Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ill will

From Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Jerusalem

".....Notwithstanding, the most corrosive and destructive damage wreaked by the PA on the Palestinian society has been the consolidation of a police state atmosphere throughout the West Bank.

Today, thanks to the intensive and omnipresent proliferation of spies and informers, tens of thousands of Palestinians are asked to spy and inform on other Palestinians in their neighborhoods and communities.

A school student is instructed to inform on his teacher, a college student is asked to inform and spy on his fellow student sitting next to him as well as on the lecturers. In villages, towns and refugee camps all over the West Bank, Fatah supporters and members are asked to monitor the locals, e.g. who prays at the local mosques, who criticizes the PA, and who is likely to vote for parties other than Fatah in future elections.

Predictably, this police state atmosphere is gradually destroying the Palestinian society where young, ignorant Fatah agents can decide the career and fate of University professors who may eventually be forced to emigrate for good.

What is still more appalling is that neither the higher political echelons nor the intellectual community and the intelligentsia are paying sufficient attention to this grave phenomenon that threaten to irreversibly corrode the very fabric of our society, the society that succeeded in withstanding more than 40 years of Nazi-like Israeli repression.

In light, it is really very difficult to be optimistic with regard to the Cairo talks.

Maybe an alternative approach to national unity should be tried.

How about dissolving the PA once and for all? "

Satire Video From The Onion: Obama Win Causes Obsessed Backers To See How Empty Their Lives Are

Change We Can Believe in? Wall Street Fat Cats Are Trying to Pocket Billions in Bailout Cash

by Nomi Prins
Global Research, November 7, 2008

"......But, it seems that Wall Street didn't get that memo. It turns out that the nine banks about to be getting a total equity capital injection of $125 billion, courtesy of Phase I of The Bailout Plan, had reserved $108 billion during the first nine months of 2008 in order to pay for compensation and bonuses (PDF).

Paying Wall Street bonuses was not supposed to be part of the plan. At least that's how Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson explained it to Congress and the American people. So, on Oct. 1, when the Senate, including Obama, approved the $700 billion bailout package, the illusion was that this would magically loosen the credit markets, and with taxpayer-funded relief, banks would first start lending to each other again, and then, to citizens and small businesses. And all would be well.

That didn't happen.......

Last year, when the financial crisis was just brewing, the top five investment banks paid themselves $39 billion in compensation and bonuses.......Two of those firms, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, went bankrupt this year. Bank of America is acquiring a third, Merrill Lynch. Shares in the remaining two, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, took a 60 percent nosedive this year.

Yet, that didn't stop their campaign contribution money from spewing out. Goldman was Obama's largest corporate campaign contributor, with $874,207. Also in his top 20 were three other recipients of bailout capital: JP Morgan/Chase, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley.....

.....Yet, if "change has come to America," as per Obama's promise, then it's high time for Wall Street to shoulder its part -- starting with this bonus season. A decisive move by Obama on this topic would go a long way toward solidifying the central promise of his campaign."

Palestinian Unity Talks Delayed after Hamas Boycott


COMMENT: I think that Hamas made the right decision. There is no point (and that was clear from the beginning) in having "dialog" with a quisling, Israel-collaborating, non-Authority (SALATA), financed and trained by the CIA.

However, Hamas must be prepared for what comes next. The whole idea of the "dialog" was nothing but a charade to corner Hamas and to show that it is a "rogue" regime. The intent is to justify an Israeli attack on Gaza, with official Arab regime blessing, to crush Hamas. If that were to take place, "Arab" troops would then take place of the conquering Israeli tanks, and the traitor Abbas' "Authority" would be restored to Gaza. Then a forged "election" would be staged which would "elect" Abbas as dictator for life.

Stay tuned.

"08/11/2008 Palestinian reconciliation talks due to be held in Cairo were called off on Saturday after Hamas announced a boycott in protest at the detention of hundreds of its members by president Mahmud Abbas's security forces.

"They've been cancelled," Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said. Another Egyptian official, who asked not to be named, said the talks "have been delayed to an undetermined date... at the request of Hamas."

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that "Hamas decided not to attend the dialogue talks in Egypt. We have informed the Egyptian authorities of our decision." "Our decision was made because president Mahmud Abbas is continuing to weaken the Hamas movement and he has not released any Hamas detainees in the West Bank," he said.

Egyptian intelligence, which had been mediating talks between individual rival Palestinian groups, said in a statement that round-table talks set for Monday were cancelled after Hamas announced its withdrawal. "Hamas told us it would not participate in the dialogue and therefore Egypt delayed talks until an opportunity presents itself," the statement said......."

Larijani cautions Obama on Iran policy

Press TV

"Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani says that US president-elect Barack Obama should show clear signs of change to regional nations. "Obama can understand that change does not only mean a change of color and superficial differences. Changes should have strategic bases," Larijani said in Tehran, Saturday.

At his first press conference since winning the US presidential election, Obama accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons and lending support to terrorist organizations. "Iran's development of a nuclear weapon I believe is unacceptable. We have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening," Obama claimed. "Iran's support of terrorist organizations, I think, is something that has to cease."

Larijani said Obama's remarks over Iran's nuclear program followed the same erroneous policy of former US statesmen. "Obama's words were tantamount to moving on the previous, wrong track."....... "

'Israel war on Iran on the radar'

Press TV

"A senior European Union diplomat says the perfect time for Israel to strike Iranian nuclear installations 'is between now and January 20'. "A possible Israeli strike against Iran is not completely off the radar," Turkish paper Hurriyet quoted the diplomat as saying.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Friday that Tel Aviv is 'convinced that Iran continues to try to build a nuclear weapon'. "We don't rule out any option. We recommend others don't rule out any option either," added Barak, in regards to Obama's plans for Iran.......

"Israelis would consider a move such as this before Bush and Cheney leave," said the EU diplomat, adding that once Obama takes office, Israel's chances of striking Iran would be off the agenda........

In his first post-election press conference on Friday, Senator Obama said the international community has to mount an effort to prevent 'Iran's development of a nuclear weapon'...... "

U.S. Pushes In Their Excellencies

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Nov 7 (IPS) - More than five years after the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, Arab capitals are beginning to send ambassadors to Baghdad. But some Egyptian commentators question the timing of the move, which they attribute to pressure from Washington.

"Arab governments originally wanted a full withdrawal of foreign forces and a stable security environment before sending ambassadors," Ahmed Thabet, political science professor at Cairo University, told IPS. "Yet the pending U.S.-Iraq security agreement promises to turn the current military occupation of Iraq into a constitutionally sanctioned one." ......

Ever since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, Washington has urged Sunni-Arab states to normalise diplomatic relations with the government in Baghdad. Until recently, however, Arab capitals -- distrustful of the Shia-led, Iran-friendly Iraqi government -- have been reluctant to comply.....

In mid-October, even Syria -- frequently accused by Washington of not doing enough to curb the flow of anti-occupation fighters into Iraq from its territory -- sent its first ambassador to Baghdad in decades. Diplomatic relations between Syria and Iraq, long ruled by rival factions of the pan-Arab Ba'ath Party, had been frozen for the most part since Saddam Hussein assumed presidency in 1979.

According to some Egyptian commentators, the newfound Arab enthusiasm for establishing embassies in Iraq can be attributed mainly to pressure from Washington.

