary to condemn outright the transfer of the issue of the right of return to the negotiating table and the demand for its implementation by means of a mutual understanding with Israel." Half a year ago Khaled Meshal's deputy Musa Abu Marzuq explained in a newspaper interview that one of the main reasons for Hamas' decision to reject the diplomatic initiatives that have cropped up in recent years, including the Arab initiative, is that "a solution that does not include the return of all the refugees to their homes and their property is untenable." He argued that the Arab League's decision puts an end to this sacred right....."


And now, just six months later, the very same Mesh'al and Marzuq are ecstatic about that same "Arab initiative" and Hamas can't write enough praise of the Arab "leaders" and how much hope is riding on their coming summit.

Amazing, isn't it? It shows you how much can be done with a mere billion Saudi dollars.

Palestinians: Celebrate THE RIGHT OF NO RETURN!

The Silence of the Lambs? Proof of US orchestration of Death Squads Killings in Iraq

A Cry to Raise Our Voices!

A Good Article
by Max Fuller

Global Research, March 14, 2007

"......The implications of these two testimonies as well as the absence of independent and public scrutiny are obvious. The Occupation has done nothing at all to halt abuse at the Interior Ministry’s network of secret prisons or curtail in any way the culture of impunity in which they exist. And lets be absolutely clear what we are talking about here. This is as close as we can get to the tide of sectarian violence sweeping Iraq, whose victims are almost invariably arrested by Interior Ministry personnel, who are then horribly tortured within Interior Ministry prisons and whose bodies finally surface in abandoned lots, are dredged from rivers, are buried in shallow graves in the desert or left as human detritus around sewage works (Former human rights chief in Iraq John Pace stated that the majority of killings were being carried out by groups under the control of the Interior Ministry, Independent, 26 February 2006, while the Iraqi Organisation for Follow-up and Monitoring in Iraq found that in 92% of some 3498 cases of extrajudicial killing, the victims had been arrested by Interior Ministry forces). Such would undoubtedly have been the final fate of Professor Samarree and Mr Abid’s hapless fellow detainees.

Of course the Americans have always been aware of the existence of this and other horrific dungeons within Interior Ministry facilities. How could they not be? They set them up and continue to operate from the same facilities! And for any who would question the validity or Mr Abid’s testimony that American forces were regular visitors, his story is confirmed by Solomon Moore writing in the Los Angeles Times (9 July 2006), who stated that the US military had been at the facility before the November raid! And the same happened in Basra. After it was revealed by the Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price that British trained policemen had tortured prisoners to death with drills, we discovered, through the New York Times (!!), that American intelligence officers had been working alongside them at the Jamiyat police station, where they passed on names of suspects knowing that those suspects would end up as the victims of death squads. That is their modus operandi and it is duplicated by British military intelligence units, like the Joint Support Group, who brought their nefarious experience from Northern Ireland (where, as Chris Floyd has recently documented, they orchestrated sectarian murder through the Ulster Defence Association) straight to Iraq. Thus in Basra we find a paramilitary death squad outfit called the Revenge of God (Thar Allah) nurtured and protected by the British, linked to police intelligence and given control of nightly curfews, despite its boasts of killing members of the former state (see Ghosts of Jadiriyah for a more complete account)!.....

The distinguished dissident academic Edward Herman, recently wrote a paper entitled Iraq: the Genocide Option in which he argued that the US war in Iraq threatened to become genocidal. He was quite right to point to genocide. With credible figures of over one million Iraqi casualties, another three to four million displaced internally and externally, the total collapse of civic infrastructure and the imminent threat of political disintegration, there must already be a very real question as to whether Iraq continues to exist as a viable nation. To fully substantiate the charge, the only question technically remains establishing intent, although I believe that too is perfectly possible when we consider the statements on partition made by the likes of Leslie Gelb (New York Times 25 November 2003, 1 May 2006).......

