Saturday, March 15, 2008

Executions in Bethlehem: 'I Came, I Saw, I Destroyed!'

By Uri Avnery

".....The modus operandi left no doubt about the intention.

As usual, the official version was mendacious. (When the army spokesman speaks the truth, he is ashamed and immediately hurries on to the next lie.) The four, it was said, drew their weapons and endangered the life of the soldiers, who only wanted to arrest them, so they were compelled to open fire.

Anyone with half a brain knows that this is a lie. The four were in a small car on the main street of Bethlehem, the road that has joined Jerusalem and Hebron since British (or Turkish) times. They were indeed armed, but they had no chance at all of drawing their weapons. The car was simply sprayed with dozens of bullets.

That was not an attempt to make an arrest. That was an execution, pure and simple, one of those summary executions in which the Shin Bet fulfils the roles of prosecutor, judge and executioner......

....Jewish blood, of course, is quite different from any other blood. And indeed, there is no person in the Israeli leadership with so much blood on his hands as him. Not abstract blood, not metaphorical blood, but very real red blood. In the course of his military service, Barak has personally killed quite a number of Arabs. Whoever shakes his hand - from Condoleezza Rice to this week's honored guest, Angela Merkel - is shaking a hand with blood on it......

....Did they understand that they were also boxing the ears of Mahmoud Abbas, whose security forces, which in theory are in charge of Bethlehem, would be accused of collaborating with the Israeli death-squad?.....

The government which decided on the killing in Bethlehem undoubtedly intended to torpedo the cease-fire.

Why does it want to do so?......

This means that a real and durable cease-fire, which would create the necessary atmosphere for real peace negotiations, must include the West Bank, too. Olmert-Barak would not dream of agreeing to that. And as long as George Bush is around, there will be no effective pressure on our government.

A propos: who is really in charge in Israel at this time?

This week's events point to the answer: the man who makes the decisions is Ehud Barak, the most dangerous person in Israel, the very same Barak who blew up the Camp David conference and persuaded the entire Israeli public that "we have no partner for peace"......"

Silenced by the men in white socks

By Robert Fisk

"Shut them up. Accuse them. Imprison them. Stop them talking. Why is it that this seems to have become a symbol of the Arab - or Muslim - world? Yes I know about our Western reputation for free speech; from the Roman Empire to the Spanish inquisition, from Henry VIII to Robespierre, from Mussolini and Stalin to Hitler, even - on a pitiable scale - to Mr Anthony Blair. But it’s getting hard to avoid the Middle East.

When Egyptian women cry “Enough!”, they are sexually abused by Mubarak’s cops. When Algerians demand to know which policemen killed their relatives, they are arrested for ignoring the regime’s amnesty....

The Damascus newspaper Tichrine - the Syrian equivalent of Private Eye’s Rev Blair newsletter - demanded to know why Washington was showing such concern for human rights in Syria. Was not the American-supported blockade of one and a half million Gaza Palestinians a violation of the rights of man? Had not the Arabs seen all too clearly Washington’s concern for the rights of man in Abu Ghraib and Guanatanamo? All true. But why on earth feed America’s propaganda machine (Syria as the centre of Hamas/ Hiz-bollah/Islamic Jihad terror, etc) with weekly arrests of middle-aged academics and even, it transpires, the vice-dean of the Islamic studies faculty at Damascus University?

Of course, you won’t find Israel or the United States engaged in this kind of thing. Absolutely not. Why, just two months ago, the Canadian foreign minister, Maxime Bernier, discovered that a confidential document sent to Canadian diplomats included a list of countries in which prisoners risked being tortured - and the names of America and Israel were on the list! Merde! Fortunately for us all, M. Bernier knew how to deal with such pernicious lies. The document, he announced, “wrongly includes some of our closest allies. It doesn’t represent the opinion or the policy of the (Canadian) government”. Even though, of course, the list is correct.

But M. Bernier managed to avoid and close down the truth, just as Mr Mubarak does in Cairo and President Bouteflika does in Algiers and just as the good Shaikh es-Sayed did in Toronto. Syria, according to Haitham al-Maleh, a former Syrian judge, claims there are now almost 3,000 political prisoners in Syria. But how many, I wonder, are there in Algeria? Or in Egypt? Or in the hands - secret or otherwise - of the United States? Shut them up. Lock them up. Silence."

Rachel Corrie's Case for Justice

Five Years Later

(Tom Wright directed the documentary, Checkpoint: The Palestinians After Oslo, and was a founding member of the Olympia-Rafah Sister City Project.

Therese Saliba is faculty of International Feminism and Middle East Studies at The Evergreen State College, Olympia, and is a board member of The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice)


"As their plane touches down in Tel Aviv this week, Cindy and Craig Corrie will mark five years since their daughter's death. On March 16, 2003, Rachel Corrie, 23, was crushed to death beneath an armored Israeli bulldozer. The Corries are a short distance from Gaza, where Rachel was killed, and where in the past few weeks, an Israeli military incursion killed over 100 Palestinians, including many women and children.

This week, the Corries come to Israel to attend the first Arabic-language performance of the acclaimed one-woman play, My Name is Rachel Corrie.

Compelling though her story was -- an American peace activist killed trying to block the demolition of her Palestinian host family's home, killed by the military of her own government's major regional ally -- Rachel's story might well have faded quickly, subsumed in the weekly news cycle just three days before the "Shock and Awe" of the attack on Iraq. But her family's instinct, even in the first hours of grief and bewilderment, felt imperative: "We must get her words out." Rachel's emails home during her month in the Gazan border town of Rafah, volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement, had stirred and shaken her family and friends. Having traveled from her comfortable life in her hometown of Olympia, Washington, she had sat smoking late into the night, passionately reporting the other-worldly scenes of violence and destruction from the military occupation around her......"

The Silencing of Gilad Atzmon

Freedom of Speech, Free Speech and Their Enemies


"I have recently signed a petition that condemns the constant attempts to silence Gilad Atzmon. The same petition also objects to the constant attempts to discredit and hinder the website that hosts, among others, Gilad's views--Peacepalestine--one of the more enlightening internet platforms on Palestine.

It would be an understatement to say that debating Gilad's voice is supremely important. No thinking person could fail to be stimulated by the deep connections Gilad makes....."

"We Reacted Out of Fear, and With Total Destruction"

By Dahr Jamail

".....The term "haji" is used by U.S. soldiers in Iraq to degrade and dehumanise the Iraqi people.

Viges, like others who spoke, said that U.S. troops routinely detained innocent people during home raids.

"We never went on the right raid where we got the right house, much less the right person -- not once," he said.

He also said it was common practice for troops to take photographs as "war trophies"......

The panel on the "Rules of Engagement" (ROE) during the first full day of the gathering, named "Winter Soldier" to honour a similar gathering 30 years ago of veterans of the Vietnam War, was held in front of a visibly moved audience of several hundred, including veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. Winter soldiers, according to U.S. founding father Thomas Paine, are the people who stand up for the soul of their country, even in its darkest hours...."

A Good Video: Sadr City raids target civilians

"Alive in Baghdad: Iraqi civilians are being targeted instead of Shi'a gangs

Friday March 14th, 2008

We show this segment courtesy of Alive in Baghdad employs Iraqi journalists to produce video packages each week about a variety of topics on daily life in Iraq. Through the work of a team of Americans and Iraqi correspondents on the ground, Alive in Baghdad shows the conflict through the voices of Iraqis. Alive in Baghdad brings testimonies from individual Iraqis, footage of daily life in Iraq, and short news segments from Iraq to you. Alive in Baghdad is a project of Small World News Ltd. Co. They have three production teams, in Iraq, Syria, and Mexico, for their two news programs, Alive in Baghdad and Alive in Mexico."

Opening the Door to Hamas

By Ali Gharib, IPS

"WASHINGTON, Mar 14 (IPS) - Undermined by recent violence, the U.S.-brokered Palestinian-Israeli peace process laid out in Annapolis, Maryland is in critical condition. And bringing the militant Islamic group Hamas into the fold could be the only way to save the faltering plan -- an idea that even the George W. Bush administration may be reluctantly conceding is a necessary step.....