"The rush to send ambassadors comes as a result of U.S. dictates," Abdel-Halim Kandil, political analyst and editor-in-chief of independent weekly Sout Al-Umma told IPS. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, he added, "has consistently pushed Washington's Arab allies in the region -- Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf States -- to establish embassies in Baghdad with the stated aim of 'countering Iranian influence' in Iraq."

Iran -- a Shia-Persian power as opposed to a Sunni-Arab one -- boasts strong ties with post-war Iraq, including a large and fully operational embassy in Baghdad. "Unlike the Arab states, Iran already has tremendous assets in Iraq, including allied political and religious movements, armed groups, enormous bilateral trade and a shared border," said Kandil. "Since the U.S. invasion, Iraq has turned from a competitor of Iran to an Iranian sphere of influence."

Kandil went on to question official claims that the Arab diplomatic drive towards Baghdad was intended to preserve Iraq's 'Arab identity'. "I'm afraid it's too late for that," he said. "The post-occupation constitution states that Iraq is a Muslim country, but not an Arab one. It also refers to Iraq's Sunni-Muslim population -- not Iraq itself -- as part of the wider Arab world. "What's more," added Kandil, "the Arab League opened a representative office in Baghdad, which, notably, it only does in non-Arab countries."......."

President-elect's Queries to Briefers

A Good Piece
By Ray Mcgovern

"......The president-elect needs to start asking hard questions. Now. Here are some he might want to select for his next briefing:

1. The lead story in Friday's New York Times undercuts the claims of Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili that he was acting in self-defense when he ordered his troops to fire artillery and rockets at the city of Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia. The new information comes from international monitors of the highly respected Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and, oddly, is much closer to the Russian version of what happened.

Task: A two-page memo on who started the fighting and why? Deadline: Monday

2. A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) produced last November concluded that Iran's work on the nuclear-weapons part of its nuclear development program was suspended in mid-2003. National Intelligence Council director Thomas Fingar repeated that judgment publicly on Sept. 4, 2008.

I want to know how that squares – or doesn't – with the claim by neoconservative icon Norman Podhoretz, just hours after the NIE's key judgments were made public, that Iran is "hell-bent on developing nuclear weapons," and why Podhoretz would go on to charge that the intelligence community was trying to "undermine George W. Bush." I notice, incidentally, that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has parroted Podhoretz's "hell-bent" phraseology, and that your boss, CIA Director Michael Hayden, has also publicly volunteered his "personal opinion" that this is so.

Task: A memo updating the judgments of the Nov. 07 NIE, as necessary. Deadline: Nov. 14

3. My aides have been telling me that, when speaking of the recent decrease in violence in Iraq, I have been mis-overestimating, so to speak, the success of the surge while mis-underestimating factors like the sectarian cleansing in Baghdad, the decision to pay Sunnis not to shoot at U.S. forces, and the decision of Muqtada al-Sadr to hold Shia fire pending the withdrawal of U.S. forces, which the Shia see as just a matter of time.

Task: A memo ranking the reasons for the downturn in violence in order of relative importance. It should address all these factors; it should also explain why the U.S. has several thousand more troops in Iraq now than were there before the surge came and went. Deadline: Nov. 19

4. Confusion reigns with respect to what is likely to happen when U. S. forces withdraw from Iraq. That administration officials and U.S. Army generals know better what to expect than the Iraqis themselves strains credulity. It has become increasingly clear that the Iraqi government and people believe they themselves can handle whatever comes once we depart, and that they consider the large U.S. troop presence part of the problem, not the solution.

Task: A memo addressing why the Iraqis are more relaxed about a U.S. troop withdrawal than most U.S. officials and pundits. Deadline: Nov. 21

5. No outsiders have been able to prevail in Afghanistan. What makes us think the U.S. can, no matter how many troops it chooses to recruit and insert?

Task: A formal National Intelligence Estimate on prospects for Afghanistan. Deadline: Jan. 9, 2009 ........

8. My advisers tell me that senior intelligence officials, including the principal deputy to National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, have been briefing the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a creature of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Task: Please ask McConnell to let my staff know what other policy advocacy institutes his subordinates have briefed. Deadline: Nov. 10

Dignity Arrives in Gaza, Again!

The Free Gaza Movement

"For Immediate Release
November 8, 2008

Larnaca: The DIGNITY pulled into Gaza at 9:15 a.m. Gaza time after an uneventful trip from Larnaca, Cyprus. The 23 passengers and crew on board were tired but ecstatic that they had arrived. The 11 European parliamentarians who had originally been denied entrance through the Rafah border had made the crossing by sea courtesy of the Free Gaza Movement's blockade-busting boat, the third trip for this human rights organization.

"I am here to assess the humanitarian situation in Gaza, especially the medical situation. We have medicine and some medical equipment to deliver." said Baroness Jenny Tonge, one of the Parliamentarians. "What Israel does is outrageous when it breaks all international laws. No other country is able to get away with what Israel does."

In addition to delivering medical equipment and supplies, the DIGNITY carried mail from friends and family around the world addressed to Gaza residents. This is the first time in many years that mail has reached Palestine without passing through Israeli hands.

The brilliant Israeli journalist, Amira Hass, was also on board. Watching the passengers disembark, we could see the joy in her face as she came home to Gaza, having been denied entrance for two years.

Just before arriving in the waters of Gaza, an Israeli naval gunboat approached, cutting across the bow of the boat, then falling back and tracking it for about an hour. Finally, the gunboat radioed the DIGNITY and asked who they were and where they were going.

After Huwaida Arraf responded, the gunboat asked for the passenger list. "Our passengers are listed on our Free Gaza website for everyone to see," replied Ms. Arraf, "You're welcome to visit it any time. And… while you're there, feel free to make a donation." [Great sense of humor by Huwaida!]

After a pause, then a laugh, the voice on the other end said, "Have a nice day" and left the DIGNITY to glide into the port of Gaza to cheering crowds and a packed agenda for the Parliamentarians."

رايس عندما تتهرب من الفشل

رايس عندما تتهرب من الفشل

رأي القدس

السيدة رايس خدعت الطرف الفلسطيني، وباعته اوهاما طوال السنوات الماضية، بالحديث عن قيام دولة فلسطينية، دون ان تخطو اي خطوة عملية حقيقية في هذا الصدد، زارت رام الله اكثر من خمس عشرة مرة في اقل من عام ونصف العام، وعقدت اجتماعات مفتوحة، واخرى مغلقة، وعقدت مؤتمرات صحافية، ومع ذلك جاءت النتائج صفرا.
الرئيس عباس كان يقف الى جانب رايس وهي تعلن فشلها، ولم يقل كلمة نقد واحدة لها ولإدارتها، على امل ان تقول كلمة طيبة عنه للادارة الجديدة، ولا تحمله مسؤولية فشل العملية السلمية.
السيدة رايس ربما تقول كلمة جيدة عنه للإدارة المقبلة، وتعفيه من اي لوم حول فشل العملية السلمية، ولكنها لن تقول ان اسرائيل هي التي افشلتها، ولن تنفع
كلماتها الطيبة، هذا اذا قيلت، في دفع الادارة المقبلة للنجاح فيما فشلت فيه، لانه طالما لا يوجد ضغط فلسطيني وعربي حقيقي يهدد او حتى يؤثر في المصالح الامريكية في المنطقة، فإن هذه الادارة لن تتحرك

