Saturday, September 12, 2009

Israeli film on '82 Lebanon war wins Venice prize

[Comment: I did not watch the film or the awards , but I will say this to the director: If you were serious about this being an anti war film you would have included in your dedication the 20,000 innocent lebanese and Palestinian civilians killed in the invasion by the Israeli army ]

Israeli film on '82 Lebanon war wins Venice prize

VENICE, Italy — "Lebanon," an Israeli film that recounts Israel's 1982 invasion of the Middle East country through soldiers' eyes, won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday.

The festival jury announced the Golden Lion and other prizes on the last day of the 11-day screening of films from around the world.

The anti-war film, directed by Samuel Maoz, tells the story of Israeli paratroopers searching a hostile town. The conflict is seen through the binocular-aided eyes of those aboard an armored vehicle.

"I dedicate this work to people all over the world that come back from the war safe and sound," the director told the audience at the award ceremony. "They work, get married, have children," but the memories get "stuck in their souls." Maoz was a young man when he served in the Israeli armed forces during the invasion.

The occupation led to a two-decades long occupation by Israel.

Variety has described the film as the "boldest and best of the recent mini-wave" of Israeli movies. The awards jury was headed by Ang Lee, himself a Golden Lion-winning director

Obama's big silence: the race question

Has the president turned his back on black America?

A Good, Long Comment

By Naomi Klein
The Guardian, Saturday 12 September 2009

"Americans began the summer still celebrating the dawn of a "post-racial" era. They are ending it under no such illusion. The summer of 2009 was all about race,......

Although it was true that southern countries owed debts to foreign banks and lending institutions, it was also true that in the colonial period – the first wave of globalisation – the wealth of the north was built, in large part, on stolen indigenous land and free labour provided by the slave trade. Many in Durban argued that when these two debts were included in the calculus, it was actually the poorest regions of the world – especially Africa and the Caribbean – that turned out to be the creditors and the rich world that owed a debt.....

African and Caribbean governments came to Durban with two key demands. The first was for an acknowledgment that slavery and even colonialism itself constituted "crimes against humanity" under international law; the second was for the countries that perpetrated and profited from these crimes to begin to repair the damage.......

The call for reparations took many forms, but one thing was certain: antiracism was transformed in Durban from something safe and comfortable for elites to embrace into something explosive and potentially very, very costly. North American and European governments, the debtors in this new accounting, tried desperately to steer the negotiations on to safe terrain......

Despite the disruptions, Africa was not denied its rendezvous with history. The final Durban Declaration became the first document with international legal standing to state that "slavery and the slave trade are a crime against humanity and should always have been so, especially the transatlantic slave trade". This language was more than symbolic......

No matter how race-neutral Obama tries to be, his actions will be viewed by a large part of the country through the lens of its racial obsessions. So, since even his most modest, Band-Aid measures are going to be greeted as if he is waging a full-on race war, Obama has little to lose by using this brief political window actually to heal a few of the country's racial wounds."

Obama Re-enacting 9/11, by Mr. Fish

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

The Elders' visit to Bilin

Jody McIntyre writing from Bilin, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 11 September 2009
(Jody McIntyre is a journalist from the United Kingdom, currently living in the occupied West Bank village of Bilin. Jody has cerebral palsy, and travels in a wheelchair.)

"......Also present in the meeting was Shai Pollak, an Israeli activist and long-time supporter of the people of Bilin -- "a member of the family" as Mohammed Khatib described him.

"Twenty years ago, I did my military service," Shai explained, "but if I knew then what I know now, I never would have served in the Israeli army."

"Israeli society today is becoming increasingly closed off," Shai continued, "making pressure from outside even more important. After the second intifada, I went and met with literally thousands of Palestinians. While my friends in Tel Aviv were telling me they would stab me with a knife, the opposite was true. Everyone I met welcomed me with open arms, because the Palestinian people want a peaceful solution."

The visit of these world leaders to Bilin was a clear message to the Israeli government, that they are opposed to the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people. Now, it is time for the leaders currently in power to follow suit."

Israel targeting fishermen, farmers in Gaza

Eva Bartlett, The Electronic Intifada, 11 September 2009

(Eva Bartlett is a Canadian human rights advocate and freelancer who arrived in Gaza in November 2008 on the third Free Gaza Movement boat. She has been volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement and documenting Israel's ongoing attacks on Palestinians in Gaza. During Israel's recent assault on Gaza, she and other ISM volunteers accompanied ambulances and documenting the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. )

"......According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, roughly one third of Gaza's agricultural land lies within the Israel's unilaterally-imposed "no go zone," or "buffer zone." This band of land stretching south to north along Gaza's borders to Israel was established in late 2000 during the second Palestinian intifada. Initially set at 150 meters, it has varied over time. At one point, it was nearly two kilometers in the north and one kilometer in the east. At present, Israeli authorities say 300 meters along the border are "off limits" and those found within the area risk being shot at by Israeli soldiers.

However, one case demonstrates that Israeli soldiers will shoot at Palestinian civilians as far away from the border as 1,800 meters. Sixty-three-year-old Fawzi Ali Qassem was on his land east of Beit Hanoun, at least 1,800 meters away from the border, when Israeli soldiers opened fire on farmers. Ali Qassem was hit in his left thigh on 23 August 2009.

Under a brutal 27-month-long siege, the Israeli military is killing fishermen, farmers and other civilians in areas it is deliberately trying to depopulate. This represents yet another component in Israel's matrix of control over the lives of Palestinians in Gaza. In the face of such blatant Israeli military terrorizing, Palestinians remain defiantly resilient, farming, fishing and living under fire."

Rolling the Dice Again

by Ralph Nader

"The Wall Street gang is at it again! It's been one year since Wall Street's collapse and bailout took trillions from taxpayers and the sinking economy. The speculative instruments that pulled down the economy were those super-risky sub-prime mortgages, credit default swaps, collaterized debt obligations-you know-Las Vegas East, using other peoples' savings.
As if to elaborate their gigantic con job, the investment banks, guaranteed by you the taxpayers, are now packaging life insurance policies in what sane, on the ground businesses would consider deranged exotic money plays.

Here is how the New York Times described the new securitization packages emerging from such corporate welfare goliaths as Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and their eager rating agency, DBRS.
"The bankers plan to buy ‘life settlements,' life insurance policies that ill and elderly people sell for cash--...depending on the life expectancy of the insured person. Then they plan to ‘securitize' these packaging hundred or thousands together into bonds. They will then resell these bonds to investors, like big pension funds, who will receive the payouts when people with the insurance die........."

'I told the US to talk to the Taliban. They jailed me'

The West must start negotiating with Afghanistan's Islamists, the former foreign minister tells Kim Sengupta

The Independent
Saturday, 12 September 2009

"He was the man they called the mullah with a human face, the internet mullah, or the Rudolph Hess of the Taliban. Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil was the Taliban's foreign minister. It was he who in October 2001, a month after 9/11 and weeks before the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, broke ranks with the hardline clerical leadership and tried to broker a peace deal with Washington.