"I can notice a slight change in the attitude of the Bush administration to the idea of engaging -- even if indirectly and implicitly -- Hamas in order to have a ceasefire in Gaza," said former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami at a conference at the New America Foundation. "They understand that Gaza can undermine Annapolis. And without a ceasefire in Gaza, Annapolis is doomed."

"Such a ceasefire needs to be seen, in my humble opinion, as the beginning; as a situation that might unleash a process leading to the gradual incorporation of Hamas into the wider peace process," he said, hoping that a reunited Palestinian Authority (PA) will legitimise the Annapolis talks.....

At the New America conference, Daniel Levy, the director of the foundation's Middle East Initiative and a former Israeli negotiator, laid out a potential plan for a comprehensive ceasefire package that includes easing the siege, recognition of Hamas governance, and encouragement of a Palestinian national dialog to create a unity government.

Levy questions whether Abbas on his own has the political strength to create and enforce an agreement that would satisfy both societies in conflict.....

But Levy proposes that the climate of violence and Abbas' weakness might prevent a deal from getting done in the first place.

"Either it gets torpedoed because of the security reality, or Abbas simply looks around and sees that no one's behind him," said Levy, questioning Palestinian society's faith in Abbas and the legitimacy of his leadership.....

"You have such a wide consensus in Israel if the sense that the Israelis will have is that they did not just sign and agreement with the Sheriff of Ramallah -- that on the other side there is somebody that can deliver. Otherwise they will say 'Why should I remove settlements if on the other side we don't have someone that can legitimise an agreement for his people?'" said Ben-Ami......"


I think that Israel has already decided to dump Abbas; that is clear. However, Hamas has to be very careful about being lured into the "peace process;" that would be a trap, which I hope that Hamas will avoid.

Israel, as usual, wants to buy more time to create facts on the ground and to colonize most of the West Bank. For that they need to recycle the PA leadership. Pretty soon Marwan Barghouti will hear a knock on the door of his prison cell with a high-ranking Israeli official escorting him out as the "new Palestinian President." He will be hailed as the Palestinian Nelson Mandela. However, Mandela he is not; he will do Israel's bidding since he is perceived as a "strong" leader who could deliver.

Jews vote in Iran election

".....Those Iranian Jews who spoke to Reuters after voting in Friday's parliamentary election, in which conservatives are expected to retain their grip, said they faced no problems in the Shi'ite Muslim country for their religion.

"We have been in this country for thousands of years and we will stay," said businessman Edmund Moalemi, 32, after casting his ballot at a synagogue in the capital Tehran.

The United States accuses Iran of discriminating against its religious and ethnic minorities, a charge Tehran rejects.

But Moalemi said: "We have no complaints. We can come here all week and say our prayers."......

Iran's Jewish population has slumped to about 25,000 from 85,000 at the time of the revolution, but is believed to be the biggest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel.

Late last year, a prominent Jewish group in Iran sought to distance itself from a secret exodus to Israel by 40 Jews. They rejected any suggestion they were involved in the group's departure and said Jews enjoy good living conditions in Iran.

An Israeli immigration official said the influx was the largest from Iran as a single group in recent years. The newcomers were offered $10,000 each by a Christian and Jewish fellowship to make the move, the official said in December.

Moalemi, the Jewish businessman, said most of those who left in December had later returned to Iran and he voiced confidence about the future for Jews in Iran: "Although people are leaving there are newborns taking their place.""

Report: Syria wants 'public' peace talks with Israel

"Syria has recently relayed a message to Israel conveying the county's interest in peace talks with Israel, but on the condition that talks will be held openly and not under fire, Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported Saturday.

According to the report, Damascus passed the message on to Israel via Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to the newspaper report, the Syrians demand a series of conditions in that message that must be fulfilled before it will commence a peace process, the first of which is the condition that talks will not be held "under fire." The Syrians explained that by "under fire" they do not mean an armed conflict between Israel and Syria, but rather the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Another Syrian condition is that the talks be held publicly, and accompanied by Israeli gestures to assure the Syrians that they are ready to withdraw from all "occupied Arab territories," Al-Akhbar reported.

A third condition, according to the report, is that Israel hold simultaneous diplomatic talks with Lebanon and the Palestinians alongside peace talks with Syria.

However, "knowledgeable" sources told Al-Akhbar that Damascus estimates that the United States isn't interested in Israel holding talks with Syria, and will act to prevent such talks from taking place....."

جنرالات إسرائيل يطالبون بحلّ مع سوريا


This is all very reminiscent of Sadat's early moves towards Israel; Bashar Rabbit wants to cut a deal, plain and simple.

Syria's so far timid moves bring to mind the Arabic expression likening the Rabbit's behavior to a woman interested in sex, but being afraid of getting pregnant.

Go for it Bashar! Don't worry, Olmert will use a condom.

Video: كتائب القسام وسلاح المضادات الأرضية

A Great One By Carlos Latuff: The Mother of All Wars

The Mother of All Wars
(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

The Abbasside "Army" Needs an Israeli Commander to Become "Effective"

Israel putting spoke in wheels of 'Abbas army'

"Washington Post reports plan to train 1,000 Palestinian security officers in Jordan mired in delays, shortage of resources, differences between Americans and Israelis.
What is delaying the training of Palestinian police officers in Jordan? A US-funded program to train and equip Palestinian security forces is mired in delays, a shortage of resources, and differences between Israel and the United States over what military capabilities those forces should have once deployed in the territories, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

The group of more than 1,000 Palestinian trainees is being trained in a desert camp one hour from Jordan's capital, Amman.
The courses are the first extended training of Palestinian recruits since June, when hundreds of Fatah graduates of a US-backed, 45-day crash course conducted in Egypt were deployed against Hamas fighters in Gaza.

But doubts in Israel and in the US Congress about the loyalties of Abbas's forces have slowed the arrival of the program's funding.

US contract workers and Jordanian security forces are training about 600 members of the Fatah-dominated National Security Forces, or NSF, in a 16-week course. About 425 members of the elite presidential guard, which answers to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, are undergoing eight weeks of training.

According to the report, although Israel insists that the Palestinians must have effective security in the West Bank and Gaza before its forces withdraw further, the Israeli government has placed significant restrictions on the US-coordinated training effort.

Weeks into the course, which began in late January, US and Jordanian instructors had yet to receive essential training equipment, including vehicles, two-way radios, dummy pistols, rifles and batons, and a US-designed curriculum, Americans with close knowledge of the program told The Washington Post.

Because of Israeli concerns, the group has not been outfitted with pledged body armor or light-armored personnel carriers. The shortages and delays have forced US and Jordanian trainers to improvise their way through the program, including purchasing pistol-shaped cigarette lighters for use in arrest drills and using their own cars for driver training.

One of the Americans told The Washington Post, "In short, we are faking it.""

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dissolve this impotent entity called "the Palestinian Authority" now

Comment by Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

"I really don’t understand why these brilliant Palestinian “negotiators” are still commuting between Ramallah and West Jerusalem for “peace talks” that even little kids in the streets of the smallest refugee camp in Gaza realize will lead nowhere.

Indeed, the vast majority of Palestinians are fed up with this despicable peace process under whose rubric Israel has is murdering our children, stealing our land, demolishing our homes and narrowing our horizons.

On Wednesday, 12 March, an Israeli death squad murdered in cold blood four Palestinians in Bethlehem, a city where the PA claims to have “authority.” The four Palestinians thought that the purported ceasefire in the Gaza Strip also applied to the West Bank, and that the PA had reached a tacit understanding with Israel according to which their lives would be spared. The four poor victims obviously didn’t know that the credibility of PA assurances were as valid as its claims of “authority” and “sovereignty” in the shadow of the Israeli occupation army.

The latest bloodletting in Jesus’ native town came only a few days after the pornographic carnage in the Gaza Strip in which more than 120 Palestinians, mostly innocent civilians, were mercilessly killed and hundreds others maimed by the American-supplied Israeli death machine.
Reacting to hideous crimes, Mahmoud Abbas, the Chairman of the PA, suspended the talks for ten hours, mostly for the sake of public consumption, before Condoleezza Rice hastened to bully him to “behave.” Similarly, Abbas’s aides and advisors babbled a few sound-bites about “Israeli crimes and aggression” before they too reverted to their default mode.