إلقِ كلمتك.. ولا تصافح

إلقِ كلمتك.. ولا تصافح

عبد الباري عطوان

من الطبيعي ان يتلقف بيريس هذه الدعوة بتلهف، وان يصطحب معه السيدة تسيبي ليفني رئيسة الوزراء المقبلة، خاصة بعد ان عرف انه سيكون في الندوة الافتتاحية نفسها وجنبا الى جنب مع العاهل السعودي الملك عبد الله بن عبد العزيز، وسيلقي كلمته بعده مباشرة، مع وجود فرصة كبيرة للمصافحة امام عدسات التلفزة العالمية.
حوار الأديان في فكرته الاساسية كان حوارا بين رجال الدين من مختلف الديانات السماوية وغير السماوية، وجاء استكمالا لحوار بين المذاهب الاسلامية، انطلق ايضا من الرياض وبمبادرة من العاهل السعودي نفسه، ولكن طالما ان الهدف هو التقريب بين الأديان، واقامة جسور التفاهم بين قياداتها الروحية، وازالة كل سوء فهم ممكن، فلماذا اقحام السياسيين وقادة الدول؟
من الواضح ان هناك أجندات اخرى يحاول البعض اخفاءها، ابرزها توفير الغطاء الديني للقاء اسرائيلي ـ سعودي مباشر، يدشن بداية حوار وتعاون يكون عنوان المرحلة المقبلة في المنطقة العربية بأسرها
هناك مدرسة سعودية تضغط باتجاه التطبيع مع اسرائيل، واقامة علاقات سياسية تحالفية معها، لمواجهة المد الايراني، وتلتقي مع الاسرائيليين على ارضية الخوف من ايران ونفوذها المتصاعد في المنطقة، وقرب امتلاكها اسلحة نووية، وفقهاء هذه المدرسة يعتقدون بضرورة تكوين 'تحالف من الخائفين' هؤلاء يتصدى لهذا النفوذ، ويمنع ايران من امتلاك اسلحة نووية. ويبدو ان هؤلاء نجحوا في التأثير على القرار الرسمي السعودي في اعلى مستوياته، من حيث تسريع خطوات التقارب مع اسرائيل، واستخدام حوار الأديان كمظلة في هذا الصدد.
الخطوة الاولى في التوجه السعودي الاستراتيجي الجديد بدأت باطلاق مبادرة السلام السعودية التي ولدت على ايدي القابلة الامريكي اليهودي توماس فريدمان، وهي المبادرة التي عرضت التطبيع الكامل مقابل الانسحاب الاسرائيلي الكامل من الاراضي المحتلة، دون التطرق لحق العودة الذي هو لب الصراع العربي ـ الاسرائيلي. ثم جاءت الخطوة الثانية من خلال ترتيب حوارات بين حاخامات يهود، وآخرين من المملكة العربية السعودية، ثم لقاءات بين هؤلاء وسياسيين وامراء سعوديين كبار، لنفاجأ قبل اسابيع بأول لقاء علني بين الامير تركي الفيصل رئيس الاستخبارات السعودي، وسفير بلاده في لندن وواشنطن سابقا، والجنرال الاسرائيلي المتقاعد داني روتشيلد، منسق الاستيطان في الضفة الغربية المحتلة، والذريعة تحريك مبادرة السلام العربية.
التبرير الرسمي افاد بأن الامير تركي الفيصل كان يمثل نفسه في هذا اللقاء، وليس الحكومة السعودية، ولكن القاصي والداني يعلم جيدا ان الامير تركي هو من ابرز اعضاء دائرة صنع القرار في المملكة العربية السعودية، ويرافق العاهل السعودي في الكثير من الجولات الخارجية، وشارك في معظم لقاءاته مع المسؤولين العالميين، مثل الرئيس جورج بوش وغوردون براون اثناء زيارتيهما الاخيرتين الى الرياض.
ايران تكتسب شعبية واسعة في العالم الاسلامي لانها تطرح خطابا يتصدى لاسرائيل، ويجرّم عدوانها، ويؤكد على حتمية تحرير المقدسات، وابرز حلفائها في لبنان خاضوا حربا مشرّفة ضد اسرائيل، واوقعوا بها هزيمة مدوّية، فإذا كانت السعودية على وجه الخصوص، مثلها مثل العرب الآخرين، تريد التصدي للنفوذ الايراني، فعليها ان تتبنى الخطاب العربي الاسلامي في ضرورة استعادة الحقوق المغتصبة وتحرير المقدسات، وهو الخطاب الذي خطفته ايران، لا ان تفعل عكسه

Return of the Baghdad Pact

Bush wants to give Iraq one last gift: subservience to an agreement that perpetuates the US occupation and absolves invading and occupying US forces of their crimes

By Galal Nassar
Al-Ahram Weekly

".....If the agreement, the cosignatories of which can hardly be said to be equal, is concluded it will effectively end the international mandate over Iraq. Iraq would then be regarded as a "free and independent" nation and Washington would be relieved of the burden of being seen as a colonialist power occupying a founding member of the UN and a current member of the family of nations, in spite of the ongoing and glaring breaches in international law, the UN Charter and the principle of self-determination.

The architects of the agreement and those who are engineering its implementation seem to have deliberately blinded themselves to the fact that it takes little mental effort to realise that, under the reality of occupation, any agreement or understanding signed between Washington and Baghdad lacks legitimacy. Perhaps this is what prompted the Arab Lawyers' Federation to issue a statement condemning the draft security agreement between Iraq and the US out of hand and describing it as a colonialist project that violates the sovereignty and independence of Iraq and that poses a threat to Arab national security.

Indeed, the proposed agreement differs little from the other pacts that the British or French colonial powers imposed on the region in earlier periods. Moreover, as the statement by the Arab Lawyers' Federation pointed out, since the Iraqi government lacks the sovereignty to act autonomously any agreement with the occupying power will lack a legitimate contractual nature. The statement further stressed that the articles of the agreement violate in substance the rules and principles of international law because they specify a timeframe for maintaining an illegitimate foreign military presence in Iraq......

The haze surrounding American plans for Iraq and even domestic policies, the apprehensions of regional powers with regard to a long-term US military presence in the region, and the pressures these powers are exerting on their allies inside Iraq are what account for the delays in concluding the SOFA. Nevertheless, this has not kept some from grumbling against the "ingratitude" of those who are in power in Iraq today. As one of these officials put it, were it not for American tanks none of them would have a foothold in Iraq these days let alone title and rank.

Signing the SOFA and bowing to international or regional agendas will not restore security and independence to Iraq. On the contrary, it will legalise the occupation. Iraq will not know true security and peace until the Iraqi people themselves take hold of the actual reins of power and exercise their right to self-determination in a truly free and sovereign Arab state."

Real News Video: Obama and civil liberties

Michael Ratner: Peoples' constitutional rights are not going to be the main priority

"The Real News senior editor Paul Jay and head of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Michael Ratner discuss the demolishment of peoples' constitutional rights and civil liberties."

Real News Video: Obama and Latin America

Hylton: Will Obama recognize Latin America is no longer "America's backyard'? Who will get the key job?

"Barack Obama's approach to Latin America will be a defining measure of his administration's foreign policy agenda. As opportunities for dialogue and reconciliation emerge, Dan Restrepo, one of Mr Obama’s main advisers on Latin America, may play a defining role in setting the course. Real News Network Senior Editor Paul Jay talks with Forrest Hylton about the choices facing the Obama administration in its policy toward Latin America."