Eight years on, as the West struggles to form a coherent policy on Afghanistan amid mounting domestic opposition to the war, Mullah Muttawakil has claimed that the West has repeatedly squandered chances for peace.

"We have seen a lot of fighting since then, a lot of blood has been spilt, all for what?" he asked. "They are saying now that they will talk to some of the Taliban. That is what I said to them just after the war. I offered to put them in touch with the relevant people. Their answer was to put me in jail."......"

Victims' families tell their stories following Nato airstrike in Afghanistan'

I took some flesh home and called it my son.' The Guardian interviews 11 villagers

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in Kunduz, Friday 11 September 2009

"......What followed is one of the more macabre scenes of this or any war. The grief-stricken relatives began to argue and fight over the remains of the men and boys who a few hours earlier had greedily sought the tanker's fuel. Poor people in one of the world's poorest countries, they had been trying to hoard as much as they could for the coming winter......

"The villagers were fighting over the corpses. People were saying this is my brother, this is my cousin, and no one could identify anyone."

So the elders stepped in. They collected all the bodies they could and asked the people to tell them how many relatives each family had lost.

A queue formed. One by one the bereaved gave the names of missing brothers, cousins, sons and nephews, and each in turn received their quota of corpses. It didn't matter who was who, everyone was mangled beyond recognition anyway. All that mattered was that they had a body to bury and perform prayers upon........"

Friday, September 11, 2009

Film festival courts controversy


"Moviegoers who were hoping for world class cinema at this week's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) may find themselves at the centre of a growing controversy steeped in international politics......

....the TIFF this year introduced the City to City programme, a new theme to its traditional programming grid, "that will explore the evolving urban experience while presenting the best documentary and fiction films from and about a selected city."

Festival organisers say they have chosen Tel Aviv to be the focus of the inaugural edition of the programme......

Filmmaker boycotts

Canadian filmmaker John Greyson, who has been a regular guest at the festival, decided to withdraw his latest documentary, Covered, in protest at the choice of Tel Aviv as the TIFF's spotlight.

"From start to finish, the spotlight is a champion of Israeli cinema and an erasure of Palestinian voices. It is something that all of us could not stomach," he told Al Jazeera.

In an open letter to the Festival's organisers, more than 65 prominent cultural figures including actors Jane Fonda, Viggo Mortensen, Harry Belafonte, and Danny Glover expressed their discontent that the internationally acclaimed festival, "has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine," by choosing to celebrate Tel Aviv's modern history.

They said that celebrating Tel Aviv in such an eminent setting "would be like rhapsodising about the beauty and elegant lifestyles in white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during Apartheid."......

In 2005, more than 100 Palestinian civil society groups and NGOs called for an international campaign for Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli institutions modelled on a similar campaign used to end Apartheid in South Africa.

Since then, "Israeli Apartheid Week" has been held annually on several Canadian university campuses......"

The Tel Aviv Party Party Stops Here

By Naomi Klein
The Nation

"When I heard the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) was holding a celebratory "spotlight" on Tel Aviv, I felt ashamed of Toronto, the city where I live. I thought immediately of Mona Al Shawa, a Palestinian women's rights activist I met on a recent trip to Gaza. "We had more hope during the attacks," she told me. "At least then we believed things would change."

Al Shawa explained that while Israeli bombs rained down last December and January, Gazans were glued to their TVs. What they saw, in addition to the carnage, was a world rising up in outrage: global protests, as many as 100,000 on the streets of London, a group of Jewish women in Toronto occupying the Israeli Consulate. "People called it war crimes," Al Shawa recalled. "We felt we were not alone in the world." If Gazans could just survive, it seemed that their suffering could be the catalyst for change.

But today, Al Shawa said, that hope is a bitter memory. The international outrage has evaporated. Gaza has vanished from the news. And it seems that all those deaths-as many as 1,400-were not enough to bring justice. Indeed, Israel is refusing to cooperate even with a UN fact-finding mission headed by respected South African judge Richard Goldstone.......

It was in this context that a small group of filmmakers, writers and activists, of which I was a part, drafted The Toronto Declaration: No Celebration Under Occupation. It has been signed by the likes of Danny Glover, Viggo Mortensen, Howard Zinn, Alice Walker, Jane Fonda, Eve Ensler, Ken Loach and more than a thousand others. Among them is revered Palestinian director Elia Suleiman, as well as many Israeli filmmakers........."

Able Danger and DIA had advanced knowledge of 9/11

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

"(WMR) -- A source with close ties to the highest echelons of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) told WMR that personnel who worked for the DIA on the classified counter-terrorism data mining operation known as Able Danger were aware of the planned attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and other major facilities in Washington, DC, on 9/11 but their information was permitted, on purpose, to languish in the intelligence and law enforcement bureaucracies without any proactive measures being taken......

The DIA source, who was present in the Pentagon on the morning of 9/11, said that senior officials in the Donald Rumsfeld Pentagon were well aware of the planned attack on the building but made no effort to evacuate it beforehand......"

Mocking Obama

While the world thought Obama would champion justice, Israel has proven that his words are meaningless

By Khaled Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem
Al-Ahram Weekly

".......Carter, who has made several tours in the Middle East, said Palestinian frustration and disillusionment couldn't last indefinitely. "Increasingly desperate Palestinians see little prospect of their plight being alleviated. Political, business and academic leaders are making contingency plans should President Obama's efforts fail."

Al-Ahram Weekly asked Hani Al-Masri, a prominent political analyst, if he thought the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah had any alternative course of action in the event that Obama's strategy in the Middle East collapses. He suggested that PA President Mahmoud Abbas was betting too much on Obama: "Abbas believes that the alternative to failed negotiations is more negotiations. However, this position is untenable and could only boomerang on Abbas and create a sort of implosion within the Fatah organisation."

Al-Masri also said he didn't believe the PA would continue to refuse the resumption of talks with the Netanyahu government, as Abbas has been vowing. "They were negotiating with the previous Olmert government when settlement expansion was going at full speed. Besides, they are in no position to say no to the Obama administration.""

A Fresh Approach in Afghanistan: An End to War?

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"......But why the sudden hoopla over Afghanistan? For after all, the bloody war has been grinding on for eight long years.

The Taliban and various groups opposing the Kabul government and their Western benefactors are gaining ground, not just in the southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan. Daring Taliban attacks are now taking place in the north as well, long seen as peaceful, thus requiring little attention. On 26 August a roadside bomb hit the car of the chief of the provincial Justice Department in the northern Kunduz province, killing him, and sending shock waves through Kabul. The bloody message was meant to echo as a political one: no one is safe, nowhere is safe. Another attack was reported in the province of Laghman, in the east, where 22 people, mostly civilians were killed. Among the dead were four Afghan officials including the deputy chief of the National Directorate of Security, Abdullah Laghmani. The irony is too obvious to state......"