In Iraq (with its much smaller population) the US has already matched in scale the violence perpetrated on Vietnam and the war goes on, although there is little indication that it has given up its economic interests. Undoubtedly a very great part of this violence is conducted directly by US forces (the extremely credible Lancet study suggests from 30-40%), but, despite surges, that proportion appears to be falling. That leaves perhaps as many as 500,000 violent deaths unattributed to Coalition military action. Herman states that some of these would belong to the Salvador Option, while the bulk of the others would fall into the pattern that he explicitly describes as large-scale communal civil war manipulated by the US. I think it is vital that we all remember that this inter-communal sectarian warfare still consists of anonymous bombs that target the Shia and which most Iraqis for good reason believe are the work of the occupation and sectarian killings of Sunnis by members of the security forces – along with academics, engineers, lawyers, trade unionists, imams, doctors, teachers and other state functionaries by paramilitary forces operating from the Ministry of the Interior . This is indeed the application of the Salvador Option and it contributes an essential part of the ongoing genocide in Iraq."

Palestinian refugees in Iraq were attacked 31 times in February, eight killed


"The Palestinian Ministry of Refugees reported on Wednesday that the Palestinian refugees in Iraq were attacked 31 times in February, and that eight Palestinians were killed in separate attacks.

The ministry also reported that at least fifteen refugees were abducted by insurgents and U.S troops. Two of the abducted refugees were released, the bodies of two others were discovered with signs of torture, and the fate of the others remains unknown.

The Palestinian Media Center reported that 135 refugees fled to Syria and are currently living in tents in camps set up at the Iraqi-Syrian borders. They are living an Al Waleed refugee camp, which is now inhabited by 517 refugees.

In the report, the Ministry said that the attacks carried out by American troops and Iraqi Militias had significantly increased after dozens of Palestinian areas in Baghdad and its suburbs were attacked and shelled.

The attacks also included breaking into houses and searching them, beating the residents, and stealing money and household items, in addition to detaining a number of refugees.

The Ministry also stated that there were dozens of attacks that were never revealed to the media, and described these attacks as “ugly crimes” against the refugees who are already living under extremely harsh conditions and poverty.

Also, the Ministry called on the Jordanian and Syrian governments to allow the Palestinian refugees who are stranded on the borders under harsh conditions through.

The Ministry also reported that there are continuous attacks and abductions carried out by insurgents against the Palestinian refugees in Iraq, and demanded that the International Community and the United Nations intervene and put an end to these attacks and violations."

Surge and destroy in Iraq

All three prongs of the US military's "surge" strategy in Iraq are desperate measures aimed at reversing the decline of US power in the Middle East. This desperation has led to unprecedented brutality and the consideration of, or even the embrace of, strategies that are even more destructive.

By Michael Schwartz
Asia Times

"If you are trying to figure out how US President George W Bush's new strategy is progressing, or just trying to figure out what is happening in Iraq, here is a diagnosis and a bit of a prognosis.

Bush has promised three prongs to his new strategy: (1) attacking and neutralizing Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia; (2) confronting Iran; and (3) a new offensive against Sunni insurgents.......

The first prong of this new policy is doomed. No area in Baghdad, or for that matter in Iraq, has been successfully pacified in this manner. That includes Fallujah and Tal Afar, where this very strategy has been applied and has failed. About 1,000 American soldiers, supplemented by Iraqi (Shi'ite) troops, have been in Fallujah for 27 months since the city was "cleared" (that is, largely destroyed). They have established a particularly harsh form of martial law and yet the insurgency in the city, without ever having disappeared, has slowly grown again in strength. Fallujah is not pacified and the Americans have never actually initiated a real program of reconstruction there. In other cities, with less comprehensive occupations, the insurgency is even more robust, and there isn't even talk of reconstruction.....