Obama has to pay for eight years of Bush's delusions

He will have to get out of Iraq, and he will have to tell Israel a few home truths

By Robert Fisk

(Cartoon by Emad Hajjaj)

"......Obama has got to close Guantanamo. He's got to find a way of apologising to the world for the crimes of his predecessor, not an easy task for a man who must show pride in his country; but saying sorry is what – internationally – he will have to do if the "change" he has been promoting at home is to have any meaning outside America's borders. He will have to re-think – and deconstruct – the whole "war on terror". He will have to get out of Iraq. He will have to call a halt to America's massive airbases in Iraq, its $600m embassy. He will have to end the blood-caked air strikes we are perpetrating in southern Afghanistan – why, oh, why do we keep slaughtering wedding parties? – and he will have to tell Israel a few home truths: that America can no longer remain uncritical in the face of Israeli army brutality and the colonisation for Jews and Jews only on Arab land. Obama will have to stand up at last to the Israeli lobby (it is, in fact, an Israeli Likud party lobby) and withdraw Bush's 2004 acceptance of Israel's claim to a significant portion of the West Bank. US officials will have to talk to Iranian officials – and Hamas officials, for that matter. Obama will have to end US strikes into Pakistan – and Syria.....

But Obama's not going to be able to make the break. He wants to draw down in Iraq in order to concentrate more firepower in Afghanistan. He's not going to take on the lobby in Washington and he's not going to stop further Jewish colonisation of the occupied territories or talk to Israel's enemies. With AIPAC supporter Rahm Emanuel as his new chief of staff – "our man in the White House", as the Israeli daily Maariv called him this week – Obama will toe the line. And of course, there's the terrible thought that bin Laden – when he's not shopping at US military post offices – may be planning another atrocity to welcome the Obama presidency.

There is just one little problem, though, and that's the "missing" prisoners. Not the victimswho have been (still are being?) tortured in Guantanamo, but the thousands who have simply disappeared into US custody abroad or – with American help – into the prisons of US allies. Some reports speak of 20,000 missing men, most of them Arabs, all of them Muslims. Where are they? Can they be freed now? Or are they dead? If Obama finds that he is inheriting mass graves from George W Bush, there will be a lot of apologising to do."

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hail to the Chief of Staff

A Great Piece, and Highly Recommended


"The first trumpet blast of change ushers in Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s chief of staff and gate keeper. This is the man who arranges his schedule, staffs out the agenda, includes, excludes. It’s certainly as sinister an appointment as, say, Carter’s installation of arch cold-warrior Zbigniev Brzezinski as his National Security Advisor at the dawn of his “change is here” administration in 1977.

Emanuel, as Ralph Nader points out in my interview with him below, represents the worst of the Clinton years. His profile as regards Israel is explored well on this site by lawyer John Whitbeck. He’s a former Israeli citizen, who volunteered to serve in Israel in 1991 and who made brisk millions in Wall Street. He is a super-Likudnik hawk, whose father was in the fascist Irgun in the late Forties, responsible for cold-blooded massacres of Palestinians. Dad’s unreconstructed ethnic outlook has been memorably embodied in his recent remark to the Ma’ariv newspaper that "Obviously he [Rahm] will influence the president to be pro-Israel… Why wouldn't he be [influential]? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."

Working in the Clinton White House, Emanuel helped push through NAFTA, the crime bill, the balanced budget and welfare reform. He favored the war in Iraq, and when he was chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006 he made great efforts to knock out antiwar Democratic candidates. On this site in October and November, 2006, John Walsh documented both the efforts and Emanuel’s role in losing the Democrats seats they would otherwise have won.

In 2006 Emanuel had just published a book with Bruce Reed called The Plan: Big Ideas for America, with one section focused on “the war on terror”. Emanuel and Reed wrote, “We need to fortify the military's ‘thin green line ‘around the world by adding to the U.S. Special Forces and the Marines, and by expanding the U.S. army by 100,000 more troops. …Finally we must protect our homeland and civil liberties by creating a new domestic counterterrorism force like Britain's MI5.” Recall that Obama has been calling throughout his recent campaign for an addition of 92,000 to the US Army and US Marine Corps.

Emanuel and Reed had fond words for the mad-dog Peter Beinart, neocon warrior theoretician for the Democrats, roosting Marty Peretz's The New Republic, and author of The Good Fight where Beinart explained why a tough new national security policy is as essential to the future of of progressive politics as a united front against totalitarianism and communism was to the New Deal and the Great Society. Emanuel and Reed also commended Anne-Marie Slaughter's proposal for "a new division of labor in which the United Nations takes on economic and social assistance and an expanded NATO takes over the burden of collective security." In other words, let NATO shoot the natives and the UN clean the floors......

To win the House, the Dems had to win 15 seats from the Republicans. Walsh identified 22 candidates hand picked by Emanuel to run in open districts or districts with Republican incumbents. Of these, nine adopted a US “must win” in Iraq position and only one of Rahm's candidates was for prompt withdrawal from Iraq......"

"We have to find the difference!"
By Baha Boukhari

Our Obama Problem

A View From Europe


".....What Obama wants to do is not totally clear, but it is certain that he will not oppose the powers that be (Wall Street, big corporations, the pro-Israel lobby, etc.) that allowed him to win. He has at least demonstrated that much during the campaign.....

In other words, the Obama problem is his extreme popularity in Europe, which is based both on his skin colour and on his “image”. Because people don’t understand how much race relations in the United States have actually changed, they see Obama’s election as a sort of absolute miracle and, since the media present him as a strong alternative to Bush, and hardly report, for example, his plans to send more troops to Afghanistan, they think that he is far more progressive than he actually is.

Of course, given the disastrous state of the Left worldwide, people desperately want to believe in something positive happening somewhere, and that only reinforces the illusions about Obama.....

.....But now, everything changes -- by shifting the attention from social issues to ‘’race’’ , they can turn the tables around and make the United States look like THE progressive country of the West. The very pro-American, “New Left”, French daily Libération has already suggested that the election of Obama is a lesson in democracy for France....

But the deepest problem is that, sixty years after the end of WW2, Europeans still see themselves as somehow dependent on the United States. For their elites, the reasons are clear and understandable, but the rest of us, including a big part of the Left, still put too much of our hopes in expecting the US population to elect a “good prince”, as they have just done with Obama.....

The US population elects its president, not the Master of the Universe. This seems to be understood nowadays in Russia, Asia, Latin America and the Muslim world. Only in Europe do we still need to decolonize our minds."

Shouldering responsibility

Imad Khadduri

""The Iraqi government is confident that president-elect Barack Obama will not jeopardise Iraq's improving security by hastily withdrawing U.S. troops, Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Wednesday.Obama has "reassured us that he would not take any drastic or dramatic decisions," Zebari told BBC television.......

In the previous regime, enthusiastic Iraqis used to dance and chant the following in front of Saddam:

"Bush, Bush Listen well ..... We all love Saddam Hussain"

Spreading like wildfire on the Iraqi online, a new pun is that the Green Zone"ers" are now clamouring:

"Bush, Bush Listen well ..... We all love Obama Hussain"

أهازيج المؤجرين في المنطقة الخضراء:ـ

بوش بوش لك اسمع زين ... كلنا نحب أوباما حسين

Israeli fashion designer sewing Abbas' suits


"Tel Aviv-based Barbaros company sells hundreds of suits to Palestinian Authority. 'I have been working with Palestinians for 30 years,' says owner, 'and maybe these suits will bring us peace'

In spite of the rift between Palestinians and Israelis, it seems someone is still interested in sewing peace.