9/11: Our Truth, and Theirs

The "official" 9/11 narrative doesn't make sense

by Justin Raimondo, September 11, 2009

"........This is the way our society deals with uncomfortable questions about "official" explanations for the inexplicable – by purging all dissenters, and even anybody who asks a question without necessarily having a ready-made answer. To the stake with them! Burn the heretics! Move along, nothing to see here – and don’t ask questions unless you want to completely marginalize yourself, lose your job, and be subjected to an intensive hate campaign.

We are asked to believe that 19 men, armed with the most basic weapons, somehow managed to elude the biggest, most expensively-accoutered intelligence apparatus in the world — and the intelligence agencies of our allies, to boot. Utilizing nothing but box-cutters and the knowledge gleaned from a few weeks at flight school, these supermen somehow managed to steer those planes into two of the most visible potential terrorist targets in the US, one of which had been successfully targeted by terrorists before. They did this with no help from any foreign intelligence agency, no nation-state in on the plot, and they did it for less than $100,000.

........but Cameron’s reportage haunts us today, and mocks us from the archives where it has been gathering dust for eight years. "Since September 11, more than 60 Israelis have been arrested or detained, either under the new patriot anti-terrorism law, or for immigration violations," reported Cameron:
"A handful of active Israeli military were among those detained, according to investigators, who say some of the detainees also failed polygraph questions when asked about alleged surveillance activities against and in the United States. There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are ‘tie-ins.’ But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, ‘evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.’"........"

Saddam revisited as Iraq accuses Syria of sheltering Baathist bombers

In the Saddam-Hafez era, they hanged each other's bombers

By Robert Fisk

"In Damascus and Baghdad, it almost feels like the old days. Mutual abuse and recriminations, the recalling of ambassadors – and only a matter of time, perhaps, before Syria and Iraq break diplomatic relations.

Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, demands an international tribunal because Syria won't hand over a couple of Iraqi Baathists whom he blames for the suicide bombing deaths of at least 100 civilians in Baghdad. Syria snaps back that it's always been a refuge for those facing "injustice".

Twenty years ago, Saddam Hussein and Hafez el-Assad sent bombers to Damascus and Baghdad to blow up each other's cities.Now Maliki and Hafez's son, Bashar, are attacking each other.......

Yet Syria clearly has the better memory, Maliki the shorter. Back in the bad old days of mutually hostile Syrian-Iraqi Baathism, Maliki and Jalal Talabani – now the President of Iraq – sought refuge in Damascus from the fury of Saddam's regime. Both were grateful – or at least they were then – that Hafez had taken mercy on their souls and welcomed them to the "mother of the Arab nation" (another Syrian sobriquet). Today, the Syrians have been quick to remind the pair of this act of generosity – and to point out their hypocrisy........

Syria never handed over people threatened with death, it tells us. But wasn't there a Kurdish guerrilla leader – a man called Abdullah Ocalan – who was nurtured by the Syrians, supported by the Syrians, threatened with death by the Turks, and then summarily told to leave Damascus when the Turks threatened military action against the Assad regime?........"

Palestinian Fools Playing "Government!"

Bahar: The PLC will continue working as usual after January 25

"BEIRUT, (PIC)-- Dr. Ahmed Bahar, the first deputy speaker of the Palestinian legislative council (PLC), stated Wednesday that the current council would continue its work in the same vigor and energy [say what?] after January 25, unless there were new elections held together in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.

Dr. Bahar warned that holding general elections under the current division would deepen internal rift and entrench geographical separation between Gaza and the West Bank......."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Abu Mahjoob: The Story of Two Worlds; Theirs and Ours!

The Thinnest Flat Screen in the World; Pride of Japanese Industry.....

The Fattest Dishdasha in the World (loose outer garment worn in the Gulf); Pride of Arab Industry!

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Lebanon's cabinet crisis - 9 Sept 09

"Discussing the stalemate in forming a new national unity government in Lebanon after Hezbollah and its allies rejected a proposed line-up by prime minister-designate Saad al-Hariri. Is it the beginning of another political stand-off in Lebanon?"

Al-Jazeera Video: U.S. Arab Puppets Playing Their Role in Demonizing Iran

Yemen's president says Iran supports Houthis - 9 Sept 09

"Yemeni government forces have been fighting Houthi loyalists in the country's north for weeks, vowing to crush them with an "iron fist".

Ali Abdallah Saleh, the president, now speaks exclusively to Al Jazeera, saying the recent lull in fighting was not a truce and blaming Iran for supporting the rebels. He says the military operations were halted only to allow aid agencies into the area where civilians are caught between the two sides.

Tarek Bazley reports on the conflict which some fear could develop into a regional war."

Israel and U.S. jointly target Sweden in propaganda blitzkrieg

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

"(WMR) -- After the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet published an expose of the Israeli Defense Forces harvesting the organs from young Palestinians killed by its forces in the West Bank, Israel’s propaganda machine, which has its tentacles in the world’s largest media companies and the Pentagon, went to work on demonizing Sweden.......

Israeli and American Jewish right-wing commentators have hurled contempt on the Celtic and Nordic nations, regardless of their liberal and social democratic traditions, complaining that they are all rife with anti-Semites and support terrorism. The Celtics and Nordics got a taste from the Israelis of what is usually dished out to the Slavics. Sweden came in for the most abuse from the Israeli propaganda circles.

It should come as no surprise that of all the charities operating in the Kabul region, that it was a Swedish charity-run hospital in Shaniz, south of the Afghan capital, that was stormed by U.S. troops on September 6. The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan stated that U.S. forces tied up hospital staff members and the visiting relatives of patients. The Americans smashed doors and searched hospital wards looking for “Taliban.” The incursion violated international laws and agreements on the inviolability of hospitals and medical staff in war zones but exactly mirrors Israeli tactics in Gaza and the West Bank.

There are a number of Pentagon holdovers from the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld neocon clique who “Israelized” U.S. military and security policies in Iraq and Afghanistan and are obviously still calling the shots. "

Habila Says, "Yes We Can!"

Haniyya: "We will rebuild homes, mosques, destroyed during the Israeli offensive"

"Palestinian Prime Minister of the dissolved Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyya, stated that his government will start rebuilding the Gaza Strip [Any day now!], its homes and mosques, and that money would not be an obstacle.

The statements of Haniyya came during a public Iftar (the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan) attended by Hamas leaders, ministers, and senior figures in addition to families of Palestinians killed and wounded by the Israeli army........"

Fifty questions on 9/11

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"It's eight years since the fateful day when terror struck at the heart of the United States. The rebranded "global war on terror" still rages, with the epicenter now back where it began, in Afghanistan. After all these years, unanswered questions remain over both the events of September 11, and what followed; they're food for serious reflection.....