Well, Mr. Abbas, I am afraid I have bad news for you. Your partner, Ehud Olmert, a man who lies as often as he breathes, doesn’t want peace and is not taking you and your entire Palestinian Authority seriously. This week, Olmert decided to build at 1400 settler units in Arab East Jerusalem, the capital of the contemplated Palestinian state, as the PLO mantra keeps telling us.
In addition, Israel has confiscated (confiscation is euphemism for stealing) large swaths of privately-owned Arab land in the Jordan Valley and the Southern West Bank in broad daylight. And in both cases, the wanton killing of Palestinians and the equally wanton theft of Palestinian land, Israel claims that this done for the sake of peace and in order to “strengthen” “moderate” Palestinians?

This is nothing less than scandalous. Our leaders and ostentatious negotiators are being treated by Israel as imbeciles and stupid ignoramuses who talk too much and protest loudly, but at the end of the day, they exchange the usual kisses with their people’s grave-diggers and assure them that the talks would continue as usual irrespective of what Israel is doing or may do.

In other words, you keep the killing and land-theft, and we keep the talking!

Israeli leaders and Israelis in general have long come to understand that PA leaders are never serious about challenging Israel to stop settlement expansion despite their public pronouncements to the contrary. Thus PA officials may sound angry and upset and may use furious language to show their exasperation with Israel’s misdeeds. But Israel knows that these flamboyant careerists don’t really mean what they say.

This week, veteran Israeli journalist Amira Hass explained why Israel will continue to treat the PA leadership with the disdain and contempt it deserves:

The PA’s condemnations (of Israeli settlement expansion) prove how ridiculous and impotent they truly are. They signal to both Israel and the Palestinians that it does not matter how many new settler units will be erected, a Palestinian partner will always take his place at the ‘peace process’ show.”

A few weeks ago, a prominent Palestinian journalist asked Abbas during a private meeting what alternatives he was considering if the entire peace process collapsed as a result of Israeli intransigence and American inability or unwillingness to pressure the Jewish state to end its occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. According to the journalist, Abbas, who had no answer, described the questions as “frustrating, embarrassing and confusing.”

Well, if Abbas and his PA (the Palestinian Judenrate) have no answer, then the Palestinian people do have one. Dissolve this impotent entity, abandon the moribund two-state solution, stop acting as a sub-contractor for the Israeli occupation, re-establish Palestinian national unity and stop being at George Bush’s and Condoleezza Rice’s beck and call.

And above all, let us prepare ourselves for the long and bitter struggle for a democratic and civil state in all of Palestine-Israel where all citizens, regardless of religion and race, may live in peace and equality.

This is the real and honest alternative to this game of make believe whereby Israel is killing us and liquidating our enduring cause in the name of a promiscuous peace process that we all know is based on mendacity, deception and malice. "

سورية تحجب 153 موقعا الكترونيا

From the Police State, Syria:

سورية تحجب 153 موقعا الكترونيا
تجمع معلومات مفصلة عن مرتادي مقاهي الانترنت

"قال مركز اعلامي سوري الخميس ان الحكومة زادت من اجراءات الرقابة الحديدية علي مستخدمي الانترنت وطالبت مقاهي الانترنت بتسجيل البيانات الشخصية لروادها.
وقال مازن درويش رئيس المركز الاعلامي السوري لـ رويترز ان السلطات طلبت من اصحاب مقاهي الانترنت هذا الاسبوع تدوين الاسم الثلاثي ورقم الهوية الشخصية وساعات الدخول والخروج والمدة لمن يستخدم اجهزة الكمبيوتر فيها وان تسلم السجلات بشكل دوري الي اجهزة الامن.
وكانت السلطات استهدفت اصحاب مدونات وكتابا يستخدمون الانترنت للتعبير عن ارائهم خلال الاشهر الماضية في اطار حملة ضد المعارضة. وقال درويش ان هذه الخطوات تهدف الي ترهيب مستخدمي الانترنت ونشر الخوف والرقابة الذاتية في انتهاك لخصوصية المستخدمين والحد من حقهم في التعبير عن الرأي.
وقال بيان للمركز يعبر المركز السوري للاعلام وحرية التعبير عن بالغ قلقه تجاه سياسة الرقابة الحديدية التي تمارسها الحكومة علي استخدام شبكة الانترنت وذلك من خلال سلسلة من الاجراءات المنهجية .
واضاف البيان شهدت الايام الماضية زيادة ملحوظة في معاقبة ومحاكمة مجموعة من الكتاب الذين يستخدمون الانترنت للتعبير عن آرائهم .
ولم يرد اي تعليق من الحكومة. وكان مسؤولون قالوا ان السيطرة علي استخدام الانترنت ضرورية للحماية مما وصفوه بمحاولات لنشر ما يثير نعرات طائفية والاختراق الاسرائيلي. وأكد عدد من اصحاب مقاهي انترنت في دمشق هذه الخطوة وقالوا انهم أبلغوا بها رسميا.
وزادت القيود ايضا علي تصفح المواقع والنشر علي الانترنت. وقال المركز الاعلامي السوري وهو هيئة مستقلة تتابع القيود المفروضة علي وسائل الاعلام ان السلطات حجبت 153 موقعا الكترونيا علي الاقل في سورية مع توسيع الحظر خلال الاسابيع القليلة الماضية علي استخدام مدونتي (غوغل) و(مكتوب).
وقال درويش ان آلاف السوريين يستخدمون المنتديات المفتوحة للتعبير عن الاستياء ازاء القيود التي تفرضها الحكومة علي حرية التعبير. واضاف ان المنتديات توفر ايضا وسيلة للمستخدمين لتبادل المعلومات بشأن كيفية الالتفاف حول حجب الحكومة لمواقع من خلال مواقع بديلة علي الانترنت.
وجري بالفعل حجب موقعي فيس بوك و يوتيوب بالاضافة الي مواقع لاحزاب المعارضة السورية والصحف اللبنانية والجماعات اللبنانية التي تعارض ما تصفه بالتدخل السوري في لبنان. كما حجب موقع صحيفة الشرق الاوسط السعودية رغم ان الصحيفة لها مراسل في دمشق. وامرت الحكومة العام الماضي مواقع الانترنت التي مقرها في سورية بالكشف عن هوية واسماء الاشخاص الذين ينشرون اي مقال او تعليق. وانتشر استخدام الانترنت في سورية بعد تولي الرئيس بشار الاسد الحكم خلفا لوالده الراحل حافظ الاسد عام 2000."

Next Stop for the "Peace" Circus? It is Berlin's Turn, of Course!

Report: Blair, Merkel planning Mideast summit in Berlin for June

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Quartet envoy Tony Blair will jointly organize a Middle East peace conference to be held at the beginning of June in Berlin, the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Friday.

A spokesman for Merkel, Ulrich Wilhelm, confirmed the report, adding that the chancellor had spoken with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about the conference by telephone on Friday.

All European Union members, several Arab states, the Middle East quartet of Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, and Palestinian and Israeli officials will be invited to the talks, the paper said, without identifying the source of its information.

The aim of the meeting, which will be at the level of foreign ministers, will be to push forward the peace process and prepare Palestinians to take over responsibility for their own state, the paper added, in a preview of its Saturday edition......"

Bulls-eye brings a breather

Only a desperate suicide attack on Zionism's nerve centre shook some sense into Olmert

By Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah

"....Similarly, the attack on Merkaz Harav, which is viewed as the central nervous system of the Jewish settlement movement, shocked the Israeli government, especially the upper echelons of the political-military establishment. After all, Merkaz Harav represents the soul of Zionism, the symbol of Greater Israel and religious messianic Jewish nationalism.

The attack, carried out by a young Palestinian from East Jerusalem whose political affiliation remains a mystery, showed that Israel can't declare open season on the Palestinians in Gaza and remain immune to deadly retaliation. It also showed that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians can't be decided by military means alone......