All of this is unsettling enough. Worse yet, in the confrontation with the Sadrists, the Bush administration appears to be edging toward search-and-destroy operations that will rubble-ize Shi'ite neighborhoods; in the confrontation with Iran, it appears to be lurching toward a possible air assault on a remarkably wide range of targets inside that country, guaranteeing staggering levels of civilian casualties; in the confrontation with the Sunni insurgents, it is already mobilizing its ground and air power with the promise of the subsequent imposition of an extreme form of martial law. The hallmark of all these new strategies is the high level of destruction and mayhem they promise.

There is a larger pattern that should, by now, be clear in these developments, and all that have come before. The architects of US policy in the Middle East tend to keep escalating the level of brutality in search of a way to convince the Iraqis (and now the Iranians) that the only path that avoids indiscriminate slaughter is submission to a Pax Americana. Put another way, US policy in the Middle East has devolved into unadorned state terrorism."

We Have a Buffoon and Only 25 "Ministers" to Manage a Reservation....
Eat Your Heart Out Native Americans.
Palestinians: Celebrate, but Tighten the Belt Some More First.

Surging Body Bags

U.S. Military's Deaths Have Topped 3,200

U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq..........3,203

"Coalition" Troops Killed...........3,461

U.S. Troops Wounded.............23,924

The 24-Hour Scandal Cycle
By Mike Luckovich

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

'Al Hayat' accuses the Palestinian factions of undemocratic practices and neglecting the West Bank

A Good Article
Contributed by Lucia

"Ramallah - Ma'an - The editor-in-chief of the Palestinian daily 'Al Hayat', Hafiz Barghouthi, has published in today's edition a strong criticism of the Palestinian factions, in which he accuses the factions of abusing democracy and neglecting the West Bank.

In his article, Barghouthi said that what is delaying the formation of the Palestinian unity government, and what was the reason for the internal fighting, was not political differences but the absence of democracy within the factions. He said that these factions claim that they are adhering to the results of the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in 2006, and speak about democracy; yet these same factions never accept criticism of themselves. He also accused these factions of not practicing democracy internally, saying that they do not discuss issues in a democratic way within the factions themselves, and consequently they are not democratic factions.

Barghouthi went on to say that the factions are dealing with democracy in a partial way; they use it when it serves their interests only. He added that the internal fighting is because of the criteria and over particular governmental posts or portfolios. He stated that this way of dealing with democracy has frustrated the national project. The factions have become commercial projects and commissions, he said. Barghouthi accused the factions of "turning the national project into a project for employment and posts."

Barghouthi also highlighted the different approaches taken by the factions in regards to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. "We can see that Fatah and Hamas are dealing with the West Bank as if it is Bangladesh when it was united with Pakistan," Barghouthi said. "The West Bank is politically and economically ignored and is not receiving what it deserves from jobs and government posts. Hamas succeeded in making Palestine as if it is only the Gaza Strip, and succeeded in making the Strip only Hamas. They have marginalized the West Bank."

"Speaking about this subject might be painful but partnership never meant between the factions only, it means all the people," Barghouthi said, "and it never meant part of the country, it means the whole country."

Barghouthi expressed his concern that taking the Palestinian issue to this level deprives the factions and their leaders from being creative. He said it also means that the faction leaders pay more attention to the interests of their factions than to the country. He added, "In this case, it seems that the leaders of these factions do not deserve to be leaders as they have proved their failure."

He added, "The Palestinian issue has never been humiliated like this in the last year."

Furthermore, Barghouthi suggested that the Palestinian arena is "ready to have a new faction". He said that "this should be a new current from both the main factions and include the wise men from the two factions who deal and look at the country as one unit, not two units."

Barghouthi added, "We been watching the factions and we have ensured who in these factions is a nationalist and who is religious and who is serious; that is why we don’t need more time to clarify things." "

Yes, Barack, But How Much Do You Hate the Palestinians?