Tel Aviv-based fashion company Barbaros has recently supplied Ramallah and Gaza clothing stores with hundreds of business suits valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to the owner of Sudani Center, a Ramallah clothing store, the suits, carrying the label "Made in Israel" were purchased in advance by the Palestinian Authority.

One hundred suits were ordered for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' office, and more were ordered for four other PA ministers.

"I have been working with the Palestinians for 30 years now," says Yossi Jenudi, owner of Barbaros.

"They love my suits and my taste and prefer brown, olive green and beige suits. My friends mock me, 'You really found the best people to sell to,' but I say to them, 'Maybe these suits will bring us peace.'" "

The keys to the country

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"......The world, still ecstatic, will soon notice that Obama is also all about post-ethnic civic nationalism. Make no mistake: in his own way, he also wants a New American century. His speeches tell the story. He truly believes in American exceptionalism and in the US manifest destiny.....

The Pentagon celebrated Obama's election by bombing a wedding party in Kandahar province in Afghanistan - 48 dead, mostly women and children, and scores of wounded.

Obama wants a surge in Afghanistan. Obama wants to expand the framework of the "war on terror" inside the Pakistani tribal areas. Obama wants redeployment in Iraq - not withdrawal. He does not have a clearly defined deadline to leave Iraq because the Pentagon lodged in Iraq is directly tied to access to oil in the Middle East and a non-stop war of attrition with Iran, Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Obama has not renounced unconditional support to Israel's neo-colonial war on Palestine and relentless expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank - one of the root causes of virtually all the grief in the Middle East.

And then there's that "other" America....."

VIDEO / U.S. Jews laud Obama pick of Rahm Emanuel for chief of staff

"....."Rep. Emanuel is also a good friend of Israel, coming from good Irgun stock, davening at an Orthodox synagogue, and sending his children to Jewish day schools," Daroff concluded.

Ira N. Forman, Executive Director of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), echoed Daroff's approval, saying in a statement Thursday that "Obama made an outstanding selection. Emanuel has been a forceful and effective leader within the Democratic Party. His voting record and leadership in support of the U.S.-Israel relationship are outstanding."

"Emanuel has deep Jewish roots and strong ties to the Jewish community. Emanuel, the son of an Israeli immigrant, has a proven commitment to Israel's security and served as civilian volunteer on an Israeli military base during the Persian Gulf War of 1991," the statement continued.

"We congratulate Emanuel and look forward to continuing to work with Emanuel in his new role in the Obama administration." Forman added...... "

IOF troops film themselves humiliating bound Palestinian

"Channel 10 on Thursday released footage taken by Israel Defense Forces soldiers of themselves humiliating a bound and blindfolded Palestinian man at a West Bank checkpoint.

The footage shows the Palestinian kneeling and repeating sentences given to him to say by the soldiers, who belong to the Golani infantry brigade.

One of the lines is: "Golani will bring you a log to stick up your ass."

As the detainee repeats the words, the soldiers are heard laughing raucously in the background......."

Surprise, Surprise! What Else Do You Expect From The Rabbit Windbag?

'Syria will restrain Hezbollah and Hamas if Obama shifts U.S. policy'

"Syria would be prepared to restrain the militant activities of Hezbollah and Hamas if a U.S. administration led by President-elect Barack Obama shifts its policy toward Damascus, according to a state analyst in Damascus.

In an article published on Friday on the Asia Times Web site [Posted Here On Palestinian Pundit ], Syrian analyst Sami Mubayed called on Obama to endorse the renewed peace talks with Israel to ensure their success.

Mubayed, whose analyses are considered the official standpoint of the Syrian government, urged Obama to "normalize" relations between Washington and Damascus......."

Forget the Honeymoon

Getting down to bizness with Obama

A Very Good Piece
By Justin Raimondo

"....Obama has already started in on us, and he hasn't even taken the oath of office yet. I'm talking about his appointments, starting with Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff.......

A Rolling Stone profile of Emanuel had this to say:

"There's the story of how, the night after Clinton was elected, Emanuel was so angry at the president's enemies that he stood up at a celebratory dinner with colleagues from the campaign, grabbed a steak knife and began rattling off a list of betrayers, shouting 'Dead! . . . Dead! . . . Dead!' and plunging the knife into the table after every name. 'When he was done, the table looked like a lunar landscape,' one campaign veteran recalls. 'It was like something out of The Godfather.'"

He's mean, he's ultra-partisan, and he's a fully-paid up member in good standing of the War Party: during the Democratic primaries in 2006, when Emanuel headed up the Dems' congressional operation, he backed pro-war candidates over antiwar Democrats every time.....

With the smiling face of Don Obama serving as a front for the knife-wielding Emanuel and his "legendary intensity" – as Rolling Stone writer Joshua Green puts it – one has to wonder: what (or who) else does the Prez-elect have in store for us?

The answer is: Jane Harman – as head of the CIA! (If she doesn't get it, not to worry: she's also up for head of Homeland Security – and if she doesn't get that, she's on the short list for National Intelligence czarina).......

Combined with the foreign policy views of Dennis Ross, Obama's senior advisor for Middle East affairs – who is reportedly up for the National Security Advisor slot – what seems to be shaping up is a perfect trifecta of trouble on the horizon. The old adage that presidents rarely govern in synch with the way they campaign applies here, and in spades. Change? Not in the foreign policy realm, buster. Indeed, if any change is involved, it may well be for the worse.

By the time Obama is through making his appointments, all those Hollywood liberals over at the HuffPuffPost will be huffing and puffing with outrage: and, in true Hollywood style, they'll be screaming: "Forget the honeymoon – I want a divorce!"

But it will be too late for that. The Big O marches on, with all sorts of plans for our future, including perhaps "national service," and – for sure – a significant ratcheting-up of the war in Afghanistan. In the meantime, Iran continues to loom large as an issue......"

Palestinian rhythms of resistance

By Ahmed Habib in Toronto

"Jackie Reem Salloum, a film director and activist, has been one of the key players in the movement to increase global interest in Palestinian art.

Born to Palestinian and Syrian parents in Dearborn, Michigan, her artwork was influenced by her experiences as a young woman in the Arab Diaspora.

During her late teens, she studied at the renowned Steinhardt art school at New York University, where she learned to reinterpret traditional American cultural symbols like gum ball machines to include references to revolutionary figures like Musa Kazim Pasha al-Husseini, a mayor of Jerusalem who was ousted in the 1920s for his opposition to British pro-Jewish policies.

In 2005, Salloum presented Planet of the Arabs, a nine-minute film about how Arabs are portrayed in the media, at the Sundance Film Festival.

However, Salloum would not find critical acclaim until her latest film, Slingshot Hip Hop, which was recently shown at the Toronto Palestine Film Festival.

In the 80-minute documentary, Salloum profiles the lives and art of Palestinian hip-hop artists living under Israeli occupation. Groups like DAM from the impoverished ghettoes of Lyd within Israel and P.R. from Gaza infuse energy into cultural resistance.

Al Jazeera recently caught up with Salloum in Toronto where she discussed her art and film and some of the obstacles she has encountered over the years....."

Real News Video: Who is Rahm Emanuel?

David Swanson: Rahm Emanuel was a strong supporter of the Iraq war

Choosing the New "First Puppy"

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)
By Dave Brown, The Independent

Obama chooses 'Rahmbo' as chief of staff

Former Clinton adviser renowned as a political bruiser is given key post

By Leonard Doyle in Washington
The Independent

".....The choice of Mr Emanuel, a US Congressman, was one of Mr Obama's first decisions after becoming President-elect on Tuesday. Known as "Rahmbo" to insiders, he has a reputation as one of Washington's most ferocious political operators.....