"I think the PA leadership is discovering that it will be futile to count on the Bush administration to pressure Israel to end the occupation that started in 1967," said Palestinian political commentator Hani Al-Masri.

He told the Weekly that the Palestinian leadership is now realising that there is a vast gap between the realities that Israel wants to impose through coercion on the ground, and what the Palestinians want, namely an end to the occupation and the creation of a viable state on all of the occupied territories.

"It is very clear that the utmost Israel is willing to give for peace will not be accepted by the most moderate Palestinian leader. Hence, Abbas and Fatah are reconsidering their previous calculations. They simply can't give the US the benefit of the doubt, although they wouldn't say this publicly."

It is actually no secret that Abbas feels that he is losing in terms of public support as Palestinians have come to realise more than at any other time that Israel only understands the language of brute force and that had it not been for the Jerusalem attack on Thursday, Israel would have kept up its murderous onslaught on the Gaza Strip.

What is more important though is the growing realisation in Abbas's immediate circle that Israel is not really taking him, not to mention the entire peace process, seriously and that the American-sponsored peace talks are futile......"

Stop Israel!

Instead of slamming the Palestinian resistance, the Arabs should formulate a better strategy for stopping Israeli atrocities

By Galal Nassar
Al-Ahram Weekly

"Israel's military campaign against Gaza, coming at a time when the Arab world is sorely divided, is proof of how unbalanced our confrontation with the enemy has become. We're spending too much time debating the merits of resistance and legitimacy, the absurdity of rockets, and what kind of government the Palestinians should have. We're worried about whether the Arab summit will meet on time, but the pain of children and the screams of the maimed and wounded have failed to entice us to do more.

Over the past two weeks, nearly 130 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, and more are likely to succumb to their wounds. The Israeli occupation forces have committed atrocities on a scale unknown since 1967. Entire families have died under the rubble, finally becoming one with the land they lived in hope of setting free. The valiant resistance, undaunted by the horrors, forced the Israelis to end the first phase of the incursion. Israel recalled its forces from Gaza but only after fierce aerial bombardment took the lives of six more Palestinians. What will happen now? Most likely, the Israelis are going to resume their attack, for nothing has been done to stop them.....

Either the rockets don't serve a particular purpose, in which case we should look to other options for stopping Israel, or the rockets are doing some damage, in which case we should stop slamming the resistance. We need a course of action that would give us peace without depriving us of security. We need a way to stop Israel and keep it stopped...."

Winter Soldier: Hundreds of Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan Gather to Testify in Echo of 1971 Vietnam Hearings

Democracy Now!

With Amy Goodman

"Hundreds of veterans and active-duty soldiers of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are gathering today for the Winter Soldier hearings. The soldiers plan to give eyewitness accounts of the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War, the gathering is modeled after the 1971 Winter Solider hearings organized by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War......."

Suddenly, a Dangerous Turn

Two seemingly disconnected events have created a suddenly dangerous turn regarding the future of U.S. wars in the Middle East.

By Robert Parry

"One was the abrupt resignation of the person who has been the biggest obstacle to a U.S. military strike against Iran, Admiral William Fallon, the chief of Central Command which oversees U.S. military operations in the volatile region.

The second is the ugly direction that the Democratic presidential competition has taken, with Hillary Clinton’s campaign intensifying its harsh rhetoric against Barack Obama, reducing the likelihood that he can win the presidency – and thus raising the odds that the next president will be either John McCain or Sen. Clinton, both hawks on Iran.....

Now, however, the abrupt resignation of Admiral Fallon, who had publicly challenged the saber-rattling toward Iran coming from the White House, removed one of the chief obstacles to the use of military force against Iran over its nuclear program.

Intelligence sources have told me that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were eyeing possible air strikes against Iranian targets in 2007 before they encountered Fallon’s stiff opposition.

The White House hardliners also met resistance from the U.S. intelligence community, which released a National Intelligence Estimate reporting that Iran had shut down a key element of its nuclear weapons program.

Since Fallon’s sudden resignation, intelligence sources have said they do not foresee an imminent U.S. assault on Iran, although one source said Fallon quit, in part, over a new White House demand for an updated attack plan.

More likely, the sources say, the issue of how to deal with Iran will pass to the next president. In that regard, McCain and Clinton promise more tough talk and belligerence, while Obama vows to speak directly with Iran’s leaders over how to reduce tensions.

Yet, the combined events of the past several days – the sudden ouster of the chief military opponent of an expanded war in the Middle East and the apparent decline in the political fortunes of the most dovish candidate – suggest that the Bush-Cheney belligerent strategies may well outlast their terms of office."

What Do You Expect When You Are a Door Mat Named Salam Fayyad?

Palestinians upset over 'Barak snub'

"Palestinians say they were insulted by defense minister's absence from peace meeting

US President George W. Bush's Mideast peace monitor sat down with Israeli and Palestinian representatives for the first time Friday since talks formally resumed nearly four months ago, but the atmosphere was clouded by what some Palestinians viewed as an Israeli slight.

The Palestinians sent their prime minister, Salam Fayyad, while the Israelis dispatched a lower-level representative, Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad, a decision the Palestinians said showed a lack of seriousness....."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question is:

Do you believe that Islamic summits have succeeded in adopting decisive positions on key issues of the Umma?

With about 500 responding so far, 95% said no.

The One State Illusion: Reply to My Critics


"Editors’ note: On Monday we ran Michael Neumann’s argument against the so-called “one state” solution for Israel and Palestine. The following three days featured critiques by Kathy Christison, Jonathan Cook and Assaf Kfoury. Michael Neumann now wraps up this series with some comments. AC/JSC

What follows is blunt, but this is not an expression of contempt. To the contrary, I have great respect for these critics........

Christison says: "Probably most disturbing is Neumann's dismissal of any concept of justice as a reason for attempting to find an alternative solution." Hell no, I think that's a terrific reason. I merely think that, in the case of the one-state solution, the attempt fails miserably: just or unjust, one state is not an available option.......

Finally Cook says: "The solution... reduces to the question of how to defeat Zionism.It just so happens that the best way this can be achieved is by ...explaining why Israel is in permanent bad faith about seeking peace." This conflates metaphor with reality. Zionism doesn't conquer, starve, dispossess and kill. The state of Israel does that. It is not fought, much less defeated, by explanations, nor by exposing bad faith. Nor is it defeated by "discrediting Israel as a Jewish state, and the ideology of Zionism that upholds it." The Palestinians have fought Zionism, not metaphorically. They may succeed in pushing Israel back to 1967 boundaries. To suppose they can go further, no doubt by moral suasion, presupposes such a good-hearted world that one wonders why there ever was a problem to start with......

Kfoury's position amounts to this: 'One-State is now an escapist fantasy, whatever form one would like to give it, while Two-State is stigmatized by the failed Oslo Accords, a discredited Palestinian leadership, and an "international community" that never enforced its own UN resolutions on Palestine.' In fact he spends most of his time attacking the one-state solution. Moreover his claims about the two-state solution do little to support the view that it's not a live option. That an option is 'stigmatized' doesn't mean it's not viable - indeed I write in fear that a viable option has been stigmatized. Besides, it's not clear why bad leadership, bogus accords, and bad enforcement should stigmatize the two-state solution, any more than, say, crappy musicians stigmatize music.

I do share Kfoury's belief that our discussions are sterile. Perhaps our opinions have some microscopic influence in the US - certainly not in Israel - but events are moving beyond our reach. More and more, what counts is the ability of the Palestinians, in the occupied territories and through Hezbollah, to create facts on the ground. No longer is that the prerogative of Israel and the United States. I also agree that it is not for us to tell the Palestinians what to do. Since most Palestinians appear resigned to a two-state solution, I see the one-state advocates as doing just that."

US' Implicit 'Directive': Boycott Damascus Summit


"14/03/2008 After David Satterfield, Charge D'Affaires at the Embassy of the United States of America in Baghdad announced his country's rejection to the Arab initiative to solve Lebanon's political crisis, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack conveyed Thursday Washington's implicit directive to his allies in Beirut and the Arab world: Boycott the Arab Summit in Damascus.