By Tony Karon

"......Here’s my advice to Obama: AIPAC is a right-wing body, even on the Jewish-American political spectrum — in Israeli terms, its orientation is strongly Likudnik, aligning it with the right-wing fringe in Israel, too. Close to 80% of American Jews, according to surveys see the Iraq war as a mistake. (As opposed to the AIPAC crowd and Israeli government, which continues to support it.)

So, when you pander to the AIPAC crowd, you are not reaching the Jewish-American mainstream (even though most of the Jewish-American mainstream is loathe to directly challenge the AIPAC crowd, for fear of being labeled traitors are worse by rabid right-wingers like Alvin Rosenfeld). Nor are you really helping Israel, because its only chance of surviving rests in its ability to make peace with its neighbors, and Israeli peaceniks will tell you that the support of the U.S. (egged on by the AIPAC crowd) for the most belligerent and hawkish positions on the Israeli spectrum is actually working against Israel’s ability to make the compromises it will have to make in order to achieve peace.

And nobody will think any less of you, Barack, if you choose to speak the truth, and what you know to be the truth, rather than half-heartedly embrace falsehoods that aren’t doing anybody any good. The right-wing Zionists aren’t going to support you no matter how hard you pander, and the liberal mainstream will respect honesty and consistency. Israel needs American leaders that can march it back from its own self-destructive impulses, rather than cheerleaders of its march of folly.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m wasting my breath… "

Palestinians Must Redefine Struggle

The problem is indeed bigger than mere ideological or even personal quarrels between two rival political parties; rather, it is the expression of a prevailing Palestinian factionalism that seems to consume members of various Palestinian communities regardless of where they are based.

By Ramzy Baroud

"It’s never easy to admit that the Palestinian front, both at home and abroad, remains as fragmented and self-consumed, thus ineffective, as ever before, and got worse during the disastrous post-Oslo period.

Such realization wouldn’t mean much if the inference concerned any other polity; but when it’s made in regards to a nation that is facing an active campaign of ethnic cleansing at home and an international campaign of sanctions and boycott, the problem becomes both real and urgent......

It must also be acknowledged, as uncomfortable as this may be to some, that the Palestinian democratic experience is rapidly succumbing to Israeli pressures, American meddling — tacitly or otherwise, coordinated with other governments — and the fractious Palestinian front that has been for decades permeated with ideological exclusivism, cronyism and corruption.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), since its formation by the Arab League in 1964, but most significantly since its reformation in the early 1970s under Palestinian leadership, was for long regarded as the main body that eventually brought to the fore the Palestinian struggle as — more than a mere question of a humanitarian issue that needed redress — a national fight for freedom and rights. There was, more or less, a national movement that spoke and represented Palestinians everywhere. It gave the Palestinian struggle greater urgency, one that was lost, or willingly conceded, by Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn in September 1993, and again in Cairo in May 2004.

Aside from snuffing out the Palestinian national project, reducing the territory to self-autonomous areas, rendering irrelevant millions of Palestinians, mostly refugees scattered around the world and thus demoting the international status of the PLO to a mere symbolic organization, Oslo gave rise to a new type of thinking among Palestinians who see themselves as pragmatic and whose language is that of real politic and diplomacy. This is the most woeful case of self-defeatism, and it continues to infuse most Palestinian circles whose new “strategy” is limited to acquiring funds from European countries which eventually dotted the West Bank with NGOs, mostly without a clear purpose, agenda and coordination. Involving oneself in such useless projects is ineffectual, while rejecting them without a clear alternative can be frustrating or demoralizing.

An official in President Mahmoud Abbas’ circle chastised me during a long airplane ride once for subscribing to Edward Said’s school, whose followers, I was told, wish to parrot criticism from the outside and refrain from “getting their hands dirty”, i.e., getting involved in the Palestinian Authority’s institution building, and so forth. Such a claim is utterly baseless; and no viable institution can possibly come out of the current setting, an amalgam of a most violent occupation, and internal corruption sanctioned, if not fed, by both Israel and the US government.