None of these questions has been convincingly answered - according to the official narrative. It's up to US civil society to keep up the pressure. Eight years after the fact, one fundamental conclusion is imperative. The official narrative edifice of 9/11 is simply not acceptable......."

Fatah’s schizophrenia

By Khaled Amayreh

"Political schizophrenia has always been one of Fatah’s dominant characters. It continues to shape the overall Fatah discourse.

When addressing Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, Fatah indulges in all sorts of bombastic rhetoric about the liberation of Palestine.

However, in negotiations with Israel and meetings with visiting Western officials, the leaders of the movement would dutifully assure their interlocutors that the rhetoric was only meant for public consumption and that Fatah would eventually accept a “peace” deal with the Zionist state even if such a deal didn’t meet Palestinian expectations.

I recently asked a prominent Palestinian intellectual who maintains close ties with the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership if he thought that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is Fatah’s undisputed leader, had any alternative plan in case the Obama peace efforts collapsed.

My interlocutor didn’t mince his words. He said that the only alternative Abbas had to failed negotiations with Israel was more failed negotiations......."

Compromising for Gaza without compromising Palestine

Gabriel Ash, Mich Levy and Sara Kershnar, The Electronic Intifada, 9 September 2009

"One result of CODEPINK's delegation to the Gaza Strip in May was the idea to organize a large march through the territory with a significant international presence including well-known personalities. In the spirit of nonviolent direct action, the march would challenge the appalling and inhumane siege of Gaza. The idea, which immediately captured the imagination of many organizers, was the brainchild of Norman Finkelstein. We are truly grateful for Professor Finkelstein's creative thinking and willingness to put forward big ideas that generate enthusiasm and engagement.

However, after the initial call, the framework of the march was challenged by highly-respected Palestinian activists Omar Barghouti from Jerusalem, and Haidar Eid from the Gaza Strip. Their criticism, expressed with the utmost respect for the courage and good will of the organizers, challenged the organizers' decision to delay engaging in a wide conversation with Palestinian civil society and activists until after the call was made and the framework formulated. As Barghouti and Eid noted, that also led to a number of problems with the framework and the call. The call failed to provide historical context to the current siege, barely referred to the occupation and picked and chose from the history of Palestinian nonviolent resistance. It also used language that inadvertently reflected Israeli propaganda strategies, isolating Palestinians in Gaza from their counterparts in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Israel and the Diaspora.

Ultimately, these criticisms led to a compromise that satisfied both the Palestinian critics and most of the initial organizers. This compromise was reflected in a context document that is now part of the call. We welcome the concerns of prominent Palestinian activists who represent significant grassroots organizing. We see in the exchange, negotiation and outcome, a model example of how solidarity work can deepen and improve through giving full attention to honest and constructive criticism from those most impacted by the horrors we are challenging........

In supporting this compromise, we are mindful of the original aim of the organizers for large and "ecumenical" participation. We share that goal. However, our conversation would benefit from honesty about the meaning of "ecumenical." It never means "everybody." We don't just want the maximum number of marchers; we want the maximum number that can be achieved without compromising the visions of the diverse organizers and solidarity groups participating in this particular project........"

An Open letter to Mr. Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa

By Dr. Haidar Eid - Gaza

"Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to express my dismay and disappointment with both your attendance at the national conference of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies - a racist organization by any standards - as well as the content of your speech at that forum.

I am a naturalised South African of Palestinian origin. I spent more than five years in Johannesburg, during which I earned a PhD from the University of Johannesburg and lectured at the-then Vista University in Soweto and Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg.

I would like to take issue with the manner in which you express your support for the two-state solution: "It is a solution that fulfils the aspirations of both parties for independent homelands through two states for two peoples, Israel and an independent, adjoining, and viable state of Palestine" (emphasis mine). Allow me, Mr. President, as a resident of Gaza, to express my shock with the fact that - only 8 months after the Gaza massacre, in which 1500 civilians, including 434 children, were brutally murdered - you still believe that there are two symmetrical sides. You even call it the "Israeli-Palestinian conflict!" Was that your belief in the 1970's and 80's; that there were "two-sides" to the South African "conflict"? Were there two equal parties, namely White and Black, with equal claim to the land and equal historical responsibility for the-then status quo? No doubt, this sounds like a bizarre interpretation of South African history and one which we Palestinians find equally astounding when applied to our history and our reality today......."

Obama’s Turning Point

by Philip Giraldi, September 10, 2009

"......So Obama will soon have the opportunity to make a clear break with the policies of the Bush White House. But will he? He has not pulled the plug on Iraq in spite of his pre-election promises and all signs indicate that he is a consensus politician who is not disposed to take risks. Nevertheless, the choice will be his in Afghanistan, with Iran, and in the Israel-Palestine conflict. He can walk away from an existing war and from starting a new one and he could also take the first step to disengage the United States from Israeli foreign policy and partisan involvement in the Middle East. It will take both nerve and commitment as well as an understanding that current policies are just not sustainable and do not work in America’s interest. If Obama does not opt for real change and moves to the dark side, we citizens who had hoped for better can have absolutely no positive expectations for the next three years."

Media war rages over Gaza conflict

B'Tselem's report on Israeli and Palestinian casualties is bound to spark another round of claim and counter-claim

Seth Freedman, Wednesday 9 September 2009

".....B'Tselem has no problem referring to Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli civilians as war crimes, and does just that in its report. At the same time, it has refrained from explicitly labelling Israeli actions during the offensive as war crimes, preferring to state instead that its findings "raise grave concerns that Israel breached fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and caused excessive harm to civilians".

By taking such a stance, B'Tselem is much softer on the IDF than many would desire, and its diplomatic approach ought to be rewarded with a fair hearing by the Israeli authorities. However, given the historical sequence of whitewashes and obfuscations by the IDF and its backers, B'Tselem's report will be met with either a wall of silence or a barrage of abuse and derision – which does no favours to the supporters of the Israeli military, and certainly gives no solace to the victims on the Gazan side of the border."

Democracy, Tunisian style

Tunisia has been praised as peaceful and competitive, but its next election will have little to do with democracy

Brian Whitaker, Wednesday 9 September 2009

"Tunisia is the most peaceful country in Africa, according to the latest Global Peace Index. It is also the top African country in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index.
The news has clearly delighted the Tunisian government........

But let's look more closely at the "correctness" of Tunisia's national choices.

Despite some important achievements in the field of women's rights, Tunisia has one of the Arab world's most repressive regimes. It generally escapes criticism by keeping out of international conflicts and dressing up its political system to look vaguely democratic.

President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali is also rather smart. He seized power in 1987......."