Washington's position indicates a sort of political challenge given the location, timing and agenda of the Arab summit, which seems to be taking place with Arab participation beyond the expectations of those bargaining on its failure......."


So, just having a meeting of these corrupt, illegitimate, ruthless, medieval, kings, sultans, emirs and other bloody dictators, even though it will accomplish absolutely nothing, as usual, is the sole measure of success! We meet, hence we exist!

Could things get much worse?

The Right Decision
By Steve Bell, The Guardian

Robert Fisk: The cult of the suicide bomber

".....Indeed, nothing could better illustrate the lack of knowledge of the authorities than the two contradictory statements made by the Americans and their Iraqi protégés in March of last year. Just as David Satterfield, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's adviser on Iraq, was claiming that "90 per cent" of suicide bombers were crossing the border from Syria, Iraq's Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, was announcing that "most" of the suiciders came from Saudi Arabia – which shares a long, common border with Iraq. Saudis would hardly waste their time travelling to Damascus to cross a border that their own country shared with Iraq. Many in Baghdad, including some government ministers, believe that the nationality of the bombers is much closer to home – that they are, in fact, Iraqis......

One of George Bush's most insidious legacies in Iraq thus remains its most mysterious; the marriage of nationalism and spiritual ferocity, the birth of an unprecedentedly huge army of Muslims inspired by the idea of death."

The Ministry of Truth is Alive and Well, Thank You

Iraq: teachers told to rewrite history
MoD accused of sending propaganda to schools

The Independent

"Britain's biggest teachers' union has accused the Ministry of Defence of breaking the law over a lesson plan drawn up to teach pupils about the Iraq war. The National Union of Teachers claims it breaches the 1996 Education Act, which aims to ensure all political issues are treated in a balanced way.

Teachers will threaten to boycott military involvement in schools at the union's annual conference next weekend, claiming the lesson plan is a "propaganda" exercise and makes no mention of any civilian casualties as a result of the war.

They believe the instructions, designed for use during classroom discussions in general studies or personal, social and health education (PSE) lessons, are arguably an attempt to rewrite the history of the Iraq invasion just as the world prepares to mark its fifth anniversary......"

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

The US Human Rights Report

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Political crisis set to worsen

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 13 March 2008

"....."The arrival of the USS Cole in support of (Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's ruling coalition) has really had a traumatic effect on people," says Crooke, co-founder of the Beirut-based Conflicts Forum which brokers dialogue between Islamist movements and the West. "This has really bad memories for the Lebanese."

The internal and regional crises affecting Lebanon has reached critical point. A paralyzed country is split between the US-backed Siniora government, and the opposition parties led by Hizballah and Christian General Michel Aoun, which are allied with Syria and Iran. A parliamentary vote for the current consensus presidential candidate, army head Michel Suleiman, has been delayed for a 16th time this week, leaving the post empty since pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud served out his term last November.....

...."We are now on the border of war and peace, and more likely verging on conflict," Ahmad Moussalli, political studies professor at the American University in Beirut, told IPS.

"I think the (USS Cole's) message was regional and not internal," Moussalli says about the warship, since replaced by a US Navy strike group of six vessels led by amphibious assault ship USS Nassau. "It is between Hizballah and Israel. And so far it is a symbolic message to Hizballah and its backers not to respond massively to the killing of Imad Mughniyeh.".....

"Everyone is divided on how far America will go in Lebanon to push forward the political process, and no one knows how to read Israeli intentions of war -- why did they do this (assassination), what was the purpose," says Crooke. "No one knows how far America intends to go with Iran."
He adds, "There is the big unsettled strategic question that dominates the region, which is the question of Iranian pre-eminence. The question is, is Israel ready to come to terms with a pre-eminent Iran? And all the signs are it isn't. So how is that going to be resolved?""

مريدور: إسرائيل لا تقبل الهدنة مع حماس حفاظا على عباس


"وديع عواودة-حيفا
أكد مسؤول إسرائيلي سابق أن تل أبيب لن تقبل توقيع أي اتفاق للتهدئة مع حركة المقاومة الإسلامية (حماس) وذلك حفاظا منها على "مستقبل السلطة" الوطنية الفلسطينية ورئيسها محمود عباس الذي وصفه بالضعف "وعدم القدرة" على فرض التسوية السلمية.

ففي تصريح للجزيرة نت قال وزير العدل السابق دان مريدور إن إسرائيل لن توقع هدنة مباشرة أو غير مباشرة مع حماس تفاديا منها للاعتراف بالحركة كقوة سياسية شرعية.

ويرى مريدور أن هذا السيناريو سيفتح أمام حماس أبواب الاعتراف السياسي والدعم المالي، موضحا أن ذلك يعني نهاية حركة التحرير الفلسطينية (فتح) "لأن حماس ستقنع الشعب الفلسطيني بإمكانية التوصل لوقف النار بدون سلام مع إسرائيل".

مصالح إستراتيجية
ويحذر مريدور-الذي سبق وترأس فريقا كلف بوضع التصور الأمني الإستراتيجي لإسرائيل خلال العقد القادم- من أن الهدنة المتبادلة ربما تلبي حاجة أمنية حالية "لكنها تضر بالمصالح الإستراتيجية الإسرائيلية وتؤدي لتصفية منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية".

Is the Bush Administration Switching Horses in Lebanon?

By Franklin Lamb in Beirut, Lebanon
Palestine Chronicle

"Barack v. Hillary isn't the only Presidential election game in Washington these days. There is also the Samir v. Walid v. Michel (as in Geagea, Jumblatt and Suleiman) campaign underway as each seek through direct contact and surrogates, the US imprimatur in their quests to lead Lebanon.

This week it appears that Walid's support is dropping faster than Hilary's and Suleiman may end up like Fred Thompson ("failed to live up to expectations and not enough fire in the belly for the job") and Geagea is skyrocketing faster than Barack did in February......

Why Geagea's rise and the Jumblatt and Suleiman slippage?....

David Welch, who met with Geagea on March 12, and other administration officials, have reportedly given up on Lebanese Army Chief Michel Suleiman, not due so much to the now 16th postponement of his Presidential election but because Suleiman is becoming 'shop worn' plus an increasing 'buyers remorse'. The Welch Club (a number of US neocons, Cheney, Saudi Arabia, Jordan) has lost confidence in him, according to Hill sources, and they no longer trust the General to do their bidding.....

The buzz in Washington is that with Jumblatt, according to the same Hill Staffer, "you never know where he is coming from or when the Druze leader may show up wide-eyed from smoking something and talking crazy Voodoo or Zen shit, or whatever".

A staffer on the House Judiciary Committee explained that Jumblatt "flip flops more than Romney did and next week he may do another deal with Syria and decide Nasrallah is his channeled long lost brother from a previous life and send his militia to train with Hezbollah for Christ's sake! I am not joking. During his last visit to Washington one of his aids actually asked if Jumblatt could meet Shirley MacLaine!".....

This week, Geagea had successful meetings with US National Security Advisor Steven Hadley who told Geagea that America was strongly committed to helping the Lebanese build an independent state, as the An-Nahar daily quoted a White House source as saying on Tuesday.

"The US is still strongly committed to help the Lebanese people fulfill their dream of building a free, independent and prosperous state," Hadley told Geagea during their discussion of the kind of military aid Lebanon needs. Geagea also met with Assistant to Vice President Cheney for National Security Affairs John Hannah and US Secretary of State Rice and one of her undersecretaries David Welch.

According to An-Nahar's correspondent in Washington, the unusually high level Geagea meetings "reflect US appraisal of him as a major March 14 movement leader". And they wanted to discuss with him ways to help the Lebanese government achieve such goals and US worries of "continuous efforts" by Syria and Hezbollah to "undermine" Premier Fouad Siniora's Cabinet.