Truth is there have been no serious collective Palestinian efforts to redress the Oslo mistakes and to breathe life into the PLO. The Intifada was a popular expression of Palestinians disaffection with Oslo and the occupation, but, alone, it can hardly be considered a sustainable strategy. Neither a religious movement like Hamas nor a self-exalted one like Fateh is capable of approaching this subject alone, nor are they individually qualified to alter the Palestinian course, which seems to be moving in random order....."

With "Leaders" Like These, Liberation Has to be Just Around the Corner....
Just Be Patient and Wait Another 90 Years.

The Arab "Peace Initiative" at the Summit
By Baha Boukhari

One of Latuff's Latest Cartoons

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

His Own Worst Enemy

By Robert Scheer

"......While he is still as dangerous as any cornered animal, Cheney stands brightly revealed as the main culprit in cherry-picking the evidence to make the case for a stupid, failed war. He has been exposed as a vindictive, inflexible ideologue, who attempts to destroy all who publicly disagree with him, such as former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and Wilson’s CIA agent wife, Valerie Plame Wilson. His extensive ties and loyal political service to energy and defense companies such as Halliburton (which now, in a burst of honesty, is moving its headquarters to Dubai), reveal him to be a man of deep corruption.

Like Nixon during Watergate, Cheney is now shrilly on the defensive. “National security made me do it!” he insists, clinging to pseudo-patriotism, that last refuge of scoundrels. But it is an argument that no longer flies with a public that has caught on to the rhythm of his screechy lies. After all, this is the leader, dominating a weak president, who pushed so hard for a complete occupation of a Muslim country not linked to 9/11. A man who hung his arguments for adventuristic war on known falsehoods, such as the attempted purchase of yellowcake uranium in Niger.

In fact, the recent terrorist bombing in Afghanistan that came too close to ending the vice president’s life aptly underscored just how reckless the decision was to direct our policy away from the religious fanatics of al-Qaida, based in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and instead pour our resources into overthrowing Osama bin Laden’s sworn enemy, Saddam Hussein......."

Pelosi's Betrayal

"Antiwar" Democrats cave on Iran

By Justin Raimondo

".......This settles at least three matters once and for all: To begin with, the president has been given the green light to attack Iran. Withdrawing this provision from the spending bill is an act not just of complicity, but of open collaboration with the Bush administration's war plans. When the bombs begin to fall, and the Democrats rise up in a yowl of righteous indignation, the president will be quite justified in doing this.

Secondly, the Democrats are either being dishonest or they lack fundamental knowledge of geography, because Pelosi is attacking the president for his Iraq "surge" even as she gives him the go-ahead for a super-surge right across the border in Iran.

The Republicans, no matter what their particular views on the war, seem to understand that this is a regional struggle and requires a comprehensive, overarching solution. They just don't agree on what that solution ought to be. Someone along the lines of, say, Rudy Giuliani, wants to extend the war to include the entire region, while Chuck Hagel, on the other hand, envisions a regional diplomatic and political architecture to serve as the framework for a comprehensive Middle East peace initiative.

Addressing the recent AIPAC conference, Scooter Libby's boss, AKA the Father of Lies, spoke the unvarnished truth:

"It is simply not consistent for anyone to demand aggressive action against the menace posed by the Iranian regime while at the same time acquiescing in a retreat from Iraq that would leave our worst enemies dramatically emboldened and Israel's best friend, the United States, dangerously weakened."

What an easy target the "antiwar" Democrats make!

Third, one has to wonder how those who claim that recognizing the Israel Lobby's decisive impact on U.S. foreign policy is a hate crime are going to explain away this one. Those above-mentioned "conservative Democrats" are natural warmongers (although it wasn't always so), but exactly who, one wonders, are these other "lawmakers concerned about the possible impact on Israel"? I'll bet Pelosi is one of them and Tom Lantos is another; no doubt the entire Democratic leadership belongs in that group.

No one is any longer pretending that Israel isn't the 51st state......"