The common thread between Mr Emanuel and Mr Obama is the President-elect's chief strategist David Axelrod, éminence grise of Chicago political consultants, who was reported to have accepted the post of senior adviser last night. Both men are Jewish – Mr Emanuel had Axelrod sign the ketubah (the Jewish marriage covenant) at his wedding – and both worked for Chicago's Mayor Daley. In his first run for congress, Mr Emanuel was criticised as being a wealthy outsider and Mr Axelrod created an ad with a Chicago policeman endorsing him – revealed at the end of the commercial to be Emanuel's uncle....

His intensity is said by friends and enemies alike to be key to his success. Stories about him are legendary, including one about a rotting fish he sent to a pollster who had angered him.

But it is true that on the night after Mr Clinton was elected, Mr Emanuel exploded in anger at the president's enemies and at a celebratory dinner he grabbed a knife as he shouted out their names: "Dead! . . . Dead! . . . Dead!," he said, plunging the knife into the table.....

Back in Israel, Mr Emanuel's paediatrician father, Dr Benjamin Emanuel, was somewhat off message with Mr Obama's campaign promise of hope and change. In an interview with the newspaper Ma'ariv, he said he was convinced that his son's appointment would be good for Israel. "Why wouldn't he be? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors.".....

Between his stints in Washington, Mr Emanuel made a fortune as an investment banker and once sat on the board of Freddie Mac....."

"Emanuel's father: An Israeli terrorist?

The appointment of Rahm Emanuel triggered widespread interest in Israel, the native country of his former Jewish underground fighter father.

The older Emanuel, a paediatrician born in Jerusalem, was a member of Irgun, the hard-line militant group which fought for Jewish independence until 1948. It was described as "terrorist" at the time by Britain. Mr Emanuel's appointment could reassure Israel that Mr Obama will continue America's close alliance. The Ynet news service quoted Michael Kotzin, a leader of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, as saying Mr Emanuel is a frequent attender at Israel-related events.

He co-sponsored a Bill defending Israel against a world court advisory opinion in 2004 criticising the route of the military's separation barrier for cutting deep into the West Bank, and co-sponsored another Bill congratulating Israelis and Palestinians who work together for peace. He is credited with choreographing the famous handshake between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn in 1993." -- Donald Macintyre

All the cliches about colour obscure the real challenges awaiting Obama

The world must get over its hysteria. The next US leader has Russia to deal with, and could face his own Cuban missile crisis

Simon Jenkins, Friday November 7 2008

".....The most overheard media cliche is that "America will never be the same again". Yes it will, as it was when it last elected a Democratic president. Only if we break from the crypto-racist mindset that sees Obama as a black man first and all else far behind can the odds on a successful presidency be assessed......

Obama's 52% of the vote was not a landslide. It was the distortions of an electoral college system that served (as in the House of Commons) to turn an unexceptional four-point swing into an apparently overwhelming victory......

....The victory speech contained not one reference to his racial background. That ageing American icon, Jesse Jackson, hated Obama until Tuesday night. He was no son of slavery. Indeed the fascination of his memoir lies in the search by a member of an all-white family for an explanation of the colour of his skin.....

Dare he stop torture, accept the Geneva conventions, get tough with Israel, change policy on Russia, make peace with Iran? He has promised to get out of Iraq and fast. But he must also unleash a ferocious pragmatism as "war creep" envelopes Afghanistan, and stop making puerile pledges to invade Pakistan and bomb border villages....

Afghanistan could yet be to Obama what Vietnam was to the last great civil rights champion in the White House, Lyndon Johnson. All Democratic presidents eager for re-election find it easiest to buy popularity and a macho image by acting belligerently abroad. Obama has yet to indicate that he is an exception to the rule.....

The exhilaration of the past week has been palpable. I have lost count of the Americans who have said with relief: "I am tired with being hated everywhere I go. Suddenly I am loved." The moment is Rooseveltian. At a time of seeming ubiquitous misery, America not for the first time has pulled an iron from the fire. It has found a messiah......"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

No, No! He Is NOT Obama!
Disregard Rumors That Obama Can Walk on Water.

Get Ready for "Real Change We Can Believe in!": Get Ready for Endless War!

Obama's chief of staff choice favors compulsory universal service

"Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, President-Elect Barack Obama's choice for chief of staff in his incoming administration, is co-author of a book, The Plan: Big Ideas for America, that calls for, among other things, compulsory service for all Americans ages 18 to 25. The following excerpt is from pages 61-62 of the 2006 book......

As chief of staff, Emanuel will not be in a position to directly introduce public policy, but his enthusiasm for compulsory service, combined with Barack Obama's own plan to require high school students to perform 50 hours of government-approved service, suggest an unfortunate direction for the new administration."

Real Change Depends on Stopping the Bailout Profiteers

By Naomi Klein

".........Readers of The Shock Doctrine know that terrible thefts have a habit of taking place during periods of dramatic political transition. When societies are changing quickly, the media and the people are naturally focused on big "P" politics - who gets the top appointments, what was said in the most recent speech. Meanwhile, safe from public scrutiny, far reaching pro-corporate policies are locked into place, dramatically restricting future possibilities for real change.

It's not too late to halt the robbery in progress, but it cannot wait until inauguration. Several great initiatives to shift the nature of the bailout are already underway, including I added my name to the "Call to Action: Time for a 21st Century Green America" and invite you to do the same.

Stopping the bailout profiteers is about more than money. It is about democracy. Specifically, it is about whether Americans will be able to afford the change they have just voted for so conclusively."

The Arabs' Wealth, by Nizar Outhman

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

The Bucket is Labeled: IMF; The Milking Cow is Labeled: Arab Wealth; and Of Course Gordon Brown is Doing the Milking!

President-Elect Obama and the Future of US Foreign Policy: A Roundtable Discussion

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

Don't Miss This Discussion!

"Congratulations pour in from around the world for President-elect Barack Obama after his historic victory Tuesday night. But what are Obama’s foreign policy positions, and what are the concerns for those living in countries at the target end of US foreign policy? We host a roundtable discussion with filmmaker and investigative journalist John Pilger in Britiain, Columbia University professor and Africa scholar Mahmood Mamdani, Laura Carlsen of the Center for International Policy in Mexico City, Iraqi analyst Raed Jarrar, Pakistani author Tariq Ali, and Palestinian American Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada......."

Abu Hussein's invitation to Damascus

Read this piece to see the thinking of the pathetic regime of the Rabbit windbag.

By Sami Moubayed
Asia Times

"Syrians affectionately call Barack Hussein Obama "Abu Hussein" (father of Hussein), even though he has no son, and look forward to him visiting the country. First, though, Obama will have to repair the damage done by the George W Bush administration, such as by sending an ambassador to Syria and recognizing that some problems in the Middle East can only be solved with Damascus' cooperation...."

One year after Annapolis

Hasan Abu Nimah, The Electronic Intifada, 5 November 2008

".....Although the summit was never intended to produce an agreement in itself, it was supposed to signal that the US and all the other countries would put their full weight in order to achieve a comprehensive agreement by the end of Bush's presidency.