Geagea has the 'correct' position on key issues and shares Bush administration views on practically every question. Regarding Shebaa Farms (a phony issue his delegation is claiming), disarming the Resistance (the sooner the better), the Hariri Tribunal (full steam ahead) the Damascus Arab League Conference (not until Lebanon has a President), shipping Lebanon's Palestinians out of Lebanon (ASAP-ABI--As Soon As Possible-Anywhere But Israel!) and not to be naturalized in Lebanon. Finally, but not least, Geagea, just like the former leader of his militia, the murdered Bashir Gemayel, is thought to be Israel's choice to lead Lebanon......

When asked to summarize the reason for the apparent Bush administration switch, a legislative aid on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on the Middle East opined with sarcasm:

"There are two politicians in Lebanon who generally speak the truth and can be counted on to keep their word and not sell out. Hassan Nasrallah and Samir Geagea. As you know Nasrallah is not currently the Bush administration candidate."

Another added during the same conference call: "Cheney's people like Geagea because he's been tested. Nobody had the balls to defy Syria in the 1980s and early 90s. Even his pal Hobeika sold out. Geagea survived a brutal incarceration and before being jailed earned the respect of his people. Again, like Nasrallah, he is first of all a Lebanese Patriot. Geagea can't be bought. He is not afraid of Syria, Iran or anyone else. He will play ball with Israel. Lebanon could do a lot worse with what is likely heading its way"."

Gush Shalom: West Bank assassinations, “grave provocation”

"The Israeli Peace Bloc, (Gush Shalom), described the assassination of four Palestinians in Bethlehem and Tulkarem, on Wednesday as a grave provocation and accused the Israeli government of deliberately obstructing cease-fire efforts.

The government does not want a ceasefire, but a new flare up” a press release by Gush Shalom stated.

The statement also said that the army generals and intelligence officers who send the assassination units are willingly and knowingly aim at stopping chances for calm.

Those who sent the assassins to carry out “liquidations” today, in Tulkarm and Bethlehem, knew what they were doing – a grave act of provocation which might blow up the serious chance which had opened up, to reach ceasefire and calm.” ....."

Defeat: British Journalist Jonathan Steele on Why America and Britain Lost Iraq

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

".....AMY GOODMAN: This weekend, hundreds of US veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan will descend on Washington, D.C. to testify in the “Winter Soldier” hearings about their experiences in the two wars. The event is inspired by the Winter Solider tribunal held in 1971 by Vietnam War vets, including John Kerry. Democracy Now! will be there. We’ll be broadcasting from there tomorrow morning.

Jonathan Steele is one of the journalists who has covered the Iraq war since the beginning. He’s the senior foreign correspondent and in-house columnist on international affairs for the London Guardian, has written several books. His latest is called Defeat: Why America and Britain Lost Iraq. Jonathan Steele, joining us now in our firehouse studio......"

The PA's hollow protests

A Good Piece
By Amira Hass

" .......The condemnations heard from the PA camp are for internal purposes only. It is a way of telling the Palestinian public that its representatives are in the same boat as the weak population that suffers under occupation, just as the armed struggle is intended to show the Palestinian public which organization really knows how to exact revenge. The PA's condemnations prove how ridiculous and impotent they truly are. They signal to both Israel and the Palestinians that it does not matter how many new settlement homes will be erected, a Palestinian partner will always take his place at the "peace process" show.

Negotiations and armed struggle are not the only means of fighting the occupation. The question of why the Palestinians have not adopted Mahatma Gandhi's nonviolent resistance should be addressed to PA leaders - not the millions of Palestinians who every day wage an unarmed struggle against the sophisticated and advanced methods of oppression.

The protests would sound completely different if the protesters were to organize a calculated public revolt against Israel's tactics of annexation. There is no lack of opportunities.

There are hundreds of concrete barriers blocking exits to villages. The PA could send a bulldozer to remove one of them every day. Senior officials could come along: Mahmoud Abbas or someone from his bureau, heads of security organizations, members of the PLO central committee, senior Fatah representatives, ministers and directors general.

There are roads that are forbidden to Palestinian cars. PA officials and West Bank residents could form a long convoy of cars and drive on these roads. Many Israelis would be happy to join them......

....... The senior officials accompanying the work will be arrested. Even better. Should only the residents of Bil'in be arrested for their unarmed struggle against the occupation?

It is possible to come up with hundreds of other measures of this kind, which could replace the official Palestinian governmental plan, and force the leadership away from their "make-believe state," and bring them back to battle for liberation. True, these measures alone cannot end the colonization, but they have the potential to end the status quo that is so convenient for Israel: expanding settlements, endless negotiations, protests and shootings. There is a potential here to change the alienated relations between the people and their representatives, to create a new type of Palestinian diplomacy.

But it is also true that such a vision has no chance. The present PA and PLO leadership has grown accustomed to living as a nomenclature. They are confusing the interests of their own people with their relatively comfortable ceremonial status; a status that is their reward for being willing to participate in a spectacle of respectability scripted by the Americans and Europeans for the benefit of Israel."

Shifting Attitudes Towards Hamas

A Good Piece
By Ali Abunimah

"Since Hamas won the legislative elections in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in January 2006, the United States has attempted to isolate the Islamist resistance movement in Gaza while propping up the leadership of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his defeated Fatah faction in Ramallah in the hope of reversing the election result and restoring Fatah to power. This fit the U.S. strategy of fostering so-called “moderate” regimes in the region, allied with the United States and dependent on it to a greater or less extent, and confronting indigenous forces such as Hamas in Palestine and Hizballah in Lebanon, which the United States portrays as being mere extensions of regional rival Iran.

This strategy has backfired. In Palestine, Hamas withstood an extraordinary military, economic and political campaign waged against it by Israel with the encouragement of the United States. After its breach of the border wall with Egypt, allowing hundreds of thousands of desperate Palestinians to break the blockade on Gaza, Hamas is arguably more popular than ever. U.S.-sponsored peace negotiations between Israel and Abbas’ U.S.-recognized Palestinian Authority have gone nowhere. There is a growing realization that the approach to Hamas must change. This brief assesses movement towards engagement with the group among various key actors......"

Anti-War Protesters Chant “War Criminal” at Rice

"Chanting “war criminal,” anti-war protesters waved blood-colored hands at U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday, but police held them back as she left a Capitol Hill hearing room.

Earlier, Republicans had complained about the distraction from the group as they held up signs saying “Condi Kills Kids” during the hearing on the State Department budget....

The demonstrators, between 15 and 20 members of the Code Pink organization often seen at congressional hearings on Iraq, included one woman who was arrested last autumn for waving blood-colored hands in Rice’s face......"

Here is a New Slogan for You: "Religious Colonialism"

Iran wants to take control of Syria, Peres says

"Paris (dpa) - Iran wants to take over control of Syria as part of its plan for "hegemony" over the Mideast, Israeli President Shimon Peres told a French radio station on Wednesday.

Iran is trying to take control of the Mideast," Peres told Europe 1 radio. "Iran has two 'branch offices,' Hezbollah and Hamas. Now Teheran wants to get control of Syria."

Peres said that Iran was using "religious colonialism" to spread its influence in the region, and that it was making neighbouring Arab countries apprehensive.

"These countries are even more afraid of Iran and Hamas than we are," Peres said.

The Israeli president also charged that profits from its vast oil reserves were being used to finance its geopolitical plans, as well as terrorism.

"Oil is our greatest enemy today," he said. "In addition to the pollution (it produces), oil finances terrorism, from Venezuela to Iran."......"

Jordan MPs Want Government to Sever Ties with.....Not Israel, But Denmark


"13/03/2008 Jordanian MPs on Thursday demanded the government sever ties with Denmark to protest the reprinting of a controversial cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed in its newspapers last month.

"Forty-eight deputies signed a motion on Wednesday and submitted it this morning to the lower house speaker, demanding the government expel the Danish ambassador to Jordan and sever diplomatic links with Demark," MP Ali Dalain said......."


Way to go Jordanian "Parliament"; by the way when is your state dinner for Israel's ambassador in Jordan?

12 US Soldiers Killed in Iraq in Three Days


"13/03/2008 Three US occupation soldiers were killed in a rocket attack launched by Iraqi resistance on Wednesday in southern Iraq, the U.S. military said. The rocket also wounded two soldiers when it hit a military outpost outside Nasiriya.