اعتذارات مصر وكرامة السويد

A Good Comment (in Arabic)

"في الثالث والعشرين من شهر ديسمبر/كانون الأول عام 2003 عندما كان الاحتلال يرتكب الجرائم في الضفة الغربية بعد احتلالها ضمن ما يسمى إسرائيلياً بعملية (السور الواقي)، هاجم عشرات المصلين الفلسطينيين وزير الخارجية المصري السابق، أحمد ماهر، أثناء صلاته في المسجد الأقصى في القدس المحتلة.

وقد تعرض سعادة الوزير للضرب بالأحذية علي أيدي مصلين غاضبين احتجوا علي زيارته للدولة العبرية ولقائه رئيس وزرائها أرييل شارون في القدس، الذي قام بزيارة استفزازية للأقصى المبارك، الأمر الذي أدّى إلى اندلاع الانتفاضة الثانية في سبتمبر/أيلول عام 2000، وسقط ماهر مغشياً عليه بعد الهجوم عليه ونعته بالشتائم واتهامه بالخيانة، قبل أن يتجمع حوله حراسه الشخصيون وقوات إسرائيلية أخرجته من المسجد، ونقلته إلي مستشفى (هداسا) الإسرائيلي في القدس الغربية.

وقد يسأل هذا أو ذاك: ما هو سبب التذكير بهذه الواقعة؟ وهو سؤال وجيه، أولاً، لأننّا نريد أن نؤكد للجميع أنّ الشعب العربي الفلسطيني هو الذي ابتكر سلاح الضرب بالأحذية، ولا نوردها من باب القول تحية للأحذية وحامليها، ولا من منطلق التشفي برأس الدبلوماسية المصرية آنذاك، ولكن نقول بفم مليء إنّه في الرابع عشر من شهر ديسمبر/كانون الأول من العام الماضي، أي بعد مرور خمس سنوات على (أحذية ماهر) قام صحفي عراقي بضرب الرئيس الأميركي السابق، مجرم الحرب، جورج بوش، بحذاءيه ونعته بالكلب أثناء توقيع الأخير على الاتفاقية الأمنية مع رئيس الوزراء العراقي نوري المالكي في مقر رئاسة الوزراء، وتبين لاحقاً أنّ منتظر الزيدي طلب توجيه سؤال إلى الرئيس الأميركي وعندما التفت إليه بوش رماه بحذائه وصرخ به يا كلب هذه قبلة الوداع من العراقيين
ثالثاً: السويد دولة ديمقراطية بكل ما تحمل هذه الكلمة من معانٍ، وبالتالي فإنّ الحكومة السويدية، حتى لو قررت الاعتذار لإسرائيل، لكانت وجدت نفسها أمام حملة محلية قد تؤدي إلى سقوطها، والموقف السويدي لا يختلف كثيراً عن سلاح الأحذية، فقد وجهّت الحكومة السويدية صفعة مجلجلة للدولة العبرية المارقة بامتياز والمعربدة بتفوق وقالت لها بالحرف الواحد: حتى هنا، نحن لسنا أعضاء في الجسم الهلامي المسمى زوراً وبهتاناً جامعة الدول العربية، هذا الجسم الذي لم يهتم بما فعل الاحتلال الإسرائيلي بقطاع غزة في عدوانه الأخير، وحتى الأمين العام للجامعة العربية، السيد عمرو موسى، لم يُكلّف نفسه عناء السفر إلى غزة للاطلاع على ما قام الاحتلال الإسرائيلي بقتل الأبرياء بالأسلحة الأميركية المحرمة دولياً، أقسم بأنه يشتم في نسائم الهواء القادمة من الحدود الفلسطينية رائحة الحرية والكرامة.

ولنتذكر جميعاً ما قاله الفنان العربي السوري، دريد لحام، الذي قام رغم أنف الجميع الشهر الماضي بزيارة إلى غزة وقال: هذا الشعب لم يستطع أن يذله الحكام العرب كما لم تخذله سلبية الشعوب من المحيط إلى الخليج، هو لا يجد طعاماً ولا شراباً ولا دواء ولكن أفقر رجل هناك في غزة أكثرنا عزة وكرامة حتى ولو لم يجد قوت يومه. غزة تجري في دمي.. وإن تأخرت زيارتي لها فهي بالنسبة لي آخر جذوة في نعش العروبة الذي ووري الثرى منذ زمن.
وبما أنّ مصر ليست السويد، وبما أنّ وزير الخارجية المصري، أحمد أبو الغيط، الذي هدد بتكسير أرجل وأيدي الفلسطينيين الذين يحاولون عبور معبر رفح، هو ليس وزير الخارجية السويد المنتخب ديمقراطياً من الشعب، بدأت الدبلوماسية المصرية بإجراء عملية تجميل اصطناعية لمواقف الوزير المصري حسني من أجل الوصول إلى كرسي اليونيسكو، فلم يترك سعادته صحيفة عربية أو غربية، إلا وأعلن فيها أنّه مغرم بالسلام مع إسرائيل، وأنّ مواقفه حُرّفت، وما إلى ذلك من النفاق والرياء العربي المشهور لكسب ود أقطاب الدولة العبرية، كما تراجع عن تصريحاته للدولة العبرية وقدم اعتذاراً رسمياً لها فيما بعد.

وفي الوقت الذي بات فيه رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي، بنيامين نتنياهو، منبوذاً في العالم هو وحكومته، بسبب مواقفه المتطرفة مما يُسمى بعملية السلام، قام الرئيس المصري، حسني مبارك باستقباله في شرم الشيخ استقبال الأبطال، واستقبل وزير الأمن، إيهود باراك، واستقبل أيضاً جزار قانا، الثعلب الأبدي شمعون بيريز. ولم يكتف رئيس أكبر دولة عربية بذلك، بل صرح أثناء زيارته إلى الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، هذا الأسبوع، بأنّ نتنياهو هو رجل سلام، وكال له المديح
فاروق حسني لم يحرق الكتب الإسرائيلية، بل أحرق أخر ذرة كرامة للأمّة العربية من محيطها إلى خليجها، وأهان الشعب المصري العظيم، الذي ضحى بالكثير من أجل قضية العرب الأولى، فلسطين، وبالتالي كنا نتمنى عليه أن يتنازل عن اليونيسكو لصالح المقدسات التي تنتهكها إسرائيل يومياً في فلسطين، كما كنّا نتمنى عليه أن يحذو حذو السويد ويرفض الانصياع للإملاءات الإسرائيلية.
وهذه مناشدة لكل ناطق بالضاد أن يعمل على فضح هذه الممارسات المتواطئة مع الدولة العبرية، التي تنظر إلى العرب نظرة ازدراء واحتقار، وتتعامل مع الدول العربية من منطلقات عنصرية واستعلائية.