Only a fool, or an "enemy of peace" would have dared at the time express doubt about the credibility of the effort or the commitment of those who stood behind it. For many it seemed hard to believe that the world's only superpower would once again set off on the perilous path of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking unless this time it was prepared to go all the way.....

I admit that I was one of the few skeptics (a fool perhaps, but never an enemy of peace) who had not the tiniest amount of hope that any such thing would happen. And there was no need to wait long to be proven right -- even though there is no satisfaction in that......

There is no reason to believe that any of this is going to change in the short term, no matter who is elected president in Washington or who comes to power in Israel. Nor are there many signs that Europe, which rarely wanted to distance its Middle East policy from that of Washington, even when there are serious misgivings and disastrous results, is about to change course. On the contrary, after Bush, Europe will be only too eager to make amends to Washington, and it is likely that Palestinians will be among the victims of such a rapprochement.

Nor is there yet any sign the peace process sponsors will allow Palestinians to freely chose leaders who serve Palestinian, rather than Israeli interests. Nevertheless, Palestinians must continue their efforts to represent themselves and their cause despite the obstacles placed in their way.

One should therefore not submit to the concept that the peace process is on temporary hold and will resume on its successful and inevitable path once new leaders are in place. That will never happen in the absence of a plan whose goal is to restore Palestinian rights, implement international law and seek justice for all. Above all, those who continue to invest their efforts in the peace process will have to demonstrate something they never have: the political will and determination to stand up to Israeli rejectionism, colonialism "

Obama picks pro-Israel hardliner for top post

A Good Piece
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 5 November 2008

"During the United States election campaign, racists and pro-Israel hardliners tried to make an issue out of President-elect Barack Obama's middle name, Hussein. Such people might take comfort in another middle name, that of Obama's pick for White House Chief of Staff: Rahm Israel Emanuel......

Rahm Emanuel was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1959, the son of Benjamin Emanuel, a pediatrician who helped smuggle weapons to the Irgun, the Zionist militia of former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, in the 1940s. The Irgun carried out numerous terrorist attacks on Palestinian civilians including the bombing of Jerusalem's King David Hotel in 1946.

Emanuel continued his father's tradition of active support for Israel; during the 1991 Gulf War he volunteered to help maintain Israeli army vehicles near the Lebanon border when southern Lebanon was still occupied by Israeli forces......

One of the most influential politicians and fundraisers in his party, Emanuel accompanied Obama to a meeting of AIPAC's executive board just after the Illinois senator had addressed the pro-Israel lobby's conference last June.

In Congress, Emanuel has been a consistent and vocal pro-Israel hardliner, sometimes more so than President Bush. In June 2003, for example, he signed a letter criticizing Bush for being insufficiently supportive of Israel. "We were deeply dismayed to hear your criticism of Israel for fighting acts of terror," Emanuel, along with 33 other Democrats wrote to Bush. The letter said that Israel's policy of assassinating Palestinian political leaders "was clearly justified as an application of Israel's right to self-defense" ("Pelosi supports Israel's attacks on Hamas group," San Francisco Chronicle, 14 June 2003).

In July 2006, Emanuel was one of several members who called for the cancellation of a speech to Congress by visiting Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki because al-Maliki had criticized Israel's bombing of Lebanon. Emanuel called the Lebanese and Palestinian governments "totalitarian entities with militias and terrorists acting as democracies" in a 19 July 2006 speech supporting a House resolution backing Israel's bombing of both countries that caused thousands of civilian victims......

Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, told Fox News that picking Emanuel is "just another indication that despite the attempts to imply that Obama would somehow appoint the wrong person or listen to the wrong people when it comes to the US-Israel relationship ... that was never true."

Over the course of the campaign, Obama publicly distanced himself from friends and advisers suspected or accused of having "pro-Palestinian" sympathies. There are no early indications of a more balanced course."

Last Minute Heist: Olmert Heads to D.C. to Wrangle Last Favors from Bush


"06/11/2008 Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will visit President George W. Bush in Washington later this month in an attempt to reach last minute agreements and extract a number of promises before both leaders step down. Olmert is looking for commitments from Bush on the peace process with the Palestinians, U.S. military aid and various arms deals......"

"Change You Can Believe in": Obama kick-starts transition, picks Israeli Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff

"A day after winning an historic election to become the first black American president, Barack Obama on Wednesday stepped into the role of president-elect, inviting Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill) to join his administration as his White House chief of staff, Democratic officials.

If Emanuel accepts, which sources say he is likely to do, he will return to the White House where he served as a political and policy adviser to President Bill Clinton. Emanuel is the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives as the Democratic Caucus Chair.

Emanuel is the son of a Jerusalem-born pediatrician who was a member of the Irgun (Etzel or IZL), a militant Zionist group that operated in Palestine between 1931 and 1948......."

For Peace, the U.S. Will Have to Change

Analysis by Cherrie Heywood

"RAMALLAH, West Bank, Nov 5 (IPS) - Barack Obama has been elected U.S. President at a time when the number of extremists has risen dramatically since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, going by the resistance to Western forces in the region. The U.S.-led 'war on terror' has itself now become a threat to peace.

A combination of despotic Arab regimes propped up by the West, neo-colonialism, religious intolerance, educational stagnation, a clash of cultures and religious ideology, and a U.S. foreign policy biased in favour of Israel has further helped build this situation.

Given the possibility of an attack on Iran, the near future appears even more ominous. But all hope is not lost, according to both an Israeli and a Palestinian analyst.

"There is still a possibility for the relationship between the U.S. and the Middle East to be repaired, but it will require a quantum change in the attitude of the U.S. administration towards Arabs and Muslims if this is to occur," Dr Ahmed Yousef, political advisor to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told IPS from his office in Gaza city......"

Click on cartoon by Mike Luckovich to enlarge

Travesty of Tolerance on Display in Jerusalem

Museum lays waste to ancient Muslim cemetery

by Jonathan Cook

"Israel seems to have little time for the irony that a modern Jewish shrine to "coexistence and tolerance" is being built on the graves of the city's Muslim forefathers.

The Israeli Supreme Court's approval last week of the building of a Jewish Museum of Tolerance over an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem is the latest in a series of legal and physical assaults on Islamic holy places since Israel's founding in 1948.....

What makes the latest fight over the Mamilla cemetery different is that in the past decade a new breed of Muslim leader has emerged in Israel to overshadow the Islamic trusts. In particular the struggle over the fate of the holy places has been taken up by the leader of the Islamic Movement inside Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah.

Last week he warned: "We will mobilize in the Arab and Muslim world so that it puts pressure to halt the project."

Tolerance, after all, has its limits."

A new false dawn

Obama won four in every five Jewish votes as Israel's invasion of Gaza continued overnight. Does his victory change anything?

Seth Freedman, Wednesday November 05 2008

".....What is clear is that the aftermath of the election, during which time all eyes will be firmly on the US as the dust settles, provides Israel with another opportunity to drag its heels even further in terms of the peace process.

Last night's invasion of Gaza was carried out at a perfect time to bury bad news; further delays and distractions from the Road Map can be put down to a lack of global political stability during the transition from Bush's outgoing administration to Obama's incumbent government.

"The new president will take some time to get ready," an Israeli diplomatic official told the Jerusalem Post. "And it is unlikely he will do anything here until we are ready, which probably won't be until after Pesach [next April, once Israel's own elections have occurred]."

With that in mind, anyone under the illusion that the new dawn in America would bring an immediate ray of light shining down upon the Middle East would do well to sit back and play the waiting game. Because, despite all of the positive signs now that Obama's been installed in the White House, the knock-on effect of his election could take a long time to filter halfway round the world to the eternally-troubled Holy Land."