As a result, the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq during the last three days raises to 12. On Tuesday, one US soldier was killed, two wounded when a roadside bomb exploded during a combat patrol not far from the city of Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad. Eight US soldiers were also killed on Monday in two separate attacks in Diyala province and the neighborhood of Mansur in Baghdad. "

An "Independent" Palestinian State in the Making? Hardly
By Naser Jafari

Crossing the Line interviews Gaza-based journalist Rami Almeghari

Podcast, Crossing the Line, 13 March 2008

"This week on Crossing the Line: Israel continues its siege and steps up attacks on the Gaza Strip killing more than 100 Palestinians, the majority of whom were civilians according to various human rights organizations. Host Naji Ali* speaks with journalist, Rami Almeghari, to get an update on the situation in Gaza.

Next, in Canada the Jewish Defense League has been accused of arson at a student organization's office, and at another campus a university provost bans student activists from using the term "Israeli Apartheid." Ali speaks with Laith Marouf, chapter coordinator of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, about these incidents and the other difficulties Palestine solidarity activists face in Canada.

Also in the program, a poem by award winning Palestinian-American poet, Suheir Hammad. And as always, Crossing the Line begins with "This week in Palestine," a service provided by The International Middle East Media Center."

Click Here to Listen

Salata Baladi or Afrangi?

Joseph Massad, The Electronic Intifada, 13 March 2008

".....The situation would become more dangerous after the establishment of Israel in 1948. However, it was not until the uncovering of the Israeli espionage ring that committed terrorist acts in Egypt in 1954 (known as the Lavon Affair) and Israel's subsequent invasion of Egypt in 1956 that Israel would make the lives of Egyptian Jews unlivable and their continuation as a community virtually impossible.....

The importance of the Lavon Affair, or "Operation Susannah," as the Israeli military intelligence operation was nicknamed, cannot be overstressed, as Israel's recruitment of a few Egyptian Jews to firebomb locations in Cairo and Alexandria, including post offices, movie theaters, a library, and the Cairo railway station, would put in danger the entire community, which would unfortunately come to be implicated in the "Affair" and in working for the enemy. Any evaluation of the tragic history of Egyptian Jews in the 1950s that ignores this key transformative episode in their lives would compromise its own credibility or at the least expose its ignorance and credulity.

Somehow, however, Nadia Kamel, in her moving first documentary film, Salata Baladi (Country Salad), manages to neglect to mention the Lavon Affair while sensitively chronicling the personal hardship felt by a number of Egyptian Jews who were separated from other family members. Salata Baladi, however, is correct in avoiding the Lavon Affair, as the story it tells is not one of the splitting of a Jewish family as a result of the 1948 war, the Lavon Affair, or Israel's 1956 invasion, but rather of the separation of her mother Mary Rosenthal, a.k.a Naila Kamel, from her paternal cousins who left Egypt to Palestine in 1946 on account of the Zionist commitments of Peppo, the eldest cousin, who was a member of an Egyptian Zionist cell.....

As a friend of mine, an Egyptian woman academic who works on questions of cosmopolitanism in Egypt and who also saw the film in New York, remarked, there is very little nostalgia that the film or the director registers for a time when many Egyptians were communists, national liberationists, socialists, and everything in between (Hala Halim's forthcoming book addresses these exact issues). But this kind of diversity, it seems, the film and the director do not miss at all. Only the diversity of the non-Muslim and the foreign communities, including Greeks, Italians, Syrian Arab Christians, European Jews, and Arab Jews is missed by the contemporary cosmopolitans who live in Cairo and Alexandria. One wonders if the European funders of the film would have been interested in a film of nostalgia for Arab or Egyptian communism, of which both of Nadia's parents were part. But then the Ford Foundation, which contributed funds to the New York based ArteEast film festival (organized by Israeli scholar Livia Alexander) that screened Salata Baladi in New York might not have funded it either. When I saw the film in the middle of last November at Columbia University, where I teach, Nadia Kamel introduced it. She stood there and declared to her American audience (which included many Americans of Egyptian Jewish background and a number of officers from the Ford Foundation): "I come from a country full of taboos."

The audacity of that statement is not to be underestimated. In a post-9/11 New York City and a post-9/11 Columbia University where taboos on free speech and academic freedom are part of everyday life, for Nadia Kamel to complain to her audience and enjoin them to sympathize with her plight against the taboos of her country borders on the obscene. This is not to say that Egypt does not have taboos, it is to say that playing native informant to a Western audience, most of whom, like Nadia Kamel, only recognize Egypt's taboos but not America's, is not a courageous act. Exploiting the sad and touching story of Naila Kamel to push an ideological agenda that the United States and Israel have been pushing for years against the will of most Egyptians is hardly a progressive or democratic enterprise either. This is most pronounced in the director's attempt to attack the anti-normalization campaign with Israel, rather than Israel itself, as the party responsible for her mother's sadness and yearning for her cousin. Kamel's screening the film in East Jerusalem and Ramallah more recently, where it sparked much controversy, demonstrates that there are many kindred spirits to Nadia Kamel who live there and who look to benefit from normalization under occupation. What this documentary film is able to prove, however, is not that most Egyptians come from origins that are salata baladi, as that is hardly unknown to Egyptians, but that the ideological positions the film wants to push is nothing short of salata afrangi, made up exclusively of Western neoliberal ingredients."

Five Years Later....
By Imad Hajjaj

Leading article: An admiral and a self-serving administration

The Independent

"......Admiral Fallon is not the first to fail to persuade the White House to adopt a more constructive approach to Iran. The 2006 Iraq Study Group recommended bringing neighbouring states, including Iran, on board to improve the security situation in the country. Yet despite commissioning the report, Mr Bush did exactly the opposite, seeking to isolate Iran and ordering the surge into Baghdad.

What lies behind this refusal to engage? After so many years of policy failure and repeated rejections of informed advice, it is impossible not to conclude that the root of the administration's resistance is a simple, stubborn, ideological rigidity. It is a rigidity for which the region has paid a catastrophic price."

The Iraq legacy: legality

The UN's authority has yet to recover from the decision to invade Iraq - but it was not the only institution undermined by British and US actions

By Richard Norton-Taylor
The Guardian

" Five years ago to the day, on March 13 2003, just a week before the invasion of Iraq, Lord Goldsmith the attorney general, had a meeting with Lord Falconer and Baroness Morgan, two of Tony Blair's closest political allies, about the legality of a military attack. The day before, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, the chief of the defence staff, had expressed concern about the equivocal advice Goldsmith had earlier provided.

The attorney had warned that the government and its military commanders could be hauled before a domestic or international criminal court and might lose. Most British international lawyers appeared to agree.......

Five years later, whether the invasion was lawful or not may seem academic. Neither Blair nor Bush nor Rumsfeld is likely to be indicted for war crimes. However, their unilateral decision to invade undermined the authority of the UN. It has yet to recover. Perhaps it never will......"

Slowly strangled

Today, Gaza is being subjected to a slow, purposeful killing, cloaked in state-sanctioned legitimacy and 'security concerns'

By Laila El-Haddad
The Guardian

".......Respected Israeli professor Ilan Pappe has said that genocide "is the only appropriate way to describe what the Israeli army is doing in the Gaza Strip". Genocide is not a word most people use lightly. But words laden with meaning have been used often, where Gaza is concerned, of late. Israel's deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai warned that a "shoah," the Hebrew word most commonly used for the Holocaust, will come to Gaza if the rocket fire does not stop.......
The real genocide in Gaza will not be assessed through sheer numbers. It is not a massacre involving gas chambers. Rather, it is a gradual, modern-day genocide - a genocide through more calibrated, long-term means. It is cloaked in state-sanctioned legitimacy and "security concerns", and as a result, tends to be overlooked. All is OK in Gaza, the wasteland, the "hostile territory" that is accustomed to slaughter and survival. Gaza, whose people are somehow less human, need not cause the world alarm, at least not until a mass killing or starvation is carried out. So the donors keep the trickle of humanitarian supplies coming, just enough to stave off disaster.
But Gaza cannot continue to hover just above the brink of disaster, keeping an international outcry at bay, while surviving from truckload to truckload of supplies.......
John Dugard, the United Nations' special rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories recently said: "Gaza is a prison and Israel seems to have thrown away the key." But even in a prison, inmates have certain rights; and the wardens have certain obligations they must fulfil towards them. They receive water, food, electricity.
In Gaza, Palestinians are guaranteed none of these things. And Israel, though obligated by international law to provide for the welfare of the population it is occupying, has declared the territory "hostile" in an attempt to evade its legal responsibilities......"