نحن لسنا ضدّ ترميم مقدسات الديانات السماوية، لا بل بالعكس، نشجع كل دولة على احترام مقدسات الغير، ولكن المأساة تكمن في أن نُجيّر ترميم المقدسات من أجل الحصول على رضاء الدولة العبرية ولتحقيق مكاسب سياسية، في الوقت الذي تتعرض فيه مقدساتنا لأبشع أصناف التخريب من قبل دولة الاحتلال.

القول الفصل: عندما يسأل العرب: لماذا العالم لا يحترم الأمّة العربية؟ لا بدّ من الرد بصراحة متناهية: إذا كان العرب لا يحترمون أنفسهم، فبأيّ حقٍ يطالبون الآخرين باحترامهم؟

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The rise of Israel's military rabbis

The Jewish Jihad

Israel's army is changing. Once proudly secular, its combat units are now filling with those who believe Israel's wars are God's wars.

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This topical poll asks:

Do you support Arab governments' normalization of relations with Israel in return for freezing the settlements?

With over 1,500 responding so far, 95% said no.

B'Tselem publishes complete fatality figures from Operation Cast Lead

Press Release by B'Tselem
9 Sept. 2009

"Today (Wed. Sept 9th) Israeli human rights group B'Tselem published its findings on the number of Palestinians and Israelis killed in Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. According to B’Tselem’s research, Israeli security forces killed 1,387 Palestinians during the course of the three-week operation. Of these, 773 did not take part in the hostilities, including 320 minors and 109 women over the age of 18. Of those killed, 330 took part in the hostilities, and 248 were Palestinian police officers, most of whom were killed in aerial bombings of police stations on the first day of the operation. For 36 people, B’Tselem could not determine whether they participated in the hostilities or not.

Palestinians killed 9 Israelis during the operation: 3 civilians and one member of the security forces by rockets fired into southern Israel, and 5 soldiers in the Gaza Strip. Another 4 soldiers were killed by friendly fire.

B'Tselem’s figures, the result of months of meticulous investigation and cross-checks with numerous sources, sharply contradict those published by the Israeli military. Israel stated that 1,166 Palestinians were killed in the operation and that 60% of them were members of Hamas and other armed groups. According to the military, a total of 295 Palestinians who were “not involved” in the fighting were killed. As the military refused to provide B'Tselem its list of fatalities, a comparison of names was not possible. However, the blatant discrepancy between the numbers is intolerable. For example, the military claims that altogether 89 minors under the age of 16 died in the operation. However, B'Tselem visited homes and gathered death certificates, photos, and testimonies relating to all 252 children under 16, and has the details of 111 women over 16 killed.

Behind the dry statistics lie shocking individual stories. Whole families were killed; parents saw their children shot before their very eyes; relatives watched their loved ones bleed to death; and entire neighborhoods were obliterated........"

Words, Words and More Words!

أبو عبيدة: الرد على أي تصعيد صهيوني لن يكون بالكلمات بل بالنار والحديد


This is funny, and as they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

The photo shows Hamas' spokesman, thundering as usual, and threatening that Hamas' response to continuing Israeli attacks will be not with words, but with "fire and steel!" This, at the same time that Hamas' envoys are working behind the scenes to assure the EU and the US that Hamas wants continuation of the truce and is interested in "negotiations."

Such blatant hypocrisy!

Israeli Arabs Call for General Strike

Action Against Wave of "Racist" Measures

By JONATHAN COOK in Nazareth

"The increasingly harsh political climate in Israel under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government has prompted the leadership of the country’s 1.3 million Arab citizens to call the first general strike in several years.

The one-day stoppage is due to take place on October 1, a date heavy with symbolism because it marks the anniversary of another general strike, in 2000 at the start of the second intifada, when 13 Arab demonstrators were shot dead by Israeli police [COMMENT: Will this mark the beginning of the Third Intifada? It seems that the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Bantustans are too busy to start an Intifada; so the Palestinians in Israel will have to do it. Those in the two Bantustans are too busy with their tribal dispute about imaginary authority and power while the land disappears from under their feet.]........."

Al-Jazeera Video: Israeli settlers push further into Palestinian land - 8 Sept 09

"Israeli settlers are pushing further into occupied Palestinian land, despite international pressure to halt settlement activity.

Hundreds of Israelis cheered as the first scoops of concrete were poured for a new settlement in an area called "E1" northeast of Jerusalem.

A Jewish settlement there will be the final link in a chain that cuts off Palestinians in East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.

Al Jazeeras Jacky Rowland reports from EI, where protesting peace activists say the settlers are sabotaging Israels chances for peace."

Abu Al Gheit: Normalization with Israel possible should settlement construction stop

"Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmad Abu Al Gheit, stated Tuesday that Arab normalization with Israel is possible but depends on the resumption of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, and a complete halt of settlement activities in the occupied territories.

At a press conference with his Spanish counterpart, Miguel Angel Moratinos, Abu Al Gheit stated that normalization is possible should Israel leap towards serious peace talks with the Palestinians to achieve a comprehensive peace deal........."

Obama to Unveil ‘Roadmapolis’

By Tony Karon

"If you’re getting a little uneasy about President Obama reprising Bush Administration policies with new gloss — my personal favorite being his decision to continue the policy of ‘rendition’, under which terror suspects are sent to third countries where the rules governing interrogation are more permissive, but Obama promises to do it “with greater oversight” — his Middle East peace plan is unlikely to make you feel much better.

Obama’s Mideast peace plan appears to be a hybrid between President Bush’s “roadmap” and his “Annpolis” initiativeRoadmapolis, if you like......."

Latin America and the End of Social Liberalism

"The current world recession and the potential recovery of some countries reveals all the weaknesses of the traditional “export market” – free trade - comparative advantage doctrines. Nowhere is this more evident than in the recent experience of Latin America.
Despite recent popular upheavals and the ascent of center-left regimes in most of the countries in the region, the economic structures, strategies and policies pursued, followed in the footsteps of their predecessors particularly in relation to foreign economic practices.

Influenced by the sharp demand and rise in prices of commodities, especially agro-mineral and energy products, the Latin American regimes, backed off from any changes in several crucial areas and adapted to the policies and economic legacies of their neo-liberal predecessors. As a result, with the world wide recession beginning in 2008, they suffered a sharp economic decline with severe social consequences......"

Flash!........Flash!.......Exciting News.......Read All About it: Partners in Crime to Reconcile!

There is Love in the Air......
Hamas, Fatah Set to Sign Reconciliation Accord by 2010


"Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal's recent visit to Egypt has brought the movement and Fatah closer to ending their differences, sources close to Hamas in the Gaza Strip revealed on Tuesday. In another sign of rapprochement between the two parties, Hamas has welcomed plans by senior Fatah officials to visit the Gaza Strip for talks aimed at resolving the crisis. The Fatah officials who are expected to visit the Strip include Nabil Sha'ath......."