Now he must declare that the war on terror is over

Obama's preference for diplomacy can help to forge new, individual relationships with Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan

Jonathan Steele
The Guardian, Thursday November 6 2008

".....In spite of his preference for dialogue, Obama refers to Iran's government as a "regime", and calls it "a threat to all of us". He also favours sanctions as long as Iran fails to suspend its uranium enrichment programme. Nor has he ruled out military action. But Iranians say the basis for compromise exists. The challenge for Obama is to show the world whether he is ready to offer Tehran a grand bargain rather than a big bang."

Great expectations

The weight of the past, present and future will add drag to Obama's ascent to the White House

Tariq Ali, Wednesday November 05 2008

"......It is an awful time to be elected president, but it is also a challenge, and Franklin Roosevelt accepted such a challenge in the 1930s by imposing a social-democratic regime of regulation, public works and an imaginative approach to popular culture. He was helped by the existence of a strong labour movement and the American left: the Reagan-Clinton-Bush years helped to destroy the legacy of the New Deal. It is a new economy, heavily dependent on global finance and a deindustrialised America.

Does Obama have the vision or the strength to turn this clock back and forward at the same time? In the realm of foreign policy, the Obama/Biden approach has not been too different from that of Bush or McCain. A New Deal for the rest of the world would require a rapid exit from Iraq and Afghanistan and no further adventures in these regions or elsewhere. Biden has virtually committed himself to a Balkanisation of Iraq, which now appears less likely since the rest of the country as well as Iran and Turkey are opposed, for different reasons, to the creation of an Israeli-American protectorate in Northern Iraq with permanent US bases. Obama would be best advised to announce a rapid and complete withdrawal. Apart from all else, the costs are now prohibitive.

And sending troops based in Iraq to Afghanistan would only recreate the mess elsewhere. As numerous British diplomatic, military and intelligence experts have warned, the war in South Asia is lost. Washington is certainly aware of this fact. Hence the panic-induced negotiations with the neo-Taliban. One can only hope that Obama's foreign policy advisers will force a retreat on this front as well.

What of South America? Surely Obama should mimic Nixon's trip to Beijing and fly to Havana, ending the economic and diplomatic embargo of Cuba. Even Colin Powell acknowledged that the regime had done a great deal for its people. It will be difficult for Obama to preach the virtues of the free-market, but the Cubans could certainly help him in establishing a proper healthcare system in the United States. This would be change that most Americans would be happy to believe in. Other lessons are also on offer from other South American countries that foresaw the crisis of neoliberal capitalism and began to restructure their economies over a decade ago.

If change means that nothing changes then those who have put Obama in the White House might decide after a few years have passed that a progressive party in the United States has become a necessity."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama Starts Shaping His Team, Offers Rahm Emanuel Top Spot

Contributed by Zarathustra

"......Obama offered the job of chief of staff to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, ABC News' Jake Tapper reported today.

Emanuel, a veteran of President Clinton's administration and a close political ally of Obama's from Chicago, hasn't immediately given his answer.

Obama likes that Emanuel knows policy, knows politics and knows Capitol Hill and has told associates that he knows Emanuel will "have his back," ABC News' chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos said of the offer........"

On the Sea Again

The Free Gaza Movement

"For Immediate Release Date : 11-03-2008

On Friday, November 7, the SS DIGNITY leaves at 5:00 pm from Larnaca to Gaza. This time, thirteen members of the European Parliament from England, Ireland, Italy, Turkey, Wales, Switzerland, and Scotland are on board.

After two successful voyages, one in August and one last week, members of the Free Gaza Movement are pleased to bring yet another delegation to Gaza to see for themselves the devastation Israel has meted out to 1.5 million Palestinians.

"Our dream two years ago was to bring people to Gaza to witness what Israel is doing. This time, we are honored to have Parliamentarians from the world community coming with us," said Mary Hughes Thompson, one of the original Free Gaza Movement organizers.

The Free Gaza Movement and the European Campaign to End the Siege have organized this voyage because Egypt refused 53 international Parliamentarians who were holding a conference in Gaza from November 8 – 11 from entering. Now, several of them are going to meet with their counterparts and assess the humanitarian situation there.

"Egypt did not allow us to enter Gaza via the Rafah terminal, but this will not stop us from visiting the area," Lord Nazir Ahmad, head of the European delegates stated, "We will sail to Gaza, we are determined to break the siege."

Ms Clare Short UK MP emphasized, "The Egyptian refusal to grant us access through Rafah Crossing is insulting to all of us, and Egypt should open the crossing now."

The parliamentarians will visit hospitals and deliver a ton of medical supplies brought over by the DIGNITY. Hopefully they will be able to meet with many of the 700 students who have been denied the right to leave Gaza and study at universities that have already admitted them.

Dr. Arafat Shoukri of the European Campaign to End the Siege added, "We intend to deliver the medical supplies to the most vulnerable of the stricken population in the occupied territory".

"This journey will send a strong message to the world and is a direct challenge to the Israeli political siege on Palestine. We hope this trip of Parliamentarians will be one of many to follow," said Osama Qashoo, another Free Gaza Movement organizer......."

LEBANON: Life set to get harder for Nahr al-Bared refugees

“Buried under these thousands of tonnes of rubble are the dreams and achievements of a people who have waited 60 years for a just solution to their plight,” said UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Filipo Grandi at a press conference in Nahr al-Bared to launch the rubble removal on 29 October.

“Money is the most difficult challenge we face… I am very confident donors from west and east will deliver much-needed funds. What is at stake is the stability of the region and the well-being and future of 30,000 people. That is too important to ignore or forget.”

Remember me: Obama bashing begins here

By As'ad Abu Khalil (Angry Arab)

"......Remember me when Obama will endorse an Israeli war on a refugee camp and on a Lebanese village, and he will call that justified self-defense. Remember me when Obama will mourn the deaths of Israelis and will celebrate the deaths of Arabs and Muslims. Remember me when he orders his first bombing campaign on some remote area of Pakistan. Remember me when he betrays the poor in favor of Wall Street. Remember me when he will betray the aspirations of black people in favor of the white middle class that is now the headline of the Democratic Party. Remember me when Obama will not fight for his health reform plan, and will he not deliver on many of his promises. Remember me when Obama will stick to his campaign promise of opposing gay marriage. Remember me when when Obama will continue to blame the failure of the American occupation of Iraq on the Iraqi people themselves. On Angry Arab: the Obama bashing has just begun and will continue unabated. "

Why McCain Lost

The Fundamentals of the Campaign were Unsound


"....Seldom has economic caastrophe come so propitiously for a candidate. But though crisis helped him, Obama did not rise to the occasion. He actually got less inspiring as the weeks pass. On September 23, he stated on NBC that the crisis and prospect of a huge bailout required bipartisan action and meant he likely would have to delay expansive spending programs, outlined during his campaign for the White House. Thus did he surrender power even before he gained it.....

In terms of political change one can invoke 1932 and 1964, but the strongest parallel here is really with 1960 and John Kennedy, respository of so many youthful hopes. Of course it wasn’t long before reality caught up with the hopes, and overtook them, with deepening involvement in Vietnam and the disaster of the Bay of Pigs. There will be similar bruising engagements with reality in the months ahead, and with America in a weaker condition. But for the moment of triumph for Obama and his supporters is unalloyed. "