Israel raises the ante against Iran

By Kaveh L Afrasiabi
Asia Times

".....Coinciding with the ominous news that US CENTCOM chief Admiral William Fallon has resigned - or been sacked - for his opposition to a war with Iran, Livni hopes to harvest a blowing wind of war against another Middle Eastern country that dares to challenge Israel's regional hegemony. It is a familiar story with a recent precedent in Iraq and a script for action, requiring high-pitched public diplomacy with the help of a vast network of sympathetic media pundits, that Israel has fully mastered.....

This time, however, with the stakes on Iran relatively higher, the discrete charm of the affable Livni is fully required to pave the way for another disastrous war in the Middle East, since Israel is incapable of peace with the Palestinians and is in dire need of other pretexts to channel public attention away from its oppressive policies against the Palestinian people.

This is reflected in the Israeli government's blunt announcement of a new settlement in the West Bank, timed with Rice's visit, which must have surely sent a signal that no matter how it may be interpreted as a provocation that belies the peace process, Israel's policy of annexation and confiscation of Palestinian lands will continue unabated......

Unfortunately, that healthy skepticism is presently staved off by a sophisticated public relations ploy on Israel's part that blames Iran for the death of the peace process and exonerates Israel, while presenting a caricature of independence-seeking Palestinians as mere proxies of Iran's "messianic fundamentalists".

Such self-serving image projections of the Iranian enemy conveniently overlook US-Iran shared interests in the region and, instead, seek desperately to paint a black and white picture of US-Iran relations as a zero-sum game. Of course, this is a harder sell, as the US and Iran both support the same regimes in Baghdad and Kabul and also have a vested interest in preventing the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Sunni insurgency in Iraq.

Meanwhile, amid new US allegations of Iranian subversive activities in Iraq, a fourth round of US-Iran talks has been postponed and, per an informed Iranian analyst, that is simply because the US does not want to negotiate with Iran from the position of weakness since Tehran has gained much as a result of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent trip to Baghdad. "The US should make a strategic adjustment with Iran or continue with its cold war crusade that is disfunctional because Iran and the US have common interests in the region," the analyst insisted.

So, the clever Israelis and their friends have mounted a serious campaign to convince the world that Iran is in bed with the Taliban and also with al-Qaeda, as well as with practically "every terror group opposed to the US", to paraphrase Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns at his recent talk at Harvard University......

In conclusion, the waning months of the George W Bush administration represent a golden opportunity for Israel to ignite another Middle East conflict that, in essence, is rooted in Israel's structural inability to make peace with the Arab and Muslim world."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thousands of Palestinian orphans protest Israeli army looting of their food

From Khalid Amayreh in Hebron

"Thousands of Palestinian orphans on Tuesday took to the streets in this southern West Bank town to protest recent raids by the Israeli occupation army of their orphanages and boarding schools.

Hundreds of Israeli troops, backed up by armored carriers, raided the Islamic Charitable Society in downtown Hebron earlier this week , vandalizing property and looting hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of food materials, clothes, shoes and furniture donated by local and foreign donors for the benefit of the orphans.

The charitable society, the largest in Palestine, runs two orphanages and several boarding schools, which cater for as many as 7000 children who have lost either or both parents......

On 6 March, Israeli army troops stormed buildings containing food and clothes inventories, looting large amounts of frozen food, dairy products, clothes and shoes as well as refrigerators and kitchen appliances, local officials and eyewitnesses said. The looted material were to be used to feed and cloth the orphans.

Ahmed Farrah, a charity official, denied vehemently Israeli insinuations that the charity was run by Hamas. “We are a charitable society. We have nothing to do with politics. We have been functioning since 1964, before the Israeli occupation, and the Israeli army and intelligence services investigated us numerous times and they never found any evidence suggesting any illegal activities.

“So, the real reason for this hateful campaign is that they want to torment us and weaken the Palestinian society. I think it is an expression of hatred toward Islam and Muslims. Israel today spearheads an ugly war against our religion.”.....

The army confiscated property, including an orphanage, two schools, a supermarket and several multi-story buildings as well as four buses. The army brought in huge trucks for moving the looted materials, including computers, cabinets, chairs, kitchen appliances and teaching aids to a nearby army base.....

One local writer and poet accused the Palestinian Authority of Ramallah of “conniving and coordinating with Israel to close the orphanages and boarding schools.”

I have no doubt that (PA interior minister) Abdul Razzak al Yahya is behind all of this,” said the man who asked for anonymity. “They are acting like quislings for Israel. Otherwise why are they silent while 7000 orphans are being dumped onto the streets?”"

Iran still a target?

By Stephen Kinzer
(Stephen Kinzer is author of "All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror)

Baltimore Sun

"In a reality-based world, the idea that the United States should attack Iran would by now seem most implausible. Not only is the Iraq war taking a terrible financial and human toll, but American intelligence agencies have concluded that Iran is not building nuclear weapons. Iran should logically fall into the same category as Cuba, Venezuela, Syria and North Korea - countries that behave in ways the U.S. dislikes but do not pose such imminent threats that they must be bombed.

Unfortunately, though, reality is not what guides the Bush administration. It is still driven by the impulses that led to the Iraq invasion. This means that the world may wake up any morning between now and Jan. 20 to news that U.S. missiles are falling on Iran. Ominously, Adm. William J. Fallon, who had strongly opposed the idea of attacking Iran, announced his early retirement yesterday.

The fact that most Americans seem to believe the threat of such an attack has receded may actually make it more possible. Officials in Washington could easily take the lack of sustained public and political protest as a sign that citizens don't really care whether the U.S. launches this new war......."

Fallon ouster marks crucial Neocon victory and makes war against Iran very likely

A Very Good Piece
By The Vineyard of the Saker

".....In this context, the ouster of Fallon is without any doubt a major Neocon success: not only has the last senior US commander opposed to an attack on Iran been fired, but a major player of the "Old Anglo Guard" as been evicted from his power base. Regardless of who actually succeeds Dubya in the White House, the entire military command is now firmly back in Neocon hands. Ditto for both houses of Congress and most of the corporate media. While many naive observers thought that the resignation of Rumsfeld marked the end for the Neocons, the fact is that the Neocons have recovered amazingly fast:

1) All remaining Presidential candidates with a chance to actually get into the White House are firmly under Neocon control.
2) The vast majority of the political advisers of these candidates (who will become future key members of the next Administration) are also Neocons.
3) The Pengaton has been effectively cleared from any Old Anglo Guard members capable of opposing Neocon plans for more wars in the Middle-East. Even better, it makes it easier for the Neocons to trigger a "Persian Gulf of Tonkin" kind of incident to trigger a war with Iran even before the Presidential election thereby probably propelling the most beloved candidates of the Neocons (McCain) to power.
4) The efforts of the Old Anglo Guard (Carter, Scheuer, Mearsheimer , Walt, Ritter, Odom, etc.) to make the power of the Israel Lobby a political issue have failed to penetrate the "sound barrier" (to use Amy Goodman's expression) of the corporate media which remains firmly pro-Neocon (not a single US new outlet has been willing to interview Sibel Edmons about her allegations that top US officials were selling nuclear secrets!).
5) All the major political scandals threatening to expose the Neocons (the AIPAC espionage trial, Sibel Edmon's revelations, "Scooter" Libby's case, Valerie Plame, the "lost nukes" headed for the Middle-East, the Federal Prosecutors scandal, etc.) have effectively been buried and send down the memory hole.Does that all mean that, as Justin Raimondo wrote, that "we are f*cked" and that the USA is headed for war? The short answer is "yes"........."