Business Seeks Ways Past Political Impasse

By Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, Sep 8 (IPS) - Business between the Palestinian Authority and Israel is growing despite the political impasse over Israel's refusal to cease illegal settlement building in East Jerusalem and the Palestinian West Bank.

Trade between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) rose 17 percent to 3.9 billion dollars in 2008, according to the Israeli Tax Authority (ITA). In 2007 it was 3.3 billion dollars, and in 2006, 3 billion.

Palestinian imports and exports through Israeli ports rose by 5 percent to 1.2 billion dollars last year, up marginally from earlier years.......

Under the Paris Protocol of 1994, a part of the Oslo agreement, Israel controls a customs union comprising Gaza and the West Bank. It collects a duty on imports into the West Bank and Gaza, and additionally collects a value added tax (VAT) on goods and services from Israel destined for the Palestinian territories.

The Israelis have often withheld these taxes as a political tool, as when Hamas won the 2006 legislative elections.

"The Protocol perpetuates Palestinian economic dependence on the Israeli economy, and preserves Israeli control over the Palestinian economy," says Israeli rights group B'tselem.

Israel has sole control over the occupied territories, and this enables it to unilaterally stop movement of Palestinian imports and exports. The Protocol gives Israel sole control over collecting taxes for the Palestinian Authority for imported goods, which enables it to stop or suspend transfer of payments as a means of pressure or punishment.

The Protocol also enables Israel to unilaterally establish taxes on imported goods, giving preference to its own economic interests........"

When Satire Becomes Reality

Welcome to Bizarro World

By Justin Raimondo

"Google News has lately taken to labeling’s new articles, including this column, as "satire." To take one particularly unfortunate example, an article by Fred Reed on the furor over the photo of Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard’s tragic death in Afghanistan was so classified on the Google search engine. This, I believe, is proof positive of what I call the Bizarro Effect, a direct result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. What happened was this: the sheer force of the explosion as those planes hit the World Trade Center and slammed into the Pentagon forced us into an alternate dimension where up is down, news is entertainment, and a rational critique of U.S. foreign policy is considered sheer amusement. Here in Bizarro World, everything is upended: not only our morals, but our grasp of reality, and, indeed, the concept of reality itself. As one top White House aide in the Bush administration put it to a skeptical journalist:

"The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ … ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."’........."

Israel's war on Gaza killed 252 children, report claims

Israeli human rights agency challenges army's figures

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
The Independent

"The Israeli official figures seriously underestimated the civilian Palestinian death toll exacted during its onslaught in Gaza early this year, according to painstaking research to be published today.

The first detailed casualty figures from an Israeli human rights organisation since the war ended puts the number of children under 16 killed in the offensive at 252 as opposed to the 89 cited by the military. B'Tselem says its fieldworkers gathered death certificates, photos, and testimonies relating to all 252 of the children.

B'Tselem, which said it had carried out "months of meticulous investigation and cross-checks with numerous sources" has, unlike the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), made public the names of all those it said were killed in the war. It said that since the IDF had refused to furnish the agency with its own detailed list, it was impossible to compare the names but that "the blatant discrepancy between the numbers is intolerable."........"

Israel's laws of persecution

Israel is using the country's legal system to segregate and penalise its Palestinian citizens and prohibit Arab dissent

Nimer Sultany
( a Palestinian citizen of Israel and a doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School. He is the editor of Citizens Without Citizenship, Israel and the Palestinian Minority 2003, and Israel and the Palestinian Minority 2004), Tuesday 8 September 2009

" Two cases brought before Israeli courts last week revealed the attitude of the establishment towards Palestinian Arab citizens of the state. One shows how Palestinian citizens are treated as victims of police brutality, and the second shows how they are regularly victimised because of their opposition to injustice.......

The second case involved an indictment against Rawi Sultani, [Read His Story as Told by His Father, Posted Here at PP] a 23-year-old law student, for "contact with a foreign agent" and "delivering information to the enemy"; two flawed articles in Israel's laws comparable in their application to use of "national security" laws by authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the world. The young student is a political activist of the National Democratic Assembly (NDA), a party that calls for the transformation of Israel from a Jewish state into a state for all its citizens.......

Criminalising dissent is not unique to Israel. Many oppressive states, such as apartheid South Africa, have used it to de-legitimise parties, ideas and activities disliked by ruling elites and security apparatuses. Furthermore, persecution on grounds of "security" creates an immediate divide between Arab and Jewish citizens. In 2007, the head of Shabak, the Israeli general security agency, stated that struggles against the Jewishness of the state, even if lawful and democratic, would be deemed subversive. The current right-wing government is seeking to condition citizenship on loyalty to Zionist ideology, a demand unparalleled in any democracy and contrary to the most basic of human rights. With this kind of attitude, it is no wonder that young Arab men and women inside Israel are victimised because of their noble aspirations to equality and freedom."

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

"العساكر العرب
فعلا هذا هو الواقع العربى كما هو موجود الان فالشعوب عبارة عن قطع شطرنج يحركها الحاكم كيف ما يشاء و الحاكم فى نفس الوقت عبارة عن قطعة شطرنج يحركها السيد الامريكى كيفما يريد و يشتهى و الحكام العرب عبارة عن مجموعة من العساكر الضعيفة التى لا حول لها و لا قوة
"رسم معير فعلا دائما انا ارى العرب او رؤساء العرب هم قطع شطرنج يتحكم بها الصهاينة والأمريكان ,الرؤساء العرب يتحكمون في شعوبهم"

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Khalil Bendib Outdoes Himself! Settlement Freeze?

(Click on this great cartoon to enlarge)

Enduring Freedom until 2050

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"In only 450 days, the number of troops in Afghanistan has swelled from 67,000 to 118,000. Since 2001, the United States has spent $179 billion in the country, while its European allies have burned $102 billion. The tragicomedy is clear: the US and its allies will do - and spend - whatever it takes to implant military bases on the doorstep of Russia and China, and to get their gas pipeline on track......"

Al-Jazeera Video: Nuclear double standard - Sep 7 2009

Part 1:

Part 2:

"The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is discussing Iran's nuclear capabilities just as Israel accused the monitoring body of holding back on its most recent report on Iran.

Israel says it "expects the international community to take substantive and prompt steps to halt Iran's military nuclear programme."

But what about Israel's nuclear arsenal?

It is a well-known secret that Israel has nuclear capabilities and nuclear weapons. Officially, Israel has a policy of not confirming or denying its nuclear capabilities.

Experts and anti-nuclear activists argue that the way in which the West deals with Israel's programme sets a dangerous double standard that makes it impossible to stem the tide of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East or anywhere else......"

'Doubt Will Turn into Dissent'

By Tom Hayden


"In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, veteran antiwar demonstrator Tom Hayden speaks about the coming 'storm of protest' over the war in Afghanistan, growing disillusionment among the American left and the current re-evaluation -- sometimes even from the right -- of whether it is truly a 'necessary war.'......"

In Support of the Free Gaza Movement

By former Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

"......The Free Gaza Movement led by Huwaida Arraf was set up in order to send needed supplies to beleaguered Gaza. But after five small boats were successful in delivering much needed supplies, the Israeli navy began to intercept them and forcing them to abort their humanitarian aid.

One small boat with a number of Palestinians, Arabs, European and American (a U.S. Congresswoman) was rammed by Israeli warships. Luckily they survived.

Recently another little boat, loaded with food, medicine, stationery for school use and toys, with 21 unarmed civilians including a Nobel Peace Laureate from Ireland and the American women candidate for presidency of the U.S. was fired at by Israeli commandos, who then boarded the boat, giving rough treatment to the people on board........

I went to Cyprus to meet these brave members of the Free Gaza Movement. I was shocked at how tiny was the only fishing boat that they still have for future trips to Gaza.......

The PGPO (Perdana Global Peace Organisation) would like to appeal for donations in aid of the Free Gaza Movement members to purchase a small ship to carry cement and building materials apart from medicine and food etc.

All contributions by cheque can be issued to: KLFCW (Gaza Fund). KLFCW stands for the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War. The cheques can be addressed to the KLFCW c/o Perdana Global Peace Organisation, 5th Floor, 88, Jalan Perdana, Taman Tasik Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Cash contributions can be channeled to KLFCW Maybank Account: 5123 3430 6634......"

Viva Palestina USA Joins International Effort!

Viva Palestina USA

".......As was the sentiment following the British convoy which departed from the UK and drove across Northern Africa and into Gaza in February and March of this year, there is already a great desire in the United States to repeat the convoy experience. This we MUST do. This we WILL do. In fact, we are already organizing a “mega-convoy” involving both volunteers from the US and the UK and aid from both nations to deliver humanitarian supplies to our brothers and sisters in Gaza this winter.

Pooling all our efforts

The Viva Palestina leadership in both countries is looking closely at the logistical issues and the difficulties faced by this last Viva Palestina convoy and other missions from other organizations which have attempted to cross into Gaza during this long-standing and brutal siege. It is our hope to anticipate any possible difficulties with the goal of overcoming every one as we move towards Gaza for a second time. In that, Viva Palestina representatives have had a series of extremely productive discussions with similar campaigns and initiatives – ranging from the Free Gaza movement to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Britain – since returning. We have all agreed to an even greater coordination of our efforts.

In addition, the Viva Palestina convoy hoping to leave from Venezuela with the support and attendance of President Hugo Chavez is picking up steam and plans to deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza this fall......."

'Lebanon's Madoff' bankrupted after bouncing $200,000 cheque to Hizbollah

Businessman promised customers a 40 per cent return on their investment

By Robert Fisk in Beirut

"Everyone trusted Salah Ezzedine. A billionaire Shia Muslim businessman and financier from southern Lebanon, he organised pilgrimages to Mecca, ran a major Beirut publishing house and a children's television station, held major investments in east European oil and iron conglomerates, and – much more to the point – was a close personal friend of very senior leaders of the Hizbollah. Indeed, many members of the world's most powerful and successful guerrilla movement, along with the families of their "martyrs" in the war against Israel, placed both their faith and their inheritance in Mr Ezzedine's hands.

To the deep embarrassment of the Iranian-financed and Iranian-armed militia, however, Mr Ezzedine turns out to be an "Abu Madoff"........"

Sudanese woman guilty of daring to wear trousers

Journalist who defied restrictive law fined for 'indecency' but could face prison if she refuses to pay

By Daniel Howden, Africa Correspondent
The Independent

".....Sudan operates under a sharia system in the mainly Muslim north and the strict interpretation of Islamic law has generated tension with the majority Christian south. In an article published before the trial, Ms Hussein said the restrictive laws were in part to blame for the tensions that have regularly provoked civil conflicts in Africa's largest country. "When I think of my trial, I pray that my daughters will never live in fear of these police ... We will only be secure once the police protect us and these laws are repealed," she wrote.

Campaigners in Sudan complain that the decency code gives too much latitude to individual policemen, leading to often arbitrary arrests. Article 152 of Sudan's penal code states that "indecent" dress among women is punishable by a fine and public flogging.

Amnesty International called on Sudan to review the law. "The penalty called for by the law, up to 40 lashes [is] abhorrent," said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty's deputy Africa director. "Women are routinely arrested, detained, tried and then, on conviction, flogged simply because a police officer disapproves of their clothing.""

Missing in Action! Where Are Azmi Bishara and Tariq Ali?

I have not seen any articles, comments or interviews with either, who are two of of my favorite commentators, in months. If you have, please supply links in the Comments section.

Lubna Hussein stands firm

Lubna Hussein, convicted in Sudan for wearing trousers, has refused to pay her fine. She'll now go to jail as a result

Nesrine Malik, Tuesday 8 September 2009

"The scenes I saw outside the court which convicted Lubna Hussein were even more dramatic than those during the last quickly adjourned trial. Security forces and female protestors clashed again, but a third party introduced itself into the fray – Islamist men who proceeded to abuse the women and rip up their banners while the police joined in the name-calling. It seems the whole case has flushed out the nastier elements in Khartoum society as female supporters of Hussein were branded "prostitutes", that being the most polite word into which I can translate the insults......

The nominal fine and an admission of culpability – in effect a plea bargain – was rejected by Hussein for whatever residual admission of wrongdoing it suggested. The sentence for refusing to pay, a month's imprisonment, was threatened in order to put pressure on her to pay, but the judge may have underestimated her defiance. Sending her away for a month not only allows the court to flex the muscles it had been unable to flex through flogging, but also hide her away from scrutiny by the world's media, dampening any spirit of victory or jubilation.

More disturbingly, the end of the case has flushed out hardline elements allied with the government who appear to be relishing the opportunity to villify the women who have been protesting........"

Afghanistan: Dig in or walk away?

Afghanistan's election debacle has increased the crushing weight of intractable problems besetting western policymakers

Simon Tisdall, Monday 7 September 2009

"Hopes that a successful Afghan presidential election would assist western efforts to secure, stabilise and develop the country recede with every percentage point that is added to Hamid Karzai's tally. Karzai is said to have obtained 48.6% of the vote against 31.7% for his nearest rival with about 25% of ballots still to count. Only a small miracle or a massive counter-fraud can now stop him surpassing the 50% threshold required for re-election.

Karzai's looming "victory" is viewed with gloom in western capitals. It is believed, and not only by his opponents, to have been achieved via blatant, systematic, indefensible vote-rigging, bribery and intimidation.........

Opinions about which way he should jump vary hugely. George Will, honorary archdeacon of American conservative columnists, surprised his fans last week by advocating retreat. Washington should wash its hands of a country where travelling around is "like walking through the Old Testament", he said......."